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.