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Drew and I were grocery shopping in Whole Foods one afternoon when I saw a little stack of recipe cards sitting next to the display of onions and shallots. I picked one up, it sounded tasty, so we bought the ingredients and made it for dinner that evening. It was immediately a hit. One of my favorite recipes ever I think. I’ve seriously made this four times in the last month or so. I even more than doubled the recipe to feed to a group of 10 family members in town for my art show last week. They all seemed to love it.

Fun Fact: I hate yellow mustard, but I am absolutely obsessed with cooking with Dijon mustard. I just love the tangy flavor it gives things. I love it roasted on potatoes, meats, and it is my secret (or not-so-secret?) ingredient in my white cheddar mac-and-cheese too!

Classic Braised Chicken with Potatoes and Celery

adapted from original recipe here, to be gluten and dairy free. Serves 4. 

Ingredients:

-4 bone-in, skin-on, chicken thighs
-1/4 cup brown rice flour
-1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
-1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
-2 Tbsp butter (or olive oil)
-4-6 celery stalks (about half a bunch), chopped into 2-3 inch pieces
-4 medium red potatoes (about 1 pound), cubed
-1/2 cup white wine
-1 3/4 cups chicken broth
-1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

Directions:

1. Melt butter (or olive oil) in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
2. Meanwhile, combine brown rice flour, salt, and pepper in a wide bowl or plate.
3. Coat chicken pieces with flour mixture and add to melted butter in pan.
4. Cook chicken for 5 minutes on each side, until outside is crispy and golden brown.
5. Transfer chicken to a bowl.
6. Lower heat to medium and add chopped celery and potatoes to pan. Cook, stirring frequently until celery softens, about 5 minutes.
7. Stir in wine and cook, scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the pan until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5-10 minutes.
8. Pour in broth and stir in Dijon mustard.
9. Return chicken to the pan, bring to a boil and then lower heat, cover, and simmer until chicken is cooked through (165 degrees) and very tender, 20-25 minutes.
10. Once chicken is done, transfer chicken and vegetables with a slotted spoon to a larger serving bowl or platter.
11. Continue to cook the liquid over medium to medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, or until sauce is slightly thickened and reduced to about 1 1/2 cups.
12. Pour sauce over chicken and vegetables and serve.

Enjoy!

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When I first started this blog, I posted lots of small posts with random tidbits of life happenings. Over time, as I’ve changed and learned more about blogging, I feel like I post more of those random tidbits on other forms of social media, like Instagram. So where does that leave my blog? It’s something I’ve been questioning more and more lately. I love the record of the parts of my life that are recorded here, but with working full-time, running a business with my husband, starting my art career, and all the other normal life stuff, I feel like my time is pushed so thin and blogging has certainly taken a backseat for me more often than not. It is something I wish I made the time to work on more regularly, but for now, I’m still figuring out what that looks like. I have come across many life-right-now list posts on other blogs (see here, here, here, here, here, and here) and was inspired to perhaps start doing something similar.

Right now in life, I am:

MAKING notes about ideas for house projects I would like to work on this summer. 
COOKING simple, fresh, and homemade meals. Fresh salads with walnuts, grated Parmesan, and homemade lemon/oil/honey dressing, homemade pasta with butter/garlic/shallots/parsley and fresh tomatoes, homemade gf strawberry shortcrust, sweet tea, homemade ice cream.
DRINKING lots of water, as always. Also a touch of homemade sweet tea every once and a while.
READING Almost Amish: One Woman’s Quest for a Slower, Simpler, More Sustainable Life
WANTING to take a trip to the beach. 
LOOKING forward to the weekend. Ready to get my house cleaned and put back together after having family in town all last week. My studio could also use a little organizing after the last two months preparing for my RAW art show
PLAYING lots of soothing music lately, and a lot of Kacey Musgraves. And this song
WASTING time? energy? Aren’t we all?
SEWING nothing, currently. I did sew a button back on Drew’s pants the other day. I was in the middle of a few crochet projects before I started preparing for my recent art show. I also have plans to make new curtains for my living room windows in the near future. Just as soon as I find the right fabric.
WISHING for a great trip to Nashville next week. I desperately need a mini-vacation!
ENJOYING a quiet morning. 
WAITING on the work day to end and the weekend to begin.
LIKING monogrammed leather clutches. Now to find the perfect one at a reasonable price…
WONDERING where Drew and I will be living in 5 years.
LOVING looking back at photos from the Frenchman Art Market and other escapades with my sisters last weekend. (photo above)
HOPING to come up with a good balance of work, home, and time to work on creative projects & paint– I’m hoping to stay as creatively productive as I have been lately preparing for my recent art show.  
MARVELING
at a painting of my Papaw a wonderful family friend painted in memory of him as a gift to my family. 
NEEDING 
a little time to relax and recover from the craziness that has been life lately. 
SMELLING
not much? My hair smells good? I wish the Sweet Olive trees were in their smell-good season right now. 
WEARING
teal pants, black and white thin-striped shirt, floral scarf I bought on our honeymoon, white cardigan, quatrefoil necklace, gold watch, gold and leather sandals. 
FOLLOWING
lots of blogs and Instagram accounts. My feed used to be mostly filled with DIY/home decorating bloggers, but it is quickly filling up with many more artists that inspire me. 
NOTICING
lots of color combinations in the world around me I can turn into paintings.
KNOWING
that this season of my life will only last so long, so I should soak up every minute of hubby time I can get before we have kiddos running in circles around us while we are trying to work or make dinner. 
THINKING
about where I want to be in my art & design career in the future and what to do to take it there.  
BOOKMARKING
lots of art inspiration, books to read, and ideas for our home
OPENING
this print from Parima studio (as soon as it arrives). Both the elephant and the black and white pattern remind me of my grandmother, Evelyn
GIGGLING
at how incredibly sad this cat meme makes me every time I read it. 
FEELING
so grateful for where my life is right now. This year so far has been pretty tough for a lot of reasons, but I also have so many reasons to be thankful. I’m still so happy to be done with college (I graduated over a year ago and still constantly stop to think how amazing it is to not have to stay up all night doing homework on a regular basis), I have a great job, wonderful co-workers, a lot of awesome opportunities that have come up lately for my artwork and otherwise, I have a wonderful husband that I love getting to spend my life with, and we are making amazing progress on our debt pay off plan! I am enjoying where I am right now and also have so many wonderful things to look forward to!

One treat my sisters and I loved when we were little were what we referred to as “pie crust cookies.” Whenever my mom was making pies with a homemade oil pastry crust, we would use the leftover dough to spread with cinnamon and sugar and use cookie cutters to cut out shapes to bake into little cookies. We loved them so much we would often whip up a batch of oil pastry dough just to make into cookies, no pie crusts needed.

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This is a tradition that I’ve continued into my own home. I don’t make pies often, but in the winter I love a good homemade chicken pot pie. I would top the pie with my homemade oil pastry crust dough and bake the leftover bits into pie crust cookies, just like old times. After going gluten-free, I tried substituting different gf flour mixes into my regular pie crust recipe, but each turned out too crumbly or hard to roll out. Lately, I’ve really been craving some fresh strawberries with some homemade shortcrust cookies, so I experimented with different recipes and tweaks until I came up with one I liked. I haven’t tried baking this recipe into an actual pie crust, but I’m sure it would work great for that too.

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Gluten-free Strawberry Shortcrust

Ingredients:

For the shortcrust:
- 1/2 cup brown rice flour
- 1/2 cup white rice flour
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 Tbsp turbinado sugar
- 1/8 tsp xanthan gum
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- 6 Tbsp cold butter, cubed
- 1 small egg
- 2 Tbsp water

For the topping:
- turbinado sugar
- cinnamon

For serving:
- Fresh strawberries, sliced
- honey

Directions:

1. In food processor, mix dry ingredients (brown rice flour, white rice flour, cornstarch, sugar, xanthan gum, salt).
2. Add cubed butter and pulse until crumbly.
3. Add egg, mix until combined, then add water and mix until combined.
4. Remove dough from food processor, roll into a ball, and wrap in plastic wrap.
5. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour.
6. When ready to bake, roll out chilled dough between two sheets of wax paper.
7. Transfer dough to baking sheet, spread with cinnamon & sugar mixture, and cut into squares.
8. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
9. Serve whole or crumbled with sliced strawberries that have been tossed with honey.

Enjoy!

If you follow me on social media, such as Instagram, then you’ve probably seen me posting a lot of photos and updates lately about painting, my art exhibition coming up, and my art branding re-design. In just under two weeks, I’ll be exhibiting my art in a RAW artist exhibition in New Orleans. It should be a really fun event, so if you live in the New Orleans area, you should really think about coming! You can find out more information about the show and the artists participating, here, and you can see my profile and buy tickets from me, here.  To get ready for the show, I gave my art portfolio website and branding a little update, which you can check out online, here.

caitlin-branding-lookTo see more of my artwork, visit my art portfolio, here.

Drew and I have been married for two years today! (together for almost 7 years!) I blogged in more detail about the flowers, the bridal attire, the bridal party, and many of the DIY wedding projects I did, but then I got busy with school and never ended up posting about the rest of our wedding day. I’m sure if I had posted this two years ago it would be much more detailed, but here is a little recap of our lovely wedding day: (click to enlarge photos)

Photography by the wonderful Stephanie Susie of Stephanie’s Photography. See more of her work, here.

Summary of the day:

I woke up at my parent’s house that morning at around 6 am. My dad had a quick chat with me about the ceremony plans and then I washed my face, brushed my teeth, and grabbed my travel bag with my essentials in it and headed to town to meet Drew for a super quick breakfast before my hair appointment. We exchanged gifts with each other and talked about how excited we were. I had to rush out before I even had time to eat much because I was already late for my hair appointment. I got my hair done, then met my two younger sisters, Kelsey and Jillian, and my two best friends, Tonya and Jessica, at Dream Baskets in town. The girls had grabbed the box of sandwiches/chips/cupcakes from Julie (of Dream Baskets who was catering our wedding) for our lunch and then we headed out to the winery (Bella Terra Winery in Creal Springs, IL about an hour from our hometown) in a long caravan. I was driving Mom’s minivan loaded completely full of all the wedding decor and accessories.

The girls and I spent the rest of the morning decorating the winery–moving tables, putting out tablecloths & burlap table runners, filling glass jars with sand and candles, setting up the marriage advice/sign-in table, hanging curtains on the pergola, etc. Drew’s parents, two of his nephews, Taylor and Bryce, and my cousins Rick, Neva, and Gail all came out to help. Once decorating seemed under control, the girls and I went downstairs to do our make-up and finish getting ready (Blair and Evie showed up around then).  Drew and the groomsmen showed up at some point around then too and spent a lot of the morning drinking and playing bocce ball outside. The guys went downstairs to get ready while the girls were taking pictures outside. After all the bridesmaids and groomsmen photos were taken, Drew and I had our “first look” photos. I’m so glad we did photos before the wedding because the winery wasn’t a huge space and it was hard to hide from each other. It was also really nice to do all of the bridal party and most of the couple photos earlier in the day so that we didn’t have to worry about taking pictures after the ceremony while guests were waiting on us. Our wedding ceremony wasn’t until around 6:30 at night, so if Drew and I hadn’t seen each other beforehand we would have barely seen each other at all on our wedding day.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous and the temperature was perfect (it was in the 70s). The ceremony was so beautiful and meaningful. My grandpa walked me down the aisle and my dad officiated the ceremony and told funny stories about us. Afterwards we took a few more photos as the sun set while everyone else started eating. Our food was fabulously done by Julie Kuppart of Dream Baskets and was a buffet consisting of some of our favorites: stir-fry chicken and vegetables, fettuccine Alfredo, Texas potatoes, several different salads, rolls, and an assortment of cheeses, veggies, and fruits. Our cake was simple (four tiers with loosely frosted white icing with fresh peonies stuck into it) and was made of several different flavors–chocolate, lemon with raspberry filling, white with strawberry filling, Italian creme cake, and Drew’s favorite marble cake. I had pre-made gallons of banana punch to be served with it. We also had the bar open serving lots of wine and sangria. My sister, Blair, and Drew’s brother, Wes, both gave speeches that made us laugh and cry. The evening was gorgeous with our DIY candle luminaries lighting up the outside and the music and dancing were so much fun (we had a violinist play at the ceremony but a DJ for the rest of the evening). The whole day went by so fast and Drew and I drove off from the wedding late that evening with a car packed to the brim full of presents with “Just Married” written across the back and cans tied to the back of the car (which we promptly stopped down the road and cut off because they were so loud). We spent the entire hour drive to our bed and breakfast replaying over the day and excitedly chatting about how well everything went.

Favorite Moments:

-Breakfast that morning with Drew and chatting about our excitement for the day. I wish this moment had been a little longer, but it was nice to have a sweet, quiet moment to reflect on the day and the meaning of it together before all the busy, craziness of the day set in.
-The unbelievably awesome weather and our awesome venue with such pretty views.
-Decorating and finally seeing all the elements I’d worked so hard on come together.
-Seeing everyone smiling, laughing, dancing and having a great time.
-Stories of my niece, Gigi, the flower girl, walking down the aisle and dumping all her petals in a pile at the end (I didn’t see since I was inside waiting to walk out).
-Walking down the aisle with my grandpa.
-Having my dad officiate the ceremony and dancing with him afterwards to Adele singing Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love” (the song was a little surprise I had for him and he teared up).
-Spending the day with all my favorite people.
-Sweet little meaningful and DIY wedding details.
-Finally being married to my awesome husband and our utter excitement at the day having gone so wonderfully!

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