Monday, December 19, 2011

the BEST quiche recipe

Well after a few requests this weekend here is my quiche recipe- it came to me by way of my friend Lisette- I have modified it a bit so here it is in it’s current incarnation. It is perfect for lunches, brunches, and all manner of parties- and you know how I love parties! And sorry no picture- I ate the last piece for breakfast this morning…

10 eggs

1 -16 oz container low fat cottage cheese (don’t be scared/skeptical it’s part of the secret success of this recipe- and makes it healthier)

10 oz. or more of cooked finely chopped broccoli

½ onion chopped- I generally use purple or green onions (1/2 c)

6 oz. honey ham- from the deli finely chopped

½ c. milk

6 oz cheddar cheese

3 slices of swiss cheese – cut into tiny pieces

3/4 t. pepper

½ t. salt

(it is very substitution friendly if you want to change the meat, cheese flavors, veggies etc)

Best all the ingredients together- pour into 2 unbaked crusts. Bake at 375 for 35 min cover with foil. Then remove foil and cook a remaining 20 min or until center is firm and knife comes out clean.

I usually make it with pie crust but sometimes I make it with a hash brown crust instead (using frozen shredded potatoes (brush lightly with butter. salt and paper and cook for about 20-30 min before adding the egg mixture on top)

My favorite pie crust which came to me via jennifer tooley

5 c. flour

2 c. Crisco

1 T. salt

2 T. vinegar

1 egg

Cut shortening into flour & salt with pastry blender. put egg and vinegar in cup measure. Fill remaining space with very cold water. Mix together. Add the liquid to flour mixture. Mix it just until you can form a ball. Roll out between layers of wax paper. Makes 5 crusts.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

How to make a Shaun the Sheep cake

So here is my tutorial on how to make a Shaun the sheep cake (you could easily replicate it in smaller form for cupcakes and using premade frosting eyes).shaun

I decided this would be a fast easy cake for my 4 yr. old’s birthday, which inconveniently falls a few days after thanksgiving- and I was right- probably the easiest cake I have ever done.

So I made my favorite almond pound cake in 3- 9” rounds (that’s what a batch makes but you could have just as easily used 2-8” pans or a Bundt pan and it would be fine). IMG_7075While the cake was baking I melted down 1/2 a bag of wilton midnight black colored candy melts. (this was much faster and easier than making black fondant- and tastes as good) I created a template for the head and ears and legs and eye centers. I put he melted chocolate in a decorator bag with a wide round tip so I could pipe it out.I slid the templates under the wax paper so I could make the chocolate shapes the right size. Piped the out shapes with the decorator bag and let the chocolate sit until hardened.  I then made up one batch of my favorite buttercream frosting. I trimmed the top layer so it domed more on the top and then assembled and frosted the cake. Then I placed the face on a stuck mini marshmallows into the frosting all over until the entire things was covered (it took less than I bag of mini marshmallows) then I cut a large marshmallow in half and added the chocolate center for the eyes and and places the ears on and legs in. 9I also piped out my sons name in chocolate which I will stick up out of the top when we serve it.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Apple Cake with Cinnamon Glaze

I know apple cake sounds like a dark horse- but honestly I think this is one of the best cakes ever… it’s a famous fall treat at our house-it is so soft and has such full flavor. Allen often requests it for his birthday.

IMG_40522 cups of sugar

1 c. oil

1/2 cup applesauce

2 T. vanilla

2 eggs

1/4  c. lemon juice (I use fresh)

1 t. salt

3 c. flour

1 1/4 t. soda

1 t. cinnamon

1/2 t. nutmeg

3 1/2 c. apples finely chopped (I use granny smiths 3-4 BIg apples or else like 6 smalls)

Combine sugar, oil, vanilla, eggs, lemon juice and salt. Beat well. Add flour soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and mix well. Fold in the apples. Bake in a greased floured bundt pan at 325 for about 50 min or until the center comes out clean (I usually make a bundt and 4 small bundt cakes) Remove from pan and cool.

Cinnamon Icing Glaze

5 Tbsp of butter

4 cups powdered sugar

1/2 t. cinnamon

1/4 t. vanilla extract

+/-2 Tbsp milk  (to desired consistency)

Mix butter and sugar, add milk, vanilla an cinnamon. Spread over slightly warm cake.

would you like to touch my coat?

blanket coat…because I will let you.

So the other week when I was in California for the VBF conference,   I decided to kill the few pre-conference drizzly afternoon hours shopping alone across the street at fashion island (well first I had lunch at PF Chang’s -where these 2- 70ish “orange county women who lunch” at the table next to me struck up deep conversations and ending it by insisted on buying me dessert- but that’s another story for another day – you know how funny random events follow me…)

I was  perusing forever 21, yes I know I am 35, (it does fall to the “teenage store” category but I love to go there for fun statement pieces). I was looking for something  colorful when I walked by the neutral section, mind you I never look in this section because with fair skin and blonde hair such colors make me look naked or dead. And I do know color well enough to know what I can pull off and what I can’t. This coat looked so soft -- I touched it,  and yes it was soft, REALLY soft, REALLY REALLY soft, I hesitated but the walked past thinking imagining the palor of my skin next to it and generally I make it a point to only purchase flattering clothes.

As I circled back through the store I saw it again. I was curious so I slipped it on. It was heaven in clothing form. The inside was lined in the softest satin and it was warm. Given that I live in frigid New England, I knew no matter what it looked like on me I was buying this coat if for nothing else then to wear it in the privacy of my own home for utilitarian use and my own pure sensory enjoyment. You could work out every childhood blankie attachment issue wearing this coat. I looked in the mirror and to my shock and elation-- there is a specific color of champagne that I can pull off.

Being in the early stage of impetuous clothing infatuation, I had to wear it home on the plane, well my relationship with the coat quickly grew into a passionate love affair and I have been hard presses to tear it from my body. This coat is very charismatic, its pull is magnetic. People on the flight were petting me, even the airline workers. It has become a joke among friends who immediately reach out and touch it and compliment it. Yes, this coat and I are a serious item.In a short period of less than a week the coat has already achieved legendary standing and is known by all. We’ve analyzed it’s polyester composition, its ability to be dressed up or down, it’s coziness, it’s bargain value. The conversations end with me pleading that they do not walk but run to their closest forever 21 to ensure their own jacket happiness find one of their very own (that is unless you are someone who will get upset when random people touch you).  Ahh to be a woman in love… with a coat.

(and no forever 21 didn’t ask me to post about their clothes this coat earned this blog post of its own merit)

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

life is always better with new pillows

new pillowsI knew it was time to recover my white chair pillows when I noticed my 3 yr old had done a lovely contour line drawing on one of them with an ink pen. I ran across this fabric (reverberating stripe by paul smith for maharam) on modern fabrics 2 weeks ago and knew it was perfect for the job. I decided to pony up today with my best cowboy sewing skills and get the job done. I must say the room looks much better with these hot little numbers on each of the red chairs. I love how it picks up the colors in the volumes, NY, (I can’t figure out where this is going in this room but I want it somewhere) and bus paintings in this room.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Garlic and Bacon Green Beans- Metro Style

IMG_5160After spending a week in the provincial town of Svay Rieng which has a rather limited repertoire when it comes to meals and restaurants. I returned to Phnom Penh craving a really good meal. Cue lunch at Cafe Metro. The first thing I ordered was a great frozen drink with raspberries and orange sherbet because if there is anything you always need in Cambodia it is a cold drink. And then I spotted this gem on the small plates menu… garlic and bacon green beans-- they were the best green beans ever. I also had some amazing Australian beef sliders. So I came home determined to make my own metro style green beans.  (yes, I love recipes with a story)

Here’s how it goes…

1 1/2 lbs. of fresh green beans, washed and trimmed. Steam them until tender.

Meanwhile, cut 2-3 strips of bacon into small pieces. Cook it over medium heat in a medium sized skillet. When bacon is mostly cooked but still soft, add 7 cloves of freshly chopped garlic, and sauté  together for about 2 minutes. Add the green beans and toss them together with bacon and garlic. Season with black & white pepper and coarse kosher salt.

Future additions some pinenuts or almonds.

Not a bean remains in the house…

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

warning: you might find this offensive

IMG_5136The other day I came home from shopping and tried on a dress for my husband (this dress)…

“What do you think?” I stand a few feet away.

He looks up, “Are you going to wear a sweater with it?”

“Huh?”I question “It is a sweater, why would I wear another sweater with it?” I was quite proud of myself for finding a warm, comfortable, practical dress, suitable for New England winters.

“Well,  it’s just A LOT of STRIPES,” he said rather seriously.

“Stripes?” I ask incredulously.

“Yah stripes, it’s just… well it’s a lot of them,” he responds in a sort of warning tone.

I am lost in the logic of this conversation. After watching Visual Acoustics together this week, a fabulous documentary on Julius Shulman’s photography of modern architecture and I totally thought we were on the same aesthetic wavelength.

“Is the wearing of stripes visually assaulting? I mean is wearing  numerous stripes in close proximity to each other impolite? I have never heard this too any stripes thing before—really?”

He is serious.

Maybe using contrast with such wild abandon is akin to conspicuous consumption—like driving a super gas guzzling vehicle?

Or maybe he was thinking it was like a strobe lights and afraid it would cause people seizures and wanted to be sure I was ready accept responsibility for my actions?

Do you think this flagrant use of stripes makes me I look like I am stealing style from a chunky zebra?

Are we really talking this dress?? I liked it…and I think this stripe thing is crazy talk.

I am guessing it’s part of some engineer ethos, “Be reserved, and above all else don’t wear too many stripes.” Being married to an artist, well I guess he never knows when I might get wild and try to pull a striped fast one on him. Maybe we should stick to a simple pass/fail system or go back to the ranking system implemented after this incident. So tell me are my stripes offensive?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

catch me

The Pivot: Shift Your Work, Your Life and Your Thinking to...
October 4th at this event in Boston displaying some of the domestic series. It’s almost sold out—so last call for tickets.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Cambodia bound

headed out on another operation smile medical mission- this time to Cambodia- here are the latest works from the studioi95


Thursday, August 18, 2011

the boy who lived


sorry harry potter this nickname belongs to my 3 yr old (as seen here riding his beloved steed ‘Pokey’)… while you might think this makes reference to the fact that he was born with a blood clot that occluded venous drainage from his liver and required weeks of injections with anticoagulants to save him-- in actuality it has reference to the fact that he dumped and smeared 1/2 a pan of red jell-o on my studio carpet and is still alive to tell the tale (or rather have it told by his mother, on her blog)

176 volumes


I did this piece over vacation earlier this summer. Mixed media on 30x40 canvas. I decided to be simple and start naming these pieces based on the number of books on the shelves…

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

if you’re patient

Well today I stopped in at the mall to pick up another $4 pair of butterfly copysunglasses, after mine faced an ignominious death-by-porta- potty, at the town beach earlier this summer thanks to my youngest son. When I spotted this shirt. I knew I had to get it- see many years ago (circa 1993) I had this friend gwen, who lived on my floor in my freshman dorm, and  I always coveted one of her pairs of pants—they were white with butterflies on them. I always wanted to borrow them because, well they were just so cool but given that she was petite (probably about 5’2”) and I was 5’10” wish fulfillment was not in order –unless I wanted to sport some ill-fitting high waters.

So the moral of this beautiful story is if you wait long enough your dream for butterfly clothes might come true or else dropping your sunglasses in a port-a-potty might be some sort of wishing token like coins in a fountain.

Ps if you too coveted gwen’s pants you can find the butterfly shirt at charlotte russe—and I bet you won’t even have to sacrifice your sunglasses to the potty gods to get it…

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

just wanted to go on the record saying

that people should give playlists better titles… like…

“makes me feel sappy and nostalgic for being 16 and slow dancing with boys”

“makes me shake it while I cook dinner”

“I hope none of my neighbors hear me listening to this cheesy music—because really I am not a cheesy person”

“things I listen to annoy my kids”

“songs that help me stay up till 2 am painting”

“dang it I don’t care what anyone says I really like the Bee Gees”

IMG_2009or at least those were accurate descriptions for some of the thing is was compiling on spotify the other day… after all I am all about descriptions and creativity (and verbosity). I have a long tradition of creative naming. In college it was a tradition, amongst my roommates, that all mix tapes included the name Jermaine in the title—(after a basketball player who always needed my help in freshman physical science class). Suffice it to say lame people title their playlist things like “work out music” or “love songs”. And if you are a playlist titling novice you can always fall back on “play it again, jermaine”

(and yes that’s me cutting the rug with my 3 year old at my cousins wedding last weekend- I was also going to start in on why people over 30 are afraid to dance but I’ll save that for another day…)

so what are your playlists really all about?


Thanks to design mom gabrielle blair for her kindly press - Leslie Graff, domestic series. I have to say it brought so many compliments and kindly emails to my inbox it made my day.  The internet was nothing but love today!  outsidepaint

Thursday, August 04, 2011

this picture is the way i want to remember mothering

yah we all know it’s not like this all the time, but the best moments are—and that’s what I want to remember!


Actually --The look of elation probably has to do with the fact that I found the bottom of my new yellow swimsuit (only 2 weeks old)which had gone AWOL. It disappeared. I waited for ransom demands, they never came, I offered up rewards—no one came forward with information. I searched my whole house for 4 hrs (oh ask my husband it was a tense, thorough operation, all family members were impressed yellowinto service). As you can see it was a cute suit and I was not about to see disappear without a fight… my search included under sinks, every drawer 3x, broom closets, pantry-- you name it I looked there—I have sons I never know where I will find anything. After I gave up all hope I found it the next day- as I was carrying things to the attic. Yes it was 9 1/2 feet in the air in a tupperware cake tender top on a high cabinet in my laundry room. Obviously I did not put it there- and it did not get there by any natural means. If I had to make my guesses as a veteran mother of boys for the last 10 yrs I’d say it’s lycra spandex nature probably made it a natural candidate for slingshotting- oh tell me I love them!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

scenic views


In all of the chaos of motherhood  you sometimes need things to look at that aren’t easily messed up…

Here are some of my favorite spots to look at in our house…

dining room shelf of abstracts

family room back wall, 1960s slat table and arc lamp

stirring things up with vintage mirror and tiered tidbit tray

cherry chairs with volumes piece




Tuesday, July 26, 2011

go big or go home


when I was growing up my cousin used to joke about the mini shrine (collections of their children's pictures) that his and other parents displayed in their homes.Well I know he will be proud that I am taking it to a whole 'nother level. Yes in lieu of bad elementary school pictures my kids will get 4 foot tall gouache portraits of their heads on wood panels. I may have to pay future therapy bills for the megalomania/cult of personality issues I am spawning in my progeny with this larger than life project. But honestly I think they are outrageously fun- 1 down 2 to go… and ps I love my kids!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

can I take a picture of your house?

tellow house

Well recently I have wanted to do a series of paintings of houses, I guess another series exploring the intimacy of our  spaces isn’t much of a stretch after my domestic series. For the past few months as I drive around I find my self staring at the windows of house. Something about the spaces we dwell in, they are pragmatic, sentimental, private. The echo the the spaces of our minds holding all our thoughts and emotions.

The problem is to paint houses you need study shots. I was afraid walking around taking pictures of houses in my small town might get me booked as a peeping tom and give our otherwise generally unoccupied police something to do.  So to avoid such unwanted escapades, I decide to make somewhat awkward introductions to my fellow townspeople. So last night after dinner I drove down by the center of town. I knocked on people’s doors, handing them a business card “Hi, I am Leslie, I live here in town, I am an artist. Your house in charming and I was wondering if I could take a few pictures of your house to used as references in a new series I am going to paint”. 

I have to say all my interactions turned out to be lovely. Once they understood what I was doing…. One woman admitted to saying the rosary when she heard someone knock on the door. Then we got into a discussion about ants and diatomaceous earth and she recommended I read some of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s short stories. Another woman at first thought I was soliciting commissions, but I explained no I didn’t intend to sell them to the owners of the houses at all. She then invited me in to see a painting they had done of their house years ago and actually asked if I would paint a portrait of her dog. The owner of the yellow house- was worried because it was under renovations and wasn’t done yet. Even just talking to these few people and taking pictures gave me a more intimate view of their lives and reminded me that it is only a mere moment that moves us from strangers to people connected.

Compositionally I want to play with the angles and parts (you know how I love to chop things off!) and vantage points. Exploring color, flattening out shapes and shadows. As I painted this one last night it felt a little like Wayne Thiebaud goes painting with Edward Hopper. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Ancient Egypt Birthday Party Plan

cupSo my son decided he wanted an ancient Egypt theme for his 6th birthday party. So this is what we did. He invited 8 friends. We designed cool invitations with an Egyptian hieroglyph scene and printed them on gold paper.balloons We found these archaeologist hats at iparty and rubber tutsnakes at Wal-Mart and made pyramid favor boxes from 12” square sheets of paper from Michaels- which we filled with candies and small Egyptian figures from the safari limited ancient Egypt tube for the take home party favors. So here is how the party went down including all the games and activities. As the kids arrived they used our wooden blocks to build pyramids and cities out in the studio room. My 10 yr old son had designed an Anubis robot for the party and programmed him to chase the kids round- so the 6 year old boys were most impressed with that. Then we IMG_0142moved the kids into the dining room where I had set up the tables with individual cupcake decorating stations. Each child got to decorate IMG_01175 cupcakes.decor Each place had their own cupcake box, and plate of decorations. I piped out of chocolate Anubis heads, scarab beetles, vipers, eye of Horus, and ankhs and also filled candy papers with spoonful's of various sprinkles- gold, silver, chocolate, rainbow.The adults IMG_0121frosted and let the kids decorate them. Then we moved on to the cartouche station I set up in the breakfast nook. I spray painted canvas boards with gold paint then used a hieroglyph translator to write the IMG_0166kids names in hieroglyphs on the boards, they then decorated all around with feathers, gems, titles, pom poms, fabric pieces and some foam Egyptian shapes I got from oriental trading company. When they finished this we IMG_0178moved into the family room room for the mummy wrap game- we divided the kids into pairs, one was the mummy and one was the wrapper. They had fun using 2 rolls of tp to make their mummies and each pair wrapped differently. Then we went out in the yard for the Nile relay. We had crocodile grabbers which they used to pick up a jewel and run it down to a bucket of water. They then dropped the jewel in and used the grabber to pull out a long snake which they ran IMG_0188back to the start with. Everyone got to do 2 rounds. then we came in for tomb treasures memory. I put a bunch of Egyptian things on a tray we looked at all of them and they tried to memorize the group. Then we covered it with a blanket and they had to remember all the items. (We did have scarab beetle hot potato and duck duck goose variant pharaoh, pharaoh, mummy- but ran out of time) Then we had lunch, present opening, and cake & ice cream featuring the king tut sarcophagus IMG_0154cake. We decorated with gold balloons, yellow and black streamers to make pyramids. the party playlist included king tut (steve martin), walk like an Egyptian, the Theme from the mummy (instrumental) and some closeArabic music. The kids seemed to have a fabulous time and most of all my 6 year old told me it was exactly what he hoped for! I highly recommend it for a party theme there are so many fun things you can do with it.  For a full how to make a king tut sarcophagus cake tutorial you can read my post here.

(I do recommend moving the kids from area to area for the party it always helps with the general management of excited kids and you don’t loose a lot of time in the changing gears and set up)IMG_0131IMG_0130

Saturday, June 18, 2011

How to make a King Tut Egyptian Sarcophagus cake

IMG_0047My son requested an Egyptian theme for his 6th birthday party and wanted a king tut cake-and no not just the head—the whole sarcophagus. So I printed out a good image as a reference and attempted to craft one. here is my tutorial--

I used one batch of homemade pound cake. ( I would not recommend attempting to make this with a box cake mix or anything too soft) I cooked it in 3 mini loaf pans, IMG_0051one large loaf pan and one small 3” round cake. (I also made one extra mini loaf than I made two small squares with – as when my kids have a really fancy cake they want the candles stuck in some mini cake not in the big one)

I lined them up on my giant turkey platter and cut then to sculpt the general form. Then covered them in buttercream frosting and draped the entire thing in gold marshmellow fondant (mixed brown and yellow IMG_0053wilton colors to tint) I then sculpted the rest of the layers of fondant (hands, head dress, crook, etc.)

I then painted the entire thing with gold pearl dust mixed with clear vanilla extract. Then I used black, cyan,a deep prussian blue,(mixed cyan and black) and a red violet to pipe on all the details with a super fine round tip. I took some liberties to simplify  some of the details- because well it deserves just so many tuthours of my time and I am not a perfectionist. you can see here the finished project. I made the mini ankh and eye of horus cakes from the scraps as the mini “candle cake”. I used fondant tools and bamboo skewers to achieve fine texture and details. I have to say though he was very pleased with the finished project…

all I can say is if my son ever doubts that I love him I will pull out this picture ncaketo remind him- only extreme mother love- can drive me to spend an afternoon crafting a 2 foot long, 3-d sculpted, gold covered, king tut sarcophagus cake.