Thursday, September 29, 2016

Pecan Sugar Cookies

Fall is my favorite time of year, although on the island, "fall" is merely warm, rather than hot, and the palm trees continue to sway within the gulf coast breeze. While in most places fall brings gold, orange and bright red leaves; here on the island fall is a bit less dramatic.  No matter how slight the changes, with the tepid temperatures, and days growing shorter, my soul begins to yearn to bake.  I find myself craving pumpkin, spice, maple, and nuts. These delicate, light, an airy cookies satisfy my craving, and are as crisp, as the fall air.   

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Place 1/2 cup sugar in saucer, to use for coating cookies
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
Makes 24 cookies

3/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup salted butter softened (at room temperature)
1/2 cup sugar, plus more for coating
1 cup flour (all purpose)
2 teaspoons Triple Orange, Grand Marquette Liqueur

Cream butter in mixer on medium high speed, add sugar, and continue to whip approximately three minutes, until butter, sugar mixture is light and fluffy.

Add two teaspoons orange liqueur while continuing to whip.  The orange flavor paired with pecan is what makes this cookies unique. 

I use Grand Marquette, any orange liqueur will do.

Add flour one teaspoon at a time while whipping, until soft dough comes together. Once dough forms, add 3/4 cups chopped pecans.

Mix pecans into dough using a spoon, continue to mix until well incorporated.

Scoop a teaspoon of dough, place it in the palm of your hand, roll dough with your other hand, between your palms into a ball.

Once ball is formed, roll it in sugar, coating well. 

Arrange sugar coated balls on to parchment lined baking sheet, leaving two inches between each cookie. Press the top of each ball flattening each to approximately 1/4" thickness.

Bake at 350 degrees for 8 - 9 minutes, until the edges are light golden brown. 

The orange, pecan pairing a happy mistake. Last fall, as I began to bake I discovered we were out of vanilla bean. In a panic, I searched the kitchen for flavoring, ultimately checking the liquor cabinet. The only liqueur in stock at The Grey Dove Cottage; Grand Marquette.  With that, these pecan cookies were born.  A delicate, shortbread style cookie, crisp upon the lightly browned edges ,with an airy center texture.  A new fall favorite in our home.

Happy baking.

Until next time, wishing you all the best -

Monday, September 26, 2016

Dallas Museum of Art - Reves Exhibit

Wynnelle Russell was a small town girl from Hallsville, Texas.  Born in May of 1916, to David Lafayette, and Blanche Russell.  She modeled in the San Antonio, Texas area as a young girl.  At the young age of 17, married Al Schroeder, a West Point Graduate, together they had one son, Arnold Leon Schroeder Jr.  After her short marriage, she travelled to New York, and began modeling in 1939.  With her new location, and career, came a new name, Wendy.  The 1940’s brought her celebrity, gracing the pages of Vogue, and Harper’s Bazaar as a well-known fashion model.  There was a second marriage to Paul Baron, a pianist, conductor, and leader of a Big Band Orchestra bearing his name, in 1940.  The marriage lasted 6 years.
Wendy Russell, modeling. Source DMA

 Through social circles in New York, Wendy met Emery Reves, a famous literary agent and author of “Anatomy of Peace”, in 1945 a bestselling novel discussing the “World Peace Movement”, proposing a world order, and recording the horrors of WWII.  Reves literary client list included influential people;  Winston Churchill, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Lord Montgomery.  Successful, and prominent, he captivated the beautiful Wendy, and became the love of her life.

Source DMA

Reves  adored beautiful things; art, antiques, and Wendy.  Together, the two  wandered the globe while acquiring treasures.  Paintings included in their personal collection of post-war impressionist, and impressionist include; Renoir, Cezanne, and Pissarro.   Ultimately, in 1953, Emery, and Wendy purchased La Pausa, Coco Chanel’s Mediterranean Villa. Included with the sale were some works of art, books, and furnishings.  Coco Chanel built La Pausa in 1927, as a refuge for she, and her then lover, The Duke of Westminster.  Chanel enlisted famed architect Robert Streitz to design the refuge in reflection of the French orphanage,  Aubazine Abbey, in Correze, France, where Chanel lived for six years as a young girl.  Elements of the Abbey can be seen recreated at La Pausa; the arches in the courtyard, the interior stairwell, the two story section built to resemble a tower at the Abbey.

Source; Abazine Abby

One of the windows at Aubazine Abbey, notice the interlocking of circles. Thought to be the inspiration for Chanel's interlocking "C".

Source;  The Abbey today, notice the similarities between the tower here and La Pausa.

The villa would be graceful, and stately; a courtyard entrance through archways, springing from atop Doric columns. The home built in a “U” shape possessed classic balance, a bright clay tiled roof, and a repeat of five small square windows; above the entrance, then again along the second story. Channel’s supposed favorite number, was five.   Chanel made visits back to Correze in an effort to capture details of the Abby, recreating them at La Pausa.  The Abby must have been a happy place for her,  a place of reflection, and of inspiration. 

Source; Sotheby's International Realty

Courtyard La Pausa, Source; Sotheby's International Realty

Chanel at La Pausa, source DMA

At the time that La Pause passed from Chanel to the Reves, it was in a bit of disrepair.  The Reves took care in restoring it to it's original beauty.  There, they held many a dinner party, entertained prominent guest, and opened their home to Winston Churchill, each summer.  Churchill spent the summer months penning his life's work, "A History of An English Speaking Peoples", with Emery.  He also painted away lazy summer days, in the gardens of La Pausa. 

Source; DMA  Winston Churchill, Emery, and Wendy Reves; at La Pausa

Source; Sotheby' International Realty, The fa├žade Entry at La Pause, note the five windows

Recently, Mr. GDC had a business meeting in Dallas, I went along. On a lazy afternoon while Mr. GDC was in a meeting,  I walked the nine blocks from the hotel  to DMA for an afternoon of art.  As I rounded a corner there was an entrance, a beautiful architectural entrance, my heart raced a bit, I wondered what is this? Reading the guided tour information, picking up the supplied booklet I was amazed.  DMA has created a unique, and stunning experience for visitors to the museum, to not only visit the art, to view it as a “guest” in its original environment.   From room, to room, I was awe struck.  I had no previous knowledge of Wendy, and Emery Reves. Yet through the exhibit, became enchanted.  

Source; Winston Churchill, the library at La Pausa, DMA

Wandering into a small alcove, I was greeted with photographs of Winston Churchill, letters penned by Churchill to Wendy, and paintings, works by Churchill painted while he took holiday at La Pausa.  Churchill, a close friend of the Reves.  Emery assisted Churchill in publishing his life’s work “A History of the English- Speaking Peoples", much of the work written while at La Pausa. 

Source; personal photo of the library exhibit, DMA

The photo above is of the library exhibit at Dallas Museum of Art.  Upon the table are two antique brass candelabras, made into lamps.  Notice in the photo of Churchill above, one of this pair of lamps is shown near his left shoulder.  The feel of the exhibit is personal, intimate, a truly unique experience. 

Source, personal photo of DMA exhibit

Source, personal photo of DMA exhibit.

To the right of the fireplace; "The Seine at Chatou, Renoir, 1874

Source, personal photo of DMA exhibit

Above the fireplace one of a pair of sunburst clocks, owned by Chanel, hangs in its original location; both under Chanel, and the Reves' ownership

Source; personal photo of DMA exhibit

Another view of the library exhibit at Dallas Museum of Art.  The yellow sofa, clearly the same where Winston Churchill sat for the photo above.  The French style tapestry chair, is an early recliner, the back reclines by pulling rods out from the arms, a piece originally owned by Chanel, and used in her bedroom.

Source, personal photo of DMA exhibit

Source, personal photo of DMA exhibit

Above, "In The Studio, (Georges Riviere and Marguerite Legrand)",  Renoir, 1877, hangs just above an antique footstool.

Source, personal photo of DMA exhibit

The dining table, and chairs, original pieces owned by Chanel, then passed to the Reves. The long table located at the end of the dining room, a piece from Chanel, originally used as a desk by Chanel, and as a serving piece by Wendy.  

Source, DMA, Wendy Reves, painting by Graham Sutherland, 1978

Wendy, before passing, met with the curators of the Dallas Museum of Art, arranging for she, and Emery's collection of art, and antiques to be donated to the museum.  In the most interesting exhibit I have seen. The museum carefully, and artfully reconstructed La Pausa, within the Dallas Museum of Art. The unique exhibit, and manor of exhibiting the art, allows visitors the fantasy of visiting the villa.  For additional information on the history of the La Pausa exchange, Dallas Museum of Art published a book; "From Chanel to Reves; La Pausa  and Its Collections at the Dallas Museum of Art", available here through Amazon.


September, 2015 La Pausa sold once again, this time returning back to its origins, The House of Chanel purchased the home.  It is once again part of the Chanel empire.  For those of us in America, Dallas Museum of Art, has provided a rare opportunity, to visit the beautiful La Pausa in Dallas.  If you are near Dallas,  the exhibit is truly worth a visit.  An experience that will remain with me, always –

Wishing you all the best, until next time -

Friday, September 9, 2016

Foyer Drapery  - Industrial Rods DIY

Our foyer is unique.  At some point in the past, a previous cottage curator, chose to enclose a portion of the "L" shaped porch.  This creative curator also added on to one side of the porch, creating a bump out, lined with French windows - 16' long.  The bump out paired with the original porch, forms a charming foyer; covered in lap board, bead board, an angled ceiling, original porch post, and period doorframe. 

When it came time to consider a window treatment, locating a 16' long rod, proved challenging, and expensive.  While I love all things French, it can get a little fussy and formal. My heart, set upon faux silk, solid bronze colored drapery panels knew the over all design would be formal.  We have six windows, I feared the drapes would resemble ball gowns lined up waiting for a dance partner.  Dilemma; with the exterior lap board, original porch post, and various rustic finishes in the room, I felt the rod needed an edge. 

I decided to make a drapery rod using PVC pipe, electrical conduit cleats, and large "eye" bolts for mounting.  I felt the PVC pipe would be light in weight, inexpensive, and can be purchased in a twenty foot length; allowing a single rod for the entire expanse of the 16' wall. 

Our inherited chandeliers, and  constructed foyer fixture, are finished in oil rubbed bronze  Wanting the rods to coordinate with the chandeliers, I sprayed painted the PVC pipe, and mounting components with Rustoleum, "Oil Rubbed Bronze". 

Plastic PVC pipe laid out and being painted.

The electrical cleats were already a bronze color, the eye bolts, nuts, and washers all needed to be painted. We purchased PVC end caps to finish off the end of the rods, they too needed a coat of paint.

To mount the PVC pipe, "rods" to the window frames; we decided on electrical conduit 1/2" cleats, paired with eye bolts, having  an "eye" large enough for the PVC pipe to pass through.  In order to combine the eye bolts, and 1/2" cleats, we used 1/2" nuts, and 1" washers; applying a washer and nut on either side of the cleat, tightening them down to form a rod mount.  The cleats have four holes, allowing us to screw the mounts to the wall.

The painted eye bolt, 1/2" cleat, washers and 1/2" nuts above. Then connected below.

In keeping with the industrial scheme, I chose simple oil bronze, clip rings to attach the drapes to the rod.

The mounts must be installed first, using four drywall screws.

There's a tricky bit to this.  Because we were working with a long wall, and running the rods into the corners of the room; the drapery rings had to be loaded on to the road before mounting.  I wanted each drape to have 8 rings. The two center window drapes will have the bracket mounts in the middle of the drapes, 4 rings on each side of the mount.   I loaded 4 rings, a mount, 8 rings (for the center of the rod, 4 rings times two drapes), a mount, then four rings. Confused? I was too.

Installed rods, making it around the back corner of the room. 

The longest wall, 16 feet, required four mounts; one at each end, and one in between each window.  Because the rods would run from corner to corner, there was no space in the room to feed the rod through the drapery mounts.  We installed the end mounts first, one in each corner. We then added the remaining two mounts to the rod, along with the rings, allowing them to dangle from the PVC pipe. We raised the pipe to the wall running each end of the rod through the corner mounts.  Once the pipe was suspended by the corner mounts, it swaged due to the weight of the mounts dangling about in the center.   We quickly installed each center mount between the two windows, pulling the rod up straight, and in place from corner to corner.  

Rods installed at front corner of the room, alongside the front door. 

Detail of drapery rod end; showing mount, end cap, and rings.

Detail of one of the center mounts, between two windows.  4 rings on either side of the mount, half of the drapery will be on the right of the mount, and half of the drapery on the left.

We ran our rods around a corner.  In the corner the same thing happens; 4 rings on the outside of each mount.  The drape is split; half to left (side wall), and half next to the front door (front wall).  There are no rings in the actual corner, the drape angles around the corner. 

It's a sticky wicket! My advice, think your design through. Determine how many rings you plan to use on each drape.  Lay the rod out on the floor with the mounts, determine if you need center mounts, then load your rod as it lies upon the floor.  Hopefully, you will not be mounting the full length of the room, in to a corner. The project would be much simpler on a normal window configuration.


The rods are up.  The drapes are in production.  I'll keep sewing.  I have motivation; the furniture and accessories planned for the foyer, landed in the dining room. Hopefully, I'll get this mess sorted out over the weekend, and have a reveal for Monday. 

heavy sigh....

Until next time, wishing you all the best -