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Scattered Sundays

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On Monday, Troy, my father-in-law and I did the insulation in the kitchen. We were going to start with the ceiling, but when we opened the package we realized it was the wrong size. By the time Troy returned it all to the store and got the correct stuff, my father-in-law and I had finished the walls.

We then tackled the ceiling together, and the entire room was insulated within about four hours. I learned a lot. Mainly that I don’t ever want to have to insulate an entire home. Holy smokes that would take weeks!

Everything in the kitchen and dining room is closed off with heavy-duty plastic to keep the dust contained and the rest of the house as warm as possible. I walked through the plastic “door” that night and was dismayed that it was still freezing cold in the kitchen.

My instant thought was “oh no, we did the insulation wrong. It doesn’t work! We’re going to be cold forever”. Then I took a pause and realized we had just left the door to the deck open. Doh! Once closed, the room is very cozy, even with the heating vents currently closed off. Phew. Crisis averted. 🙂

insulation in a kitchen with a ladder

Drywall started yesterday. Add it to my list of things that I know nothing about but am willing to learn. It took us forever to get the sheets into the house from Troy’s truck on Wednesday. Holy smokes, those things are heavy and I think we had 20-24 total!

2 men hanging drywall

My brother-in-law came to help with the install, and my father-in-law was here for his last “advisory” day before his shoulder surgery on Wednesday. I’m so glad he’s finally getting his injury addressed, but we’ll miss his presence on the “job site”. Nobody laughs harder at our “that’s what she said” jokes than my father-in-law.

On days when we are 100% focused on the project and ignore the kids, I pay Jack $5 an hour to keep things drama-free with his brother. So far, his record is earning $10 because one of them always starts screaming at the other within two hours.

drywall on kitchen walls

Troy and I watched Run on Hulu this week. It was super suspenseful in the same way that Get Out was. You just feel uncomfortable pretty much the whole time. The acting was great, especially from the woman who played the daughter.

a boy sitting on a bench

“Take a picture of me mom”.

The Cook family has grown exponentially this week! We’ve added four new ladies we’ve added to our flock! Someone that Troy works with was raising chicks and selling them. We “reserved” three a few months ago, and then somehow, somebody (it was me) decided at the last minute to add more at pick up time.

We ended up with two green queens and two blue sapphires. I don’t have great photos of them but will try to post some next week. I named mine Baby Yoda (and yes, nerds, I know it is technically “The Child” or Grogu. Don’t come for me), and Bennett named his “Ooo-tini” which is the sound that Jawas make on Star Wars. The other two are still anxiously awaiting their names.

We’re now up to 13 chickens (no, YOU’RE weird), but four of them are really really old. They’ve been in heno-pause for years and barely lay anymore. We basically run a retirement home for old chickens. 

For my US readers, how was your Thanksgiving? I hope however you were able to celebrate, the food was good and the groups were small. For everyone else around the world, I hope the random last Thursday in November was a good one. 🙂

I made a batch of my family-famous rolls (it’s this Honey Whole Wheat Bread recipe that I make into rolls, bake, and brush with melted butter and garlic salt), my sister’s delicious stuffing (aka dressing), and mini pecan pies.

On Wednesday Bennett and I made the rolls while Troy and Jack went to an outdoor visit with Troy’s grandma. She lives in an assisted living facility, and visits are limited to two guests and are held outdoors on a heated patio.

I gave Bennett a chunk of dough so he would leave me alone to give him an opportunity to learn a family recipe. He was really quiet for a solid 10 minutes and then proudly showed off his “Jack” bread. And yes, I baked it, and yes, I totally forgot to take a photo of it baked. 🙁

a boy with bread dough that spells "Jack"

Wednesday night we ate Bennett’s rolls and the Instant Pot Lentil Soup I made that afternoon. I used my last Stasher bag full of prepped and frozen veggies. Thanks to the frozen veggies, frozen minced garlic, and frozen turkey stock, the soup took me 4 minutes to prep.

I really need to find time this week to prep more bags of veggies. I’m also down to my last garlic “puck”. I think I’ll bust out the food processor while Bennett is at preschool to slice the veggies and then prep more garlic. It makes homemade “fast food” so easy.

On Thursday morning, we dropped off some rolls and pie at his aunt and uncle’s house. I wore a mask and handed it to them with one of those three-foot claw grabber things. Yes, I could have left it on their front porch, but the grabber was much funnier and gave us a giggle.

We then hit up my inlaw’s and stood around on their ginormous deck, in masks, and had a nice visit. The boys have $53,298 worth of toys in my inlaw’s basement, so naturally, they spent the time throwing ice into the grass. Ice, laundry baskets, and Tupperware are the only toys kids really need.

people standing on a deck

After we got home, Troy and Bennett went fishing for a while. I stayed home to work (being self-employed has its perks, but my boss is a real witch when it comes to giving me holidays off…) and Jack read his new Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales book for the fourth time in two days. 

We then spent the rest of the afternoon in cozy clothes and watched Pirates of the Caribbean (Bennett’s choice) and the final “episode” of Avatar (Jack’s choice). I read magazines and basically tuned out most of the movies.

We had a fire going in the woodstove and just mostly took it easy and ate a lot of finger foods that I bought at Trader Joe’s. Mozzarella sticks, mini pizzas, carrot sticks, and potstickers…just like the pilgrims ate. Even though the boys fought relentlessly for the last hour of the day, they both declared it a really fun Thanksgiving.

a tray of appetizers and carrot sticks

Our “normal” Thanksgiving usually has us hosting 20-35 people. Each year we usually have an “orphaned” couple over. They’re people I haven’t met before but are friends of a friend or family member and don’t have anyone local to spend the day with. The more the merrier (in the before times)!

Fingers crossed that next year will look closer to normal. And maybe the kitchen will even be done by then. Ha!

The day after Thanksgiving, we took the boys to a local nature preserve and met up with my sister and nephew. The boys all desperately needed some outdoor cousin time.

My sister’s family is in our “bubble”, but with cases spiking right now, we have transitioned to mainly seeing them outdoors. My sweet little nephew has severe asthma and in a good year he ends up in the ER a few times during cold and flu season.

He also has the kind of immune system that is so bad that we joke if you could “catch” being pregnant, he’d have nine kids by now. So, for now, it’s outdoors when the weather cooperates. Just for now. Not forever.

3 boys in the woods

Cinnamon rolls are a valuable part of our Christmas and Easter tradition, as well as birthdays. And it looks like for many people, cinnamon rolls are also Thanksgiving breakfast food, because my Overnight Cinnamon Rolls recipe started going a bit bonkers around noon on Wednesday.

My friend Elaina sent me these texts while making them, and I have to say, it made my whole month! Others on Instagram were talking about how easy (and delicious) the dough was to work with and how much they loved them.

2 texts about cinnamon rolls

This recipe took a lot of time for me to perfect for the blog, but the reward is seeing others enjoying them so much! If you need fewer cinnamon rolls or don’t want to use your oven, I also have a Small Batch Cinnamon Rolls that can be baked in the air fryer (or oven). Cinnamon rolls for everyone!

I’ll just put this out there right now…both recipes can be made ahead of time and frozen. I used to make 10 batches for the teachers/staff at Jack’s school as holiday gifts. Obviously, that won’t happen this year, but a freezer full of cinnamon rolls might just be the kind of pandemic prepping we can all get behind. 🙂

two plates with overnight cinnamon rolls, a fork, and orange juice

This coming week is looking really nice here, especially for early December. November is traditionally our rainiest/stormiest month of the year, and this year held true to that pattern. We’re looking at a week of cool temps but sunny DRY skies. I’ll take it!

With Troy’s work schedule and our remodeling schedule, my daily walks have been really limited. I’m still getting exercise, but the whole “being alone for 55 minutes and clearing my head” time has been sorely missed. I was able to take a nice long walk on Thanksgiving morning and it felt so lovely to just have that feeling of normalcy. 

Housekeeping

Many people start their holiday shopping this week. With the economic downturn, up to 35% of small businesses are projected to close this year.

If possible, when choosing gifts, shop small/local this year. Google “(name of your town/city) small business list” because in many cases, someone has already put together an awesome list of small businesses close to you.

If you’re looking for small business online shopping, we’re huge fans of Etsy. They have pretty much everything you’d ever want/need in life. And some of it is fun and funky! Check out the handmade awesomeness over on Etsy.

What I’m Listening To This Week

One of my favorite podcasts, How I Built This, had a great episode with Melissa Butler, the founder of The Lip Bar. Please note, I don’t give a rat’s butt about lipstick or makeup, but I really loved this episode.

Reader Spotlight of the Week

Long-time reader, Melissa left this five-star review on our Easy Instant Pot Yogurt recipe {Pin this recipe}:

We have been getting a gallon and a half of milk a week from the school food program and last week they gave us milk that expired the next day. I used a gallon of it to make yogurt and the kids rave about it! I added (homemade) vanilla extract and sweetened condensed milk and it got gobbled right up. Thank you for the easy recipe and saving me from wasting food.

A glass jar of yogurt topped with honey and almonds on a white board

On Sustainable Cooks This Week

Air Fryer Taquitos – These delicious Air Fryer Taquitos are packed with tons of flavor. Baked, not fried, they are perfect for fast dinners and cook in only 9 minutes! No air fryer? You’ll also find oven-baking methods in the post. {Pin this Recipe}

a plate of air fryer taquitos topped with cilantro, tomatoes, and guacamole

22 Handmade Gifts That People Actually Want – If you’re looking for unique and creative gifts, you’ll love these Handmade Gift Ideas that people will actually want! Get 22 affordable DIY gift ideas for women, men, coworkers, friends, or neighbors. {Pin this List}

Eco-Friendly Stocking Stuffers & Gifts – These Eco-Friendly Stocking Stuffers and Gifts will help you find the perfect present for the crunchy person in your life. These amazing sustainable items are a gift for a special person and the earth. {Pin this List}

12 photos of eco-friendly gift ideas

The Five Most Popular Posts This Week

The Mojito Mocktail was on top again, so let’s take a look at the rest of the top posts. It seems like air fryer recipes were on fire this week. This is the air fryer we have. Tell Santa you need one.

  1. Air Fryer Green Bean Fries – this recipe was featured in this BuzzFeed roundup and the people came in droves!  {Pin this recipe}
  2. Air Fryer Potatoes – crispy and packed with so much flavor.  {Pin this recipe}
  3. Air Fryer Pizza Rolls – so easy to make and freezer-friendly.  {Pin this recipe}
  4. Air Fryer Fried Pickles – I want a batch of these ASAP.  {Pin this recipe}
  5. Gluten-Free French Fried Onions – looks like people wanted a homemade topping for that nasty green bean casserole. {Pin this recipe}

Meal Plan

Everything we’re eating this week is in an effort to clean out the freezer and pantry. Our last Butcher Box order was huge and I need to use up some of the stuff we got since I’m still also storing a big turkey in there.

Monday:: Green Beans in Tomato Sauce + I’m adding frozen potatoes and organic chicken sausage. I’m using frozen green beans. Best 15-minute dinner ever.

Tuesday:: A new recipe I’m working on for the blog + salad from the garden.

Wednesday::Instant Pot Beef Tips over Instant Pot Jasmine Rice (it is prepped and in the freezer in some Stasher bags) and a take on Katie’s Miso Maple Roasted Brussel Sprouts (but I’m leaving out the maple because I’m not a sweet/savory fan when it comes to veggies).

Thursday:: Takeout to support a local small business.

Friday:: Popcorn, leftovers, and movie night.

Saturday:: Breakfast for dinner

Sunday:: Takeout to support a local small business.

 

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16 comments on “Scattered Sundays”

  1. Love your Scattered Sunday posts. The kitchen progress is exciting!
    I’d love to know the substitutions Elaina used for the GF (I’m assuming this means gluten free) cinnamon rolls!
    We still haven’t found good local restaurants to support. But there is a plant place that I have been itching to go visit. I’m sure I can fit a few succulents in our camper somewhere!

    We went for a family hike for Thanksgiving then I made sheppard’s pie with ground turkey for our meal. It was good.

  2. Congrats on the kitchen progress!

    One way to support local/independent bookstores is to use bookshop.org. It’s a website that funnels 75% of its profits to indie bookstores. You can set ‘your’ store, but they have a general fund if you don’t have a favorite. It’s a great option, especially when you’re shopping online anyway.

  3. Your Thanksgiving sounds wonderful!  We did a big meal (except roast beef instead of turkey since we were on our own and no one could tell us we had to do a turkey!) and it was great but definitely a lot of work!

    This week is a bit crazy for dinners because our 7th grader is in the school play Thursday and Friday and has practice until 6:00 Monday and Tuesday.  So I’ll lean on the crock pot and some things I have in the freezer that just need reheating.  I’ll be thanking Past Lisa for deciding to freeze the leftovers of beef stew every time I make it.  Especially since we’re having “cold” (have to put that in “” since I’m from WI and now live in TX) weather this week!  

    Cinnamon rolls have not been a holiday tradition in our home but now I’m thinking maybe they should be!  Off to pin your recipe now!

    • I also meant to second your Etsy recommendation!  Not only can you find just about anything, I’ve had great luck messaging sellers to ask if they can customize items for me, which leads to PERFECT gifts!  For example, one year my nephew was super into Olivia the pig and all the Olivia stuff was for girls.  I contacted an Etsy seller who made girls’ Olivia shirts and she did a boy one for me, minus the puffy sleeves, with Olivia playing soccer!

      • I love that they were able to help you. And I bet when they realized there was a need for that item, they probably added it to their shop for others.

    • I love the “no one can tell us we had to do a turkey” line. Too funny!! I bet you had great leftovers for sandwiches.

      Future Lisa is definitely going to thanking Past Lisa for that beef stew!!

  4. I am curious, what do you get for takeout to support a local business?

    • It depends on the day. We’re in a small town and limited with “good” takeout places. Lots of chains and fast food, so we tend to stick to a few places.

      There is one restaurant that makes a killer Greek salad that I could eat every single day. Another place has great creative tacos, a place that does good pasta, and a place within walking distance that the boys like but I rarely find anything I like there. Every 3-5 times we pick up teriyaki.

  5. Ooh, a new Nathan Hale book! Those are big around here, thanks for the headsup!

    Our Thanksgiving was the usual for us. I am estranged from my family, and my husband’s family is scattered all over the country, so it was the six of us plus a delicious 21 pound free range, pampered turkey. This was the first year in 20 years I did the turkey all on my own–the secret is using an oven bag. Total game changer. No basting. and no, you don’t get the crispy skin, but getting a 21 pound turkey done in 4 hours is WORTH IT.

    I am greatly enjoying your kitchen reno updates. We rent, so doing big renos isn’t going to happen for us (and I’m content as a cucumber about that), but I like before-and-afters!

    • There is a cool trick I learned about finding new releases from fav authors. If you “follow” them on Amazon, you get a notice when it is preorder time. Of course, this benefits Amazon, but I never miss a new Nathan Hale or Hilo book for the boys. Jack said this Nathan hale was his favorite of the whole series.

      I’m glad your Thanksgiving was a good one and the bird sounds tasty!

      We rent too, but the good news is my landlord is my dad and lets me spend my own money on HIS house. HA!!

  6. It’s exciting seeing your kitchen come together! I keep checking your ig stories to see if more progress is being made 😆 I’m so happy for you! 

    Also, your new chickens are so pretty! I love the lavender ones. I had a couple in our flock before we had to leave Oregon. We ended up giving all of our ladies to our neighbors just before they started laying. What a bummer! 

    • You have a good eye for chickens. Yes, those were Lavender Orpingtons I showed on IG! They look just like our blue wyandotte that we have had for 7 years. She was a bit take aback when we brought the other two home and finally someone looked like her.

      Oh man, the timing of your move was terrible! 🙁

  7. “Just for now. Not forever.” Damn right.

    If at all possible, please consider doing something (if not cinnamon rolls) for Jack’s teachers. I know they would appreciate it!!

    • Oh, for sure we’ll do something for the teachers! But it will be a lame e-gift card to Starbucks. I prefer gifting local coffee places but I know only one of his teachers is physically on campus.

      And even if everyone was on campus, I don’t think people are interested in homemade goodies this year.