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Scattered Sundays

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I had my first microchanneling appointment on Wednesday and it went great! It was super easy, didn’t hurt a bit (thanks to numbing cream), and the downtime was so much less than I expected.

There was minimal redness after the procedure, and everything looked normal again the next morning. My assumption had been “Creature From the Black Lagoon”, but in reality, it was more like “what my pasty Norwegian self looks like after a run”.

She used a .5mm needle head thingy (<—official term) and it felt like a baby belt sander was being used on my skin. She only did a small area at a time and was great about constantly checking in to make sure nothing was hurting. It felt super weird going over my jaw and cheekbones but in a tickling way. When we went over my forehead it instantly made me sneeze.

Since you’re not supposed to get your face wet or wash it for at least seven hours after the procedure, I was really bummed that I couldn’t fit in a walk that day. There was no way I could take a walk with all these hills without my face sweating like a beast. Now I know for next time and will schedule future appointments for later in the day so I can work out beforehand.

And yes, there will be future appointments. My scars are dark and deep and my skin is butt white. She is thinking that I will probably need at least five appointments. Boo! I need to wait 5+ weeks between appointments, so my next one is at the end of August.

Honestly, I didn’t notice any change after the appointment. It’s more something that develops over time as new skin turns over. Or something sciencey like that. All I know is that I’ll have a better gauge in a few weeks on the progress. I’m just keeping my eye on that long-term prize of reduced scarring and a more even skin tone.

the side of a woman's face

After getting caught up on the various series we watch in our kid-free 45 minutes before bed, we decided to finally start Ozark (O$ark?) on Netflix. I’ve been listening to a podcast that Jason Bateman is on (see below under “What I’m Listening To”) and it reminded me that this show was once on our potential list of shows.

It had been recommended to us in 2017 as a “must-watch”, but my mom had just passed away and I was 100% not in the mood for a dark and depressing series. I cannot remember what we watched instead, but I lost track of/forgot about Ozark for a bit.

We’re only a few episodes in but so far I really like it. Jason Bateman is an underrated actor and you cannot go wrong watching anything with Laura Linney. The premise is creative and it’s nice to see some new material. It’s definitely not kid-friendly, so if you want to check it out, watch after the kids are in bed.

a workout report from an apple watch

After a full week of appointments and estimates, I finally have a better picture of the work they’ll have to do on my car after that lady accidentally backed into me. And now I’m on the whole insurance game of tag with agents. Living the dream over here.

And I’m not going to brag (narrator: that is exactly what she is about to do), but after talking to the other agent for 15 minutes, he declared I was the most organized person he had spoken to in at least three months.

2 boys on a dock

Instead of getting takeout for our anniversary, we decided to take our third wheels to a restaurant with a lovely outdoor seating area. With Bennett not vaccinated, we follow all the recommendations possible when heading out into the great wide world. And eating outside seemed like a fun idea on a beautiful summer evening.

However, it turned out the place didn’t allow kids, even on the patio. Whomp whomp. So we headed to another place with a patio and they were PACKED. We decided to order to go, which wasn’t our hope for the evening, but first-world problems. Even the to-go order was a 30-minute wait, so we killed some time on the beach.

a man and woman with water behind them

After the kids went to bed, we watched episode one of season two of Ted Lasso. I wish I had a big batch of shortbread to eat while watching it. Oh, Ted Lasso. My world is a better place to have you in it. 

I have been busy over the last few weeks testing fall recipes. I’m so freaking excited to share them with you September-December. It’s weird cooking cool-weather comfort food in the middle of summer, but that’s the way this food blogging thing goes. It’s not remotely unusual for one of my fellow food bloggers to create an entire Thanksgiving dinner in July, just for photos.

I feel like I go in food “themes” from year to year, and it is usually dictated by what analytics tell me is popular with my readers. Sure, some readers can tell me they want more desserts, but cold hard facts show me that desserts crash and burn hard on my site. It’s just no longer worth investing 20-30 hours testing, photographing, researching, and writing up a new dessert recipe. Sob.

That being said, I spend all year updating and revamping older recipes to make them better for you. Sometimes that means new photos, clearer instructions, retesting, etc. A few years ago there was a blogging trend where every recipe post needed to include ALL the information possible for the reader to make it.

I’m not talking about a story about how the recipe came to be, apple picking, or stories about great-grandmas. I mean, literally answering every potential question someone might have with the recipe. “How can I reheat this”, “can this be made ahead of time”, etc.

I’ve dialed back from that in 2021 and often find myself deleting half of the content in an older post. It’s not that the content wasn’t useful (it was), but it’s now more of a “down and dirty/what does someone need to be able to make this recipe” mindset.

I’ve always offered the “jump to recipe” button so if you don’t want to read the tips, you don’t have to. That option isn’t going away, but I’ve made a concentrated effort to keep my recipe posts shorter and more condensed. One of the drawbacks of this is shorter posts can reduce income. But at the same time, I want users to use my site the way I would want to.

If you’re a “just the recipe, please” person, I feel you. I also don’t want to read a story before the recipe, but I always scroll through a post to make sure I’m not missing information that can’t be condensed into the printable recipe card. Readers scream at us that they want a succinct printable recipe card, but at the same time, they complain when we don’t list all 15 tips in the notes section. We can’t give you both things.

Most seasoned/professional bloggers are not filling their posts with “fluff” anymore. This is not the blogging of 2012. And yet, I still see people (mainly on social media) whining about having to scroll three times to get to the recipe. Clicking “jump to recipe” takes a lot less time than whining about free content.

Before a post even hits my page, it has been tested multiple times. That means I am buying all the ingredients, making it over and over. And in the case of Instant Pot or air fryer recipes, I also have to test it using other cooking methods so that anyone can make the dish, even if they don’t have special equipment. The exception to this is my Instant Pot Asparagus Risotto because I just don’t have the patience to make risotto on the stovetop. Sorry.

Photos have to be taken and edited. The post has to be researched, written, and edited. And then we hustle and share it on social media, with our email subscribers, etc. Believe me, if I could just put a recipe card in the post and call it a day, I would LOVE to. That’s the damn dream right there.

This isn’t a rant. I love what I do and I work my butt off to make sure I’m giving my readers something that will make their lives easier and tastier. I guess it’s more of a social service education about what (legit) bloggers do to produce something that we then give away for free.

Thanks for coming to my TED talk. There are cookies in the lobby. And funny story about the first time I made those cookies. It was a cold and rainy afternoon when…

Oh, but back to the recipes that I’ve been testing. I feel like my 2021 and early 2022 theme is uncomplicated “dump and go” dinners. I try to keep things as healthy as possible, but there are a few dishes coming up where honestly, you need to make a big salad to go with it because it’s 98% carbs and cheese. Balance, right? 🙂

a boy holding 2 stuffed cats on cooking utensils

Our traditional Sunday/family dinners that used to happen with my cousin, sister, and aunt/uncle were scrapped because of lockdown. We’ve all gotten together a few times outside since then for a kiddo’s birthday party or two. Well, we’re finally doing a full family late lunch later this afternoon (outdoors still) at my sister’s.

Various family members have food issues/preferences, so it is always a little hilarious to find something everyone can/will eat. I’m bringing dessert and it had to be: dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, preferably not chocolate (my uncle gets migraines), and vegan. Phew! Thank the Lord everyone can consume sugar.

I decided to adapt my Gluten-Free Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp and Blackberry Crisp into a seasonal blackberry peach crisp. I snagged the peaches at the farmer’s market, and the blackberries came from the outskirts of a church parking lot a few blocks away. Who-hoo, it’s free blackberry season!

I tossed the berries and peaches with a bit of sugar and cornstarch, and the tiniest splash of almond extract. The crisp topping was the same as what is listed in the posts, but I subbed in vegan butter.

I wanted to try it with coconut oil instead of having to buy something separate, but I just wasn’t sure of how that would turn out. If you’ve ever made a crisp topping with coconut oil, I’d love to hear what the results were like!

a boy in a pile of stuffed animals

“Alexa, please show me a photo of what it means to live your best life ever”.

In the Garden This Week

We picked the first zucchini of the season this week. The first of approximately 3 billion over the next few months. Give or take a billion. Fast forward to a Sunday post in six weeks where I am complaining about all the fresh zucchini.

Our favorite way to enjoy zucchini are sliced and tossed with a bit of olive oil and Montreal Steak Seasoning and then Troy grills them in a grill basket on the BBQ. Sometimes we sprinkle a little shredded mozzarella over it right before serving, but usually, we just eat it as is.

Of course, the best way to enjoy zucchini is breaded and fried. Like nature intended. These Air Fryer Zucchini Chips are so dang snackable. And yes, there are alternative cooking instructions in there if you don’t have an air fryer. 🙂

Last week when I yanked all the lettuce, I also took down the shade cover that kept everything safe from the sun and wildlife. Even though I added the trellis to the green bean bed, those tender baby plants are still fully exposed.

And since lately we’ve seen multiple deer walking around our yard, I realize I basically just removed the sneeze guard from their delicious garden buffet. The deer only come first thing in the morning, so at night I have been clipping the shade cloth to the outside of the trellis.

It doesn’t fully cover the green beans and if the deer were super motivated they could go around it. But it still makes me think I am doing something other than just serving up all my plants on a platter. Only time will tell.

What I’m Listening To This Week

Ooooooohmygosh, I have an amazing new podcast recommendation for you! It’s called Smartless and it is Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, and Sean Hayes. They’ve all been friends for 20+ years and in each episode, they interview one of their celebrity friends.

The joy of the podcast comes from the banter between these three guys and their history together. It was recommended to me by multiple people and I finally decided to listen to it. And just like watching Ted Lasso, my life is better because of laughing along with this show.

Oh, and just like 99% of things I listen to, this one is not meant for little ears. Put in those earbuds to enjoy this one around kids.

Reader Spotlight of the Week

Nancy left this five-star review on our uber-popular Garlic Butter Rice {Pin this recipe}:

Oh my gosh, this was AWESOME – since it was so simple, I didn’t expect it to taste so ridiculously amazing, but it did! I cooked it in the IP (I’m a newbie, and LOVING my new toy!) and used brown basmati rice, and maybe an extra clove of garlic…and a little extra fresh parmigiano reggiano.. 🙂 Didn’t have any fresh herbs, so I used two drops of doTERRA cilantro essential oil. Served with organic chicken sausage with mushrooms (apologies to my vegetarian friends), and yellow squash and zucchini (sauteed in evoo, balsamic vinegar and za’atar) topped with feta cheese and sliced garlic-stuff green olives. Will definitely make a double-batch next time!

a side view of rice in a blue bowl topped with parsley

On Sustainable Cooks This Week

Blueberry Freezer JamThis Blueberry Freezer Jam is beyond simple to make and has an incredibly fresh taste. Just a few simple ingredients and 20 minutes (including clean up!), and you’ll have homemade low-sugar blueberry jam in a flash. {Pin this recipe}

a close up photo of a glass jar of blueberry freezer jam on a white board with a spoon

Instant Pot Iced TeaYou’ll love this smooth Instant Pot Iced Tea for a quick and healthy refreshing drink. You can also make tea concentrate to get that same great flavor while saving space in your fridge. {Pin this recipe}

a jar of iced tea with lemon and a plate of garnishes

Refrigerator Pickled BeetsRefrigerator Pickled Beets are a fast and easy way to preserve this delicious and healthy vegetable! Quick pickled beets just like grandma used to make but without the canning. {Pin this recipe}

a glass jar of refrigerator pickled beets topped with fresh dill

The Five Most Popular Posts This Week

  1. Canning Peaches – this post will likely remain in the top five until September(ish). Get used to it. {Pin this recipe}
  2. Air Fryer Egg Rolls – vegan/vegetarian as written, but you can make your version to your tastes.  {Pin this recipe}
  3. Homemade Peach Ice Cream – AKA a bowl of sunshine. {Pin this recipe}
  4. How to Freeze Spinach – I feel like this one is slipping in popularity as spinach in gardens everywhere is bolting/going to seed.  {Pin this tutorial}
  5. Air Fryer Zucchini Chips – super crunchy and packed with flavor with only about 1 tsp of olive oil. {Pin this recipe}

Meal Plan

Monday:: Troy is making chicken parm and salad.

Tuesday:: Testing a potential recipe for the fifth and final time. I cannot get the timing right and it’s driving me nuts. I’ve spent soooooo much $$ on ingredients trying to perfect it. If this doesn’t work, I officially give up and it will never grace the screen of this here blog. Salad on the side and perhaps a giant plate of humble pie if it doesn’t turn out.

Wednesday:: Troy’s cousin and his family moved back to the area after five(ish) years of living three hours away! They’re coming over for what has become our go-to dinner when we cook for others – Troy’s fantastic burgers (veggie burger for their daughter), grilled zucchini, potato chips, and watermelon.

Thursday:: Leftovers. The boys are going to my inlaw’s for the day and Troy and I usually graze from the fridge and freezer on those nights.

Friday:: Popcorn, leftovers, and movie night.

Saturday:: Takeout to support a local small business and my sanity.

Sunday:: I’m photographing a new recipe (more of a tutorial) for the blog and Bennett is going to LOVE it! Salad, potato chips, and fruit on the side.

 

What are you having this week?

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7 comments on “Scattered Sundays”

  1. We appreciate all the hard work that goes into this blog!

  2. Love the anniversary photo, so sweet and honest.

    Like all the photos, how fun would it be to lounge in a huge amount of stuffed animals.

    Mostly love the story of your life woven with treads of gardens and food and chickens and family.

    Keep up the good work!

  3. Coconut oil should work fine in a fruit crisp. I often make a fruit crumble topping with oatmeal (grind half to a powder in the food processor), a bit of brown sugar, cinnamon, and sometimes chopped nuts. Add enough melted coconut oil to help it hold together. Top the fruit and bake. If the fruit is really juicy, I might add a teaspoon or two of instant tapioca to help it set up.

    • Thanks! The topping I make is similar (minus the nuts). Do you feel like there is ever a flavor missing from the butter? The vegan butter I used was fine but I could tell the crisp was missing a little something something.

  4. Your beach hair look in the last photo of you looks great.. and your skin does not look that bad to begin with so your skin is gonna look super fine when your treatments are done! Zucchini recipe “air-fried” is great … we’re into that right now too! Your recommendations for podcasts AND what to watch (w/o kids) is superb .. aloha ..

    • Thanks! It’s a curling iron thing that looks like a crimper…I had some major 1980s fears when I first tried it. But it does a decent job!