Meet the newest little member of the Rowland household:

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Violet from Violet, Louisiana. I originally wanted a cat named Clementine, but when we got her she just wasn’t a Clementine. She is totally a Violet. I love that her name holds a little piece of her history.

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We’ve had her for a week. She is seven weeks old. Tiny little thing.

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She likes to take cat naps snuggled up on my lap, long walks on the back of the couch, and likes to play with my mouse and try to jump on my computer when I’m working. She also likes neck and belly rubs.

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She does not like loud noises or when I get on my phone instead of playing with her.

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As you can see from these photos, my productivity levels turn to mush around her and we end up lounging on the couch when I should be working/cleaning/cooking, etc.

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She follows me around the house. And runs to the door to greet me when I get off work.

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Now all I do is sit around and take pictures of my cat. #catmom

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Click to check out June, July, and August.

Right now in life, I am:

MAKING progress on my goals for creative self-improvement! I’ve been practicing my calligraphy and hand-lettering (I joined the New Orleans Lettering Arts Association), I’ve been working on a few logo projects, I’ve started Bonnie Christine’s Designing Surface Patterns from Scratch Course on CreativeLive, I’ve been blogging more lately, and I’ve been working on a much needed blog re-design! (more to come with all of this in October!)
COOKING many loaves of Artisan Gluten-free Bread, making lots of yummy Fall soups, such as Chicken Tortilla soup, White Chicken Chili, and Creamy Potato Soup with Sausage and Kale, and baking up some delicious Cheese Stuffed Lasagna Manicotti.
DRINKING mostly water, as usual. A little bit of sweet tea while Front Porch Sitting.
READING The Happiness Project, still. Drew and I have been reading a little bit of it in the evenings together before bed. Lately I’ve really been wanting to re-read Anne of Green Gables (my absolute favorite book ever).
WANTING to have time to get through Bonnie Christine’s Designing Surface Patterns from Scratch Course next month! I’ve watched a little bit of it live and I’ve bought the course to watch, but I just haven’t had time to make it through it yet (working full-time makes it hard to have time for all this creative stuff!). I’m so excited about this though. For the longest time I’ve wanted to design fabric and I’m excited to start actually making surface pattern designs and see where that leads!
PLAYING country music on the radio.
SEWING nothing right now.
CROCHETING a baby blanket for Drew’s niece’s baby. Just finished it today!
WISHING for an October filled with lots of time outside.
ENJOYING the gorgeous weather in New Orleans. This weekend is the first weekend we’ve been able to have the windows open. Absolutely LOVE this time of year!
WAITING to hang our living room gallery wall until I have all the pieces painted/framed/collected. Getting closer! I did get a few frames this weekend that were on clearance at Target!
LIKING the antique shopping we did last weekend and the beautiful, twinkling hot air balloons we saw.

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WONDERING where I can find an old church pew for my foyer/dining room.
LOVING that the hot Summer temperatures are mostly gone and Drew and I’s 7 year dating anniversary is coming up in October! (yes, we still celebrate that!).
HOPING that I meet a lot of creative goals next month.
MARVELING at the change in seasons. In New Orleans, it doesn’t look much different from season to season, but it feels so different. I love this quote:

“There is indeed, something inexpressibly pleasing in the annual renovation of the world, and the new display of the treasures of nature.” -Samuel Johnson

NEEDING to paint more. My Art Studio Inspiration Wall is inspiring me, now I just have to make the time to sit down and paint!
SMELLING the first Sunday roast of the season in the oven cooking as I type.
WEARING ballet flats again! It is still warm enough outside here to wear flip-flops/sandals, but I’ve started making the Fall transition to flats lately.
FOLLOWING along with Bonnie Christine’s Design Surface Patterns From Scratch Blog Tour. So inspiring to see everything that people have been able to create since taking her class. A great motivator! See more work from the students that have taken her class so far, here.
NOTICING nature around me lately. Drew and I were walking around for Art’s for Art’s Sake last night and I kept stopping to take pictures of pretty things.
KNOWING that things change, often for the better. Missing Kelly (our Associate Pastor I had the pleasure of working with over the last year) and her family as they move to Seattle, Washington. Enjoyed a lovely farewell lunch for her at Commander’s Palace last week. (photo above)
THINKING a lot about my future, my creative passions, my career, and what I really want out of life.
BOOKMARKING this book I want to read, these fabric designs I love, this rug I really want, and this artist whose work I really enjoy.
OPENING my new iPhone 6! I got it on release day! It is the first time I’ve upgraded my phone (to a brand new one) in almost 5 years, so it was much needed!
LAUGHING and enjoying time with friends while watching a Tulane game in the new Yulman Stadium. A totally different experience than Tulane football was when I was in school! (they used to play at the Superdome downtown).
FEELING thankful for the church I work at and the 20/30s program there. I’m enjoying forming closer friendships with lots of great people. Loving our Friday afternoon Front Porch Sitting Club

Drew loves lasagna, spaghetti, anything really with a tomato-based sauce. I recently came across this recipe and we tried it (tweaking  it a little to be gluten-free) and fell in love. It really is delicious and much better, in my opinion, than regular lasagna.

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Cheese Stuffed Lasagna Manicotti

makes about 6 servings, original recipe from here.

Ingredients: 
-2 cups (16 oz) ricotta cheese
-4 cups shredded cheese (I use around 1 1/2 cups mozzarella, 1 1/2 cups Parmesan, and 1 cup white cheddar)
-2 large eggs
-2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, minced
-2 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped (optional, if I don’t have this on hand, I usually just add a little dried basil or Italian seasoning)
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
-12 lasagna noodles (I use gluten-free ones, of course)
-3 cups (24 oz) garlic and herb pasta/marinara sauce

Directions:
1. Boil several cups of water on the stove or in a teapot.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
3. Lay lasagna noodles out flat in a 9×13 inch baking dish. Pour boiling water on top of them, and let them soak until pliable, 5-10 minutes. (You might have to separate with a knife or fork every so often to prevent sticking).
4. In medium-sized bowl, shred cheeses (mozzarella, Parmesan, white cheddar, etc.) and mix together. Even though it takes longer, I try to always freshly shred any cheeses I’m going to bake with. Pre-shredded cheese comes coated in flour or cornstarch to prevent clumping and can result in an unpleasant, gritty texture when melted (not to mention that it isn’t always gluten-free!).
5. Remove 1 cup of cheese, reserving for later.
6. In the bowl with the rest of the cheeses, mix in ricotta, eggs, parsley, basil, salt and pepper.
7. Remove noodles from water and place in a single layer on clean dish towels with the short ends facing you.
8. Discard water from 9×13 inch baking dish, then spread 1 cup of pasta sauce in the bottom of the pan and spread evenly.
9. Spread cheese mixture over the bottom three-quarters of each noodle. Roll the noodles up around the filling and place in rows on top of the pasta sauce in baking dish.
10. Once all noodles are in baking dish, spread the rest of the pasta sauce over the tops of the noodles.
11. Cover with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes.
12. Remove foil, top noodles with the remaining cup of shredded cheeses and bake for 10 more minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Enjoy!

P.S. These are delicious and make a great meatless meal! You could also add in chopped spinach to this recipe (add it into the cheese mixture) or if you must have meat, add cooked ground beef or sausage into the pasta sauce. You can also freeze the stuffed noodles to cook later, just place filled noodles seam side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet, spaced out so they aren’t touching. Freeze until firm, about 1 hour. Once frozen, transfer to a freezer bag or other airtight container. When ready to bake, follow the rest of the assembly instructions above, but increase the baking time (while covered with foil) to about 40 minutes.

One of the things I learned in art school is that, as a creative professional, it is important to surround yourself with work (specifically by other artists/creative persons) that inspires you. Your work becomes better by looking at other artist’s work and thinking through their processes, studying their compositions, color combinations, flow, brush marks, lines, movement, etc. I love using Pinterest and Instagram to follow and pin work of artists I love, but I find that it is most helpful to have that inspiration close at hand (in physical rather than digital form) in my studio/office space.

When I was in college, I turned an old thrift store ornate frame I had into a inspiration board (see here in my Tulane studio and again here, here, and here in my home studio). I loved having my inspirations close by, but it was a really small surface area and I was constantly having to pick my favorites to put on it. For a while I’ve wanted to build something a little bigger than that, but I just hadn’t decided on what. Should this one be another fabric-covered cork board or should I look into a large piece of metal to make a magnetic one? I was talking through my ideas with Drew one evening and he was all like, “Don’t you have a bunch of washi tape? Why don’t you just tape them to the wall?” Well hello, genius!

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I had an empty wall in my studio just sitting there waiting for all these beautiful photos!

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Washi tape is great for this because it holds the images up nicely, but is also easily removable without damaging any walls. I love that the tape can add a little extra color/pattern to it all as well.

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My placement got a little crooked but I don’t care. That is the imperfect beauty of it. The only bad part is that the only wall space I had for this was next to my desk area, which is across the room from my painting studio area. I wish I could have these right next to me when I paint, instead of across the room, but this solution is still better than what I had before. Plus, I still have extra space to expand with more inspiration in the future. No more having to pick favorites!

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Aren’t all of these pieces just gorgeous? I have a few paintings and prints by these artists, but I wish I could buy them all!

Since there are so many images, it is too hard to list sources in a clearly labeled and legible way on here, so if you want to know what artist a particular painting on here is by, check out my “art” board on Pinterest, which includes the photos and links to the artists, or comment about which one you are wondering about and I’ll give you the info. They are all fabulous artists so go check out their websites and follow them on Instagram or through their blogs!

What inspires you? What are your favorite artists?

P.S. These inspiration images are for inspiration only! Never copy another artist’s work and make sure you keep track of the artists that you are inspired by to give them proper credit.

It is only the beginning of Fall (and still feels like Summer in New Orleans), but I’m already on a soup kick. I just love the warm, cozy, deliciousness of a good bowl of soup. A week or two ago, I posted a recipe for Chicken Tortilla Soup, and this recipe I’m sharing today might even beat that one. Not only is this one delicious and gluten-free, but it is also incredibly quick and easy!

We’ve been doing more meal planning ahead of time lately, so we bought a 3-pack of chicken breasts at the beginning of the week, cooked them all (seasoned them and seared on both sides in a cast iron skillet until cooked through), and then kept them in the fridge to use in recipes the rest of the week (like this one). You could also use a rotisserie chicken for this recipe too though if you want to keep it quick and simple without the chicken prep. Perfect for an after-work, weeknight meal.

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Simple White Chicken Chili (gluten-free)

Makes about 6 servings, original recipe from here.

Ingredients:

- 6 cups chicken broth
- 1-2 cooked chicken breasts, shredded
- 2 (15-oz) cans Great Northern or Navy beans, drained
- 2 cups salsa verde (or one 16-18 oz jar)
- 2 tsp. ground cumin

Toppings: (optional, but delicious)

-diced avocado
-shredded cheese
-sour cream
-crumbled tortilla chips

Directions:

1. Add chicken broth, shredded chicken, beans, salsa verde and cumin to a medium saucepan and stir to combine.
2. Heat over medium-high heat until boiling, then cover and reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for at least 5 minutes.
3. Serve warm with desired toppings.

Enjoy!

P.S. This recipe could easily be adapted to be more of a traditional “tortilla soup” recipe. Use black beans or pinto beans, add in diced tomatoes, corn, whatever you wish!

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