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Scattered Sundays

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The raccoon that took out three of our neighbor’s chickens continues to stalk ours like some creepy character from a V.C. Andrews novel.

We’ve caught him on the security cameras as early as 4:30 pm, and hanging out as late as 10 pm. We purchased a humane trap so that we could capture and release him into an actual forest. 

You know what he does with that trap? We have a video of him touching it with his adorable chicken-eating paws and walking away. I have a feeling that he snickers and puts up his cute little middle finger as his furry butt waddles away. I believe that is trash panda for “bite me”.

a security camera showing a raccoon

Happy Father’s day to the three male readers I have who are also dads! 🙂 I’ve always said that Troy is a better dad than I am a mom, that still holds true in our 11th year of keeping small people alive.

The boys adore their dad (I’m pretty fond of him myself!), and he would eat a hot coal to make them smile and laugh. It’s hard work being a parent every day. It’s especially hard to be a parent during lockdowns and quarantine. And yet he makes it happen while replacing Christmas lights in bedrooms (yep, a year-round item in the Cook boy’s rooms), removing spiders from walls, and replacing batteries in toys for the 100,000th time.

Troy and I were both raised by incredible dads, and we’re so lucky to have them both in our lives. And our boys are super lucky to have such fantastic grandpas!

Days that celebrate parents can be a mixed bag for many. There are lots of feelings around mother’s and father’s day and whatever today looks like for you, I hope it involves grace for yourself. And delicious food.

kids running on a beach

Last Friday we had Jack’s 5th-grade drive-thru graduation, and this Friday there was a whole school drive-thru end of the year celebration. Last week I sobbed because I was so impressed with the teachers and staff putting in so much effort to make this as special as possible for the fifth graders.

Growing up in a teacher household, I know the amount of work it takes to make things special for kids during normal times. When you throw a pandemic into the mix, everything gets more challenging. The hard work was noted and greatly appreciated.

I got a ton of questions last week about the Covered Goods mask I bought. One: is it tight around the neck? Nope! it’s super stretchy and doesn’t lay against the neck. Two: is it hot? Nope! The coolest of any of the masks I have. Three: Do I really love it as much as I say? Yes! I mean, it’s a mask, which sucks. But for a mask it’s great. Four: Will it fit a kid? Yes! I just bought a small for Jack and it fits fine. I will probably take it in a tiny bit to make the fit tighter, but as is it works.

a boy in a face mask

I did ask the company if they would consider making an extra-small for younger kiddos. They said they would take it into consideration for the next batch they make. If Bennett has to wear a mask for preschool this fall, this is the kind that I could see him being able to keep on all day. His vote of course would be a spiderman mask.

Remember, if you buy one, use coupon code “sustainablecooks” to get 15% off your order! They’re decently priced and shipping is very affordable.

sticks making a fort in a field of grass

We had a lovely time at the ocean last week and I swear this trip was the one that made us realize the kids are getting more independent (thank you, Lord). Perhaps it was the setting, perhaps it is getting more comfortable, or perhaps it is being forced to stay together in a house for three months, but I am confident in saying we’re getting better at ignoring our children. There is some real 1980’s parenting happening in our house these days. 🙂

From wake up until bedtime, these kids were moving while we were at the ocean! Troy and I traded off solo workouts every morning, but other than that, the boys were on the go. I got back from a three-mile run only to be roped into a five-mile bike ride, and then 45 minutes of kayaking. 

a mom and a little boy in a kayak

Ocean Shores is a mostly planned community (with Pat Boone as an investor and former resident!) with man-made fresh-water canals in the middle of a good portion of the town. The water isn’t very deep and is usually quite calm. We kayaked on the canals because there is no way in the world I would allow the children into the ocean on such boats.

I’m generally a pretty chill parent when it comes to everyday dangers, but nothing makes my butthole pucker harder than the kids at the actual ocean. We live two blocks from the Puget Sound and I’m fine with the boys playing at the beach. The ocean is an entirely different beast and I hate every second that they spend at the water’s edge. BLAH.

Kayaking was pretty tippy, and Bennett had to sit on my lap which meant paddling was not remotely comfortable for either of us. Jack was in his own boat and this was a big step for him. He is not my adventurous child and gives up easily the second things are hard.

He’s a smart kid, naturally gifted athlete, and generally, 99% of life is very easy for him. So when confronted with anything that he finds challenging, he shuts down and throws in the towel. He struggled a bit at first in the kayak and seemed nervous, but through encouraging words and some strategic “momming”, he kept going.

By strategic parenting, I meant I just kept telling him “let’s go around one more bend. Let’s go see what is around this corner”. Basically, the option wasn’t there for him to give up. And by the end of the trip, he was going out solo while we waited on shore!

He and I took a trip out on the canals without Bennett and went a decent distance and passed under a pretty freaky bridge. I knew he would be scared but he did it anyway. Big move for this kiddo. Big move!

2 people in kayaks going under a bridge

Bennett seems to have started really showing an interest in food blogging. I’m not sure if he is doing it to try to get more snacks in his face (if so, bravo), or he just loves it. But he made some black bottom cupcakes all by himself this week.

It gives me the boob sweats to deal with the mess of the kids in the kitchen, but I realize it’s something I am responsible for overcoming. It’s hard to compare cleaning up a little flour to the pride on his sweet little face.

a boy taking a photo of food

fake ice, mint, rosemary, parsley, and cupcakes totally go together.

He felt called to take one of the cupcakes over to one of our neighbors. He was insistent that he get to walk there by himself and that we didn’t watch him. We reminded him to look both ways (he did), but you bet your butt we watched him. We just didn’t let him watch us watching him. As always, he was dressed to impress.

a boy in his underwear and boots on a road

Last month I got this water backpack thing for when I run. It’s affordable and fine (I have nothing to compare it to), but I’m having the darnedest time drying it out when I’m done with it. I’ve taken to just using it for two runs in a row and then trying to make sure it’s fully dried after that. Any suggestions? Tips or tricks for how to get this thing drained and dried?

2 boys on a beach wrapped in a beach towel

Tis that time of the US political system again when campaign ads run rampant. I switched to a new ad network a month ago and they do not allow political ads AT ALL. And yet…I’ve been seeing them on my own site!

I have been reporting them to our ad network and they go in and manually remove them instantly. To date, all the ads have been submitted to the networks by one campaign under (deliberate) false pretenses so that they can sneak onto sites. True integrity right there.

Anyhoo, if you see any political ads on my site, please feel free to take a screenshot and email it to me with a link to the post where you saw it. I’ll forward it onto my ad network and they’ll handle it.

Housekeeping

Staying hydrated is always important, but never more so during the summer months! Liberty Bottleworks is a Washington State company that makes incredible reusable water bottles.

They created a fun line of food pun bottles for my readers, and I think you’re going to love them!

5 metal waterbottles

In the Garden This Week

We’re finally picking/harvesting something! We’re picking tons of strawberries and two (of our 27…) blueberry bushes have ripe berries on them. We’re anxiously awaiting the arrival of the first raspberry.

2 photos of a little boy picking strawberries

Left: 2017, Right: 2020

There are some baby tomatoes on a few of the bushes. I got them in late. Like I do every single year. And like each year, I promise it will be different next year. Newsflash: it won’t. But…eventually, even tomatoes planted late will ripen. I gorge on them, can some (whole tomatoes, tomato soup, stewed tomatoes), freeze some, give them away, and enjoy every bite. 

We have three mini drawf apple trees in the garden and only two are producing. One of them had a bumper crop last year and seems to now be on an every other year cycle. One of them is super tiny and I think it’s being crowded out by the strawberries underneath it.

The tree that produces the most has the super tart apples on it. So not great for fresh eating, but hey they work great for canning apple pie filling and other desserts. You can’t be mad about desserts! Well, I suppose you can, but that just seems like a dbag move.

How are things growing in your garden?

What I’m Listening To This Week

Slow Burn is back with the fourth season (season 1: Watergate, season 2: Bill Clinton impeachment, season 3: Tupac and Biggie’s deaths) and this one is all about raging asshat, David Duke.

As always, this podcast is flawlessly researched, fascinating, and incredibly informative.

Reader Spotlight of the Week

Amanda left this lovely five-star review on our Crispy Air Fryer Green Bean Fries {Pin this recipe}:

OH MY GOSH THESE AIR FRYER GREEN BEANS. I don’t like most vegetables. I like broccoli cooked and raw and I’ll eat a handful of different veggies (carrots, celery, etc) raw. I don’t like green beans, peas, asparagus, Brussels sprouts.. I can eat some stuff if it’s hiding in soup or baked in a casserole but not plain. I used to force myself to eat nasty green beans so my daughter would eat them (worked great, she loves veggies way more than her mama!) And then these came into my life. I’ve been trying to eat fewer carbs and increase my veggie intake and I know since *technically* these are breaded there are still carbs involved, but never in my life have I eaten a green bean and called it “good.” And I did that last night. They were so good that I told my husband I was going to reheat the leftovers from last night’s dinner to serve again with tonight’s dinner, “because I really liked them.” So THANK YOU for bringing these into my life! 😁

green bean fries being dipped into a small dish of dressing

On Sustainable Cooks This Week

Air Fryer Fried OkraCrispy, crunchy, and so poppable, this Air Fryer Okra will be a huge hit! Perfect as a quick appetizer, side dish, or a healthy game-day snack, fried okra in the air fryer is sure to become a crowd favorite. No air fryer? You’ll also find alternative cooking methods in the post. {Pin this recipe}

a white dish of air fryer okra on a wooden tray with dipping sauce

Perfect Instant Pot Jasmine Rice –  Make perfect Instant Pot Jasmine Rice for a fast side dish that the whole family will love! Made in a flash in a pressure cooker, this delicious rice is great for meal prep and is pairs well with so many dishes. No pressure cooker? You’ll also find stovetop instructions in the recipe. {Pin this recipe}

How to Can Green Beans –  Follow this step by step tutorial to learn How to Can Green Beans in a pressure canner safely. One of the easiest canning recipes around, you’ll love having jars of canned green beans to use all year long. {Pin this recipe}

a jar of green beans being put into a pressure canner

The Five Most Popular Posts This Week

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

  1. Instant Pot Garlic Parmesan Rice – as always, non-Instant Pot instructions are included in the post. {Pin this recipe}
  2. Air Fryer Pickles – as always, non-air fryer instructions are included in the post.  {Pin this recipe}
  3. Freezing Spinach – such a great ingredient to stock your freezer!  {Pin this recipe}
  4. Air Fryer Egg Rolls – as always, non-air fryer instructions are included in the post.  {Pin this recipe}
  5. Canning Peaches – let’s welcome this post back to the leaderboard for the first time since last fall!  {Pin this recipe}

Meal Plan

Monday:: Boys really want homemade pizza (this is our dough recipe and this is our pizza sauce recipe) because I’ve been making Tortilla Pizzas in the air fryer all spring because it’s just sooooo much easier.

Tuesday:: Instant Pot Orange Chicken and rice with grilled veggies on the side.

Wednesday:: Takeout to support a local small business.

Thursday:: An Instant Pot dinner we are kind of obsessed with. It’s an upcoming blog post, but even though it is photographed and ready to go, and I made it FIVE times to get it right, we still love it! The best part? It’s three ingredients and easy enough for a kid to make.

Friday:: Popcorn, movie night, and leftovers.

Saturday:: Breakfast dinner.

Sunday:: Belated father’s day with my lovely inlaws! We’re getting pizza from our favorite place, and we’re making cupcakes. Maybe Bennett can be on point for that?

What We Bought This Week

Butcher Box: $109 – hard to see in the photo so this is what’s in there: organic chicken drumsticks, grassfed organic ground beef, heritage boneless pork chops (we use them for these Sesame Sheet Pan Pork Fajitas), uncured sugar-free bacon (related: Whole30 bacon brands), New York strip steaks, and London broil top round (we use it for Instant Pot Beef Tips).

packaged meat in a cardboard box

Farmer’s market: $22 – zucchini, honeycrisp apples, cucumber, green onions, rhubarb (I brought it home, chopped it up and froze it using these instructions), and Rainier cherries.

bags of produce

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24 comments on “Scattered Sundays”

  1. Thank you so much for the recommendation for the Covered Goods face mask in last week’s Scattered Sundays post. I showed the site to one of my family members who has breathing issues & fogged up glasses anytime she wears a regular mask in hopes that it was a mask that would work out better for her (she fits into several of the high risk categories so I NEED to keep her safe!). I ordered her the grey and white striped one and she absolutely loved it 🙂 It fits her perfectly and she’s excited to be able to wear it with and without the ear loops. And it’s a fashionable scarf when she doesn’t need it over her face.

    So after showing it off to other people in her house, they wanted one too! But I didn’t realize that the “sustainablecooks” code was a one time use code 🙁 I still wanted to order another one for the other family member that needed one so I looked to see if any other coupon codes were available. I found 2 of them. The one I used was “FreeShipping2020” which takes off $5 and the other one is “FIRSTORDER” and that is supposed to take $5 off also. I just wanted to give you and anyone else a heads up who might have run into the same re-order issue that I did after they used your original code.

    Thanks again Sarah!! I’ve been a long time reader and I rarely comment but I had to let you know how much I appreciated the mask rec. and all the hard work you put into this site 🙂

    • Stacey, I’m so sorry for the delay but this comment got sent to spam! I’m glad I found it and I’m thrilled the mask worked for your family member!

      Hmmm, I think the code isn’t single-use because many many people have used it. Let me look into this!

  2. Just another person recommending the freezer trick for your water bag. 😉

    • You all are SO smart!

      What’s funny is I did this with my pump parts while breastfeeding. Never occurred to me this would be part of my life again. LOL

  3. How do you keep bugs out of your strawberries? I have one plant and most of the ripe berries have been eaten by a bug first. 
    My blueberries are barely doing anything yet. Maybe he birds are getting there first. But my raspberries are exploding. I only have 2 plants and I collect a good handful every night! Not sure what to do with them all. 

    • Honestly, I think it volume. We do have bugs get in the strawberries but there are a lot of strawberries that are still ok! We toss the bad ones to the chickens and everyone wins.

      Are the blueberries showing any signs of ripening? We have 27 plants and they all ripen at different times. If you have a Joann’s fabric around you, buy some tulle (I call it “tutu fabric”) and drap it over the berries. Cheaper than netting and it lasts longer!

      You can freeze raspberries! Freeze until you have enough to make freezer jam. https://www.sustainablecooks.com/freezing-raspberries/

  4. ditto on the freezer trick (but because I never had space in my freezer, I always rinse it out, clear the hose (separate it from the bladder, if you can) and then hang upside down with a paper towel or dish towel inside so that it holds the bladder open to dry.

    • Genius!!!

      I was hanging it upside down on the clothesline and then sticking a wooden spoon with a rag up in the bladder (that sounds HORRIBLE).

  5. Assuming the water backpack thing is a plastic bladder then don’t worry about drying it just store it in the freezer, it stops the tube getting nasty and you have cold water when you fill it, win win. We use Platypus brand ones for walking and we’ve had our current ones for years and they’re like brand new because we’ve always stored them in the freezer between uses.

  6. Christmas lights are a year round thing in my sons room also.  He wanted to keep his tree up year round also. We compromised and took it down at the end of February.  Also love Bennett attire for delivery. Undies were the clothing of choice in our house for a very loonnngg time.  It was come home remove shoes at the door. Then my son would strip his clothing.  Glad Jack was able to keep the kayaking up. When you have a mom who encourages you you can do anything.  

    • I’m glad we’re not the only ones with Christmas lights! Was his tree fake or real? I remember my parents always let us get a tiny one each year.

      The good thing about undies as a uniform is that it limits a lot of excess laundry! Jack was a super naked kid and would do the same thing as your son when we got home from daycare.

  7. If you’re wanting your water bladder to dry out, you could get a second one and rotate them. Put a hanger in it so that it gets airflow or turn it inside out if you can to help… or just stick it in the freezer in between uses 🙂

    • I guess it’s not so much that I want it to dry out, it’s that I didn’t know how to actually make sure it was dry.

      THe freezer is a great trick!

  8. Put an open can of cat food in the trap. Works evey time!

  9. Please watch out for that nasty Trash Panda! One decimated my daughter’s flock a few years ago in Louisiana. My stomach rolls every time you mention it. Blueberries: do you still cover them with net/tulle? (Can’t remember which.) I did for a few years but they got too tall for me to reach over so last year and this year they have been naked and the birds have never been happier. We only have 4 straggly bushes so I’m a little protective of what little fruit I’m getting. *sigh* Lastly, I’ll keep my eyes peeled for political ads, but if it makes you feel any better, my eyes are always on your words so I RARELY even see the ads. Over the past several years I’ve gotten pretty good at tuning out what annoys me. Survival!

    • I’m so sorry for your daughter’s loss! That’s horrible and so sad.

      We are being very diligent! The ladies are only out for part of the day now. During the summer (here) it is light until past 9:30 pm, but we’re locking them up at 4. They’re not happy but I like to tell them “I’m doing this for your own good”. They totally get it…

      I do still cover them in tulle but haven’t yet this season. I was just thinking the birds hadn’t caught wind of the ripe blueberries yet, but I caught some in there today. I’ll need to cover them soon!

      Your eyes are very smart. 🙂

  10. I just love how Bennett dressed to impress to deliver his cupcake. You are such a great mom Sara! Tell Troy Happy Father’s Day from a fellow boob sweating, butt puckering reader.😆