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!

This Summer was the Summer I finally said “enough” to the living room paint color. I’ve wanted to paint the walls in our living room for years (I didn’t like the color and they were splotchy from being touched up with color matched paint that wasn’t perfect), but for one reason or another, had never gotten around to it. Finally, I not only painted the living room, but I finally painted the French doors in there (red isn’t my color of choice), and the foyer/dining room as well! It was a productive Summer for painting rooms!

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It seems like August is the time to work on projects in the living room for me. Last August, I added the Teal/Turquoise pillows in there, the August before that I added the photo gallery wall above the couch (which I’ve since taken down and plan to re-do soon), and the August before that, we re-arranged the space and added the Drop Cloth Curtains and TV stand (the curtains I just replaced this Summer).

Here is a little tour of our foyer/dining room & living room now:

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We still LOVE the plant/console table we built ourselves (one of our favorite things in the house!). Curtains are from Pottery Barn Teen, which I love, but I’m a little disappointed in them. They weren’t cheap (they were my Valentine’s Day present one year, lol!) and they’ve faded quite a bit, especially in certain spots. Dining room table is from the Nashville flea market, dining chairs are vintage, rug and baskets on the console table are from Target, milk glass bowl, old Reader’s Digest books, small white cabinet were thrifted, wood stump was the cake stand at our wedding, black lamp was given to us by Drew’s mom and then I gave it a makeover, Self-Portrait woodcut  and small abstracts are done by me, the glass jar candles on the table and console are from our wedding, door wreath I made, and gold plant pot is from Home Depot that I painted gold.

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I really love how the color on the walls came out in here. It’s a nice taupe-y grey (Smoked Oyster by Valspar in a Satin finish). It’s two shades darker on the same paint swatch card as the color in the living room, so they tie in well together. All the windows in this room really play well into having a slightly darker color on the walls. I love how it makes the art and trim pop.

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I’m so happy that the entire house isn’t painted the same fleshy-red-tan color anymore!

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I finally replaced our Drop Cloth Drapes with some simple white curtains (I made these out of white twin bed sheets I ordered online for super cheap!) I love how the white brightens the room up! I was tired of the dull tan of the drop cloths and the seam down the middle of them always bothered me. They served us well for several years though!

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I LOVE the French doors in black. I think they make such a pretty and dramatic statement. I love that they are a neutral color that allows my art and accessories to really shine. I didn’t love the red before because I don’t use the color red very often and I felt like they didn’t go with the rest of our house.

Couch and loveseat are from Compass Furniture in New Orleans, television/media cabinet is from Target, white bookcase is from IKEA, painting above loveseat was a wedding gift from my sister and her husband (by New Orleans artist Adam Hall), big turquoise velvet couch pillows are from World Market, teal and patterned pillows I made from World Market cloth napkins (these and these), light blue pedestal side table next to loveseat is from Nadeau in New Orleans, cream and white damask throw, wire basket (filled with yarn on bookshelf), remote box, and wooden @ symbol from TJ Maxx, floor lamp is from Lowe’s, silver table lamp is from Compass Furniture (scored it for $15 with a Living Social Deal!),  8×10 area rug from Lowe’s (scored it for $15!), wooden ladder and quilts were thrifted, beads are from Mardi Gras parades, basket (with magazines in it behind the french doors) was a wedding gift, landscape painting on the bookshelf was a wedding gift (painted my Drew’s mom’s good friend and my 8th grade teacher!), globe was mine from when I was little bought for me by my Mamaw, the chalkboard message board was from our wedding (originally from here), small pink table is from Target, and the abstract paintings and ceramic artichoke were made by me.

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The coffee table/bench is also new! When my childhood best friend, Tonya, and her husband, Peter, were visiting New Orleans this Summer, we spent one evening in the French Quarter eating and walking in antique shops before heading to the Frenchmen Art Market and to listen to some music on Frenchmen Street. In one of the little shops we walked into, I found this wooden table base (without a top) and we bought it for $30. I cleaned it up and rubbed it down with some coconut oil, and Drew and I made a tufted table/bench top for it out of wood, foam, linen fabric and fabric covered buttons. It was an exhausting project (much more so than I had expected), but I’m pleased with how it turned out!

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The wall color in here is Asiago by Valspar in a Satin finish. I wanted something that was almost white, but had a soft white creaminess to it (to go with the trim that looks white, but is really pretty creamy-off-white). I love how this color turned out. It brightens up this room and I think it is really going to look great with the new gallery wall I have planned for above the sofa! I really love how it looks with the black French doors (I’m loving the high contrast of black and white these days) and the color in the foyer/dining room too.

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Last, but not least, this photo is of the small little hallway at the back of the house (right off the long hallway that spans down most of our apartment). It leads to the bathroom and our bedroom. We painted it Semi-Sweet by Valspar (also in a Satin finish) this Summer as well. I think it looks great! Dark and moody and works so well with all the white trim and the fact that the bathroom right next to it is full of white tile, white walls, white sink/toilet/tub, etc. The art in the white frames pop off this wall so perfectly! It makes this little space feel more like a “room” and less of just a pass-through space.

I’m so happy that after 3 1/2 years of living in this apartment, we have finally painted some walls! Only $30 for a gallon of paint and a few hours of time, I don’t know why I put it off for so long!

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Y’all, I’m so excited about this! As you know, I’ve been eating gluten-free for almost two years now (after years of serious digestive problems caused by wheat). That means I’ve switched to a diet that is full of meat, veggies, fruits, nuts/seeds, along with the easier starches for me to eat — rice, potatoes, etc. Slowly over the last two years I’ve worked on coming up with and trying out gluten-free recipes for traditionally glutinous things like cookies/pies/desserts, tortillas, muffins, etc, but I still eat those things rather sparingly and I only make them homemade (I don’t buy a lot of pre-made gluten-free snacks from the grocery store). I’ve gotten used to eating our previous night’s dinner leftovers for my lunches, so I don’t make many sandwiches and therefore I’ve gotten away without needing bread. Most of the gluten-free bread options at the grocery store are bland and expensive (although I do like this Rice Almond bread).

For a long time I’ve been meaning to try baking my own gluten-free bread, but just hadn’t gotten around to it. Then, a couple weeks ago when visiting my sister in Nashville, I tried some of the gluten-free bread she had made (my niece also has a gluten allergy). After realizing how nice it is to have a piece of crusty bread to eat with soup or a nice buttery piece of toast, I decided my own experiments in gluten-free bread-making were long overdue. Blair had forgotten what recipe she had used, but after a quick search on Pinterest, several delicious-looking loaves popped up: this, this, this, and this. After reading through those recipes, I realized that they were all the same! That’s when I knew that this promised to be a really good loaf of bread.

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I followed the same basic concept as all those recipes, except I cut the recipe in half. The original recipe is for four small loaves (and Drew and I don’t need that much bread in a week!). Two loaves work much better for us (I usually bake one immediately and save one in the fridge to bake a few days later — they are small, round loaves).

This really is a delicious loaf of bread. It is nice and crusty on the outside and soft on the inside, with a great texture! It is dense but also fluffy. I really don’t think most people would even be able to tell that it is gluten-free. But I really love how simple and easy it is to make and that the list of GF flours is short and simple!

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Gluten-Free Artisan Bread (Crusty Boule)
makes two 1 pound loaves. Adapted from original recipe, here

Ingredients:
-1 cup Brown Rice Flour
-3/4 cup Sorghum Flour
-1 1/2 cups Tapioca Flour (also called tapioca starch)
-1 tablespoon yeast
-1/2 tablespoon sea salt
-1 tablespoon Xanthan Gum
-2 large eggs, whisked together
-1 1/3 cups lukewarm water
-2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons olive oil
-1 tablespoon honey

Directions:
1. Mix together flours, yeast, salt, and xanthan gum in large bowl.
2. In separate bowl, whisk together eggs.
3. In another separate bowl (or large glass measuring cup) combine water, oil, and honey.
4. Dump eggs into dry ingredients and mix while adding in 1/3 of wet ingredients.
5. Continue to stir while adding the second 1/3 of wet ingredients, and repeat with final 1/3 of wet ingredients.
6. Stir until dough is nice and smooth (will be a pretty wet dough).
7. Divide dough into two equal sized balls and place into plastic Tupperware containers (with lids). If baking one loaf immediately after rising, you can leave that half in the mixing bowl.
8. Cover Tupperware containers with lids, but do not snap shut. If leaving one dough ball in mixing bowl, cover that bowl loosely with plastic wrap.
9. Let dough rest on counter for 2 hours to rise.
10. Place the lids on dough you aren’t baking immediately and place in fridge (can store up to seven days).

11. If baking dough immediately, place dutch oven in the oven (make sure it has a metal knob, not a plastic one) and preheat oven to 500 degrees. Let dutch oven heat up in the oven for 20-30 minutes.
12. While oven is heating, transfer dough to a slice of parchment paper (gently dump it out of the bowl, being careful not to handle it too much or knead it, you want to keep all the bubbles in the dough that you can.)  If dough looks a bit scraggly, use wet hands to lightly smooth out the surface.
13. Use a serrated knife to cut slashes in the top of the dough, if you wish.
14. Once oven/dutch oven are heated, remove the dutch oven from the oven, and carefully lower the dough (on the parchment) into the dutch oven. Replace the lid on the pot and place back in oven.
15. Bake at 500 degrees inside lidded dutch oven for 20 minutes.
16. After 20 minutes, remove the lid, turn down the heat to 450 degrees and bake for 15 more minutes.
17. Once bread is done baking, remove it from pot using a spatula and allow it to cool completely on a wire rack. Don’t cut into bread until cooled or the center may seem gummy.

11. If baking dough from refrigerator, transfer refrigerated dough to a slice of parchment paper (gently dump it out of the bowl, being careful not to handle it too much or knead it, you want to keep all the bubbles in the dough that you can.) If dough looks a bit scraggly, use wet hands to lightly smooth out the surface.
12. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest on counter for about 90 minutes (if your kitchen is very warm you may only need about 75 minutes).
13. Place dutch oven in the oven (make sure it has a metal knob, not a plastic one) and preheat oven to 500 degrees. Let dutch oven heat up in the oven for 20-30 minutes.
14. Once dough is done resting and oven is heated, use a serrated knife to cut slashes in the top of the dough, if you wish.
15. Remove dutch oven from the oven and carefully lower the dough (on the parchment) into the dutch oven. Replace the lid on the pot and place back in oven.
16. Bake at 500 degrees inside lidded dutch oven for 20 minutes.
17. After 20 minutes, remove the lid, turn down the heat to 450 degrees and bake for 15 more minutes.
18. Once bread is done baking, remove it from pot using a spatula and allow it to cool completely on a wire rack. Don’t cut into bread until cooled or the center may seem gummy.

Note: If you don’t have a Dutch oven, you can also bake this bread on a baking stone or cast iron skillet. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees with the stone/skillet inside. Once heated, place the dough (on the parchment paper) on the stone/skillet. Place a metal pan of hot water on the rack under the baking stone. Bake for 30 minutes.

If you have a larger family and want to make more than two small loaves in a week, double this recipe (or follow these measurements, that link also includes more detailed photo instructions of each step). Here is also the same recipe adapted into naan. I also hear this freezes wonderfully, but I haven’t tried that yet!

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Not that I need to give serving suggestions for bread, but seriously this bread is so versatile and delicious! My favorite is to slice a couple slices, spread with butter and place under the broiler in the oven for a few minutes until crispy. Another version of that is to do the same but add shredded Parmesan cheese on top. Excellent served alongside a nice Italian dish or a creamy soup (like this one). Also great for sandwiches/paninis or toasted with jam!

Enjoy!

P.S. I did a rough calculation to see how much a loaf of this bread costs. Based on the cost of the flours (from the regular grocery store or Whole Foods – this would probably be a little cheaper if you bought your flours in bulk online) and how much of each is used the in recipe, and estimated costs for how much water/salt/yeast/oil/etc. is used, a small round loaf (about 8 slices) costs about $2.60 a loaf. (Remember, this recipe makes 2 loaves.) Not bad for delicious GF bread!

This bowl of soup might not look like one of the most delicious things you’ve ever eaten, but just take one bite and you’ll be convinced.

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Chicken Tortilla Soup

Serves 6. Recipe altered from this one.

Ingredients:
-1 Tablespoon butter
-1 medium yellow onion, chopped
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1/3 cup masa harina (GF corn flour) to thicken
-5 cups chicken broth
-1 teaspoon chili powder
-1 teaspoon cumin
-1 teaspoon paprika
-salt and pepper to taste
-1-2 chicken breasts, chopped into small chunks
-1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies
-1 small tomato, diced
-1 can black beans, drained
-1 can pinto beans, drained
-1 cup corn (can be frozen)
-2/3 cup heavy cream
-1/4 cup sour cream

For serving:
-shredded cheese
-avocado, diced
-sour cream
-tortilla chips

Directions:
1. Chop veggies (onion, garlic, tomato) and set aside. Cut up chicken breasts.
2. In dutch oven (over medium/high heat) melt butter. Add onion and saute for a few minutes. Add garlic and saute for about 30 more seconds.
3. Add in masa harina and stir.
4. Add in chicken broth and dissolve masa harina.
5. Add in spices (chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper).
6. Add in chicken and bring mixture to a boil. (chicken should cook pretty quickly since it is in small pieces)
7. Add black beans, pinto beans, corn, tomatoes & green chilies and stir.
8. Add heavy cream and sour cream and stir.
9. Done when all ingredients are heated through and chicken is cooked.
10. Serve warm with shredded cheese, sour cream, avocado and tortilla chips.

Note: If you like more spice, you can also slice and add in jalapenos when you saute onion and garlic. If you need to make this dairy-free, just leave out heavy cream and sour cream. People can always add sour cream/cheese to their individual bowls if they choose.

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