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Scattered Sundays

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Listen, I know the world seems like a dumpster fire right now, but this week I have been walking around with an intense feeling of gratitude. And I gotta say, it’s a huge improvement over feeling like a bag of poo.

I’m not talking about toxic positivity. This is not a “good vibes only” scenario. This is taking a deep breath and looking at life with a different lens. It changed the whole trajectory of the week for me. And I’m here for it.

After a few hardcore rainstorms over the weekend, the work week started out with gorgeous but windy weather. Even though I almost blew away on my walk, the sun was shining and the sky was a lovely blue. I was freezing but so thankful for the health and mobility I have that let me get out to enjoy the fresh air.

And then on Tuesday, I found out that a friend’s baby got to go home after five weeks in the NICU. This little guy is a total fighter. He had intestinal surgery within four hours of being born and has been fighting to heal and go home ever since.

And they got to finally stop the two-hour roundtrips to the NICU each day and he finally got to leave that hospital. Definitely gratitude up the hoo-ha. Let’s go!

a boy sleeping with 2 stuffed cats

He’s dreaming that they’re real.

I was chatting with a friend this week (via text because talking on the phone is horrifying) and told her a story that I assumed I had already told everyone before. We’ve been friends for 16 years and she had never heard this story. So buckle up, cause now I’m sharing it with you too.

I have always been an early bird and never was that trait more useful than when we lived in Los Angeles. I hate traffic and crowds of people who slow me down, so I used to get up super early on Saturday mornings to run all my errands for the week.

I had a whole loop – regular grocery store (if needed), Target, Trader Joe’s, Costco, and then home. And because I was on the road before everyone else, it was efficient. I’d be home before things started getting bonkers out there.

Anyhoo, the Trader Joe’s I went to was new to the area. I’d roll into the parking lot between 8 and 8:15 am and would be pleased as punch (<—did I just sound 80 there? I’m ok with that) at the rockstar parking I would get. I could basically choose any spot; a total rarity at a LA Trader Joe’s.

I’d stroll in and greet all the employees who were hard at work stocking the shelves. They’d say good morning and ask about my day. We were buds! I’d stroll through the store without any other shoppers getting in my way. It was the absolute best. With a nearly-empty store, I’d be in and out within 15 minutes max.

As I’d shop, a few of the employees would say “ring the bell when you’re ready to check out” and it never once struck me as weird that they didn’t have cash registers staffed on a weekend. I just soaked in my quiet shopping and was full of self-smugness on my efficient shopping.

Finally, after doing this for a solid six months, an employee finally stopped me and very kindly said “you know we open at 9 am, right”? You guys, I had been breaking into Trader Joe’s 45-60 minutes early every single week while they were closed! For MONTHS.

I was mortified but the employees were so kind to me and never acted put out by it. As soon as I found out, I immediately started going at 9 am when they opened and was loathe to find out how busy a Trader Joe’s was on a Saturday morning. You know, when they were actually open!

About eight months after this all went down, Trader Joe’s changed their hours from 9 am-8 pm to 8 am – 8 pm. And I enjoyed a solid two months of going early before everyone else realized that they were now open one hour earlier.

2 boys in front of a Christmas tree

I did some recipe testing this week and I’m so flipping excited to share it with you next month! Without spoiling the details, it is: 1) one-pot/pan 2) limited prep 3) made from scratch 4) comforting AF, and 5) absolutely delicious. Like so damn good. I can’t wait!!

If I can humbly brag a bit about this recipe, it cuts out two separate steps in a popular style of dinner. Honestly, I don’t mind doing these steps separately at all. But I think as people get back to work and kids are back in school, people are busy again y’all. 

Katie and I were talking about this the other day. And I told her: my mindset is shifting for my blog recipes and I am trying to create them for people who might hate to cook and still want to get good (mostly) healthy food on their table. They can love the food without loving the process.

That doesn’t mean I’m going to start posting a bunch of recipes that call for cans of cream of something soup and just a bunch of dump-and-go packaged ingredients. There is nothing wrong with those recipes, but it’s just not my jam. 

But, what it does mean is that I’m more focused on healthy fast food made by hand with wholesome ingredients. If you give me 20-30 minutes (including clean up!), I want to make you feel like a total rockstar when you serve that meal. You don’t need to enjoy the act of cooking to feel proud about the meal you make.

In addition to testing new recipes, I also gave an oldie but a goodie a bit of a “glow up” that I documented over on Instagram stories. The old photos are only a few years old, but nothing feels better than seeing how your photography has grown than to compare the old with the new. And I’ll also be sharing this with you all soon!

a plastic bag with writing on it

We sent some treats to school in this professionally decorated gift bag.

I have shifted to using 10 and 15-pound weights, instead of 8 and 10 pounds, during workouts and it feels great. But also very hard, and I think I may have died a little during a workout on Tuesday. Just a little.

Not much running has been happening due to the weather but I do intend to get back to it soon. Just like the increase in weight, the increase in running makes me feel strong. And being strong is rad.

I did “treat” myself to a new safety vest (because I know fashion) recently to make myself even more visible to cars when I am out running or walking. This high-fashion item blinks in addition to being neon yellow. I like that it has a pocket like my other vest, and the rechargeable battery has a REALLY long life.

a living room shown in 2 lights

The same space (clearly not at the exact same angle) six years apart! Gratuitous Troy calves shot in there for yah. I know what the masses want!


In honor of the upcoming holiday season, I’m putting Prep Once, Cook Twice, our meal prep solution, on sale! From now until Monday, November 29th, you can take $10 off this incredibly comprehensive plan. You get five weeks of printable meal plans, grocery lists, and prep tips.

Prep Once, Cook Twice will help you solve the meal planning decision fatigue. And who doesn’t love the end of anything related to fatigue!? You can get your copy here and use coupon code PrepNinja for $10 off.

What I’m Listening To This Week

I stumbled onto Fallen Angel, which is a documentary podcast about Victoria’s Secret…and its many, many secrets. The series investigates the origin story of one of the world’s most iconic brands and its effect on American culture for nearly 40 years, all told by women who witnessed what really happened behind the curtain. (source)

Listen, the algorithm GETS me and I am not the least mad about it. I have to laugh at anyone who thinks vaccines give you tracking devices while we’re all voluntarily walking around with tracking devices that require a monthly plan in our pockets. Give it a rest. Enjoy the targeted podcasts. I sure do.

Reader Spotlight of the Week

Pamela left this five-star review on our Air Fryer Egg Rolls {Pin this recipe}:

As a bariatric patient I have a very limited menu…and THESE were just the perfect thing to add. Just purchased an air fryer oven and loving experimenting with recipes. You have introduced me to wonton wrappers and there is no going back now!!! Thanks! This is something I will make often!

A hand holding an egg fryer egg roll into a bowl of dipping sauce

On Sustainable Cooks This Week

Freezing Mashed PotatoesMake holiday prep simple by learning all about Freezing Mashed Potatoes. A freezer stash of make-ahead mashed potatoes is also incredible for everyday meal prep and last-minute weeknight dinners. {Pin this recipe}

frozen mashed potatoes in a divided freezer tray

Make-Ahead Thanksgiving RecipesThese Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Dishes will help you have a delicious and low-stress turkey day. Recipes include easy appetizers, sides, desserts, and freezer dishes. {Pin this list}

9 photos showing Thanksgiving dishes

Air Fryer CarrotsThese Air Fryer Carrots are an easy and delicious side dish that is ready in a flash! Perfectly roasted in the air fryer, these simple air-fried carrots are Whole30, paleo, and vegan/vegetarian. {Pin this recipe}

a bowl of air fryer carrots topped with parsley

Easy Air Fryer Vegetable RecipesDiscover the most amazing Air Fryer Vegetable Recipes you’ll ever make! You’ll find Whole30 air fryer recipes, vegan and vegetarian air fryer recipes, and paleo air fryer recipes. {Pin this list}

8 photos of air fryer vegetable recipes

The Five Most Popular Posts This Week

  1. Air Fryer Egg Rolls – vegan and vegetarian as written but super customizable! {Pin this recipe}
  2. Canning Apple Butter – this post has both canning and freezing instructions. And it will make your house smell AMAZING. {Pin this tutorial}
  3. How to Can Pears – our family’s favorite canned fruit! {Pin this recipe}
  4. How to Freeze Pumpkin – tis the season! {Pin this tutorial}
  5. Canning Applesauce – such a tasty sauce that can be made without any added sugar. {Pin this tutorial}

Meal Plan

Monday:: Troy is making Instant Pot Mac and Cheese and grilled veggies.

Tuesday:: Instant Pot Gnocchi Soup, Cheesy Garlic Bread, and salad. I am doubling everything because I am bringing the same meal to our friends who just welcomed their new baby home. They’re also getting some Soft Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies because when you have spent five weeks in and out of the NICU, you get the damn cookies!

Wednesday:: Takeout to support a local small business/save my sanity.

Thursday:: Thanksgiving!

Friday:: Movie night – popcorn and Thanksgiving leftovers (doy).

Saturday:: Apps-giving at my sister’s. All appetizers for dinner!

Sunday:: TBD depending on how many leftovers we have from all the festivities!


What are you having this week?

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12 comments on “Scattered Sundays”

  1. Your fancy teacher gift bag made me LOL.  😀   So sweet!

  2. In your defense, usually the front door of a store is locked until they’re open…if they had that door open, how else could you know? That is too funny! 🙂

  3. Hahaha I love that TJ’s was like “look she’s here again at 0815, oh well!”  I mean I knew they hired nice people but wow, that’s extra!  

  4. You breaking into Trader Joe’s is the best!

  5. The Trader Joe story is a laugh but it’s nice to know how amenable the staff were to you… and in LA no less… hilarious share… your efforts in photographing all the dishes we see in your blog makes me want to make all those delicious looking recipes.. thank you… and yes WE all would be happier if we concentrated on the positive things we enjoy yet take for granted..I say to myself I’m grateful most days for the simple little things! I love your Appsgiving Sunday also ! Aloha Sarah 

    • Yes, they were so nice! TJ’s employees are known for being extra nice. I’m not sure if it is because they’re paid a living wage (imagine that!) or empowered to make decisions to help the customers, but they’re totally awesome.

      Hoping your tropical Thanksgiving is a good one, Stephanie. 🙂

  6. “who might hate to cook and still want to get good (mostly) healthy food on their table”
    I am on board with this. Love food, hate cooking, you’re my go to for dinners.

  7. I like to think you were thinking of me when you decided to start working on recipes that don’t require a lot of work. I don’t like to cook but want to make sure my family is eating as healthy as possible. 😀 I look forward to the new recipes.