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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?



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.



Monday Musings: 11.26.2012 Edition – Plus a Thing! November 26, 2012

Posted by Toy Lady in 101 Things, meal plan monday, random stuff, Shopping With Peeps.
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We have survived the Thanksgiving weekend – thank goodness!

You know, the older I get, the more I realize that I’m my own worst enemy.  I mean, I didn’t have to cook the holiday dinner (with the exception of sweet potato casserole and dinner rolls), we only traveled a little over an hour away, and we were home by bedtime.

Yet I am BEAT!

I just seem to be incapable of taking a 4-day weekend OFF .  I always feel the need to cram 4 or 5 days’ worth of projects into that 4 days off.  Even when I know it’s what I’m doing, I do it anyway.



Of course, one of those projects happens to be one of my Things – number 24, to be specific.

I’d started cleaning out the desk a while back, and I even got a couple of drawers somewhat organized, but. . . now it’s empty.

I bought that desk when I moved into my first apartment – to hold  my very first computer.  I paid $25 for it from the Vietnam Vets thrift store, and I remember the nice men there helped me strap it onto the top of my Pontiac Sunbird.

But the time has come – it’s got to go.



We woke up Saturday morning to what can only be described as SNOW!  Not a lot, granted (it wasn’t even really measurable), but it was definitely cold.  And white.  And windy.  Brr.   Saturday morning’s walk was less than pleasant – I’ve been spoiled this fall!

However, it really was just what I’ve been waiting for – it was the perfect day to put together a big pot of chili!

And since we were there and all, we also put on a batch of chicken stock – gotta keep up with that stuff in the freezer, you know!



I think I’ve mentioned that we’re going to be having some work done at the house, so, rather than have Jar lose what’s of his furry mind trying to defend the castle, I’ve been getting him used to the idea of coming into the office with me.

That seems to be working out okay – and really, how many office refrigerators have a big old Kong nestled between the baby carrots, the cauliflower bits and an apple?

Yeah, we try to run a healthy ship.



Oh, oh, Shopping With Peeps!

We were in the baking aisle – flour, sugar and salt on one side, and Every Mix in the World on the other – when a shelf tag caught my eye.

Muffin mix – specifically cereal muffin mix.

Cocoa Puffs (and Reese’s Puffs and Cinnamon Toast Crunch) Muffin MIX?

The first question I have is “Who BUYS this stuff?”

Then I realized that the shelf tag was a “discontinued item” sale tag, and I had my answer.

Nobody does.



This photo is to demonstrate that my mother has finally gone over the edge.  She’s officially a crazy lady.

She sent a couple of butternut squashes from her garden home for us.  The TWO of us.  I set them next to my quart jars of stock – for scale.

Now what the HECK am I going to do with all that squash?  Not that I mind too much  We do both like squash.

Plus, I’ve got a couple of kale bushes in my garden I’ll be happy to share with when next I see her.




And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.   We’re still working at emptying the freezers – will it NEVER end? I’ve also got to sort through some of that ridiculous pile of recipes I’ve accumulated over the years – so our menus or the next few weeks will likely reflect that.  Still.

Monday – Over three years ago (7/27/09), I printed a recipe for Breakfast Tacos – we’ve got plenty of tortillas, and, of course, eggs and bacon.  AND we’ve got home-canned beans that are only moments away from becoming refried beans.

Tuesday -I guess we were in a bacony sort of mood when we made the menu for this week – I’ve got Saveur‘s  recipe for Spaghetti all’Amatricana that I printed just last summer.

Wednesday – Since we didn’t cook Thanksgiving dinner, we don’t have the  turkey leftovers that the rest of the world has.  So we roasted a chicken over the weekend and have chicken leftovers instead.   Enough to make the chicken pot pie that Peeps has been wanting to try since it was published in Cook’s Illustrated two years ago, appropriately adapted to use already-cooked chicken and homemade chicken stock.  And no mushrooms.

Thursday –  I’m always on the lookout for a  good soup, so even though this Lentil Soup with Kale and Sausage calls for all sorts of fake ingredients (Soy choizo?  Parmesan-style soy cheese?  Really?), we’ve got real chorizo and cheese,  plus plenty of fresh kale, and this just sounds good.  I hope it is.

Friday – And here comes pizza night around again.  I doubt we’ll have leftovers to pile on pizza this week, but the herb garden is hanging in there, and there’s always plenty of cheese and sauce.

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



Thing #70: This may not have been the wisest move August 15, 2012

Posted by Toy Lady in 101 Things, random stuff.
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Hey, look, another Thing!

Remember back a couple of years ago when I upgraded the Honda and bought my Tank?

Boy, I’ve put a lot of miles on that thing!  Back and forth to work every day (18.6 miles each way), several trips to my parents’ house (80+ miles each way), not to mention a few trips to Jersey (350 miles each way) – I spend a quite a bit of time in the car, and it just makes sense to drive something comfy, you know?


Thing #70 is “Test drive a car I’ll never buy” and, once I worked up the nerve, I decided I could do that!  Of course, my intention was to test drive something really cool – a Mercedes, maybe, or even a Porsche.

Wouldn’t it be cool to drive a low-slung, bright red Porsche along the Parkway?  I remember when I took the Tank out after I replaced the turbo – va-ROOM!

But I didn’t test drive a Porsche, or even a Benz.

I tested a Honda Element.  And a used one at that – Honda has, for some reason, discontinued production on the Element.  And it’s kind of a shame, too.  It’s a really cool car.  SUV.  Van.  Something.  (Do you suppose maybe that’s part of the reason they stopped making them – identity crisis?)

You’ll recall that I drove an Accord before I switched to the Volvo – I loved that Honda.

But here’s the problem.   I test drove an Element, and, well, now I want one.


Badly enough to call the bank and pay off the Tank.

See, here’s the thing.  I love the Tank – I love it a lot.

It’s comfortable as all get-out.

And roomy?  Heck, we transported not just one, but TWO 100-pound (plus) beasts at the same time – and I never once heard “Mom, she’s touching me!”

Unlike the typical SUV, the wagon is low enough to the ground that Mr. Limpers is easily able to clear the tailgate – most of the time.

And the Volvo is safe – and it’s built to last.  I’ll probably get several more years of pleasurable driving out of it.

But it’s expensive to drive.

Well, not expensive to drive, really – the mileage, while not what I was used to with the Accord, is certainly not bad.

But it’s a ten-year-old car, and ten-year-old cars have a way of needing repairs.  Unexpectedly and with some disturbing frequency.

And the new, extended extended warranty is set to run out in just a few months.

Now, I could take the position that, heck, I’ve already replaced the turbo, the head gasket (ouch!), and the catalytic converter (ouch plus!) – what else could go wrong?  Only I’m pretty sure lots of stuff could go wrong.

Or I could make haste to the nearest dealer and tell him to FIND ME AN ELEMENT.  But it seems that, as a trade-in, the Tank is worth about a third of what I could get if I sold it outright.  And really, do I want to fiddle around trying to sell the wagon AND find another car all at the same time?

I don’t know, actually.  I might.

So what I’m going to do right now is wait.  Sounds like a plan, no?

The Tank is paid for, it’s not due for inspection until January (or February – ha!), at which point it will need tires.  So I guess I can bank those monthly payments for a few months and see what happens, huh?

Monday Musings: 07.23.2012 Edition July 23, 2012

Posted by Toy Lady in 101 Things, Cooking, Giveaway, Home, meal plan monday, Musings, random stuff.
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Oh, hey, it’s finally happened!

I’ve picked my first Beloved Jetstar of the year, so I cooked some of Peeps’s wonderful bacon, made a batch of fresh mayonnaise, and we had BLTs for lunch.  Well, the Boy and I had BLTs.  Peeps passed on the tomato, lettuce and mayo portion of the show and just enjoyed a bacon and cheese sandwich.

That’s okay – he doesn’t realize what he’s missing out on, that’s all.



We finally decided to invest in an actual charcoal grill – I know Peeps has his smoker, which, technically, we can use as a grill (with a bit of rearranging, I guess), but still.

I remember when I got my first gas grill, how cool that was – and that’s all we’ve used for, oh, probably close to 20 years!  And now, how cool is a charcoal grill?



I’ve been picking green beans faster than we can eat them!

This past week, they’d piled up so much that I knew I had to do something – so one morning before work, I blanched a bunch of them and spread them out on a sheet pan to go in the freezer.

Once frozen solid, I transferred them to a freezer bag – looks like we’ve got just about 2 pounds of “fresh” frozen green beans to enjoy this winter!



Have you run into any wild Alaskan salmon this year?

From what I understand, this has been a record year for salmon runs, and it’s showing – wild Alaskan salmon is all over the place locally (upstate New York!), and it’s cheaper than I’ve ever seen it!

If you do see any on sale, I’d urge you to give it a try – it’s still a bit of a splurge, but don’t you deserve it?


See, even our grumpy kitty approves!



Oh, the garlic!

You may remember that we’ve planted garlic the past couple of autumns – well, here it is!

Last year, we let the scapes go too long, which, essentially, stunted the garlic cloves, and we ended up with these little tiny bulbs.  Tasty, but small.

This year, I nipped those scapes as soon as they appeared, and the garlic greenery has all pretty much died back, so we pulled them up – much nicer this year!


Oh my gosh Puppies!


Have you heard about the Warrior Canine Connection?  This organization trains service dogs for disabled vets, but that’s not all.

Obviously, these puppies need to be socialized and trained first – and that’s where they actually begin their work.  WCC puts the puppies in the hands of vets suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury to be trained – thus helping  the dogs, these vets today, and then, eventually, the vets whom the dogs have been trained to ultimately assist.

How cool is that?

And best of all – they’ve set up a LIVE PUPPY CAM for their latest litter of 6 golden retrievers!  Sleeping puppies, playing puppies, eating puppies, wrestling puppies – all puppies all the time!

I haven’t gotten much of anything done at work this past week. . . oops.



The moment I know everyone’s been waiting for – the final count of my penny jar!

Believe it or not, that huge bottle, holding something over 10 pounds of pennies, held a mere 2,409 pennies (plus three dimes that I have no idea how they got there).

And with a guess of 2,451, Anne came the closest – only off by 42 cents!

Anne, I’ll be contacting you by email with the code for your $10 Amazon certificate!



And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.  Can you believe how the summer is FLYING by?  Of course, I say the same thing every year, but still.

It certainly does look like a stellar week coming up, though, doesn’t it?


Monday –  I picked up some very nice scallions at the market last week, and  this ginger & scallion beef just looks fantastic, doesn’t it?

Tuesday – I came across this lemon-tarragon pork chop recipe on the National Pork Board’s website and thought it looked good.  It just be quite nice with some sauteed kale (from the garden!) and maybe foil-packet cooked potatoes.

Wednesday –  Our supermarket has whole chickens on sale this week, and you know we’re suckers for roasted chicken!  However, this week, we’ve decided to break in our new charcoal grill and make Smoked Chicken with Lemon-Ginger Barbecue Sauce.  Peeps wants to do macaroni salad, and I’m sure we’ll have green beans to go with it, too – after all, ’tis the season

Thursday -Since we’ve already got beef, pork, and chicken, we try to go with something a little lighter – ideally meatless, but nothing was inspiring both of us this week.  So the next “lighter” meal is fish, right?  We pulled out an old favorite – grilled tilapia with smoked paprika that we’ll do with Alaskan whitefish instead.  And, of course, the parmesan polenta is always a winner, and we’ll enjoy a nice tossed salad with it all.

Friday – We all know what happens at this time of year on pizza night, right?  Tomatoes and fresh herbs, that’s what.  Or maybe fresh herbs and tomatoes.  Peeps sticks with his pepperoni and cheese, which is fine.  More tomatoes and herbs for me and the Boy!

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



Thing #96: A Thing, A Milestone, and a Guessing Game July 18, 2012

Posted by Toy Lady in 101 Things, Giveaway.
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This giveaway had ended – thank you to all who participated!


Wow, that’s a lot of stuff going on here, isn’t it?


I haven’t forgotten my 101 Things List, though, obviously, I’ve been slacking in that area.  A lot.

But first – a milestone.

This is our 1,000th post.

That would be ONE THOUSAND.  Can you believe it?

So here’s what we’re going to do.

I’ve spent the past year and a half, maybe 2 years, collecting pennies.

A LOT of pennies.

We’ve been dumping them into an old Jack Daniels bottle – a 1.75 ML bottle.

I’m not sure how much that is in real measurements – slightly less than half a gallon, I think.    Regardless, it’s a lot of pennies, and it’s taken a while to accumulate them.

By the way, you know the phrase “bottle neck” right?  Yeah, dumping pennies out of a booze bottle make that term abundantly clear.


And so.

We dumped the 1.75 litre bottle of pennies into a 5-quart pail and filled it . . . about halfway, give or take.

I put it on the scale, but it was over the 9-pound, 15-ounce limit of our kitchen scale, and I didn’t feel like hauling it upstairs to weigh it on our people scale.

We took the bucket o’ pennies to the nearest Coinstar machine – where we signed up to get an AMAZON.COM gift certificate.

(As an aside:  Coinstar doesn’t charge a service charge if you select gift certificates, and honestly, Amazon is like Alice’s Restaurant – you can get anything you want.  Good as cash.)


So here’s what we’re going to do (again).

I’m going to GIVE AWAY (the equivalent of) one thousand pennies in an Amazon give certificate (that’s actually $10.00).

And all you’ve got to do is guess how many pennies were in the original, 1.75 litre bottle.

Or how many dollars’ worth of pennies were in there.  Either way.

I’ll tell you this – there were several “reject” pennies – a lot of Canadian pennies, and pennies that had been too abused to go through the machine.

But, to make up for it, there were also, somehow, three dimes mixed in.  I have no idea how they got in there, but I have my suspicions.

And here’s another hint – it’s nowhere near enough to pay off the mortgage.


So there it is – give me your best guess – tell me how many pennies (or, convert your pennies to dollars)  we cashed in from our 1.75 litre bottle of pennies.  we’ll determine whomever comes closest at the end of the day Sunday (call it 4:00 eastern) – the winner of a $10 Amazon gift certificate will be announced on Monday.

So. . . leave a comment and tell me how many pennies you think we were able to collect – and you could end up with 1,000 free Amazon pennies!