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Scattered Sundays

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Welp, the Cook household has a new family member. It’s a (insert some scientific word that I’m not going to bother to Google) snail.

His name is Jeff. I’m going to go ahead and give you one guess as to which family member brought Jeff home…

a boy with a paintbrush brushing a snail shell.

Jeff is the most pampered snail you’ll ever meet. At Bennett’s Pet Emporium, all gastropods are treated to a daily shell cleaning and therapeutic massage.

Our mission to make our house look like grown-ups live here, continues! The second piece of art we ordered from Wayfair arrived on Wednesday. And I loooooooove it!

a colorful modern art canvas on a wall in a kitchen

I was chatting with Katie’s brother about the piece because he was interested in it. It looks like it’s currently sold out, which doesn’t surprise me because it was super duper affordable and on clearance.

We were discussing the desire to support original art, with the fact that we both have small male children. For now, mass-produced clearance art will have to do until these kids are out of their destruct-o bot mode.

We were able to make my nephew’s bowling game on Tuesday and it was so fun to cheer him on! Jack and I made a poster and Bennett held it up (usually upside down) each time Parker was bowling.

a white sign that says "Pin It Parker" against an geometric rug
Not pictured: the strobes and kitties that Bennett added later.

Tuesday it hit 65F and was our first day in 2022 over 60 degrees. We were all like lizards on our heat rocks just soaking up the vitamin D and heat. Everyone, of course, decided to mow their lawns, so my head was swollen but oh buddy, it was worth it!

I took this photo at our kitchen sink as a joke like “what’s that burning thing in the sky”, but I’m sharing it because I’m damn proud of how my skin looks. It’s been a freaking journey.

a woman squinting with sun in her face

Some exciting new additions are coming to the Cook household in the next 1-3 weeks…solar panels! It’s something we have been thinking about for a LONG time and we have been working with a company since last Fall on estimates, configurations, etc.

The original idea was to put it in the five-year plan. But with the supply chain, rising interest rates, and a rapidly warming planet that will surely kill us all eventually, it seemed like now was better than later.

For years, solar was not an option due to our neighbor’s enormous tree that blocked most of our yard in the fall/winter. He cut it down a year or so ago, and I fully recognize the irony that killing a tree made it possible for us to do something good for the environment.

The company we’re working with based our panel needs on our electrical usage over the last year. We heat with gas and the woodstove, so actually, our power bills weren’t all that high.

We decided on 100% coverage, which means we selected enough panels to fully cover our electrical usage and sell the excess back to the power company. It’s super exciting to know that in addition to keeping us dry, soon our roof will be powering our house and helping to power others!

Based on the federal tax credit for panels, and our estimated solar production (watts? I’m sure there is an official term that I’ll learn soon), the panel pay-off value is about nine years. Fingers crossed!

There is A LOT for us to learn about this, but the company we’ve been working with has been nothing but kind, helpful, and educational. We’re excited about the journey!

a white flowering tree against a wooden fence.
Spring, we don’t deserve you.

At the very last minute, Jack decided to do cross-country at school. His winter/spring soccer season ends next week and then there is a 5-week break before all the kids on the current team have to try out for the 2022-2023 season.

Jack is my competitive child and realized that by doing cross-country, he’ll stay in great shape for his soccer tryouts in May. Competitive AND strategic, that one. And I’m sure it didn’t hurt that his two best friends are also doing XC.

Thankfully, the cross-country schedule is much less intense than track was in the fall. Practices are still daily, but for only 75 minutes instead of two hours a day. Nobody and I mean nobody needs to run for two hours a day. Weirdos.

We haven’t had a “normal” spring since 2019. Just let that marinate for a second. Last spring, Jack was only at school in person 2x a week and Bennett was in preschool 3x a week. There were no in-person sports for Jack, other than some fun extra-curriculars right after school.

This year, both kids are in school full-time (praise be), Jack is doing cross-country (and soccer for another week), and Bennett and Troy are doing T-ball. Troy is coaching, not playing. I have to think it would be unfair to allow Troy to play T-ball. Plus, would those calves even fit in baseball pants?? 🙂

It seems like life is really busy right now. I’m not longing for the pace of lockdown (oh, hell no), and everyone seems happy with what they’re doing. But I still get to bedtime and think, “Wow, that was a busy day”.

Right now I’m thankful for: 1) the flexibility of working from home 2) meal prep (shameless plug for my meal prep book) 3) my Instant Pot and air fryer which are doing the Lord’s work 4) the fact that we’re all healthy enough to ease back into “normal” life.

This coming week both boys have half-days for conference week. And then spring break follows after that. As a kid, I loved these two weeks (plus the week leading up to that – I’ll explain in a second). But as a working parent, it makes me want to scream.

For most school districts, the 1-2 weeks before conference week is when the teachers have to submit the report cards for review. These are known as “hell weeks” for anyone in education.

Growing up, my mom did report cards BY HAND with her trusty bottle of Wite-Out and usually hated life and all that involved. Which to my sister and I meant we could gently convince her to take us through the McDonald’s drive-thru at least 3x that week. It was pure heaven. For us. God bless you, teachers!

HOUSEKEEPING

Our week was really busy and wouldn’t you know it, dinner time seems to happen every single day. Didn’t I just feel these people?

Thankfully, quick meals were easy because of all the ingredients we have prepped and in the freezer. I basically lived my book – Prep Once Cook Twice this week. And I think you’ll find this book just as helpful as we did.

The workbook includes a five-week meal plan, shopping lists, and recipes. Every recipe also includes plant-based and gluten-free options if needed. You can get your copy here!

What I’m reading this week

Ok, I stuck with Cloud Cuckoo Land, and I think it’s like Schitt’s Creek – it took me a solid three seasons to get into it. I’m not done with this book yet – life got in the way and I’m still not uber motivated to read it.

But, I don’t hate it like I thought I was going to at first. I should really be a book reviewer, eh? Authors would kill for my quote on their book “not as terrible as I initially thought”! Or, “I mean, I finished it, didn’t I”?

WHAT I’M LISTENING TO THIS WEEK

Last week I binged We Crashed about the rise and fall of We Work. Everyone knows how much I love a banana pants story that is about people who are a total hot mess that eventually get what is coming to them. I have a type.

This podcast was entertaining as heck! And apparently, there is also a TV show or movie based on the story, starring Anne Hathaway and Jared Leto.

READER SPOTLIGHT OF THE WEEK

{Humble brag alert} – y’all were loving our Lemon Garlic Pasta {Pin this recipe}, so I’m sharing THREE five-star reviews we received this week.

From Erin: This easy pasta dish was an excellent addition to our Lenten meat-free rotation! We threw this together in no time after a long day at work. Our gluten-free pasta worked really well and everyone was pleased!

From Jennifer (review 1 of 2): This was a hit in the house. Everyone loved it.  We added smoked chicken pieces to ours. We also used lactose-free milk.  This will be a recipe we will make again. Super easy and very delicious. 

Follow-up review from Jennifer: Another rating for this. It was delicious the first day and was even better the next day.  We had it again/leftovers for dinner OMG. It was awesome.  I sauté some garlic in olive oil because it was a bit dry leftover.  But my kids said I can make this one day and we eat it the next day.  Wow, thanks for this new recipe for our rotation. 

ON SUSTAINABLE COOKS THIS WEEK

Ham and Swiss QuicheSuper easy and so tasty, Ham and Swiss Quiche is delicious for breakfast, lunch, or even dinner. You’ll love the flaky crust and creamy eggs combined with leftover ham and sweet and mild Swiss cheese. {Pin this recipe}

a slice of ham and swiss quiche on a grey plate with a fork.

Drying MintDrying Mint is such a simple way to preserve this delicious pantry staple! Learn how to dry mint leaves in a food dehydrator or in the oven. {Pin this tutorial}

a small wooden bowl full of dried mint.

Instant Pot Hard-Boiled EggsLearn the easiest way to make hard-boiled eggs! Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs are so simple and easy to peel – even with fresh eggs! Discover how life-changing pressure cooking eggs can be. {Pin this recipe}

a blue plate with 3 hard-boiled egg halves.

THE FIVE MOST POPULAR POSTS THIS WEEK

  1. Air Fryer Egg Rolls – vegan and vegetarian as written but super customizable! On, and did you know you can FREEZE these? {Pin this recipe}
  2. Instant Pot Garlic Butter Rice – so easy and so comforting! {Pin this recipe}
  3. Homemade Pizza Rolls – freezer-friendly too! Basically, I think everything should be frozen. {Pin this recipe}
  4. 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}
  5. How to Freeze Spinach – yep, yep, yep, here comes spring! {Pin this tutorial}

MEAL PLAN

Monday:: Air Fryer Popcorn Chicken because my boys freaking LOVE this. I’m going to double the recipe and freeze half (freezing instructions are in the post cause I’ve got your back), Garlic Butter Rice, and salad.

Tuesday:: Troy is making breakfast dinner.

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

Thursday:: Instant Pot jasmine rice, chicken teriyaki (also in the Instant Pot at the same time that the rice cooks), and two, yes TWO new side dish recipes that I’m photographing during the day.

Friday:: Popcorn, leftovers, and movie night.

Saturday:: Cat cafe with friends. Except for Troy. Poor Troy.

Sunday:: Bonus movie night after Jack’s soccer game that is “a billion of miles, $90 in gas, and so much traffic “away.

What are you having this week?

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8 comments on “Scattered Sundays”

  1. Love your art!!! But am I the only one that can see that the blue paint drip lines may eventually go all the way to the floor via a resident artiste…..??? (Sorry, living with boys makes me say this hehehe..)

    • Ha, you’re probably exactly right! That being said, Bennett has become proficient at using a magic eraser on walls for this very reason…

  2. I love the snail pet! When I was teaching we had a slug as a pet for our classroom that came in on some plant. Right now, my daughter in law has a piece of moss as a pet for her classroom.

  3. I need you and your readers to know that “take out to support a local business and my sanity” inspired me to take Monday, Wednesday, and Friday all days when my little takes advantage of the free lunches at school. This greatly reduces my nighttime tasks and eases our grocery spending a bit.

    Also, we will need a full(ish) report on the Cat Cafe! You know D and B share a love for kitties.