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Scattered Sundays and Meal Plan

We hit up the tree lighting ceremony in our little town last weekend. It’s very sweet and quaint.

Elementary kids sing carols, there is hot apple cider and Christmas cookies, everyone does a big countdown and the tree gets lit up.

There was no way to know ahead of time that it was going to become the scene of a physical altercation involving yours truly…

After the tree lights were turned on, Santa came via decorated firetruck and pulled into a parking lot adjacent to where we all were. Having attended this ceremony before, I knew from experience that everyone would rush toward Santa but that he would be making his way to the tree.

So, I stayed at the tree with Bennett and started calling for Jack (he was off playing some video game with his friend who brought his phone). Bennett and I were the first in line. We were totally hacking this whole Santa thing!

Only in Washington

Behind me I hear a male voice asking “did you get the shot” and then a woman’s voice saying “no because everyone is in front of me”. I turned around and see a shorter woman in her 60’s with a camera trying to take a photo of the Christmas tree. She is craning around my like I am the freaking Eiffel Tower and being extremely exaggerated about how I am clearly impacting her tree photo.

I tend to go out of my way to be nice to strangers. I’m more than willing to accommodate polite requests and generally have a policy to just use grace, civility, and act like a human being. But this crazy hosebeast then puts her hand on my arm and very deliberately pushes me to the side.

I turned around and snapped “hey, you didn’t need to push me, I would have moved out of the way if you had asked. And also, if you step one foot that way you can get the photo you want. I’m standing here waiting for Santa for my kids”. Her response “I was trying to get a photo until you stepped in front me”.

Deep breath Sarah, deep breath.

I then replied with “considering I’m at the front of the line, you got behind me, I didn’t stand in front of you on purpose”. She gave me a snarky look and definitely would have pushed me out of the way again if Santa hadn’t called the boys up right then.

I’m not 100% proud of what I did next.

As I stood there taking the photo of the boys, I stood up on my tiptoes causing my already 6-foot frame to grow and I totally cockblocked that chick’s Christmas tree photo.

Yeah, it was completely immature. Yes, I should have been a better person. But I wasn’t. I was a tall, giant, and very annoyed tree blocker. Put your hands on me and the 12-year-old version of myself comes out swinging.

Bennett has been terrified of Santa since he was born (remember this photo?) and so far this year has steered clear of him. He was with my in-laws on Thursday and they were playing at the indoor germ factory at the mall.

As they passed Santa’s village, before they knew what was happening, Bennett ducked under the rope, jumped on Santa’s lap, posed, grabbed a sucker and peaced out. He is highly candy motivated.

Jack started parkour classes this past week and loved it. Lots of jumping, leaping and bouncing over things. We’re going to try it out for six weeks to see how he likes it. It won’t be long-term because track starts in spring and I have a strict “one activity at a time” rule. But he enjoyed it, the gym is super close, and it’s inside which makes it a great winter sport.

Bennett had his preschool holiday “concert” this weekend. Basically, it was just a bunch of nose pickers “singing” Jingle Bells. Which of course made it hilarious.

I spent Thursday evening in Seattle for a fun blog networking event. It’s funny when you get a bunch of bloggers together who all work from home. Suddenly shoving them into the same space with other actual people can be jarring. I’m an extrovert but I’m sure a few others relied on some liquid courage to get the party started.

It was really fun and the location was someplace I had never been. It’s called the Pine Box (we were up in the balcony you can see on that main photo) and it used to be a mortuary. Apparently in 1973 is hosted the funeral of Bruce Lee.

This is my second dining experience in a former funeral home. Linger in Denver is a wonderful brunch place that has some lasting mortuary ambiance.

Friday morning I woke up with my hands completely swollen from all the bar food I ate. I was like “oh, so this is 37”.

I have something awkward to bring up, so I’m just going to say it before I chicken out.

I and most other bloggers love what we do and other than people with membership sites, we give our content away for free. Everyday.

I was talking with a reader on Instagram last week and I had mentioned it takes me 6-8 hours for each post I publish and she was pretty shocked. By the time I research a topic, take photos, edit them, write the post while dodging a toddler, edit it, and hit “publish”, at least six hours have passed.

this makes it super easy to get work done

And that doesn’t even take into account the back-end work, education, improving photography skills, SEO, networking (which is how I got connected with my girls Katie and Christine), and promoting posts on social media (a full-time job!).

At four posts a week that means I am putting in 24 hours minimum just to get content to the screen and into inboxes. Which is awesome. I love what I do!

Ads are a necessary evil (it costs a minimum of $250 a month to just produce this blog between hosting, tech help, email service, photo editing software, social media subscriptions, etc.,) but I have my ads turned to the lowest setting allowed by my ad network. And even though it could almost double my income, I have banned all those annoying pop-up ads that scream at you as soon as you scroll because I HATE those as much as you do.

So, I’m speaking for myself and other bloggers when I say “we love you, we appreciate the ish out of you, and we work really hard to make you happy”. And there are two super easy and totally free ways to say “cool, thanks” to people who create content you like.

The first is if you’re an Amazon shopper, chances are a blogger you follow has affiliate ads on their site. I sure do! But here is the cool thing about those links – you don’t have to actually buy what that blogger is promoting to help them out.

Let’s say I put a link in a post for my all-time favorite mixing bowl. If you click that link and hop over to Amazon and then say, buy dog food, a throw pillow, or something you’re too embarrassed to buy in stores, I still get a teeny little commission off of that. And no, I can’t see who buys what. HA!

Many bloggers, including myself, also have Shop pages as a resource for their readers. As you’re doing your holiday shopping or even shopping throughout the year, if you start on those pages and click on any link you see and then order whatever you need, I still get credit for it. And the best part? It doesn’t cost you any extra. Not one penny.

The second easy thing is to share content that you love with your friends on Facebook or by pinning content on Pinterest. Most bloggers have social share buttons on their post that make it fairly brainless to share the love.

And with that, I’ll dissolve into a puddle of embarrassment for bringing any of this up and thank you for reading. And to say I love you.

Comment/Review of the Week

This week’s five-star review was left by Izzy who was reviewing our Ridiculously Easy Paleo Salmon Cakes.

Thank you for this recipe! My husband is a fisherman & we always have a ridiculous amount of fish in our chest freezer & I’m always looking for new and exciting ways to cook fish. We made these tonight and they were bad ass. I didn’t have any celery or peppers but I had everything else.  They were amazeballs. And GF, this is the stuff of dreams.  Now I just need to summon up a few house elves to help me crank out 100’s of these things to stick in my freezer.

paleo salmon cakes on a plate with chimichurri and tomatoes

On Sustainable Cooks This Week

I am really feeling the final court press as 2018 winds down and my posting schedule is accelerating a bit. It’s not a sustainable pace but man it is exciting!

Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate (Cinnamon Hot Chocolate) – Create the creamiest, most decadent cocoa for a crowd with Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate. This easy recipe will be a hit at your next holiday party or a cozy treat after a day of playing in the snow. {Pin it}

two mugs of slow cooker hot chocolate with a candy cane and cinnamon stick

Peppermint Bark Graham Cracker Recipe – A delightful and addicting homemade dessert, this Peppermint Bark Graham Cracker Recipe will be the star of your holiday cookie tray. One part cookie, one part peppermint bark, these irresistible treats are a seasonal favorite. {Pin it}

Instant Pot Lentil Soup {Vegetarian} – This easy and healthy Instant Pot Lentil soup is incredibly tasty and hearty! Crockpot and vegan adaptations and instructions are also included. {Pin it}

a bowl of instant pot lentil soup with a slice of cheese bread

Homemade Vicks Soother Tablets {Shower Soothers} – Perfect for cold and flu season, use these Homemade Vicks Soother Tablets to clear your stuffy nose and relieve sinus pressure naturally. This is the original Vicks Soother Tablets recipe online and uses natural essential oils to help relieve head colds without chemicals. This shower soother recipe also includes instructions for making these tablets with kid-safe oils. {Pin it}

homemade vicks soother tablets with rosemary and a bowl of lavender

The Five Most Popular Posts This Week

I can tell you all have the holiday spirit because readers were gobbling up gift guides this week!

  1. Gift Guide For the Home Cook {Pin it}
  2. Crockpot Baked Potato Soup {Pin it}
  3. Gifts Made in the US {Pin it}
  4. Homemade Ramen Noodle Bowls {Pin it}
  5. Gift Guide for Book Lovers {Pin it}

Hop in the DeLorean

Last year the top post from this week was: How to Make Chapstick {Natural Lip Balm} {Pin it}

Meal Plan

If you’re looking for a meal plan that pulls all the recipes and lists together for you, you’re in luck! I’m now teaming up with Once a Month Meals post to help my readers accomplish more batch and freezer cooking. Make 30 meals for the freezer in 1 day!

They offer meal plans for traditional, vegan/vegetarian, AIP, paleo, Whole30, vegan, gluten-free and so on and so on. If you have a way of eating, they have recipes for you! You can check out their awesome program on their site. Or, get a gift card for someone in your life who may need a hand with their meal prep game.

Monday:: Oven-Fried Gnocchi and Veggies. {Pin it}. It is a complete meal on one sheet pan and we looooove how easy it is. Ok, I love how easy it is.

Tuesday:: Chef salads

Wednesday:: New soup recipe I’m trying out. It’s a sickness.

Thursday:: Troy’s amazing grass-fed burgers (we got our Butcher Box order this week), Cast Iron Skillet Fried Potatoes, {Pin it} and salad.

Friday:: Popcorn, leftovers, and movie night

Saturday:: A new sheet pan recipe I’m working on. Jack is going to hate it.

Sunday:: Family dinner

What We Bought This Week

Butcher Box: $129. We love how convenient Butcher Box (<—-affiliate link for free bacon for life and $40 off your first month) has been and will be doing a post all about it very soon.

No photo though. Troy was home and didn’t get a chance to snap one.

Smith Brother’s Farms: $17.47

Fred Meyer: $50.13. See that green Burts Bees box? There are more under all the other stuff. They somehow made it onto the half-priced rack in the natural food section for $.09 each. NINE CENTS. Someone was asleep on the job!

Jack picked a Giving Tree tag from school for a child who asked for bath towels for Christmas. Yeah. After I picked myself up off the floor from crying for that sweet kiddo, we made a plan to spoil the ish of that family!

We don’t have an age or gender for this child, so we got a ton of super soft and fluffy towels (see the Costco photo below), shampoo, conditioner, soap, and now these little Burts Bees products. More to come. This is 100x more fun to shop for than my spoiled ass punks.

Oh and that gingerbread RX bar? Delicious. Tastes more like eggnog than gingerbread thought. Fred Meyer had them on sale and I want more!

Costco: $85.81 (towels came out of a different budget)

What are you having this week?

This post contains affiliate links and we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you if you click through and make a purchase. This allows me to continue to provide free content, and I only share products that I use and love myself.

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18 comments on “Scattered Sundays and Meal Plan”

  1. I just made my first Amazon purchase via your website. I’m sorry I didn’t remember to all the times before. This post seriously helped because yours is the only blog I read (you check all my boxes lady) and I’m happy to help support it anyway I can.

  2. ???????? we’re having the oven roasted gnocchi and veggies tonight as well. Excited to add it to my meatless Monday rotation 

  3. Ooh gurl, what is it about the holiday festivities that seems to bring out the “best” in people? My son was walking in our city Christmas Tree Lighting parade. The police had the parade route marked off by some wooden stakes and tape. They were placed in those areas with no sidewalk, on the grass, just inside the street curb. My family and I got there about 45 minutes prior to the parade in order to secure good seats. Shortly before the parade began, all the spots on either side of us, up and down the parade route, had filled in. Just as the parade made the turn down the street where we were sitting, an older woman started coming around to all of us to ask us to stand up behind our chairs so her mother could see! She had come from far enough away from us that I couldn’t even see her mother. At first, I thought I had misunderstood her. I am usually very respectful of the elderly and the infirm but this particular request was just too much. The beauty of a parade is that, by design, it will eventually pass in front of you. This woman said that her mother wanted to be able to see what was coming. Even if we had acquiesced, it would have taken the cooperation of every other individual lined up along the taped parade route for her to be able to see anything, and not just those of us immediately beside her. Needless to say, we weren’t the only ones who politely declined her request.

    With regard to your incident, suffice it to say that I think you showed incredible restraint. Hands on is an entirely different category.

    Finally, thanks for sharing the details regarding Amazon and links. I’m ashamed to admit that with the amount I spend on Amazon, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that I alone was responsible for covering your website costs for the month.

    Merry Christmas, Cook Family!

    • Wait, so she was far away from you all but still wanted you to move? Yeesh, I swear the entitlement people feel boggles my mind at times!

      Well, thanks for taking the time to read about the Amazon detail. It’s a little thing that can add up for many bloggers. And the best part is it is so easy and free for the readers.

  4. Thanks for explaining the way the Amazon commission process works. I’m sure I’m not the only one who didn’t know we could click on your link, but then buy something else, and it would still help you., I follow several bloggers, but you’re my favorite by a long shot, and now I know an easy way to help support what you do. I don’t want to sound too gushy, but you really rock what you do. So honest, so real. Thank you.

  5. I also made the salmon cakes last night and we fell in love!!!  Thank you for a fantastic new way to use salmon. I cooked enough fresh salmon to do a double batch last night and a double batch is going on the freezer today!

  6. “And with that, I’ll dissolve into a puddle of embarrassment for bringing any of this up and thank you for reading. And to say I love you.”
    PLEASE refrain from apologizing and under valuing yourself for using your blog to educate us on how to use it. I WANT to know how to support my favorite go-to blog that I share with all of my friends-family-colleagues-random folks I meet!! I am not tech savvy so I need the education, girlie. 🙂 PS. Rude people that touch me get a less than stellar response as well. To them we say GOOD DAY….or go F-yourself. Whatever pops out. 😉

  7. I use to hate Amazon. Still don’t love them, but seeing as they are leading the charge on providing living wages for their employees, I’m more willing to shop through them. If I click on one of your affiliate links, can I still also do the
    I’m sorry you had to deal with mean people. You handled it well, even if you don’t feel like you did. Sometimes people need a reality check.
    All the hard work you are putting into your blog shows. The photos are amazing, the content is fun to read, and the recipes are delicious!

    • They are getting better but are not perfect by a long shot. Since they’re a Seattle company we’ve had them in our lives a lot longer than the rest of the country. Kind of like Costco.

      I don’t believe you can double up with an affiliate link and Amazon smile. Keep supporting your smile charity for sure!

      And thanks, you’re so sweet and such a long-time loyal reader and I appreciate the heck out of you!

  8. I love very much that you don’t use pop-over ads!!

    • OMG, aren’t they so annoying? I want to punch the screen whenever I see them. Sadly, they’re sooooo profitable so many people keep them. I’ve drawn the line though.

  9. Okay so I made the crock pot hot chocolate (with adult add ins on the side) and it was a huge hit at our party. I could have made 3x the amount.  

    If you could do the same click thing for eBay I think between that and Amazon my family could support your blog singlehandedly. We have one of the only amazon stores in the country which means we get most things same or next day so yeah, I almost never go to the regular stores anymore. 

    My family and I shopped for good friends who were approved to foster on Monday and had two little kids placed on Wednesday at 1am. Our friends were woefully unprepared thinking they had lots of time. I must say it was more fun to pick out tiny onesies, diapers and the like than to Christmas shop for stuff my family doesn’t really need.  My daughter asked if we could find another family who needs “real stuff” and I cried ugly proud tears (obvs not in front of the 13 yo because that would be embarrassing)

    • Did they pair well with John’s giant box of unbaked sugar cookies he brought home? LOL

      Oh, what a joyful and fun shopping trip that must have been. And good job to you for raising a kiddo that would say those things. Good job you and good job R.