Good morning, and happy Sunday! We enjoyed a week off from work and school, rang in the New Year with friends, and celebrated with plenty of tasty food. I've also compiled a list of my most popular recipes from the past year, as well as my favorite books. Check those out in the post below. And as usual, 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!
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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...
While the boys were entertained with their new toys on Sunday, Keith and I spent the day cleaning up the house, taking down the Christmas tree, and putting away the decorations. It's sad when the season is over, but I also love a bright, clean, organized house again!
The cows came over to say "hi" (in the rain!) on Monday morning when I went over to my neighbor's farm to pick up our eggs!
Keith took the week off, so the whole family piled in the car and headed to Culpeper to run a couple of errands, get lunch at Wendy's, and take a short walk at a park near town.
All three boys had basketball practices that evening, which meant an early dinner beforehand. Keith grilled salmon (a year-round meal in this house!)...
Tuesday's adventures took us to White Oak Canyon (part of Shenandoah National Park) here in Madison for a hike in the mountains.
We stopped for sandwiches on the way home, and then spent a quiet afternoon at the house.
Since Keith was home and the weather was warm, we did far more grilling than usual for December. That night he found some chicken breast in the freezer that needed to be used, so he made BBQ chicken...
There was rain in the forecast for Wednesday afternoon, so we made sure to get outside as much as possible early in the day. First, I met my friend Adria for a walk and post-holiday catch-up.
Then, since Keith had to run an errand in Charlottesville, we took the boys for a short hike at Chris Greene Lake on our way into town...
...followed by lunch at the boys' favorite Chinese buffet. It's not my preference, but it sure makes Keith and the kids happy!
Book report time! This week I read a novel that's been on my "list" for awhile. I had heard so much online chatter about Colleen Hoover's Verity over the past few months, so I was excited to dive in. Let me just say...wow.
This thriller takes you on a serious emotional rollercoaster. It's suspenseful, creepy, sad, shocking, and so much more. If you love a page-turner, this is the book for you! I should note, though, it's a bit racier than I anticipated...and you won't be able to put it down. You've been warned!😉
While we're on the subject of books, I realized that we've come to the end of 2021 and I haven't published a list of my favorite books from the past year! For the first time ever, I kept track of each book that I read -- totaling about 58 novels. I've mentioned most of them on here, but some I didn't finish or didn't care for, and therefore left them off. Picking "the best" of the year is always tough, but I can confidently say that all of these would make the top of my list:
- Meet Me in Bombay by Jenny Ashcroft
- The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles
- The Rose Code by Kate Quinn
- The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall
- The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave
- The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
- The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys
- and of course, Louise Penny's entire Inspector Gamache mystery series, which I finished this year with her newest addition, The Madness of Crowds. If you haven't read any of these books yet, it's worth starting at the beginning with the first novel, Still Life. You'll fall in love with the characters!
I'm always looking for new ideas, especially now that I finally have a Kindle and a free Libby subscription, so please share your favorite books from the past year in the comments below! You always have the best suggestions...
Nothing too exciting to report from Thursday! I took Teddy to the groomer in the morning, picked up groceries while I waited for him to finish, and baked a batch of Peanut Butter Blossoms in preparation for New Year's Eve.
Gibbs helped me make a pan of brownies, too! It doesn't happen often, but the boys are definitely more willing to get involved in the kitchen when there's potential for licking the bowl...
Friday was New Year's Eve! I met two friends for a walk in the morning, and then we hosted a little outdoor party with three other families in the afternoon/evening.
Fortunately, the weather cooperated for al fresco dining, football, cornhole, NERF gun battles, soccer, and more.
We ordered trays of subs from Jersey Mike's in Culpeper, set out a big box of chips, a green salad, brownies, and cookies. Our friends brought mac and cheese, a charcuterie board, a fruit and veggie tray, and cupcakes, so it was quite the holiday picnic. Plus champagne well before midnight, and bedtime before 10 p.m. for all of us!
The new year got off to a slow start on Saturday, as it poured rain all morning. Instead of going anywhere, we stayed dry inside and enjoyed the best homemade waffles for breakfast.
My in-laws stopped by for a visit after lunch, the boys' old babysitter, Rebekah, came over with a tray of baked goods, and we eventually made it up the road for a walk when the weather cleared.
Dinner was a classic New Year's Day meal! My mom has always served a "lucky" dinner on January 1, so of course I've continued the tradition in my own house: roasted pork tenderloin,
Before I sign off for the day, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at my most popular recipes from 2021. These do not include long-time favorites that are still going strong from years past, but instead focus on the new meals that I shared within the last 12 months. Did your favorites make the list?
- Homemade Lasagna
- Beef Chili
- Dutch Oven Pork Roast
- Easy Chicken Enchiladas
- How to Cook Filet Mignon in a Cast Iron Skillet
- Lemon Bundt Cake
- Chicken Thigh Marinade
- Whole Roasted Chicken with Super Crispy Skin
- Pork Sirloin Roast
- Oven Fried Fish
Thank you so much for all of the support that you show and all of the kind words that you bless me with each week. I appreciate you, and I hope that you have a very happy, healthy, and delicious 2022!💫✨