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Scattered Sundays

Happy Easter! If you were Lutheran and in church with me this morning, the pastor would say “He is risen” and you’d repeat back “He is risen indeed”.

And then we’d all stare at our feet because Lutherans do not emote. But don’t worry, there will be donuts and coffee after the service.

Our weather this week has been absolutely banana pants. Like for reals. It snowed three times on Tuesday. In April! If you’re from the midwest, Colorado, or someplace where that happens often, you’re like “whatever, so it snowed”. Nuh uh, not here. This is wild weather for a maritime climate.

storm clouds over Seattle
I did not take this photo but I don’t have the original photographer’s details.

We actually had a fire in our woodstove a few nights this week. I cannot remember ever having a fire past mid-March in the past. It seems like every single day we’re having all four seasons. On repeat.

Last week, someone asked me if I would do a full write-up on our solar panels. And yes, at some point I will.

But sharing details about them now would be like writing a parenting book when you are six weeks pregnant with your first baby. Basically, what I don’t know about solar could fill an ocean.

Here’s what I know: the tracking app is incredibly addictive and so fun. Saturday was our absolute best day of energy generation (so far) with 50.1 kWh (kilowatt hours). Our worst day was a real stinker of a rainy/snowy/cloudy day with 18.2 kWh.

It’s funny because with the app I can see real-time generation stats. I used to love a cloudy day because I don’t have to wear contacts (so that I can then put on sunglasses) or cover myself head to toe in SPF. But now, I’m yelling at the clouds to go away and bother someone else.

A quick visit to the googs says that the average American family home uses 893 kWh per month or ~30 kWh per day. Naturally, it’s much less in the rest of the world, cause ‘Merica. #Freedom.

Our system is hooked up to the grid using a method called “net metering”. Our panels are not connected to a battery system (too expensive), so during the day we generate power and at night we use power from the energy company.

The goal is to produce at least enough to cover your energy usage for the entire year. And in the best-case scenario, you produce over that amount and then the power company buys back from you.

As far as I can tell, our goal is on average, to produce 25-30 kWh per day. This will cover our family’s power usage and bank enough “extra” to come out flush at the end of the year. The “flush” part is where your system starts paying for itself – the return on investment.

details from a solar tracking app

From late April until September, our days are very long – with about 16 hours of daylight peaking in June. So, my assumption is that we’ll be cruising along during that time, producing power out the hoo-hah. I think that’s how energy production works, right? 🙂

Then, in our short day months (late October through mid-March), our energy production will still be happening, but will be sucking eggs. In that case, we’ll be drawing down on the credits (from the power company) that we earned during the spring/summer generation.

If you’re not from a maritime climate, the term “marine layer” might not be familiar to you. Basically, it’s a form of fog that hangs out around the water (the Puget Sound in our case). And then usually mid-morning or mid-day it “burns off” and goes away.

I’ll be interested to see how the summer marine layer impacts our power generation. Because I’m a neeeeeerd. Lots of stuff to learn and hypothesize.

a kid in jammies with cat paw socks

With the school year clock running down quickly, I’m on a train to the “less productive” collision course that is called summer vacation. We’re also currently waiting on soccer tryouts in May for Jack to know if he’ll be on the premiere team for the next year.

Once soccer is sorted, we’ll know about the tournament schedule for June, July, and August. And once we know that info, I can schedule Bennett’s tonsil surgery. What I’m saying is that I can’t yet plan for day camps for these buttfaces.

To get ahead of their summer break, I’m going hard on photoshoots between now and mid-June. I’m going to try hard to get all the photos taken for ALL summer recipes.

It’s not going to happen simply because a lot of produce isn’t in season yet. But for those I can photograph ahead of time, it’s about to be on like Donkey Kong.

This past week I did two photoshoot days, AKA dishes-polooza. So many dishes on photoshoot days. We easily run the dishwasher at least twice a day on photo days. I’d gladly welcome the robot overlord revolution if one of them just did my dishes.

This week the photos were a mix of new recipes and updating photos for old favorites. It’s always so nice for an old recipe to get a glow-up. Even better, when I go into the backend up of the post to swap out photos, I get a chance to make the recipe better.

When a site has been around as long as mine, there are multiple evolutions that recipes go through. As I have learned, grown, and done more research, I often go back to old posts and cringe.

The instructions aren’t clear, there are typos in the measurements, and sometimes I list an ingredient and then never included it in the actual recipe. Doh!

Taking a pause to go back and give everything another look is better for my readers and makes my site better for everyone. Cause nobody wants to be in the middle of a recipe wondering why on earth it calls for 15 tsp of kosher salt… 🙂

someone reading a kindle on their lap

In the Garden This Week

Besides the pollen filling all the cracks in the cement, a sure sign of spring is spending more and more time pulling weeds and getting stuff squared away for summer veggie planting. My fingernails hate it, but the chickens sure love eating all those weeds.

We got 20 more pavers to finish up the strawberry bed. Only to run into MORE tree roots from another mini apple tree and from the lilac bush that my dad planted when my gerbil died at some point in the 90s. Yes, my favorite tree is a dead gerbil graveyard. RIP Randy.

Rather than mess with the roots, and potentially instigate a gerbil haunting, I threw in the towel (trowel. Hee hee) and decided that the pavers only needed to go so far. Instead, I used the new pavers to add a third layer what I had already positioned around the strawberry bed.

It ended up exactly what I wanted and what the strawberries needed. The soil in this bed was so impacted and depleted. Troy grabbed a truckload of garden soil from a local place and I (gently) ripped out the strawberry plants that survived the winter and set them aside.

a planting bed lined with pavers

I filled up the (now higher) bed with the soil and replanted the strawberry plants. I also got some new starts from a local nursery and some bare root strawberries that I’m going to use to replenish the bed. But with the freezing temps at night, I won’t be planting them until some time this week.

With the revamped bed, our berry production this summer is going to be sad. But, the real payoff will be next year and all the years after that. That’s what I’m planning on telling myself when I’m shelling out cash for berries from the farmer’s market.

I also started the annual tradition of pretending that by weeding the raspberry patch, THIS will finally be the year that I get a handle on the aggressive amount of morning glory we have in that bed. (Narrator’s voice) “spoiler alert, this was not that year”.

I only got about 20% of the raspberry bed wedded, so my arms only looked like I got into a small fight with a baby bear and a gang of trash pandas. Ah gardening, you’re so pokey and scratchy. But at least we get raspberries out of it, right?

If you’re curious, this post will show you how we built our raspberry trellis like nine years ago. It’s worth a look-see just to get to see Troy and baby Jack in matching Superman costumes.

With the rest of the garden soil that Troy brought home, I topped off our three 4×6 raised bed gardens. They’re soon to be the home of greens, carrots, beets, and peas.

And later on, when the weather is consistently warmer, they’ll also house green beans and cucumbers on the climbing trellises we built out of cattle panels. You can see the details on those in this post.

I have 24 baby lettuce plants and 6 baby kale starts ready to go into the ground. Even with the option to cover them in plastic to avoid the overnight frosts, I just wasn’t comfortable planting them this past week. So dang cold!

I’ve been putting them out in their trays each day to enjoy the sunshine and then bringing them under the porch roof each night to protect them. Gotta keep those babies alive so that I can eat them in a month or so. (evil laughter).

HOUSEKEEPING

We got our Butcher Box order this week! I’d show you a photo of it but I was gone when it arrived and Troy forgot we need to take photos of everything in this house. Ha! But, there was a packing list and we got:

  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Bone-in chicken thighs
  • Ground beef
  • Flat iron steaks
  • Sirloin cap
  • Bacon
  • Ground turkey

Butcher Box is currently offering its popular Free Ground Beef for Life promo. All new members get two pounds of grass-fed beef with their order for the duration of their membership. In my opinion, it’s the best of all their promos.

And if you’re signing up for Butcher Box for the first time, make sure you’re also a Rakuten member to earn cashback.

What I’m reading this week

I finished Billy Summers by Stephen King and I really enjoyed it despite what seemed like a slow start. Unlike most of King’s books, this book isn’t horror-related in any way; just a well-developed character-driven story.

I started The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (great last name!) and I’m enjoying it a lot. Many readers on my Instagram stories commented on how much they loved this book. It’s a faster read than Billy Summers, but I’m still not that far into it.

At least once a week I get an email or message from someone asking if I have a list of what I’ve read. And I do…it’s just in the notes app on my phone. I finally set up a Good Reads account and you can follow along here.

I have NOT had a chance to add notes about everything I’ve read and nothing is organized by which year I read it (maybe someday!). And, it doesn’t even begin to include everything I have read recently. But at least there is finally a partial list in one place.

WHAT I’M LISTENING TO THIS WEEK

A friend recommended Twin Flames to me and I flew through it in two days. There are only six episodes and they’re all under 40 minutes, so it’s a quick binge.

This podcast has everything – scams, cults, MLM-like behavior! From the site: “What if someone not only claimed they could help you find that perfect partner, they guaranteed it?” (source)

READER SPOTLIGHT OF THE WEEK

This comment from Dominick on our Butternut Squash Chili {Pin this} absolutely warmed my heart:

Hi, I’m 73-year-old man and never had butternut squash. I had a lb. of pork sausage so I gave the recipe a try. I cooked the squash in the IP and the rest of the recipe in a large skillet. It turned out delicious. Thank You!

a white bowl of butternut squash chili topped with shredded cheese and green onions

ON SUSTAINABLE COOKS THIS WEEK

Air Fryer Chicken Cordon BleuMake the best Air Fryer Chicken Cordon Bleu with this easy and delicious recipe. A flavorful homemade Parmesan sauce pairs well with the crispy and tender chicken. {Pin this recipe}

4 air fryer chicken cordon bleu cutlets on a plate topped with parsley.

Gluten-Free Cheese SauceMake the creamiest homemade Gluten-Free Cheese Sauce in under 15 minutes! Skip the sketchy ingredients in store-bought cheese sauce and whip up a batch from scratch today. {Pin this recipe}

a grey plate with roasted broccoli drizzled in gluten-free cheese sauce

Stir-Fried Green BeansLoaded with flavor, these spicy Stir-Fried Green Beans are a veggie-lover’s dream. These garlic green beans are vegan and vegetarian and ready in minutes. {Pin this recipe}

a white bowl with stir fried green beans and sliced green onions.

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 Cookies – for those times when you NEED cookies but don’t want to heat up your whole house by using the oven. {Pin this recipe}
  5. How to Freeze Spinach – I can smell spring in the air when this post starts climbing the ranks! {Pin this tutorial}

MEAL PLAN

Monday:: Going to be somewhat chilly, so I think Instant Pot Potato Soup and salad need to be on the menu.

Tuesday:: Testing a new air fryer recipe that will be coming to your gorgeous faces in May. Garlic Butter Rice on the side.

Wednesday:: Takeout to support a local small business and my sanity. Jack has a cross country meet, so we’ll be grabbing something on our way home.

Thursday:: It’s going to be a busy night and I have a church council meeting that evening, so we’re going to make hot dogs in the air fryer and veggies.

Friday:: Troy is making tacos, rice, and black beans.

Saturday:: Popcorn, leftovers, and movie night.

Sunday:: TBD

What are you having this week?

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4 comments on “Scattered Sundays”

  1. Hey Sarah!
    Your air-fryer pizza rolls ae delicious. Do you remember when Jeno’s or Totino’s made shrimp pizza rolls? Basically, they were my brother-in-law’s favorites, but whchever company made them stopped producing them. I was wondeing if you could give me some tips on how to recreate them? I want to mke some for his birthday. He is a total shrimp-JUNKIE.
    If this is a no-go, I’ll understand and he’ll get a German Chocolate Pie as usual instead. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Thank you in advance no matter what the answer.
    Robin

  2. Yes, I was with you in my Lutheran church with He is Risen, He is risen indeed !!!!! Are we the only denomination that does that??? Love your sense of humor in your posts.

    • It definitely might be a Lutheran thing! Do you find yourself mumbling “and also with you” after you hear “May the force be with you” when watching Star Wars? ๐Ÿ™‚