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Scattered Sundays

On Monday we checked a box on our pandemic bucket list and cleaned out the garage. Pretty wild times happening here. Troy and I tackled it alone (because kids = chaos), and basically just told the boys to stay upstairs, not hurt themselves, and come tell us if there was blood.

The boys did mostly great, but the house was TRASHED when we were done. Jack is my neat a tidy kid and Bennett is…not. It looked like he took every toy in his room and dumped it in the living room. 

empty garage shelves

They fed themselves snacks, and Jack even made Bennett “lunch”. It was two pieces of bread with pretzels in the middle. No peanut butter, no butter. Just a pretzel sandwich. It was quite carb forward.

We rehomed a bunch of items, did a dump run, recycled some things, and made a plan to finally sell our beloved stroller (we did not pay that much, but it is 100% worth the price). The only time we use it is when we go into the city for a day of museums and play (which won’t be happening for like…ever?), and Halloween. Bennett just wants to walk or ride bikes, it takes up space in the garage, and thus the stroller must go!

An organized garage with shelves

A place for everything and everything in its place.

You all are smart, smart, smart! Last week I asked for help with cleaning my new water backpack thingy. This is the cleaning set that was recommended, but the most common tip was simply putting the water bladder and hose in the freezer.

GENIUS! I did this with my pump parts when I was nursing, and I’m not sure why it never occurred to me to do it with the backpack.

two boys reading

Jack’s Kindle was the best investment ever. He’s downloaded so many books from the library while its been closed.

A few weeks ago I was working on this post for Instant Pot Jasmine Rice and I tested the pot in pot method. It’s where you cook the rice in a bowl on a trivet over some water. The benefit of this is you only have to clean a bowl and not the whole Instant Pot insert (it’s just water so you can drain and dry).

Whenever I make a dish in the Instant Pot that works best with rice (like beef tips with gravy and beef and broccoli), I make the rice, remove it from the insert, clean the insert, and then make the main dish. It doesn’t take a lot of time, but it does take time.

So, this week I tested out the pot in pot method while making orange chicken. It worked SO well! I’m feeling a bit dopey that I hadn’t figured this out before, but I’m glad I know it now.

It’s a total game-changer for even quicker homemade meals. Have you ever tried the pot in pot method? Tell me how you use it for more than just rice + protein dish.

a bowl of rice in an instant pot

rice on top and orange chicken at the bottom. It’s like an Instant Pot mullet that you can eat.

We have been pretty good with the boys and electronics during lockdown. Not much has changed from “normal” times and it forces them to play and read. And of course, annoy the heck out of us. And yeah, there are times (especially on the first day of shark week when I am convinced my insides are trying to destroy me) that they get more, but overall it’s been fine.

But this week we started allowing them a family show in the evening, after dinner, after bath/shower, and after we pick strawberries. We have watched The Floor is Lava (incredibly dumb, but entertaining(ish) and America’s Funniest Home Videos (it’s like the 1980’s up in here).

Another good one for most kids is Lego Masters. It’s endearing, there are no “bad guys/villains”, and you get to watch incredibly gifted artists build Lego creations.

Meanwhile, it took me two hours following an instruction manual to build a seven-inch firetruck that Jack got for Christmas when he was three. Fun fact: I finally finished building it and went to grab my camera to take a photo, and he dropped it on the floor and it shattered in 272 pieces.

2 boys walking and holding hands

Me: you guys look cute. Let me take a picture.
Jack: this is my serious face

Have you heard the news? We’re finally remodeling the 1970’s dumpster fire that is our kitchen! AKA, the kitchen that was built by someone who was only 5 feet tall and had never cooked a day in their lives.

Here is how I assume the plan went with the architect of our house: “Let’s put the fridge in a place where if the door is open no one else can come in or leave the kitchen? Yes, that makes perfect sense. While we’re at it, we should drop the ceiling by 7 inches to put in a giant fluorescent light that attracts every bug in a 500-mile radius? Yes! Do that! Should we use fake oak cabinets that are poorly laid out? I mean, I think it’s the only way to go here”.

I have done nothing for the last nine years but dream of how to improve this kitchen. The ability to start this project came in the form of gifted used quartz countertops from a friend. They were remodeling their kitchen and the old counters wouldn’t work with the new layout. But they’re in near-pristine condition and are perfect for us. And free-ninety-nine.

Troy and my father-in-law are doing most of the work (bless them) which will save us quite a bit of money. I have finalized the plan, and now we need to actually take measurements and start all the gears turning. The expected start date is some time in September, but it’s still TBD.

I’m excited and already know it will be a total cluster. Taking out a wall! Adding a window! Having a kitchen that makes sense! Good things are to come and I’m so excited to bring you all along for the ride. 🙂

2 eggs in an orange bucket

Our crazy chicken that kept getting out seems to have run out of ways to escape. So now she is making our lives interesting by hiding her eggs. Her latest favorite stash place is in a sideways bucket. I mean, whaaaaa? For those who are curious (you all are), the cans are part of a rat trap that we never actually implemented.

In the Garden This Week

Raspberries have started!! We noticed the first one on Monday while we were giving a friend a quick social distancing garden tour. They came by to pick up some items from our garage clean out and ended up getting some garden snacks. Everyone wins.

Blueberries are starting to pump out ripe fruit more and more, but I think the strawberries are already slowing down. Usually, the growing season is 4-5 weeks long, and I feel like it’s only been 3 at this point. Whaaaa. We had a cool spring and lost a lot of berries to rain. Things happen.

Weeds need to be pulled (always), blueberries needed to be covered by tulle (from the fabric store. Cheaper and easier to work with than bird netting and it lasts YEARS), and I finally need to get my potted basil into the ground. You can’t have homemade pesto without basil! I mean, you can, but I don’t wanna.

And can you believe I still haven’t planted green beans? Oh, you can? You know me too well.

Housekeeping

I’ve been trying to source some “new” workout clothes for summer, and have been striking gold at ThredUp! ThredUp is the world’s largest online thrift store. You can get incredible (and clean!) secondhand clothes in great condition. Many still have tags on them!

Fast/cheap fashion is terrible for the environment and buying secondhand is a sustainable way to get some new favorite items without breaking the bank. Take $10 off your first purchase by clicking this link.

What I’m Listening To This Week

I really loved this episode of America Dissected this week. If you’re interested in learning about viruses (I mean, who isn’t, right?) but don’t have a heavy science background, this episode is super approachable.

If you have kids who have ALL the questions (to the point where you want to run your face into a wall), this is great for them to listen to as well. I think it is appropriate for kids 10 and older. There is an explicit rating on the show but this episode is not explicit.

What I’m Reading This Week

I finished White Fragility. And I’m going to be honest…I wasn’t blown away by it! I was expecting fireworks or sparks or something, but nada. It was the first of the anti-racism books that was available through my library. If I had been able to determine the order of books I could read, I probably would have started with a book by a Black author.

This week I am starting The Body: A Guide For Occupants by Bill Bryson. He’s the author of a few other books I love – A Walk in the Woods, At Home, and In a Sunburned Country. I will start Me and the KKK after that, or perhaps Born a Crime. Any thoughts on which order I should read them?

I had some “charming” feedback via email from a reader this week.

the text of a rude email

Charmed I’m sure. Living your life online opens up the door to these kinds of bored keyboard warriors. A few years ago, an email like this would have devastated me. Now? I laughed and deleted her from my email list after letting her know I had unsubscribed her.

It costs me money to send emails that are packed with FREE content. If you don’t want to be here, I’m not paying for your rude ass to stick around. Go spend $29 on a cookbook (that you’ll never read) and then you don’t have to deal with ads or book recommendations. But since it’s FREE, please enjoy this batch of homemade STFUpcakes. They’re whole wheat.

But, she is kind of right. I am clearly trying to start a movement with my blog and be a guru. My life goal has been to encourage people everywhere to get a library card and take advantage of the incredible free resources they offer.

So, you have me there Karen Gayle. I’m looking for some more nerds to join my army of library lovers. Enlist now and we’ll quietly dominate public libraries around the world. (insert evil laughter here. But not too loud because we don’t want to get shushed).

Reader Spotlight of the Week

Mary left this five-star review on our Super Soft Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies {Pin this recipe}:

This is now my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe. I use sprouted whole wheat which gives them a heartier texture that I’ve grown to like. The first time I made these I started without reading the whole list of ingredients. By the time I saw “whole wheat pastry flour”, I was too far in to quit. So that mistake turned into my favorite cookies. In case anyone wants to know, yes you can sub out the pastry flour for sprouted. The cookies turn out denser but have an interesting texture. It all depends on how much you want to sacrifice for the sake of a chocolate chip cookie!

A stack of whole wheat chocolate chip cookies on a plate with a glass of milk

On Sustainable Cooks This Week

Freezing Scrambled EggsLearn all the tips and tricks for Freezing Scrambled Eggs to save money and prevent food waste. A stash of frozen scrambled eggs is great for meal prep and can be used for breakfast recipes and fast weeknight dinners! {Pin this recipe}

a stack of frozen scrambled eggs on a plate

Toasting Bagels in the Air FryerLearn how easy it is to toast bagels in the air fryer! Make perfectly toasted bagels in just a few minutes each and every time. Ditch the toaster and maximize how you use your countertop air fryer. {Pin the recipe}

a bagel on a plate with bowls of toppings and fruit

How to Freeze Celery –  Learn all the tips for Freezing Celery to save yourself time and money. A stash of frozen celery in your freezer can easily be added to soups, casseroles, and other hot dishes for fast meals that can quickly be thrown together. {Pin the recipe}

A round glass bowl full of chopped frozen celery on a wooden cutting board

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 –  this recipe goes with EVERYTHING. And, as always, non-Instant Pot instructions are included in the post. {Pin this recipe}
  2. Freezing Spinach – With temps climbing, spinach is starting to bolt (go to seed) and home gardeners are scrambling for a way to preserve it.  {Pin this tutorial}
  3. Air Fryer Pickles – you can call them fried pickles, or “frickles”, but thanks to Troy, these will forever be known as “ranch shovels” in the Cook house. As always, non-air fryer instructions are included in the post.  {Pin this recipe}
  4. Canning Peaches – Yep, this post gaining traffic is the official sign of summer.  {Pin this tutorial}
  5. The Ultimate Homemade Peach Ice Cream – Let’s welcome to the leaderboard a new summery post!  {Pin this recipe}

Meal Plan

Monday:: Tofu lettuce wraps with peanut sauce and Air Fryer Egg Rolls.

Tuesday:: Takeout to support a local small business.

Wednesday:: Air Fryer Pretzel Dogs (I need to make another batch for the freezer), salad, and grilled veggies.

Thursday:: Kale chopped salad with grilled veggies on top.

Friday:: Popcorn, leftovers, and movie night.

Saturday:: 4th of July…it’s a very first-world problem, but it’s gonna be a sad one this year! Instead of the blowout BBQ we always have at my in-laws, we’ll grill at home. I’m thinking Troy’s burgers, corn, greek yogurt deviled eggs, grilled veggies, maybe strawberry rhubarb crisp…or s’mores. Or maybe both? I think the answer is both. Yep. Definitely both.

Sunday:: Takeout to support a local small business.

 

What are you having this week?

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19 comments on “Scattered Sundays”

  1. I love your recipes but I also love hearing about your garden, life stuff, and getting some ideas for books, podcasts, etc. 

    I loathe celery and dill. You know what I do when you use these ingredients in a recipe I want to try? I skip them and move on like the adult I am. Sorry for the (ex)reader who just couldn’t figure this out. 

    My six year old is in love with Floor is Lava. He had his toys play it in the bathtub tonight. I’d much rather watch Ninja Warrior (the original is a favorite, but I’ll watch American Ninja Warrior in a pinch). Our entire family LOVED Lego Masters. They made cool stuff and everyone was really supportive of each other. It’s a feel good as reality tv gets. 

    • No celery or dill? I don’t think we would be good roommates Christine. 🙂

      Lego Masters was totally feel-good reality TV. If he likes The Floor is Lava, check out Wipe Out. It’s pretty silly.

  2. When I was commuting on public transit, I’d frequently ask other riders what they were reading. Keep on sharing that! <3

    Do you happen to know if there's a way to shop ThredUp without signing in? I'd like to browse their website, but can't get past the "GIMME YOUR EMAIL"

    • Did you ever get any amazing suggestions? Those are the best!

      I don’t *think* you can view it without signing in. My browser just remembers all my details so I’m never signed out.

  3. Well darn it all about that ex-d subscriber who wanted to tell you a thing or two about a thing or two.. if there is something you blog about and it’s something I am notm particularly interested in.. I can pass over it and read what other interesting, funny and helpful information you do have that I am interested in.. yup Karen or ex-subscriber good riddence.. your loss and our FSU. Cause you Sarah are a delightful human and so is your family and all you do is uplifting to read about.. especially in today’s effed up world.. aloha

  4. Lots of us like hearing what people are reading. Good luck shutting me up about books once I get started.

    Hooray for the kitchen Reno! We replaced our countertops 2 years ago and it has made a huge difference. I still have to paint the cabinets (there are a million of them) and replace the awful textured tile and filthy unsealed grout but anything was an improvement! We have spent the last few weekends working on the downstairs bathroom and while there’s still a ways to go, it’s nice to finally make things work better for us.

    My kids are loving Lego Masters as well. We have also been watching old seasons of The Amazing Race on Hulu and they are obsessed. We blew through season 1 and are almost done with 2. Luckily there are like 23 seasons available 😂

  5. I enjoy hearing what books you are reading because it makes me feel like I know you better. Sometimes I get ideas on what to read next, sometimes I smile when we’ve read and liked the same book. I belong to two book clubs, and guard those meeting times very jealously. I miss those monthly discussions more than I miss my hairdresser, and I like my hairdresser so much that I would rather find a new gynecologist than a new salon. Glad to hear you gave Gayle the heave ho. Her comment was just too mean.

  6. Wow what a rude person! The book and podcast recommendations are 2 small paragraphs with headings to let you know when they start and end and so very easily skipped if that’s not your thing (though I personally love a good recommendation). I feel like if she’s ever read your comment section she’d see just as much talk about those as she would about the food and garden. But hooray for you for not letting it devastate you. And hooray for a new kitchen on the horizon! Could you do a garden tour sometime? I love seeing what everyone has growing!

  7. Your love for the library and the free digital content it has to offer has rubbed off on me. I’m currently reading an ebook (Educated by Tara Westover) through my local library’s app, I prepared and started it when we were off the grid camping, I bring a paperback of a different title as a backup though. I have also taken advantage of the ebooks and contactless pickup recently to help keep my boys reading. I haven’t gotten into podcasts, I’d rather listen to music because I don’t know if I could ponder on or absorb information being doled out in podcasts while focusing on work. I don’t have a long commute either. My husband enjoys them.

    AFV is a popular family show in this household too. My boys tried to get me to watch The Floor is Lava and I made it through one round and now if they wanna watch that it’s gotta be on their own time, I did not like it! We limit their screen time as well but they can earn an extra 30 minutes for every hour they play outside, do you see what we did there?! 😉 And if it’s the whole family watching it doesn’t count towards their daily tally (i.e. last night we watched the first half or Artemis Fowl on Disney + which I liked so far) My kids like watching Somebody Feed Phil (Netflix) with me, I like it because it opens their eyes to other foods and countries. Sometimes there are things ppl on the show say that make for an awkward moment but in my experience, it’s rare. And I just love Phil’s attitude.

  8. This caused some controversy when I told my friends last year but we make pesto out of carrot tops as well as basil and have also come to love the carrot top pesto better! I know we’re barbarians, even worse, I use sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts (because have you seen the price of pine nuts?). We’ll still do both but we have more carrot tops than basil and I also like to freeze basil with olive oil in ice cubes to go in tomato soup in the winter. I was due a new kitchen this year but I’m not sure my landlord can make it happen at the moment, especially as I’m always working from home but I’m excited to see you get the kitchen you deserve!

  9. Just read today’s Scattered Sundays. Every inch of it. It’s surprising to me that some people don’t like certain parts of it, like your book recommendations. I, on the other hand, find your eclectic weekly newsletters the best of any I read. They’re entertaining and educational, which is a rare commodity. And I love your recommendations for all manner of things that will make life better and/or contribute to a more sustainable planet. Most of all, I appreciate your transparent honesty about life, including raising two boys and not living in a picture-perfect house. Thank you.

    • I never assume people love everything I (or anyone else) do. If life is a salad bar, take what works for you and let the rest go. But there is no need to stand at the salad bar screaming “garbanzo beans are stupid”. HA!

      Nobody has a picture-perfect house and I wish we would all stop pretending we do! If you have kids, pets, or are stuck at home, your house won’t be IG worthy!

  10. Oof, that was a rude comment. I, for one, like to hear about what other people are reading, because I’m more of a book nerd than a food nerd, though I love to try new recipes as well. I think your blog is well rounded and interesting!

    Oh, and thanks for crossing out the “Karen” in your response to her. I’m rather tired of my name, which I used to like, being used as an insult. Sigh. Not all Karens want to speak to the manager.

    • As a “Sarah” who lived thru the Sarah Plain and Tall era of the 80’s, and friends to Becky’s who survived Sir Mix A-Lot, I can tell you, it eventually blows over. One of my IG followers who is actually named Karen shared a pic of a protest sign with. It was a woman holding a sign that said “real life Karens saying Black Lives Matter” and the back said “I’d like to talk to your manager about systemic racism”. I loved it. So clever.