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Good morning, and happy Sunday! This week we celebrated the 4th of July, had a very unwelcome surprise, and otherwise stayed close to home after a couple of weeks of travel. 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…
After almost two weeks of back-to-back vacations, Sunday was devoted to getting the house back in order: cleaning, laundry, yard work, and restocking the kitchen with groceries.
A Greek-inspired dinner sounded good that night, so we grilled chicken souvlaki, and paired it with pita bread, rice, tzatziki sauce, and a Greek salad. Fresh, healthy, and flavorful!
Since I totally forgot to share my recent reads in last week’s post, I owe you a handful of new book suggestions this week! Thanks to those of you who kindly reminded me about the oversight last week — I think my brain was in vacation mode. Anyway, let’s start with a Colleen Hoover novel, It Ends with Us. This was an entertaining, quick read, but not as much of a shocking page-turner as Hoover’s more recent Verity. The ending was good, though, and I will definitely look out for more of her books in the future. Here’s the summary from Amazon:
Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town where she grew up—she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. And when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life seems too good to be true.
Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily. And the way he looks in scrubs certainly doesn’t hurt. Lily can’t get him out of her head. But Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. Even as Lily finds herself becoming the exception to his “no dating” rule, she can’t help but wonder what made him that way in the first place.
As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan—her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.
I also read L.A. Weather by Maria Amparo Escandon, which was a recommendation from Reese’s Book Club. It was good, and I enjoyed the interesting look at Mexican-American culture, but it wasn’t my favorite.
If you need a good beach read, I loved Eight Perfect Hours by Lia Louis. This romantic, heartwarming novel keeps you breezing through the pages as you try to find the connection and discover how the story will end. I can see this one becoming a movie, as it reminded me of Notting Hill. Here’s the summary:
On a snowy evening in March, thirty-something Noelle Butterby is on her way back from an event at her old college when disaster strikes. With a blizzard closing off roads, she finds herself stranded, alone in her car, without food, drink, or a working charger for her phone.
All seems lost until Sam Attwood, a handsome American stranger also trapped in a nearby car, knocks on her window and offers assistance. What follows is eight perfect hours together, until morning arrives and the roads finally clear. The two strangers part, positive they’ll never see each other again but fate, it seems, has a different plan. As the two keep serendipitously bumping into one another, they begin to realize that perhaps there truly is no such thing as coincidence.
With plenty of charming twists and turns and Lia Louis’s “bold, standout voice”, Eight Perfect Hours is a gorgeously crafted novel that will make you believe in the power of fate.
And finally, One, Two, Three by Laurie Frankel is a poignant story, with a bit of a mystery to solve. I found it a little bit slow at the start, but the character development was wonderful and I was hooked by the end! Here’s the summary:
In a town where nothing ever changes, suddenly everything does…
Everyone knows everyone in the tiny town of Bourne, but the Mitchell triplets are especially beloved. Mirabel is the smartest person anyone knows, and no one doubts it just because she can’t speak. Monday is the town’s purveyor of books now that the library’s closed―tell her the book you think you want, and she’ll pull the one you actually do from the microwave or her sock drawer. Mab’s job is hardest of all: get good grades, get into college, get out of Bourne.
For a few weeks seventeen years ago, Bourne was national news when its water turned green. The girls have come of age watching their mother’s endless fight for justice. But just when it seems life might go on the same forever, the first moving truck anyone’s seen in years pulls up and unloads new residents and old secrets. Soon, the Mitchell sisters are taking on a system stacked against them and uncovering mysteries buried longer than they’ve been alive. Because it’s hard to let go of the past when the past won’t let go of you.
Three unforgettable narrators join together here to tell a spellbinding story with wit, wonder, and deep affection. As she did in This Is How It Always Is, Laurie Frankel has written a laugh-out-loud-on-one-page-grab-a-tissue-the-next novel, as only she can, about how expanding our notions of normal makes the world a better place for everyone and how when days are darkest, it’s our daughters who will save us all.
A beautiful 4th of July on Monday!
Instead of going to a parade, bbq, or fireworks show, we stayed close to home that day (and for the entire week), because it seems as though I brought COVID home from our trip to Florida! I developed cold symptoms on Saturday afternoon, and had a positive test on Monday morning.
The kids rode their bikes, I got work done, and I fortunately felt well enough to make supper. We had our own little cookout with Keith’s smoked baby back ribs (here’s the recipe for my oven-baked version)…
and a pitcher of freshly-squeezed homemade lemonade.
I baked apple turnovers for dessert (recipe coming to the blog soon), and then Keith gave us our very own fireworks show on our property! Of course, the kids were really into that…
Not much to report from Tuesday, as it was another quiet day at home. I rested, watched the kids play hide-and-seek (among other games) in the yard, and took care of the bare minimum around the house.
I had some leftover pork tenderloin from a previous recipe that I was testing, so I made Cuban sandwiches in my panini press for supper: sliced pork tenderloin, along with sliced deli ham, Swiss cheese, dill pickles, and yellow mustard. The boys just had regular ham and cheese sandwiches since they’re not into the mustard and pickles. Plus a side of potato chips for crunch!
A few of the ways that we stayed busy on Wednesday without leaving the house: baked a batch of one-bowl zucchini muffins,
took the dog for a short walk up the street,
made the kids’ favorite “puppy chow” for snack, which they’ve been requesting for weeks…
…and spent some time coloring! We’ve all been enjoying adult coloring books recently, which are a great mindless, relaxing activity. Gibbs first picked them up before one of our trips earlier this summer, and the rest of us jumped on the bandwagon. We have books in various themes, from country gardens to Pokemon, sports cars to National Parks, and even a collection of scary monsters. We’ve tried a few different brands, but these are our favorite markers (and they’re relatively affordable)!
I made a Sheet Pan Low-Country Boil for supper that night,
along with cornbread and (store-bought) coleslaw.
I snapped these pictures of our apples trees loaded with baby apples on Thursday morning. It might be 95°F outside, but apple season is coming to Virginia…soon. It’s always my favorite time of year!
Biking for the boys when they were getting very stir-crazy (while I sat in the shade of a tree!)…
I kept it simple with grilled cheese sandwiches and 30-minute tomato basil soup for dinner. You can never go wrong with the classic combination!
By the way, this is what happens when Spencer “helps me” make dinner: he asked me to take his picture with the cheese stuck to his face. Needless to say, we lost more than one slice to the floor, which obviously didn’t make it onto our sandwiches…
Last note from Thursday! I received the seasonal Special Delivery Box from my friends at Taste of Home magazine, which never disappoints. This year’s summer edition includes a new cookbook, Blue Ribbon Winners, featuring state fair foods and prizewinning recipes, as well as kitchen gadgets like a mini donut pan, a pie server, corn-on-the-cob holders, and more. These boxes would make a great gift for yourself, or for your favorite home cook!
My quarantine was officially over by Friday, and I was feeling well enough to leave the house for minimal activity, so I took the boys to the pool for a swim after lunch.
It was cloudy, but so hot and thick with humidity. I think the local weatherman described it as “weather that you can wear.” Hah!
We made bbq chicken flatbread pizzas for supper, which I paired with a simple green salad. My motivation to cook was pretty low this week, so soup, sandwiches, and other 20-minute meals fit the bill!
Saturday was rainy and gray, but that didn’t stop me from making a stop at a local farm stand for a haul of fresh peaches, blueberries, blackberries, cantaloupe, tomatoes, corn, and more. I’ve got big plans for blueberry buckle and blackberry muffins in my near future!
And that’s where I’ll leave it for this week! I know it wasn’t a very exciting one, but I’m grateful that I’m continuing to recover (going to bed every night at 8:00 p.m.!) and looking forward to a more fun week ahead. Stay healthy, friends, and thanks for joining me here again this Sunday!