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Scattered Sundays

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Happy New Year, friends! While we didn’t get a white Christmas last week, but we did have a white day after Christmas. And the day after that, and the day after that. And so on and so forth.

As of the time of writing this, we probably collectively got 8-10 inches of snow (which is A LOT for sea level) and my super steep hill has not been plowed. We’re on day 7 with more snow in the forecast this week. Whomp whomp.

You cannot go anywhere in this area without going up or down an incredibly steep hill (as in there are signs warning truck drivers about the grade of the hill). It’s just the topography of the area and you can’t do much about it. People with long driveways on hillsides park at the bottom and hope for the best. The rest of us either stay put or attempt to venture out onto roads with 4 inches of compact snow and ice.

I was talking with two friends from NOLA about it. One of them asked how we get out. Technically we can get out – Troy has a 4wd truck and I have an AWD Subaru. But unless we have to, we don’t. When snow appears in the forecast, we just make sure we have what we need. One of my NOLA friends equated it to hurricane prep.

2 kids wearing all black outfits eating dinner

One day three of the storm, Troy did venture out for a doctor’s appointment and to pick up our grocery order. The grocery stores were PACKED, half of our order wasn’t able to be fulfilled, and he said he remembered why he hated people. Day four, he had to take an elderly neighbor to wound care 40 minutes away and was gone for four hours.

Our local neighborhood Facebook page looked like an end of days bartering group. Seeing what people needed/didn’t have in their homes, made me VERY thankful that at any given time, our food storage is vast. The only thing I couldn’t help people with was canned soup. One only has to look at all my soup recipes to realize that quick homemade soups are my love language.

The deacon at our church had surgery right before Christmas, and as ladies of churches are known to do, a meal train had been set up to provide her family with food. And then the snow hit, and most of the participants couldn’t get out of their driveways. 

4 baguettes on a cooling rack

I had signed up for the 30th, and come hell or high water, I was going to bring her some food. She lives 30 minutes away in a snowy part of the county with rural roads. As it turned out, Troy had to go pull his cousin’s car off of an ice bank in a parking lot right by her house that morning.

Knowing he was going to be leaving once it was daylight, I started making Instant Pot Chicken Gnocchi Soup at 5 am along with overnight no-knead baguettes that I had started the evening before. Once the soup was finished cooking, I needed to cool it quickly to make it safe for transporting. It only took about 3.2 seconds before I knew what needed to be done.

an instant pot in the snow

Troy’s cousin’s car was easily freed and the food was safely delivered to our deacon. She had surgery that involved her throat, and chewing and swallowing had been challenging for her. She texted me that afternoon that our soup was the first real meal she had been able to enjoy in weeks. Soup – it’s healing, I tell yah!

2 stuffed kitties in snow boots

Everyone gets to use my new snowboots BUT ME

On December 23rd I had my oil changed and was told by the tech that I would need new tires in the next 6k miles. I had known it was coming and it hadn’t surprised me in the least. I had started to notice some “slippage” in turning while on slick roads. Honestly, it was nice to have my instincts confirmed. Not nice to have to shell out the cash.

I headed to Les Schwab Tires, which is a Pacific Northwest institution. It’s a regional chain that has the most amazing customer service you’ll ever experience. They’ll work on your car for free if they think it is the right thing to do.

And you can always count on them for an honest assessment. An oil change place once told Troy that he needed new brakes. He took his truck to Les Schwab (which also sells and does brakes) and they told him he had at least another 10-15k miles before they needed to be replaced. I mean, c’mon!

It was my lucky day as they had just received 12 tires the day before that fit my car. Due to supply chain issues, they hadn’t been in stock in a month or so. I got my new tires and went about my day. Oh, the timing! I can’t imagine having to drive on those icy icy roads on old tires. I was being looked out for that day.

kids playing in the snow

Even in the snow, Bennett has a stuffed animal with him.

Two weeks ago, I told Jack to go try on his snow boots to make sure they fit. With five boys on one side of our family, we all share clothing, shoes, etc. Except that Jack is the oldest and has unnaturally large man feet, so snow gear is usually my task to purchase. I stalk Goodwill throughout the year and snag boots in multiple “future” sizes as I find them. Jack tried his on and reported back that his current pair fit. 

My own old snowboots had zero tread left, and I needed something super warm for our new year-round soccer life. I invested in a pair of Merrells and gah they’re so cute and comfy. I was so looking forward to wearing them in the snow. Silly me. That’s never how things work.

Jack’s first day of cat sitting was the day that the first snowstorm hit. The house was a mile away (straight up multiple hills), so luckily, we could walk there. My normal walking pace for this hilly part of my route is a 15.5-minute mile. Trudging through the snow (and ice on subsequent trips) took us almost 30 minutes each way.

About halfway through the first trek, Jack said his feet were killing him. I realized he had been wearing threadbare old soccer socks, instead of Darn Tough socks. How is my child not wearing the right socks?! I’m Princess Proper Socks, from the kingdom of comfy feet.

And, of course, you’ve already figured out that his snowboots did not actually fit him. We got to their house, fed and snuggled the cat, and then swapped socks and boots for the walk home. His boots were also too small for me, so when we got home I switched to my old snow boots. You know, the ones with ZERO tread.

I spent the next few days slipping and sliding everywhere. There were many close calls of me biting it hard. After being really annoyed at Jack for not handling the snowboot situation back when we could have found him a new pair, Troy said “oh, I have some slip-on traction clamps for boots in the closet. Do you want them”?

You know that scene in Dumb and Dumber where Harry is saying his hands are numb because they’re in the snow and he’s so cold. And then Lloyd reveals that he’s been wearing two pairs of gloves the whole time and his hands are getting sweaty? That’s how I felt at that moment and the look I gave Troy could have melted all the snow.

I got the clamps and they did work really well. Thank goodness! Except for that one day, Jack and I were almost home from checking on the cat, and I noticed that I had lost one. I sent Jack on ahead to our house and had to backtrack all the way back to the cat’s house and then back before I found it.

I was following my own tracks in the snow and could see where I had been walking with two clamps and then it switched to just one. I texted Troy and Jack that I had found it, and felt like a fearsome hunter tracking my prey in the snow.

2 hand-drawn cartoons

One morning, on our walk home from checking on the cat, we encountered an older gentleman shoveling his driveway. He jokingly offered Jack $.50 to shovel it. That night, it snowed again, so the next morning Jack knocked on his door asking if he’d like his driveway shoveled. The guy said yes!

Jack had big dreams of a “snow shoveling empire”, but quickly found out that shoveling a very icy driveway was pretty exhausting. He worked really hard and was gone for well over an hour. At one point he borrowed a metal shovel from the man to get as much of the ice removed as possible.

He told me it was really hard work but that he wanted to do a good job. I was proud of him for that! The guy was really pleased and gave him $20 – pretty amazing money for an hour’s work when you’re 12. In fact, he was so happy that he asked Jack to come back in a few weeks to mow his lawn. So, “teach Jack to mow a lawn” is now on our January to-do list. 🙂

a boy in his bedroom

Growing up we had an older couple who lived two houses up the road. The lots in our neighborhood are VERY small, which is common when anyone is near water – land is a premium when it comes with a view. This older couple seemed to have two or three lots (with just one house) and thus a GIANT garden and lawn.

One summer when I was about Jack’s age, my dad told me to go up and mow their lawn. The couple was probably in their early 80s and he had seen the woman trying to mow. I headed up and mowed. She came out to thank me and gave me some cash. I went home and my dad was apoplectic.

He explained they were an older couple on a fixed income and that I should not have accepted the cash. He told me that sometimes we do nice things for others with NO expectation of reimbursement, but because it was the right thing to do.

He had me go return the cash and told me I was to offer to mow their lawn for the rest of the summer for free. This is how when I was 12, I got paid weekly in homegrown cucumbers from someone’s garden to mow their lawn. 🙂

It was a good lesson to learn and one I’m trying to instill in my boys. On the second day of our snowstorm, Jack and I cleared our neighbor’s driveway. The neighbor is in great shape but was recovering from Covid, so we tackled it before the snow could ice up anymore.

A few days later, our (masked) neighbor came over to give Jack a valuable Opinel pocket knife and a spare pair of binoculars he had used in his go-bag during his time of military service. For the record, he had asked my permission ahead of time to give him the pocket knife.

The gifts were WAY above and beyond, but our neighbor really wanted to give them to Jack. But I have gotten a lot of mileage out of talking in an older person’s voice and saying “back in my day we helped our neighbors for cucumbers. Inflation, aimright”?

Since we were basically stuck at home for a week, we decided to show the boys some beloved 80s movies. They were not remotely interested in watching them, but when I presented it as “we watch these movies or we don’t watch any movies”, they quickly “agreed” to the viewing.

First up The Goonies! Bennett was nervous at some parts of the movie, but both boys really enjoyed it. I had forgotten about the language in 80s movies so there were a few fun surprises. Troy and I laughed/gasped when we saw the cast riding bikes without helmets, and Jack said “none of these kids are wearing masks” when they were in cramped spaces.

Next up: Back to the Future. We had been sledding our butts off ALL day and everyone was pretty tired during that movie. Bennett stopped paying attention and just played with his stuffed animals during most of the movie. Jack looked super bored in his cocoon of blankets, but as soon as the movie ended he said “we HAVE to watch the second one tomorrow”.

2 photos of a closet

Each year post-Christmas, Jack and I deep clean his room. Fresh room, fresh start. Jack is my neat and tidy child but with sports and school, his room becomes a clutter magnet by the end of each year. We purge, organize, and transfer no longer needed items to Bennett.

Jack had been complaining about his small desk for months. It was much too small for doing homework and if he came out to the dining room table, his little brother wouldn’t leave him alone. We got him a nice new desk for Christmas and he was thrilled!

The new desk instigated a total room “refresh” with a bit of furniture being moved and swapped. Jack has had two Goodwill shelves for years to display Lego creations, but he’s no longer really interested in Lego. And thus, the shelves became dust and crap collectors. We removed those and it opened up the space so nicely.

2 photos of a bedroom

Bennett got Jack’s old desk to use as his art station. He was so excited to organize his supplies when we moved the desk into his room. That’s my boy! Bennett had been using a little table and chair that had belonged to me and my sister as kids. It wasn’t big enough and had zero storage.

It took us about five hours total over two days to get the boy’s rooms shipshape. Both are loving their “new” spaces and Jack keeps saying “I love my room so much”. Even better, when we were going through his closet, I found an old pair of ski gloves that fit Bennett, who had been complaining about wearing mittens “like a baby”.

A random and last-minute gift of an alarm clock ended up being Jack’s favorite Christmas present. He has hated his alarm clock for a year and is always so grumpy on the days that it wakes him up. He also has a hard time falling asleep at night because his brain is too full of ideas for the video games he wants to create.

I ended up getting this gentle wake alarm clock/sound machine for him and he LOVES it. Admittedly, it is a giant PITA to set up, but after a few days, he can navigate all the buttons and settings with ease. Since we plugged that sucker in, Jack has fallen asleep quickly every night and had a restful night of sleep. Nerdy practical mom gift for the win!

Overall, it was a decent week. I’m not sure if it was having practice from ‘rona lockdown, or if the kids are just older, but I survived ok. Long-time readers might remember previous snowstorms found me pondering that the dad from The Shining was just a misunderstood and exhausted parent.

We were safe, had cozy food to eat (we finally polished off the last of the fudge, almond roca, and sugar cookies), and a fire constantly going in the woodstove. We were blessed and lucky beyond all belief. May those blessings continue for your family and ours as we head into 2022.

HOUSEKEEPING

Thank you all for your kind comments, and support of my Prep Once Cook Twice physical book! It’s still available (and honestly, will always be – ha!) for purchase.

And, if you are kind enough to purchase it, can you pretty please leave a review on Amazon? It helps other buyers find the book and helps reinforce that it’s a useful item.

With that in mind, if you made any of our recipes over the last few weeks and haven’t left a review over on the blog post, please consider doing that if you have a moment. It helps us appease the Google overlords and it’s sooooo much easier to leave a review than it is for me to sacrifice a few goats during a full moon.

What I’m reading this week

I finished Before the Ruins and I really liked it. It was a bit of a mix of The Guest List meets  (the snowy mystery aspect of) The Hunting Party combined with Ordinary People. It was a good thriller(ish) with interesting character development.

I started The Ugly Cry on Friday and am not too far into it. I have a giant backlog of books on my hold list at the library. I tend to download a ton of them to my ancient Kindle at once and then I turn off the wifi so I can take my time to finish them. 

A few really long books (like The Lincoln Highway) recently took me a while to finish. So now there is a bit of a logjam in my account. First-world problems!

READER SPOTLIGHT OF THE WEEK

Christine left this five-star review on our Creamy Tortellini Soup {Pin this recipe}:

This soup is freekin delicious!  We subbed out plant-based meat and added some red pepper flakes to make up for the lack of extra flavour from the faux meat.  This is a keeper, you are a pro at these hearty, comforting, hug-for-your-stomach soups. A+ 

Instant-Pot-Tortellini-Soup- (5)

ON SUSTAINABLE COOKS THIS WEEK

I polished off some Whole30 guides this week, but I want to be REALLY clear, in that I don’t think Whole30 is appropriate for people who are trying to “diet” in the new year. I think it’s absolutely fabulous as a guided way to eliminate certain foods to figure out what your body might be sensitive to.

I also turn to these recipes when I am feeling like I need an aggressive dose of veggies in my system. After the holidays if your body is craving more veg, check out some of these posts. Also, if you can’t eat gluten, dairy, or soy, these recipes will work for you as well.

Whole30 Meal PlanMake your life easier with this printable Whole30 Meal Plan that includes printable compliant shopping lists and delicious and easy recipes. You’ll find compliant breakfasts, lunches, dinners, mini-meals, and a few emergency snacks for those inevitable busy days. {Pin this meal plan}

Whole30 Trader Joe’s ListThe most comprehensive Trader Joe’s Whole30 Shopping List ever! A printable Whole30 shopping list and Whole30 recipes to help you rock every single day of your round. {Pin this list}

Instant Pot Beef StewThis Instant Pot Beef Stew is the coziest stew you can whip up in under 75 minutes. Instant pot beef stew is a game-changer, and crockpot/slow cooker instructions are also included. {Pin this recipe}

whole30-beef-stew-4

Whole30 Costco ListThe only Whole30 Costco Shopping List you’ll ever need! A printable Whole30 shopping list and Whole30 recipes to help you rock your homemade meals, meal prep, and have a successful round. {Pin this list}

Confessions – everyone’s favorite silliness of the month.

A woman with a finger up to her mouth saying "shhhhh"

THE FIVE MOST POPULAR POSTS THIS WEEK

It seems like everyone got an air fryer for Christmas because air fryer recipes were popping! <—that’s what cool people say, right? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

  1. Old-Fashioned Fudge– this post was good to me for about five weeks, and now it will go die a silent death until next Thanksgiving. Farewell, you fudgy gorgeousness! {Pin this recipe}
  2. Air Fryer Egg Rolls – vegan and vegetarian as written but super customizable! {Pin this recipe}
  3. Air Fryer Pretzel Bites – one of my favorite air fryer recipes of all time! And these beautiful bites of dough are freezer-friendly too. {Pin this recipe}
  4. Air Fryer Appetizers – NYE + new air fryer = this post getting some love. {Pin these recipes}
  5. Air Fryer Home Fries – these potatoes are seasoned with a homemade ranch flavoring and DAYUM they’re delicious. {Pin this recipe}

MEAL PLAN

Monday:: Instant Pot Potato Soup, bread (even though it’s an entire soup OF CARBS, my children will not eat soup unless there is bread on the side), and salad.

Tuesday:: Troy is making chicken parm, pasta & salad.

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

Thursday:: Taking new photos of an old recipe and pairing it with a brand new recipe that needs to be photographed.

Friday:: Popcorn, leftovers, and movie night.

Saturday:: Troy is making breakfast for dinner.

Sunday:: TBD

What are you having this week? When do you think my road will actually get plowed?

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13 comments on “Scattered Sundays”

  1. This does sound like hurricane aftermath. We do pre-Christmas and pre-birthday purges but I always get a wild hair around New Years to clean and organize and purge for everyone.

    • Yes to the pre-birthday purges! We’re usually still doing ok by Bennett’s birthday (end of Jan), but things get dicey around Jack’s (early april).

      I love the purge!

  2. I have had a similar alarm clock to Jack’s for a few years and I love it. I live in Calgary, Alberta and it is dark in the mornings until 8 am at the peak of winter. The gradual brightening feature makes waking up a breeze. I recommend it to everyone!

    • Yes to the dark until 8 am. Here to! Whaaaa. I tell the boys that is paying the piper for 16 hours of daylight in summer. 🙂

      I don’t think Jack has set up the light for wake-ups yet. I’ll have to ask.

  3. So thankful for all the whole30 lists you posted this week! I decided after thanksgiving that I wanted to do one to figure out what is going on with my stomach lately (and to breakup with sugar for a bit) but I didn’t want to miss out on some family recipes that I only get at the holidays. I thought I would take the month to gather some recipes and slowly purchase some of the more shelf-stable staples but in true procrastinator fashion I waited until an hour before going grocery shopping Friday to figure out what I was doing lol. I just picked a couple recipes from your website and a couple from the Whole30 website and off we go!

    • Hurray and good luck figuring it all out. Whole30 was really helpful for Troy to figure out his GI issues. Turns out nothing impacts my stomach; I have a goat gut. But sugar and I are in a constant battle so sometimes it is nice to step away from it in a structured manner.

  4. I’m loving Jacks weapons collection!!! 

  5. How long does it take for them to get to plowing your area? I know in the south they don’t really have plows but they rarely get snow and it seems like you get some every year. I’m in New England and rarely they’ll wait till it’s stopped snowing to plow but even then all but the smallest side roads are plowed within 24hrs

    • It depends on the volume elsewhere. The county only has a handful of plows (seriously, under 15) so they focus on main roads at first. Once those are cleared, they start on side roads.

      Main roads are clear so hopefully, it’s only a matter of time.

  6. What is the recipe for overnight no-knead baguettes? I was only able to find no knead Dutch oven bread recipe.