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Scattered Sundays

Troy and I were supposed to head to IKEA on Friday for the first step in our kitchen remodeling process. Alas, following the 2020 motto of “haha, made you look, not so fast”, we had to cancel.

Someone we know and had been around was potentially exposed and was waiting for test results. We were going to leave the boys with my inlaws, but the results weren’t back in time to make the trip happen. 

Oh well. We’ll reschedule and it will happen. I’ve been waiting nine years for a new kitchen; another week won’t matter. And really with everything going on in the world, I’m not about to complain about a canceled trip to a store.

If you looked up “first world problems” in the dictionary, there would be a photo of me not going to IKEA, next to a white woman crying in Target because she was asked to wear a mask and Starbucks got her order wrong and she feels ATTACKED and unsafe by it y’all.

All kidding aside, an amazing thing is happening later today! A friend is headed out of town for a weeklong camping trip and offered me her gorgeous kitchen for a few days. I’m headed there later today and all-day tomorrow for marathon photoshoot days.

As many of you know, I photograph my recipes in our living room. When the boys were in school (remember those glorious days 40 years ago? Oh wait, that was four months ago?), each week I would photograph three recipes in one day. It was so much work but it allowed me the other days to get computer work done. And I only had to clean up that epic kitchen mess once a week.

With the boys home, photographing has been…challenging. A typical recipe requires me to go back and forth between the kitchen and living room at least 45 times. That’s for the process photos and finished photos (fun fact: in blogging terms the finished photos are called “hero shots”).

Now each photo session requires me walking through a minefield of toys and dodging boys while carrying hot pans. And now I have to put my camera in a safe space between each photo so that Bennett doesn’t mess with it.

In April I was supposed to go to a blogging conference by myself for three days. That of course got canceled. So I am trying to spin these two days as my fun photography “retreat”. Blasting podcasts, photographing recipes and just being in a quiet house is pretty much the plot of all my dreams lately.

I have goals to photograph 10 recipes which will give me some wiggle room over the next month or so. I’ll still be doing some one-off photos here and there, but the pressure I feel to get it all done each week will be eased. Phew!

a boy holding a piece of kelp

Quite the catch there, Bennett

Troy and I finally finished The Last Kingdom a week ago. It’s on Netflix and was actually recommended by some of you beautiful people. We then watched The Old Guard (also Netflix) because I’m obsessed with Charlize Theron and those kinds of shows.

Sadly, it wasn’t amazing but perhaps I had hyped it up so much in my heart mind. I guess I’m just desperate for lockdown entertainment that both Troy and I will enjoy. We did watch Palm Springs (also Netflix) and really enjoyed it. We love Andy Samberg and the movie was really solid and funny.

In pursuit of a new show, we tried Hanna on Amazon Prime and really like it! It’s like the Jason Bourne movies meets Atomic Blonde. When that finishes up, it should be right around the time The Umbrella Academy comes back for season two.

If you’re looking to binge some great shows, I also loved the Jack Ryan series on Amazon (watched them solo last year and then again with Troy), Last Man on Earth, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Americans (I would even re-watch all eight seasons if Troy wanted to), and Killing Eve. We’re waiting on season three of Killing Eve until it is streaming for free because I’m too cheap to pay for shows.

I’ve been listening to the Fake Doctors, Real Friends podcast with Zach Braff and Donald Faison. One of the running themes is that Zach had never seen Remember the Titans which Donald is in. I had forgotten what a great movie that is and I declared a bonus movie night this week and we watched it as a family.

The boys really liked it, and it brought up some really interesting race discussions we could have with Jack that made sense at an 11-year-old level. Bennett just picked his nose and pretended to play football and tackled our couch. It was a great movie for adults and kiddos and worth a rewatch. 

And that wraps up the new segment called “Sarah’s random entertainment recommendations”.

a boy sleeping on a couch covered by a colorful blanket

Cutting out naps is going terribly, thanks for asking. This was 5 pm.

Lockdown sugar consumption has been out of control in my mouth house. I had to put a swift stop to it because it was getting downright stupid. I have always gone in rhythms with sugar consumption (I used to do a sugar fast for a month 2x a year), and I find what works best for me is limiting daily sugar to just coffee, and then eating whatever I want on Sundays.

Well, Bennett is on a baking kick and loves to make desserts and then take photos of them in the living room. I have no idea where he gets that from… 

On Thursday he begged to “make a recipe” and he was determined they needed to be chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting. A curious choice for a boy who doesn’t really like chocolate. Side note: I’m not sure he is mine.

I found this recipe for small-batch cupcakes from Baking Mischief and they made just four cupcakes. The perfect amount. I did not use the frosting recipe because I have my own version that I can make in my sleep. 

a boy in red pajamas cooking

Bennett was so excited to make them and did almost all the work himself. I had to tell him the measurements of course, and Troy ended up frosting the cupcakes at the end of it because I had scheduled work time. Bennett was intent on decorating them with berries he picked specifically for “his recipe”.

Next up: Bennett finds a strong desire to also learn to clean the kitchen…

a boy holding cupcakes

you’ll notice his clothes changed…because he got chocolate all over them. Also, this is his “smile so I can get a picture of you and your cupcakes” face. Looks super natural.

I have been asked a few times lately about your longing for a return to me sharing photos of groceries. First off, I feel you. I’m nosy too. 🙂 But the fact of the matter is, right now I’m not touching my phone when I grocery shop. And since we are giving things a cursory wipe down when we get them home, it seems kinda nasty to pose anything on the counter.

So, I’m not hiding our groceries, but everything seems just an extra bit germy right now. Should life ever return to normal (God-willing), I will happily take photos of the random crap we buy.

Until then, enjoy this spiderweb between our tomato plants that I almost put my face through while weeding. I think my heart stopped for a second when I realized what had almost transpired.

a spiderweb on tomato plants

Hey parents, how are things looking for you for fall? I feel like every option presented is an epic dumpster fire. There are no winners for kids, teachers/staff, or parents. 

As of now, it is looking like kids grade 2-12 in our district have the option to go two days a week in-person and three days a week online, OR entirely online. I’ve listened to all the experts and weighed all the options, and I’m still firmly in the boat of “it’s a giant suckfest for everyone”.

Poor Jack is starting middle school this year and desperately wants to go back in-person. He told me he didn’t care if it was 5 minutes every two weeks and he had to wear a mask in a hamster bubble, he just wants to be AT school.

As things stand now, we’re thinking he will be attending two days in person. Our district is giving all families the flexibility of moving to the all-online option if things change. 

Bennett’s preschool has been open for the entire shutdown. It is a stand-alone private school with preschool-eighth grade with before and after school care. I think they’ve been able to stay open due to their daycare licensure. 

They put safety measures in place in mid-March and things seem to be a well-oiled machine by now. Bennett hasn’t been there since March 12th and he was totally fine with that for months. I wanted to kick his little butt out of the house on day one. He recently has been telling us how much he misses school and needs to go back because he is “an artist and needs space to create”.

He’s signed up for three full days a week in fall. Just like Jack’s school, our decision was NOT made lightly and is very much subject to change. To recap: terrible choices, dumpster fire. Sugar addiction.

In the Garden This Week 

Raspberries are abundant right now and the boys are hoovering them so quickly that very few are coming into the house for freezing. That’s ok. Whatever type of raspberries these are (they were free like eight years ago so I have no idea) they produce fruit in mid-summer and then a second crop in early fall. If all goes well, we’ll still be picking raspberries into mid-October.

Blueberries are doing great, and blackberries are dotting the roadside. I also found a church with a nice sheltered parking lot that is surrounded by blackberries. It will be a great place to take the boys for picking because I don’t have to worry about them being out in the road.

I trimmed back the tomato plants pretty aggressively on Monday. I’m a firm believer in taming those beasts for optimal production. Our cool spring and summer mean everything is behind.

When I trim the excess branches on the tomatoes, I’m signaling to “get the heck to work on ripening what is already there”. Otherwise, it will just keep putting out branches and trying to produce new fruit. Slackers.

Housekeeping

I cannot say enough great things about our Covered Goods masks! Jack and I have them and I have ordered two for Bennett for preschool. They are the only masks that don’t slip, annoy me, or make my chest feel like it is full of drunk angry badgers.

They are doing their next round of production right now, so everything is preorder at this point. They should ship soon! You can get your Covered Goods mask here and use coupon code “sustainablecooks” to get 15% off!

What I’m Listening To This Week

I have been riveted by the podcast, The Forgotten: Women of Juarez. The story of Forgotten investigates theories about what or who is responsible for the hundreds of women who have gone missing in the border city of Ciudad Juárez. It is so well done but not for the faint of heart.

What I’m Reading This Week

I finished Born a Crime this week and it was FANTASTIC! Highly recommend! I started Me and White Supremacy, another library book that had a very long wait.

Reader Spotlight of the Week

Looooooooooong-time reader Tina left this five-star review on our Kale Chopped Salad {Pin this recipe}:

This is by far one of our favorite ways to eat veggies. With the heat and humidity on MI this summer, I think this will need to be a staple. I’ll cook up some chicken, hard-boiled eggs, and get some deli meat to round it. Looks like I’ve loved this salad for about 6 years now!!!

a bowl with chopped veggies and bacon on a white board

On Sustainable Cooks This Week

Freezing PeppersLearn all the tips and tricks for freezing peppers to save a ton of time and money. Learning how to freeze peppers (diced, sliced, rings, and whole) is a great way to preserve this delicious staple of so many recipes. A freezer stash of frozen peppers opens the door to amazing and speedy meals. {Pin this tutorial}

Healthy Sweet Tea This delicious Healthy Sweet Tea Recipe uses honey instead of buckets of sugar. Learn how simple it is to make sweet tea without refined sugar. This healthy iced tea recipe will be your new favorite sip! {Pin this tutorial}

a mason jar of healthy sweet tea topped with lemons and mint

The Easy Way to Freeze TomatoesLearn all about freezing tomatoes to preserve this incredibly versatile kitchen staple. A freezer stash of frozen produce opens the door to amazing and speedy meals. {Pin this tutorial}

Multiple kinds of tomatoes on a grey plate on a wooden board

The Five Most Popular Posts This Week

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

  1. Canning Peaches – Yep, it is summer! Like clockwork, this post always drops out of the top 5 in the first week of October. {Pin this tutorial}
  2. Instant Pot Garlic Parmesan Rice –  quick and affordable comfort food. And, as always, non-Instant Pot instructions are included in the post. {Pin this recipe}
  3. Welcome back to the top five Air Fryer Zucchini Chips! As always, you’ll find non-air fryer baking instructions in the post.  {Pin this recipe}
  4. Peach Ice Cream – hellllllllo summer goodness. {Pin this recipe}
  5. Air Fryer Pickles – As always, non-air fryer instructions are included in the post.  {Pin this recipe}

Meal Plan

Monday:: New recipe I am testing

Tuesday:: Takeout to support a local small business

Wednesday:: New recipe I am testing

Thursday:: New recipe I am photographing

Friday:: Popcorn, leftovers, and movie night

Saturday:: Takeout to support a local small business

Sunday:: New recipe I am testing

 

What are you having this week?

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21 comments on “Scattered Sundays”

  1. We’ve talked about this on Instagram, but Brooke started daycare during all this mess. Hers has remained open the whole time as an essential business. All the teachers wear masks and the older kids do too but not her group (because ya know, she’s 1). No parents are allowed in (drop off, pick up, etc), no tours were happening for new students until very recently, you check your child in and out at the gate and use gloves and a clean pen to do it, kids get their temp scanned on entrance and get taken to wash their hands immediately. Apparently, the school has had less cases of normal sickness and rashes than usual because everyone is being so careful and keeping their kids home at the slightest sign of anything. So, that’s good. I was against her going when my husband suggested it but after seeing her actively choose to not interact with other kids, I realized she needed the social skills. Bonus, I think they shamed her into actually walking without assistance. She could, but would insist on holding my hand. While that was adorable, it meant I was just wandering the house all day with her. On Saturday she stood herself up and started RUNNING. There was no in-between time between walking with assistance and running. I’m just really hoping my husband goes back to the office soon, then I can have the house to myself for a few hours each week!

    • Yay for running and for her doing so well there!

      Being alone in the house is my new favorite thing. It’s so rare but incredible. I hope you get that joy soon!

  2. I cover my phone with a ziplock bag while I’m working in the ER. Works great!

    • Very high-tech Brenda! 🙂 That’s what I keep in my sweet safety vest for walks. Never know when it will rain and your phone needs a cover!

  3. Your Bennett is just the cutest baker and those cupcakes look delicious! I have one daughter who doesn’t really like cake and I’d be calling the hospital about baby-switching except that my husband is a weirdo who doesn’t care much about desserts.

    My county has postponed our decision-making for us by mandating distance learning until at least September 7th. Two of my kids are ok with that, but the one who is supposed to be starting middle school is heartbroken. All these jackholes who refuse to wear masks around here have ensured that our hospitalization rate is climbing daily and nowhere is safe.

    I use this recipe for one-pot French chicken https://www.bestrecipes.com.au/recipes/one-pot-french-chicken-recipe/is9yjs3v except I use olive oil instead of butter and only a splash of cream since two of my family members don’t mix well with lactose. I also throw in whatever veggies I want to use up. I’ll be making it again this week since I still have some flat-leaf parsley and shallots and it’s a good use for the celery I want out of the fridge. Tonight I’m making ginger chicken with broccoli and the rest of the week we’ll also have chicken tacos, gnocchi with veg sauce, pork chops/potatoes/parsnips, poblano chicken pasta, and a take-out night.

    Looking forward to seeing your new recipes in the future!

  4. To add to your entertainment section “Dark” on Netflix (UK, hope it’s available in the US too)was very good. It’s a German show but if subtitles aren’t your thing you can select dubbed and watch it in English. It’s a time travelling, mind bending sci-fi thing. Maybe you’ll like it. Good luck with the kitchen. I’m looking forward to seeing what you do (being nosey).

    • Thank you Steph, we’ll add it to the list! I think I heard it recommended on a podcast that I like called Pop Culture Happy Hour.

      We’ll definitely needed dubbed since while we watch TV I work on my computer. I’m responding to you right now while “watching” Hanna. 🙂

  5. I wish I could show you a picture of my peppers. I have a black thumb but regularly go to a discount grocery store in my area that sells stuff that would have been thrown out otherwise. I picked up two bags of baby bell peppers. I pickled one bag with cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and green onions. I call it my pepper relish and serve it with chips or on top of sandwiches. I’m trying my hand at fermenting the second bag with onions and garlic.

    My kids went to daycare and camp as soon as they could. My parish (county everywhere else in the country) has the highest rate in the state. I’m SOO thrilled with that but we do as we should and the daycare and camp did everything they possibly could. My kids just went on quarantine after months attending. The daycare closed down due to presumptive positive teachers and my son is just ending quarantine because one of the kids in his group tested positive. As for back to school, it’s bad no matter what you do. Viv’s starting Pre-K at Georgie’s school, he’ll be in 5th. Due to testing requirements, the school can’t just fill spots for kids who don’t go so that’s a good way to thin the crowd. My kids have been out and wearing masks since they were recommended for the public so we at least have that down. Viv will pull hers down and give me her angry look when she’s not happy with me because she knows she’s not supposed to take it off.

    It really makes my blood boil that the only thing some people care about is that “the death rate is lower than the flu”. There are MANY long term serious complications that could be associated with Covid. You may not die but having a stroke or needing a lung transplant are pretty big things. Sorry to go off. It’s been a long week with both kids home again.

    • Mmmm, the pickled peppers sound great! Is it a fridge/quick pickle or do you can them?

      When are the kids supposed to start for the year? Do you know if they’re actually opening? I have friends around the country who have been told they’re opening but it remains doubtful. We don’t start here until the second week of September so I assume 1000 things will change between now and then.

      You’re so very right on the death rate vs. the unknown of survival. The “novel” part of NOVEL coronavirus means no one knows what the eff is going to happen! Why even take the chance?

  6. I needed this hilariousness!!! So I’ve been wrong calling my bestest food photo the ”Money Shot” ? Oops, thanks for clearing that up for me 😳

  7. That’s me!! I need to make snother batch of the chopped salad. My super limited kitchen only has a small bowl…

    Love all the book/show recommendations. I’m trying to get back into audiobooks, so the suggestions help!

  8. Oh my gosh! Bennet looks so much like jack in that last photo, posing with his cupcakes! I usually think they look pretty different but I can really see it there! Such cute boys. And yes, not looking too good about school options this fall. I have 4 in actual school, two want to do online, two want to go back to school. Not quite sure what we are going to do yet, but I’m leaning more toward staying home, and even just straight up homeschooling a couple of them. 

    • He looks tanner than Jack has ever been in his life, so the color is throwing me off. LOL.

      Ugh, splitting the schools between the four of them would be so hard! Good luck with whatever choice you decide. I guess we’re lucky here in the PNW to have a later fall start date.

  9. My brother hated chocolate too! We used to joke he couldn’t be related, because everybody else loved it. Our birthdays were contentious–I always chose chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and chocolate ice cream; he would threaten to choose a pistachio cake with pistachio ice cream (I was allergic). BUT he’d eat chocolate, don’t get me wrong. He just said it tasted like dirt to him.

    • Ha, that sounds like the perfect brother/sister joke and I could totally see my sis and I doing that!

      Tasted like dirt? Sad, sad man.

      • Yep. He’d eat it, because DESSERT, but he’d complain the entire time. When I wanted to bake cookies (because even as a kid I loved to bake), he’d wander in if I was making snickerdoodles or peanut butter cookies and say, “Oh! You really DO love me, sis!” because I wasn’t making chocolate chip. 😀

      • Awww, you’re a good sister!

  10. Bennett’s cupcakes look amazing! I’ve been eyeing some small batch desert recipes to hopefully help with my lockdown sugar Dragon so I may just try that one!