Happy Sunday, friends! It's hard to believe that this is the 200th weekend that I've checked in with you all to share a little glimpse of our lives, along with the easy dinners that we've enjoyed over the past few days. Thank you for being here!
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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…
We were wrapping up a short getaway at a nearby cabin in the mountains on Sunday morning, so before heading back home, we stopped for a short hike at Natural Bridge State Park. What an impressive, awe-inspiring formation! We were there right when the park opened, so we had the whole place to ourselves, too. The best way to do it!
We made it back to Madison by lunchtime, so the rest of my day was spent unpacking, doing lots of laundry, and picking up an online grocery order. Back to reality...
Keith grilled chicken breasts for dinner that night,
which I paired with Fried Corn,
and Cucumber Salad (Casey's little garden is still producing)!
Plus Buttermilk Biscuits for the bread basket, which I just reheated from the freezer.
Time for a new book review! My friend Sallie's mom, Debbie, recommended Grandma Gatewood's Walk a few weeks ago and I instantly picked it up. This bestseller is the story of Emma Gatewood -- a 67-year-old great-grandmother who walked the full length of the Appalachian Trail (over 2,000 miles) back in the 1950's. She was a pioneer of long distance hiking, and her story is fascinating. I especially loved reading about local parts of the trail here in Virginia that we know well. Definitely recommend this one if you enjoy the great outdoors, hiking, or have a curiosity about endurance sports.
Monday was the Labor Day holiday!
The weather was cool and sunny, so I met my girlfriend for an early walk.
Keith and the boys worked outside all morning while I did some cooking in the kitchen.
Then my in-law's stopped by after lunch for a porch visit. I made my mother-in-law's recipe for Texas Sheet Cake so that we could celebrate Keith's birthday a day early. Perfect afternoon treat (I'll share the recipe soon)!
And while there were still tomatoes on the vines outside, I decided that we were ready for fall inside! I lit my "Leaves" candle and pulled out all of my autumn decor. Definitely my favorite time of year!
We had grilled salmon for dinner that evening, along with a salad and dinner rolls.
Tuesday was a big day around here, as the boys went back to school for the first time in 6 months! Actually, Spencer was the only child returning to the building that day (for first grade). Gibbs (5th grade) and Casey (4th grade) stayed home to participate in distance-learning. They will only be attending in-person school on Thursdays and Fridays each week.
What a transition for all of us! After having him home with me for so long, I was sad to say goodbye to Spence...but also happy for him at the same time. Pair that with the frustration and stress of trying to help the other two boys figure out an entirely new online platform, and it was an emotional day. I know it will continue to get easier for all of us, though.
After dropping Spencer off at the school, the older boys and I took Teddy for a short walk in the woods, and then picked up a bunch of fresh corn from my neighbors. I figured fresh air and exercise would do us all well before a morning in front of the computers.
After lunch, Gibbs and Casey had their first soccer practice of the season. Again, it's all new: no contact, socially-distanced sports -- with face masks and hand sanitizer in tow.
While they were at practice, I ran over to Madison Gardens to buy a couple of mum plants for our front porch (my assistant is never far).😀
Then it was the afternoon hustle -- pick up Spence, sort through homework, and get dinner on the table. Knowing that it would be a busy day, I planned one of the easiest meals I could think of: Dump-and-Bake Ravioli Casserole. Served with a salad and garlic bread -- always a hit!
And for dessert: Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars for Keith's birthday. While he tolerates cake, my husband's true love is cheesecake. I thought this fall-inspired twist would be perfect for a September birthday. I'll share the recipe soon so that you can enjoy them all season long, too!
All three boys were home on a very gray, overcast Wednesday, so our morning was entirely devoted to Zoom calls and class work inside. When we were all ready for some fresh air after lunch, we walked over to my neighbor's farm where they're logging a portion of the land. I thought the kids would like to see the heavy equipment from a distance, but they were far more interested in their NERF guns in our yard. Hah!
Dinner was another dump-and-go easy recipe: Mississippi Pot Roast, which I cooked all day in the Crock Pot (you can also use the oven or Instant Pot).
On the side we had mashed sweet potatoes and steamed broccoli.
All of the boys were in school on Thursday, so I spent a rainy morning at home catching up on work.
When the skies cleared that afternoon, I took the dog for a short walk up the road before heading out to the school pick-up line.
Keith took the older two boys to their first football practice, while I stayed home to get dinner organized. I had Chicken Tortilla Soup simmering in the Crock Pot...
...so I just had to mix together my easy guacamole for a quick meal on a busy evening.
After a walk with my friend on Friday morning, I headed north to Culpeper to drop Teddy at the groomer and to run a couple of errands. I needed a flu shot at Target, so I treated myself to a Pumpkin Spice Latte at the in-store Starbucks. It was my reward for acting like an adult!😂
I also grabbed back-to-school gifts for the teachers and stocked up on fall "essentials" -- like candy pumpkins, seasonal coffee, decorative pillows and the softest, coziest pajama set. Given that I hadn't stepped foot inside a Target since February, this outing felt like a real treat!
I hit the drive-thru at Panera for bagels and lunch, scooped up the dog, and then made my way home to eat, work and take care of house chores for the rest of the afternoon.
Broccoli Cheddar Soup + Baguette + BBQ Chicken Salad
Gibbs requested Pizza Quesadillas for dinner that night, which we paired with a salad and garlic breadsticks to round out the meal.
Saturday morning farmer's market pick-up! This week's order included flowers, tomatoes, pears, two different varieties of apples, and eggs.
It was a cool, rainy day, so while Keith took Gibbs to meet a friend at the climbing gym in Culpeper, I stayed home with the younger boys and kept busy in the kitchen. Thanks to my friend Becca for this great pic!
In addition to the bread for dinner, I also canned a batch of apple and pear jam! It just might be a new favorite around here...
Keith grilled Italian sausages for supper, while I made a 5-Ingredient Pomodoro Sauce to serve with pasta on the side. This is a great way to take advantage of the fresh tomatoes and herbs that are still at their peak!
I also baked some homemade focaccia bread with rosemary...
...and sauteed spinach with garlic for something green.
As if it couldn't get any better, Keith organized s'mores by the fire pit for dessert and turned on college football. Perfect Saturday evening...
There you have it, friends! We're looking forward to a restful Sunday as we get ready for another busy week of school, home school, sports and work. Thank you for joining me here for the 200th roundup of Our Week in Meals. I hope it leaves you inspired and encouraged.❤