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Scattered Sundays

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The tops of my thighs have so many bruises on them that they look like dominos. My best guess is moving cabinets around 300 times this week has meant resting sharp corners on my legs while we try to balance or lift.

There goes my swimsuit modeling career! Looks like I’ll need to keep this whole blogging thing going just a little longer.

This week felt like a big week in our remodeling process. It was a very definitive shift from the “demo and construction” phase to “hey if you squint a little, this looks like a real kitchen”!

On Sunday, my brother-in-law and father-in-law came over and we got the three upper cabinets and the oven cabinet hung. We’re using the IKEA rail system, and at first, it was a bit confusing for everyone. I think we were overthinking it, and it took the “cabinet committee” an hour to get all the measurements just right.

But once we put on that first cabinet and slid it into place, there were excited shouts and lots of declarations that it was the slickest system the three of them had used. Throughout the week, Troy and I finished building the lower cabinet frames (ok, fine, I only built ONE…) and installed the rail system for our lower cabinets.

We got all the lowers on the rails and then slowly started building drawers and then Troy requested a “few days off” for Christmas”. Pfft! There will be no PTO for New Years, that I can promise you. New Year New You is not happening in 2021. More like New Year, new kitchen. 🙂

Once the cabinets got on the rails, we realized we had a problem. The gap for the dishwasher wasn’t big enough. Whomp whomp. We knew immediately what happened. When we originally designed the kitchen, we had planned for a 30-inch cabinet for the sink.

Turns out the sink we got from the people who gave us the countertop was too big to accommodate that cabinet. Guess who had never installed a sink before and didn’t really know how to appropriately measure base cabinets for one? This girl!

So, Sunday night we look at that layout and realized we had a big problem. Thankfully, the problem was one that was easily solvable. The cabinet next to the dishwasher was supposed to be 36-inches. If we could convert it to a 30-inch one, all would work out just fine.

After promising I wouldn’t go back to IKEA for six months, I had to send it a “you up?” text and hope it would take me back. Thankfully, everything we needed was in stock, and the boys and I had an adventure out to pick it up.

Since the boys do nothing or go anywhere, getting to go into IKEA was like Disneyland. Even if it started like all trips to Disney start – standing in line. In this case, the return line. After that, I let them walk around the display apartments and kitchens, and they were really good about not touching anything.

While they were looking at things in the kitchen section, I picked out some drawer pulls. Honestly, this task had slipped my mind for months and it’s not something I really was excited about. I picked out our paint color in three minutes because my mind was just overwhelmed with too many choices. 

Thankfully, IKEA only had three “long” options for drawer pulls/hardware. The one I liked the most had little overhangs on the ends and I knew 1) we would catch our clothing on it and 2) the boys would find a way to hurt themselves on there. That one was my favorite but was eliminated immediately. I ended up with something simple that I liked and looks easy to clean.

a hand holding cabinet drawer pulls

We also realized this week that somehow along the way, IKEA updated my “out of stock” list to show that I purchased all six drawer fronts for our small island drawers. I did not. I purchased two. So, another trip is coming up for us soon.

This week I also finished screwing in all the hardibacker and then Troy painted over some of it with a waterproof barrier paint thingy that our plumber recommended. We’ll tile over it, but it’s nice to have that extra insurance against potential leaks. Side note: if anyone ever tells you that screwing down 250 square feet of hardibacker will “only take an hour”, you tell them “Troy, you’re a damn liar”.

With all the assembling finally happening, the multiple piles of boxes around the house have slowly diminished. We could even walk through a part of the basement without having to play leapfrog! Oh, what a treat that has been. And more than anything, the boys FINALLY got their hands on the dishwasher box they had been eying for over a month.

a kitchen under construction

Blue is protective plastic that will come off when we’re all done.

The night they got the box, Troy whispered to me “I bet they open their presents on Christmas morning and then go back to playing with the dumb box”. Facts. Boxes are the best gifts ever.

We’ll continue to build and install drawers this weekend and into this coming week. Troy is off for two shifts, so I am we are motivated to get things moving. 

We installed a few drawers on Thursday to see how they fit together, and despite following all the hardware/rail install instructions, the middle drawer would NOT close. Troy looked at the install guide for an hour, and we must have both counted the holes for the rails 20 times.

I finally told Troy it was time to call it a day because we were so mad and confused about what had gone wrong. The next day, after watching videos and looking at the manuals for an hour, I finally figured out what the problem was. I shouted out the solution and told Troy I felt like Beth from The Queen’s Gambit. I wish I had her wardrobe too.

a kitchen under construction

We’re waiting on someone to come give us an estimate on the countertop. If you remember, last December, Troy and my brother-in-law removed and salvaged some free quartz counters that a friend was unloading. That’s what started this whole remodel process!

The counters are not the same length as our kitchen layout, but we also got a 4×4 piece of their old island countertops. We need it cut and magically fused (I think that is how they do it, right? Magic?) to accommodate the layout of our space. We had a counter person that we were going to use, but unfortunately, the person’s phone is no longer in service. Good times!

Once the counter magicians do their unicorn sparkle dust, we’ll start on the backsplash and then finalize the electrical work. As far as I know, the next step after that is the floor. I’m anxious to get the floor in because that means I can start working on the pantry.

Our pantry had the oddest layout that was original to the house. It was half janky wooden shelving and half coat closet. When we moved in, we added some wire shelving on the coat closet side, because who keeps coats with food? Seriously, who thought that up? You can see photos of the pantry in this post. Please notice the two different kinds of flooring that are in there. HA!

After looking at tons of different “pantry shelving solutions” online, I determined they were all stupidly overpriced and not at all what I wanted. I realized that I could shove two Billy bookshelves from IKEA into the space for about one-fourth the price of actual pantry shelving. And after doing cabinets, bookshelves will seem so easy to assemble. Famous last words!

I’m so excited to move back into the pantry because right now I’m storing all our food in boxes around the house. Prepping for a recipe usually counts as a workout on my watch because it involves going into multiple rooms looking for things. It makes me laugh when I’m digging through a closet for cinnamon.

sun coming through trees

My sister and I and took the cousins to the nature preserve on Tuesday to run them hard. It had rained 2 inches in 12 hours the day before, and then everything froze overnight. The boys and I witnessed a 4×4 truck spin out, slam into the ditch so hard that it bounced right back out. Perfect day for a hike, right? Gah.

We got 3.5 miles in, but at the slowest pace known to man. They kept stopping every few feet to grab some of the little bits of snow that had fallen overnight. And they spent a solid 10 minutes kicking ice off of a bench. #nature

3 boys playing with ice on a bench

Jack is wearing my boots. Yep, I share shoes with an 11-year-old.

We did decide to give out homemade goodies for a few neighbors that I know won’t be weirded out by gifted food. I made a batch of Old-Fashioned Fudge, Almond Roca, and Katie’s family recipe known as “Nicky Balls”. I also gave a small batch of Overnight Cinnamon Rolls to our dear friend so that she could bake them on Christmas morning.

This year, a podcast host that I love has been saying “have the best holiday available to you” and I think that is a perfect way of saying “2020 looks vastly different for everyone. Just do your best”.

We did have a great day, but the big family gathering we usually have (15-25 people shoved into Troy’s cousin’s house) was not happening this year! We were able to safely celebrate a bit, and are eating outside and exchanging gifts with my sister this afternoon. 

All the presents I received this year from friends and family were related to cooking or kitchen organization, or pairs of Darn Tough socks. I felt very seen and understood. 🙂 I walk past the pile that holds my still in the box pan organizers or my water bottle organizer and I whisper “soon my precious. Soon”. 

We will mainly have drawers in the new kitchen and will be storing all glasses and mugs in them. I saw someone on Pinterest using a sock organizer to keep glasses securely in place in the drawers, and my mother-in-law got me this set to try it. I think it will be a great way to keep things safe from the boys.

The boys tracked Santa online throughout Christmas Eve day, and they were both a bit um, extra all day with excitement. We ran them as hard as possible outside on a walk, while also getting goodies made and some more drawers built.

a Christmas tree with fabric presents

Many of these are from friends/family and gifts that I buy for my dad to give to the boys and my nephew.

^Just a reminder that Christmas and holiday fabric is about 60-70% off in the week after Christmas. Stock up now and you too can make an almost waste-free holiday. This is the tutorial for our fabric gift bags. We’ve had a stash for 5-6 years. I did have to make a few more this year, but I had all the fabric on hand thanks to some great sales a few years ago.

If I can give parents to be, or new parents one piece of advice, it is to normalize books as gifts. My kids get books throughout the year, but they also fully see them as birthday or holiday presents. It makes gifting super affordable and we know the item won’t end up broken or at Goodwill in a few months.

Bennett got and loved this encyclopedia that I think is perfect for kids 3-7. Jack is harder to shop for now because he has read everything and already has so many books. We got him a few historical graphic novels (like this one), but I also got him an Action Bible. It’s the bible I wish I had when I was his age!

Bennett had asked Santa for a crab trap and got a small one that attached to his fishing pole. He was so excited! But hilariously enough, he was also just as thrilled to receive this $8 set of math dice. Kids are weird! 

Bennett is a total packrat and it puckers my butthole to even walk past his room. He’s really into art right now and has art supplies everywhere. I ordered a really cool rolling cart for his supplies, but sadly it was the only gift that didn’t arrive before Christmas. It did come the next day and I think we all know who is really in love with this cart. Meeeee.

a rainbow cart in a kid's room

That little table and chair belonged to my sister and me when we were little.

I need to start running again this coming week. I never ever got to the point where I liked running. But running made me feel strong and capable, and I really like to feel strong.

If you’re in the position where you want to start running, but like me, are NOT a runner, I used the Couch to 5k plan. There are free printable versions, free and paid apps (mine was $2.99), and it was good for me to have a guide for what to do and when.

Want to start running or trying a new skill/exercise in 2021? Can I make a suggestion? Set a goal for “completion” and then tie a big event to the culmination of the goal. For me, finishing the Couch to 5k turned into a fundraiser for Feeding America.

I asked people to donate $1 per mile (so, $3) for my “marathon”. Some people donated even more, and in total, we raised $1,336 for Feeding America. That means collectively, my readers provided 13,360 meals for those in need! Every time I wanted to give up when I was training, I kept thinking that the goal was no longer about ME.


Thrive Market is the perfect solution if you’re looking to stock your pantry with healthy foods at affordable prices. Thrive has an incredible selection of pantry goods, fresh and frozen items, and I love their cleaning and home supply selection (they have the best price I have seen on reusable Stasher bags).

If you are a military family, an educator, or a low-income household, you may quality for a free Thrive membership. Try Thrive Market for yourself!

What I’m Listening To This Week

I stumbled onto the podcast Bardstown last week and binged the entire season while I was screwing in hardibacker to our kitchen floor…all 21 sheets of it.

Bardstown is the story of the “most beautiful small town in America” that is the bourbon capitol of the world. It is also home to five unsolved major crimes since 2013, and many of them are connected.

Reader Spotlight of the Week

Andy left this five-star review on our Instant Pot Chicken Gnocchi Soup {Pin this recipe}:

Uh. This soup was REALLY good. I used chicken thighs and veggie broth because that’s what I had on hand, and subbed in NutPods creamer for the dairy since dairy and me very, unfortunately, had to pretty much break up (we see each other occasionally for a quickie but then it’s complicated and doesn’t end well but so good in the moment!). The results were fantastic!  Thank you for a new soup to throw into the rotation. 

a spoon lifting a bite of gnocchi soup

On Sustainable Cooks This Week

Easy Instant Pot Recipes For BeginnersMake these healthy and delicious Easy Instant Pot Recipes For Beginners to help you learn to make amazing quick and simple meals. Tasty dinner, soup, breakfast, and other recipes to get you started on the road to Instant Pot expert. {Pin these recipes}

a photo grid with 9 Instant Pot recipes

Christmas Morning Breakfasts – The most delicious Make-Ahead Christmas Morning Breakfasts ever! You’ll find lots of easy ideas for overnight breakfast casseroles, healthy dishes, and sweet treats. It may be too late to use these for this year, but pin the post and save for Easter or the next holiday season. {Pin these recipes}

9 photos of breakfast dishes

Whole30 Breakfast Recipes – 20 delicious and healthy Whole30 Breakfast Ideas to inspire your mornings. Find lots of family-friendly Whole30 breakfasts and brunch recipes that you’ll love! {Pin these recipes}

9 photos of breakfast dishes

The Five Most Popular Posts This Week

The non-drinkers were getting LIT this week and the Mojito mocktail was on fire. Let’s take a look at the other top five recipes that were trending this week:

  1. Air Fryer Ranch Potatoes – crispy and packed with so much homemade flavor – no ranch packet needed. {Pin this recipe}
  2. Old-Fashioned Fudge – I think the bump in traffic to this recipe was a combo of homemade holiday gifts, and all of us eating our feelings this week. I know I did! {Pin this recipe}
  3. Air Fryer Pizza Rolls – personalize these beauties to your taste. Even better, everyone in the family can have a different “topping” option. Just make them roll their own. You’re not a freaking line chef. {Pin this recipe}
  4. Air Fryer Egg Rolls – these are vegetarian as written, and 3 Weight Watchers points (for 2 rolls), but you can put whatever your little heart wants in these. {Pin this recipe}
  5. How to Make Rice Heating Pads – Everyone was looking for a fun, affordable, and homemade gift this week. And I was using mine for some wicked cramps. #sharkweek {Pin this recipe}

Meal Plan

Monday:: Air Fryer Tofu, Instant Pot Garlic Rice, and salad.

Tuesday:: Homemade lettuce wraps (no recipe, but I mix ground pork with frozen garlic, frozen ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, and cook it through. Then we top with carrots, green onions, radishes, and sweet chili sauce), and leftover rice on the side.

Wednesday:: New (soup) recipe I’m testing for 2021.

Thursday:: Air Fryer Meatballs with pasta for those who want it, leftover rice for those who want that, and salad.

Friday:: Popcorn, leftovers, and movie night.

Saturday:: Air Fryer Taquitos and salad.

Sunday:: Another recipe I’m photographing for 2021.


What are you having this week?



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14 comments on “Scattered Sundays”

  1. Merry belated Christmas! For Boxing Day, I made a double batch of your cinnamon rolls and delivered them to friends around the city! The recipe is amazing!!!!

    On ikea solutions. We have these lower cabinets throughout the house and we hadn’t figured out what to top it with… welllllll, even the formica(?) was kinda pricey and I didn’t want to put quartz in on top of decorative storage… and one night it hit me—ikea countertops! They weren’t what I’d want a whole kitchen of, but for shoe cabinets and book and yarn cabinets, they were perfect at $30 for 9 ft. I got 3 of them and for less than $100, I solved a problem where we were looking at at least $1500 in countertops otherwise!

    • What a great idea! We don’t have cabinets anywhere else in the house, but I’ll keep it in mind if that ever changes. I do agree with you that the IKEA countertops are super affordable. I love their butcher block selection.

  2. Re: Billy shelves. My life got seriously better once I got an automatic screwdriver, and didn’t have to do it all by hand. Other than that – make sure to have enough nails in the back, so it won’t slide off. 

    Also: buying top and supplement shelves for it may be worth it, to ensure you’re using all the space in it. (It’s definitely worth it when you’re using it for standard size paperbacks or DVDs)

    • Great tip Anne, but we’re way ahead of you on that. I think at last count we had three…maybe four power screwdrivers. 🙂 We have been using them extensively for the remodel so far and it was invaluable when I was doing the flooring (55 screws per 3×5 foot sheet of hardibacker!). But I previously used to use a hand screwdriver for IKEA furniture, and I agree, power tools are life-changing!

      I had no idea you could buy additional shelves for the Billy! We’re headed back to IKEA this week and I will check that out. Thank you!

  3. 1. We did a “gutted” kitchen reno in spring. My husband is very handy and planned everything … I did almost nothing other than grunt work/painting because I can barely put together a Kinder Surprise toy, let along a cabinet …. anyway reading all of your posts makes me realize I should have appreciated his efforts more. Oh well, no sense letting their heads get too big. 😉
    2. Accidental thrifty find — Christmas tableclothes at Goodwill on sale post-Christmas, that I’m going to turn into gift bags for 2021. $5.00 for yards and yards (or metres and metres – Canadian) of fabric! Also happened to find a random bag of ribbon. Twas a good thrift day.

    • Ha, gotta keep people and their egos in check, right? Also, never under-estimated how valuable painting can be. I hate painting with the fire of 1,000 suns.

      What a fantastic find! I never thought about using a tablecloth for the bags.

  4. The Bardstown podcast is so good! I live a couple of hours from there and so even though we heard news of the murders and Crystal Rogers disappearance as things were happening it was so interesting to see how things were connected.

  5. Books are the best gift! I only get my kids a book and a new pair of pajamas for Christmas. They get a gift and stocking from Santa as well. Then whatever family gifts them. I have always been into a minimal Christmas to keep it simple and not focused on getting stuff. 

    I love seeing how close you are to the kitchen being done! I’m so excited for you!

    • A minimal Christmas is great in any circumstances, but I think even more so in yours. A big Christmas would quickly get out of hand with how many people are in your family! 🙂

  6. A mouse got into the candy for my Christmas stocking, no one else’s just mine so after work last night I grabbed a bunch of good cheese( apple wood smoked gouda etc) and hid it in the back of the fridge. We had a massive wind a rain storm Christmas day and night. Four people we know woke up to 5+inches of water in their basement Saturday morning bc their sump pumps didn’t turn on. I’m now paranoid about ours and want to install a second one as back up. The kitchen looks great. Hopefully at some point in the next 10yrs we’ll do ours

    • That mouse is a grinch! But smoked gouda is one of my favorite cheeses ever, so good buy on that!

      I’m so sorry for the people who had flooded houses on Christmas (let alone any time of the year). I wonder if instead of a second sump pump, maybe there is some kind of sump pump alarm you can get? I have absolutely zero idea if that is a thing, but maybe it is?

      • They do make alarms but hubby’s hearing is shot and with it being in the basement I’m not sure we’d hear it upstairs where the bedrooms are. Everyone’s pump failed over night unfortunately

      • Ah, makes sense. A second one sounds like a good idea then.