Monday, March 31, 2008

Delfina Falcao

Ottawa artist Delfina Falcao is one busy and extremely talented lady -- when she's not creating gorgeous glass murals, she's forming lovely glass lampshades and one of a kind area rugs. Here's a photo of Delfina in her studio and some examples of her outstanding work. I especially love the glass mural hanging in the bathroom. What a fabulous way to add pizzaz to a contemporary space. For more information, you can reach Delfina at 613-599-9540 or Happy viewing and imagining!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Cheesecake extraordinaire

Well, luckily my Easter cheesecake was a resounding success, and it wasn't hard either! So, as promised, here's the recipe for the next time you're craving a fabulous finish to a fabulous meal. I pulled this recipe a few years ago from a Gourmet magazine spread called In Pursuit of Cheesecakes, where Gourmet says it is their absolute favourite in the creamy category. And, wow, is this ever true. Sorry I don't have a photo -- I kind of missed the boat on that one, and it was eaten way too fast! -- but it really is a little taste of heaven. Hope you enjoy!

Three Cities of Spain Cheesecake (from Gourmet Magazine, November 1999)

1 graham crumb crust
3 8-oz packages cream cheese softened
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sugar

For topping
16 oz sour cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

** I made this into a lemon cheesecake, so I also added 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon of lemon zest to the filling, and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to the topping. I suggest, though, that you taste test, just to make sure you have the right amount of lemon/sugar that you like.

Prepare crumb crust. Stir together 1.5 cups finely ground graham crackers, 5 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted), 1/3 cup sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. I also added 1 teaspoon of grated lemon rind. Press onto bottom and 1 inch up side of a buttered 24-centimeter springform pan. Fill right away or chill up to 2 hours.

Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until fluffy and add eggs, 1 at a time, then vanilla and sugar, beating on low speed until each ingredient is incorporated and scraping down bowl between additions.

Put springform pan with crust in a shallow baking pan. Pour filling into crust and bake in baking pan (to catch drips)in middle of oven 45 minutes, or until cake is set 3 inches from edge but centre is still slightly wobbly when pan is gently shaken. Let stand in baking pan on a rack 5 minutes. Leave oven on.

Make topping:

Stir together sour cream, sugar, and vanilla. Drop spoonfulls of topping around edge of cake and spread gently over centre, smoothing evenly. Bake cake with topping 10 minutes.

Run a knife around top edge of cake to loosen and cool completely in springform pan on rack. (Cake will continue to set as it cools.) Chill cake, loosely covered, at least 6 hours. Remove side from pan and transfer cake to a plate. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Everyday miracles

Whew! What a week! Work was busy, and on top of it, my back decided to give me a hard time. Have you ever had one of those stiff necks that just won't go away no matter how many ways you've tried to fix it? Well, that's been me -- the person ahead of you in the hallway who has to move their ENTIRE body when they want to look at you behind them. Yep, one of those weeks ...

Anyways, I want to share something a bit different with you today. It's not exclusive, it's not even related to design, but it is related to life. Here goes ...

Last weekend, we were lucky to visit my sister and her husband at their 150-year old home just north of Kingston in Eastern Ontario. We'd been planning this visit for weeks, but for one reason or another -- hockey practices, colds, flus, you name it -- we just had to keep putting it off. Finally, we got around to it, and we had a fabulous day -- celebrating birthdays, singing and playing guitar, walking along soggy, but beautiful roads, and admiring all the work and love which my sister and her husband are putting into fixing up their home.

The highlight of the day, though, was definitely our marshmallow roast in the backyard. You see, their house is no ordinary house -- it was built in 1862 for the manager of a mill, and for this mill to work, well you had to have water -- lots of it, running fast ....

So, as you can imagine, their backyard is pretty amazing, and their house is, too. Everywhere you go, you hear the sound of running water, and everywhere you look, you see running water, or something else beautiful and wild. No cars, no traffic, no fabric swatches and paint samples to better, or perhaps, confuse the situation -- just nature designing itself in its own miraculous way. And, what a miracle it is indeed ...

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone, and if you're celebrating Easter, Happy Easter to you, too. We're spending Easter with my parents, and I'm cooking up a storm getting ready for their visit. Tomorrow, I'm slated to make a lemon cheesecake, and if it turns out, I'll share the recipe with you next week. Hugs from Ottawa.

View from my sister's house and backyard. In summer, you can swim in the pond near the base of the rapids. And, they have a huge vegetable and herb garden beside the house. I'm truly jealous about this!

Marshmallowing. The kids had a blast in front of the campfire. That's my sister's house being renovated in the background. The dilapidated brown building to the right is the old mill. I've heard someone just bought it, and I'm looking forward to seeing how they fix it up.

Apparently, roasted marshmallows are one thing, but even better are roasted marshmallow sandwiches with chocolate chips!! Mmm ... mmm ... good.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Unique Hotels: King Pacific Lodge

If you're looking for tranquility this summer, you might want to consider the King Pacific Lodge -- a unique floating fishing lodge moored in the shelter of Barnard Harbour, British Columbia. This beautiful, 17-room resort is truly serene -- a unique eco-paradise located right in the middle of the Canadian wilderness. Enjoy fly fishing, wildlife tours, hiking, and spa treatments during the day, and then at night, come back to your peaceful suite equipped with a king-sized bed, refined linens, and slate-tiled bathroom with soaker tub. Sounds good, doesn't it? True relaxation in the middle of the wilderness! Enjoy these beautiful images and I'll see you on Monday. Have a terrific weekend!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Greening up accessories

In a world where green design is king, Vancouver's Ouno Design is making waves. Ouno (pronounced OO-no) makes one-of-a-kind decor accessories using mostly vintage materials like antique and modern Japanese cottons and linens, mod-1960s and 1970s European graphic prints, midcentury-modern woven textiles, and sheepskin and fur reclaimed from vintage coats. Here are some images of Ouno's fabulous designs, including marvellous pillows made from vintage fabrics and bedspreads made from vintage scarves. Do you see the beaver in the first image? Well, he's a vintage scarf from the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal! I'd love to have that bedspread, and wouldn't it look absolutely terrific in an open-concept, warehouse loft?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Wall tattoos, anyone?

As many of you know, I love wall tattoos. They are a terrific way to add visual interest to a room, and easy to remove when it's time for a change! Here are some images I particularly like from Surface Collective, a very talented design company based in Vancouver. And, for more wall tattoos, check out my earlier posts on Wall Juice, a company based in Ottawa.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Unique hotels: Part 3

Cranes are huge machines that lift things, right? They're big and industrial, best suited to constuction sites and loading docks. But, imagine a crane where you actually spend the night, high above the water, looking over a harbour, and a fabulous lighthouse! Well, that's exactly what's possible at the Harlingen Harbour Crane in Harlingen, the Netherlands.

In it's previous life, the Harlingen Harbour Crane was used to unload timber freight from Russia and Scandinavia. Today, there's room for you and one other, to spend the night in the crane's beautifully appointed main room and cabin - complete with lovely bed, Eames Chairs, mini bar, a large roof patio, and huge panoramic views through wall and ceiling windows. And, guess what! You can even operate the crane! Here are some photos of the Harlingen Harbour Crane and you can click here for more information on the Crane and other very unique Harlingen accommodation. Here's to a fabulous weekend, and I'll see you on Monday with some ideas for your walls!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Sharon Kelly - Ottawa art

I start to crave colour around this time of year. Big, bold, beautiful colour -- the kind of colour you find in summer; exotic locales; or gorgeous, textured paintings like those of Ottawa artist, Sharon Kelly. Here are some examples of Sharon's work -- all kaleidiscopes of bright, vibrant colour. Each totally meet my summer cravings, and I hope you enjoy them, too. BTW, Sharon's work is available through the Dale Smith Gallery in Ottawa, and more examples of her work are displayed on the Gallery website.