Happy New Year, friends! We’ve had a restful holiday week with a much slower schedule than normal. It’s given me time to clean up the house and get organized, have play dates with friends, and just relax a little bit. We enjoyed a few easy dinners, and I’ve also got a new Overnight Oats recipe to share with you (scroll down for that!). My older boys will still be home from school for another week of Winter Break, so our schedule will continue to be a bit unusual for the next few days. Stay tuned for our adventures to come!
In the meantime, let’s back up to last Sunday for another round of Our Week in Meals. For those of you who are new around here, this is where I share a little bit about what we’ve been up to over the past week — as it relates to our meals each night. I hope that this series gives you a glimpse “behind the scenes” at some highlights from our life, shows you how I balance a busy schedule with feeding my family, and offers a few new ideas for your own weekly meal plan.
When we last caught up, it was Christmas Eve and I was signing off for the holiday. Of course, we were up bright and early on Christmas morning (I heard Casey stirring in his room by 4:30 a.m.!), so after tackling the gifts from Santa we grabbed a quick holiday breakfast. The boys’ only food request that day was Christmas Donuts, so that’s what we had!
They spent the morning intensely working on new Lego sets,
and setting up construction sites before Aunt Barbara and Uncle Gary arrived for brunch.
Barbara brought a delicious bacon and cheese quiche,
and I took care of the sides: a fruit salad,
turkey and cheese sliders,
cheese crackers, and a salad. This was mixed greens with dried cherries, feta cheese, Honeycrisp apples, and toasted walnuts that I added at the last minute so that they wouldn’t get soggy. I tossed it all in a Blush Wine Vinaigrette.
For dessert we had a tray of Christmas cookies (always)!
It was just our family at home for dinner that evening, so we had a simple but delicious Christmas dinner. I broiled salmon that I basted in garlic butter,
and on the side we had oyster casserole (a Virginia classic for Christmas), green beans with bacon and mushrooms, and crescent rolls.
Spencer had been dealing with a cold and stuffy nose all week, so when he started complaining that his ear and head were hurting on Sunday evening, I naturally assumed that it was an ear infection (like Casey had earlier in the week). So…on Monday morning we were back in the car to get him checked at the pediatrician!
It turned out that he just had fluid in his ears (no infection), but we stopped at Target on the way home for some Ibuprofen anyway. I also snagged a Caramel Macchiato in the store!?
While we were running our errands in Charlottesville, Keith took the older two boys out to lunch in Culpeper and to a matinee showing of the new Star Wars movie in 3D.
Spencer and I spent the afternoon putting away Christmas decorations, cleaning up the house, and taking care of some other chores. I had a few very overripe bananas on the counter, so I baked a loaf of banana bread,
and then made some salmon salad to have with dinner. This was the leftover broiled salmon from our Christmas dinner + mayonnaise + pickle relish + wholegrain mustard + salt and pepper. Simple, yet so good! The rest of our meal was leftovers from the day before as well: a few turkey sliders, leftover salad, and leftover fruit.
Tuesday was a slow day around here, which we all needed. Keith was back to work, so the boys and I spent time at the house playing with new Christmas toys, cleaning up the holiday mess, and getting our house back in order. I was on a cleaning and organizing frenzy, which always feels SO satisfying when it’s done. How do we accumulate so much stuff?!
The weather was unseasonably warm, so we took advantage of the temps and headed outdoors late morning. I dropped off some Herb-Toasted Mixed Nuts as a holiday gift for our neighbor (have you tried that 5-minute recipe yet? You can find it in THIS POST). By the way, the nuts would be a great healthy snack to have on hand in the New Year to curb your munchies! I think I’m ready for another batch…
And then we made our way to the school playground to get some fresh air and exercise.
I tried this Cold Brew Coffee mid-morning, which I picked up at Target the day before. I snapped a photo because I thought it was really good and I wanted to remember to mention it here! I don’t care for a lot of sweetened coffee beverages because I often find them too sweet, so I just bought a small bottle to taste test. I was pleasantly surprised — it was just slightly sweet, slightly creamy from the almond milk, and had a hint of chocolate mocha flavor to it. Yum!
For dinner that evening I continued with the “cleaning out” trend and served some leftovers from the freezer. I had a container of Slow Cooker Pumpkin Chili, so I stretched it by serving it over elbow macaroni, topping it with cheese and avocado, and calling it “Chili Mac.” This is the kids’ favorite way to eat chili, so they were very happy! We had corn muffins on the side (also from the freezer).
After a few quieter days at home recovering from the holidays (and sick germs), we were ready to venture out again on Wednesday. We were in Charlottesville for most of the day, including a stop at Jump for the trampolines with our friends Mary, John, and Baird.
We then stopped for chicken nuggets for lunch, a quick spin through Costco, and a grocery pick-up before making our way back home. We live far enough from Charlottesville that I have to maximize my trips to town and try to accomplish as much as possible (within reason), which can be tricky when I’m dragging 3 boys along with me.
Since I knew that we’d be gone most of the day, I stuck dinner in the slow cooker before we left the house in the morning. We had Slow Cooker Shredded Pork Barbecue (on sandwiches for the boys), with a green salad and a store-bought potato salad on the side. The recipe for the pork is in THIS post.
I had a delicious breakfast on Thursday morning, so I snapped a photo to share with you — Apple Pie Overnight Oats!
Here’s what I did:
- ½ cup Old-Fashioned rolled oats
- 2 tablespoons vanilla protein powder
- 2 teaspoons chia seeds
- 1 teaspoon apple pie spice
- Pinch of salt
- ⅔ cup milk
- 1 small apple, diced
- 1 tablespoon chopped, toasted walnuts
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- In a wide-mouth mason jar (or a small bowl), stir together oats, protein powder, chia seeds, apple pie spice, salt, and milk. Top with diced apple, cover, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight. Just before serving, add walnuts and a drizzle of maple syrup. You can warm these in the microwave if you prefer a hot oatmeal breakfast.
We had Gibbs’s friend Chase over for the day, so the boys spent plenty of time running around outside, laughing, playing Minecraft, and building Legos.
I tried a new recipe for dinner that evening and it turned out really well — can’t wait to share it with you! This was what I’m calling American Chop Suey — ground beef and tons of veggies served over rice. Cozy, easy, healthy, WIN. And the boys couldn’t stop commenting on how good the kitchen smelled as it simmered — always a good sign!
On Friday morning the boys’ old babysitter, Rebekah, came to visit the kids. She will always hold a special place in our hearts. Rebekah was the first babysitter who came into our home to help raise the boys while I was still working full time, she was the first person who cared for newborn Casey, and she traveled with me to job events so that I could nurse Spencer when he was an infant. She has seen the ups and downs, the good, the bad, and the ugly around here!
While Rebekah is still our neighbor, she now teaches school so we don’t see her as often. Every time we drive past her dad’s farm the boys ask for her, so you can imagine how excited they were to spend the day playing. Spencer was in heaven when she helped build a giant train track (after years of practicing with the older two, she’s still the best when it comes to track construction)!
And as though that wasn’t good enough, Rebekah even brought us a tray of her family’s Christmas cookies. Always the best (and a great late-morning snack)!
While Rebekah was entertaining the kids, I took advantage of the help and spent a few minutes in the kitchen making (and photographing) our dinner. This was a Weeknight Meatball and Tortellini Soup — perfect for chilly evenings when you don’t have much time to cook! The recipe will be on the blog in the coming weeks…
And one more pic from Friday evening…I love this for so many reasons:
Flying kites with Dad before sunset.
And just like that, it was New Year’s Eve! Anyone with kids knows that it’s tough to find a babysitter on New Year’s Eve, and we certainly don’t have many late-night hot spots to go to. Instead of a rockin’ NYE party, we planned an afternoon visit with friends to the brand new brewery that just opened here in Madison — Bald Top. They had live music from 4-6 p.m., so the idea was to have some drinks, pizza, and fun with our buddies. Unfortunately, those plans changed slightly when I came down with a little bit of the same sickness that Spencer and Casey have been fighting all week. With a mild fever and an upset stomach, I just couldn’t handle the thought of drinking beer (or sharing germs), so I dropped Keith, Gibbs, and Casey at the brewery for a cocktail hour…
while Spence and I came back home for a “chicken nugget picnic” on the floor of the living room. He watched Thomas the Tank Engine to his heart’s content while I was horizontal on the couch. This was his idea of a great New Year’s Eve party!
After we put the kids to bed at their normal hour that night, Keith and I watched football on t.v. while I ate a grilled cheese sandwich and crashed in bed early. No midnight celebrations for this gal!
Today I’m feeling better, I’m looking forward to the start of another wonderful year, and I can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store. Thanks again to all of YOU for following along on our journey and for sharing your thoughts, comments, and ideas with me. I appreciate you so much! Have a great week!