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Monday Musings: 04.14.2014 April 14, 2014

Posted by Toy Lady in Garden, meal plan monday, Musings, random stuff.
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At long last – we bring you the Outside All Weekend Edition!

That’s right – the snow has melted, and our Rochester weather has been absolutely gorgeous!

Besides the endless cleaning and raking in the yard and garden, that also means my first load of sheets went out on the clothesline.  There’s just nothing like crawling into a freshly-made bed with line-dried sheets, is there?

Of course, these were flannel sheets that we’ve been using this past winter, and, hopefully, I won’t be putting them back on the bed for many, many months, but still.



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Of course, laundry’s not the only thing that got done this weekend.

We spent a bit of time in the garden – clearing the old brush and leaves leftover from last fall, and uncovering the garlic we put in back in September!

I just find it amazing that you can take a few cloves of garlic, stick them in the ground, let them  sit there for months in the sub-zero temperatures we had this winter, and then, almost as soon as the ground is thawed, it comes back to life.

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I’m a little late on the lettuce and peas this year – I’d have liked to have started planting a couple of weeks ago, but, unfortunately, we had a foot or more of snow on the ground. . .

I haven’t put any peas in since the year, several years back, that the peas were just starting to form on the vines and we had a hail storm, which took them all out.

This year, I’m going with a row of snow peas (above) and a row of mixed lettuce.  I put the lettuce between a couple of rows of what will be tomatoes – I figure that by the time the tomatoes need the space, the lettuce will be done anyway.  Pretty clever of me, huh?


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Once we were finally done working in the yard for the day, and I was showered and had a nice big glass of ice water, I just took a little time to enjoy sitting outside, on the deck, in the sunshine, knitting.

In addition to Peeps, I also had the company of my faithful companion – Jarly has certainly found those old cushions that we saved last year quite comfortable!

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Of course, he may be a bit of a drama queen – it really wasn’t THAT hot out there!



And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.  The weather forecast is all over the place this week – we’ve got some rain, we’ve got some snow (!), some sun, some chilly days – its just so hard to plan at this time of year!

Monday –  We almost never have ground beef lying around, but I’ve got about a pound leftover from burgers (on the grill!) the other  night – I’m thinking of trying this Moo Shu Sloppy Joes – only instead of on rolls, we’ll probably serve it on rice.

Tuesday – We found a good sized cache of chicken in the freezer last week, and Peeps mentioned that he’d really like the cinnamon-honey tenders that we haven’t had in simply AGES.  I’m not sure what we’ll have with them, though – probably some broccoli (seem to be the vegetable of convenience lately) and, I don’t know, some sort of grain or potato or something.

Wednesday –  We’d initially intended to make pork ragout with some leftovers from a pork roast, but it turned out the roast (a) was smaller than we’d have liked, and (b) had a big old bone in it.  There won’t be enough leftovers for that sauce.  However, because I always try to stay on top of things, I think I’m going to take that big old bone, throw it in the pressure cooker with some chicken stock, and then take whatever leftovers we do have and make a lovely, porky soup or stew.

Thursday – A while back, I saw this recipe for black bean burgers – we do try to eat meatless once a week, and sometimes we actually succeed!  While not exactly in keeping with our Minimal Effort Thursday policy, it just might work if I make the burgers ahead of time!

Friday – Which brings us back to pizza night – a night to park ourselves in front of the TV with our pizza and Jar with his Kong, and just sit back and relax.

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




Monday Musings: 03.24.2014 March 24, 2014

Posted by Toy Lady in meal plan monday, Musings, random stuff.
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It was kind of a quiet week at the Public Market, I guess.

I promised myself that I wouldn’t gripe about the weather anymore, but the fact that it’s STILL WINTER may have had something to do with it.  Everyone’s just tired of the cold, I guess, and the fact that we’ve been “spoiled” for the past few winters, well, that’s starting to wear a little thin around here.

I did pick up some snow peas which will be lovely in a stir-fry this week, and the bean guy had chick peas, which he’s never had before, so of course we had to pick up some.

Gosh I’m looking forward to seeing some actual fresh, local produce soon!


As an adult, how often do you get sick?  I don’t mean “under the weather” or taking a “sick day” sick – I mean SICK IN BED sick.

When I smoked, lo these many years ago, I regularly had sinus infections and the occasional bronchitis, which made me pretty miserable, but, thankfully, I haven’t had those problems since I quit.  I did have chicken pox a few years back – I was about 30.  I was sure sick then!  I’m talking sick in bed.  The Boy (who was around 8 at the time) was fixing his own breakfast and packing his own lunches for school.

This past week, though, wow, I don’t think I’ve been this sick since then.

Monday, I didn’t feel well, but I had some stuff that HAD to get done at the office, so I went in, did what needed to be done, and came home and went to bed.

Tuesday, I still didn’t feel well, but I had a bond closing, so I went in, took care of that, and went home and went to bed.

Wednesday, I just stayed home and slept half the day.

By Thursday, you know how, sometimes you’re not feeling so good, but you get up and get moving anyway and you sort of start feeling better?

Yeah, that didn’t work this time.

So Friday, I stayed home, slept all day, and when Peeps got home from work, I was actually still sleeping.

Saturday, I felt up to going to the Public Market (barely), and we stopped on the way home, because I needed to restock on Nyquil, cough syrup, lotion-y tissues (you should have SEEN how red my nose was!) and a big old bag of cough drops.

And now, I’m starting to feel human again.  Thank goodness.



And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.    They say the first day of spring was last week, but I’ll buy into it when there’s NO SNOW in the forecast!  I’m still not feeling 100 percent – maybe around 75% I’d say – so we’re trying to keep things as simple as we can.

Monday – We picked up some Alaskan whitefish on sale – it’s a mild, tender fish that works well with a lot of flavors.  We’ve baked tilapia in an Old Bay-butter sauce, so we’ll try it with this whitefish.  Small red potatoes and sweet potatoes should round out the meal nicely.

Tuesday –  We broke into the mole stash – I’m just going to quickly brown a couple of chicken breasts, then finish cooking them in the mole sauce – it’ll be a nice change!  What’ll even make it nicer will be a side of Mexican rice!  We may have a can of refried beans knocking around that would go nicely, as well.

Wednesday –  We picked up some “pork tenderloin tips” at our local butcher shop the other day – they were ridiculously cheap, and I think they’ll be fantastic for stir-fry.  Like. . . with the snow peas and peppers I picked up at the market, not to mention the broccoli that’s still in the produce drawer.

Thursday – Since we scored some chickpeas at the market this week, we decided to make this chick pea and chorizo dish that we’ve enjoyed before.  The only thing we didn’t care for was the spinach – believe it or not, that kind of ruined it for us.  So, since we’re the boss of our dinner, we’re just going to leave it out.  We’ll serve the chick peas with either pasta or rice (we’ll decide which we’re more in the mood for) and maybe – MAYBE a vegetable.

Friday – And again, I say yay for pizza night!  We’ve got an assortment of sauces and toppings (roasted tomato or eggplant sauce,  ricotta cheese, salami, pepperoni, roasted artichokes – we like to mix it up a little!) and, of course, the Kong for Jarly – everyone’s a winner!

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



Monday Musings: 03.10.2014 Edition March 10, 2014

Posted by Toy Lady in meal plan monday, Musings, random stuff, Stupor Kitty.
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Hopefully, this will be the last – or close to it, anyway – of the COLD market trips!  Boy, it’s just not as much fun shopping for produce when the temperatures are stubbornly stuck in the teens, is it?  We’re still a ways away from anything truly “fresh” – though I picked up some Meyer lemons, so there’s that.

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One cool thing we noticed – the City is installing a vehicle charging station right there at the public market!  

It’s starting to look like I should start saving up for my Tesla, huh?  By the time I can afford one, there should be charging stations on every corner, huh?


So. This happened.

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I don’t know if you remember – I’ve mentioned once or twice how we have Treat Time in the mornings, right?

Basically, I sit down on the kitchen floor with the dog on one side of me, and the cat on the other, and we play the Name Game.

No, not that one.

Basically, I sit between the two of them, and, as long as they’re paying attention to ME (and not each other), I’ll say one of their names.  When the owner of the name looks at me, he or she gets a treat, and I mark that with a click of the clicker.

Sounds kind of silly, huh?  Especially with a, um, mature kitty.  (She’s about 13 years old.)

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Well.  The other evening, while Peeps was walking the dog, I was cleaning up the dishes and the kitty was frolicking around the dog-free living room, like she does.

As we’d had turkey with gravy for dinner, there happened to be a pan with some nice homemade turkey gravy that, any other time, I would have let the dog give a quick lick to (it’s FAR more effective than pre-rinsing) before washing.

But the dog wasn’t there.

So . . . more in a conversational way than anything else, I said “hey, Minerva Kitty!” and would you believe this!  She came RUNNING back to the kitchen like her tail was on fire!

So the moral of the story is this:  not only can you teach an old DOG new tricks, you can teach an old CAT some tricks too!



And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.  Boy oh boy, can I just say – again – that I have had ENOUGH winter!  I mean, yeah, we love the hearty, warm foods and all, but we like salad, too.  And grilled stuff.  BUT we still do what we can to eat seasonally, and right now, the calendar notwithstanding, the season is winter.

Monday – Our supermarket had Norwegian salmon on sale, so, since it’s been a while since we’ve had any salmon, we thought that would be a nice change.  I’m thinking of pan-searing or roasting it with some sort of apple-bourbon glaze.   I also couldn’t stand it anymore, so I picked up some imported asparagus, which will be roasted to go with the salmon.  Baked potatoes and fresh bread will finish the meal.

Tuesday – We have a gift certificate for Applebee’s that’s expiring shortly, so, well, that.

Wednesday – We haven’t enjoyed our pasta with lentils in ages – and I just picked up lentils at the market, too.  I may try pre-cooking them in the pressure cooker, just for the heck of it.

Thursday – As we were rummaging in the freezer, we found a package of three NY strip steaks – so we defrosted them, split one for a steak-and-egg breakfast later in the week, and I used the remaining two steaks in a vegetable-beef soup.  After all, if spring’s not going to come, we may as well enjoy some more soup, right?

Friday – And again, it’s pizza night – Peeps has started making the crust the Sunday before (instead of Tuesday, like he used to) and would you believe, the pizza is better than ever?  Seriously!

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



Monday Musings: 03.03.2014 Edition March 3, 2014

Posted by Toy Lady in meal plan monday, Musings, random stuff.
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Okay, I don’t know about you folks, but I am SO OVER this winter.  It’s March, for Pete’s sake – shouldn’t something – anything! – be starting to thaw by now?

Here’s how bad it is:  we keep a compost bucket outside the back door – the idea is that we dump our kitchen scraps into it, and periodically someone (usually Peeps) will walk it across the back yard and dump it into the actual compost bin.  Reasonable enough, right?  Sure it is.

In fact, here is how reasonable I am.  I know that in the winter, it can be tough to time it so that we’ve got a path off the deck and to the composter, enough daylight, and high enough temperatures that we can actually dump the frozen block of compostables out of the bucket.  So we actually have a second winter backup compost bucket – and two 5-gallon buckets have always been enough to get us through to spring.

Not this year.  This year, both of my compost buckets are full, nearly to overflowing, and remain frozen firmly to the deck.  Yet the kitchen scraps – coffee grounds, vegetable peels, egg shells, and the like – they just keep coming!

So when Peeps and I stopped for lunch at a local burger joint the other day and I saw they were selling pickle buckets for $2, I was all over it – my newest compost bucket is a recycled Patriot Pickle Pail!  And if you look closely, you’ll see that the original contents were “Kosher Dill Freedom Chips.”

So I’ll celebrate my Freedom Chip Bucket and just hope it’s a sign of the coming freedom from winter, because I don’t think I can take much more of this.



And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.  We’re still primarily eating out of the pantry, mainly because meat prices seem to be going up – we need to be prepared, when we see a good sale, to be able to take advantage by stocking up, and that means both having some extra money squirreled away AND keeping enough space in the freezer.  Eating out of our freezer, rather than shopping for every meal,  helps prepare us in both ways.

Monday –  All the talk about eating from the freezer, and I did pick up some cod on sale.  I try to add fish to our diet whenever we can – it’s good for us.  One of our favorite preparations is to wrap the seasoned fish with some lima beans in foil and bake until the fish is done.  And since I have half a package of lima beans lying around in the freezer, it only make sense!

Tuesday –  We pulled a package of chicken wings out of the freezer then set about wondering what to do with them.  I found this recipe for savory chicken drummettes that looked interesting, so we’ll basically bake them right in the sauce, like we have before.  We’ll pan-roast some potatoes and saute the rapini I got last week and completely forgot to cook.

Wednesday –  While making room in the freezer for the upcoming dog food delivery (50 pounds of beef), I pulled a turkey out to defrost, which we roasted over the weekend.  And around here, leftover turkey means one thing – hot turkey sandwiches.

Thursday – Oh my gosh!  I saw this recipe for peppery pinto beans on the Facebook the other day, and I decided right then and there that I was ALL OVER IT!  However, since we don’t have an kielbasa in the freezer (I thought we did, but Peeps is sure we used it), I used about a pound of smoked pork instead.  Oh, and instead of water I cooked the beans in chicken stock made from last week’s roasted chicken.

Friday – As always, Friday is pizza night at our house.  I’ve very much been enjoying ricotta cheese on my pie (leftover from the last pan of lasagna I made), along with some salami.  And, of course, Jarly’s Kong.

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



Monday Musings: 02.25.2014 Edition February 24, 2014

Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking, Freezer Meals, Home, Information, meal plan monday, Musings, random stuff, Review.
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Boy, there for a minute, we almost started thinking about spring!  The weather this weekend has been, well, the word that comes to mind is temperate.  Not too cold – we actually came close to 50 at one point! – and sunny, to boot!

Although we didn’t need much (which is just as well, since the selection is pretty slim this time of year), it was nice to walk around at the Public Market without freezing for a change!


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Okay, I would like to pause for a moment and congratulate myself.

For the past few years, I’ve been carrying FOUR cell phones on my account – mine and Peeps, sure, but also The Boy‘s and Peeps’s mom’s, as well.

Let me just say – that kind of thing starts to add up!    Even when three of the four of us were just using basic phones – none of that fancy smart-phone stuff.

So now. . . the other two have transferred their phones to their OWN accounts, and Peeps and I?  Well, we closed our account and went with a new(ish), no-contract carrier called Republic Wireless.

Basically, we bought the phones outright ($300 each (ouch) BUT that’s what credit cards are for), and from here on out, our service is $25 a month each, plus tax, for unlimited talk, text, AND data.  No contracts, no extra charges, no nothing.

Plus?  I’ve got the Internet in my pocket, guys!

The service has been great, we love the phones (Motorola’s Moto X), and we’ve both been extremely happy.  And it’s significantly cheaper than the basic cell service with the other company.  Where’s the bad?

If you want to check it out for yourself, click on the Republic logo above –  either for more information or even to sign up yourself.  In addition, just until the end of the month, if you do use the referral link above, Republic is offering a $19 credit on new plans.

*  Unsolicited opinions here.  The only renumeration I may (or may not) receive would be a $19 credit to me, too, if anyone signs up using that link, which they’ve offered to all their customers, so . . .



And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.   I’ve got another busy week ahead at work – it’s getting to be that time of the year, I guess!   It’s still a little weird with Peeps frequently getting home later than I do, but, on the bright side, we’re not getting up before 4AM !

Monday – We have some veal shanks in the freezer, which will cook reasonably quickly in the pressure cooker!  Several years ago, I found this recipe for ossobuco bianco, and, although we’ve only made it a few times, we love it.  I may also try risotto in the rice cooker – I think that’ll be a perfect complement.

Tuesday – I’m kind of embarrassed about this, but, ever since the Ukraine thing has been in the news last week, I’ve had Chicken Kiev on my mind.  (I’m pretty sure the Ukrainian rebels would probably be less than impressed that FOOD is what I think of when their government is overthrown, but what can I say?  At least it’s lovely, garlicky-buttery chicken!)  Maybe with some barley and broccoli.

Wednesday –  I kept stumbling across two partial bags of frozen corn in the freezer – it was driving me nuts!  So . . . you know what you do with two partial bags of corn?  You make corn chowder.  I used the last of the chicken from last week’s roast chicken, along with some of last summers corn stock, and BOY is this gonna be good!

Thursday –  My most recent dog food purchase has  reminded me (again!) how important it is to keep the freezer under control – what goes in MUST come out!  As it happens, Peeps opened the freezer door the other day, and a container of pork sugo fell out.  Ha – saute the broccoli rabe we picked up at the market, and we’ve got dinner!

Friday – Friday night is always pizza night for us – the crust sits in the fridge and ferments all week, and we’ve got plenty of homemade sauce, salami, ricotta, mozzarella, provolone, basically whatever we’re in the mood for.  And, of course, Jar’s Kong!

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