Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Italian Cauliflower (or Pasta) Salad

 Today I'm sharing a recipe that I've been making about once a month lately.  It stores well and makes a great side dish or even a light lunch, and is an easy way to eat your veggies.  The dressing works well for pasta salad, too.  Feel free to add or subtract veggies or meats as desired.

Italian Cauliflower (or Pasta) Salad

Modified from here
Click here to print

For the Salad:
  • 1 pound cauliflower florets (about half of a medium cauliflower head) or pasta, cooked according to package instructions, and cooled
  • 6-8 ounces mozzarella cheese, cut into 3/8" cubes
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • 1/2 c. ripe olives, cut into slices or quarters
  • 1 c. chopped spinach or kale, optional
  • 4 ounces salami slices, diced
  • 4 ounces pepperoni slices, quartered
  • 1/4-1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1/4 cup pepperoncini, diced
For the dressing
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 T lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon oregano*
  • 1 teaspoon basil*
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary*
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced

  • Chop the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces and place in a large microwave-safe bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of water, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave for 3-5 minutes or until as tender as you'd like. Drain the liquid from the bowl.  Allow to cool.
  • Add the salad ingredients to the bowl with the cauliflower and mix.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the 1/2 c. olive oil, 4 T. lemon juice, 1 t. salt, 1 t. oregano*, 1 t. basil*, 1 t. rosemary*, and 1-2 cloves minced garlic until well combined. Taste and add additional lemon, herbs, or salt as desired.
  • Pour the dressing over the cauliflower salad and toss to coat.
  • Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 2 hours to allow the flavors to meld before serving.
* Substitute 1 T Italian seasoning for the oregano, basil, and rosemary, if desired.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Menu plan for the week of June 28

 Hey, last week in June, y'all.  As is typical for our family, we've been gone a lot during June, so much so that it almost feels as if summer "vacation" hasn't yet begun*.  We certainly haven't settled into any sort of routine.  And now we've got about 2 months left--still plenty of time to do all the fun summer things.  

If I can figure out what the fun summer things are. 

It was a lot easier to know what the fun summer things were back when the kiddos were elementary age and we weren't 16 months into a global pandemic.

Know what's not fun?  Planning meals.  But eating is fun.  Or can be fun.  So at least there's that.

Here's what's on the menu this week:

* I know, I know.  Most of y'all consider traveling to be vacation-y.  I don't, really, because generally when we travel it's more work for me.
** We currently have carrots.  We'll see if we still have carrots by the time we want to eat this meal.  

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Menu plan for the week of June 21

 Happy summer, friends!  

I used to think it took a lot of mental effort to keep track of everybody back when we had three kiddos that had to be in 5 places at once, but that was nothing compared to what we've got going on now.  Now, my friends, we have four adults and one teen.  And, more importantly for keeping track of where everyone is and when they're going to be back and if they're going to expect food* when they get here, four drivers and four vehicles.  And some of the four drivers have friends who sometimes show up, too.

I used to have a handle on everyone's comings and goings.  Or at least I used to think I had a handle on everyone's comings and goings.  Now, it's pretty much just chaos.  And I have some choices.  I can get upset and stressed about not knowing everything about my people at all times, or I can embrace the chaos and consider my job complete if no one starves.

I kinda go back and fourth on those.

So, I have developed a menu this week, just like I have developed a menu every week for, practically, ever, but the menu has become yet another thing that I have to hold loosely, because I can only control myself.

All that to say, this menu is feeling loosey goosey and I am trying to be ok with that, but I am combatting a lifetime of (at least feeling like I am) being in control.

Here's what I've got:

  • Itty bitty pigs in blankets (the fake kind, not the yummy kind), carrots (except I neglected to obtain carrots**, so...not carrots.  Some other vegetable)
  • Hot roast beef sandwiches (not our exact recipe, but close-ish) with buns and provolone, carrots (yeah.  About those carrots**... Some other vegetable)
  • Beef stroganoff, green beans (finally, a non-carrot veggie), applesauce
  • Kielbasa and potatoes/kielbasa and cauliflower, carrots (there I go with the carrots again.  I'm hoping I will have obtained carrots** by the time this meal comes up)
  • Pizza, salad
  • Brats or hot dogs, buns, chips, sweet peppers. Or maybe carrots**.
  • Fend for yourself or out to eat


*Y'all.  They always want food when they get here.  It's just that sometimes they want actual food and other times they want snacks.  Which are, technically, also actual food, but require little to no prep work from me.

**I bought a 3 lb bag of carrots for a family trip.  And then no one ate any of the 3 pounds of carrots while we were on the family trip.  So we have had carrots every day for forever.  But then the carrots decided to start getting slimy.  After I had written carrots as the veggie for pretty much every supper this week.  And after I had written my shopping list, without carrots.  Because we had plenty.  We fed the carrots to the compost, and I was going to buy new ones, but they weren't on the list so...

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

The Mins Game week 3

So.  How's it going?  Have you been doing any decluttering this month?  Here's my update on the Mins Game that I'm playing (by myself), but first, a mini decluttering lesson.

This week I want to talk about the concept that a done something is better than a perfect nothing*.  In other words, it is worthwhile doing things that you know you're not going to be able to do perfectly, and it is much better to do something than to do nothing while waiting for the perfect time or enough time to make it perfect.  

Let me say it again: it is worthwhile doing things that you know you're not going to be able to do perfectly.  It has taken me a long time to realize this, and some days, I still find it a little hard to believe.  

The truth is, though, as a human person, I am rarely going to be able to do anything perfectly (I mean, there was that one time I got a perfect score on Just Dance ... out of the thousands of songs I have danced), so if I only do things that I know I can do perfectly?  Well.  I'm not going to ever do anything at all.  And there is no joy in that.

Be gentle with yourself, friend.  It is all well and good to set decluttering goals, like decluttering 465 items in a month, but if you discover that 465 items in a month is beyond your capability, don't give up.  Instead, do your best.  Or even not your best--just keep moving forward.  Good enough is good enough.

Here's what I've decluttered this week: another 126 items, for a total of 231 in June so far.

June 15
Some shirts that the youngest kiddo has outgrown and some washcloths.

June 16
More outgrown clothing (remember I told you that if I was able to complete this challenge, it would be because I have kids who grow?  Yeah.  That), along with some hats and gloves.

June 17
More hats and gloves, two holey socks, some face masks that I finally used.  Not pictured:  two pairs of shoes and a soccer ball that is too small for anyone here.

June 18, 19, 20, 21
Maybe you think this is cheating, but since you're not playing, I don't think you get to have an opinion :-)  I was planning on counting these stickers as one item, but then I realized I was going to have to go through them one by one before passing them on to a nearby preschool program, because there were some stickers with our name on them.

It's a good thing I did, too, because there was quite a bit of trash, too.  So that's why I'm counting these stickers as the 78 items for June 18-21.  Honestly, if I had counted each sheet of stickers separately, there probably would have been enough for the entire challenge**, so ... 

* I heard this from Kathryn from Do It On a Dime 

** Which means I am officially ... done ...  See ya! ... ... ... Just kidding.  I'll be back next week with more decluttered items, although I may have to get more, shall we say, creative, with my counting in the last week of the month.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

The Mins Game Week 2

 Y'all.  The Mins Game is getting much more difficult, and we're not even halfway through the month.

Based on the fact that no one told me they were playing with me, I figure I'm winning, though, so there's that.

Oh, and I was planning on giving y'all a mini decluttering lesson each week, but tell that to my former self, who did not include a mini lesson in last week's post.  By the way, last week's lesson was supposed to be about the container concept.  Here's an explanation from A Slob Comes Clean, since my former self deprived you of an explanation from me.

For this week's mini lesson, I wanted to talk about how using things up is a completely legitimate way to declutter.  Maybe you bought an ingredient for a recipe that you ended up not making, or you made the recipe but didn't use all of the ingredient.  Maybe you received a free sample of something.  Maybe you have two open jars of salsa in your fridge.  Use it up.  After you use it up, it will be out of your home and out of your life forever.  And that, my friends, is the very definition of decluttering.

Here's how it went this week:

June 8
I decided to start this week working in the living room.  We have had these fitness bands for I do not know how long, and I don't think they have ever been used.  If they have, it was a long time ago.  I did wonder if I would regret getting rid of these, but then I looked up the price on Amazon, and you can get a similar set of bands (but 5, not 4) for under $10.  So I decided to just go ahead and get rid of them, and if I regret it later, I can get some more.  Spoiler alert: I am probably not going to regret it.

Those cars and launchers--I was not going to get rid of them.  It is true that my kiddos are really too old for that kind of thing, but I get a kick out of them, and they're fun to have around.  I decided to test them, to see if they're still as fun as I thought they were.  They were not.  We don't even have a car that fits in the yellow launcher, and the other ones only go about a foot.  They are not, in actuality, fun.  So out they go.  And I even resisted temptation the temptation to count the cars and launchers separately.

June 9
We keep our candles behind some picture frames on our entertainment center.  I kept a couple of candles, but the truth is, we don't really burn candles very much.  Three of these won't light anymore because the wicks are too short, and we don't have (and I'm not certain they make anymore) the scented oil refills for the scented oil thingy.  I don't know.  I just felt like it was time to get rid of these.

June 10
I found this randomness in the remote control basket.  To the trash (and recycling) it goes!

June 11
Yup.  I found more resistance bands in another basket in the living room along with some other random stuff.  Since I had already gotten rid of four, the decision was easy to get rid of these two.  In the kitchen, we had acquired some food that none of us will likely eat (we would eat the wild rice eventually, but we still have about 2 pounds left in an open bag in the cupboard, so we will pass this 1 lb bag on to a food bank).  The tray is the warming tray for our latest electric griddle.  We threw the griddle away last week because its stickiness had become intolerable, but we still had the tray.

June 12
Six skeins of yarn to be passed on to a friend, two decorative flags, two DVDs, and two drawstrings that I don't use.

June 13
A wooden sign, four books to donate, two books to return to schools, a mask, earrings, sample lotion, fingernail stickers, electronics cloth, and hickies.

June 14 
Some paper mask patterns, paperwork pertaining to the child we used to sponsor, mystery shopping receipts from 2018, old coupon inserts, four packages of pencils to be donated to a school. 
Not pictured: three packages of paper napkins, a stack of papers from Bubby's desk top, a stack of papers and trash from Bubby's backpack, a stack of papers and trash from MC's backpack.

So that's 77 items this week, for a total of 105 so far this month.  Not sure if I'm going to last another week.  I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

The Mins Game week 1

Are you playing the Mins Game with me this month? How's it going? Leave a comment below to let me know. Here's how my first week went.

June 1
I ordered these cords to go with my new tablet before the tablet arrived. The Google assured me that these were the right cords. The Google was wrong. So on the first, I dropped these off to be returned. I'm not going to lie--I did consider counting this as 5 items, because that's what it would have been once they were out of the package, but since it was ordered as one item, I resisted that urge.

June 2
If I am able to complete this challenge, it will be because I have kiddos who keep growing out of clothes. On the 2nd, I moved these two shirts to our donation area (I'm saving my daily donations to be taken to the thrift store at the end of the month).

June 3
Three pairs of pants. It's alarming how quickly Bubby grew too tall for these pants.

June 4
Four pairs of pants, including football pants that haven't fit since 2018.

June 5
I raided the lonely sock bin for these.

 June 6
I've been meaning to go through my nail polishes for a while because I had one too many for the container they're in. I had two that were very similar colors, so I got rid of one. Also two cute little brushes, and three broken hair ties.

June 7
I don't use this kind of barrette anymore, so off they go. Even though they don't take up much physical space, they do take up mental space, so it feels good to get these out (I did save a few to declutter on another day).

So that's 28 items out in week one. See you next week!

Monday, June 7, 2021

Menu plan for the week of June 7

 What?  Can you believe it's June already?  And not just June, but a week into June?  School's out, and summer is upon us.  What are you most looking forward to this season?

Here's what's on the menu this week:


Thursday, June 3, 2021

Garden update

 Hi friends.  It's time for a garden update.

Last time I talked about the garden, I had just planted cabbage, radishes, and beets outside in pots.  

I have about 12 cabbage plants spread between three pots.  I've been thinning them as they grow, and will end up with one, or at most two, cabbages per pot.  Or, I should say, one, or at most two, cabbage plants per pot.  Who knows if they will actually form heads?  Seems kind of impossible, to be honest.

Both my homegrown radish seeds and the store-bought seeds from a few seasons ago had a good germination rate, and we harvested and ate some the other day.  I reseeded in the empty spots left by the harvested radishes, and will continue to do so as I harvest them, so hopefully we'll have radishes throughout the summer.  Also hopefully, they won't go to seed this year.

We have beets!  One of the weird things about planting beets is that the seeds are actually a cluster of 2-5 seeds inside of a dried fruit.  So when they come up, they come up as multiples which need to be thinned so the roots will have the space necessary to develop.  About half of my beets germinated, so I resowed in the empty spots about a week ago, and a few are already up.

I've got high hopes for the melons this year.  I've got three Sakata's Sweet Melon (pictured above) and seven  Otome Watermelon (pictured below) that I started indoors and transplanted outside a couple of weeks ago.  They have plenty of space, and a trellis to climb, plus they don't take as long to ripen as other melons and watermelons, so maybe, just maybe, this will be the year I successfully grow a watermelon.  Those seven were the last of my watermelon seeds, so if I want to attempt watermelon again after this year, I'll have to purchase starts from the nursery, or buy more seed.  
Or harvest seed from these watermelons.  Keep your fingers crossed!

No, don't keep your fingers crossed, because you might need to do something with those fingers at some point in the next couple of months.  But do cross them in spirit: in solidarity with my watermelon growing dreams.

I planted sunflowers, zinnias (seed I saved from last year), and marigolds (the last of the commercial seed from several years ago, plus some I saved from last year) in the middle garden bed about a week ago.  These might be zinnias.  They're in the spot where I put the zinnia seeds, and they look sorta like zinnia seedlings.  I am really looking forward to a bed full of beautiful flowers.  I also transplanted a cherry tomato from the nursery into one corner of this bed.  

Fewer than half of my sugar daddy snap peas came up, but those that did are looking good.  I have heard that squirrels, or maybe other small rodent-type creatures, will watch where the humans plant peas and then dig them up later to eat.  I did not see any evidence of this, but perhaps the small rodents are clever and covered their tracks.  Small rodents digging up my seeds would certainly account for the poor germination rate we seem to always experience with peas.

I replanted in the blank spots earlier this week.  It'll be nice to have peas ripening in succession rather than all at once, because we love (and I do mean love) sugar snap peas, but even we have our limits, and I don't think we would like them as much preserved.

I decided not to plant potatoes this year, but I think I probably will next year, especially if I can get my hands on a red, white, and blue seed potato mix.  I think red, white, and blue potatoes would be so much fun.

I deployed the butterfly bombs in front of (or behind, depending on your perspective) the chicken coop.  So far, they're still looking like lumps of clay, although there might be seedlings emerging from one of them.  The seeds in the bombs are perennials or self-seeding annuals, so my hope is that the plants will decorate the front (or back) of the coop for years to come, providing food for pollinators and beauty for my eyes.

And that's it.  What's growing in your garden?

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