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Scattered Sundays

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This week was Troy’s birthday and we gave him the greatest gift of all time. In fact, it was such an amazing gift that it was a joint birthday/father’s day present. 

It was the gift that all parents everywhere have craved for the last 16 months. Alone time and silence. Glorious, glorious silence.

We’re lucky that my inlaws have a house at Ocean Shores that they generously allow us to use for free. It was our refuge last summer when everything was closed and the world was shut down. Being able to go somewhere else, even if it meant not doing anything in town, was a great change of scenery for all of us.

In early May I “reserved” the house with my mother-in-law for Troy to use it for three days around his birthday. And then, I sat on the secret for five weeks. If you know me in real life, I cannot keep surprises to myself.

If I get you a gift, I want to give it to you immediately. And if you don’t want it early, I will needle you relentlessly dropping hints and trying to get you to guess what it is.

Last Sunday night I gave Troy his birthday card early. In the card was this “ticket” I had made:

a pretend admission ticket for a birthday

He was so excited and pretty much in disbelief. He spent the next few days planning what to do while he was there. When you go somewhere without kids, YOU get to choose everything! I crushed gift-giving this year. Nailed it so hard.

He came back on Saturday and then we celebrated his birthday with his parents and sister and her husband. We had a simple dinner of takeout from his favorite local pizza place, salad (from the garden. Woot!), and Nordy Bars with vanilla ice cream.

I firmly believe that once you are an adult, having a “birthday week” is legit the stupidest thing ever. But, after the dumpster fire of 2020 and early 2021, I think we can make an exception in this case. I think Troy had a pretty great birthday week.

a mom and son at a church

I mentioned in last Sunday’s post that we were headed back to church for the first time in 16 months that morning. It was glorious! We walked in and it just felt like being home. Even Jack said “wow, I didn’t realize how much I was missing this place”. 

We were able to see old friends and we seemed to be one of the first families with small kids to return. One of our dearest church friends (she’s the one we made this toilet paper bouquet for last year during the height of lockdown) came over and said “it’s so good to see young people again”. 🙂 I can’t wait to go back again today.

a mom and son snuggling in bed

Bennett had a play date with a friend and they played SO hard he passed out at 6:50.

I’ve been doing a bit more running this week. Not much because I just couldn’t get schedules to line up with my “desire” to run. And I tried on Thursday to run, but there was a giant rotary mower working on my route and I just gave up trying to get around it. Clearly, I was not actually motivated at all for that run.

After a year of wearing Jack’s crew socks, a few months ago, I got some Darn Tough running socks and I will never go back to cotton socks. Ever.

Each year for my birthday, I get a few pairs of Darn Tough socks. I’m very easy to shop for. Darn Tough socks are made in the US and are guaranteed for life. They are not cheap but they are worth every single penny.

A reader (hi Erin) is also a Darn Tough fan and a few months ago she shared on Instagram that she had used the Darn Tough exchange program for socks that had worn out. I had always thought their lifetime guarantee had some limits to it, but when I looked into it, I realized when they say “for life”, they mean for life.

I sent in two pairs of worn socks and within a few weeks, they emailed me with a credit to purchase new socks on their site. I decided to invest in some of their running socks and hoped they would be comfy. Holy smokes, they’re the best sports socks I have ever owned. How did I ever run without these socks?!

I realize it sounds weird to think of wool as good material for working out. But the wool is pretty thin (essentially the same thickness as cotton sports socks) but extremely comfortable. Wool is also much better at regulating temps than cotton, and I just so happen to possess a pair of pretty sweaty feet. Cause all cool people do. Right?

With my old cotton socks, I would feel a bit of rubbing on the top of my foot by mile four or five of my walks/runs. The Darn Tough socks keep my feet cushioned and protected. No chafing, no blistering. Just happy feet.

a cake on a baking rack by a window

The frozen berry cake I made for a meal train this week.

Last year, our family really enjoyed watching Lego Masters. Season two was delayed (like everything) due to Covid, but it is finally back! It’s the kind of show that pretty much everyone in the family can get into. And I love Will Arnett and anything he does. We highly recommend this as a family show if you’re on the lookout for something new to watch.

a boy with a stuffed cat on his head

This is the last week of school for Jack and it’s bittersweet. This has been a crappy year for kids and teachers. Shout out to all the teachers – I know you worked your BUTTS right off. Bye butts. They’re gone now.

Jack is looking forward to summer, but he’s also bummed that he won’t get to see his friends each week. He was only seeing a handful of them given he was on campus only twice a week, and only with about 33% of the total school population. But still, it was something.

I’ve signed him up for a soccer camp in July that a friend told me about. I think it will be good for him, even if it requires us to be in the car all damn day since it is 30 minutes each way. He loves soccer and this camp seems to be at a much higher level than the stuff that has been offered locally. I think it will be good for him.

He was also introduced to pickleball a few weeks ago at his friend’s house and he is obsessed. On Tuesday, we were delivering food to a friend’s house from church and she lives in a nice planned development. They had a tennis court and Jack said “I’d love to try tennis”.

After a quick google search, I found a week-long tennis day camp hosted by a local park district. It’s three hours a day and was only $54. I signed him up in a flash because it’s something to do and it will keep me from having to listen to him talk about Minecraft it’s good for his development and stuff.

Jack will also serve as a Counselor in Training at a STEM camp in August. Last year was supposed to be his final year attending because he aged out. Well, everything was canceled, of course, so they carried his tuition over to this year AND we got a giant discount because he will be there as a helper.

This week we made plans for July to have friends over for dinner. It will be the first non-family event we’ve hosted in 16 months. Between signing Jack up for camps, attending kindergarten orientation for Bennett, and making fun plans, it seems like we have gone from zero to 60 in about .5 seconds.

It’s not even like we have that much going on, but making plans after having NO plans for so long makes it seem like life is A LOT. Emotionally I was not in such a great place last June. My heart is very full of gratitude to be in this place. At the same time, I also recognize that not everyone around the world is in such a fortunate position. 

In the Garden This Week

I didn’t do any garden work this week. It just didn’t work out and not much actually needed to be done. I mean, there is always weeding but you can also pretend it’s not there. That’s what I do and I highly recommend it.

We’re harvesting a ton of lettuce still, and snow peas started ripening as of this week. Then, there are blueberries that are moments away from being ripe. Assuming of course the birds let us have any. I need to get new netting this year. I think after 10 years, the netting we use is finally destined for the trash.

Long-time readers might know that I am not a fan of actual bird netting for my blueberries. I find it cumbersome to work with, it always gets tangled, and it’s a giant PITA to keep in place. Instead, get yourself a 40 or 50% off coupon to Joanns and go and buy what they call “matte netting”.

It’s wicked cheap at $1 per yard, and it lasts for at least 10 years. The part I love about it (other than you can get lots of different colors) is that it “sticks” to the plants without needing to be secured. If your plants have any exposed branches, you can simply “catch” the netting on there to secure it.

Even better, you can wash it and then fold up it flat at the end of the season to store it. We have very limited garden storage, so maximizing our space is really important.

Housekeeping

Butcher Box is back with their uber-popular Free Bacon for Life promotion. New members get one pack of their uncured, unbelievably delicious bacon added to every box for the life of their membership. Get that free sweet bacon here!

What I’m Listening To This Week

Crime Junkie is a great podcast and I always find it highly informative. Yep, another true crime podcast. Can’t stop won’t stop. 😊 Don’t worry though, I balance every stabby podcast with a business, comedy, or inspirational show.

Reader Spotlight of the Week

Kathi left this five-star review on our Air Fryer Pretzel Dogs {Pin this recipe}:

I have the hot dogs – just need to go and get some quick-rising yeast. Made this with Cresent roll dough, and they came out fantastic, but now I want to try them with the pretzel dough. I have an XL Power Air Fryer Grill so this will be a snap. Thanks so much for posting this recipe. Oh – I also love all of your Air Fryer recipes – they are so each and delicious.

A hand dipping an air fryer pretzel dog into a bowl of mustard

On Sustainable Cooks This Week

Blistered Shishito Peppers– Deliciously poppable, Blistered Shishito Peppers are a favorite snack/appetizer. Salty, delicious, and so simple to make, you’ll fall hard for these roasted shishito peppers. {Pin this recipe}

a blistered shishito pepper dipping a pardon pepper into a spicy dipping sauce

Homemade Healthy Marshmallows – Learn how easy it is to make honey-sweetened Healthy Marshmallows. They are perfect for gifts, roasting, baking, or in a cozy cup of cocoa. Marshmallows without corn syrup are the perfect allergy-friendly treat. {Pin this recipe}

homemade healthy marshmallows on a wooden board with powdered sugar

Watermelon Popsicles – Refreshing Watermelon Popsicles make the perfect frozen summer treat. The whole family will love these homemade and healthy popsicles made with fresh watermelon, mint, and lime juice. {Pin this recipe}

The Five Most Popular Posts This Week

  1. How to Freeze Spinach – so many people are going to have awesome smoothies this winter!  {Pin this tutorial}
  2. Air Fryer Egg Rolls – vegan/vegetarian as written, but you can make your version to your tastes.  {Pin this recipe}
  3. Instant Pot Garlic Rice – we always have a bag of this in the freezer for quick meals. {Pin this recipe}
  4. Honey Simple Syrup – a key ingredient in our Mojito Mocktail. {Pin this recipe}
  5. Canning Peaches – this post being in the top five is a sign that summer has officially begun! {Pin this recipe}

Meal Plan

Monday:: Testing a new recipe, serving it over Air Fryer Cornbread with salad on the side.

Tuesday:: We have a grass-fed brisket from Butcher Box in the freezer and I’m going to use it for Instant Pot Beef Tips and will serve it with Instant Pot Garlic Rice with snow peas from the garden.

Wednesday:: Takeout to support a local small business.

Thursday:: Troy is making dinner but I didn’t want to harass him for details during his “birthday week”. So it will be a surprise to all of us.

Friday:: Popcorn, leftovers, and movie night.

Saturday:: Air Fryer Tofu served with leftover garlic rice and salad on the side.

Sunday:: Father’s Day dinner.

 

What are you having this week?

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11 comments on “Scattered Sundays”

  1. The life cycle of our friendship can be told through conversations about Darn Tough socks and the saga of B and D being almost the same age. Also, I bought some of the running socks at your recommendation and they are amazing.

  2. Alone time away is my secret fantasy. In my alternate life I have a clean, bright condo with books, good coffee, wine and food only I like. No one knows about it…..likely because it only exists in my mind😔.  I also can’t keeps gifts a secret and of course my husband refuses to participate in my clue dropping.  Is it just me or do some of those popsicles moulds seem *cough* a bit risqué? Thank you so much for your blog it makes my week!

    • That is the best fantasy ever. I fully support this and wish it were real.

      And yes, they’re a bit phallic and they make me giggle. I make fun of them constantly over on Instagram.

  3. Love the wicked cheap remark.. I didn’t you spoke Massspeak.. ha.. I’m gonna have to buy some if that matt netting.. but it won’t be so cheap since I’ll need to order online .. don’t have it here in HI.. oh well… live you all got back to church .. a great feeling to be with good humans snd your present for TROY had got to be his favorite present he has ever been gifted.. 👍anyways aloha to you wonderful human. 

    • I’ve been saying wicked cheap for years and I have no idea where it started from. A former coworker was from upstate NY and had a family home on Cape Cod. She once came back from a summer holiday and gave me a magnet that says “wicked good magnet”. She passed away the same year as my mom, and I treasure that magnet and it makes me smile every time I see it.

  4. What a great birthday present! You did nail it.

  5. Oh man, that is the BEST birthday gift ever! I asked for a few hours of alone time this past Saturday, but it didn’t end up working out, so I think I may ask for a redo after we move.

    We have some friends moving to our area next month and I am SO flipping excited to have actual people we know to hang out with. We suck at making friends and COVID just made it a billion times harder. We also have plans to drive out to visit family in August with stops to visit friends along the way. I am so looking forward to it all.

    Emma has been working with a personal trainer for the past few months and that little bit of social interaction for her has been amazing (not to mention all the work they are doing to fix 10 years of horseback riding muscles). She mentioned last week that she loves the rowing machine so now I want to find somewhere for her to take actual rowing lessons. The closest place is 45 minutes away…

    I’ll be updating my next Butcher Box to set myself up for the Prep Once Cook Twice Challenge. I’m always late to the party it seems.

    • I feel like some stuff could “go missing” during the move and you need a few hours to “track it down”… 🙂

      Yay for friends relocating to your area! I think it’s hard to make friends at this age, I know you share a home with two extreme introverts. That can’t help at all, plus moving, plus lockdown.

      Oh, man, good luck finding rowing/crew lessons. It seems to be much more common on the East Coast.

  6. My grandmother would use old lace curtains from yard sales to keep the birds off her raspberry plants. It works great and I always liked how it looked to have lace in between the day lilies