Send. (50 Christmas Cards from Shutterfly)

My family did Christmas card erratically growing up, probably because I usually remember one of the three of us girls in tears before, during or after the “photo shoot.”

I do however love getting cards during the holidays. It is one of the few times a year I hope for something more that a bill in the mailbox. Last year I hung each card with a small ornament on the garland running up our stair case banister. I have also started bundling, then keeping cards by year incase I ever get a free moment to go back and take a look at who sent what over the years.

I finally convinced J do get on board with producing our own Christmas card last year (in our 5th year of marriage). He came up with a creative picture plan, which was actually his idea. I think largely due to the compliment he received on his creativity and wit, I got him on board again for a 2010 Christmas card. Which is a great thing because of what Shutterfly is offering to bloggers this year.

I do most of my photo storage, picture printing and photobooks from Shutterfly, I also recently ordered s few personalized Thank You cards with my name at the top (very trendy designs I might add). I have always been impressed by the quality and clarity of pics, projects, and price. So when the offered up 50 free cards to bloggers I jumped into looking at these formats (803 to be exact) for our 2010 card. I’m not sure what we will choose this year, but I am a big fan of some of these formats.

Vintage Village

I could go on but seriously I’m running out of room here. I also think there are several here that could sent well into the New Year if you just can’t fit it in before Dec. 25th.

P.S. SP there is also a Letter Card on Shutterfly that lets you combine a short update with a photo card.

P.S.S If you are interested in taking advantage of the 50 cards check out the notice the Shutterfly posted here and get started.



We still have several pounds of turkey left over from Thursday, but after last night's dinner the fridge is a bit lighter. I made turkey paninis, quick and easy.

Two slices of bread (anything would probably due, just make sure it can with stand panini pressing)
Cream cheese, though I may use white cheddar next time
Rubbed sage
Turkey leftovers
Cranberry sauce leftovers

Butter one side of the bread and spread cream cheese or cheese slices over the other side. Place buttered side down in grill pan lightly sprayed with olive oil. Spoon cranberry sauce on top of cheese then add turkey slices. Lightly spread second slice of bread with cheese and then top the sandwich.

Since I was not using a panini press, I placed a heavy pan weighted with cans to smush (yes, technicaly term) the sandwiches. As they began to make grill marks on the bottom and melt the cheese I flipped the sandwich for a few minutes to toast the second side.

Thats it!



This was the theme of the weeks as I hosted Thanksgiving for the first time atour house. All went well and all together it was really not as stressful as some make it out to be. Here are a few things that I think made it easy.
1)Shop gradually. I generally knew what out menu would be and what I would need. It meant that I could take advantage of sale items (think turkey for $.39 per lb) when I saw them and shop at a variety of places for what I needed (BJ's, Trader Joe's, HT) just on regular errands during the month.
2) Stash the non perishable Turkey Day goods out of your kitchen as you stock up. My mom always did this and I never really understood why, but it makes it easy to see what you have and what you are missing and ensures that nothing gets used between the time its purchased and the big day.
3)Prep as much as you can as early as you can. I am not advocating cooking/freezing things weeks ahead and using the microwave, but consider what can be completed or partially prepped a day or two before. By the time I hit the sack Wednesday night the table was set, mydesserts were complete, cranberry chutney in the fridge, and sweet potatoes ready for marshmellows then the oven. Before my family arrived, well before our meal time the rest of my veggies were ready for the oven and potatoes diced and waiting on water.
4)I was a tad worried about everything being ready at the same time, something I am not great at the other 364 days out of the year, especially with a 22lb turkey taking up most of the oven. This is what worked for me. All of our side dishes were ready for the oven when the turkey came out to rest. By the time the bird was ready for carving the dishes were also ready for the table. Hopefully it works that well next time:)
I promise I am not a confused as I look. Now what to do with the 15 or so lbs of turkey left in my fridge.



Humm, its been a while, but I do have an excuse.

So shortly after we returned from this...

(An amazing 7 days in the San Fran/Sonoma Wine County area).

We found out we needed to start reading this...

So the last several months, you see, have been dedicated to sleep (while I can), and strollers searching (not to mention car seats, bottles).



Need a good beach read?

The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand.

Or maybe something a little more thought provoking (and a little creepy)?

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger



California, at least we will towards the end of the summer.

We have a trip planned later this summer to spend some time in San Francisco and Sonoma County and after much stalking of plane tickets and emailing of lodging rentals, I am happy to report that we have booked a late afternoon flight west followed by a night in the city, 4 nights is a cute cottage near Sonoma and a one night stay in a B&B a little farther north all before heading back to reality a week later.

As the designated trip planner I am feverishly gathering all I can about the must see places (read wineries) to visit (read drink) and a few things to keep us busy in San Francisco as well. Suggestions welcome.
We are again planning to travel with companions, my sister is one of them, though I am sad to say not the ones we started thinking about this trip with:(You know who you are and we will totally miss you).



Homemade peach ice cream.
JC swipped my parents old icecream maker when we were home for Father's Day and promptly put it to use.
It took a little trial and error to get it churing, but I no time at all we were enjoying the fruits of his labor. And I each time he fiddled around with the machine to keep it moving couldn't help being transported back to about age 8, sitting on our back deck with my dad doing the same thing.

We spent the rest of last night trying to figure out more flavor combos for next time.



Something I really need to be doing is getting back focused on the inside of our house. As Spring (and now summer) came we have spend most of our time and work (with the exception of one major cleaning spree) out of the house leaving several unfinished parts of certain rooms.

The first thing that I have to find the time to work on is our family room. After this inspiration picture a few months ago I rearranged our furniture which involved moving our kitchen table into the family room as a side table. And yes this means I am on the hunt for a kitchen table.

Which left a blank wall at our stairs, so I decided to shoot for this look (top left pic).

My DIY version of this table couldn't get close to the lines I wanted with the skit and its right in front of our air conditioning vent so the whole think sucks in when the air comes back on. Our HVAC friend also did not give my table very good reviews for HVAC efficientcy.

So back to square one. I think I need to find a sofa or occasional table that I like and go from there. Something like this. I still love the gallery wall, but maybe now with black and white family pics in stead of just prints.



Apparently Talbots is cool again...

Or I am getting old.
Images from Talbots June Style Book.



The summer issue of the online mag Southern Flourish is out today (which I have posted about before). I only clicked through a few pages before I was being inspired by quotes and scribbling notes from ads and articles. A few pieces of advice that resonated as I read through the articles (which are all great).

Be really aware of when you feel great. Your compass for your life is your feelings. If you are doing something that really brings joy into your life take note of that." -Carrie McCarthy, interviewed for "What's your statement?" The article highlights her endeavor to help people find their "Style Statement," a two word statement that defines your authentic self. Now I am wondering what my style statement is?

"It was so liberating to answer the questions based on dreams rather than budgets. I think we all live trapped by what we perceive is within reach." -Lesley Graham, Typically Southern Section Editor for Southern Flourish after discovering "Timeless Bohemian," her Style Statement. Umm yeah...

"Just like people, it seems that rooms naturally evolve over time." -Paloma Contreras, La Dolce Vita on sharing her favorite room. I like this, it makes your home seem more organic and reminds me is OK to constantly want to rearrange our furniture.



This blog I stumbled upon is truely beautiful whether you are a mom, have a mom or just think you might want to be a mom someday.



I was on the hunt for comfortable and cute pants for a plane ride to and from the West Coast this summer and found the J. Crew Minnie Pant. I am still not sure they meet my comfort factor for a 6 hour overnight flight home, but very cute for work or weekend Spring to Fall.



I did not like Harry Potter (gasp) and barely made it through the first Twilight book (only because it was book club selection), but this vampire novel has me a wee bit interested.

Read a full summary from this NPR story, but basically it sounds like 400 pages of True Blood, meets historical fiction, meets Tom Clancy.



I interrupt regularly scheduled posting to share another Carly escapade.

J left her as usual on her ottoman with her morning treat. When I got home she was no where to be found. Scary since she normally at least looks up from the couch when you walk in the door. Until I noticed our master bathroom door was shut. There she was locked in the bathroom. I have no idea for how long--though it was long enough to dig all of our dirty clothes out of the closet and make a dog bed.

As for the picture--yes our dog is wearing slippers, got to keep things fun.



Well not eat, but last weekend we did drink lots of wine at a local wine festival, featureing mostly local vineyards. Since felt like it was about 100 degrees outside it was a little hard to enjoy the reds, and some of my favorites (oddly enough) were the fruity wines. My own awards from the show:

Most Creative Flavor:

Hummingbird Wine from Southern Charm Winery

"A sweet wine (very) made with honeydew, kiwi and juicy melon flavors. It's the perfect way to enjoy those summer sunsets."

Notes: It's crazy to think you actually drinking wine and all of the fruit flavors are very present. Unique and memorable. Definitely a summer patio wine for sharing, a whole bottle may make you feel like you have eaten and entire bag of jolly ranchers.

Up-and-coming wine/grape to watch:

Euphoria from Skull Camp Wine/Round Peak Vineyards

"It's what comes after anitticipation. Slightly sweeter white wine with grapefruit and pear aromas."

Notes: This is a light blend apparently using the Traminette grape, which is new to me but something I will be on the lookout for (we had another Traminette wine at the festival).

Now planning tasting trip to:

We had a great taste of what was to come.



I think you should treat yourself by bringing fresh flowers into your office at work.

Today I have one single hydrangea snipped from our bush at home as I left this morning.

Seriously it will make your work day much happier:)



Our city is beginning an expanded recycling program this July. We do a lot in our house to be more green, but it got me thinking how much more we can (easily) do.
I hope that by the time the program (with our much bigger bin) starts in July we will be taking out more recycling than trash. Here is how:
1)With mailer about the new program I realized that we can recycle more things so with the program expansion (juice cartons-yay!) and some because I never really looked at the original list (junk mail).
PS The fact that the program was announced via mailer, that then became junk mail was not lost on me, but at least I now knew it could be recycled.
2)Compost. I made a bin using YHL's instructions. But here is another hint: I keep a plastic dog treat container in the freezer to collect scraps so I am not making daily trips out to the bin. By keeping it in the freezer the smell is contained.
3)Paper products. I try not to use them. When we sit down for dinner we use casual cloth napkins and I go to rags before paper towels for clean up. I will admit to falling in love with the disposable wipes for counter clean up, but Clorox Greenworks are compostable.
Other clever reuse ideas saving even recyclable items from the curb.: If you find yourself with a plastic, disposable water bottle fill it back up and freeze it at as cooler ice pack. It won't leak like ice, its reusable and if it gets lost no worries. Use old newspapers as a weed barrier.



I don't even want to wait until 2011. To bad I have graduated to a smart phone calendar because I love the calendar book/planner, but I think the desk calendar will brighten up my office nicely.

2011 Linnea Design Calendar

I love, love, love July, August and October.



It's Friday and several weeks ago I institued Friday night wine and cheese on our patio for me and JC.

This decree accomplished several things:
1-Before Friday Wine and Cheese a typical Friday at home would be scrounging for dinner and aimlessly flipping the TV channels. Did it take brain power--no; did it get a little stale--yes.
2-It slowed us down just a bit and got outside for just a few hours, even during allergy season.
3-It has been a great time for uninterrupted chatting with the hubby. It's amazing what you talk about when the conversation doesn't revolve around which DVRed show to watch next.
4-It creates ready-made, pre-planned, easy dinners. I have zero modivation for Friday night cooking, and I like to cook. Wine and cheese for dinner means just a little advanced planning and prep, then lots of pouring and snacking. (Honestly this one is probably my favorite).

So here are the rules:
1-Choose an evening that you want to claim for yourself (or at least mostly for yourself). I picked Friday for a number of reasons.
2-Choose 1 easy, standard menu that you can enjoy each week (beverages optional). Try to pick a meal that doesn't involved lots of shopping for random items, major prep work and can be eaten whenever every you want. It's patio wine and cheese for us through the summer, but I am thinking make your own pizza and a movie (also with wine) this winter.
3-Choose a spot that is not where you normally eat or spend your at home time. So probably some where other than the kitchen table or couch. Picnic outside or eat in the dining room, just because it's your day and it's a little special.
3-Be flexible. The idea is to create a ready made plan of relaxation to fill up an otherwise uneventful evening. If social plans or work get in the way every once in a while, no worries there is always next week.



For anyone who wants a bi-monthly reminder about all of the culture, design, architecture, food, liturature, and people that make up the New South.
The most recent issue highlighted several small southern towns for live, work and play; a beautifully written article by Tom Brokaw about his beloved lab bird dogs; and something for specifically for you NYC folks.
If you are not quite up for another magizine subscription, at least wander through the website.

Disclaimer: There are sporting, often hunting, realted articles, which is not exactly my cup of tea, but the rest of the magazine is worth it.



Simple summer grill menu. Few ingredients, quick prep, easy clean up.

1.Grilled Garlic Shrimp Skewers-Use fresh garlic. It's totally what makes this work.
2.Grilled Pork Skewers-Pre-slice the tenderloin before tossing it in the marinade. Skewer the slices just like the shrimp. This also makes a great sandwich.
3.Basmati Rice and Black-Eyed Peas-Get the rice cooked even before the grill goes on, then add the peas, lemon and onion. Everything will stay warm (an require no attention from you) while your meat is cooking.
4. Grilled tortillas with hummus-We actually had a baked version, but I think if you brush a little Olive Oil on a flour tortilla and toss it (both sides) on the grill for a few minutes, the top hummus it would be awesome.



I am loving this update to my accessory wardrobe this summer.

Following the boyfriend watch trend, I have been wearing this one as a watch/bracelet for a few months now to try and "trend up" my work wardrobe. At $14.99 it goes in the trendy, cheap and functional categories. Plus is makes me feel just a little bit fancy. So not a bad impulse buy.


See. Do. Eat. Read. Live. Buy. Write.

So I mentioned a gimmick in my last post, with the title as a hint. I hope that I came up with something that will keeping me writing on a diverse group of topics and keep blogger block away for at least a while.

Here is the plan. I have picked 7 fairly broad verbs that pretty much explain how I spend my non-work life. 7 verbs for 7 days of the week, with the idea that each day gets "assigned" as topic to blog about. Here is what you have to look forward to...

See: Notes about my actual travel, plans to travel, or hopes to travel.

Do: I'm thinking this stays a fairly broad topic and notes things to do (of that I did) because they are cool, nice, good.

Eat: Pretty self-explanatory. Good food, beverage, recipe ect. that I want to share.

Read: Suggested reading lists and reviews of what I have read or am reading.

Live: Another broad topic focusing on general life stuff that doesn't fit in any other category.

Buy: Products with reviews or purchases to share.

Write: I challenge myself to add one semi-creative, hopefully entertaining writing post per week.

Now two disclaimers:

1-I reserve the right to add or take away a verb as it fits what I want to post about. We all need a little excitement to look forward to, right?

2-With this new format comes the end of corny post titles. All you are getting is the verb title to give you a clue where I am heading--you can make up the rest.

Stick with me, comment often.


103 posts later (this makes 104) and several busy months off I have come to several conclusions.

1)I really enjoy blogging, but sticking with just home decor stuff is not really keeping the pages full.
2)I need a gimmick, something to keep the blogger block away--even in the busy months.
3)I may have found my gimmick, so stick with me to see where this all goes. Hint: it involves me not having to come up with post titles, yay!!
4)I make no promises about pictures on lengths of posts. Let's just shoot for new, diverse content each day.
5)I am not a tech person, but for the last 12 hours have been obsessing over the new Droid Incredible by Verizon, that and actually having Internet on my phone. Really, am I that girl?

So stay tuned for some revision, a new look, and regular posting--at least through the summer. I promise to try to keep you entertained.


And she is off...

This is our dog Carly.

This is an example of one of our folding sports chairs that I was sitting in this afternoon.

Sadly, what I do not have it a video of our dog Carly running around three houses in our neighborhood dragging our red folding chair behind her.

I hooked Carly's leash to the chair, then got up. Yeah, we won't do that again.

Nice post of return on don't you think? Anyone still out there?


Southern Flourish

I have only clicked through (as opposed to flipped through) this new online mag written for "young southerners" by "young southerners." It looks fabulous.

Check it out here. The spring issue also features Young House Love's "favorite room," so you know the editors have picked stellar contributing writers.


Found at IKEA

Ikea is normally pretty hit or miss with me; I'm partial to pretty traditional style with home decor and furniture. I do stop in from time to time looking for odds and ends or accents. This weekend this was staring me in the face (amist the bumping shopping carts and screaming children that is IKEA on Saturday:), and I love it.

It's a soft gray color and from the Edland series. I would probably change the hardware (which after inspection seems doable), but the $199 price tag is pretty nice.


Good enough for Facebook

Apparently my hubby thought dinner last night was good enough for a facebook shout out. Not sure if it was really that awesome or he just had not had a home cooked meal for weeks. (The fault of his crazy work schedule, not my lack of dinner prep:)

We had homemade black bean burgers and homemade potato chips with spicy ranch dip for the burgers, chips or both. I will link to the recipies because I can't seem to paste them in.

Spicy Ranch
Black Bean Burgers
Homemade potato chips

PS The hubby made quite a face when I told them that the dinner menu was black bean burgers, so by the end it must have made quite an impression.


Making it work

I am usually a fan of making it work in the kitchen. When a recipe doesn't go exactly as planned or I am 3/4 of the way through cooking before I realize I don't have something vital I can usually figure it out and manage a fairly decent result.

This was not the case Thursday night as I was making cookies. I managed to beat into the batter an entire egg, by entire I mean including the shell. Nice.

PS There is no way to recover from that, especially since the cookies were for a baby shower.

Note: You may have noticed my lack of blog posting (sorry), so I'm thinking about some changes. Stay tuned.


I found it on another blog-January

I think I missed this for December and I am already a few days late for January. Oh well, here are a few things that I enjoyed finding in my Google Reader in January.
1. Stamps of Approval from Young House Love- One of these address stamps is already on my birthday list. I noticed so many of these on 2009 Christmas cards, so much cuter for cards or invites than my free sticky labels.

2. Cranberry Bliss Bars from A Year in the Kitchen-So good for breakfast or for dessert.

3. This very neat table runner found at Celebrations at Home-I am wondering if I can make a DIY version with chalk board paint?

4. Furniture tranformed with paint on Blueprint Bliss- I am jealous a) of many of these finds and b) of the creativity each of the owners have to see beyond the dated hardware or wood grain. I hope one of these days craigslist or yard sales will be good to me too.


Menu Monday

Another Monday with another menu for the week. We have been cooped up in the house all weekend with snow, so I just got to the grocery store. I didn't do so well sticking to the budget but I did manage to use about $10 in coupons this trip. Either way here is my plan for dinners this week.

-French Dip Sandwiches and onion rings*
-Buffalo chicken salad
-Baked Chicken and Sweet Potato Spears with Bacon Vinaigrette (we didn't get to this one last week)
-London Broil with Citrus Mayonnaise and White Cheddar Mashed Potatoes

*Crock pot


Walk right in

As I constantly renovate my kitchen in my head I have come to one conclusion: I would give up coveted cabinet space in my kitchen for a walk-in pantry.

I know cabinet space is premium, but I'm convinced that fewer cabinets combined with a large walk in pantry with open shelving is a better solution compared to a kitchen where cabinet space in plentiful.

My imaginary walk in pantry would be outfitted with simple, open, industrial shelving around the wall. A basket, lazy susan or two for organization but mostly just unobstructed, easy access shelving.
As is customary, most of the shelves would be reserved for food--now with lots of space for bulk purchases. But there would also be space of the shelves for all of the appliances and cookware I use, but use infrequently. Things like my huge dutch oven, bunt pan, food processor. I really think I would rather a walk across the kitchen to bring these things out rather than digging to the back of bottom cabinets on my knees.

Convinced? No? What if I promised to add these yellow barn doors?



If you are reading I need help. Not major my-life-is-threatened help, but food help.

We are usually participating in a supper club with our Sunday School class, so at least 4 times per year I have to come up with an appetizer to bring to dinner. This should be easy but no. Here is why...

-Most of the recipies I come up with are best served hot, or at least warm. We are always driving about 30 minutes to supper club and I am never quite sure how well things will keep thier heat.
-I am not above a good cheese tray, but sometimes feel like its a little of a cop out.
-I rarely know what is for dinner so I want to bring something fairly general that I know will work for the meal.
-Crackers and Dips are begining to bore me.
-I never know if I should do something really specific (stuffed mushrooms ect.) for some reason all of those types of appatizers seem to work best as part of a appetizer spread.

So if you are reading help. What is your go to app for situations like this? Am I over thinking this? Are crakers and dips not really that bad:)


Menu Monday

I had a very successful week of meal planning, grocery shopping only once and using coupons. So far I am off to another good start. I did shopping yesterday for the week, stuck within my budget and used about $5.00 worth of coupons.

So here us what is on tap menu wise for us this week.

Beef Stroganoff and steamed broccoli*
Baked Ziti and Salad
Filets, baked potato and salad
Baked Chicken and Sweet Potato Spears with Bacon vinaigrette

*I am also attempting to use my crock pot at least once each week for an easy dinner.


Oh Spring

I do not need this dress, but I do love it. With no spring baby shower, wedding or party on my calendar I can't even convince myself to look--but maybe you can. It is from Loft (surprised, yes me too) and just like OZ, things come and go so quickly there so you must hurry.

Menu Monday

In an attempt to hold myself accountable for my 2010 plan #2 (see the sidebar), I thought I would share our meal plans for the week.

Slow Cooker Green Pepper Chicken with Brown Rice and Salad.

Baked Ziti and Salad

Mustard Chicken Salad and wild rice

This is not quite 5 or 7 days of meals, but depending on our night schedule I plan to throw in a winter vegetable stew or frozen pizza from the freezer. I have everything I need for the meals for the week and shouldn't need to make any mid-week trips to the store.


Not what it looks like

I know this looks like a New Year's Resolution post, but dear friends you are wrong. Plus if it were a resolutions post I am about 14 days late. This is a post about a few things that I would like to focus on in 2010 and beyond.

So what is the difference? Who really knows, but it seem that 90% of the time resolutions are meant to be broken, like its OK if you spout off life changing goals on 1/1, but then by February are back to your old self. So remember the list below are NOT resolutions, but goals or plans to make my life a little more like it is in my head, coordinated and organized but fun and relaxing.

So my plans:

1-Take advantage of the local farmer's market regularly. I am excited that this will help us both eat fresh and shop local. I have already started by attending a winter market in our area.

2-Be more intentional about our grocery budget without sacrificing our eating style. We are big eaters in our house and I like to try new things in the kitchen. Yes, we could bring our grocery budget down by radically changing our menu, but that I not what I am proposing. I would like to continue to eat and cook as I always have (mostly) but pay better attention to meal planning, freezing and couponing to help save some cash.

3-Actually join the church we have attended for the past three years.

4-Plan 1 thing each month that is out of our routine. I have a problem with ruts, I get stuck in them and then get annoyed. I don't need be entertained or have plans 100% of the time (just 95%:), but I want to make sure I don't look back at the month and ask "what did I do for past 4 weeks?"

5-Continue regular running routine. Using the couch potato to 5k program I built up to a 28 minute run. I pretty much ignored my routine for December but its time to get back started. I really had no idea where I would be, but last night I donned several new running related Christmas presents and made it though 20 minutes, the last 5 even felt pleasant. So I am looking at sticking with 20+ minutes, 3x per week, until I can come up with a better goal to measure.

6-Finish projects before starting new ones, but keep starting new ones. I have a ton of 1/2 finished little things to complete, but then it's game on (bedroom, kitchen, paint, curtains...). I have to have something to keep writing about.


Pork Tenderloin with Rosemary and Garlic

An easy weeknight meal or something for guests.

Pork Tenderloin with Rosemary* and Garlic
1 pkg Pork Tenderloin (these usually have two in a pack)
Olive Oil
4-6 Fresh Sprigs of Rosemary
4-6 garlic cloves, diced.
Salt and Pepper

Slice each tenderloin longways, but do not cut all the way through the meat. Drizzle olive oil and salt and pepper in the incision for each tenderloin. Stuff garlic and rosemary* into each incision. Place meat with the incision facing down into an oven safe pan. Drizzle olive oil and salt and pepper over meat to taste. Bake at 350^ for 30 minutes or until "pork" reading on meat thermometer.

1pkgs (2 tenderloins) easily serves 6

*This originally also called for fresh sage, but since I always have rosemary in the garden and most of the other ingredients in the house, I tend to forget I need to buy sage.

Dinner for 2, 4, 6, 8....

This was a foody weekend for me. Two different groups of dinner guests and a trip to the winter farmer's market (which by the way is one of me 2010 goals). So for your eating pleasure I thought I would share two pretty easy winter menu's when you have to cook for more than 1 or 2.

Menu #1: Ina Garten's 40 Clove Garlic Chicken (remember I am obsessed); Couscous; Fresh Green Beans

Why it works: There is a bit of prep work with the chicken, but once it is all in the pot you can enjoy your company. The beans and couscous take about 5 minutes each on the stove, right before everyone is ready to sit down. I made this on a frigid evening and its was warm and hardy. It satisfied my need for something a little fancy but didn't offend the "meat and potatoes" crowd I was cooking for.

Menu #2: Pork Tenderloin with Rosemary and Garlic; Paula Deen's sweet potato fries; roasted asparagus with ciabatta and honey cinnamon butter

Why it works: The pork tenderloin is easy prep with moderate cooking time and once its in the oven you can pretty much ignore it. I have made it for years and its never dry. Interestingly enough I find that most guests really enjoy the pork, but don't tend make it much in their homes so its something a little different. Paula's sweet potato fries were an excellent and simple savory use of the locally grown sweet potatoes that I got at our winter market and the roasted asparagus can't really be any easier. I was dying to try Darcy's honey cinnamon butter and it seemed like it would fit well with the meal-I was right. I made the honey cinnamon butter earlier in the day and everything else pretty much hung out in the oven as we were enjoying our wine an appetizers.

Tonight I am sticking with the winter vegetables and planning butternut squash soup (the squash is also from the winter market) and sweet potato biscuits. I think the left over honey cinnamon butter will reappear as well.
*Disclaimer: None of the pictures are actually of my meals, sorry.