Saturday, December 22, 2012

definitely OUT of the studio

I think I finally figured out why baking isn't my favorite activity (though the finished product, and the praise...don't forget the praise...keep me going back to it.) It's because it takes me all day to bake something, about two days to clean up after it, and an hour to eat it.

My signature dessert is this NY cheesecake topped with chocolate ganache . I do not profess to be a baker, in fact, I claim absolutely NO prowess in the kitchen, but I wanted to show off my cheesecake anyway. Too bad you can't taste it, but if you want to the recipe is at the bottom of this post.

New York Cheesecake

1/3 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cup cinnamon graham cracker crumbs
3 1/4 packages (8 oz. packages) cream cheese, softened
1 can 14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 300F. Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter; press evenly on bottom of 9 inch pie pan. (I always use a spring form pan… I love the square up sides it makes)
2. In large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually add sweetened condensed milk, beating until smooth.
3. Add vanilla and eggs, mix well. Pour into prepared pie pan.
4. Bake for 1 hour, turn off oven but leave cheesecake in oven with door propped slightly open for an additional hour.
5. Refrigerate at least 6 hours until firm.

Chocolate Ganache Topping
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream

Place the chocolate into a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil, watching very carefully because if it boils for a few seconds, it will boil out of the pot. When the cream has come to a boil, pour over the chopped chocolate, and whisk until smooth. Stir in the rum if desired.
Allow the ganache to cool slightly before pouring over a cake. Start at the center of the cake and work outward. For a fluffy frosting or chocolate filling, allow it to cool until thick, then whip with a whisk until light and fluffy.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Our Christmas tree this year makes me mostly happy. So much of that happiness is influenced by the blessing it is to have all my children near me. After last Friday it has at times been hard to look at my tree and not feel a measure of sorrow for suffering families. May God's love be unfailing around all those who suffer, for any reason, especially this time of year.

I think it is healthy to spend moments in serious reflection about difficult things. I believe it makes you more whole, and more empathetic. I also believe it is healthy to understand that there is a season to everything. There is so much wrong that goes on in the world, but I can't carry all of it. It does however, provide a measure of perspective; it helps me  freak out a little less when I find out my hair is in a total crazy knot because somehow earlier in the day I got a glob of mustard in my ponytail. It is good to understand that even with there being WAY bigger problems and sorrows out there than mine, God exists, and thinks my stupid problems are pretty big too.

He can carry all of it. 

It has taken me a few years to get used to, but I must say I have been converted to winters sprinkled with quite warm days. I had a picnic with my children yesterday, and even though it was too cold today (high 50, low 30) to do that, sitting outside on a sheet wearing shorts and visiting the begonias helped ease our cabin fever.

 Speaking of fever, poor Nan is really having a go at it. They shut down the Montessori school in town this week due to a crazy outbreak of the flu here. The temp above was taken AFTER a day long of piggybacking ibuprofen and acetaminophen...UNDER THE ARM. At six tonight I took her to the Doctor's care and she tested neg. for both the flu and strep. Poor thing. Hang in there sweetie.

In light of the beginning of my post, here is my latest "stupid" problem. (I will here on out not refer to my problems as stupid. My problems are very me.)
FINALLY. A little bit of the "IN THE STUDIO" part of this blog! I have 25 boards to hang and I cannot for the life of me figure out how to get them to hang flush on the wall. I will gladly take suggestions from any artist friends.

 Also, I think it is a little crazy and stressful to have to pick out colors for a house 4 days before Christmas. Stupid? No. I am happy for the opportunity... now, just help me not to go crazy.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

before the paint...

Whoever heard of a glass fence? Well, now YOU have.

The outside of the house is being painted this week. So here are a few before pictures.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

out with the old, in with the new (almost)

Good bye old blonde table, you sure did your job well. Thanks for keeping the food off my lap.

Hello old/new table. It was a long journey, and who knows the adventures you've had since you helped the bankers in the Ouichita Bank in Monroe in the 1960's. Our family will give you some more...

  Still working on re-covering the blue seats of the chairs...

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


12/12/12 seemed like as good a day as any to give a little report on the house building process. I thought I had begun to bore my friends and acquaintances to tears with my single mindedness, and almost constant "house banter" until a few of you spoke up and said you wanted an update. From here on out I am going to take the narcissistic approach and assume that everyone is as interested in my house I am. 

 Niel and I really wanted a fully functioning, wood burning fireplace in our home. You can see the chimney stepped in as it goes through the ceiling line. The trend here in Louisiana, maybe because the growing season is so long and the winters so short and mild, is to use a gas insert fireplace. The brick mason said it had been several years since he had put a wood burning fireplace IN a home. "Plenty outdoors" he said, "but not too many people asking for the indoors." We will feel a little more self-sufficient despite the trend to put the extra money it cost toward other things.

Here is the fireplace with the sheet rock up. Notice the high firebox. The contractor initially thought we were crazy, but fell in love with it in the end. We did it that way purely for design aesthetics and will likely paint the brick white. The inside of the firebox may be black. Stay tuned to see...

It snowed in Louisiana.
Here, the insulation is being blown into the gaps between the wall studs. Rolls of insulation were used for the interior walls of the house.

before sheet rock

after sheet rock
This room is going to be the kitchen.

This is the entry way as you come in through the front door...again, before sheet rock.



Upstairs, going from the "kid living room" into the studio.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

78 degrees and light wind

We had a sweet day together, the Crews Family. It seems like it was the first day in MONTHS where none of us had plans, no where in particular to be and the weather was perfect. So we had honey toast and hot chocolate for breakfast at 10 am, strolled around the new place and watched the roofers work. Had a great lunch with a great friend in town while Niel tried his hand at giving Simon a nap. We strolled in the forest later and then had veggie burgers, salad and new parslied potatoes for supper. Days like this don't happen often enough, so I had to write about it. I may even skip the laundry tonight and read instead: Organizing From the Inside Out.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

confessions of a permissive parent

My youngest daughter, Mallie, turned five last week. For months prior to her big day, she would ask,
"When am I going to be five?"  Eventually, we made a paper chain to quell the daily inquiry. (Not sure how many links it was, but it was LONG.) Then we began to get requests: cake and ice cream color and flavor, and the list of all the children to invite to the "party". (Let me interrupt my train of thought here, and say that my husband and I are not "birthday-party-throwers".  The circumstances that Niel and I grew up with did not allow us to ever have big parties, and as our own children have gotten older we have grown to love the intimate family affairs we call parties, so this was getting kind-of exciting.)
Then came the big request. The wish list. What a child wants for his or her birthday is always a good topic of conversation, however, with Mallie, from the moment she understood that she had a birthday coming, this conversation remained brief. She only wanted one thing.

But first, here is something you should know about my four-year-old daughter. She is obsessed with animals---

*pretending to be one (cat, wild cat, dog, rabbit, horse...)
*capturing them (real ones in jars: lady bugs, rolly pollies, lizards, earthworms)
*pretending her little brother is an animal
*pretending to be a captured animal
*capturing her little brother
*letting the animals go
*and (not) lastly, pretending to let the animals go---

And so, the one thing she wanted?

A cage.

Not just any cage. A cage she could get in. A big cage.
Do I get my five-year-old a cage? A CaGE!?
What kind of parent gets their little daughter a cage? What kind of little girl wants a cage? Oh yeah, Mallie. Mallie would want a cage. But what kind of parent gets their daughter a cage?!? What would my friends and neighbors think/say?
So went my mind.
At one point I had decided not to get one, and I told her so. "No room for it", I told her. She seemed alright with that, but then I realized maybe she didn't fully comprehend that that meant NO CAGE, because she kept talking about it as if it would happen.
It was two days before her big day that I sent one of my most wonderful friends to Shreveport (an hour away) to pick up the Craigslist find and secure for Mallie the best birthday ever.
I kept thinking, "It is certainly unconventional, but is it terribly unreasonable?" It is that question which allowed her the gift of her young longing. So, Happy Birthday Mallie.

Oh, and to keep with the freedom vs. captivity theme, we released 1,200 ladybugs in our yard right before we ate our cake.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Dennis Miller Bunker's (1861-1890) portrait of fellow painter, Kenneth Cranford

It's is overcast, still wet from last evenings rain, and I am listening to the likes of Jose Gonzales and Alexi Murdoch. Every time it rains I feel like I just opened a present. 
I spent time this morning looking over some of the paintings I had the pleasure of viewing in Forth Worth last Fall. I feel strangely connected to this portrait today. Not going to try to explain it, just wanted to share.

Friday, June 15, 2012

inconsistent quantities

It is past my bed time. Niel is in Washington D.C. and I procrastinate badly going to bed when he is not here.
I am missing not painting keenly tonight. I have been thinking a lot about how to keep myself grounded for the next 6 months (the time it is going to take to build our home). I am not sure taking a lot of pictures and filling my sketchbook is going to keep me from living for "tomorrow". I need it to though. I need something to. It is hard to admit that keeping house and playing with my children is not enough. I wish it was. Maybe that is why painting is so important to me, it brings something to my life nothing else quite can, and I have learned that I don't even need it in large quantities, just consistent quantities. What is a six month fast going to do to me?
Steve, maybe I will have to take up running.
This picture ALWAYS makes me feel better. Thanks Jodi Kennedy.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

choosing a house plan

Tomorrow morning Niel and I will meet with the contractor to move forward with this idea of having a house built for ourselves. The plan is to review the floor plan we like, make some adjustments, and talk about interior finishes. I have been looking forward to this ever since the meeting was set (last week), and it will be such a fun date!!! Gotta control my wagging finger. :)

Monday, May 21, 2012

good bye, hello...again

We received and ACCEPTED an offer on our house!!!  I thank everyone for their prayers. We will close in ten days, and the greatest miracle of the sale is that we will be able to rent our house from the buyers while we try to decide what our next move will be. We can stay as long as we need to build or as short as we need to find and close on a house.

In my last post I used the terms "we have a four acre lot secured", and what I meant by that was that my friend will sell it to us if we want it. I have a confession, I have been out to that property several times over this past weekend. I just couldn't stay away. I wanted to see how it sounds at different times of the day, how the light filters through the canopy in the morning...then in the evening. It truly is a piece of heaven on earth and now I know that if we decide to continue to look at other homes for sale, I won't be able to keep myself from comparing the idea of what this property could mean for our growing children, to what is right in front of me.

So grateful for a buyer for our house though, despite the big unknown of our next home.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

time for the sketchbook

Sometimes I feel like we are all over the map. We are discussing building at this point, but can I wait 6-9 months before painting seriously in the studio again? Maybe I won't have to if I can find another place to rent in the interim, or if we get a mobile home to live in while we that is big enough. There are so many things to consider, and even though it seems like an overwhelming process, I think Niel and I could sure learn a lot together in the journey. We have a four acre lot secured if we want to move forward. It is at the end of a dead-end street and has a stream running along the back of the lot. My friend raised her two daughters in a home on this land, and when it burned down many years ago, she didn't rebuild. Still waiting for a buyer on this house and being a bit of an antsy pants, I have to remind myself that it has only been on the market a week.

I am officially packing up the studio this weekend. Maybe I need to leave some smaller canvases out for myself so I don't go crazy. No. I will focus on my sketchbook and be more diligent in keeping my camera with me wherever I go. Wow. Storing up months of ideas could be interesting.

Friday, May 11, 2012

still looking

Well, the new place is not going to work out how we wanted it to. I will keep it that simple. So we are still looking and wanted to share what our current home is looking like these it is OFFICIALLY on the market now. To view photos, click HERE.
(sniff.sniff. goodbye chickens.)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

the future home place

Well, we found a house, made an offer this morning and it was accepted within 5 minutes. Please pray for us that we will be able to sell our current home quickly! The link below will only last as long as the site is active, but if you are able, check it out. SHE IS LEAVING US THE CHICKENS!! Studio with northern light, HERE I COME!!!! 

Click HERE to see more details.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

 We are selling our house and looking for a bigger place to let our children grow in. So it is very busy and exciting around here, and a time of transition. I am packing up my studio until we are settled into the new spot we'll call home. So here is hoping the selling/buying process will not take forever and I will soon be settling  into a studio contained in the walls of my home soon.

Here are more paintings from the gallery crawl presented in the Upstairs Gallery:

pink shed
16" x 20" 
oil on masonite

steel storage containers
24"x 24"
oil on masonite

Thursday, April 26, 2012

people are like clothes

People are like clothes. We are all different. We go better with some than others, we all have a few ugly seams and have all experienced a certain amount of wear and tear. In the case of these thrift store clothes, we also deal with placement and displacement. Our neighbor one moment will be moved somewhere else. Sometimes there is apparent rhyme and reason to it all, sometimes not.

clothes hanging
oil on masonite
24"x 24"

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Great show at the Upstairs Gallery, Monroe

On April 5th from 5-9, I had the honor of being one of the artists represented in the Upstairs Gallery in Monroe, Louisiana during the Downtown Art Alliance's gallery crawl. The crawl featured 10 open galleries in the area and we all enjoyed a large turnout and absolutely perfect weather. The first picture is the most recent one of me and my family.

My newest work is in the background. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012


A new painting in a series I am working on about the permanence and impermanence of neighbors.

16"x 20"

Friday, April 20, 2012

a window pane useful again

 A friend of mine recently gave me a few old window panes from her house. She is having them replaced with new vinyl ones and my daughter ended up feeling pretty cool when I made her this desk.
I would put it on Pinterest, but I have no idea how...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

a repentant blogger

A repentant blogger reporting. Just wanted to let everyone know I am still here. Still painting.