feb-inspiration

If you know me, you know I love dark chocolate. And for those of you who can relate to food beyond mere appreciation but rather amorous devotion, you will want to try this flourless chocolate cake recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, My French Kitchen (2vol) by Joanne Harris .  It is one of those recipes that has become almost illegible in the book due to my obsessive use. My children will have little trouble identifying which cookbooks and specific recipes I have grown to love as the stains and dog-eared pages are obvious markers.  This cake is simple in regards to preparation and isn’t anything fussy that requires a cake server and fine china. Most definitely, it will fix anything that has gone wrong in the day if eaten warm, right out of the pan. I promise.

febGateau Lawrence

6 ½ ounces (70% cocoa) chocolate - I personally buy dark chocolate bars w/ sea salt

12 Tablespoons unsalted butter (softened)

2/3 cups sugar or less

1 2/3 cups of ground almonds (Trader Joes sells large bags)

4 large eggs (separated)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Break chocolate into small pieces. Melt on stovetop at lowest setting in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Remove from heat. Cream together butter (room temp) and sugar. Add ground almonds, egg yolks, melted chocoate and beat until evenly blended. Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into batter gently. Poor into a cake pan ( I like a fluted 9” tart pan) and bake 35 minutes.

It will have a light crust on the outside but the inside will be soft with a moist, dense sponge.  It should neither be dry nor goey. The book calls for a chocolate icing but personally, I think it is overkill. Typically, my children and I eat this right out of the oven gathered around the kitchen island. The sighs and smiles are gateways to open hearted conversations. But sometimes, I make this just for me and eat it in bed with a good book and cup of tea. Happy Valentines!

 

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jan-begins

New beginnings come to us in many forms and once in a while, through least expected circumstances.  Most of us actively seek them out with the fresh start of a new year; however, others burst upon us, stopping us suddenly in our tracks, forcing our mental and emotional "clocks" to stop long enough to ponder its significance. Whether forced or invited, such reflections are all good.

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I am reminded of the question posed all too often in our youth but forgotten in our later years. “So, what do you want to be when you grow up?” Don’t think it is ever too late to ask yourself this again and again. And don’t think you can’t be multiple things at once. Growing old to me means sitting in one dimensional grey tones rather than opening yourself up to the invigorating colors of change.

 

Professionally, I meet most of my new clients this time of year as women typically want their homes to reflect whatever inner stirrings are taking place even if subconsciously. Now and then, it takes the re-weaving or re-ordering of the place you call home to actually acknowledge and become one with the emerging, new you. Occasionally, it takes creating a new vernacular within the home to step into a new role. And periodically, we just rip out what isn’t working and rebuild from a dream. I always feel so honored being witness to these changes. It is a great gift.

 

“I live my life in ever widening circles”

                                                                                                                Rilke

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december

Now that the snow has blanketed our gardens and we have lost our canopy of color over the drive, it is time for an infusion of all that is jade, olive, emerald and lime . And regardless of what holiday you celebrate in these winter months, nothing is better on these dusty grey days than the color, texture and smell of fresh greens in and around the house.  Go visit your local nursery and explore the delicacy of …

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Red Seeded Eucalyptus

Green Eucalyptus

Incense Cedar

Juniper

Red Huck

Blue Cone Cedar

The subtle pinks and plum of the Red Seeded Eucalyptus make it my personal favorite this year and its perfume keeps me smiling. Try some. Let this verdant (verdeant in Old French) collection keep your senses singing right into Spring.

 

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end-nov

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With the crisp chill and whirl of leaves comes the fresh scent of  cedar garlands, an amased flicker of candles,  vases overflowing with the radiant color of floral and fruit bouquets, the sugared aromas from the kitchen, sparkling table settings, jubilant music and a blushed glow in the hearth.  And while some wonder why these things should matter, I feel the investment holds more value than anything found in a shopping mall or purchased hurriedly with the promise of free shipping.  For in this time of recession, more than any in my lifetime, we need a return to an unplugged, home-based tradition – gatherings around table and hearth.

Nothing encourages GATHERINGS more than the sedate winter months of Wisconsin. And our holiday nestings give enough pause for a slower exchange of  stories.  Sadly, it often takes the effort we put into our holiday preparation to embolden this yearly sigh of thanks for our own story and prompt a real look at the beautiful faces that infuse our busy lives with spirit.

Countless thanks to all of my captivating clients.

You make my job a source of joyful delight.

Thank you from the depths of my heart.

 

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late-october

october-imagePart of designing the perfect life for oneself is paying close attention to dreams. If you can dream it, you can materialize it. It requires focus, patience and energy - all of which I bring to the equation. But most importantly, it requires you to slow down enough to identify what elements in your life bring you the most joy.

Let your home be an extension of whatever "that" is. Let each room cloak you in the warmth of your own joyful expressions. The best designed homes are not for show. They do not mimic - they sing a very personal melody. My favorite designs revolve around the senses, the sounds, textures, colors and memories that make my clients smile.


a European kitchen designed around a client's 10 foot French harvest table because the more people she can gather around her table in the middle of her kitchen, the better

a living room filled with oriental porcelains, paintings and fabrics that remind the owner of her childhood overseas

a house filled with library niches because the client treasures not only the time with her books but the sight of them

a kitchen painted in the warm colors of Southern France for a client who dreams of going there

a house filled with all the shades of an Irish blue seascape to remind a client of her roots

or, my house, which is an extension of my beloved outdoor gardens


Sit and ponder, wander and observe and then make a list of all that you dream about. The most nourishing designs reflect your enthusiasm for living. So live it.
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