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Monday Musings: 06.10.2013 Edition June 9, 2013

Posted by Toy Lady in Big Lug, Cooking, Food, Garden, meal plan monday, Musings, random stuff, Shopping With Peeps.
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Isn’t it amazing how quickly time flies when you’re busy?  And BOY have we been busy lately!

Jar’s got the right idea, though, I think.  After a GRUELING tracking class (not really grueling, but he worked pretty hard), and a last-minute obedience class, by the time he finished dinner, he was done.  He crashed on his bed and barely moved for the rest of the evening – in fact, he never even came upstairs for bed!

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Boy, you take your eyes off that herb garden for a few days and it just goes CRAZY, doesn’t t?

Tarragon trying to take over, sage blossoming all over the place, and the MINT is trying to make a break for it!

Don’t even get me started on the random dill popping up all over the place.
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It may be had to tell, but I did make a bit of progress in imposing order on that mess!  I did some weeding, trimmed the sage, and tied up the tarragon.

I didn’t have the heart to rip up that runaway mint – though I’ll probably be sorry later, won’t I?

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Speaking of gardens and imposing order . . . I finally had a chance to do some work in the vegetable garden this weekend, too.  The beans, in front here, are up and doing beautifully, and the potatoes, which you can’t really see WAY at the back, are also mostly doing well – I think a couple of the plants didn’t come up (yet?), but the ones that are there are very happy!  I also thinned the kale, so we’ll be enjoying a baby kale salad in the near future, probably with some sort of mustard-y vinaigrette.

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I’ve got tomato blossoms!  You know what this means, right?

It means it’s only a matter of time (well, less time than it was, anyway) until  I’m out there picking my very own fresh tomatoes and making plans for that summertime favorite – BLTs from scratch!

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Speaking of BLTs – I did plant some lettuce, though it’s not doing spectacularly.

And apparently, my compost has gifted me with some of last year’s seeds – and the little volunteer looked so happy there trying to blend in with the lettuce, I just didn’t have the heart to pull it.

I have no idea what it is, though if I had to guess, I’d say it’s either got to be a winter squash or a melon.  Maybe.

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How about a quick Shopping With Peeps?  (Sort of, anyway.)

How do you like our Summer Snow?  The parking lot of the supermarket this morning was just absolutely loaded with piles and drifts of the stuff!

Here in the Rochester, NY area, we seem to have an alarming number of cottonwood trees – which wouldn’t be such a bad thing, really, unless you’re allergic to the stuff.

Yeah, I’ll spend the next few weeks blowing my nose and itchy-eyed.  But I’m used to it by now, I guess.

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We had an absolutely gorgeous weekend, and Peeps grabbed the opportunity to smoke some pork – some bacon, some pork loin, and some pork shoulder.  (You know, since the smoker was going anyway, might as well do it all, right?)

He even had some help, too!  Jar wanted to help carry, but Peeps had it under control.

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Meanwhile, I’m starting to get more than a little tired of walking around Jar’s unfinished feeder-to-be, so I hauled it out to the deck and sanded the daylights out of it and put a coat of paint on the inside.  I’ll give that a chance to dry, then finish painting it.

And if I’m smart, I’ll add a coat of polyurethane or something equally slobber-resistant.

I’m just not sure yet if I’m that smart. . .

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And of course it wouldn’t be Sunday without a nice bone in the back yard for Mister Fuzzy Butt (speaking of  fuzzy butt – OH the SHEDDING!)

I stopped at the butcher shop, and when I asked the butcher to cut the bones in half because his tongue wouldn’t fit all the way inside, well, the guy thought I was a little nuts.

So  I didn’t tell him I was buying a box of Honey Nut Cheerios to use as treats. . .

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When I cleaned the daylights out of the herb garden, I ended up hacking down a TON of sage.  So I salvaged half a dozen leaves, added to them the zest of half a lemon, some black pepper and some sea salt, and I chopped them all together.

I figure that’ll be a lovely rub for some pork chops that are going on the grill – after all, you didn’t think Peeps had smoked ALL of the pork, did you?

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And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.  Last week was a looong week, and this week looks like it’s going to be more of the same.

Not that I’m complaining, mind you – just a little tired.

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So, most of the week is looking fairly decent – in fact, I’d go so far as to say we couldn’t ask for much nicer weather – except the couple of rainy days, of course.  But even that, we can live with – after all, the garden needs the water, right?

Monday –  Peeps requested Breakfast For Dinner, so we dusted off an old favorite lemon-ricotta pancake recipe, and we’ll work on finishing up the last of the oldest bacon in the freezer (if there is any).   I may even get ambitious and make some kind of blueberry sauce for the pancakes – that’ll be good, right?

Tuesday – Since it’s going to be rainy, and since we wanted something meatless (or mostly meatless, anyway), and since we loved the idea when we got the newest Cook’s Country magazine, we’re going to try their Corn Chowder makeover – which apparently the ENTIRE INTERNET has not yet heard of.

I’ll let you know how it goes. . .

Wednesday – Did I mention we smoked a pork loin this weekend?  We did.  And that got me thinking about Cuban sandwiches, and how they’re made with pork loin and supposed to be kind of squished, which made me think about that so-good-but-so-bad panini that I haven’t made in AGES – so we’re going try a Cuban-ish panini-ish sort of thing.  Smoked pork loin and kale and onion relish and cheese, with wild garlic pesto mayo on semolina, grilled panini-style.  With maybe some potato salad and green salad on the side

Thursday – I’ve got another “thing” after work, so I’ll be home for dinner, but just barely.  So after Kay‘s comment the other day, we realized that we hadn’t grill-spatchcocked a chicken in a while.  Peeps will deal with that, along with some pan-roasted little potatoes and some green beans from the freezer – a lovely dinner after a LONG day!

Friday – As always, Friday is pizza night – last week, I enjoyed wild garlic and asparagus, which was great.  This week, maybe there will be a bit of roast pork or chicken, otherwise I’m sure I can manage to rustle up a few fresh herbs. . .

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: 03.11.2013 Edition March 11, 2013

Posted by Toy Lady in meal plan monday, Musings, Shopping With Peeps.
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Ugh.  Time change week.  

It’s already been so crazy busy around here – I’ve been just plain wiped out.

In fact, I even totally forgot to get a photo of my market trip this weekend – probably because I was in such a rush to get home, unload the car, leash up the dog, and get back downtown for Obedience Class by 9.

But I did go to the market, and I did go to obedience class, and, well, I even slept in Sunday morning.

So tell me, how does Daylight Savings Time make you feel?

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I don’t remember if I’ve mentioned it before or not, but a while back, I ordered a French press from Woot.  I do love my woots, don’t I?

Anyway, I sort of ordered it on a whim – I’d never used a French press for coffee before, and I still don’t use it often.  But, what with the whole time change thing, well, who can’t use a little extra caffeine?

I must say that, while it’s a little fiddly to want to use first thing in the morning, this method makes what is probably some of the smoothest, tastiest coffee I’ve ever had.

It doesn’t hurt, either, that I use really good locally-roasted coffee beans, either, I’m sure.

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Time change weekend isn’t necessarily all bad.  I mean, yeah, everyone’s short on sleep and all, but it does mean spring is coming, right?

Especially when we’re suddenly enjoying a somewhat sunny weekend with temperatures close to 70 – THAT tells me spring isn’t far away at all!

And there’s just something great about being able to open the back door and get some fresh air while The Jar stretches himself out on the deck and just suns himself.

Who’s our solar-powered puppy?

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Shopping With Peeps!

Sort of!

I happened to have a coupon for Nestle Crunch bars, and, well, I couldn’t just let it go to waste, could I?  Of COURSE not!

When I opened the bar, I noticed, on the inside of the label, a “NESTLE Promotion Code.”

So okay, I’m game – but the only information on the label about this “promotion” is a phone number – no terms and conditions, no website, not even any explanation of just what the “promotion” may be.

Just a phone number.  No WEBSITE, even!

Um, okay, let me break out my rotary dial phone and give them a call. . . what is this, the twentieth century or something?

The really sad thing? I did call the number, and the interminable message . . .  directed me to a website.

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And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.  I’m still mad busy at work this week (it’s that time of year!), so we’re hoping to keep it simple again.  Last week, I was excessively late 3 out of 5 evenings – it was so great to have dinner that could just be put together either when I got home, or when I told Peeps I was on my way.

Monday –  We’re hoping the weather holds one more day – we’d like to grill some chicken – maybe with some lemon and garlic.  Plus we’ve still got one butternut squash that should get eaten before it’s too late!

Tuesday – I picked up some more sugar snap peas at the market Saturday, which I thought would be nice baked in a foil packet with some tilapia, herbs, and meyer lemon slices, and drizzled with some good olive oil, then served with some brown rice or some other grain. . . tasty AND healthy!

Wednesday – Peeps brought home some “homework” the other day – his boss is trying a new variety of ravioli, and we get to be guinea pigs.  Oh boy!

Thursday – I saw this recipe for pot roast the other day – though rather than the crock-pot, we already cooked it in the oven.  Once it’s cold, we’ll slice it and reheat it right in the gravy.

Friday – Again with pizza night – we’re grilling steaks this weekend, and we’ll undoubtedly have some leftover.  What’s better than cheesesteak pizza now and then?

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: 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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

Ha.

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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.

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Monday Musings: 09.03.2012 Labor Day Edition September 3, 2012

Posted by Toy Lady in Big Lug, meal plan monday, random stuff, Shopping With Peeps.
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You may have noticed – blogging around here has been a little sparse lately!  It’s not that I don’t have anything to say – I do!  (Well, as much as ever, anyway!)  It’s just that this is such a darned busy time of the year, isn’t it?

Besides work, and my own garden, and work, and the pets, and the Boy (he’s just moved into an apartment!), well, it’s tomato season!  And peach season!

Yup, both the pressure canner and the water bath canner have been getting a bit of a workout lately. . .

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Of course, the easiest way for me to do any canning starts with getting the dog OUT of the WAY.

And the best way to do that is to find him a nice, big, meaty bone – fortunately I  buy them by the bag at the public market and stash then in the freezer.

I’m tempted to take what’s left of this bone to the butcher and ask him for more – this thing kept the Jar busy through 2 batches of tomatoes, cooking dinner, AND he went back outside for it after dinner AND the next day!

Now THAT is a good bone!

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And somehow, the Kitty always knows when it’s safe to lurk – though sometimes her eyes do get a little, well, glowy.

I’m convinced, though, that she’s truly not afraid of the dog.  She just wants us to think she is.  She definitely prefers for him to not be around, though – that’s for sure!

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PhotobucketOh, hey, how about a little Shopping with Peeps?  Well, sort of, anyway.

We went to a different supermarket this weekend – they had some stuff on sale that we just couldn’t pass by.  This store is in what you might call “the ‘hood” – it’s not the nicest part of town, though certainly not the worst part, either.

Anyway, before we even got into the store, Peeps pointed out the PINKEST, most SPARKLY Dodge Durango that either of us had ever seen!  It even had dyed-to-match rims!

I have got to say – if I were a pimp, I’d totally drive that car!

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We celebrated Labor Day on Sunday afternoon with my family – it’s a bit of a drive, but Sunday was the perfect day for a nice long ride.  It’s a scenic drive, with farms and forests and hills and lakes.

And construction.  Miles and miles of cones!

Fortunately, there wasn’t any actual construction going on during the holiday weekend – just an awful lot of single-lane highway stuff.   But at least we didn’t get stuck behind that awful guy hauling the camper at 40 mph!

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And, of course, The Jar is an excellent riding dog.  (Mostly, anyway – once he realizes that NO we’re NOT going to the BEACH!)

He just hangs out in the back, watching the road.  I know he’d prefer to be in the back seat (or even the front seat), but that’s not going to happen!

It’s too much fun to watch the people in the cars we pass turn and stare at the GIANT DOG in the back of the wagon!

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And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.  As gorgeous as last week was, it looks like it’s going to be raining most of this week.  We can still use the rain, though – it’s nice to see the lawns go back to being green!

Monday –  A couple of weeks ago, I got the Splendid Table e-newsletter, and it included a recipe for Spicy Shrimp Tagine which I knew I’d have to try before tomato season was over!  Since I’m home Monday, I can fuss with it a bit.  (Grating tomatoes?  Really?)  I’ll serve that with couscous (of course!) and, hopefully, I can pick enough green beans for the two of us!

Tuesday – We are hoping that it won’t rain too much – our supermarket had whole chickens on sale (79 cents a pound – no WONDER we can’t get the freezer emptied!) and we do want to do this Greek spatchcock chicken – it was in my binder, which means we’ve done it before and liked enough to do it again, so, well, there you go!  Peeps wants to do some pan-roasted baby potatoes, and we’ll probably have salad.

Wednesday – The herb garden is crazy – CRAZY, MAN!  That means, of course, it’s time to do the tuna-herb pasta that we love so much!  

Thursday – We’ve got an appointment after dinner, so we want to get the meal on the table quick – and get it cleaned up fast, too.  Peeps suggested hot pastrami sandwiches and we’ll make either some macaroni salad or potato salad (that we never got around to making last week!).

Friday – And again, it’s pizza night – last week’s pizza with the sauce that I mentioned last week was, in fact, a perfect pizza sauce!  If I get to make more this week (come on tomatoes!), I will, otherwise I’ll go back to my basic olive oil – tomato slices – fresh herbs.  That is always a classic!

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: 06.11.2012 Edition June 11, 2012

Posted by Toy Lady in Big Lug, Garden, meal plan monday, random stuff, Shopping With Peeps.
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Yes, I’m pretty much anti-dressing your dog up, but still.  I asked Peeps if he had a ratty old T-shirt that I could cut up and use to tie up my baby tomato plants, and he brought me an unworn shirt with the Kraft Cheesasaurus Rex on it.

So when I’d used what I needed, I couldn’t resist trying the shirt on Jar – after all, if he’s not a Cheesasaurus Rex, I’d like to know who is!

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You know what’s cool?

When you can re-purpose leftovers into something completely different – like breakfast!

One evening last week, Peeps cooked this fish with mustard-nut crust – and another evening, we tried slow-cooker mashed potatoes.  There was a sizable amount of both leftover, so we shredded the fish (nuts and all), tossed in an egg and the rest of the mashed potatoes, and formed it into little patties.  Peeps fried those while I was weeding the garden BEFORE it got hot, and they were just fantastic with a poached egg perched on top!

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It’s time for Shopping With Peeps!

Our local supermarket has been doing some rearranging and remodelling lately, and, for the most part, I think they’re finally done.

It’s no fun when your regular groceries MOVE from week to week!

However, I hope their sign company gives them a refund – besides the unfortunate “typo” on every one of the lights at the checkouts (15 items OF less), I finally couldn’t stand it anymore and snapped this photo.

I know it’s tricky, but it’s BOUILLON.

And, um, can seafood. . . what?  I’d even give them credit if it said “box potatoes” – then at least you could assume they meant it as a question.

Can seafood box potatoes?

Why no, it can’t wear the gloves, but it can tuna fish!  Ahahahahahaha!

The sad thing is they got the “can” thing wrong for everything else, but they got it right for CANNED meat.  On the same sign.

Sigh.

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Have I mentioned that Jar’s tummy troubles have pretty much resolved themselves?  Thank goodness!

After a few days of rice and boiled beef, we switched him over to oatmeal and poached chicken.  We gradually worked his kibble back into his diet, until Friday he was ready for his Friday Kong.  He was SO happy to have that back – he missed out on it last week!

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Speaking of Friday Kong night – Oh. My. Gosh.

I think I may have found my new favorite pizza – at least until tomato season, anyway!

We had a little bit of leftover roasted asparagus (fresh and local – the best way to have asparagus!) and a couple of slices of deli ham.  I chopped both up and sprinkled them on my pizza with a bit of olive oil and mozzarella cheese, and WOW!

It was definitely more than the sum of its parts!

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I have found that if I go out to work in the garden first thing in the morning, right after the dog has eaten breakfast, it’s just easier all the way around.  The soil is still wet from watering, and it’s not so hot yet (in fact, most of the yard is still in shade).

Well, this weekend, while Peeps was cooking breakfast, I went out and weeded, then tied the tomatoes to their stakes.

And what, you ask, did I find?

I’ve got baby tomatoes!  Woo!

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And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.  It’s going to be a warm week – we’re heading into the middle of June, after all, and we’re just a couple of weeks from official summer, though the weatherman on my radio station talks about “meteorological summer” – and I think we’re there.

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It’s looking to be a fairly warm-ish week, but after Monday, not too bad. well, not too bad if you don’t mind a little rain, anyway.  But at least I won’t have to water the garden for a few days!

Monday – It’s gonna be brutal.  It’s our first “triple H” day this season, I think – hazy, hot and humid.  I think we’ll take the pup to the beach, and, when we get back, rather than stand out on the deck grilling in the blazing sun (our deck is on the west side of the house – that’s where the back yard is), we’re going to take this opportunity to get all the bits and pieces and dribs and drabs of leftovers out of the refrigerator.

Tuesday – Peeps brought some ravioli home from work the other day – I’ve been wanting to try grilling it.  I know, pretty awesome idea, right?  But it turns out that I’m not the first person who’s thought of it – go ahead, google it.  I’ll wait.

Wednesday – A while ago, we made this crunchy & creamy beans & greens  and it was really good – we’re going to try it again with cannelini beans and a bunch of escarole.  And maybe some bacon because, well, why not?

Thursday – Last summer, we found this recipe for grilled chicken with white barbecue sauce – we’ll grill some chicken breasts and make a half a recipe of the sauce, and it’ll be delicious!

Friday – Yay for pizza night!  I’m hoping there will be some leftover veggies and/or chicken throughout the week that I can decorate my pizza with.  Peeps will likely go with his pepperoni and extra cheese pie and The Jar will enjoy his Kong.

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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