Sustainable Cooks
First Time Visiting? Start Here!

Scattered Sundays

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

In the “before times”, going to a tile store on a kid-free Friday would have seemed like a boring afternoon. Now? It’s what we call date night around these parts.

A card of tile samples

The big one on the left (to the left, every tile you ordered in the box to the left)

After dropping our butthole kids off at my in-law’s, Troy and I hit up some tile and home improvement stores. We picked out/ordered some big items for the kitchen like tile for the floor and backsplash.

As a reminder, “we” salvaged free quartz counters from a friend’s tear-down last new years. That would be the “collective we”, as in Troy and my brother-in-law. I’m thankful for that for budgetary purposes and not having to spend more mental energy picking things out.

Are you ready for a little kitchen remodeling news? Yes? No? Could not care less?

As of now (knock on wood), it looks like demo will start on November 1st. My sister, upon hearing that news, sent me a GIF of the Kool-Aid Man busting through a wall. That is exactly what I plan on happening. Cannot wait to start busting crap up!

My lovely father-in-law had been planning to help but busted his shoulder in August and it doesn’t seem to be improving much. I told Troy I’ll step in as “help”, but that I’m investing in a pair of “lady Carhartts” because he has like 19 pairs of work pants and I only own a pair of scrubby old yoga pants.

I’m not sure what tasks I’ll be helping with since I’m naturally a “cut 15 times, measure once” kind of person, but I’m willing to try anything. 🙂 I feel like tiling might be fun…?

2 boys in sweatshirts with leaves over the faces

I am constantly amazed that Jack’s legs can support a human.

Let’s talk TV! What are you watching? What should we be watching? What’s new out there?

Troy and I get about 45 minutes a day for TV so it takes us an eternity to get through anything. We finished up Perry Mason (very good but very dark, and definitely trigger warnings about deceased children), and are watching The Boys, the latest season of Fargo, and Ted Lasso. Please note, Ted Lasso is the best thing that has happened in 2020.

We’re used to only watching series that have already finished, so it is odd that all three shows we are watching are releasing episodes weekly. Waiting for episodes seems so 1999.

We have also seen a few episodes of Pen15 and it is pretty hilarious. But I’m not sure if either of us is committed to it. With time in 2020 being a finite source, we try to only watch things we LOVE. 

It has been a pretty wild news week in the US. I woke up at 5:15 am on Friday morning to 28 texts and it seems like a news and social media storm that has not let up.

I wish everyone impacted a full recovery. This virus is still so new and no one knows the long-term effects of having it. And I will also throw out another plug to please wear your mask, wash your hands, and social distance when you can. Science is real and so is the impact of this virus.

Japan has 126.5 million people (US is 328.2 million) and has only had 1,590 deaths from Covid. 1,590!! Clearly, there are things we can do to kick this virus in the ass, get our kids back in school (maybe just my kids??), and get businesses and the country opened back up. It doesn’t have to be like this.

If anything good comes out of this, I hope it is that people acknowledge the virality of what is happening. As a country, we have blown so many opportunities to come together to fight this together.

Honestly, I don’t see anything bringing us back together to collectively tackle this, but I believe in the 1% possibility and I hope we can work together to get things back to normal.

(awkward segue because there is no other way) Welp, we finished Whole30 (Lite) yesterday. Or rather Whole28. My birthday is tomorrow and we celebrated with my lovely inlaws yesterday.

And if ever there was a year to have exactly what you wanted to eat on your birthday, it is 2020. And this year, that meant pizza from an incredible local place and an ice cream cake that I ordered for myself. Can you tell?

an ice cream birthday cake with green icing

Troy and I started this and the plan was never to be uber-strict. We didn’t police our condiments, we ate tofu once a week, and we used a splash of real creamer in our coffee every single day. The goal was to take a break from the habits that we got stuck in for a bit too long. And I think we both achieved what we set out to. 

I never experienced the sugar detox rage that I did last time. Oddly enough, Troy was the one who had a hard time cutting out sugar. We both went through a super weird phase after a week where we were not hungry at all after breakfast. The food I was making was great (in my not so humble opinion), but we were just not remotely hungry.

Troy instantly started to feel better as he cut out the snackier foods. He slept better, his decrepit old man body didn’t hurt, and he had a ton more energy. Annnnnnnnd, just like last time…nothing changed for me. 🙂

The working theory is that my baseline energy is what others feel when they cut out crappy food. My normal is other people’s great, AKA, I’m a human Jack Russell terrier.

But, 28 days later, and I feel strong and my clothes fit the way I want them to. And we ate a lot of yummy food. So that’s all positive. Last year I put together this Whole30 meal plan if you are interested in seeing what kinds of things we were eating.

Troy wants to keep going because he feels so great. But with some caveats. It’s hard for him to stick to a good plan when he is at work. They make shift dinner together and it often involves lots of things that aren’t the healthiest options.

On the other hand, I very much want to stop eating so much meat, which Whole30 seems to necessitate. Multiple times during the month I was like “I need beans or lentils”! Relying that much on meat for protein is not sustainable in my eyes (or budget).

So, the plan we think we’re going with is eating pretty consistently Whole30 for breakfast and lunch and then dinner is a wild card. I legit eat the same breakfast about 350 days a year so this is nothing for me. And I do plan to eat ALL THE SUGAR I want on Sundays.

Who knows what will happen. But I do know I enjoyed eating a butt-ton more veggies than I normally do and definitely want to keep that going.

a lamp near a computer and glass of iced coffee

Yes, I am using an empty box to raise my laptop. Follow me on Pinterest for more home decor ideas.

How do you know that you’re almost 39? You get excited about a daylight lamp for your desk so you can do computer work at 5:15 am without eye strain. At least I can jump out of bed in the morning without anything hurting. For now.

But seriously, the lamp rules. It has 10 settings and can go from cool to warm and different intensities. And it was really affordable.

a boy in the woods holding a stick

YOU SHALL NOT PASS

Bennett has become obsessed with Candyland in the last two weeks. Jack never got into it because he was so competitive that board games were a torturous affair. I can’t tell you how many times I had to say “you can’t be GOOD at Candyland. It’s all luck buddy”.

Bennett wants to play it all day, every day. I’ve bribed Jack with chocolate chips to play with him because Troy and I just couldn’t take it any longer. I do remember loving Candyland when I was younger, and I’m starting to think my family members were hiding when I was walking around with the board hoping for a pickup game.

Troy found a Candyland cartoon on youtube, and Bennett has been watching that during his allotted electronics time. It’s better than those stupid unboxing toy videos that he also likes. The parents who started those channels for their kids need to be arrested.

But, here’s my ask. What other board games do you recommend for 4.5-year-olds? If you say Mouse Trap, I will stab you. We have lost every marble for Hungry Hungry Hippos, and Hoarder Bennett will not be able to keep all the Mouse Trap pieces together.

a boy on a porch with Halloween decorations

Bennett has been yapping about Halloween decorations for months. Both my boys love to decorate and I’m 100% “meh” about it. During my work time one day this week, Troy and Bennett really did a number on our front porch.

We bought a giant spider was the Habitat ReStore, the light-up ghost is something baby Bennett fell in love with at a garage sale a few years ago, and the rest are just some things that Troy picked up at the dollar store.

He made “eyeball soup” out of pan from his kitchen, and painted “blood” on the rock with what I am hoping is washable paint. Bennett was SO pleased with himself. And I was thrilled I didn’t have to do anything.

You’ll notice some of the photos in this post have an orange tint to them. Yep, some wildfire smoke was back this week. This time it was from Northern California but the air quality here never got above 50. Continued prayers and thoughts for everyone still impacted by the fires. I feel like this is going to be a very long fire season.

a boy in pajamas in a play kitchen

I’m taking Jack to the dentist this week. This poor child has already had six teeth pulled because his mouth is so crowded and his adult teeth were growing in so crooked because there was no room. He is actually missing three adult teeth (they’ll never grow in) and he STILL doesn’t have enough room in his mouth.

Well, he has two baby teeth that aren’t even loose, and yet the adult teeth are coming through the gums. Sideways. The appointment this week will be a consult, but if he does need anything pulled soon, I am requesting they knock him TF out. If you can picture a cornered honey badger fighting a wolverine, that is a glimpse of what it was like pulling the previous six.

In the Garden This Week

That’s it. Stick a fork in it, the blueberries are done. Oh, there are still hundreds and hundreds of berries on the bushes. But they’re done.

We had a few days of epic rain and all the berries got super mushy during the process. They’re not salvageable for humans, but I am the most popular bird fast-casual restaurant in the neighborhood. I’m like Chipotle for the avian community.

During that rain the raspberries also got gross, but they’re still putting out NEW berries, so those ones are safe. For now.

We had our first harvest of fall lettuce and it was delicious! A good gardener would have saved the names of the types of lettuce. I am not a good gardener. It’s green and tasty and free. That’s all I need to know.

a strainer of lettuce near a raised bed with lettuce

I am hoping that with shade cloth and a hoop system, we can keep picking lettuce over the winter. The neighbor’s tree finally being gone is making this whole season an experiment.

The tomatoes are still ripening and we’re going to milk that process as long as possible. Many split and were ruined during the rain, but it is what it is.

I ended up canning a dozen jars of pears on Monday and we have already busted into one of them. The boys haven’t had canned pears in a year and were too excited to wait. I’ll be picking up another case at some point in the next week or so.

canned pears on a towel

I’m snagging a case of apples later today from a local orchard. Bennett and I will make dried apples while Jack is doing online school during the week. My dehydrator will be busy this week!

And if we get sick of drying apples, I might can a few jars of applesauce. We’ll see. It’s a pretty exciting life we’re leading right now. Try to keep up.

I also started laying landscaping cloth and bark down on my dad’s planting area. It’s been a weed-covered nightmare for years and it’s time to just cover it up and maybe start again next year. Personally, I vote 40 blueberry bushes, but might be overruled. 

bark on a garden strip

Housekeeping

Fall is a great time to start stocking your pantry or freezer with bone broth. It makes for incredible meals, and when the inevitable “first sniffles of fall” show up, sipping broth can be an easy heat and eat comfort food.

It’s affordable to make your own (related: How to Make Chicken Bone Broth, How to Make Turkey Bone Broth), but if that’s not your jam, check out my post on where to buy bone broth.

The guide includes various places to purchase, comparing prices per oz, coupon codes, protein, and sodium information.

What I’m Listening To This Week

Listening to the podcast Unfinished: Short Creek over the last few weeks has been fascinating. It covers a small community at the Utah and Arizona border where members of the FLDS have settled.

Unlike previous examinations of this area, I love how the hosts treat the community with respect without enabling.

What I’m Reading This Week

I started The Color of Law this week. It’s a hard but important read. I have a BA in Criminal Justice which required many courses in political science and sociology. I thought I knew the history of housing discrimination and red-lining in this country, but whoa boy, I knew nothing!

This book is eye-opening and informs so much about how cities were developed over the last 100 years. This one is going to take me a long time to finish because I get so mad that I want to throw my Kindle.

Honestly, I want to stop reading it. But I realize that getting to put down a book that makes me uncomfortable is pretty much the definition of privilege. I don’t like the book, but I don’t have to live it. Which it makes it all the more important that I finish the damn book.

Reader Spotlight of the Week

Carie left this five-star review on our Instant Pot Beef Tips and Gravy {Pin this recipe}:

This was a great recipe! Easy to prepare, ingredients that are usually in any kitchen, and delicious. My only disappointment is that there aren’t any leftovers! 

On Sustainable Cooks This Week

Air Fryer Butternut Squash – Crispy and perfect, roasted Air Fryer Butternut Squash is a fast and delicious side dish. You’ll love that they’re Whole30 compliant, vegan, and vegetarian and packed with so much flavor! No air fryer? You’ll find oven-baking options as well. {Pin this recipe}

a white plate of butternut squash on a wooden board with a fork and herbs

What to Can, Eat, and Preserve in Fall – Fresh produce in fall is abundant and perfect for preserving for the long months ahead! Learn what to can, preserve, and eat in fall, as well as delicious recipes for seasonal produce. {Pin this guide}

multiple photos of fall produce and dishes

Confessions – Everyone’s favorite post of the month.

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

The Five Most Popular Posts This Week

  1. How to Can Pears – I canned 12 jars of pears in an ultra-light syrup this week and boy oh boy they’re tasty. {Pin this tutorial}
  2. Crockpot Apple Butter – Make this and your house will smell like heaven. Oh, and it tastes good too.  {Pin this recipe}
  3. How to Can Applesauce – yep, it’s fall!  {Pin this tutorial}
  4. Instant Pot Garlic Parmesan Rice – I LOVE this reader favorite.  {Pin this recipe}
  5. Instant Pot Beef Tips – welcome back to the leaderboard!  {Pin this recipe}

Meal Plan

With Whole30 behind us, I am SOOOOOOOOO excited to eat some meat-free meals this week!

Monday:: Air Fryer Tofu with a big garden salad and a little bit of rice on the side.

Tuesday:: A new vegetarian soup recipe I’ll be debuting in a few weeks. I’ve made it multiple times and I’m so excited for it to get in my belly. Salad from the garden on the side.

Wednesday:: Takeout to support a local small business.

Thursday:: Butternut Squash Soup with a few cheese tortellini thrown in. Salad on the side.

Friday:: Popcorn, leftovers, and big salads for movie night. Hurray for a return to popcorn for grownups!

Saturday:: TBD

Sunday:: Family dinner with my sis’ family. I’m thinking baked potato bar with Butternut Squash Chili.

 

What are you having this week?

 

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

29 comments on “Scattered Sundays”

  1. We’re watching Justified, there’s six seasons of it so it’ll keep you going for a while. We haven’t got the latest season of Fargo in the UK yet and I’m hoping Ted Lasso makes it onto regular TV because I keep seeing people saying how good it is. Have you seen/read I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, we’re watching it and it’s really interesting.

    Try Guess Who with Bennett.

    • We started Justified years ago when it first came out. I can’t remember why we stopped watching it. It might have been around the time we cut cable and streaming wasn’t really a thing back then. Who knows, but Timothy Oliphant is a real visual treat.

      So I love true crime, but even my hardcore true crime friends say that I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is disturbing. So I’ll just go ahead and skip that one!

      Guess Who! A classic. Thank you!

  2. The game Carcassone (https://www.amazon.com/Z-Man-Games-ZM7810-Carcassonne/dp/B00NX627HW) is officially an adult game but it is so easy you can teach it to your 4 year old with a few modifications and not want to stab your eyes out. Its bacially draw a tile and try to match it with ones on the board–make your roads longer, your city bigger or your fields larger. I kind of modified the “farmer/field” bit for the 4 year old, but they got the basic idea and LOVED playing it. Don’t waste your money on the kids verison, really, just get the adult one and then play the real version with your big kid another time. Sleeping Queens, King Domino and Dragonwood are all super fun as well that you can start with a smart 4 year old and they move up. Does your library have the option to check out games to try them first? If not, I’d highly recommend investing in any of those, you’ll enjoy playing them with him.

    • I second Carcassone. We were definitely playing this at 4 and it’s fun for the whole family (not to mention a beautiful game).  We’ve also gotten a lot of play out of Outfoxed and Race to the Treasure. The second two are collaborative. For love of all things holy avoid Monopoly Jr. like the plague it is. Kids love it, but it’s all chance and mindnumbingly dull for adults. 

    • Great list, thank you!

      I’m not sure about the library. I haven’t thought of that or hadn’t seen anything (pre-shutdown). I’ll have to touch base with our librarians…many of who read this blog. 🙂

  3. Shadows in the forest, race to the treasure, hoot own hoot!, and sleeping queens are a few games that my 5 year old really enjoys. My son (who’s 10) loves shadows in the forest and sleeping queens more than my 5 year old but they’re also for slightly older kids.
    We just got a game called Wingspan that my 10 year old absolutely loves! It’s for ages 10+, so definitely not for B, but J might really enjoy it.

    • hoot owl hoot! Sorry for the typo.

    • I looked at the hoot owl hoot game and saw it is made by the same company that makes Count Your Chickens. We bought that after Jack’s preschool teacher suggested playing a cooperative board game with him. Jack was so competitive even back then. We tried the game and within three minutes he threw the board because I was winning. It’s a “we all win” game kiddo. UGH!

  4. My daughter went through the Candyland phase too. Ours was a Dora the Explorer version. The game every kid who came into our house loved was Cariboo. We eventually gave it to my nephew to take home because he loved it so much. Connections is another good game for kids of that age.
    That’s a lot of teeth for Jack to have removed. Both my daughters had to have palate expanders so they could fit in all their teeth lol.
    Stay well!

  5. I highly recommend “Madam Secretary” to watch next, great show! Also, a new game for Bennett could be “Cat in the Hat, I can do that” card game. I haven’t personally played it but it has rave reviews from friends. Love your blog!

  6. My son learned to play Uno at four. He had a hard time holding his cards to his best, so to speak, but picked up the strategy quickly and legit wins a lot of the time. Robo Rally is another great one but requires a bit of help from older people.

  7. My 4yo loves playing Don’t Break the Ice and Connect 4. She is also weirdly good at Othello, which is definitely not a little kid game but whatever.

  8. Please continue to update us on the kitchen renovation!  I am a before and after junkie!

    As an SLP, I basically play games with kids for a living (don’t be jealous).  I recommend Hi Ho Cherry-O, Pop the Pig, and the children’s version of Monopoly.  There’s also a Pete the Cat Groovy Buttons game I use a lot but I don’t know if that one is for sale anymore.

    I am also on a same breakfast (hard boiled eggs and coffee) and lunch (turkey and veg sandwich with a side of berries) every day plan as I gained a few pounds working from my home desk, 2 feet away from my pantry.  I can still wear most of my work clothes but they certainly don’t fit the way I would like.  For dinner, I’m making the same things as usual but just being more conscious about portion size.  This week we will have burgers, one-pot French chicken, lo mein, grilled pork chops/potatoes/veg, ginger chicken with broccoli, and Friday night my daughter is having friends over so we’ll get a Costco pizza for the kids and my husband I will probably have scrambled eggs and actifry potatoes.

    • I know Bennett’s SLP did the same back when visits were in-person. Now they play online games thru the telehealth program. I’m sure it’s not the same but everyone is just doing their best.

      We have Pop the Pig! I guarantee not all the pieces are together. Maybe we could play a game called “Hunt for Pop the Pig”.

      I never mind the same meals because it takes the guesswork out of the day. It’s fewer decisions I have to make and that allows me to use my energy for important things.

      For your portion sizing, I have a “fun” tip that has worked well for me. I start with my plate/bowl and make sure half of it is covered with veggies. Then I fill in the rest. I eat the veggies first (always) so that the healthiest stuff fills me up first.

      Whole30 is really big on “plated fat” (avocado, veggies cooked in olive oil or ghee, a dip/dressing) to help you feel fuller longer. And I can definitely tell the meals where I don’t include it because I’m hungry and looking to “graze” soon after the meal.

      I love Costco pizza.

  9. Having something like sugar once a week is the best way to contain the cravings especially after eliminating it for a month.

    Sugar AND starchy foods send my weight up and blood glucose levels to the roof. But I did/do choose Sunday as my day to eat sugar and starchy foods.

    This is what will happen to you, if my experience is any example. You will very gradually stop gorging on large amounts of sugar except for a few times a year when your body just seems to scream for it. I found that was on ‘feast days’ such as Christmas, Easter, etc and Girl Guide Cookies Sales (a whole box in one day). Then I stop after each of these days. I eat soup for a day (lentil & carrot) then go back to my good diet.

    • I love your optimism, but sadly that is not what will happen to me. LOL. I’ve given up sugar for months (or longer) at a time. At first, I’m great about regulating it but eventually, the cravings return and I find I have to cut back again. The desire for sugar never leaves me.
      l
      Your Girl Guides are the same as our Girl Scouts, right? Do you all have the Thin Mints?

  10. Pop Up Pirate, Zingo, and Don’t Break The Ice are some of our favorites! I feel you on the Candyland. Had to get some variety.