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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.



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.



Monday Musings: 12.31.2012 Edition December 31, 2012

Posted by Toy Lady in Holidays Countdown, Home, knitting, meal plan monday, Musings.
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Can I just start by saying:  HOLY COW!  It’s the end of the year!  Where did this year go?

I trust our TENS of readers had a wonderful holiday and didn’t miss us too much!

As you can see by the photo, we’ve continued out tradition of buying a small live, potted tree for Christmas.    Assuming it survives the winter, we’ll plant it in the back yard in the spring.

It’s somehow sad to see all the used-up Christmas trees at the curb awaiting trash day for the next couple of weeks, isn’t it?



One of the projects I’ve been working on the past few weeks was to make a couple of  special ornaments for some friends of ours – it just seems a little more personal than a Christmas card, you know?

I found a wee little mitten pattern (using leftover sock yarn!) that turned out to be the Cutest Mitten Ever!


I even dragged out a crochet hook when I found some glittery crochet cotton – there’s very little prettier than a sparkly, lacy snowflake, is there?

Though you know? If I’m going to do this sort of thing for Christmas,  should probably start before December.  Someone should remind me next year . . .



As we have for the past few years, Peeps and I cooked Christmas dinner for the family.

It was pretty standard fare – prime rib with individual Yorkshire puddings, this AMAZING mashed potato casserole (that we are DEFINITELY going to do again!). . . and we also did dessert.

When I saw the recipe, I could not resist making  a red velvet cheesecake cake.

I mean, WHAT could be more festive?  Two layers of red velvet cake, with a layer of homemade cheesecake between, all frosted with cream cheese frosting, with colored sprinkles on top – you know you’d try it too!


So we got a bit of snow this week.

Actually a little more than “a bit”  – Peeps spent a good amount of time shoveling enough of the deck that he can get out to the grill for our annual New Year’s Eve Steak Dinner this week.

And, of course, since his Papa was out, The Jar needed to be out, as well.

And since The Jar was out, he got to enjoy a little bone time.

Too bad there really wasn’t a good place for him to lie down. . . though he managed!


In other, non-holiday news, I’m hoping to get a start on painting the new bathroom this week – that drywall dust is driving me NUTS!

I want to make sure I have a clearer vision of what I want throughout the house before I start painting willy-nilly.  Again.

It’s unfortunate when you get done painting, take a step back, and realize, you know, I don’t really love that.  It’s even worse when your reaction is  “I hate that.”

I’ve got both going on right now.  Time for a little change of the scenery, I’d say.



And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.  I don’t know if it’s the holidays, or the FEET of snow we’re suddenly dealing with, or the cold, or just simply old age, but WOW we’ve been tired lately!  For this week, anyway, we’re trying to keep things as simple as we can.

Monday – On New Years eve, rather than go out, Peeps and I have always made our way to the grill – even if we have to practically tunnel through the snow – and grilled a couple of rib-eye steaks.  And what would a steak dinner be without a baked potato?  A fresh salad, a little fresh bread, and, of course, a bottle of something fizzy, because, let’s face it, there’s no way we’re going to see midnight anyway!

Tuesday – I’m told that Hoppin’ John is traditional New Year’s Day fare, and we can certainly use all the good luck we can get – especially with the upcoming painting projects on our horizon!

Wednesday – We pulled a package of homemade breakfast sausage from the freezer and will do . . . something breakfasty.  Maybe sausage gravy and biscuits, perhaps sausage, egg and cheese sandwiches, or possibly breakfast burritos.

Thursday – So remember how, a couple of weeks ago, we had taco night?  Well, we had some meat left over (and that was even after a couple of weekend taco nights, and a few taco breakfasts and lunches for each of us!), and, in the spirit of not shoving stuff in the freezer and forgetting about it, we took the last bit of pork and some refried beans, along with some other stuff we had knocking around, ad we made soup – what’s better (and simpler?) on a snowy early January Thursday night than soup, huh?

Friday – As usual, Peeps’s mom joins us for pizza night – we like to make SURE she gets out of the house now and then, and she does enjoy Peeps’s pizza!

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



In Keeping With the Season December 20, 2012

Posted by Toy Lady in Holidays Countdown.
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It Has Been Brought To My Attention December 19, 2012

Posted by Toy Lady in Holidays Countdown.
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It’s been brought to my attention that I have not provided a Christmas cactus update in a while.

Hi, Judy!

It is indeed nearly Christmas, and the cactus is, well, see for yourself!  It’s a happy camper, if a cactus can, in fact, be happy (or camp)  in December.


We’re chugging along here – the contractor stopped to pick up his final check, we’ve got bare-naked walls all over the place, and I’m not even going to care about that until after the new year.

For now – it’s time for Christmas to begin!

I’ve got a tree to decorate (and buy!), socks to knit, gifts to wrap, and Christmas dinner to plan  and prep – we’re cooking again for the family.

Holy cow, do I have socks to finish!


I’m also trying to remain mindful of the joy in the season, even amid the crazy busy-ness of the season and the terrible sadness that’s been visited upon so many families this past week.

I’m not sure when I’ll be posting again – possibly Monday, but that’s Christmas Eve and I may be up to my eyeballs in peeling potatoes and baking red velvet cake.

Do remember to spend some time rejoicing this week -Merry Christmas!

Monday Musings: 12.10.2012 Edition December 10, 2012

Posted by Toy Lady in Holidays Countdown, Home, meal plan monday, Musings, random stuff.
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Wow, it has just been all work all the time around here, hasn’t it?

Peeps talked Friday about the new half-bath we’re having put in downstairs – that’s going to be so great, but MAN I wish it was done already!

Poor Jarly has lost his prime lookout spot – he won’t be able to lie on the landing and watch out the front window anymore.

I’m sure he’ll get used to it, but I’ll tell you, for now, he is NOT happy!


I’m going to make a confession here.

I hate Christmas shopping.

I’m not saying I hate Christmas, or that I don’t have any Christmas spirit, or anything like that.

I’m not a grinch.

What I’m saying is WHY do we as a culture feel the need to wear ourselves out,  not to mention wasting our hard-earned money, running around buy-buy-buying more and more “stuff” for people whom we know darned good and well don’t need or, in many cases, even want more stuff?

It’s not the spending of money I object to (much) or even the time spent shopping.

No, it’s the pressure to deliver The Right Gift at The Designated Time to EVERYONE.

I would just prefer to give gifts on my own terms, and at Christmastime, well, to just celebrate Christmas, that’s all.

(Why yes, I did go out and do a little shopping this weekend – how could you tell?)



While my boss has been a sport about having Jar in the office this past week (I’m sure it helps that he hasn’t been there!), I don’t want to over-tax either of them, so took Friday off.

I felt my mother could use a visit from us anyway.

The funniest thing happened.  You see, my parents have this OLD cat – I think he’s about 17 or 18 years old.  And basically, he ain’t gonna move for no dog, no way, no how.   Mother’s dogs understand that, and they leave Geriatric Kitty alone.

My dog, however, firmly believes that cats are squeaky toys that should run and hide.

His encounter with the Cat of Doom was interesting, to say the least.

He saw the cat, and the cat saw him.

He took a step toward the cat, and the cat . . . raised an eyebrow and yawned at him.

He got even closer, and the cat didn’t move.

He poked the cat with his nose, and the cat swatted him in that cold, wet nose, then moved to sit on the back of the chair to keep a better eye on things.

And after that, Jar refused to walk past that chair until the cat had left the room.



And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.  Since the contractors STILL aren’t done, I’ll be working late again this week until they are.   Peeps generally sends me an email letting me know when it’s safe to bring the dog home!

Monday – We’ve been doing so well using stuff out of the freezer, but when chicken breasts went on sale this week, I couldn’t resist the idea of pan-roasted chicken, along with roasted sweet potatoes and some broccoli.

Tuesday – We’ve got a nice pot of black bean soup ready to go – we used up some ham left from last week’s pea soup, and a package of Peeps’s homemade chorizo from the freezer.  And of COURSE we used black beans fresh from the Bean Guy at the market!

Wednesday – Last summer I scored an excellent deal on some Copper River salmon, and I kind of stocked up – it was SO good!  We’ll either poach or bake that, and I picked  up some farro a while back – that’s supposed to be good, and I’m always up to try a new grain.  Oh, and you know what happens when you see a HUGE head of fresh broccoli at the public market for $2?  You eat broccoli three or four times before it’s gone!

Thursday – We dug a pork loin out of the freezer – and it’s been ages since we’ve enjoyed our maple-glazed pork roast.  I would imagine that would be nicely complemented by our homely veggie mash, and, assuming we aren’t still eating broccoli, we’ll have some of my garden green beans from the freezer.

Friday – We’ve been enjoying pizza night with Peeps’s mom since she got back up here, and this week will be no different.  I may try some leftover pork roast and maybe some veggie mash on mine. . .hmm.

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