Good morning, and happy Sunday! The boys started their summer break this week, so we've stayed busy over the past few days with end-of-the-school-year celebrations. All of the highlights, along with our easy dinners, are included in today’s roundup of Our Week in Meals! And for those who are curious, keep reading below for my answer to a reader's question regarding my exercise and workout routine...
For those of you who are new to the blog, Our Week in Meals is where I share a little bit about what we’ve been up to over the past week — as it relates to our dinners each night. 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. Now let’s back up to last weekend…
Spencer and I were out in the garden early on Sunday morning to beat the heat. We weeded, tilled the soil, and planted a bunch of new herbs for my kitchen. He loved every second of digging in the dirt...
We took Keith to the airport in Charlottesville to catch a flight for a business trip, and then returned home for the rest of the day.
This Swerve and Curve Ball that Casey got for his birthday has been a BIG hit with all 3 of the kids.
They've logged many hours outside launching it back and forth.
Meanwhile, the temperature passes 80 degrees and this 9-month-old puppy has no interest in going for a walk! He'd much rather just nap in the shade these days...????
My parents came for a visit on Sunday afternoon and stayed for an early supper. I made my Grandmother's Baked Eggplant Parmesan, which we enjoyed with a salad, a side of pasta and marinara sauce, and garlic bread.
For dessert, I served Greek Yogurt Chocolate Zucchini Cake, as well as some of Casey's leftover birthday cake from the night before.
The metal detector that my parents gave Casey has also been a great source of entertainment for the kids. You wouldn't believe how many rusty "treasures" from past generations they dig up on our property (Casey's still convinced that he'll find gold eventually).????
Monday was the start of the kids' last week of school, and let me tell you...it definitely felt like summer around here! We've had some humid 90-degree days already, so we're feeling the season...
I joined the kids at the school that morning to cheer for Casey, who was running in the half-mile race. He was awesome (and was so relieved when it was over)!
I also made a quick stop at Yoder's Country Market on my way home to buy some lunch meat for the week and to re-stock my supply of favorite hand cream.
I keep this Dionis Goat Milk Hand Cream in my purse, beside my bed, and in my car because I love it so much. The cream moisturizes my skin without feeling greasy. Plus, it smells amazing! This Blue Ridge Wildflower is my favorite, but the other scents are all nice...
Before Spencer arrived home from school at lunchtime, I walked Teddy up to my neighbor's farm to pick up our weekly batch of cheddar scones and lettuce from Jan's garden.
She also gave me this bag of frozen homegrown roasted tomatoes, which I can't wait to add to my next batch of pasta sauce.
Spencer and Casey both had soccer that evening, so dinner was served at 4:30 p.m. in order to get everyone to the fields on time.
We had my Dump-and-Bake Lemon Chicken with rice and roasted asparagus on the side. Asparagus is a veggie that the kids actually like, but Keith doesn't -- making it a good option for me to serve when he's traveling!????
It was HOT out there!
Fortunately, the weather was gorgeous on Tuesday -- which made all of our outdoor adventures much more pleasant.
Gibbs enjoyed Field Day at his school,
while I walked the dog...
and then joined Casey and the rest of the second graders for their class hike and picnic.
Mid-morning, I spent a few minutes strength training in my living room (following this time-saving workout), which leads me to a quick side note. A reader recently asked me to elaborate on my exercise routine (which I don't normally share on here, since the focus is food), so here it goes for those who might be curious...
I have always been active. I played competitive soccer through college and grew up riding horses. I love moving -- preferably outdoors -- and have adjusted my "routine" over the years to accommodate my schedule, my children, my jobs, and my physical abilities.
When I had infants and toddlers at home all of the time, I relied on early morning workouts at the gym before the rest of the family was awake, or I used exercise DVDs in my living room while the babies napped. This year, Spencer went to pre-K five mornings per week, so I was able to squeeze in some form of movement on most days while all of the boys were at school.
Having a 9-month-old puppy means that I am out walking the dog about 3 times per day. One of those walks is usually longer (about 30-45 minutes), while the others are short 10 minute strolls up the street (often with the kids as well). This is my primary form of exercise, and it keeps me healthy and happy. My mom always said that fresh air cures everything, and I totally agree. There's nothing that lifts my spirits more than a hike or a walk outside. I don't run too much, because I find that the pounding on my joints just doesn't feel as good on my body these days!
As often as possible, I try to schedule my walks or hikes with my girlfriends, which is a great way to combine exercise with social time. Since I work from home, this is a perfect break and some much-needed "me" time.
In addition to my daily walks, I also have a gym membership and try my best to get to at least 1-2 strength training classes per week. I know it's an important aspect of health as we age, so I include yoga classes, Body Pump group strength training, or just lifting weights with a girlfriend when it fits into my calendar. On weeks like this when the kids' schedules are crazy, Keith is traveling, and I don't have time in my mornings to get to the gym, I just use my dumbbells at home to squeeze in a short workout where I can. Flexibility and consistency is the key!
I respect and appreciate my body, and I want to continue to feel healthy as I age (I'll be turning 40 at the end of this year). I don't do anything drastic or extreme, and I always make sure that my workouts leave me feeling energized and strong -- not sore, exhausted or depleted. I just want to be an active, healthy mom and wife -- not a fitness model! ???? Let me know if you have any other questions, and (as always) I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Now...back to the food!
Spencer and I treated ourselves to soft-serve ice cream (for him) and a caramel cold brew coffee (for me) on the way home from school for a pre-lunch snack!????
Tuesday night's dinner was an easy prep-ahead meal that's perfect for the warm weather months. We had Aunt Bee's Shrimp and Pasta Salad, which I served with a simple green salad on the side (using my neighbor's lettuce). Always a hit!
The kids spent a long time with the metal detector after supper. There's no sign of buried treasure...yet!????
I finished my latest book that night, too! What She Ate was a really interesting read for a history buff like me, who also loves cooking. It's part-biography, part culinary history, and tells the story of these women through the lens of what they ate (or didn't eat) while they were alive. While I found some parts a bit dry and lacking, I was fascinated by the stories of Eleanor Roosevelt, Eva Braun (Hitler's mistress), and Helen Gurley Brown. What an interesting perspective on each of the cultures and time periods!
I took a nice walk with the dog on Wednesday morning,
and then hustled over to the school for Spencer's Pre-K performance and "graduation." He got that diploma and now he's off to kindergarten!
Afterwards, I brought Spencer and his friend home to our house to play for the rest of the day. They designed their own interesting lunch, which included Nutella sandwiches, guacamole, Nut Thins crackers, and cheese sticks. ????
I then spent the rest of the afternoon supervising NERF gun battles and tractor escapades, among other things. These are two busy boys!
I was glad to have dinner ready for us in the Crock Pot that evening: Slow Cooker Beef Barbecue Sandwiches! We had the barbecue with potato chips, veggies and Ranch dip on the side.
Casey and Gibbs had a half-day of school on Thursday, and then all 3 kids were finished for the summer! My mom came to help us celebrate, and (per usual) the boys requested Subway when we picked them up at lunchtime.
This was the Buffalo Chicken sub...
After lunch, Mom treated the boys to a shopping trip at Target, where they filled the cart with water guns, NERF guns and a mini drone. Lucky boys!
Plus dessert next door at Sweet Frog!
I made my Dump-and-Bake Southern Chicken Salad Casserole for dinner that night, which I prepped in the morning and just popped in the oven when we returned home. I used Sour Cream & Onion flavored potato chips on top this time (since that's what I had), and they worked really well!
I served the casserole with peas and blueberry muffins (made from this mix that I picked up at Yoder's).
Keith was home from his trip and took the day off on Friday, so he entertained the boys with lunch at their favorite Asian buffet in Charlottesville while I took care of errands here in Madison. I went grocery shopping, I took Teddy to the groomer, and I changed bed linens (among other laundry). Phew! I just needed some time to get items checked off of my to-do list, since the past week or two has been so crazy with end-of-the-school-year and Casey's birthday commitments! I was definitely feeling overwhelmed...
While home, I baked a loaf of our very favorite Morning Glory Farm Zucchini Bread, which we enjoyed for snack that afternoon. Nothing says the start of summer like fresh zucchini bread!
And our easy Friday night dinner was leftovers! I used up the rest of the Slow Cooker Beef Barbecue from earlier in the week, and served it with mac and cheese (from a box) and my Healthy and Easy Summer Corn Salad on the side.
Saturday started with an early morning walk. It was beautiful out there before the temperature rose!
We spent most of the day sweating on the soccer fields for back-to-back games. Spencer and Casey both finished up their seasons!
The kids didn't want to miss opening day at the outdoor pool, so we went for a quick dip late in the afternoon.
The pool is up in the mountains, so it's always about 10 degrees cooler than it is at our house. That's good in the heat of summer, but this early in the season the water is still FRIGID (Keith and I did not go in)! I think Casey's lips turned blue.
Post-pool afternoon snack -- are you sensing an ice cream theme here?!
And then at 6:00 our babysitter, Hannah, arrived to watch the kids so that Keith and I could go out to dinner. We ended up sitting at the bar at The Light Well in Orange, which turned out to be a great choice.
I started with a Caesar Salad,
and for my main dish I ordered the Half Roasted Chicken with vegetables and jasmine rice in a Thai Peanut Coconut Curry sauce. I need to figure out how to recreate that sauce at home -- it was delicious!!
I finished the night with a decaf Cafe au Lait, and then came home to crawl into bed exhausted!
So there you have it -- another full week of easy dinners! I hope that you've found some new meal inspiration for your own week ahead. Thanks for stopping by, and enjoy the rest of your long weekend!
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