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Scattered Sundays

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Hey, so I need your help!

Yeah, no good morning, how do you do, etc. We’re just jumping right in!

Next month I’ll be giving a talk on starting/running a food blog at a library in the Puget Sound region. I was asked to do this as part of a winter series they’re doing. If I’m being honest, I’m pretty sure no one will show up. But I want to be prepared!

I’m planning on doing a short power point presentation, offering some handouts with key takeaways (that is my corporate background talking), and then doing a super short cooking demonstration. Much of the presentation will take some ideas from the blogging resources I already have on my site.

One of my points will be about knowing your niche (who your audience is) and creating content for them. Since my audience (you beautiful people) are busy people/families who like healthy food that doesn’t take forever (how long? Forrrrrever) and is affordable, I’ll be demonstrating fan favorite, Whole30 Tomato Soup. <—- yeah it’s had a bunch of names over the years, but it is still the same tomato soup that has a butt load of comments and 5-star ratings.

So, what do I need from you? I’m so glad you asked! What would you want to learn about at a talk about blogging? What would you want to be covered? What would interest you?

Heeeeeeeelp!

Troy and I are doing a new food challenge for March if anyone is up for a team challenge.

If you’ve read the blog for any length of time you’ll know I have a vicious sweet tooth. I mean, who decided to make sugar sooooo delicious? I need a hard reset every three to six months and typically cut out added sugar.

Then I can eat it in moderation for a few months but then I’ll find myself daytime snacking on chocolate chips or other sweets. Then the cycle starts over and I eliminate it from my life.

It’s a lifelong struggle.

We talked about doing another Whole30 round but ultimately nixed it because we both know our problem isn’t grains, or soy, or dairy. It’s sugar. Sugar. Sugar. Sugar.

So, we decided to give up sugar/sweets (no honey or maple syrup because I will totally take advantage of that shit) for 30 days. BUT we’re also making sure that half of our plates/bowls are filled with veggies at every meal. It’s a great way to enjoy lots of our favorite veggie recipes, and also reinforce positive behaviors for ourselves and the boys.

It starts March 1st! Let me know if you’re interested in joining us.

We don’t have a pet. Bennett has been pretending to be a cat lately. This is what I found when I came home from running errands.

Well, I have a three-year-old for sale. Any takers? I don’t understand this age. I don’t like it. And I’m looking forward to four.

Bennett’s been staying up later and later most nights. It’s probably time to cut out his nap, but as someone who works full-time in the margins in the day, I need his nap to happen.

When Jack was little, I had to get him up at 5:45 am for daycare, so we had to cut out the nap when he was three. Bennett can sleep in (can doesn’t mean he will) so Troy came up with the idea of just letting him read in his bed until he is ready to sleep.

It’s nice to see him pulling out and enjoying the same books that Jack did at this age. One of his new favorites is the Captain Flinn and the Dinosaur Pirates series. They’re so fun, the illustrations are awesome, and they’re written by a British writer so it’s not all gentle snowflakeness.

I highly recommend checking them out from the library or getting them at an independent bookstore. But here is an Amazon link if you’re interested in an online purchase.

And speaking of libraries, Bennett brought this book home last week and it’s adorable and the graphics are beautiful. It is a story about a boy who thinks he is a bear who meets a bear who thinks he is a boy. They teach each other boy/bear things like how to read and catch fish. 

During a snowstorm, they exchange boy and bear suits and realize they’re both too cold so they go to the boy’s cabin and eat honey sandwiches by the fire. You should read the negative Amazon review though because people are so effing ridiculous and wound way too tightly. Talk about snowflakes…good Lord.

One of the warm fuzzies of seeing him read these same books is finding these little gems from my mom.

Bennett didn’t get nearly enough time with her, so these little literary time capsules can mean so much.

I have been struggling with the issue of “boy funk” for about a year now. Jack is almost 10 and my nephew is almost nine and both of them are in my car five days a week. And Jack plays sports and gets in after being all hot and sweaty.

And I’m over it!

I ended up buying this little air diffuser thingy for my car and I like it a lot!

It comes with little felt pads that you can put a few drops of essential oils on and then the heat from your vents distribute the scent. Disclaimer: I don’t sell essential oils or anything. 

Troy and my nephew have asthma and I know many oils are not safe for little kids. So, I reached out to a long-time reader named Kailyn who knows about these things. She recommended either citrus scents or a mix of citrus with either bergamot or rosemary. 

I already had lemon from making my own Homemade Dusting Spray and rosemary from Homemade Vicks Soother Tablets. After experimenting a bit, I think I’m partial to just citrus because adding the rosemary in makes me think of one of the kiddos being sick. I’m almost tempted to use a few drops of the kid-safe Germ Destroyer I diffuse in our living room during cold and flu season.

I crushed some sales and thrifting this week! This rug ^ was found shoved into a back shelf in the kid section at Target. There was no price on it and even their system wouldn’t scan it, so the floor associates sent me to customer service.

I don’t think customer service wanted to deal with it, so the very nice lady slapped a $19.99 price tag on it and called it a day. The closest versions of the same brand we can find on Target and Amazon sell for $89-$149!

A sharp eye and a willingness to ditch my kids to sprint down the aisle at Goodwill led me to these two Lunch Bots for $2.00 each!

My boys each have a YumBox lunchbox and we love them dearly. They have lasted five years and still look brand new. The compartments are airtight so you can put yogurt or applesauce in there, and cut fruit won’t brown.

But two Lunch Bots for $4 was a total steal. They’re smaller than an actual lunch portion but work perfectly for car snacks.

What I’m Listening To This Week

I listened to the (free library) audiobook of Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis. It seems like people are fanatic about this book. I thought it was fine. I enjoyed it but didn’t get the same sense of hype that others have.

Anyhoo, I started listening to her podcast, Rise and really loved this week’s episode with the co-founder of clothing brand ABLE (I have zero affiliation with this company). I knew nothing about this brand until the podcast. I know nothing about fashion but I loved their mission towards helping trafficking victims and former sex workers find gainful employment.

Comment/Review of the Week

This week’s review comes from Erin (long-time reader and fellow toddler boy mom) who left a five-star review on Sesame Sheet Pan Pork Fajitas {Whole30, Paleo, Keto, Gluten-Free}:

Sustainable Cooks continues to be my go-to for weeknight and snow day meals. Having a pre-schooler running around on snow days makes it almost impossible to find the time to make a nutritious and balanced meal for my family. This sheet pan meal is amazing and that garlic sauce is killer! We subbed in a GF Filipino soy sauce that they carry at our local Lotte instead of using coconut aminos, and I’ve even done this recipe with chicken instead of pork. We have had it served with rice or on tortillas or with chips… the options are endless! Definitely five stars for this delicious, pre-schooler and busy mom approved meal!!

A special hint for anyone planning to make this dish…double or triple the garlic sauce and then put it on everything in your life! {Pin this}

A hand holding a lettuce wrapped pork fajita with peppers and onions

On Sustainable Cooks This Week

Lemon Tahini Salad Dressing {Whole30, Paleo, Vegan} – A light and creamy Lemon Tahini Salad Dressing that’s so easy to make from scratch.  A healthy dressing that is great on salads, roasted veggies, meat, or as a dip. This garlicky vegan sauce might just change your life!

a jar of lemo tahini salad dressing with halved lemons and fresh thyme

{Pin this}

Blistered Shishito Peppers {Whole30, Paleo, Vegan} – Addicting and so poppable, Blistered Shishito Peppers are a cult favorite snack/appetizer. Salty, delicious, and so simple to make, you’ll fall hard for these roasted shishito peppers.

a blistered shishito pepper dipping a pardon pepper into a spicy dipping sauce

Many thanks to my 9-year-old Jack for more successful hand modeling

{Pin this}

Paleo + Whole30 BBQ Sauce {Whole30, Paleo, Vegan} – A delicious smoky homemade Whole30 BBQ sauce that is perfect for ribs, pulled pork, chicken, or even veggies. This paleo BBQ sauce is Whole30 compliant, refined sugar-free, and vegan.

overhead photo of a jar of

{Pin this}

I had to slip this photo in to show you the behind the scenes of what it is like to be a work at home mom. Sometimes big ol’ toddler heads almost make it into the shot.

Go to the post and look closely at the left side photo of the two pictures of the food processor. You’ll see Bennett’s reflection in the base of the food processor because he was all up in my business for the whole photoshoot. “What’s this? What’s that? What’s it do?”. Agggggh!

The Five Most Popular Posts This Week

  1. Virgin Mojito Recipe  {Pin this}                  
  2. Instant Pot Sous Vide Egg Bites   {Pin this}
  3. Best Ever Trader Joe’s Whole30 Shopping List   {Pin this}
  4. 21 Easy Instant Pot Recipes For Beginners    {Pin this}
  5. The Ultimate Guide to Roasting Frozen Vegetables   {Pin this}

Meal Plan

Looking for someone to do the meal planning for you? I’m partnering with Real Plans to bring you personalized meal plans that fit all dietary needs. Try it yourself for free for 30 days.!

Monday:: Mini quiche, fruit, and a small salad. We love these (the kids are obsessed) but honestly, I’m just making them to update the photos.

Tuesday:: Chicken tacos, grilled veggies (well, roasted in the oven)

Wednesday:: New recipe I am trying out. Maybe you’ll find out what it is. Maybe you won’t.

Thursday:: Homemade frozen pizza and salad. The boys really want it and we haven’t had it in a looooong-time. To be clear, they want the pizza. They don’t want the salad.

Friday:: Popcorn, leftovers, and movie night.

Saturday:: Chef salads because they’re easy yo!

Sunday:: Family dinner

What We Bought This Week

Smith Brothers: $14.48. No photo cause Troy snagged it from the milkman when I wasn’t home.

If you’re in the Puget Sound area, get a $20 credit for signing up with Smith Brothers for their awesome home delivery.

Costco: $36.94 

The zucchini was a total miscommunication between Troy and myself that I take full responsibility for. He took the boys to get them out of the house so I could shoot photos for three recipes (14 years of marriage and he gets me). And came home with zucchini. In February.

I gave some to a neighbor, sauteed some in a pan, and ended up using some for an upcoming recipe. But, zucchini is summer food so we won’t be enjoying anymore until July.

Those chips weren’t on the list either. TROY!

What are you having this week?

 

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33 comments on “Scattered Sundays”

  1. As a volunteer for our local library – all I can offer up is don’t kill yourself. Have a killer sheet for them to take home with important bulletin points you want them to know. 
    There will be background noise and distractions and people milling around. People like to watch stuff so making something in front of them is a great idea. 
    Have fun and they will have fun. IF it’s really something someone has been thinking of doing they will find you afterwards and ask their burning questions. Blogging seems like swimming to me – you can watch videos, read about it, talk about it all you want but until you get into the water you truly won’t be able to learn how to swim. 
    Good luck!

    P.S. On the whole 3 yr old thing…. I’d buy him in a minute since endometriosis robbed me of kids. Glad he’s enjoying reading.  Our nephew can talk both your ears off and sticks closer than a shadow. Someday soon they will be surly, non talking boys so try to enjoy every minute, lol. 

    • It’s a teeeeeeeny library and will be in the evening, so I assume it will be dead in there for the most part. But I don’t mind distractions or anything like that. I used to do public speaking for my old job and it’s all just part of it.

      Love the swimming analogy!

      I have many friends who have gone through endo and I know it is both an emotionally and physically horrible process. I’m so sorry that was a part of your life.

  2. Curious about budget, which hosting sites you prefer, how much it was to get all started up, perhaps?

    Also wanted to note that if you don’t WANT to do a handout, creating them can take time so don’t feel like you HAVE to.

    THANK YOU FOR BLOGGING! I love your recipes and hearing about your life! My life is like, office, kitten cuddles, coffee dates with girlfriends, office, office, office…

    If you haven’t listened to The Dropout on your podcast list, it’s interesting (I haven’t made time for Bad Blood yet, and am late to the whole Theranos fraud story but am intrigued as I read about her in college/or just after I graduated and wondered–what have I done with MY 20s? Well, I didn’t commit fraud.

    Also fun sometimes is Call your girlfriend. I used to learn about other peoples cultures and stuff through reading, but given the office life, I’m realizing podcasts during my commute or during my “jogs” are doing that for me now.

    • In corporate we always had a “key takeaways” slide, so it will just be a matter of reformatting it for print.

      I want to join you for kitten snuggles!!!!

      So…I just binged The Dropout since reading your comment yesterday. I’m all caught up and looking forward to the last episode. Sooooo good! I had wanted to read Bad Blood but the waiting list at the library was bonkers.

  3. I’d offer a part called “Reality Check” listing things that surprised you, either by how much they cost, the time it took, or just what you hadn’t considered closely enough. Whenever I go to a class or presentation, I am always looking for that one thing (and it’s usually a little thing that makes a big difference) that makes me think, “THAT’S why I took this class (or listened to the presentation, or paid X amount of money) — to learn THIS!” Good Luck! I am sure your talk will be great.

  4. On behalf of all the zucchini out there I say, Hey Sarah! Were sooo worth the extra cost during the winter! The zoodles are all crying that they are much better than noodles, and the shredded zucchini in the freezer is begging to go into the meatball mixture for chicken meatball soup. They were all inconsolable, but I’ve managed to calm them down…

    Since I’m not really a zucchini, but a brand new food blogger, I’d love to hear about the cost of starting one, and what it’s going to cost annually to keep it going while you build your following and start to earn with affiliates etc. 

    • I *think* the cost is the same in or out of season at Costco for the zukes. That isn’t why I don’t buy them out of season though. For produce I know we can grow in my area of the country, I prefer to wait until it is in peak season to enjoy it. That zucchini definitely was trucked at least 2,000 miles to get to my Costco and it wasn’t very good. But in July? It will be amazing!

      That’s why Jack hates May and June because it’s asparagus season in Washington. He longs for July. LOL.

  5. I used the garlic sauce to marinate some already roasted beef we were putting on nachos, it added a really nice flavour. I’ll definitely be using it again! We’re having an eating out of the freezer week because we’re out most nights.

  6. So I guess I’d want to know, what made you start the blog and what’s changed for you since you started it and how much you think it has cost to take it to the next level (as you’ve clearly been doing!).
    I’ve already offered you a swap Bennet for golden syrup but is it nice with the second to know that it’s not the kid but the age that is driving you bananas? And my 3 year old nephew thanks you for the recommendation and his new book! (Also I looked it up, the author created Purple Ronnie which was a really popular line of cards, mugs, t-shirts etc over here about 20 years ago!)
    I saw the photo of the courgettes (zucchini) and my first thought was “recipe testing?”

    • Sooooooo much has changed in the industry since I started. That’s a great idea to include that context.

      Yes, there is some consolation in knowing he’ll eventually grow out of it. I’ve never heard of Purple Ronnie before but I just googled it…I’m guessing it’s not a kid’s book? LOL

      Ha, spoken like a fellow gardener! You would have laughed at me rushing out to check on the blueberry bushes once the snow started melting. You’ll be happy to know that they still have buds on them.

      • I wouldn’t have laughed, I did the same thing after the slow here and I’m glad to see the blueberries made it, I’ve just bought another one, it was the only one in the shop and it was £2, it seemed wrong to leave it! We are having ridiculous weather right now it’s about 10C more than usual for this time of year and feels like May. I’m sure it will get colder so I’m not sowing anything yet but it’s strange!

      • Orphaned blueberry bushes need a home. That makes you a hero!

        Are you planting peas yet? Potatoes soon, right?

      • Peas and potatoes will be the first things that go outside probably mid to late March. I need to sow leeks, celery (never grown it before!), sweet peas and beetroot indoors before that. I’m going to try multi sowing the beets in modules and then just planting the modules out. Which is supposed to give you more beets and the way we get through them is no joke! I’ve ordered another two blueberries today, my rationale is that this year we’re going to have less raspberries so I need more blueberries. (it’s a compulsion!). What are you doing first? I love the food post but I miss your garden posts!

      • I’ve never sowed beet(root) inside. I’m intrigued to hear how that goes! I’m glad your orphaned blueberry bush will have friends this year. Why will the raspberries be less this year?

        There will be more gardening posts this year! I viewed last year as the year to clean up all the old shit and get the ship righted so to speak. I have updated two older garden posts and will be republishing them in the next few months. I also have a new garden project post that will be live in April or May.

        Part of it is my garden is now established and can’t grow. It’s hard to write posts about things I did years ago and haven’t had to mess with since then.

      • Small! The rectanges are mostly 2×1 metres and the squares are one metre square. I have four beds that are 155cm by 85cm and we decided this year that they are going to be soft fruit beds, so two are full with autumn and summer raspberries and we’re planning to have boysenberry and blackcurrants in the other two. They’re all close together so it’ll be easy to net to stop the pigeons scoffing them! 

    • I’ve never done it either but if it works for Charles Dowding (look him up!) does it can’t be wrong! I wish I had an established garden! Seems like just as I think I’m done, I find something else to ‘fix’. Case in point with the raspberries they were taking up a lot of room and they are just summer raspberries. So I dug them up and moved them to a smaller bed. Which gives me space for 3 more new raised beds! And I’m on the list for another half plot! Because I’m insane…

  7. The lemon tahini dressing sounds delicious! Can’t wait to try it!

    I’m the same way with sugar. I’m currently sugar free but would love to join the challenge of filling half my plate with veggies. As much as I love them, I know I’m not eating enough. I can’t wait to see my kids’ faces when they see more veggies and less bread/pasta. heh heh heh

    • Sugar is like pure crack. So delicious. I’ll never grow out of craving it, but at least I can keep it in check for a few months at a time.

      Aidan is going to hate me!

  8. Sarah, I have followed you for many years – just never commented much.  I started my own blog this month.  I had done some reading and research and it has been so much harder than I anticipated.  I have been doing it all by myself which probably isn’t the best way but I was trying to do this as cheaply as possible.  My pictures suck, so I was gonna read the material you suggested.
    The information out there seems to be extremely scattered – lots of research time seems to be the name of the game for those like me who are NOT tech savvy.
    If I was to attend your class, I would like to see a step by step to get started and a realistic financial cost to expect.  What do you consider to be important and those things you think are a waste of time.  I really liked your resource page and your posts about why should blog and what you really shouldn’t do – like sell your soul to the devil and be fake.
    Love your blog, love you and your family, thanks for all you do!

    • Congrats Melissa! And soooooo much work, right?

      I’ve been doing this for 8.5 years now and much of that time I wasn’t blogging well. It’s only in the last 18 or so months that I have woken up to the idea of treating it like a business. And only since May of 2018 when I started to see a return on my investments (both monetary and time-based).

      What I will say to you is to take it slow. It’s ok to NOT know it all at once. Start listening to some blogging podcasts (let me know if you want any recommendations) and just work on defining your niche and your voice.

      • Thank you!  And I would say to you – you may not have thought you blogged well but I have enjoyed your blog all along!

        Thanks for the pointers, I appreciate your help.  What podcasts do you recommend?

      • Awww, you’re so sweet!

        I really like:
        -Food Blogger Pro
        -Simple Pin Podcast (all about Pinterest)
        -Online Marketing Made Easy
        -Dishing With Delishes
        -Chopped
        -How I Built This
        -Courage + Clarity
        -Blogger Genius
        -Theory of Content

        That should keep you busy for awhile. 🙂

  9. I just want you to know I look forward to your emails every week because you are so real and down to earth! I love every recipe I have tried from you so far. I would want to know why you started the blog, how much it cost initially and even now and exactly how to do it step by step. Also, how did you promote it to start getting followers? And how can you blog for a full time job? I would love that!

  10. Independent bookstores rock! I get Amazon, but not books people! Did you know you local, independent bookstore will special order just about anything for you? If we want to keep a free and educated country, we need to keep real bookstores in business. 

  11. I would LOVE to do a no sugar & 50% veggie challenge! I tried 30 day challenge but didn’t make it 30 days. Sugar is my weakness. 
    My family and I love your tomato soup recipe! 

    • Jean, I feel ya. Sugar is DELICIOUS. Why is it so delicious???? Join us and do your best for as long as you can!

      Thank you! The tomato soup recipe is one of my favorites and I know everyone in the house will be happy (or at least won’t whine) when I serve it. And I can make it with my eyes closed by now. It’s nice to have a few recipes that you can put on automation.