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Friday, October 29, 2010

Chambre d'Hôtes. . .10/29/10

Everything in life is a work in progress. A home is no different. Unless you are using an interior decorator who will, from start to finish, furnish your home and provide you with a completed product, or unless you choose to adopt a modern minimalist approach to decorating, it is always evolving. My newest project that I am choosing to share with you is my guest bedroom or, in the language spoken in heaven, chambre d'hotes.

My thought is that while the room is "fine" as is, for now, it feels unfinished; like an empty canvas waiting to be drawn upon. And I will confess that since I know the house we are in is 99.9% not the house we are going to live in forever, I sometimes don't make too much of an effort in areas that are not widely used in the home. I do like to take my time regardless because I am my own decorator and I never want to be done. Decorating and designing things in my home; being creative and enjoying the hunt for the unique is my happy place. Why would I want that to be over?

Anyway, here are some photographs of the present state of my guest bedroom. I'll post these now and as it evolves, and hopefully improves, I'll post more photographs of the changes. Maybe in the next few antique stops I hit, I'll find the perfect pieces. . .cross your fingers.

ABOVE: I love the starting "feel" of this room. I adore the bedding. The rocking chair was actually mine as a child. It was a honey color and lived in my room all my life. When I got married and moved into this house I had it darkened to stand out from these blue/gray walls. I loooove the wall color!
ABOVE: A close-up of the side table's styling. It is not at all what I want it to look like but since I'm having guests over soon, it needs something for the time being.
ABOVE: My hobnail vase. Found in Roundtop this past fall for $7!! I love a good deal. And I LOVE hydrangeas.
ABOVE: This little silk envelope is a replica that I bought myself when my husband and I became engaged. Back in the days (who knows how long ago), lovers left these envelopes all over the house or wherever with sweet nothings written to one another. I thought it was remarkably romantic and sweet.
ABOVE: The bedding is a combination of brands - but that's what I love - the mix of textures. The headboard is actually not a headboard - it's a rusty, chippy piece of tin metal that I found at Marburger TWO AND A HALF years ago! I have been debating where in the many possible places in our home I wanted to hang it but since it is just shy of the width of the queen bed, I went ahead and tried something outside the box. I love the way it turned out.
ABOVE: Here is a close up of my "headboard."
ABOVE: Here is a wide span photo of the window wall. Aside from the sconces, it just feels so empty. Not that empty is always bad but. . .feels like something might be missing.ABOVE: Close-up of the sconce. I never ever put actual lights or candles in my sconces or candlesticks throughout the house. I like them better bare.
ABOVE: My lovely antique buffet and hutch. It is still in the early stages of shelf styling but there's a whole different blog post covering that topic ;)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Peach Basket. . .10/24/10

I like to cook. Yeah, I definitely like to cook, but I LOVE to entertain. I love making something for someone else; serving others. I love watching them enjoy it and I know that this is sick and totally twisted, but I also really love cleaning up the mess after it's all over. My husband "affectionately" calls me Monica Gellar.

So, this past Saturday I was exhausted. I mean staring-out-the-window-into-space exhausted yet somehow when my family popped by I mustered up the energy to get to work. After all, when you come from a Latin background it is IMPOSSIBLE to have people over and not feed them so I decided a scrumptious new dessert was apropos.

I went to the grocery store and picked up the necessary ingredients, and note to anyone ever interested in publishing a cookbook: show pictures of the food. When something looks yummy, someone will make it and eat it! Anyway, once back, this busy little bee got busy and made Glazed Peaches in Phyllo Baskets. It was every bit as tasty as the photograph made it appear. So tasty in fact that despite having promised myself I'd try only one bite to know how my cooking fared and would then put the rest aside (so as to not break my diet), I ate the whole thing! Voraciously I might add! If you are interested in trying it out for yourself, the recipe, and my own photographs, are below:

These are the peaches. The recipe does not call for them to be warmed like this along with the apple jelly but I just thought it'd taste better hot. Up to you.

These are the phyllo baskets just out of the over. I used these adorable scalloped ramekins to cook and serve the dessert in but you can also remove them and serve them as a stand along basket.
This is the final product from a few angles and up close.

This delicious pastry is stunning enough to serve at a fancy dinner party yet simple and easy enough to prepare as an every day treat, which is exactly what I did! You can even make the phyllo baskets a few days in advance, store them in an airtight container at room temperature and serve when ready! They taste fantastic alone but I served mine with homemade vanilla ice cream. You could also serve it with whipped cream or even with some powdered sugar. Add a mint leaf for a pretty garnish.

Ingredients:

1/2 whole milk ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons granulated sugar - divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons chopped hazelnuts, toasted and ground
6 sheets phyllo dough (18x24 inch)
1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter
Cooking spray
3 cups peeled and chopped ripe peaches
1/2 apple jelly

1. Preheat oven to 35o degrees.
2. Place ricotta, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl, beat with mixer until well blended. Cover and chill.
3. Combine remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and hazelnuts. Stack 2 phyllo sheets on a large cutting board or work surface; brush with half of melted butter. Sprinkle phyllo stack with half of hazelnut mixture. Repeat process with 2 phyllo sheets, remaining butter and remaining hazelnut mixture. Top with remaining 2 phyllo sheets and gently press layers together. Coat top phyllo sheet with cooking spray and cut phyllo stack into 6 rectangles. Carefully place 1 layered rectangle into each of 6 ramekins coated with cooking spray. Gently press rectangles into ramekins to form baskets, then place ramekins on baking sheet in the oven.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp. Once cooled, carefully remove phyllo baskets from ramekins.
5. Just before serving, spread about 1 tablespoon of cheese mixture into bottom of each phyllo basket. Combine peaches and melted apple jelly and spoon about 1/2 peach mixture into each phyllo basket. Serve immediately.

NUTRITION: 264 calories per phyllo basket (yields 6 servings).

Recipe - Cooking Light.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Le Debut. . .10/22/10

It's no secret that I have an all-consuming love affair with all things French. . .thus the title of this blog. I love French food, French culture, French fashion, French music, but the piece de resistance, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE French interior design. One step inside my home and you might feel like a French country antique shop engulfed you. Or not. What can I say? We love what we love, oui? It should not then be a big shocker that for my debut (technically second) entry to this, my second blog site, is a French tea cake.

On Tuesday afternoon I was in the mood to create something. Something delicious. Both Rusty and Tess were napping so whatever I was going to create had to be born of ingredients currently present in my pantry. So, I sat down, opened a cookbook and perused cake recipes. After flipping through a few pages, I decided that I could probably tweak a recipe or two and come up with one of my own. After all, chefs do it all the time, right?? The worst that could happen is that it is not edible and goes to the trash. Cest la vie, no? So, off I went. I did exactly what I proposed - tweaked some coffee cake recipes to make what I created and now affectionately call: Emily's French Tea Cake. Voila!

Here is my final product. Since I baked four mini loaves, I went ahead and packaged three so I could give them away. I must have felt pretty confident about the outcome because I gave away two loaves the next morning to two girls I met FOUR days before and was joining for a NEW bible study. Easy way to turn away new friends if the tea cakes are awful, right? But apparently, they were not. I got rave reviews from both ladies who devoured the cakes before my eyes! I was SERIOUSLY in shock!!
As an added "Frenchy" bonus, I placed a few pieces of lavender in the package from the arrangement on my breakfast table.
Here is a closer shot. The cake is meant to be VERY subtle in taste, which is why I decidedly called it a tea cake - something you can enjoy with tea, that does not have an overwhelming taste but is sufficiently delicate enough in flavor.
Bon Apetit!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

la vie Abondante. . .10/20/10


As a mother of two small children it is very easy to lose myself, to forget who or what I am. Am I a mother? Yes. Am I a wife? Yes. Am I a daughter? A friend? A Christian? Yes. Yes. Yes. Al those things are true and all of them are blessings in my life but sometimes I wonder if being those things is really enough.

I was once a reporter in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Missouri and even here in Houston. I was once an attorney. I was once an antiques dealer. I was. Now I spend my days in the monotony of motherhood. It is the most wonderful experience I have ever had. I've never been more content than when I am with my children, but a knowledge that I am capable of more bellows. I am too often too tired to do anything more than what is required, I am too uninspired, too lacking in free time, too removed, too everything. I call it half-living. I spend a lot of my time half living and it needs to change. Now.

Starting today, on this new blog, I am going to share inspirations, recipes, ideas, scripture, influences and life lessons. I am going to live a full life or die trying. This blog is therefore apropos in title. La Vie Abondante is, in French of course, "the abundant life". I hope you will join me in living a full life.

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it more abundantly." - John 10:10