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Monday Musings: 12.23.2013 Edition December 23, 2013

Posted by Toy Lady in Family, Holidays Countdown, meal plan monday, Musings, random stuff.
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Holy cow!  Can you believe it’s only a couple of days until Christmas?  Where does the time go?

As is our norm, we waited until this week to get a wee little Christmas tree – there are just the two of us at home these days, and between the cat and the dog, decorating a full-sized  tree is just asking for trouble!

We like to pick up a live, potted tree.  After the holidays, it’ll get moved outside, to a somewhat sheltered spot, to wait for spring, when we’ll plant it in the yard.  So far, only one former Christmas tree has survived for us, but we like to at least try.

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As has been our tradition for the past few years, Peeps and I are cooking Christmas dinner for the family – at my parents’ house.  We get a chance to cook a big dinner (in a big kitchen!), and my mother gets a chance to relax for the holiday – it’s kind of a win-win for everyone!

I’m taking the next couple of days as vacation time in order to do as much of the prep as I can – and we started this weekend with cleaning the two branches of Brussels sprouts I picked up for the meal.

What?  Roasted Brussels spouts are delicious!

So what do you think of the menu?

  • Prime rib roast (with au jus? undecided)
  • Dijon -horseradish sauce
  • Individual Yorkshire puddings
  • Mashed potato casserole (with cheese!)
  • Roasted Brussels sprouts with carrots and parsnips
  • Orange sweet potatoes
  • Cannoli cheesecake

My sister has offered to bake rolls, and my mother will be making another dessert of some sort – our cheesecake was kind of an afterthought.

I’ve got my work cut out for me the next couple of days, wouldn’t you say?

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And we suddenly remembered this weekend that, while we don’t mind loading up the car and spending an hour and a half on the road, the Big Furry Toddler isn’t a big fan of the ride.  I think he gets bored and lonely in the back of the station wagon.

So. .  . we made a special trip to the butcher shop for a couple of nice marrow bones for the ride.

He is a fan of big juicy bones!

Here’s hoping for a peaceful road trip.

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And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.  Of course, we’ve got Christmas this week, with all the associated merry-making, not to mention the pre-holiday workload, so meals this will, well, let’s just say they’re all over the place.

Monday - We’ve still got a bowl of the Tuscan pork with beans left over from last week – we love that stuff!   I think I may cook some pasta to go with it, and maybe saute some kale  You know, kind of healthy it up with green stuff!

Tuesday -  And here it is, Christmas Eve already.  We’ve got reservations to take The Boy and his young lady for dinner at a local place, Mario’s – the buffet is based on the Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes, and while that’s all very good, there are plenty of non-seafood items, as well.

Wednesday -  Christmas Day at last!  I’ve already shared the menu for that meal – it’s going to be a long, full day, with too much food, but after all, that’s part of Christmas, right?

Thursday - Because we apparently didn’t have enough to do this weekend, we also roasted a turkey that we’d pulled from the freezer last week (we’ve got a dog food delivery coming up soon – gotta make room!) – so, as is also our habit, we’re going to be enjoying hot turkey sandwiches – a simple, relaxing post-holiday dinner, wouldn’t you say?

Friday - And pizza night comes around again!

Be sure to click on over to The Organizing Junkie’s Monday Menu Plan post for loads and loads of other ideas.

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Monday Musings: 10.25.2013 Edition November 25, 2013

Posted by Toy Lady in 101 Things, Family, meal plan monday, Musings, random stuff.
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Isn’t this charming?  Actual SNOW covering the actual GROUND.

Well, we knew it was coming – after all, we live in upstate New York – of course it’s going to snow!  And really, it’s not that bad – it was only a light coating, and we’ve got our boots and our coats and our gloves – our morning walk was . . . brisk.

Yeah that’s it.  Brisk.

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Jarly’s switch to raw feeding has been going very well for him.  Last week’s introduction to pork was uneventful – he liked it just fine, and he had absolutely no problems with it – yay.

He’s also been enjoying some turkey – Thanksgiving came early for him, I guess!  We bought a case of turkey wings, and we used some to make turkey stock (that’ll be so good for the gravy on Thanksgiving Day, won’t it?) – and the rest were divided up for future meals for the dog.

We discovered early on, though, that some hunks of meat – the stuff with bones, mostly – are apparently better enjoyed in the living room.  It’s just a good thing we’ve got an old blanket handy that he can use!

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So I mentioned that we made a batch of turkey stock.  Once the wings had cooled, I picked the big whacking hunks of turkey meat off of the bones and have been using that for treats.

I’m telling you, I still can’t get over just how well the two of them are doing!  Generally, they’re happy to lie this close to each other and just take turns getting their treats – I usually cue first one, then the other to look at me by saying their name.  Usually Minerva Kitty is purring up a storm, just gobbling up her bits of yummy turkey, knowing The Jar is mere inches away from her.

After their initial introduction, I never would have expected it.  Amazing, huh?

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Oh, hey, remember my 101 Things List?  Yeah, I know it’s been a while, but I haven’t forgotten about it.  Really.

I finally found a handbag I like – is that exciting or what?  I have problems in that area – they’re either boring, or they wear out too soon, or they’re too big (and I look like an old lady carrying a “pocketbook” around) or they’re too small (and all my stuff doesn’t fit) or they don’t have enough pockets (and everything’s all jumbled together in there) or they have too many pockets (and I can’t FIND anything) . . . it’s been an ongoing challenge for a long time!

BUT I finally found one – it’s a nice, soft leather, with a light colored lining (so I can actually SEE when I’m rummaging around in there!), and I went a little crazy and bought the “burgundy” color instead of my normal “black” – not even for a minute considering that it would match my winter coat almost perfectly!

Don’t you love it when things work out like that?

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And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.  It feels like a short week with the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, doesn’t it?  However, it’s going to be a chilly one!

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Monday -  Finally – a big pot of split pea soup!  It’s almost done cooking – just needs to reheat and finish cooking in the CrockPot for a couple of hours.  We should also have some nice leftovers, either for lunches or a weekend supper.

Tuesday - Do you know what we haven’t made in a while?  Cinnamon and honey chicken tenders – and I think they’ll be really good either with some leftover butternut squash (if it’s still leftover by then) or maybe some sweet potatoes.  And maybe some potatoes or something non-sweet.

Wednesday - Well, even though Thanksgiving is mere days away, we still went ahead and roasted a pork shoulder.  This is SUCH a great meal, and we’ll have plenty of leftovers.  Plus, it’s a perfect match for the veggie mash that we love so much.  And hey, maybe a green salad because, well, why not?

Thursday - Thanksgiving!  We’re driving to my parents’ house for the day, so no turkey here (though we did pick up a few for the freezer for later) – we’ll be bringing a couple of pies  (apple, peach, grape, and that’s probably it, since Peeps tells me that any more than that would be “going overboard”), a sweet potato casserole, and rolls.   Lots of rolls.  Oh yeah, and turkey stock to go in the gravy.

Friday - Friday is pizza night as usual.  I would imagine that it’ll be the basics – sauce, cheese and pepperoni for Peeps and just cheese and either olive oil or sauce for me.  Jarly will, as always, enjoy a frozen stuffed Kong for pizza night.

Be sure to click on over to The Organizing Junkie’s Monday Menu Plan post for loads and loads of other ideas.

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Monday Musings: 06.02.2013 Edition June 3, 2013

Posted by Toy Lady in Eating Down the Fridge, Family, Food, meal plan monday, Musings, random stuff.
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Well, I guess we’re starting to get into a new “normal” swing of things – this week was Peeps’s first trip to the Public Market since, well, last Thanksgiving, I think.

This not working thing will certainly have some advantages for him, I’m thinking. Especially when it comes to our market trips!

I may have gone a tad overboard, though – the beet greens looked so gorgeous, and the asparagus has such a short season – and how could I pass up wild garlic?  And the pork bellies looked so nice – can one really have too much BACON in the house?

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I don’t remember if I mentioned it or not, but this year, I put some fingerling potatoes in the garden.  I’ve never grown potatoes before, so I’m kind of excited about it!

And how even more exciting when the little bits of potato started to sprout!    Way better here in the garden than, say, in the bottom of the potato basket in the basement. . . don’t you hate it when you reach into that bag of potatoes and find one that looks like some kind of freaky alien?

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We started tracking class with Jar this weekend – and what a gorgeous morning it was!

The idea here is for him to actually use his nose and sniff and sniff and actually follow the trail of the person who left it, with, of course, lovely tasty treats planted along the way to let him know that he’s on the right track.  (Ha!  Get it?  TRACK?  I slay me!)

However, this was all new for him, and, as it turns out, focused sniffing is tough work for a dog!

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After about an hour, old Mr. Sniffy Face was all sniffed out.  But still – a good time was had by all – and we’ll be working on it this week and ready to learn even more bright and early next Saturday morning!

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The herb garden has certainly been happy with the warm weather and occasional rain, that’s for sure!

The oregano and tarragon are  already nearly out of control, the sage and thyme both have blossoms, as do the chives, and the lavender is starting to bud.

And the mint – well, the mint seems to be trying to make a run for it.  I don’t know what that’s all about.

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Oh, and speaking of herbs – and gardens – (see how I did that?) – the garlic scapes are coming in.

Last fall, we planted several cloves of a hardneck variety of garlic, and this kind of garlic puts out these shoots – I think it’s the plants way of creating seeds (but I’m just guessing there).

Anyway, we diligently watch the garlic plants, and the MINUTE we see the scapes, off they go – we want our plants putting their energy into making big, juicy bulbs of garlic, not flowers, right?

Maybe breakfast one day this week will be scrambled eggs with sauteed garlic scapes. . . after all, nothing says “please go out and play golf and just let me do my work” like garlic for breakfast, does it?

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I don’t know, but it almost seems like the kitty misses the dog when he’s outside, doesn’t it?

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And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.  While she’s recovering, we’re making sure Peeps’s mom is eating properly at least once a day – she’s got stuff in her fridge that she nibbles during the day, but we want to make sure she has a warm, nutritious dinner.

Monday -  I realized that I still have a Groupon that expires this week – so instead of the  pork chops we’d planned on, I’ll take one for the team and  stop for cheesesteaks on my way home from work.  (About what I said about a nutritious dinner for Peeps’s mom – cheesesteak has protein, and that’s nutritious, right?)

Tuesday -Since we were right there in the Bon Appetit magazine and all, we thought the Spiced Salmon Kebobs looked fantastic.  We’ll grill the asparagus with it and cook some farro - can it get much healthier than that?  Plus, I told you, the fresh oregano is just crazy – this’ll use up, oh, at least a couple of sprigs, anyway!

Wednesday - Last week, I added a chuck roast to my mental “get this out of the freezer soon” list – and, since we’re enjoying such seasonably nice weather, we’re going to grind it up and make burgers.  Peeps wants to add some of the wild garlic to the meat as he’s grinding it, and we’ve got tossed salad and will stick some small potatoes in foil packets with some olive oil and garlic scapes – did I mention that it’s all garlic all the time around here this week?

Thursday -  This month’s Bon Appetit featured a recipe for Spaghetti with Parsley Pesto - but instead of four cups (!) of parsley, we used the greens from the wild garlic for the pesto.  It’ll be great.  Since we already made the pesto, it’ll be a quick matter of cooking the pasta and tossing it together  -just the thing on a Thursday evening when  I’ll most likely be working late.

Friday - This week on pizza night, I’m planning to use the handful of wild garlic that I saved from the pesto, which I think will go famously with some of the caramelized onions I’ve got stashed in the freezer.  Gosh it’s nice to have this stuff on hand, isn’t it?

Be sure to click on over to The Organizing Junkie’s Monday Menu Plan post for loads and loads of other ideas.

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Monday Musings: 05.20.2013 Edition May 20, 2013

Posted by Toy Lady in Family, meal plan monday, Musings.
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Boy what a week it’s been!

You’ll recall from last week how Peeps and I were both having mother issues – his mom came through her surgery just fine and is feeling well enough to, well, she’s kind of giving the hospital staff a rough time, so I guess that’s a good sign, right?

My mother had her procedure, too, and, fortunately she didn’t have to be admitted to the hospital, and both my parents spent Friday evening and Saturday morning with us before heading home.  And of course, Saturday morning included a trip to the Public Market – I not only got my regular produce and eggs, but I got a flat of cute little violas for this year’s window boxes (Mother helped me pick them out).

I do still have to get a few more plants – some hangy stuff and maybe something a little taller. . . then I’ll get everything properly planted.  But for now, aren’t they cute?
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The perennial portion of the herb garden is, well, it’s perennial, huh?  I did divide the thyme and the oregano a couple of weeks ago, and next year, I may do the same to the tarragon and the sage.  Maybe even the lavender.

Meanwhile, the new stuff – dill, basil, rosemary, and a couple more parsleys – are settling in nicely, so I guess we can have plenty of fresh herbs to look forward to this summer.

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We came home from visiting Peeps’s mom Saturday evening, and we were TIRED and HUNGRY – it had been a long day (week) and it was well past dinnertime.

As it happens, one of the things I picked up at the market was a package of romaine hearts, and the current issue of Cook’s Country featured a grilled Caesar salad which sounded quite good.  While the recipe includes homemade dressing (and, of course, I had to make the mayonnaise before I could make the dressing!) anyway, I’m sure a decent bottled caesar or creamy parmesan dressing would work just fine.

The deal was – you cut the lettuce in half, leaving the core in to hold it together, and then brush the cut side with dressing before slapping it on the grill.

That’s right – grilled lettuce.

Trust me.

AND, since we had some leftover roasted chicken breast, I figured it wouldn’t hurt anything to give a couple of slices of that meat the same treatment – brush with dressing and reheat it gently on the grill.

It was the perfect late, light dinner, and, even making the dressing from scratch, it came together in well under half an hour.

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I do still plan to get rid of that gosh-awful linoleum tile in the front entry – even though I have no idea what kind of shape the hardwood will be in when I do.

Since it’s such a cruddy job, and my discretionary time seem to be somewhat limited lately, I’ve decided it may work better to just clean up a dozen or so tiles at a time – I have to scrape the tiles off, then remove what appears to be a double-thick layer of some sort of adhesive, then I need to thoroughly clean up the solvent that actually softens the glue.

Someday, the floors will need to be refinished anyway, but for now, I think I much prefer the spotty, paint-spotted, and scratched hardwood to the awful plastic tile or, even worse, that fugly old blue carpet.

And I think Jar agrees.

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And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.  We still don’t know what the Peeps’s Mom Situation will be, so we’re going to try to keep things as manageable as we can.  Although it’s looking to be a spring-like week, it’s also looking like we may see a bit of rain, so . . .

Monday - Between a late day at work, forgetting to pre-prep the meal, and hospital visits, we ended up putting off last week’s falafel, so we’re going to remedy that right away.  The falafel mix is made and in the fridge, as is the dough for whole-wheat pitas.

Tuesday - While we were rummaging in the freezer looking for shrimp (which we did NOT find), we did come across one last package of Chinese pork, all cut into cubes and ready for a batch of fried rice.  Okay.

Wednesday - And since we’re pre-cooking rice for Tuesday, we’ll do a little extra for some (meatless) veggie burgers we noticed while thumbing through the current Bon Appetit magazine.  And again, the dough for honey-whole wheat burger rolls is also made and in the fridge.

Thursday - Seasonally warm weather notwithstanding, while we were digging in the freezer, we found a smoked pork shoulder that Peeps had put aside for his favorite meaty beans – that’ll probably also be another future dinner and several lunches, I’m sure.

Friday - And as always, it’s pizza night.  At this point, we don’t know what the head count will be, but I’d imagine that even if Peeps’s mom doesn’t make it over for pizza, she’d probably not mind some delivery!

Be sure to click on over to The Organizing Junkie’s Monday Menu Plan post for loads and loads of other ideas.

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Shrödinger’s Cookie Sheets April 19, 2013

Posted by Toy Lady in Family, Musings, random stuff.
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Ya’ll know about Shrödinger’s Cat, right?  Of course you do.

See, here’s the thing.

Remember how, a couple of years back, Peeps’s mom finally decided to sell the old homestead and move north?

And how between Peeps and me, we made multiple trips to Jersey to help her sort and pack and get ready to make the move?

And how finally, more than two years after the closing on the new house, we finally got her in the new house permanently?

She was in that old house a LONG time. And in that time, she’d acquired an awful LOT of stuff.

During  the packing and moving process, Mom decided to rent a portable storage container.  Not the name-brand ones we see all over the place – some company that had a full-page ad in her local phone book.   She spent the better part of her first fall and winter after buying the new house filling that container with miscellaneous and sundry, uh, stuff.

Well, by the next fall, we all agreed that, since she OWNED the two houses, and neither of us was excited about driving back and forth to Jersey all winter, she’d be better off all around if she spent the winter in Rochester, then went back south in the spring to finish the packing job.  So she put in the call to the Pod People and directed them to deliver her container to the new house bright and early one fall day, which they did.

Only . . . when they opened the unit, it wasn’t her stuff.  They’d sent some random person’s stuff.   And her stuff was nowhere to be found.

The company looked – or at least they said they did, but somehow, there was some sort of glitch, and they had NO IDEA where the storage container with her number on it had ended up.

So.  It’s six months later, and it’s time to get serious about moving her.  She went back “home” to finish packing, and by “finish packing” I mean, well, I’m not really sure what she was doing, but I’m pretty sure that there was very little actual packing involved.

Keeping in mind that this was a very difficult move  for her – she was leaving her home of nearly 35 years to move to New York State, of all places.  But still – that house wasn’t going to pack itself.

And again, with near-constant encouragement from both Peeps and me, she finally decided to hire a moving company – this time, she went with a company she’d heard of (rather than some random company that advertised in the yellow pages and now no longer has an ad!), and she scheduled a weekend in late October for them to come, pack her house, and move the contents to Rochester, for which event I was the lucky winner of the coin toss.  Actually, I had the vacation time available to spend the week, that’s all.

They needed to use a BIG moving truck.

And when they got here, they completely filled the garage with boxes.  And the basement.  The attic too.  And that’s not even counting furniture.

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“Yes, yes,” you ask, “but what about the cat guy?”

Well, you see, now that she’s in her own little house, with a nice, roomy kitchen, she’s been hankering to do some baking.

Unfortunately, given her penchant for procrastination, she hasn’t stumbled upon any bakeware yet.  In fact, I’m not even sure she’s come across any “kitchen” boxes.

So I proposed my own thought experiment:  Shrödinger’s Cookie Sheets.

The baking sheets are either:

  1. In the erstwhile pod, and thus, lost forever, OR
  2. In one of the eleventy-thousand boxes still left to unpack, OR
  3. They never made it to Rochester and the moving guys are enjoying fresh-baked cookies even as we speak.

And there is no way to know – until every one of the boxes has been opened – and, ideally unpacked.

The real question, though, is how badly does she want to bake her cookes?

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