New England Hospitality

We all know about Southern Hospitality.  There is truly no place like the South for chatting with a perfect stranger just to pass the time in the grocery line.  Or to welcome you with a homemade treat when you move in next door.  But did you know that New England has hospitality too?  I grew up in Connecticut and while I truly feel that I belong in the South, I can’t let go of the warm cozy spaces that you can only find in New England.  The elegant farm houses and the cedar shake houses.  The roaring fires in oversized fire places and creaky, wide planked floors.  You may not get chatted up in line anywhere, but if someone invites you in to their home, you’ll never want to leave.  Check out these rooms that I have used as inspiration.

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Just imagine the throw blankets strewn on each couch, a fire in the fireplace, wool socks, some great antiques and a cup of hot cocoa as you watch the snow fall.  That is the New England hospitality that I remember! (and miss!)

Weekly Menu 1/28–2/1

It’s almost February and I haven’t even made a batch of chili yet!  That will be next week!  I think February calls for lots of soups and stews.  To finish out February, I am doing super easy meals that my kids love.

Monday – Beef and Broccoli – Soy sauce and brown sugar make this special.

beef + soy sauce + brown sugar + garlic + broccoli + crock pot = beef & broccoli

Tuesday – Cheese Ravioli with Sage Butter and Shallotts – store bought ravioli mixed in with butter sautéed shallot and fresh sage.

Wednesday – Tacos!

Thursday – Meatball Nirvana – a Pinterest recipe but I’m mixing in Italian sausage and fresh tomatoes.

Meatball Nirvana Recipe

Friday – Make it yourself flatbreads.  My kids will likely only do cheese, but at least I can add fresh basil to mine!

Battle of the Beiges

I am having a very hard time picking a favorite beige.  I know that the trend is white rooms right now, but I’m practical.  I have 2 small children and a large dog.  I need something that resembles the color of dried dirt.  Or food crumbs.  I prefer warm tones.  Cream is my favorite white.  And what matches cream better than a great beige, khaki, greige or tan?  I see these beautiful rooms in all of these tones, but I can’t pick a favorite.

Do I go lighter and more khaki?

Or darker and more tan?

Or trendy and greige?

I have narrowed it down to a few great colors all by Sherwin-Williams

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Macadamia 

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Kilim Beige

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Balanced Beige

 

What do you think?

Checking off the Pinterest Activities

In a previous post I talked about my Pinterest addiction.  I feel like I pin everything, but I don’t do much of what I pin.  Recently I pinned this….

Cabo San Lucas

Nice, huh?  Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.  On the Baja Peninsula.

Guess what?!  Last week I went there!  Yahoo!  Just for a couple of days while my Prince Charming was on business.

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This was sunrise on day one.  Beautiful!  We stayed at the Hilton Los Cabos Resort.

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This was the lovely beach, but I mostly hung out at the pool and drank mojitos!  Boy were they good!

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Gotta get the prom picture pose in!

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Whenever my husband goes on a trip, he takes an angry bird with him and photographs it all over the place and sends the photos to our kids.  This trip was no different.  This was one lucky bird!

Weekly Menu 1/21–1/25

I am still trying to get back into the swing of things after the holidays.  January has been jam packed full of events.  My children had an extra long winter break (2 whole weeks!) and my parents stayed for an extra long time to help out.  Prince Charming and I took our first trip without children (much needed but totally nerve racking!) and today is MLK Day so no school again.  I’m ready to get back to a normal schedule.  So this week I have planned some very easy recipes to help me get organized.  Every extra minute is precious!

Monday – Chicken Thighs with Rosemary Mashed Potatoes and Roasted Onions

Tuesday – Italian Seafood Stew 

Wednesday – Broccoli, Ranch, Cheddar and Bacon Baked Chicken (this is a Pinterest recipe in an effort to actually TRY the stuff I pin!)

Chicken broccoli, ranch, cheese, and bacon in aluminum foil and placed in the oven...gotta try this.

Thursday – Spaghetti Squash with Williams Sonoma Organic Pasta Sauce (I thought I’d give it a try)     

Williams-Sonoma Organic Rustic Vegetable Pasta Sauce

Friday – Burgers!  

 

Tuscan Chicken

I promised you all this recipe and it is one of my family’s favorites.  I make it with chicken, but my dad (who is an amazing cook) has done it with shrimp.  We also thought it would be good as a frutti de mer (fruit of the sea – scallops, clams, calamari, etc.).  But I got so caught up in making it and remembering the recipe that I forgot to take photos!  So I borrowed one from Google.  Enjoy!

2 Tbsp. olive oil

Salt and pepper

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into bite sized chunks

1 C. pesto sauce (fresh or store bought)

2  14 oz. cans of Italian style diced tomatoes

1 can quartered artichoke hearts, drained

1/2 C. toasted pine nuts

shredded parmesan cheese

1 box pasta of your choice – I prefer linguine or angel hair

 

Cook pasta per package directions.  Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a deep sauté pan.  Salt and pepper the chicken to taste.  Add the chicken, browning on all sides, but not cooking through.  Add the pesto sauce and cook with chicken for 1 minute.  Add tomatoes (you can drain them if you want a thicker sauce) and cook for another 2 minutes.  Add the artichoke hearts and reduce heat to low.  Allow to simmer as  you finish cooking the pasta, about 10 minutes.  Once the pasta is done and drained add it to the tomato and chicken mixture.  Add the pine nuts and mix together.  Top with parmesan cheese and serve. 

Weekly Menu–1/14-18

Back to the old grind, folks!  Prince Charming and I returned from our brief vacation last evening.  I’ll post about that at another time.  It was magnificent, but it’s time to get back to the regular day to day business.

Monday – Tuscan Chicken – a made up recipe of mine.  I’ll post the full recipe tomorrow.

Tuesday – Baked Potato Soup

Wednesday – Creamy Shrimp Rolls

Thursday – Pizza!

Friday – Braised Short Ribs in the slow cooker

My Name Is Brenna and I Have A Pinterest Addiction

Anyone else?  I know I’m not alone.  So I have decided to make a New Years Resolution because of this addiction.  I MUST try to make the recipes, or do the projects that I pin on Pinterest.  I have lots of pins that are “OMG!  I HAVE to try that!” or “That would look AMAZING in my house!” or “I’m making THAT for dinner!”  Well, I am committing to try some of these.  And I am holding you as my witness.  Here are a few that I will attempt in the coming month.

I will learn how to take better photos.  I need to for the sake of my family and this blog!

Great photography tips!  I will become a better photographer!

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My linen closet looks nothing like this.  I am scared when I open it that something will fall on me.

Real-Life Closet Makeovers

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For my children, I need a reward system.  This one is great!  Positive reinforcement!

Positive reinforcement - Put a cotton ball, marble, pom-pom, etc. in every time you catch your child being good. Do something special when it's full.

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Zucchini fries!  Maybe this will get my kiddos to eat some veggies!

Crispy Zucchini Parmesan Fries that are baked :)

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Prince Charming and I are going here!  Cabo San Lucas, baby!  Can’t wait!

Cabo San Lucas

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Stuffed Peppers

One of my goals for this year is to try to develop some of my own recipes.  I am quite good at following a recipe, but coming up with my own?  Not so much!  Here is my first attempt at an original.

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1 /2 C. uncooked quinoa

1 C. chicken stock

1 pkg. Italian sausage – mild, sweet or hot it’s your choice

1 onion chopped

2 tomatoes coarsely chopped

2 cloves garlic minced

salt and pepper to taste

4 stems of kale, ribs removed and coarsely chopped

4 bell peppers – red or yellow – hollowed out

parmesan cheese for sprinkling

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put quinoa and chicken stock in a pot and bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce heat to low.  Let simmer for 15 min.

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Cut the top off of the bell peppers and hollow out.  Set aside.

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At the same time in a large pan, cook sausage over medium heat until half way done.  Add onion and cook through.  Add tomatoes and cook until soft.  Add garlic.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Add kale and cook until wilted.  Add cooked quinoa to sausage mixture.  Mix it all together.

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Time to stuff your peppers!  Spoon the sausage mixture into the peppers and sprinkle with parmesan.  Put into the oven for 30 minutes. 

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Enjoy with more parmesan if desired. 

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How did I do with my first original recipe?  My prince charming thinks I did OK!

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Happy New Year, Y’all!

Welcome to 2013!  I just can’t believe that it is a new year already.  I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and that you are ready to start the year off right.  Have you made resolutions yet?  I sure have, and lots of them!  But I can encompass them all into one word… BREATHE!

The end of 2012 has been tough for our family.  We are fortunate to be in good health, but our lives were kind of put into limbo as we moved, my daughter started school, we didn’t get the house we had wanted to buy, my husband changed jobs and we are now renters for the foreseeable future.  I feel stifled creatively due to being in a space that isn’t my own.  I feel overwhelmed by having boxes and bags everywhere.  I feel disorganized because I have most of my belongings in storage and not enough space for it all.  And I feel sad because I am so caught up in feeling these bad feelings that I am having trouble seeing the bright side.  Here is the bright side:  we are all here.  My children and husband are safe and healthy.  We are all here together.  We have many blessings.

This why I chose to focus on the word breathe.  I want to remind myself to take a step back and take a breath.  To count my blessings.  To remember that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.  To enjoy every day, whether its challenging or simple. 

I encourage you all to count your blessings no matter what your 2013 resolutions are.  And know that as I try to grow this blog, I count you as one of my blessings.