Good morning, and happy Sunday! We're in the heart of summer right now, and leaning into pool time, bike riding, book reading, and quick recipes. All of the highlights, along with each of our 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...
It poured rain on Sunday morning, so instead of my planned walk with friends at Mollie's farm, I stayed indoors and baked a few loaves of bread. Gibbs has been requesting his favorite English muffin bread for weeks, so I finally made that...
...and also baked off a loaf of no-knead Dutch oven bread that I had started the night before.
We took the boys to ride their new bikes when the weather cleared that afternoon,
...and I met up with my neighbor and my friend Adria for a short walk around Barbara's farm, plus cold drinks in the shade of her front porch!
Keith grilled marinated flank steaks for dinner,
The classic heat and humidity of a Virginia summer returned in full force this week, so we packed up a picnic lunch on Monday morning and spent a good portion of the day at the pool.
Keith's parents stopped by briefly, I took Gibbs to a doctor's appointment to deal with a lingering ear infection, and the kids requested Goldfish chicken nuggets (yet again!) for dinner. I try to let everyone weigh-in and make specific meal suggestions when I'm planning suppers for the week ahead, and the boys routinely request these chicken nuggets (or some similar variation of homemade chicken tenders or nuggets), pizza, burgers, tacos or quesadillas, and spaghetti. Predictable, right?!
I made vinegar coleslaw on the side, plus some frozen French fries. I realized that we had potatoes two nights in a row, but oh well -- nobody complained about that!
It poured rain almost all day on Tuesday, so I got quite a bit of work done while the boys played (mostly) indoors. Do rainy summer days make you want to curl up with a book? Here are a few good ones that I've read recently: first, Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid. This novel received quite a bit of "hype" when it was released a couple of months ago. I definitely thought it was entertaining, but it didn't necessarily live up to my high expectations. A fun beach read, though! Here's the summary from Amazon:
Four famous siblings throw an epic party to celebrate the end of the summer. But over the course of twenty-four hours, the family drama that ensues will change their lives forever.
Malibu: August 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over—especially as the offspring of the legendary singer Mick Riva.
The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud—because it is long past time for him to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.
Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.
And Kit has a couple secrets of her own—including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.
By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come rising to the surface.
Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them . . . and what they will leave behind.
Next up: Someone We Know by Shari Lapena. This mystery-thriller wasn't too creepy or scary, but it had a fun surprise ending! Here's the summary:
Maybe you don’t know your neighbors as well as you thought you did. . .
“This is a very difficult letter to write. I hope you will not hate us too much . . . My son broke into your home recently while you were out.“
In a quiet, leafy suburb in upstate New York, a teenager has been sneaking into houses—and into the owners’ computers as well—learning their secrets, and maybe sharing some of them, too.
Who is he, and what might he have uncovered? After two anonymous letters are received, whispers start to circulate, and suspicion mounts. And when a woman down the street is found murdered, the tension reaches the breaking point. Who killed her? Who knows more than they're telling? And how far will all these very nice people go to protect their own secrets?
In this neighborhood, it’s not just the husbands and wives who play games. Here, everyone in the family has something to hide . . .
And finally, Big Cherry Holler by Adriana Trigiani. This is the second book in Trigiani's Big Stone Gap series. I remember reading the first book years ago when it came out (back in 2003, I believe), but then I kind of forgot about it. Now that Trigiani has a new book coming out this summer, I decided to dive back into her work. I love that the Big Stone Gap series takes place here in Virginia, and in many ways reminds me of the little town where we live. The books are well-written, with loveable characters, heartwarming stories, and a good mix of humor, romance, and drama. Here's the summary for this sequel:
Eight years have passed since Ave Maria Mulligan married Jack Mac, moved up into the hills, and dug in her roots even deeper. But Ave Maria soon discovers that the mountains cannot shelter her from the painful lessons of the heart. As her life reaches a crossroads, almost everybody in town has advice to offer—including the Bookmobile’s self-appointed sexpert Iva Lou Wade, savvy pharmacy owner Pearl Grimes (“a very mature twenty-four”), crusty chain-smoking cashier Fleeta, and of course, the always-wise band director Theodore Tipton, now unofficially “out” and about. But when Ave Maria takes her daughter to Italy for the summer, her passion for a seductive stranger will test her marriage—and push her to choose the man who is truly her destiny.
At once funny and deeply poignant, resonant with the power of love and forgiveness and the unexpected events that force us to stake a claim in our own lives, Big Cherry Holler is a wise, wonderful story to treasure.
The boys and I finally got outside when the weather cleared that afternoon, and then Keith took Spencer into Charlottesville to pick up his new bike.
While Keith and Spencer had dinner in town, the older boys and I stayed home and kept it really simple: a tuna melt for me (grilled cheese for them) with a side of pretzels,
Wednesday morning's adventure took us to The Wilderness Battlefield, which the kids really enjoyed.
Exploring the woods and finding the trenches...
We stopped for lunch in Orange on the way home -- burritos and burrito bowls from My Avocado.
Mollie came over for a walk that afternoon, and then I made a ground beef noodle casserole for supper.
Plus corn muffins and steamed broccoli on the side!
Thursday was one of those lazy summer days, where it was so hot and humid that nobody really wanted to do anything outside.
The boys and I took Teddy to the groomer in the morning, and grabbed a cartful at the Target in Culpeper while we waited for him to finish up.
A Friday morning walk,
and bike riding at the school by 8:00 a.m. to beat the heat.
We met friends at the pool...
...and then, since Keith and Gibbs took an overnight trip to D.C. to watch a Nationals baseball game, I let the younger two boys decide where the three of us went out for dinner. Their choice? The IHOP in Culpeper for giant stacks of pancakes.
And finally, a beautiful, breezy evening on the front porch with my friend while our boys played basketball and stick games in the yard together until bedtime. What a day! The kids crashed hard that night...
Saturday was gorgeous weather, so we took care of the necessary house chores, and otherwise spent a good amount of time outside.
Keith and Gibbs returned home from their getaway, so we had a low-key evening at the house. Supper included grilled pork tenderloin,
That's all for now, friends! Happy Father's Day to all of the special guys out there. Thank you for sharing part of your Sunday with me, and have a great week ahead!