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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.




Monday Musings: 04.16.2012 Edition April 16, 2012

Posted by Toy Lady in knitting, meal plan monday, Musings, Shopping With Peeps.
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I am first going to mention this:  Last week’s pressure cooker pork carnitas?  To Die For.

We had about a 6-pound pork shoulder, boned and trimmed, and we used one-and-a-half times the spice rub.

Tacos made with this meat?


Tacos again a few days later?

Still fantastic.

Pizza with a smear of the sauce from braising the meat, the meat itself, and shredded Monterey Jack cheese?

Oh my goodness.  This recipe is definitely a keeper.


I’m hoping I didn’t speak a little hastily last week.  I mean, yeah, I’m pretty sure the worst is over, when it comes to my workload – there are timing things at play, and, of course, the interest rates can’t stay this low forever (can they?).

However, I may have underestimated just how much of my “regular” work has been shoved aside these past few months. . .

On the bright side, though, I did get the last of the bills for 2011 drafted this weekend!



Shortly after I bought this house, I needed to replace the bathroom faucet – the handle actually broke off.

At that time, I really wasn’t in much of a position to have a plumber come to the house right that minute, so I lived with the old vice-grips faucet for a while, until my father was able to “show me how” to replace it.

Do you know how to replace a bathroom faucet?

In involves crawling UNDER the bathroom sink (inside the vanity) where there is barely room for one person (and no light).

So my lesson in  how change the bathroom faucet involved me handing tools to my  father, who was under the sink, grunting and trying to describe what he was doing  for me.

And then his coming out and asking me “Did you get that?  Wasn’t that easy?”

Well, that $30 faucet started leaking at the handles a while back, and my parents were in town this weekend, and, well, although my father isn’t as young as he used to be (and really, who among us is?), he was willing to “show me again” how to change the faucet.

This time, though, there was a point where I crawled under the sink and told me what I should do.  While I didn’t do the whole job, by any means, I feel confident enough about it that I could probably change  the kitchen faucet myself.

Assuming that nothing goes wrong with it.  Assuming that, of course.



Oh, by the way.

One thing I have gotten done around here – I finished Peeps’s socks!

That would be his, um, Christmas socks.

I got a little ambitious at Christmastime (and really, who doesn’t?) and thought I could finish a pair of socks for both my husband and the Boy.

Have I mentioned that they both have BIG FEET?

I just couldn’t get either pair done on time – the Boy‘s were done shortly after the holidays, and poor Peeps – he got a skein of yarn and a promise under the tree.

Well, they’re finally done, and he seems awfully happy with them.



Oooh, ooh, hey, Shopping with Peeps!

I couldn’t help noticing this display for (ahem) Recipe Insirations.

Recipe Insurrections?

Recipe Inspections?

I’ve seen the product before – it’s basically a blister pack of a half teaspoon or so of maybe half a dozen  spices, along with a recipe to use those spices.

I would think, at $2 a package, they’d be able to spring for the “p” on the sign, wouldn’t you?



And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.   As I said, I may have been anticipating  a little bit – I’ve got bond pricings all week, which means I’ll be home . . . not early.  However, Peeps has things well under control and I’ll pitch in when I can, of course.

Monday – We’re falling behind on our food magazines (I can tell by the pile of them on the unused dining room chair), so when we were planning our menu, I pulled out a copy of the February-March Cook’s Illustrated.  Right there was their recipe for Sichuan Stir-Fried Pork in Garlic Sauce.  I’m going to have to try to sneak out of work a little less late than usual, I think.   The only possible problem I can see is the 6 ounces of mushrooms – neither of us is a fan of mushrooms – at all! – so I’m thinking of substituting something.  Any thoughts?

Tuesday – From the Archives – many years ago, I must have cut out a recipe from the paper for “Cajun Burgers” – no idea where it’s from originally, and I can’t seem to find anything that looks even similar on the internet, but it looks like a delightfully meatless meal – the burgers have red beans as the base.  We’re hoping for the best here!

Wednesday – No soup night this week – but Peeps pulled a quart of Cincinnati chili out of the freezer – since the sauce is all made, it’s a quick, simple mid-week dinner.  And he’s GOING to tell you all about it, one of these days. . .

Thursday – Peeps has been itching to make Moravian Chicken Pie again – so, since he’s doing the bulk of the cooking lately, I’m happy to take one for the team and suffer through this rich, delicious pot pie.  I might even suffer through it for lunch the next day, too!

Friday – Again, it’s pizza night – last week’s taco fixings were so very good on my pizza, it makes me wonder if leftover pork in garlic sauce might work.  Or is that too weird?

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



Monday Musings: 05.02.2011 May 2, 2011

Posted by Toy Lady in knitting, Musings, Shopping With Peeps.
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Woo hoo, it’s May!

And of course, I’m almost done with Peeps’s second sock – just what he needs heading into warm weather, huh?  A nice, purple variegated wool-blend sock.

You know, this sock knitting thing is actually pretty cool.  I wonder what a sweater would be like. . .



Mama Bird is doing well – she’s established her nest in our wreath, and she hangs out there, swooping out of the nest whenever anyone goes in or out the front door.

Poor thing – I think I’m going to stop at the garden shop this week and see if I can get some kind of suet hangy thing or something.  It can’t be easy for her.


PhotobucketA two-fer Shopping With Peeps installment!  Do you know who this guy is?

This is FABIO!  No one had ever heard of Favio Viviani until his appearance on Top Chef a couple of seasons ago, but now, he seems to be everywhere!

I hope he has as much success with the plaster-yourself-everywhere method of marketing as Rachel Ray has. . .



Blueberry Muffin Spoon Sized Shredded Wheats?

And it’s discontinued.

I am shocked.  Shocked, I tell you.


I wonder how long before they discontinue the chocolate Special K?



We were walking the dog this weekend (Saturday was The Perfect Spring Day!), and we met Iggy – a dog who made our Big Lug actually look like a midget.

Wow, St. Bernards are big dogs, aren’t they?  Fortunately, once they formally met, they got along just fine.



I’m still working on my 101 Things– and with regard to #55, the word for this week is. . . L.  Lability – a state of instability, subject to lapse or error, unsteadiness.  Interesting –  I think know a few too many people who exist in that state.  (Not naming names or anything, of course!)



And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.  We’ve finally hit May, and, hopefully, spring is here at last.  While we’re certainly looking forward to hauling out the grill and enjoying some great summertime dinners, we’ll be kind of sorry to put away some of our cold-weather favorites.

Monday – I happened to have half a pork shoulder to dispose of this weekend, so Peeps and I discussed whether to grind it into sausage or roast it.  Since sausage required more work, we went with slow-roasted route – we’ll dump a 2.5 pound bag of baby carrots in to roast and probably some baby potatoes.

Tuesday – The other half of the pork shoulder went to make Chinese BBQ – this one with some sauteed broccoli and, of course,  some rice.  I know we’re doing pork twice in a row, but really?  How can you pick just one?

Wednesday – It’s swim class week, which makes it soup night.  We’ve experimented with a pink bean soup with corn – we made it in the pressure cooker with ingredients from the pantry, which means it took about half an hour to make.  However, it’s May, and I think we’re going to have to come up with an alternative to soup night for a while – I’m thinking salad night.  Any ideas out there in the Internet?

Thursday – The May/June issue of Cook’s Illustrated came last week, and before I even had a chance to look at it, Peeps declared that we needed to make their barbecued chicken kebobs.  We also received the newest Cooking Light and thought the Sweet Onion Casserole would work nicely with chicken, along with a salad.

Friday – Yay, it’s pizza night!  I’ve still got some ricotta-artichoke filling the freezer that will be great on pizza – the guys will no doubt go with the pepperoni-mozzarella, which is also good.  And the dog will be enjoying his Kong toy.

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



Wrapped in Love April 13, 2011

Posted by Toy Lady in knitting, Surly Boy.
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The Boy has been having a bit of a rough time of it lately.  I’m not going to deny that many of his problems are of his own making, at least to some extent.  But that doesn’t make things easier for him, not really, does it?

And some things – being caught up in another layoff, for instance – really are outside his control.

As a mom, I do my best to keep my opinions to myself.

(Unless, of course, I’m asked for them.)

(Which, let’s face it, I seldom am.)


However, also as a mom, I still worry.  Silently, and sometimes, not so silently.

And my heart, well, it sort of breaks for him.  I don’t know how else to express it.

It’s a cold, cruel world out there sometimes, and notwithstanding what high school may have taught him, life doesn’t give you very many breaks just because you’re special.

Even if you are special.

Some days, I want to gather my little boy up, fix what’s broken, and just make everything better.  (And yes, some days I want to smack him.)

Mostly, though, I kind of want to stick a Ninja Turtles Bandaid on him – just for good measure.

But alas, I can’t do that anymore.

And even more importantly, I’ve come to realize that, at a certain point, trying to help him actually does him a disservice.

He can’t be the strong, independent young man he’s meant to be if his mommy is right there to pick up after him.


He can’t be responsible for himself if he’s not accountable for his actions.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t love him just as much as ever – even though I can’t pick him up and cuddle him, or tickle him until he forgets about whatever’s bothering him, or wave a magic wand (or a Visa card) and make his problems go away, I do love him and want him to feel that sense of satisfaction, of well-being, that you only feel when you’ve weathered the storm.  When you’ve come up against a brick wall, found yourself stuck between that rock and the hard place, and figured out how to make it work anyway.

I can’t give that to him – he has to find it for himself.

What I can do, though, is remind him that I do love him.

Show him that love isn’t just about hugs and kisses, and fixing boo-boos.

Sometimes, love is simply taking the time and making the effort to make sure your little boy’s feet are warm and dry and wrapped in hand-knitted love.

Sometimes that’s just all you can do.

“It’s all right!” shouted Aslan joyously.  “Once the feet are put right, all the rest of him will follow.”

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – “What Happened About the Statues”