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Scattered Sundays

Instagram sent me a memory from this week four years ago. It was this photo of Jack drinking a smoothie and eating what I assume is a bowl of oatmeal.

To anyone else, it looks like a photo of a kiddo eating breakfast. But it brings back so many memories of stress, confusion, and allllll the doctor’s appointments.

Around Thanksgiving of 2015, Jack developed inexplainable vomiting, diarrhea, and intense stomach pains. As in he would scream for what seemed like hours and curl himself into a ball. And we couldn’t get it figured out.

Finally, after three weeks, we met a doctor who changed our lives. 

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I won’t rehash the whole ordeal (but you can read all about it here if you want details), but it turned out Jack had something called intussusception. It’s an intestinal disorder where parts of your intestines telescope into themselves causing extreme pain.

It’s also pretty rare in kids who were Jack’s age and many medical professionals we saw had not seen a case. Which is why it took so freaking long to diagnose.

Looking back, that time of our lives was a blur. My parents were living with us, I was 8 months pregnant, and working towards a project at my (then) job that had us putting in insane hours.

But it also was an opportunity to see who our true “ride or die” community was. It brought us closer and helped us realize what is truly important in our lives.

I feel like we weren’t even home this week! Between soccer, student council, zoo lights with our neighbors, and a church council meeting for me, it was all a little bananas. It’s weeks like this where having meal prep done really saved the day.

This coming week will be busy too, but then it will slow down while the kids are on break. I’m looking forward to not having activities every night. I have missed having fires in our woodstove this week! But being married to a firefighter means never having a fire going in the stove when you leave the house. Which I do get. But I’m still cold.

On Wednesday, Jack and I will be making 12 to-go containers of (unbaked) Overnight Cinnamon Rolls for his teacher and office staff at school. I’ll make some for Bennett’s preschool crew too. We did this last year and it was a giant hit. Many of the staff members told us they froze the cinnamon rolls to bake on Christmas morning.

I also tested a few new recipes (SO excited to share them with you soon!) and reshot some photos for old recipes. We ate well, but most importantly, the boys tried some new things and loved them. 

There was one recipe I shot while the boys were at school, but Troy was home. I had him hold a spoon for me so I could get certain shots that I couldn’t take on my own. The directions I was giving and the sounds the food was making struck us both as so funny and we couldn’t stop laughing. Thank goodness for auto-focus on my camera.

My MIL’s beautiful tree with all reusable cloth bag wrapping (get the tutorial here)

The boys and I were in the car this week and I randomly blurted out “Dad and I decided we’re only giving the two of you books for Christmas this year”. I’m not sure what reaction I was expecting, but they both said “yay, we love books”. Nerds. 🙂

We’re keeping it simple this year and I’m glad my kids both see books as gifts. Plus they’re definitely getting spoiled from other family members so it helps balance it all out.

If you’re looking for some last-minute gifts for the book nerds in your life, check out the Best Graphic Novels for Tweens and Teens, Gift Guide for Book Lovers, and Desert Island Reading List.

We hit up zoolights on Friday this week with our neighbors. When they asked what the boys wanted for Christmas this year, I suggested we do an experience instead. All three of our kids have more than enough in their life. Why add to the collective clutter in the house when we can go out and have fun?

Yes, Bennett dressed himself and is wearing a pajama shirt. Backward.

The Cook Family Christmas Tree hunt was on this weekend! Also known as “the time of year we allow our children to play with saws and power tools”.

We’re always late in getting our tree for a myriad of reasons. But whatever, it’s up before Christmas and that is what matters. I forced Jack to recreate a picture from seven years ago. Thank goodness he finally grew into his head.


My business bestie Katie talked about this on her blog last week, and I found myself slow clapping while reading it. So, I’m basically going to repeat what she said because I think it’s important for me to say and others to hear.

On November 8th, Google released an algorithm update that has devastated a lot of smaller food and travel blogs. And I got wrapped up in it too. My traffic has dropped 30% since November 8th despite working my butt off for 18 months to grow this site.

The fourth quarter of the year is when most bloggers make the bulk of their income. So basically, many bloggers got a 30% pay cut during the most profitable time of the year. Ouch.

This update seems to have mainly benefited huge sites, but you’ll also find really old blogs that haven’t been updated in years with broken links showing up as the top result. It’s weird and it is crappy for users.

So, my ask for you is to maybe scroll by the big sites like Food Network, Allrecipes, etc., when you’re searching online and throw a click to the little guy who very likely has a way better recipe. It will cost you nothing to do a finger scroll past the huge conglomerates and check out an independently-owned site.

What I’m Listening To This Week

I listened to a bunch of episodes of the podcast 1619 this week. It is very heavy and I have to listen to something with a bit of fluff after each episode. But it’s important to hear and we all need to listen.

“Four hundred years ago, in August 1619, a ship carrying more than 20 enslaved Africans arrived in the English colony of Virginia. No aspect of the country that would be formed here has been untouched by the 250 years of slavery that followed. “1619,” a New York Times audio series hosted by Nikole Hannah-Jones, examines the long shadow of that fateful moment”. (source)

Reader Spotlight of the Week

Long-time reader JaNeen left this five-star review on our Instant Pot Zuppa Toscana {Pin this recipe}:

I’ve been following you for a while now, but I made this soup last night and ohmygoodness it was so good I had to break my stalkerish silence and let you know! My husband and I LOVED this as we have so many of your recipes. Thank you for sharing your gifts as a cook. And a writer. You are hilarious and Scattered Sundays is my new jam. ????

On Sustainable Cooks This Week

Air Fryer Sweet PotatoesThese perfectly cooked Air Fryer Sweet Potatoes are ready in less time than oven-baked. Simple and fuss-free, this air fryer vegetable recipe is great for a fast dinner or weeknight side dish. {Pin this recipe}

A baked sweet potato split with a pat of butter and green onions and on a grey plate with a fork

Overnight Cinnamon RollsImagine waking up to the amazing scent of soft, gooey, and delicious homemade Overnight Cinnamon Rolls baking in your oven. Spoil your family with these fresh cinnamon buns with homemade orange cream cheese frosting. {Pin this recipe}

two plates with overnight cinnamon rolls, a fork, and orange juice

Whole30 Pot RoastFall-apart tender, this Whole30 Pot Roast is the ultimate comfort food. You can get an “it cooked all day flavor” in a fraction of the time thanks to using an Instant Pot. But don’t worry, I have slow cooker and oven instructions for you too! {Pin this recipe}

Fun fact about this photo: I was pouring gravy with my left hand and taking photos with my right. I wasn’t paying attention to the amount being poured, and it filled part of the plate, spilled over, and went through the cracks on the wooden surface that I use. I shoot on top of my couch’s footstool in the living room, so I ended up with gravy all over my couch. I was able to wipe it up and you can’t even tell. It’s a 5-year-old Costco couch and man it has held up well.

a palte of shredded pot roast with a pitcher of gravy being poured onto it

Nordy BarsA homemade version of the famous Nordy Bars recipe from Nordstrom. This easy magic bar recipe combines chocolate chips, butterscotch, and marshmallows into a delicious cookie bar that is perfect for a crowd. {Pin this recipe}

a plate of Nordy bars on a cloth with marshmallows and chocolate chips

Peppermint Bark Graham Cracker RecipeA delightful and addicting homemade dessert, this Peppermint Bark Graham Cracker Recipe will be the star of your holiday cookie tray. One part cookie, one part peppermint bark, these irresistible treats are a seasonal favorite. {Pin this recipe}

A plate of peppermint bark graham crackers with candy canes and chocolate chips on a white board

The Five Most Popular Posts This Week

Virgin Mojito was on top again this week and I think we’re all a little sick of it (just kidding, it pays for preschool). So let’s look at the actual top 6!

  1. These Greek Turkey Meatballs went a little bananas in a Facebook group this week! {Pin this recipe}
  2. Make-Ahead Scrambled Eggs help me eat a healthy and fast breakfast about 6 out of 7 days a week! {Pin this recipe}
  3. Instant Pot Chicken and Dumplings is like a hug in a bowl and I guess the people needed snuggles this week. {Pin this recipe}
  4. Air Fryer Egg Rolls – everyone loves a fun dippable veggie egg roll! {Pin this recipe}
  5. Instant Pot Garlic Parmesan Rice – I made this twice this week to go in some photos, and apparently other people were making it too because it was on fiiiiire! {Pin this recipe}

Meal Plan

Monday:: Delayed movie night. It’s the only day of the week we don’t have something happening, and the boys didn’t get movie night last week. Whaa whaa poor spoiled kids.

Tuesday:: Troy’s grilled chicken, salad, and garlic bread.

Wednesday:: New recipe I am photographing

Thursday:: New recipe I am photographing on Wednesday. Hope the kids like reheated food (just kidding, I don’t actually care). 🙂

Friday:: Homemade pizza and then off to soccer.

Saturday:: Leftovers/fridge cleanout. We have a soccer game that night.

Sunday:: My in-laws are keeping the boys overnight and Troy and I are going out and probably seeing a movie (we have 1 free ticket to make it cheaper!). I have heard amazing things about Knives Out. Or we might cheap out and spend $.55 on a Redbox (they always send coupons) and rent Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

What We Bought This Week

Fred Meyer: $50.90

Costco: $40.17


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9 comments on “Scattered Sundays”

  1. So if your readers Google some of your recipe titles, page down and click through to your site, will that help move your site up further in the page results? 

  2. I recommend Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, OMG over the top (as expected) and quintessentially Quinten Tarantino. Knives Out was funny, but not as good a Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. 

  3. I’m curious, do people ever look at you funny while you are photographing your shopping cart contents? I’ve always wondered! ????

    For Christmas I only give my kids a book, and a pair of pajamas (or sweatpants and a thermal), and that is it. Actually I give it to them on solstice and on Christmas they don’t get anything from me. Santa brings them one toy and a very minimal stocking (toothbrush and chocolate coins are always there. A couple other small things vary year to year depending on each kid and their age.) I used to give them an ornament every year too but my mom also does that and with now 7 kids I stopped a few years ago because the ornaments were getting out of hand! I love small, minimal Christmas. It makes me happy. I try to spend our days and time up until the holiday making them special. Baking with the kids, doing crafts, etc. 

    • I think people are so on their own phones and not paying attention to what I am doing. But I will say I don’t make it totally obvious.

      I think you’d have to get the world’s largest tree in a few years for all those ornaments!

  4. I’ve heard good things about Knives Out too. But my husband and I saw the Fred Rogers movie this weekend and I highly recommend it to everyone! In fact, it should be required watching. Our world needs more Fred Rogers, and we can all use the reminder to be more kind and appreciate people. 

    • I feel like that might be a really good Netflix kind of movie for us. I definitely want to see it at some point. I love the guy who plays the reporter in the movie. He was so good in The Americans.