Good morning, and happy Sunday! We made it through the first week of September, so we're officially in "fall" mode and anxiously awaiting the cooler weather around here. My cooking has definitely reflected that mood change! All of the highlights from the past few days, along with our easy dinners, are included in today’s roundup of Our Week in Meals!
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…
After an early walk with the dog on Sunday morning, we all piled in the car and headed about an hour south to visit the grandparents. The closest Starbucks is about 30 minutes away, so we always get pretty excited when we're nearby. Of course, on this particular morning, we had to make a pit stop in Charlottesville for all of the pumpkin goodies!
That's a pumpkin cream cheese muffin, plus my iced pumpkin spice latte and Keith's pumpkin spice frappuccino. YUM.
We arrived at my parents' house in time for lunch...
...where my mom served fried chicken, potato chips, local Honey Crisp apples with caramel, and veggies with ranch.
Plus a chocolate ice cream pie for dessert!
From there, we drove up the mountain to stay with Keith's parents at Wintergreen for the rest of the evening. The boys spent the afternoon playing putt-putt golf, bungee jumping and mining for gems.
And dinner that night was a perfect Labor Day weekend cookout on their deck: grilled burgers, coleslaw, corn salad, tomatoes and strawberries.
Plus a small slice of Keith's (early) birthday cake! We were spoiled by the grandmothers all day long...????
We were still at my in-laws' house on Monday morning, so we took the dog for a walk after breakfast and then headed home before lunch.
I also finished another book that day! Of all of the books that I read this summer, The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg was definitely my favorite. I can't recommend it enough! This well-written, heartwarming, quick read will just make you smile! Here's a brief summary:
For the past six months, Arthur Moses’s days have looked the same: He tends to his rose garden and to Gordon, his cat, then rides the bus to the cemetery to visit his beloved late wife for lunch. The last thing Arthur would imagine is for one unlikely encounter to utterly transform his life.
Eighteen-year-old Maddy Harris is an introspective girl who visits the cemetery to escape the other kids at school. One afternoon she joins Arthur—a gesture that begins a surprising friendship between two lonely souls. Moved by Arthur’s kindness and devotion, Maddy gives him the nickname “Truluv.” As Arthur’s neighbor Lucille moves into their orbit, the unlikely trio band together and, through heartache and hardships, help one another rediscover their own potential to start anew.
We had a low-key evening at home, complete with a delicious homemade dinner. I served Mustard and Brown Sugar Pork Tenderloin (which Keith grilled instead of baking), plus creamed spinach, Southern Fried Apples, and crescent rolls on the side. I'll share the creamed spinach recipe soon, so stay tuned for that!
Once the boys got on the school bus on Tuesday morning, I headed up the road for a walk with the dog.
Spotted along the way: a beautiful field of sunflowers,
the Blue Ridge Mountains,
fields of tall corn,
and my neighbor's tree swing. Also spotted, but not photographed: a big black snake that I almost stepped on!???? You're welcome.
The rest of my day included house chores, recipe testing, and work behind the computer. Before I knew it, the kids were home and I was rushing to get everyone fed and back out the door. Gibbs had a football game in Greene county and Spence had team photos here in Madison, so I did a lot of driving back and forth!
Before we left, I served 5-Ingredient Baked Chicken Breasts for supper, along with rice and green beans on the side.
Casey joined me for a short walk up the street on Wednesday morning before school. This child needs as much fresh air and running as possible if he's going to sit at a desk all day!
I also squeezed in a hot and humid hike with my friend later that morning, edited photos and took care of computer work during the day, and prepped an early dinner that I could just bake when the kids arrived home. Casey had soccer practice and Spencer had a football game, so it was another late evening on the fields!
Before leaving the house, we had Johnny Marzetti Casserole with a big salad on the side (minus the green olives since Keith and the boys aren't big fans). It may have been 92 degrees outside, but my mind has shifted to fall -- and all of the cozy comfort foods and casseroles! Now I just need the weather to catch up with me...
Unfortunately, Casey woke up with a mild stomach bug on Thursday morning, so I kept him home from school. That obviously changed my plans for the day as well, since we were forced to stay close to home.
We did run out at one point to take the dog to the groomer and to deliver some little fall gifts for the boys' teachers. I gave them each a "Harvest” candle, which is my new favorite scent for the season. It's so good and adds the perfect cozy feel to your home. Teachers need to know they're appreciated!
Speaking of things that smell good! When I decorated the house for fall last weekend, I decided that the kitchen soaps needed a seasonal update as well. The Mrs. Meyer’s dish soap (in Apple Cider) and hand soap (in Acorn Spice) from Target are great!
Dinner that night was an easy soup meal, inspired by last week's lunch at Panera. I made my Crock Pot Broccoli Cheese Soup with Ham and served it with French bread for dipping. Delicious!
Plus these Pumpkin Ice Cream Sandwiches for dessert when we got home from Gibbs's football practice! These are the store-brand from our local Food Lion, but I'm sure that Trader Joe's and other grocery stores sell something similar.
I went to a yoga class in Culpeper on Friday morning, and then made a quick run through Target to pick up a few items while I was in town.
I recently received these Nature Valley Granola Cups as a free sample when I placed an online grocery order, so I brought them with me to have for a snack before my class. They're really good and totally remind me of Do-Si-Do Girl Scout cookies with a thin layer of chocolate on the bottom!
Since Keith was working from home for the day, I also grabbed us lunch at the Panera drive-through before returning to the house. Clearly I'm on a soup kick at the moment, because I wanted the vegetable soup with a baguette on the side. BUT...when I got home, I realized that they forgot to give me my baguette! The horror!!!???? Instead, I improvised with a toasted Dave's Killer Bread English Muffin topped with butter and apple butter.
For dinner that night, I made my mom's recipe for Beef Ragù, but I tweaked it for the slow cooker. I'll be sharing it on the blog next month -- it's a winner! Served with pappardelle pasta, salad and garlic bread for a cozy fall meal.
Saturday was a warm, beautiful day!
We spent the morning at Casey's first soccer game of the season. This kid was so happy to be back on the field!
It's Keith's birthday today, so our babysitter, Hannah, came over last night while Keith and I went out to dinner. He picked Piedmont Steakhouse in Culpeper, which is always a solid choice!
We started with salads and the homemade bread -- I love the crispy fried chickpeas on top of the Piedmont Salad.
And for my entrée, I ordered the lobster and lump crab cakes, which were served with cheesy risotto and sautéed veggies. Keith had the "surf n' turf," and shared a spicy shrimp with me, too. A fun evening all around!
We'll celebrate his birthday with the kids today, before we jump back into another busy week of school and work. Have a great Sunday, friends!
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