I think you should cut the ceiling and expose the joists to drill them. One long strip, if not glued on, should come out and go back in when you're done. I like to see where I'm drilling, especially if there may not be conventional floor joists above (be cautious of drilling beams). Apply a thick coat of spackle so you don't need a second coat, and go back the next day to smooth it out with a wet sponge. This way the spackle will melt away without leaving a mess. Then, since it was just painted, she (or you if you are inclined) can touch it up.