the ABCs of decorating

Thanks to Abby, I’m a new devotee of the Young House Love blog … and I love the Bower Power blog … so when we saw that they were doing a Pinterest Winter Challenge (along with Megan and Michelle), we both wanted to join in!  (You can see Abby’s Pinterest success here!)

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At first, I thought I could just post about the desk I built.

But then I realized that would be a cop-out.

Because the whole point of the challenge is to actually do something.

Be honest … how much time do you spend perusing Pinterest?

And how much time do you spend re-creating the stuff you find on Pinterest and love?

It’s embarrassing, right?

Yeah.

Well.

I have been in love with this wall for months.

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I think it’s whimsical.

And lovely.

And it makes me want to spend time in this room.

So I’ve been thinking it’s something I want to do for the room our littles share.  But I’ve been a little slow on the uptick.

But that changes now.

Because this week I sucked it up and went to Michael’s and bought a few letters to really get me started.

I bought “I” “J” “W” and “T” … painted white 12″ MDF letters … because these are the first letters of all our names and I thought it would be nice if they sort of matched.

Then I bought some Spray Mount Artist Adhesive.

I already had some printed card stock.  And a few letters I had discovered while thrifting (seven, to be exact).  And some craft paint.

And now all I needed was a few hours by myself.

Hahahahaahahaha.

Sorry.

Made myself laugh.

Image copy 3 So I may not have all the letters yet (11 out of 26 is a good start, I think).

Or finished decorating the letters I have (5 out of 11 … not bad).

Or mounted them on the wall.

I’m happy to be taking part in the challenge, and glad I finally got started!

What are you making off your Pinterest board?

I couldn’t help it … and I’m blaming Abby … and Suzy … and Young House Love

Jeanne here.

After Abby took part in this $20 thrift store challenge from Young House Love, I have had an itch to head out to the Thrift Store.

It’s not that I needed anything.

Not really anyway.

I mean …

I’m constantly looking for interesting “letters” because I’m very slowly compiling an alphabet wall for the kids’ room inspired by this example I found on Pinterest.

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One day, our nursery wall will look like this!

But today … my plan was to go out to Suzy’s and finish my desk.

Unfortunately, Suzy was in the middle of a major lacquer-job … not really a place for two littles to be running around.  And I didn’t really want to be breathing in lacquer, either.  Especially not in an enclosed space.

So we didn’t even unload.

We just gave Suzy a wave, and wished her luck with her project, loaded up the dogs and headed out.

The thing is, Suzy’s home is about 3 miles from a great Thrift Store.

IMG_6026 I had a $20 in my wallet.

And the kids seemed game.

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Sort of.

So I went for it.  I took the Young House Love challenge.

And I’m pretty psyched.

Because if I hadn’t taken the challenge, I wouldn’t have come home with red garden boots!

3 dollar garden boots

Or these adorable hearts that will hold whatever we decide to gift our two littles on Valentine’s Day.

50 cent hearts (Until I happened on these cuties I wasn’t planning on getting them anything for the Hallmark holiday.  Now what am I going to do?)

The littlest Cowboy wouldn’t have gotten a new cow to add to his collection (not that he needed another cow … but it’s just so cute!).

50 cent cow And our aspiring animal doctor wouldn’t have been able to practice her craft on parrots, cats and dogs with near as much accuracy and precision.

2.25 animal hospital (Not pictured – the animal hospital’s roof opens and inside there are play vitamins, vaccines, a feed bowl, a working flashlight, a tongue depressor and a can of dog food … it’s kind of awesome.)

I also got two shirts and a pair of pants for the boy ($5) and four new chapter books for our girl ($2).

So … thanks to Abby … and Suzy … and Young House Love …

Without each one of you (plus $13 out of the $20 I brought with me), my house would have a lot less stuff in it …

With Love,

Jeanne

PS – Don’t forget to register for our Real Food Challenge and Valentine’s Day GIVEAWAY!

back to basics – braised (shredded) chicken

Ever since Abby posted her incredibly unabashed taquito recipe, I’ve been struggling to find time to make shredded chicken so I could either follow suit, or just make some tacos.

And ever since Abby posted the taquitos recipe I’ve been doing a totally unscientific poll about how people make their shredded chicken (and, in fact, I’ve NOT asked Abby how she shreds chicken … Abby, how do you prepare your shredded chicken?)

Some people use just chicken breasts.

Some use chicken on the bone.

Some use it already de-boned.

Some people bake their chicken.

Some fry it.

Some roast.

Some braise.

It’s apparently as personal a choice as what kind of toothpaste you use (we use Nature’s Gate Anise Natural Dentrifice … you?)

Basically, what I’m discovering is there is no really wrong way to shred your chicken.

But in case you don’t yet have a way that you’re committed to, I would suggest you give this braising a go, because the thing about braising (especially when it includes a little apple cider vinegar and garlic and onions and bone broth) is you end up with an incredibly succulent shredded poultry that falls off the bone and makes any recipe that calls for it taste even better …

Sure … it takes two and half hours to cook (it was 30 minutes in the oven when we decided we couldn’t wait last night and ended up ordering Chinese).

But today (regardless of the bloat from the bad food last night), we’re happy to have a vat of shredded chicken that we’ll be able to use in tacos for lunch … chicken salad for dinner … or maybe a pot-pie … or Abby’s taquitos! … the options are endless!

shredded chicken

Here’s how we do it …

INGREDIENTS:

  • about 6 lbs of skinless dark meat chicken (legs and thighs)
  • 1 cup poultry bone broth
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic (peeled and a rough chop)
  • 1 medium yellow onion (quartered)

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DIRECTIONS:

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

If the chicken you have still has skin, peel the skin, trim the fat and separate the legs and thighs.

IMG_5604 Heat the broth in a large dutch oven on your stove top.  Whisk in the salt, pepper and apple cider vinegar.  Add the onion quarters and garlic. (The onion almost acts as a “stand” upon which you layer the chicken … keeps it out of direct contact with the liquid at first).

Turn off the heat and start stacking your chicken on top of the onion.

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IMG_5639 Once it’s all in, turn the heat back on and bring the liquid to a boil.  Once that happens (which only takes a moment), put the lid on your dish and pop it in the oven.

Let it slow cook for two and half hours.

(About halfway through the process, give the contents of the dutch oven a good toss, rotating the chicken from the bottom to the top and vice versa so it gets a nice even cook.)

Remove it from the oven, take off the lid and let the chicken cool enough that it’s not so hot you can’t touch it.

Use a large fork to remove the chicken from the bones (discarding the bones and the onion)

IMG_5653 And this is what’s left in the pot …

IMG_5652 At this point, drain the liquid and separate the chicken into meal portions (freeze what you don’t need immediately, or just make a plan for a lot of tasty chicken in the next few days).  As of this moment, I’m planning on tacos, taquitos, chicken salad and maybe a pot pie.

Whatever you decide … enjoy it!

How do you shred your chicken?

seasonally inappropriate coconut milk ice cream … and happy birthday Abby!

Last night we celebrated Abby’s birthday (which is actually today).

We had a simple dinner … fried chicken, roasted root veggies, a salad and apple pie with maple coconut ice cream.  It was delicious.  And perfectly Abby.

But before I share my “ancient family secret” for tasty dairy free coconut milk ice cream (which we love, even though we aren’t a dairy free family), I’d like to take a moment to say something about Abby.

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Because she’s pretty amazing.

She’s one of those people who can immediately make everyone comfortable … just by walking into the room.

She’s an incredible mom … one of those moms who makes it look really easy.  She can stop an argument between toddlers without interrupting her train of thought.

Her photographs … well … she didn’t give me permission to repost these but … her photographs speak for themselves (she does family portraits and baby photos … in case you’re interested 🙂

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The thing is … Abby is love.  Not the air-kiss-on-the-cheek-love ya-mean it-love.  But Genuine Love.

Unpretentious.

Unassuming.

Unadulterated love.

She is love of family.

Love of friends.

Love of food.

Love of life.

And all of that love permeates everything she does and everyone she meets.

Which makes me a pretty lucky gal, actually (not to turn this into a post about me) … You see, I’m one of those people who believe that we do get to choose our family.  Sure, we’re born into a unit.  Mom.  Dad.  Sisters.  Brothers.  Aunts.  Uncles.  blah blah blah.  But we spend our lives accumulating the people we want to share it with.  We get to choose our mate.  We choose our friends.  So why not choose people with whom we’d like to have as family?  Who we love and respect and enjoy.

So … I’m the lucky one.  That day at the Dinosaur Playground when our little one decided that Abby’s little guy was going to be her friend.

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Because that was the day I got to meet my new family.

(And now for the recipe for the maple coconut milk ice cream that I promised yesterday … which is seriously a favorite in our house … like … we can’t keep coconut milk in the house because it’s too dang tasty!)

Maple Coconut Milk Ice Cream (makes about 8-10 servings)

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 14 oz. cans of organic coconut milk (we use full fat because I like the creamy ice cream texture!  “Light” will make it more like ice milk)
  • 2/3 cup of maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt

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DIRECTIONS:

Whisk together all of the ingredients.

Turn on your ice cream maker.

Once it’s spinning, pour in the coconut milk mixture.

Let it spin for about 15 minutes (checking occasionally to make sure things are progressing) — the time spent in the ice cream machine is going to depend on your ice cream maker.  Fifteen-twenty minutes is about as long as it needs to go in our Cuisinart ICE-21.

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It will start to “firm up.”  Before it becomes butter-like, remove from the ice cream maker into a freezer safe container and freeze for a few hours before serving.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ABBY!

love, Jeanne