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Scattered Sundays

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There have been some huge changes I’ve noticed on my walking route in the last six weeks. You know, besides all the dog poop. 🙁

So many people are building raised beds, and tucking vegetable gardens amongst their perennial plants. I’ve even seen a house where the entire lawn has been ripped up and a dump truckload of topsoil was delivered and garden beds are starting to take shape.

And while I applaud people adding gardens and learning to grow food, I do have a word of caution before anyone else rips up their lawn. My advice? GO SLOWLY. You cannot determine your long-term capacity to maintain a garden based on what this year looks like.

If you are in the position where a garden is a must in order for your family to eat this summer, of course, I fully support that and will help with any advice I can. But, if you don’t need ALL the gardening space this year, add a few raised beds and see how you like it.

small apples on an apple tree

Take that house that tore up their lawn to make garden beds. Last year they planted some strawberry plants and never actually picked the berries. If you can’t even pick delicious amazing strawberries, how will an entire yard of plants work? It’s going to be overwhelming and lead to you throwing in the towel.

Our gardens are pretty well established these days, but it took us EIGHT years to get to this point. We still add a little something or tweak a space each year, but the hard work of building the infrastructure was done slowly when we had both the time and the money. 

I would have given up long ago if I had a giant garden at all once. It would have been too much, too overwhelming, and I probably would have only kept the raspberries and scrapped the rest. I’m a huge fan of baby steps. And raspberries.

If you find this year that you do love gardening and want to increase your space next year, I’ll share a budgeting tip that has served us well over the last eight years. Determine an amount that you can afford to set aside from each paycheck. For the really lean years, that meant only $5 per check for us. When times were more profitable, I was saving $20.

Tuck that cash aside in an envelope, and even if it is only $5 every two weeks, it does add up. Then next spring that is the money you have to work with for the growing season. It’s lovely to have cash on hand to spend for the garden, and it forces you to budget and get creative.

There is a reason that I have been wanting to add more layers of pavers to our main garden bed, but it took us a full eight years to do so. Pavers are EXPENSIVE! Our budget made us get scrappy and put in the hard work to build the space we now have and love.

Our raspberry patch that produces $200 worth of free organic raspberries each year was built for $40 and we used free plants. Patience. It is my gardening word for 2020.

a small boy with an umbrella and rain coat

This week has been especially heavy in the US, and everyone I know is sad, angry, confused, and unsure of what to do. I certainly don’t have the answers, but I have been spending a lot of time listening, trying to learn. Many readers and other people I follow have recommended the following resources for anyone who is feeling like they need a good starting point.

A few Instagram accounts: the conscious kid and moms rising. Books (not affiliate links): Good Talk by Mira Jacob, White Fragility, and for kids, The Rabbit Listened.

The Rabbit Listened is not about race, but about helping kids have the tools to understand what other people need when they are sad or upset. It’s a beautiful story about empathy that is great for kiddos, but frankly one that all adults should read too. For older kids, Jack really enjoyed the graphic novel The New Kid

And if you’d like to direct dollars to a group that has been fighting systematic hate and racism, The Southern Poverty Law Center is an organization doing important work. And this google doc of resources has been making it the rounds around the interwebs. If you have any other recommendations for me or other readers, please drop them into the comments.

results from a training run

On Tuesday I did my final 5k training for the couch to 5k program. It was my slowest pace in weeks, but my legs were jello from soooo much bike riding before I even started. In total, we raised $1,336 for Feeding America. That means collectively, my readers provided 13,360 meals for those in need!

I never stop being impressed and grateful for our little community here. You all are amazing and I can’t stop smiling that I get to be a part of such a good thing. Promise me we can keep spreading cheer and goodness? I think the world needs it.

I attempted to go running on Saturday, even after my robot overlord released me from training. I was almost to the point where I start running (I have to walk 1 mile pretty much straight-up three hills to get to a flat area), and a storm moved in. Thunder and lightning are not really a thing here, but when the lightning was less than a mile from where I was standing, I knew I had no business being outside!

Last weekend we were lucky enough to borrow my brother-in-law’s bike to use with a new attachment we got for Bennett (I’ll be talking more about it in a few weeks!). My brother-in-law is at least 6ft 5 and his bike is an XL model from a brand called “Giant”. It might as well come with a commercial stating “the only bike Sasquatch will ever need”. This thing is HUGE and it is hilarious to see me perched on top of it.

The boys have been obsessed with riding bikes with us multiple times per day. And everything around here involves hills, so by our third bike ride of the day I am exhausted. The kids are thrilled and um, they’re mostly quiet during the ride. It’s glorious.

3 boys walking down a hill, one in a stroller

Not a bike, but 3 cousins working together and not fighting. For once.

The heavens aligned this week and I was actually able to work ahead by almost five days. You have no idea how amazing that feels! On March 13th when our schools announced they were closing, I was two weeks ahead of work for the first time ever. 

I had my photoshoots scheduled out through June and everything was set to allow me to work on content for fall by April. You guys, 2020 was going to be MY YEAR! Oh, innocent early-spring me had so many plans and dreams. I was so adorable back then. Bless my dumb little heart.

Circumstances obviously changed and my mentality has switched to just keeping up with the day. Each and every recipe post you see on the blog (and spend three minutes reading) takes about 15-20 hours to produce. There is the recipe testing (multiple times with multiple methods!), the photos (nearly impossible to take with kids around), the research, and the writing.

So, 2020 may not be my year after all, but I have faith that life will return to normal for us all…eventually. And someday I know I will be able to carry food to where I take photos in the living room and not have to dodge Nerf bullets or Legos. God willing.

Last weekend Troy picked up a fire pit and we have been enjoying it in the driveway. The trial run, of course, involved s’mores, because life is short. Our neighbor came over to social distance and eat chocolate with us and that was lovely. New faces!

Jack attended a drive through birthday on Friday and it was pretty fun. Instead of staying in their cars, everyone got out and stood outside with plenty of space between us. His friend’s mom made “goodie bags” in cloth masks which I thought was absolutely genius.

In the Garden This Week

The boys and I got another load of woodchips, AKA micro-farm kid entertainment. I laid it down around all our blueberry bushes (there are a lot!), and in the beds near our front porch. They make the place look so nice and fresh. And as they break down over the next year, they are fabulous for the soil health.

2 boys in the backseat of a truck

No need to clutch your pearls over this – the truck was parked and off, and we obviously put Bennett back in his car seat before even turning the truck back on.

We still haven’t caught the raccoon (trash panda) that killed our neighbor’s chickens. I have seen him skulking around the coop as early as 6 pm. We’ve started letting the girls out from 9 am until 4 pm. I run around their yard trying to lure them into the coop yelling “the trash pandas are coming. The trash pandas are coming, save yourself”! Chickens are dumb.

a garden bed covered in woodchips

Chew-bawk-a, one of our new chickens keeps escaping from their run and I want to strangle her! She tore up all the new woodchips in one of the beds the day after I put them down. She also tore up Bennett’s little garden. Thank goodness I saw it before he did! I patted the cucumber seedlings back in to make it look as normal as possible. Troy then covered the space with some leftover wire. Freaking chicken.

The weather has been so inconsistent this spring but I think we’re just a few days away from our first ripe strawberry! Bennett has been stalking the strawberry bed multiple times per day just waiting for the harvest. I hope we get there before the chickens.

an unripe strawberry

After the strawberries stop producing this year I need to thin the strawberry bed. It’s super crowded and needs to be cleaned up. I’m also tempted to add pavers along the edge, dump in a bunch of topsoil, and to elevate the whole thing. Everything just rests on the ground which can be a bit of a nightmare for bugs/pests since the neighborhood wild peacocks have all passed away. Those peacocks were amazing slug catchers.


Are you following us on Instagram already? If not, hop on over and join us! There is a lot of stuff I share over there that never ends up on the blog – garden tours, mini cooking tutorials, and gardening “crossfit” (AKA, unloading a truckload of woodchips).

I also share “food photo vs reality” pictures weekly. I’ll show you what I am cooking and how it looks in reality, and then we compare it to the photos I put on the blog. I do this to encourage people to make delicious but UGLY food!

What I’m Listening To This Week

The most recent season of The Uncertain Hour has been revamped to “A History of Now”. Last season tackled the opioid epidemic (it was FASCINATING) and now they’re examining the Covid climate from ways I have never thought about.

I like to follow each episode by listening to a hilarious podcast, but oh boy, I have learned SO much!

What I’m Reading This Week

I FLEW through Educated (affiliate link) in about five days and I couldn’! It was incredible and such a thought-provoking read.

I have since started A Gentleman in Moscow. It’s definitely slower than Educated, but so many readers on Instagram have told me this book was one of their favorites in years.

We have been getting 99% of our ebooks for free from our library, and I blew the mind of my friend last week when I told her libraries also have free audiobooks. Libraries rule and I highly recommend them!

Reader Spotlight of the Week

Ione left this five-star review on our Instant Pot Iced Tea recipe {Pin this recipe}:

Fantastic recipe!! I’m going to try using the baking soda and I see that you have an iced coffee recipe as well. Can’t wait to try that as well.

a jar of iced tea with lemon and a plate of garnishes

On Sustainable Cooks This Week

I finally cut down my posting schedule in the last two weeks and it’s been nice. I have some posts coming up in the next 10 days that I am SO excited about. As in I just want to publish them all on the same day.

Strawberry PureeFresh flavorful Strawberry Puree is a great recipe to showcase this wonderful summer fruit without needing to know any special kitchen skills (like canning).  It’s incredible on baked goods, pancakes, yogurt, and so much more. You’re going to love this bright and delicious fruit sauce. {Pin this recipe}

a glass jar of strawberry sauce with lemons and fresh strawberries on a wooden cutting board

Confessions – Everyone’s favorite post of the month!

A woman with a finger up to her mouth saying "shhhhh"

Mint Chocolate Ice CreamDitch the industrial green store-bought ice cream and learn to make your own Mint Chocolate Ice Cream. A fresh mint taste and all-natural ingredients mean this mint chip will be the best ice cream you’ll ever make. {Pin this recipe}

two bowls of mint ice cream with a spoon

The Five Most Popular Posts This Week

The Virgin Mojito was on top again, so let’s take a little look-see at the other top posts of the week.

  1. Instant Pot Iced Tea – Memorial day had this post hopping!  {Pin this recipe}
  2. Instant Pot Garlic Parmesan Rice – as always, non-Instant Pot instructions are included in the post. {Pin this recipe}
  3. Air Fryer Egg Rolls – as always, non-air fryer instructions are included in the post.  {Pin this recipe}
  4. Air Fryer Pickles – as always, non-air fryer instructions are included in the post.  {Pin this recipe}
  5. Air Fryer Potatoes – as always, non-air-fryer instructions are included in the post. {Pin this recipe}

Meal Plan

Monday:: Air fryer tofu, and air fryer asparagus.

Tuesday:: Takeout to support a local small business.

Wednesday:: A new recipe I’m shooting after testing it so many dang times. The whole family loves it though, so yaaaay.

Thursday:: Instant Pot Beef and Broccoli and rice.

Friday:: Popcorn, leftovers, and movie night.

Saturday:: Takeout to support a local small business.

Sunday:: We’re having a hot dog and s’mores roast in our new fire pit.

What are you having this week?



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8 comments on “Scattered Sundays”

  1. I loved Good Talk by Mira Jacob. I also loved her novel called The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing. I will be picking up A Gentleman in Moscow sometime this summer as our whole city does a book club/one read in September and that’s the book this year.

  2. Such good advice about taking it slow with gardening! I can’t believe someone ripped up their entire lawn. lol5 stars

  3. Your roasted frozen veggies are life changing!  And I liked A gentleman in Moscow WAY better than Educated.  No garden for us this year… too much happening.  Text me when bike rides are happening 🙂

    • I love anytime healthy stuff can be made easier!

      We were out this morning around the neighborhood and Bennett was rocking a sloth costume. I hope anyone stuck at home got a big smile from it today. 🙂

  4. Thank you so much for recommending The Rabbit Listened and @theconsciouskid! Both are good ways to ease into some tough conversations with our littles (and other adults, too).5 stars