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Scattered Sundays

Yesterday would have been my mom’s 70th birthday. A few days after she passed, my friend Kat, who lost her father, told me something that I have held in my heart. I’ll paraphrase, but it’s basically “it never stops sucking to lose someone, and you never stop missing them. But eventually, you get better at managing it”.

And I must say, she was 100% correct. We have made it a tradition to do something on her birthday to celebrate, and this year my sister and I took all three boys to breakfast. It was nice and helps us look forward to the day rather than dreading it.

Last August we turned the anniversary of her passing into a day of service and YOU ALL helped fund a mobility bike called an Alinker for a teen boy with Cerebal Palsy. And we’re totally doing something similar this coming August.

If you have recently lost someone or are in the middle of a tough place missing a loved one, I see you. My advice is to take care of yourself and make sure you’re giving yourself tons of grace to just feel how you feel. And no emotion in the mix of what you’re experiencing is wrong. They’re all just pieces of truth and parts of the process. 

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One of the things I decided to prioritize this year was reading more. I LOVE reading and used to read at least one book a week when I had an office job. If the weather was junky, I would use my lunches and breaks for reading (I’d take walks during good weather), and I couldn’t keep enough books on hand.

Now that I work from home, I feel weird about taking time for things that I enjoy. It’s 100% a mindset issue that I have, but I constantly feel like I have to prove that my job is legit to others outside of my family. No one actually says anything, and it’s probably all in my head, but it’s there.

So the idea of taking 30 minutes to read in the middle of the day makes my brain scream “someone will catch you! You’re not working”! As I said, I’m a weirdo. Instead, I am setting aside 15 minutes before bed to simply read. Many nights I end up reading more, but it’s now part of my nightly routine.

Jack has soccer practice twice a week at an indoor facility. I had been taking my computer to do work offline or a notebook to get some planning stuff done. But I realized at the end of each week I felt like I never stopped working. Now, on the nights Bennett doesn’t come to practice with us, I spend those two hours reading. And it’s glorious.

This week I almost finished the book King Maybe. It’s the fifth book of a series (Junior Bender) that I love but I had no idea there were more than four books! I have put the others on hold at our library and am so excited to read more of this wickedly smart series.

More book/reading discussions I’ve had with readers can be found here, here, here, and here. And for recommendations on books our kiddos love, click here. And just a reminder to use your public library because they freaking RULE!

A few weeks ago, I asked you for workout video recommendations that are on Youtube and you came through in a big way! I have tried a few and so far, my favorites have been from PopSugar Fitness. This recommendation came from my friend Mary who is a spin and Pound instructor.

What I like about the videos: so far, the instructor is always a female and emphasis has always been about doing the move correctly and safely. I like that I can find different focused exercises and I can choose a quick 12-minute work out (I do those on the day that I’ll be walking later) or something that is 30+ minutes (I do those when I know a walk just isn’t happening that day).

What I don’t like about the videos is the same complaint I have about all exercise videos. There needs to be a viewing option for someone who has already done that video. I don’t want to have to go through the demonstrations again or the little talks in-between moves. I wish there were “I’m new here” or “shut up and work out” tracts. 🙂

Last week I mentioned that I am planning to be more deliberate with our meat consumption. We’re still eating meat, but I’m prioritizing getting more creative with finding meatless meal options and/or finding ways to stretch what we do eat. 

We buy from a local butcher, Butcher Box, US Wellness, Thrive, Azure Standard, Trader Joe’s, and Costco. Our goal is to primarily eat organic, grass-fed, free-range (and local when possible) meat and that can get expensive. So being mindful of our consumption has both economical and environmental implications.

I will say since I mentioned this last week, I have had one person push back a bit. Someone mentioned that animal farming/ranching only accounts for 9% of global carbon contributions. And they pointed out that electricity and transportation account for way more than farming.

That’s a totally valid point…but we have been on a sustainability journey as a family for almost 13 years now. Things like transportation and energy consumption have been on our radar for a long time. We’ve done all the recommended (and more!) things that are mentioned for reducing consumption in those areas.

So, when you’ve already tackled the things you can, it’s time to start looking at other areas in your life that you can adjust, adapt, or reduce. And it doesn’t have to be all or nothing either. If you want to address consumption aspects in multiple areas of your life at the exact same time – DO IT!

It’s totally cool to start using cloth napkins and enjoy one meatless meal a week. Or next time a light bulb burns out, replace it with an LED and plan your errands better that week to reduce car trips.

There is a thing called “analysis paralysis” which is basically the idea that when presented with too many options, we shut down and choose to do nothing. Don’t allow the idea that you have to do something perfectly stop you from taking any step forward. Your journey might look different than someone else, but never be sorry for doing something.

Bennett turns four in just a few weeks. And God willing, his soul returns to his body. Three-year-olds are brutal. 

He has really started to show a creative and artistic side that we never saw in Jack. I am not remotely artistic, but Troy very much is. Bennett is all about the crafts, coloring, art projects, etc.

I’ll often come across him in his room or at the table with his big art supply organizer open and just happily coloring or cutting little bits of paper. First kid – “use these safety scissors until you are nine”. Second kid – “I know it says 8+ on the package, but just try not to cut off your finger because I don’t want to have to clean up blood”.

We keep this little LCD tablet in the car (no ripped paper everywhere! No lost crayons!) and his big thing is creating big elaborate pictures and then writing words. He’ll ask me how to spell something as we drive by it, then I say it letter by letter as he writes it down. Both the boys know never to ask Troy for spelling help because he is hopeless. 🙂

Well, there goes Mensa

One of the fun things about all his creations and letter writing is finding little notes stashed around the house. Displaying them has overwhelmed the fridge and at some point, there won’t be any more wall space in his room. For his birthday, my mother-in-law is getting him this changeable artwork frame.

If his creations get left around too long and it’s clear he doesn’t care about them, I use them as fire starters for our woodstove when he isn’t looking. I’m that mom.

Mom Bennett (heart) Peepee

A few weeks ago at soccer practice, there was an older sibling who brought a bunch of art supplies in a plastic grocery bag. Bennett was such a creeper and wouldn’t leave her side, and God bless her, she let him color with him. Now, he brings all his art supplies in a paper bag from a hardware store. He’s ripped a few of these, so we’re getting him this traveling art studio/lap desk for his birthday.

Troy calls this Bennett’s “substitute art teacher” look.


Watching the horrors in Australia has been weighing heavily on my heart for weeks. As the spouse of a firefighter, these events are scary from so many angles.

If you feel called to donate, my friend, Aussie blogger Cassie from Cook it Real Good, recommends the Red Cross. Please note, this link is affiliate-free so we do not receive any compensation if you choose to donate.

What I’m Listening To This Week

The Dream is back for season two, and I am loving it as much as I loved season one. Season one was about MLMs (essential oils, makeup, candles, supplements, etc.,) and the giant scam they are for people who buy into them. Fun fact: 99% of people who participate in an MLM lose money. 99%!

Season two of The Dream is tackling the personal care industry and holy crap the episode about nutritional supplements was super eye-opening. If you’ve ever purchased vitamins or something like Emergen-C, you’ll see something along the lines of “these statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration”. I’ve always wondered about that (and why!), and there is a whole episode dedicated to it. And it involves Mel Gibson. Seriously!

Reader Spotlight of the Week

Shawna left this five-star review on our Instant Pot Chicken and Dumplings {pin this recipe}:

Oh my gosh! This was the perfect winter meal. My husband went back for thirds. So yummy and easy to make. Can’t go wrong! Did the instant pot version and the dumplings turned out perfect. Who knew?! 

a white bowl with instant pot chicken and dumplings

On Sustainable Cooks This Week

Easy Jalapeno Popper WontonsThe perfect appetizer, Easy Jalapeno Popper Wonton bites is a delicious game day treat or a quick snack. They are a tasty blend of spicy and creamy in a fun little two-bite cup. {Pin this recipe}

three jalapeno popper wontons on a wooden cutting board

Instant Pot Lentil SoupThis easy and healthy vegetarian Instant Pot Lentil soup is incredibly tasty and hearty! You’ll love that there are vegan lentil soup adaptations as well as crockpot instructions. Lentil vegetable soup is a comforting bowl of healthy goodness. {Pin this recipe}

a bowl of instant pot lentil soup with a spoon and a slice of bread

Air Fryer RavioliCrispy and packed with flavor, these Air Fryer Ravioli are a fun and poppable treat! Perfect as a quick appetizer or a healthy game-day snack, homemade toasted ravioli are sure to become a crowd favorite. {Pin this recipe}

a plate of air fryer ravioli

The Five Most Popular Posts This Week

Taking the Virgin Mojito out of the mix, here are our top five posts!

  1. Whole30 Pot Roast – this is a cozy and comforting one-pot dinner that is very heavy on the veggies. {Pin this recipe}
  2. Trader Joe’s Whole30 Shopping List – a great list if you’re doing Whole30, but also if you’re gluten, soy, or dairy-free.  {Pin this list}
  3. Whole30 Beef Stew – it’s like a damn hug in a damn bowl. And personal preference, it’s heavier on veggies than meat so it stretches the meat to make it more affordable.  {Pin this recipe}
  4. Air Fryer Egg Rolls – everyone is playing with the toys they got for the holidays, and these are soooo good and easy to make! {Pin this recipe}
  5. Costco Whole30 Shopping List – just like the Trader Joe’s list, you’ll also love this list if you’re gluten, soy, grain or dairy-free. {Pin this list}

Meal Plan

It is going to be “Seattle cold” this week, with snow in the forecast for the next few days. It’s shocking that they haven’t preemptively closed school for the entire month. 🙂

I’m praying that the boys have school (I NEED/WANT TO WORK people), but we’re also prioritizing cozy, healthy, and fast meals.

Monday:: A new recipe I’m trying out. Honestly, I think it might be a dud, but we’ll see.

Tuesday:: A new recipe I am photographing that you’ll see next month!

Wednesday:: TBD

Thursday:: I have some Sugar-Free Crockpot Spaghetti Sauce in the freezer and am using it for my Meatless Gluten-Free Lasagna. This sucker is ready in about 20 minutes and it’s sooooo easy. My friend Katie shared an Instant Pot Pasta Sauce this week that I can’t wait to try once our freezer stash is used up.

Friday:: Chicken and Dumplings and salad. I can start this in the Instant Pot before I go get the boys from school and it will be ready to eat before soccer. It’s also a great recipe for stretching a 1 pound chicken breast. Add more if you want more, or leave it out entirely if you’re like me and are just in it for the veggies and dumplings. 🙂

Saturday:: TBD, soccer game night

Sunday:: Movie night or family dinner depending on the weather.

What We Bought This Week

Fred Meyer: All my receipts are gone for this week except for Trader Joe’s. I was so excited to see Simple Truth (generic organics for Kroger stores) now makes organic gnocchi! We use gnocchi in this Crispy Gnocchi recipe, and Chicken and Gnocchi Soup.


Trader Joe’s: $22.80


What are you having this week?



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19 comments on “Scattered Sundays”

  1. Would love to more about the Green Jackfruit from Trader Joes, such as what are you making with it? How does it taste? How much prep. is envolved. I have purchased the fresh one from our local market and it was amazing!!! Expensive, but amazing! All we did was sit around pulling out the yummy bits and ate it fresh.

    • I’m still trying to figure that one out Kori. 🙂 I’m testing a recipe with it tomorrow. If it’s successful, I’ll be sharing it in February!

      I assume zero prep is involved since it’s just a can. But we’ll see!

  2. Absolutely agree with you that you don’t have to do something perfectly in order for it to be impactful. If everyone did a little something (and didn’t beat themselves up too much for, like, eating my overnight oats with a disposable plastic spoon just now, cough cough), the overall effect will have an impact. Perhaps not as big of an impact as corporations can make to change their practices, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing!

  3. Thank you Sarah for thinking of all the Aussies out there! We are seeing the very real effects of climate change. The bottom half of our country is burning, and the top half is flooding. We appreciate the shout out.

    Love your work, stories about your amazing boys, and hearing your sustainable journey! It’s the little steps everyday people take that will add up to big changes.

    • Wow, I’ll be honest in that I hadn’t heard anything about the flooding! The fires seem to be the only thing making the news over here. Now I am doubling up my prayers!

  4. Yes. Yes. And yes again to taking time out to read when you’re a stay at home mom. My kid’s are grown and gone but I’m STILL afraid to sit down in case I get caught for doing something for me. Heaven forbid!

  5. How do you use the jack fruit?

  6. You got out of Costco with only THREE THINGS????   That is pretty impressive.
    I am looking forward to seeing if you have anything with lentils coming up that is not soup. (I feel like we have had this conversation before)  We are trying a side dish this week with them.  And I have made a pasta sauce that incorporated lentils, but I want to use them more.
    That frame is GENIUS!  My husband has a woodworking youtube channel and I am going to suggest he make something like this, both as a show idea AND for me.  Granddaughter was just born, but I will NEED this before I know it.
    I also love that tablet.  I am mentally filing that one away as a way-in-the-future gift, or an ‘at Gramma and Pop’s place” toy.
    I got an Ereader for Christmas, I’m going to check that book series you mentioned.  So far, all I have read is Marie Kondo.
    I love your tradition for honouring your mom’s birthday.  I always try to make an apple pie on (or around) my father in law’s birthday.  He loved my apple pie. 
    Troy going out in shorts in those temperatures doesn’t surprise me at all.  It is the BARE FEET that makes me shudder!!!!  I don’t even like walking on a tile floor in my socks because I can feel the cold tile!  He is a mad man!

    • I stick to my list and if I know it’s only a few items, I’ll bring a cloth bag and not get a cart. It helps me get through there quickly and prevents me from adding last-minute items I don’t really need.

      Yep, we have had the soup conversation before. Last week I cooked 1 cup of lentils in the Instant Pot and then blended them in my food processor. I added them to some ground beef for taco seasoning. The boys gobbled it up and after I confessed there were lentils in there, both still asked for seconds.

      If he makes one, I’ll send the video to Troy and my uncle. My uncle is huge into woodworking (hand-builds boats and pretty much anything else you can imagine) and he has two grandkids.

      I love the pie tradition! Honoring those we love with food is my favorite.

      Yep, Troy is a NUT.

      • People at Costco often to invite you to go in front of them in line when they see you behind them with no cart, too!  I’ve had that happen countless times.  We live just a few minutes away from two different types of Costco stores (a regular one and a ‘business’ one that has some different items) so I often pop in for a couple things.  I learned yesterday that I need to stay out of the children’s book/toy section though.  But we now have several books and a toy my daughter hates (haha!) for the baby for when she is a little older.  (Daughter is a Disney girl but can’t stand Toy Story 4, so when I saw a set of toys that include Forky -her least favourite- it could NOT be left behind!)
        I was out yesterday with my coat undone, thinking about how cold you would be.  It was -2C.  I did have shoes on though.
        Lentils for stretching ground meat is an EXCELLENT tip.  I currently use TVP, which I assume is pretty much nutritionally void.  Do you think it would work with ground chicken and ground turkey as well?

      • That has happened to me a few times but I usually have a bunch more in the cloth bag than they think. So I always say “there’s more in here than it looks”. Sometimes they still let me go through.

        Hopefully, the Forky toys will be staying at your house? 🙂

        I’m actually fine in cold weather. I used to deliver pizza in college in a very cold part of the state. I’d often be out working when a foot of snow was falling during my shift. I do wear shoes though. lol.

        I think it would work for chicken and turkey as long as there is some sort of sauce or spice to make it all look cohesive. I found I added a bit more taco seasoning than normal to the lentil/beef tacos because the color looked really weird.

  7. Okay so what is Seattle cold? I am sitting here in Edmonton Alberta seeing that the wind chills are supposed to range from -30 to -40 degrees Celsius… and knowing that schools aren’t cancelled so it’s gonna be freezing and indoor recess all week ????????

    • I’m in Toronto.  I think Sarah’s idea of cold is our ‘light jacket’ weather.  😉 

    • Once the temps hit 30 degrees F, the new calls it an “arctic blast”. On the flip side, Seattle “hot” is anything above 82 F. Temps will be high teens to low 30’s for a week and people just don’t know what to do with themselves! I went to school in a very cold part of Washington, and I dig the chill. Feels like real winter.

      Those poor teachers with indoor recess.

  8. I enjoy your recipes and the humor you add to all your posts. Thank you for taking time to share these amazing ideas!