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Scattered Sundays

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A few weeks ago, I shared that our church was creating welcome kits for a group of refugees that are settling in the Puget Sound region. I posted my Venmo for donations, and whoa buddy, you all came through in a huge way! Between blog readers, our family’s donation, and a very generation donation from my inlaw’s, we raised a whopping $1,425!

boxes with household items on a church floor

This is a mix of what church members donated and we purchased with the blog donations.

Initially, the plan was for our blog group donation to go toward kitchen supplies. But so many members of my church donated the physical items that were needed, so instead, we pivoted to make sure that financial donations were best utilized.

I purchased eight heavy-duty cloth laundry/storage totes from Amazon ($218.44. And you can see them in the photo above), three floor lamps from Target ($77.52), and the rest went towards gift cards that the family can use to help themselves get settled. We purchased $400 in Target gift cards, $350 for Albertsons/Safeway, and $400 for Fred Meyer. All gift cards were in quantities of $50.

Fred Meyer is kind of like a Pacific Northwest super Target where you can get home goods, groceries, clothes, furniture, gas, hardware items, and shoes. For full disclosure, I purchased the Target and Fred Meyer gift cards there, without knowing that Fred Meyer was running a bonus for gift card purchases.

I ended up getting 4x the normal amount of “fuel points”, which will drop the gas price by $1 per gallon for our next four fill-ups at a Fred Meyer gas station. I’m sharing this so that everything stays on the level and it doesn’t look like I did this to financially benefit from the purchase. 

items in a trunk

I did a lot of food photos this week, in a method I use called batching. Basically, you do multiples of the same task on the same day. The idea is that your mindset is already on that task, so doing it over and over again is more efficient.

And given that taking photos is my least favorite part of this job, batching makes a lot of sense. It’s pretty much ripping the band-aid off so that I don’t have to think about it every single day. This week didn’t work as well for batching since both recipes were the kind of thing that needed to freeze or process and then cool. You win some, you lose some.

One of the recipes, which will be on the blog in two weeks, is SO good. So tasty in fact, that I gave Troy a bite and he cursed at how delicious it was. It’s a slow cooker recipe that might as well come out of the screen, slap you, and say “hey you, it’s fall”! 

Jack’s school had their first track meet on Wednesday, and it was fun…but long! I had no idea there were so many events in both track and field. The coaches organized it well and had as many events going on at once as possible. But it still took almost three hours.

Through track, Jack has discovered a true love of hurdles. Who knew that all of those years of doing parkour over the giant cement balls that Target has in front of their stores would pay off? Also, Target, we as parents, hate those things. Please stop installing them.

He came in second in hurdles and he was sooooo close to almost being first. He was going against a giant kid, but Jack had sprinting speed on his side and could have overtaken him at the end. Buuuuuut, Jack had no idea you had to keep running to the finish line after you crossed the last hurdle. He kind of just stopped, but as soon as he realized the other kid was still running, he almost caught up to him. Oh, well, next time!

He also did the long jump (scratched both times) and the 800m (took third). He was running the 800m against this kid from another school, that another mom and I referred to as “the machine”. He did a mile in about 5:30 and was barely winded. It was like Terminator. So, naturally, he also came in first in the 800m. And he earned it!

rocks stacked on top of each other

Another weekend, another batch of soccer games in the books. Bennett’s team ended up with a tie last weekend, and Bennett scored a really amazing goal. I’m thankful that Jack caught it on video because it was a testament to all the “stay in control” dribbling drills I make my team do weekly.

This week, his team lost. But win or lose, little kid soccer is still the funniest show in town. I will never understand the families and teams who take it SO SERIOUSLY at this age. I mean, yeah it’s great to see them learning skills, but how hilarious is a kid doing somersaults while four other kids end up in a dog pile?

Last Sunday Jack’s team had a game and it was brutal. They had a 7-0 shutdown in their first game and everyone went into the second game so excited to see a repeat. Sadly, we lost 2-6 (or maybe it was 7? We stopped counting after a while because it was so painful) during that game.

The team we played was really good, but honestly, our team played like they were in pudding. Everyone looked tired, sluggish, and was just watching things happen to them. Yesterday, they lost again. It sucked. They played at the same time as Bennett’s game, so I only got to watch the last 20 minutes or so. Troy was able to be there for the whole game and said Jack scored all three of their goals.

On Thursday, Jack got the first of many, many brackets installed for braces. I think we’re 10 months into the 32-month plan to fix this poor child’s mouth. It’s like Stonehenge after an earthquake up in there. They installed 10 (I think?) brackets on his upper teeth.

Combine that with the expander he has going on up there, and it’s a flossing nightmare. We decided to just do away with the little cone-shaped flosser things (what are those called?!) and got him this Waterpik at the advice of his pediatrician. It’s been a lifesaver and makes everything 100% easier for him.

He’s been handling all the work like a champ…for the most part. It’s definitely not comfortable, but he’s doing well with it. I think it helps that his orthodontist gives the kids $5 Starbucks gift cards with any milestone visit AND the fact that he gets to wear a mask at school. There is no better time to be a tween/teen with mouth hardware than during a pandemic where masks are mandatory in public.

He won’t be able to eat popcorn for a while, and we’re racking our brain to try and come up with a good movie night snack for him. Any thoughts? I’d really appreciate recommendations from people who have lived through braces.

There is a lovely man in our small town who repairs sewing machines and also sharpened knives. A multi-talented person for sure. He was the most amazing knife sharpener, and I loved supporting a local small business.

Sadly, he is apparently no longer sharpening knives. English is not his first language, so we didn’t communicate all that well, but it appears that he just wants to fix sewing machines going forward. Booooo for me!

My friend Chelsea, who blogs at A Duck’s Oven, recommended Knife Aid to me. It’s a mail-in sharpening service, and I sent five of our knives off on Thursday (I paid for it, this is not a sponsored mention).

I’m excited to see if they can match up to my local dude. I’ll let you know how it goes because if there is one thing that I hate, it’s people using dull knives in the kitchen. Ack, so dangerous.

Later this afternoon, Jack starts the multi-year process of confirmation through our church. Essentially, for Lutherans, baptism usually happens when someone is a baby. It’s the parent’s opportunity to say we’re going to raise this rug-rat in the church.

Whereas confirmation is a tween/teen’s process of publically declaring their faith. It’s a multi-year process of religious exploration, that culminates in the teen preparing and presenting a faith statement for the church. Because if there is one thing that teens love, it’s a bunch of people staring at them while giving a religious book report. HA!

We had some lovely fall weather this week; not too cold, and not too boob sweaty. I love it so much. This coming week is looking a bit stormy and that’s ok with me too! It’s been a little chilly in the morning, but I have a strict “no furnace until October 1st” rule.

All three males in my house don’t like being cold. However, two of those males want to wear shorts and a t-shirt year-round. Bennett, of course, would happily wear head-to-toe flannel or velour all day, every day. Jack and Troy hate the no furnace rule, but I say…put some damn clothes on.

But honestly, it hasn’t been remotely cold enough to even want to turn on the furnace (unless you’re Troy). I think the “coldest” it has gotten in the house was 67. In peak winter, the thermostat is set to 69F during the day. Troy would legit prefer it to be 71 or 72, but that is not happening.

I also have a “no fires in the woodstove” until November 1st rule. Do either of these rules make any sense, have any purpose, or are they rooted in reason or logic? Nope! But I do love to test these males in an effort to toughen them up a little bit. 🙂

In the Garden This Week

The baby lettuce is growing really well and should do great this coming week with the rain we’re anticipating. I’ve left the shade cloth off so they can drink up all that free water. And also, I um, forgot to actually put it back on during the week when it was warm and sunny.

I need to pull the cucumbers soon; that was a colossal disaster of a crop this year. Our hot temps made them bitter, and their bitterness made ME bitter. No homemade fridge pickles this year. Rude.

I’m still picking an epic amount of blueberries and raspberries, and am doing my best to stay on top of it daily. There are still so many blueberries left on two bushes that even the birds are over it. But holy smokes, those berries are so darn sweet!

bowls of berries on a front porch

Garlic will get planted in the next few weeks (famous last words). If you’re new to growing garlic, check out this handy guide I have on how to plant, maintain, harvest, and cure (dry) garlic. For most growing zones, getting your garlic in the ground in early October is ideal.

The state of the garden and yard is a bit of a trainwreck right now. Our one day of rain last Sunday brought about 30% of our lawn back to life. So I need to mow, and I also really need to weed, trim some plants, and remove a rose bush that I have always found annoying and stupid. Yes, plants can be stupid, and this rose bush is an idiot.

A few of the tomato plants are also done for the season. Another few look awful but are still producing. I think I’m going to set a timer for 20 minutes a day this coming week to start tackling the weeding and putting the garden to bed for the year.

a box of tomatoes on a countertop

What I’m Listening To This Week

For the Parks and Rec fans out there, Rob Lowe and Alan Yang (a writer from the show) have started a rewatch show called Parks and Recollection. I watched Parks and Rec for a while, but we dropped cable and I lost track of it for a really long time.

I’m still enjoying the podcast because rewatch podcasts are amazing (recommend: Fake Doctors, Real Friends, and The Office Ladies), but it definitely makes me want to watch the series from start to finish at some point in the future.

It has taken me almost an entire year to get through all nine seasons of The Office (and I still have about 15 episodes to go…), so I don’t think I can start Parks and Rec until “literally” 2022. Will still be worth it when it finally happens.

What I’m Reading This Week

I finished When the Stars Go Dark and despite it being a terribly rough topic, the writing was hauntingly beautiful. I’m really glad I stuck with it.

After putting on my big girl pants, I restarted The Sum of Us after a false start a few weeks ago. It’s the kind of book that makes me want to throw my very old kindle at the wall. Reading this book after The Color of Law, and it’s a wonder that I still have working electronics.

If you’ve ever wondered why you have to pay to take your kids swimming at community pools, this book is for you. If you watched friends and family lose their homes during the Great Recession, this book is for you. If you have a pulse and take part in society, this book is for you.

I’m stealing this synopsis from the interwebs to tell you more about this book: 

Heather McGhee’s specialty is the American economy—and the mystery of why it so often fails the American public. From the financial crisis of 2008 to rising student debt to collapsing public infrastructure, she found a root problem: racism in our politics and policymaking.

But not just in the most obvious indignities for people of color. Racism has costs for white people, too. It is the common denominator of our most vexing public problems, the core dysfunction of our democracy, and constitutive of the spiritual and moral crises that grip us all. But how did this happen? And is there a way out? (source)

Reader Spotlight of the Week

Tracy left this five-star review on our Apple Butter post {Pin this recipe}:

Wicked good. Simple. Had only 2 lbs. Made the mix used half of it. Crock pot hi 4 hrs. Delicious!! Used on the side with pork chops similar to using apple sauce.. 😋 😋 😋 thank you.

a jar of apple butter with fresh apples and cinnamon sticks

On Sustainable Cooks This Week

This was a “fall” heavy week on the blog with two soup recipes! And you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way. 🙂

Spicy Butternut Squash SoupThis Spicy Butternut Squash Soup is packed with flavor and sure to become a family favorite! A comforting and healthy butternut squash soup that can be made in under 30 minutes. {Pin this recipe}

a bowl of vegan butternut squash soup with herbs and bread

Instant Pot Zuppa ToscanaYou will fall hard for this healthy Instant Pot Zuppa Toscana recipe. You can make this dairy-free soup in the Instant Pot, crockpot, or on the stovetop. {Pin this recipe}

a bowl of dairy-free instant pot zuppa toscana with kale

How to Freeze BeetsLearn all the tips and tricks for Freezing Beets to stock your freezer with this amazing healthy vegetable. Learning how to freeze beets is a great way to preserve this versatile crop without needing any special equipment. {Pin this tutorial}

Frozen beets in a silicone bag

The Five Most Popular Posts This Week

  1. How to Can Pears – our family’s favorite canned fruit! {Pin this recipe}
  2. Canning Peaches – I honestly don’t know how or why this post is still in the top 5! Where are all these out-of-season peaches being grown that people are canning?! {Pin this recipe}
  3. Canning Apple Butter – this post has both canning and freezing instructions. And it will make your house smell AMAZING. {Pin this tutorial}
  4. Canning Applesauce – such a tasty sauce that can be made without any added sugar. {Pin this tutorial}
  5. Crockpot Spaghetti Sauce – everyone is using up all the last of the garden goodness. {Pin this recipe}

Meal Plan

This will be the first week with only three nights of soccer practice. Who-freaking-hoo!!! But also, feeding Jack is a lot more challenging with the braces and the bite blocker.

Monday:: A new recipe that I’m photographing. I’m not sure how the boys are going to feel about it. Plus, salad or grilled veggies on the side.

Tuesday:: It’s potentially going to be stormy (yay!!!!!) and I’m craving Instant Pot Zuppa Toscana and both boys like it (well, Jack likes it. Bennett tolerates it.), which makes it a win in my book. Stovetop cast iron garlic bread on the side, plus salad.

Wednesday:: Jack has an away track meet and we’ll grab take out on the way home.

Thursday:: Troy is making chicken katsu, Instant Pot Jasmine Rice, and salad.

Friday:: Troy is making breakfast dinner.

Saturday:: Popcorn, leftovers, and movie night.

Sunday:: TBD

What are you having this week?

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23 comments on “Scattered Sundays”

  1. All of the peach hits are probably me LOL! Peaches on the Denver Front Range (in my literal backyard) are finally peaking, and we are about six weeks behind the Palisade peaches of the western slope, so I’ve been a constant on those posts for two months now. The syrup recipe is life changing! I’ve seen your blackberry syrup recipe, but do you have one for raspberries? Or would you adjust the blackberry syrup recipe at all if you used raspberries?

    • My friend is in Denver and I usually visit her every summer. And I see those “Palisade Peaches” signs everywhere! I bet your hot weather will be a great harvest for your crop.

      The raspberry should work similarly, but blackberries do have more natural pectin than raspberries. That might mean adding a bit more sugar or cooking it down longer to get it to the thickness that you want.

  2. Until your bottom freezes to the toilet seat, it’s too soon to turn on the heat. 🙂

  3. I had to have braces twice . . . I feel Jack’s pain. One thing I did was eat a snack and take an Advil 1/2 hour before my orthodontia appointment. That one little tablet made my evening so much more tolerable. I ate a lot of soup, puddings, cake, soft cookies, eggs, applesauce . . . anything that was super soft or pureed. Nothing with skins, like tomatoes or apples, even cooked. Nothing caramelly-sticky. If he is a pretty normal braces-wearer, he can eat anything that he wants that his braces can tolerate because the first couple of days post-appointment, he will be eating minimally . . . he will likely lose weight.

    • Great idea! He felt fine for about 4 hours after the appointment, but then the poor kiddo was pretty sore. We did Advil for about 48 hours until he just stopped asking for it. So I guess the pain went away? We’ll try it ahead of time and lots of soup after his next adjustment.

      I’m not sure this kid can handle losing a single oz. Even soaking wet he is barely 86 lbs. I believe his BMI is (seriously) 6…HA!

  4. Please explain cast iron garlic bread !! 🙂

  5. Thank you for recommending the LuLaRich documentary a couple of weeks ago, I got through it in a week and loved it in a horrified way.

    • Have you listened to The Dream (season 1) podcast, yet? You’ll love it if you liked the LuLaRich documentary!

      There is another documentary coming out this week that I cannot wait to watch. It’s called The Way Down.

  6. I had braces as a young adult with palet expanders. My go to food was soup.  I am huge popcorn lover and like Jack I had to find other options. I liked cheese puffs,veggie straws or those little Pepperidge Farm fish shaped crackers.  I ate a lot of mashed potatoes, applesauce and smashed up any food I thought would taste good in that form! 

    • Jack has the expander and a lingual (?) arch. That is a lot of hardware for one little mouth.

      We have some stale goldfish kicking around somewhere. I’ll have him try them.

      We also found that the pears I have canned are a huge hit for him.

  7. I didn’t have braces but my sister did and she loved that “hulless” popcorn that I believe Snyder’s makes. It’s tasty but as an adult I’m afraid to read the ingredients label since its basically a popcorn shaped cheese puff haha. Could pretzels be a good salty, crunchy snack for him? I read somewhere that you can pop sorghum berries like you can pop popcorn; maybe since it’s a grain berry instead of a kernel there won’t be as much husk?? I’ve never had sorghum before so I don’t know what it would taste like but I keep looking for it in the bulk bins at my food co-op because I’m curious. I love popcorn but hate picking stuff out of my teeth for days after having it!

    My sister and a friend of mine always said soup was the best possible thing to eat on braces adjustment days. They said the minimal chewing needed was welcomed since your jaw already hurts and the heat from the broth helps the metal expand just a little and provides some temporary relief. As a side note, I’m excited that it’s starting to feel like fall here and I can pull out the soup recipes again soon!

    • We tried a hulless popcorn, but it still got stuck in his expander. Poor kiddo has a lot of hardware hanging out in his mouth right now.

      Great idea on the soup. Jack likes a few soups (not a universal love like his momma), so I’ll plan on it for his adjustments.

  8. Last week our house was down to 65 degrees inside and I LOVED it!  Thankfully the only one in my family who would complain is at college, so we were living it up.  And now the windows are shut once more with the a/c back on.  I will hold off as long as I can when it comes to turning the furnace on, but living in the midwest, I can’t hold out nearly as long as I’d prefer! 

  9. For the movie night snacks, IDK if you have Kroger but ours has these things called Corn Puff Poppers that are like popcorn without the kernel. They’re kind of the texture of styrofoam, but oddly delicious and they come in butter or cheese flavor. My kids LOVE them.

    • We’ve tried a cheese puff from Pipcorn (I heard about them on How I Built This and order them from Thrive). Buuuuut, Jack said the “mush” gets stuck in his expander.

      He actually ended up trying popcorn one kernel at a time and it worked ok. I told him I’d give the bowl to the chickens if I caught him shoveling it into his face. 🙂

  10. I am so glad to hear that the community came together for the refugee families. Go Team Sustainable Cooks! I feel for Jack on the braces front. I had to have braces twice because I didn’t wear my retainer, womp womp. Another bit that resonated with me this week was your mention of The Sum of Us. I read it earlier this Summer and whoa, did it make me realize how much privilege I carry. I am glad that you got back into reading it – it is such a powerful learning tool. Enjoy your week of chilly temps, mild boob sweat, and having Troy cook a few nights to share the load!

    • I think the mention of the privilege we carry is spot on. Whether it is intentional or unintentional, being aware of it is the first step towards awareness. And awareness brings change!