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Scattered Sundays

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I feel like this was a very boring and slow week in the Cook household. And part of me wants to make stuff up to make reading today’s post worth your while.

But I can’t. It was a boring and mundane week. Such is life, right?

We did get our tree last Sunday and took a small step stool with us so that I could get my annual photo with Jack at the tree farm.

5 photos showing a mom and son over the years at a Christmas tree farm.

We had someone come out on Thursday to measure the basement for new flooring. Our little part of the basement will once again be carpeted, and we will also carpet the stairs. I truly hate carpet with a burning passion, but it makes sense in a playroom space and where the boys have sleepovers.

And while I love the look of wooden stairs, I guarantee that at least once a week, one of us will fall down the stairs (especially my dad!) and hurt something. I hate carpet, but I hate broken bones more.

My dad’s bedroom and a small part of his living room flooring will also need to be replaced. I tracked down the original flooring, and now we just cross our fingers and pray that they can order it quickly. I know parts of the global supply chain are still very wonky.

baby yoda on a Christmas tree

We found out this week that Bennett has a small speaking role in his school’s Winter concert next week. It’s two sentences about learning how to sing in a round and liking pizza. It’s all very confusing so I am looking forward to seeing how the entire show comes together.

The concert is organized by grade level and Bennett’s portion is either kindergarten and first grade or first grade and second grade. Either way, I bet it’s going to be a hilarious and adorable gong show.

The weather has been wonky over the last two weeks, and we’ve had random snow and a lot of icy roads in the mornings. Given the layout of our school district, you have places at sea level with no snow (like my house), and then two minutes away they might have five inches of snow.

School hasn’t been canceled yet (thank goodness), but we have had a few two-hour delays due to icy roads. Ordinarily, I feel like our district is WAY TOO eager to completely cancel school after two flakes of snow, and I’m pleased to see that they’re being a little less…whimpy…this school year.

The boys have been bummed that we haven’t had snow, but frankly, my priority is that their butts are in school. It can snow over winter break like last year. Please and thank you.

a stick of butter with an inspirational message on the wrapper.

Despite it being a mundane week, we did get to see some friends on Friday for dinner and Zoolights. Their kids are a perfect match for my boys, and it’s so lovely that they’re all at that age where we can just kind of leave them alone to do their own thing.

We are planning something big with these friends, and I’ll fill you in after Christmas. Sometimes Jack stumbles onto blog posts and I don’t want to give any spoilers to that little punk. It’s going to be fun. 🙂

Two of my mom friends at soccer celebrated their birthdays this week, and I also wanted to gift goodies to our Zoolights friends, so I made some almond roca, fudge, and chocolate-covered graham crackers over the course of a few days.

The first batch of almond roca was a complete disaster. I combined the corn syrup, water, and sugar and all was going fine. I added the butter and as it started to melt, I was greeted with the scent of something that didn’t belong in a dessert recipe. Garlic.

The butter had been in the freezer next to a bunch of chopped and prepped garlic that hadn’t been properly covered (totally my fault). And as a result, it had become garlic-scented butter. Blast!

The entire stash of freezer butter was now “garliced” and let’s just say I always keep a great stash of butter in the freezer. I ran to the discount grocery store and scored some delightful organic New Zealand butter for $3 a pound.

a tray of almond roca with to go containers.
I save (clean) to-go containers all year for holiday goodie gifting.

The second batch of almond roca was perfect and not remotely “aromatic”. The fudge also turned out great but had a softer texture than I am used to. Right as I was bringing it to a rolling boil, the flooring guy showed up 15 minutes early to start measuring.

The fudge recipe requires you to stir constantly at a rolling boil for 4 minutes. I removed the pan from the stove and showed the guy around. By the time I came back to it, 15 minutes had probably passed.

I continued on with the steps, but even after cooling for two hours, the fudge was pretty soft. I ended up putting it in the fridge to harden enough to cut it. The flavor was as delicious as always, and soft fudge is better than hard fudge. <—- Put that on a t-shirt.

a little boy with a stuffed kitty.
Remember this photo. You’ll see why in a few weeks!

For those of you wondering, no, we have not yet solved the trash panda (raccoon) problem yet. Our chickens are still locked in the coop 24/7 and they look sad and bored and I hate predators.

We hadn’t seen that striped buttface for a week and I was hoping that he had been run over by a garbage truck moved out of the neighborhood. On Tuesday afternoon I was at my computer and heard a huge commotion in the coop; the chickens were freaking the freak out.

The dang trash panda was back and harassing my girls by circling and lunging at the walls of the coop! Just that morning I was thinking we should let them out again to roam, but I’m so glad I didn’t listen to myself. No doubt that he would have made off with at least one of them.

There was some evidence that he had been digging trying to get into the coop, but thankfully he’s too stupid and weak to use a pick axe. And where would a raccoon even buy a pick axe? And how would he acquire money to purchase it?

We have hardware cloth (like super strong mini chicken wire) that Troy installed on the floor of the coop back when it was first built. Even if that punk could tunnel under the coop, his stupidly adorable fury head would be met with strong metal mesh that he couldn’t get through. As long as the ladies stay IN the coop, my girls are safe.

Between the shorter days and the raccoon trauma, we’ve been in full-on freeloader mode here. Those chickens haven’t laid an egg in almost two months.

We did have a few ladies who laid all last season, but they either got raccoon’ed or have aged out of all year laying. Some of them are older but I don’t think henopause has officially set in for any of them.


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What I’m reading this week

I started Wrong Place Wrong Time after Cassie recommended it on Instagram. This book is a bit of a time warp of a book. I’m hesitant to say too much about it because the “big reveal” comes within the first chapter of the book and definitely had me saying “whoa”.

The book is great, but I’m not sure if it is me or the book, but I’ve been uber-distracted this week while reading. The book is about 375ish pages, so I should have finished it by now, but I’m barely 50% of the way through. Is it my holiday brain or is the book just not gripping? Only time will tell.


All-star reviewer, Erin, left this five-star review on our How to Cook Bacon in the Oven tutorial {Pin the instructions}:

Thanks for this timely reminder that I can do my bacon in the oven along with my pancakes for easy holiday season breakfasts to please a crowd! I love the idea of dredging in flour for extra crispy – do you know if it works with gluten-free flour? If no data is collected yet, my family can test it and let you know!

slices of cooked bacon on a grey plate


Chocolate Covered Graham CrackersA delightful and no-bake dessert, these Chocolate Dipped Graham Crackers will be the star of your cookie tray. These irresistible treats are a simple and seasonal favorite. {Pin this recipe}

a stack of peppermint bark graham crackers with a glass of milk and a straw

Air Fryer Pizza RollsDitch the store-bought frozen snacks and make your own Homemade Pizza Rolls at home! Baked, not fried, these air fryer pizza rolls are ready in only 8 minutes and can be frozen for a quick snack. {Pin this recipe}

a stack of pizza egg rolls on a white board.

Cast Iron PotatoesThese Cast Iron Potatoes are sure to be a family favorite. Great for breakfast or as a side for meals, these crispy roasted potatoes are vegan and gluten-free. {Pin this recipe}

a grey plate with roasted cast iron potatoes topped with parsley.


  1. Air Fryer Egg Rolls – vegan and vegetarian as written but super customizable! Oh, and did you know you can FREEZE these? {Pin this recipe}
  2. Garlic Butter Rice – I can’t think of a week that goes by in this house without at least one batch of this comfort food being made. {Pin this recipe}
  3. Air Fryer Cookies – I’m a big fan of this recipe and you’re going to love it! {Pin this recipe}
  4. Canning Apple Butter – I cannot explain to you how amazing your house will smell with this apple butter simmering away in the crockpot. Recipe includes canning and freezing instructions. {Pin this tutorial}
  5. Rice Heating Pads – a super simple handmade gift that people love. {Pin this tutorial}

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7 comments on “Scattered Sundays”

  1. We don’t tolerate our chickens being terrorized and mutilated by predators. We use the pew pew to eliminate them. I’m sure my comment will be considered controversial or it may be blocked. But in my opinion it is my duty to protect the hens and give them a comfortable, stress free home. Allowing predators to harass them is cruel. Just my opinion.

    • We’d definitely go that route if two of our neighbor’s houses didn’t fall directly behind our coop (one in each direction).

      We also don’t “tolerate” our animals getting mutilated by predators, but we are in very very close proximity in our neighborhood. And thus, our tactics have to be different. In 11 years we have only lost 2 chickens to predators.

  2. Aloha Sarah… you look amazing.. hope the process of healing has been going well… looks so… the boys are so precious … love the photo of you holding up Jack’s leg… hilarious/ but then again the previous years photos puts a smile on my face also! It’s unfair about the trash panda carrying on to gain access to your chickens.. what else can be done to eradicate them from your neighborhood.. since you’re near water are there people feeding them fish and such? Wow… bummer… anyways keep on getting better and Happy Holidays … Steph 

    • I feel like it’s only a few years before he is holding me up in these photos!

      I don’t know of anyone who is feeding them. We’re rural/suburban so there are lots of gullies and areas without development that I’m sure is a trash panda paradise.

  3. Raccoons are tool-bearing varmints. We once were remodeling a house to sell and discovered a trash panda had gotten into one of the upstairs attic areas through the roof–there was a gap in the siding it managed to widen and make into a door. My husband sealed that sucker up with a ton of grout. (After driving the raccoon out by playing John Lithgow’s “Singin’ in the Bathtub” at top volume in the attic.) Came back to check on it to find a stick lodged in the grout, as if somebody (something) had grabbed a stick with its paws and tried to dig its way through the still-slightly-soft grout.

    Don’t count out the possibility of a pick-axe-bearing raccoon, is what I’m saying.