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Scattered Sundays

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This was the first week of Zoom middle school. Overall I think it went really well and Jack was so happy to see other kids on his screen. His teachers seem to be working really hard to make things engaging, and the balance of computer to work or wiggle time seems perfect.

I would also say that Jack is pretty thrilled that Zoom has a “mute” option. It came in very handy on Thursday, when in the bathroom across the hall from Jack’s room, Bennett proudly and loudly declared “whoa, my poop stinks”. Charmed I’m sure.

Jack logs on at 8:55 am and classes are 45 minutes with 45 minutes of homework or wiggle time throughout the day, plus lunch. The computer is off at 2 pm unless he has additional homework from his last course.

And do you know what doesn’t happen during the day? Fighting. It’s heaven. The boys don’t seem to have time to fight over the stupidest little thing anymore. I guess that was their #1 hobby before school started.

On Thursdays, there is a 25-minute window when Jack is on Zoom and Bennett has digital speech therapy and I don’t have to deal with either of them. This week I cleaned the kitchen without interruption or having to listen to a diatribe on Pokemon or Minecraft. Bennett has to use my computer so I can’t get work done. But whatever I do, it’s QUIET.

Now, if everyone could kindly mask up so we can kick this virus’ butt so everyone can GTF out of my house and physically back to school. Please and thank you.

a starbucks iced drink

You may have seen that the whole West Coast is currently on fire. My heart breaks for pretty much everyone, but especially those who have lost their homes and/or loved ones.

A very unusual wind storm on Tuesday plus record heat swept a ton of smoke from neighboring fires into the Seattle area. It also started many local fires. 

On Friday our air quality was 199. A score of 201 is considered dangerous. It’s like living in a nightmare that you just can’t wake up from. I cannot even imagine what it is like for the people who live even closer to the actual fires. 

Please be safe wherever you are. If you feel called to donate, The American Red Cross is currently the best option. They are on the ground and helping wherever they can.

2 boys in front of a tree's root ball

Bennett’s fashion blog “he dressed himself” will be launching this fall.

Before everything went to pot, we spent Sunday hiking through a local nature preserve. It’s such a cool place to visit and I’m embarrassed to say that until a few weeks ago, I had never been.

We’re lucky to live near the beach, but that means our yard is tiny. Being out in the woods is so lovely and different from our day to day. 

It is funny to see how the family naturally separates while we’re out there. Jack and I are the speed walkers and are constantly stopping to wait for Troy and Bennett. Jack and I actively have to work on our patience while Bennett stops to examine his 456th pinecone in 5 minutes.

a dad carrying a small boy in sunglasses

My quest for an actual work desk is mostly over. Every store is sold out of desks as so many people are working/educating at home.

I had wanted simple IKEA cabinets as the base and then one of their desktops. I ended up with this off-brand version of the cabinets and an IKEA desktop that was way too small and wide.

The boys and I found an $8 solution at the Habitat ReStore in the form of an old door. It’s the exact color I wanted and the depth was perfect! It’s too long and there are gashes where the hinges were, but the former doorknob hole makes a fantastic way to snake cords.

a white desk with a wooden top and a blue desk chair

If I end up keeping it, we’ll probably cut it down a bit, put a few coats of clear varnish on top to protect the long-term integrity of the surface. And then patch the hinge issues. Oh, and everyone asks me about the chair. It’s this one and it’s sooooooo comfy.

Early last week I realized that our chickens we hiding eggs somewhere in their yard. There were only a few eggs in the nesting boxes in the coop each day, so I knew those buttholes were being sneaky.

The last time they were hiding eggs we found them in a bucket. A flipping bucket! This time, it took Bennett and I three days of egg hunting before we found those stinkers hiding spot.

Back up against our neighbor’s retaining wall where we throw all our sticks and yard debris, they had dug a hole one foot deep. And why did it take so long to find it? Because those feathered punks had created the hole UNDER all the sticks and branches.

a woman's hand holding a bowl of eggs

We are officially over a week into our Whole30 Lite and things are going fine. Troy is having a harder time with the sugar withdrawals than I am, which is surprising. In fact, I’m not craving it at all.

Throughout the day I see snacks that I’d love, but I realize I’m not even hungry and thus it’s just a reaction to boredom. My inlaws came over for dinner one night and I made lettuce wraps (so good!) and our wildly popular garlic rice.

I thought I’d be bummed that I couldn’t have the rice, but three wraps filled me up so much that I wouldn’t have had room anyway. I still plan to eat rice when this is over, but think perhaps I’ll focus on the protein and fat portion of my meal before eating it.

Unlike the last time we did Whole30, I’m keeping it UBER simple this time. This is easy for me because about 350 days a year I eat the same breakfast (make-ahead scrambled eggs, some sort of protein, and Encurtido) and it’s all compliant.

I make big batches of everything once a week so all I do is spend 30 seconds heating up my plate each morning.

I’ve been adding half of an avocado and some Maldon to my plate to get some good fat in there. That keeps me full until lunch so I’m not tempted to snack around 10 am(ish).

Lunch has been one of two things – leftovers, or a cucumber cut into slices with salt, smoked turkey roll ups, ranch (for fat) and something I’m calling “Chex Mix nuts”. Basically almonds and cashews with some seasoning that I roast in my air fryer.

I am someone who is happy to eat much of the same thing day to day. I complicated things last time by always trying new recipes and techniques. Keeping it simple is making my life much easier this time around.

In the Garden This Week

We have so many tomatoes that I have become the neighborhood u-pick tomato farm and I AM HERE FOR IT! Our neighbor across the street will yell through my windows “I’m taking some tomatoes”. Perfect.

Our Greek neighbor above us (we’re on a hill which means homes are terraced, so people are either above, below, or across from you) has been making “real” Greek salads for his family with our ‘maters.

I got a copy of the book The Ultimate Guide to Preserving Vegetables from Angi who runs the blog SchneiderPeeps. I made her roasted tomato sauce and it was great! It is a freezer-friendly book and we put some of this sauce in the freezer. It will be delightful in January.

Our second crop of raspberries is producing and the boys and I are spending 10 minutes each morning picking at least a pint. I made the mistake on Thursday of putting my picking container down and then watch Bennett promptly kicked it over on accident. Ugh!

With our week of super hot temps, I added some shade cloth to the garden bed with greens. Just like me, salad does not thrive in the heat. I quickly rigged some leftover fencing we had to create a hoop over the beds. I’m going to have to build something that will survive winter too. 

a wooden planting box covered with a white sheet

Housekeeping

With our kitchen remodel planning process getting underway, I’ve been spending A LOT of time in home improvement stores (and IKEA). Each time I’ve worn my Covered Goods mask for hours at a time, and they’re still the only mask I can tolerate (i.e., that won’t cause panicked breathing for me).

Covered Goods is still offering my readers 15% off their mask purchase with coupon code “sustainablecooks”. Get your Covered Goods mask here!

What I’m Listening To This Week

Relative Unknown is a new podcast about a woman who grew up in witness protection due to her father’s involvement with the Hell’s Angels. If you loved the FX show Sons of Anarchy, this podcast is definitely for you. Do heed the explicit warning if there are little ears listening along with you. 😊

What I’m Reading This Week

I finished Station Eleven (so good and I’m glad I pushed through my initial hesitation) and started Rock With Wings. It’s not my normal sort of book, but a friend suggested it to me. I think it’s going to be a pretty speedy read. You can see all the books I have read in 2020 here.

Reader Spotlight of the Week

Long-time reader, Karla, left this five-star review on our Instant Pot Chicken Gnocchi Soup. {Pin this recipe}. As an aside, I just posted this recipe last week, so I really love Karla jumping on it so quickly!

THIS. SOUP. IS. AMAZING!!! I made this for dinner last night after working a full 8 hour day. I appreciate how easy it was to put together. I am a soup fanatic and this is definitely a keeper and in my top favorites! My husband is not a soup freak like me, but even he loved this soup.

a grey bowl of Instant Pot chicken gnocchi soup with a spoon

On Sustainable Cooks This Week

How do Dehydrate TomatoesDehydrating tomatoes is such a delicious and simple way to preserve this tasty summer crop! Learn how to dehydrate tomatoes in a food dehydrator or in the oven. {Pin this Tutorial}

a hand holding a jar of dried tomatoes

Healthy Tea PopsiclesThis simple recipe for Healthy Tea Popsicles For Sore Throats is a delicious natural remedy for kids and adults. These tasty sore throat popsicles will have everyone in the family feeling better in a flash. {Pin this Recipe}

red healthy tea popsicles for sore throats and fruit on a tray of ice cubes

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

a white bowl of cilantro rice on a wooden board

The Five Most Popular Posts This Week

That attention hog, mojito mocktail is actually #3 (oh, how the mighty have fallen), but let’s focus on the other top recipes. 

  1. How to Can Pears – I think everyone and their mother was canning pears on Labor Day because this post blew TF up on Monday. {Pin this tutorial}
  2. Canning Peaches – because everyone wants to can something that looks like a tiny fuzzy butt. {Pin this tutorial}
  3. Canning Tomato Soup Base – Think healthy Campbell’s without 50 days worth of sodium. {Pin this tutorial}
  4. Canning Whole Tomatoes – One of the easiest canning projects for newbies and pro canners.  {Pin this tutorial}
  5. Crockpot Apple Butter – fall is here! This recipe is low sugar and has instructions for canning or freezing. Oh, and you can make it in a slow cooker so you’re not babysitting it all day.  {Pin this recipe}

Meal Plan

Troy and I both agree that our favorite meal from last week was an adapted version of my Green Beans in Tomato Sauce recipe. I took some potato chunks, and then “grilled” some chicken sausage in our air fryer. It was SO GOOD! 

The only prep that was required was trimming the green beans. I had garlic minced in the freezer, and chunks of frozen blanched potatoes. From start to finish it was a 12-minute dinner. And that is why you’ll see it on the next few meal plans.

Monday:: Instant Pot Zuppa Toscana (the boy’s FAV!).

Tuesday:: Instant Pot Beef Tips using beef from our latest Butcher Box order. To make it Whole30 approved, I’ll use arrowroot powder and leave out the sour cream. Normally I’d serve it over rice, but I’ll make some Whole30 Mashed Potatoes to keep this ish compliant. And a big big big salad on the side.

Wednesday:: Takeout to support a local small business.

Thursday:: Lettuce wraps + rice for the boys.

Friday:: Popcorn and leftovers for the boys. Troy and I will have big salads with Air Fryer Tofu. No, tofu is not allowed on Whole30, but we’re doing Whole30 “lite” because I think regular Whole30 relies on eating WAY too much meat.

Saturday:: Green Beans in Tomato Sauce with chunks of potato and grilled chicken sausages.

Sunday:: We had some pork chops in our Butcher Box order…and we never eat pork chops. I’m trying this recipe, salad, and maybe some roasted potato wedges.

 

What are you having this week?

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7 comments on “Scattered Sundays”

  1. Fire…everywhere….my in-laws had to evacuate their house and came to ours. They JUST finished having their house built last year, so you can imagine their fear for it being burned down was pretty much quadrupled. Thankfully the winds died down and shifted, so it looks like as long as conditions stay the same/improve (come on, rain tomorrow!) then they should be in the clear.

    Everyone do a rain dance!

  2. I look forward to and read every Instagram and blog post your write – so thank you for keeping on keeping on Sarah.
    Joy

  3. We had the most delicious pork chops last night (if I do say so myself), but there was brown sugar in the rub, so… not Whole 30 compliant.
    I know what you mean about not visiting things near you!  I am in Toronto and have lived here since I was 9 years old. (I’m 50 now) and I have been up the CN Tower exactly once.  The only reason I went was because it was a trip for the class I was doing my co-op credit in ( a special needs, elementary class. Because I wanted to get into Social Work)!   I was 17 or 18.   I have looked into it more recently and can’t justify the cost.  It is a ridiculous price.  They only allow you to use the stairs for a couple special charity things and I BRIEFLY considered doing that once (because it would be free, as long as I could get sponsors/donations) but… I get winded going up three flights, so I don’t think I would survive 144 flights! 
    Glad you found the eggs.  As a city girl who gets eggs from the fridge at the grocery store, I am wondering….  Are they still good/safe to eat after being unrefrigerated for who-knows-how-long?
    My daughters went to kindergarten MANY days in fabulous ensembles they created themselves.  The first time, I felt the need to let the teacher know, but she is amazing and put any worries I had about allowing my kid in public “dressed like that” to rest, and I never had a concern allowing the kids to dress themselves for school after that.  My youngest wore a cheesy plastic tiara EVER DAY until at least Christmas Break.  After a few weeks, other kids were wearing them too!   She may even have it on in her class photo.  I can’t remember.  
    Keep enjoying  your Thursdays!!!!! 🙂 

    • The eggs are fine to eat if left out as long as they aren’t washed first. A lot of stores in Europe don’t have the eggs in coolers bc they aren’t washed first.

    • Yeah, I think there are “tourist” things and then local things. The CN Tower process sounds a lot like the Space Needle – very expensive and designed for tourists.

      Yes, eggs are fine at room temp for about 3 weeks. Most countries not in North America actually never store their eggs in the fridge. If you have ever seen those cool antique egg baskets, you’ll realize that they were meant to be displayed on the counter and not in the fridge. Growing up my mom had one for decoration that had been her mom’s, but now that I own chickens I realize what it was really for!

      I love the costume, tiara, jammies phase. I’m so glad kids can be themselves for a bit before society makes them feel terribly about themselves.