I don’t know about you, but I ditched the Christmas cards a few years ago in favor of a less stressful holiday season. I admire the folks who still devote the time and care (and money) to a decidedly old-fashioned endeavor, but I’ve streamlined my life in order to focus on what really matters.
This year, I tried my hand at an e-sentiment, distributed on Facebook and this blog, and emailed to a few colleagues.
It’s reaching 95% of my peeps with 1% of my former effort (and 0% of the investment).
My niece called me green.
Which is just about the right color for Christmas, don’t you think?
I hosted a small dinner party Saturday night. Nothing big . . . just one couple and my daughter’s friend — an easy table for six.
The menu was tried and true: an antipasta to start (cheese, crackers, venison sausage, and olives), followed by a salad of field greens topped with apple and blue cheese, a piping hot lasagna, and a crusty loaf of bread. To finish, creme brulee.
It was lovely, and easy (okay, time consuming but easy) and served as a welcome reminder of why I love the holidays: good food, good friends, and time spent at home are life’s real gifts.
I had the most fun — as I always do — dressing the table. I thought this one turned out beautifully — a nod to the holidays without being overt. See what you think:
I paired vintage Noritake dinner plates with contemporary Pier One salad plates. I picked up the place mats and the table runner recently at Pottery Barn. The glassware is, of course, vintage, and the vase is blown glass by a local artisan. With candles and flowers and greenery, the table came off prepared without being overdone.
There’s nothing like a little fresh greenery to dress up a table. I used to have a pine tree in the yard of my former home and I was never shy about clipping a few branches to dress my table. But I’m without a convenient source these days — despite our 15 acre homestead — so I had to buy these at the local florist.
The monogrammed napkins are ones I’ve owned for more than a decade. I highly recommend making the investment. I purchased my napkins on sale at a department store and took them to a local seamstress for monogramming. The versatility of the green and cream motif has served me well over the years.
I’m hosting a holiday open house next weekend for my office and I liked this table so much I may just repeat it for my food buffet. It will eliminate a little bit of thinking during a lot of cooking and preparation, and come to mention it — that’s a holiday gift too!
It’s rainy and cool in my part of the world today. I put on my sweats and long-sleeved shirt, and set about figuring out an easy but tummy-warming meal everyone in my family would enjoy for Sunday Supper.
My son suggested twice-baked potatoes and that sounded perfect for a cool day. For the entree, I reached way back into my past for a simple-but-scrumptious dish known as “Baloney Chicken.”
I know. It sounds weird. And gross. The name reflects my Okie heritage because it’s named after an Italian man named Mr. Bologna, which my friends and family pronounce as “baloney.” I learned the recipe from my college roommate, and it’s one of the easiest but tasty chicken cutlet dishes around. Trust me. Make it once and you’ll be hooked.
My table was colorful but pared down. It was just one of those weekends, you know, when you’d rather curl up on the sofa with a good book than spend hours dressing the table and prepping dinner. All in all, I had about an hour invested in this meal. I’d say that’s not bad for a supper as pleasing as this one.
An Autumn Sunday Supper Menu
2 lb chicken cutlets or tenders, lightly pounded so they’re not too thick
2 sticks butter, melted
1 cup flour
3 eggs, lightly beaten with a tablespoon of water
2 cups Panko bread crumbs, mixed with Italian seasoning
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded or grated
Salt and pepper
Dredge chicken pieces in flour, then salt and pepper both sides. Dredge in egg mixture, followed by bread crumb mixture, followed by melted butter. Arrange on a large baking sheet and sprinkle tops with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until lightly browned and cooked all the way through. Serves 4.
Twice Baked Potatoes
Scrub and bake four large baking potatoes. Let cool, then slice in half lengthwise and scoop out the centers. Mix potatoes with your choice of ingredients. I prefer equal amounts of butter, cream cheese, sour cream, and shredded cheddar cheese. I add a generous amount of salt and pepper, plus a splash of heavy cream. I use a potato masher to make sure the mixture is nice and creamy. Refill the skins with the potato mixture, top with more shredded cheddar, and bake at 400 degrees until well-browned, about 20 minutes. Alternately, the stuffed skins can be refrigerated for up to a day and then baked at 375 for 30-40 minutes. Serves 8.
Toss several cups of broccoli florets with olive oil, salt and cracked pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees until florets look toasted, about 20-25 minutes. Serve immediately. Serves 4.
A woven cornucopia and an assortment of silk foliage make a perfect centerpiece for an autumn supper.
We woke up today to temps in the low 50’s. The sun was bright blue and there was only a wisp of humidity in the air. By mid-afternoon, the thermometer read 72 degrees and my husband, who grew up in Pueblo, declared it “a perfect Colorado day.”
Best I can tell, summer has bid us farewell on Labor Day weekend.
So what’s a girl to do but cook up a storm and do a little fall cleaning? By noon, I had gotten in a six mile run, made a batch of chicken and cheese enchiladas with homemade green chili sauce, swept all the floors, changed the sheets, and raided the basement for my fall decorating supplies.
I know, I know. It’s only September 5th. But with a nip in the air, I couldn’t help but scatter a little autumn around the house. Just call me Macy’s.
My favorite spots for seasonal decor are the buffet and the fireplace mantle. Here’s a shot of the buffet, fully decked out in fall colors and twinkly lights:
One of my most treasured items is a copper and pewter tray I picked up for $20 in a Colorado thrift store while on vacation two years ago. I subsequently spent $100 to have it polished and lacquered, but it’s a beauty and I’m so glad I spent the extra money. The copper provides a perfect backdrop for a menagerie of fall items, including a turkey feather that my husband found on our back acreage.
The tin owl is a new item I picked up last week in St. Louis. I have an affinity for owls and I couldn’t resist this one. It holds a votive candle and I love its sweet, interior glow.
For the mantle, I simply scattered more candles, leaves, pumpkins, turkey feathers, a piece of driftwood, and a shedded deer antler.
I bought the black cat years ago, in homage to my favorite pet of all time, Rudy. I had adopted Rudy Cat five years before my second child was born, then had to find him another home when my son developed allergies as an infant. Fifteen years later, I still miss my Rudy Cat.
For the dining room table, I filled a woven cornucopia with a few leftover items, then added a fall place mat and two votive candles and called it good.
I don’t know about you, but all I need now is a piece of pumpkin pie and a jacket, and I’m ready for fall.
Happy autumn, dear readers!
I talked to an old friend earlier this week who had just bought her first home after years of renting following a divorce. She was exhausted but happy, in the best kind of way, and it made me smile just hearing her voice.
Here’s something that made me happy this week:
I’ve collected Buddhas over the years and these are just a few, assembled on a table in my entry. One is a vase that holds flowers I plucked from our overgrown acreage.
And look what the wildflowers do . . .
They fling little bits of golden happiness all over the table. I’ve always loved fresh flowers, I think because they continually shower themselves with confetti. Flowers throw themselves a party every day.
And I was reminded that happy comes into our lives in little bits . . . here and there, wherever we choose to absorb and acknowledge it.
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
PS: I took a new job a few months ago and, as a result, I experienced a professional first this week. The husband of a woman who works for me came to my office to say thank you for improving his wife’s quality of life. As moments in the office go, they don’t get much better than that. Lesson learned? Find some happy. Spread some happy.