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Scattered Sundays and Meal Plan

Who has two thumbs (creepily without middle joints), stumpy legs, wears diapers, and freaking loves Halloween? This guy!

Once he realized what was going on, he was all in. ALLLLLL in. He hated being in the stroller and just wanted to be with Jack and my nephew. He would whisper “tip of teet” at the doorways and then would proclaim “honey” when he was given candy. With a shout of “happy ween”, he’d get ready to head to the next house. We didn’t hit up all that many houses, but all the kids cleaned up in the candy department. We let Bennett have a Kit Kat mini that night, and he liked it but didn’t ask for more “honey”.

The Candy Fairy came and blessed the older boys with Star Wars mugs, a Lego figurine, and $1. Bennett got none of that, and I sold his candy on Thursday to a dentist in town. Four dollars went into Bennett’s bank, and the dentist donates the candy to be sent to members of the military.

We live in a neighborhood with very steep hills. Growing up, we’d be part of a giant herd of kids climbing the hills in search of sugar. It would be like an ant colony of candy-crazed insects. Today, kids seem to be too lazy to trek these steep roads. We see the occasional car driving kids from house to house (that isn’t earning it. Slacker asses.) but spotting a rogue tricker or treater is like seeing a naturally tan person in the middle of London.

At the start of last week, I was at the post office in my wee little town. No one gets mail service at their house in my hood (see above re: steep hills), so the post office is kind of the heart of the community. I saw a poster advertising a small housing development about five minutes away. It was basically a plea from the homeowners saying they really wanted trick or treaters and loved Halloween. At first glance, you think “awww”. Then on second thought, you think “are these a bunch of creepers”?

The boys made the decision to make the trek, and I’m so glad we went. Not all of the houses were decorated or participating, but those who were went balls to the wall. I asked at one house if they knew who had put up the flyer at the post office. The woman beamed and said “I did. Thank you so much for coming”. It was a 10-minute walk uphill, but the smile on her face made it all worth it. They say Halloween is about the kids. I say it was about that woman.

My sister and I spent much of our teens and twenties convincing my parents that their stuff was old and needed to be replaced. They had dishes they got for their wedding that were bordered by mini tulips. They were hideous and not microwave safe. Remember a world when you had to have special dishes to use in the microwave? We teased them about their old dishes, the old pots and pans that were flimsy and dented. We laughed at their threadbare sheets and shredded towels.

I got out of the shower the other day and dried off with a towel that I realized I have had longer than I have had Troy. The edges were shredded and the towel had the thickness of medium-grade toilet paper. I learned it by watching you ok, I LEARNED IT BY WATCHING YOU.

The next day I hit up Target and got four new soft and fluffy towels. They were on sale, but most importantly, they looked like they could absorb more than one teaspoon of water. I moved a few of the older towels down to our junky towel stash, and I broke the family cycle. I will not be a statistic. 🙂

During my walk with Bennett in the afternoon on Halloween, I was sporting shorts and a t-shirt. It was chilly in the shade but felt just about right in the sun. That evening was super cold, and the rain started the next day. I woke up Friday morning to snow on a car parked on the street. That is definitely the earliest snow I can ever remember in the Seattle area. As unabashed lovers of snow, Jack and I were pretty excited by it. We hope it is a beacon of things to come this winter. With a new wood stove, an awesome snow car, a fully-stocked pantry, and steep sledding hills, the boy and I are ready.

After the snow discovery, I decided to build a fire. And then I almost died.

Troy’s beloved 93-year-old grandmother has been placed on hospice and has been given a limited window. With a chronic infection that won’t go away and some dementia, her life is currently about maintaining. She has lived a full life and loved her family deeply. May we all be so lucky and blessed in our own lives. And amen.

Between the weather and my desire to not spend the afternoons cooking, I have been trying more and more Instant Pot (<—- still on sale) recipes lately. Last Sunday during family dinner I served this Minestrone Soup with my homemade Garlic Bread – AKA Crack Bread. I ended up doubling the recipe (leftovers!), using less marinara and using alphabet noodles because they seemed fun. It took forever to come up to pressure, probably because I stuffed that sucker so full of veg. At first, I thought the tomato taste was overwhelming, and I even used less than the recipe recommended. After more bites, the tomatoness of it all grew on me. The next day the flavors were still great, but it had thickened considerably (which was fine). I wish I had used more pesto.

The other recipe was Mac and Cheese in the Instant Pot. This was incredibly easy. Like stupidly easy. I ended up using 1/2 cup less water than it called for, but I almost had to double the cheese to get a solid cheese taste. I used a mix of medium and extra sharp cheddar. My sister tried the same recipe a few days later and didn’t have a lot of success with it. She used the same pasta I did but said hers fell apart. Have you tried any new recipes lately that I need in my life?

We had Jack’s fall conference this week. His teachers for the last two years were known entities to us. They did team teaching, so he had both of them for part of each day for two years. They were amazing and changed our lives for the better. Jack’s teacher this year has been great about communication and he says she is really nice, but we just hadn’t gotten a great feel for her yet. The conference went very well and she was lovely. She said Jack is well-behaved in class (he saves all his naughtiness for home?) and helpful to others. Things seem to be going really well and we’re thankful. It’s so funny to think we have a third grader. Even though this is year three of great reports in school, I still keep our kindergarten disasters in the back of my mind. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. That is an exhausting way to live and I need to do better about looking forward.

One thing that has never wavered since Jack started school is his love of learning. While behavior has been an issue in the past, academics are not something that we have to be stressed over. His teacher gave us a print out of the reading assessment they recently took. The star on the right is where they need to be by the end of the school year. The middle triangle is where he tested last week. I love my nerd. 🙂

We made the decision last week to have Bennett start preschool in January or February. He’ll be two at the end of January and I’m not fooling myself into thinking that preschool at that age will teach him anything other than how to share germs and not hit when someone else takes his toy.

He’ll go two days a week for three hours each time. The price is insanely low because it is a co-op preschool. But I found there is an option to pay more to not volunteer. That is the route I am going because honestly, that would drive me to drink. We’re more in it for the socializing and immunity building. I’m more into it for the six hours a week I’ll be able to devote to blogging without distraction.

Did you miss any posts this week? Pity. But don’t you worry your sweet head cause I have you covered.

Homemade Teriyaki Sauce. Gah, this is so good! Adapted from the recipe of an aunt of a friend.

teriyaki sauce

How to Plant Garlic. It isn’t too late in most zones to plant your garlic for next year!

how to plant garlic

Natural Cold Remedies. Normal colds and man cold season are upon us. Be ready!

natural cold remedies

Candied Pecans. Two ingredients – one being pecans – can produce such tasty results. And this is a make-ahead gift and holiday dinner component of epic proportions.

candied pecans

Meal plan time!

Monday:: Baked potato soup! I’m taking my base recipe and trying to adapt it to the Instant Pot (and take some better photos in the process). The soup will be paired with a salad.

Tuesday:: Jack has foolishly signed up for running club at school on Tuesdays and Thursday. It’s free (yay!), but it also means I want Tues/Thurs dinners to be super warm and comforting. So we’re going with Puffed Pastry Sandwich Bake and grilled veg in the toaster oven. Boom. Easy.

Wednesday:: Trying this chicken dish, roasted veggies, and salad.

Thursday:: Working on another sheet pan dinner for ya’ll!

Friday:: Popcorn, leftovers, and move night

Saturday:: Veggie soup and grilled garlic bread.

Sunday:: Family dinner

Smith Brothers Farms: $20 on the nose. The button?

Costco:: $59.12

What are you having this week?

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17 comments on “Scattered Sundays and Meal Plan”

  1. I don’t plan meals ahead. Laugh if you want! I of course buy ingredients and keep them handy. I keep large frozen scallops from Trader Joe’s in the freezer and they make a quick meal, 2 or 3 are plenty for me.

  2. LOL about the towels. Just yesterday I was drying off one of the dogs and realized I was using a beach towel bought when I moved to Florida after college…in 1993. Yeah, one of those moments when you see your mom\’s face in the mirror. In our family, every so often the towels shifted along this path: “company” towels -> family towels -> swimming/yard towels -> dog towels -> cleaning/mechanic\’s rags. We kids joked that the towels just disintegrated into lint in the wash after the rag-bag; we never saw my mom throw one away. I’ve begun to break the cycle by taking dog-level towels to our local no-kill shelter, and supplementing the towels in the rag-bag with my husband’s old t-shirts. (He is of the persuasion that unless a t-shirt looks like a doily, it is still wearable; but that’s a whole ‘nother story…)

    • Troy uses old shirts as garage/shop towels. I honestly have no idea how much cleaning he does in the garage, but at least they are out of the dresser drawers.

      I always forget about the dog towel category. My sister has two giant labs and they use a lot of dog towels as well.

  3. I love the thing about towels, I’ve been saying that I need to buy some new ones, I bought mine when I left home and they were good quality but that was 25 years ago! Time for a new set!
    This week I’m eating ‘roly poly’ which is a sausage thing beloved in my family but not to be confused with the pudding of the same name! And I don’t know what we call it that but every family has odd names for some stuff, right? Also I took up the last of the salad leaves today so salad will feature this week and I’ve committed to cooking a roast dinner for my godson this week so chicken, roast potatoes, some veg, stuffing and because he asked, Yorkshire puddings, even though it’s wrong and they should only really be served with roast beef!

    • Time for new towels for you buddy!

      I saw the allotment clean up photos on Instagram. Those purple yams were beautiful. The chickens looked like they were having a grand time.

  4. I tried your stew. Really delicious, YUM. I added my preferred hot sauce, and WOW! Thanks as always for sharing!

  5. We’re having Portuguese chicken – I use this spice mix: 4 T salt, 1T garlic powder, 2T paprika, 2t pepper, 2t cumin and a good sprinkle of cayenne (this will be plenty for two chickens). Peel a large onion and cut it crosswise into four (this is make a platform to lift the chicken above any cooking juices – smells nice too!) I butterfly a chicken, dry it well with a paper towel, give it a very light coating with oil, then rub the spice mix all over. If the drumsticks and breasts are particularly thick, I cut into them to get the spice mix right inside. Place the chicken on the onion rings and pop the pan into a just-above-medium-temp oven for about 40 minutes. Test to make sure it’s cooked through, then serve – delish!!

  6. Ok, I don’t even want to tell you how much time I spent trying to remember where that line came from (I learned it from watching you, ok?!) I could hear it perfectly in my head. I knew where all the inflections were. That drove me nuts… so thanks for that. 🙂

    My son is in 6th grade now and I still worry about him after a miserable kindergarten year. He apparently had a rough transition from Montessori preschool to a regularly structured kindergarten class. I would literally avoid eye contact with his teacher at pick up because I didn’t want to hear about what else he done wrong that day. Fast forward five years and I am still a little gun shy about getting too comfortable with his conduct.

    How do you use/eat the croissants? Anything special?

    God bless Troy’s grandma.

    • Did you figure it out Paula? It’s such a classic.

      Jack too went from Montessori to a traditional kinder. I still don’t make eye contact with his kinder teacher whenever I see her. We’re like ships passing in the night if we ever run into each other. Glad you survived that year!

      Jack likes his croissants with Nutella, Bennett has a smear of butter on it – breakfast for both of them. Troy will use them for sandwiches. They freeze really well too.

      • Kind of… I was convinced it was a movie line but my co-worker came through in the end. On a somewhat related note, I would love to be able to watch some of those 80s after school specials now. Progressive Insurance came out with a commercial with an after school special spin on it, right down to content and warbly (splng?) sounding projector music.

        I love croissants…all of those ways. But, warmed with butter on it, is my favorite.

  7. My son’s first few school years were rocky. Even after we found a school district that had (for us) the world’s greatest teachers, there was always dread at any teacher meeting, including high school.

    For the past several months, life has been topsy-turvy and I have not been meal planning. Big mistake – life is much easier when I have everything planned out for the week. I plan from Sunday to Saturday, so last night we had hamburger steaks with rice and gravy. Tonight is Thai chicken curry with broccoli. Tuesday is bean and cornbread. Wednesday is Sloppy Joes and baked fries. Thursday is breakfast (my favorite meal for dinner). Every Friday is FFY (Fend For Yourself) night. Saturday I’ll be making homemade cheese and pepperoni pizzas.

    • I still can’t make eye contact with his kinder teacher.

      Hoping your life evens out and calms down soon. Meal planning does take so much guesswork out of the day. Your menu sounds tasty!

  8. So I bought that germ defense roll on from an earlier post, but there are no instructions. How do you use it?

    And we just had crock pot lasagna soup from Pinterest tonight and it is a favorite of mine.

    • There are instructions on mine in teeny tiny print. I roll up along our spines from our hairline until a bit under our shirts. You can also roll it on a foot. But I have gross sweaty feet and no one wants that.

      Can you send me the link for the soup? The idea of it sounds odd to me, but I want to see the ingredients and photos because I’m sure it is actually delicious.