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Good morning, and happy Sunday! This week I’ve got some favorite fall finds to share, a few new books, a grape harvest, and plenty of recipes that ease the transition from late summer days to early autumn evenings. 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…
My friends Mollie and Adria came over for an early walk on Sunday morning.
We had a pretty quiet day at the house, and then celebrated Keith’s birthday (for the second night in a row). Maryland crabs are one of his favorite foods, but they’re hard to come by in Central Virginia. As a treat, I ordered them via overnight delivery from Conrad’s Crabs in Maryland. We set up a picnic on the front porch, where Keith and Casey did all of the dirty work.
I also made a batch of Goldfish baked chicken nuggets, per the kids’ request, for those who didn’t want to eat many crabs.
We had baked potato wedges on the side, along with a salad.
And for dessert, Keith’s favorite key lime pie. I made it with a classic graham cracker crust this time, instead of the saltine crust. Both work well!
Let’s chat about this week’s books! First up: Two Nights in Lisbon by Chris Pavone. I loved this thriller! The well-written suspense kept me turning the pages, and the European setting was a fun added bonus. Here’s the summary from Amazon:
You think you know a person . . .
Ariel Pryce wakes up in Lisbon, alone. Her husband is gone―no warning, no note, not answering his phone. Something is wrong.
She starts with hotel security, then the police, then the American embassy, at each confronting questions she can’t fully answer: What exactly is John doing in Lisbon? Why would he drag her along on his business trip? Who would want to harm him? And why does Ariel know so little about her new―much younger―husband?
The clock is ticking. Ariel is increasingly frustrated and desperate, running out of time, and the one person in the world who can help is the one person she least wants to ask.
Next, I switched gears and opted for a lighter “chick lit” novel: Just Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane. If you’re not quite ready to give up your fluffy, feel-good summer beach reads, then this is the book for you! Here’s the synopsis:
Eve, Justin, Susie, and Ed have been friends since they were teenagers. Now in their thirties, the four are as close as ever, Thursday night bar trivia is sacred, and Eve is still secretly in love with Ed. Maybe she should have moved on by now, but she can’t stop thinking about what could have been. And she knows Ed still thinks about it, too.
But then, in an instant, their lives are changed forever.
In the aftermath, Eve’s world is upended. As stunning secrets are revealed, she begins to wonder if she really knew her friends as well as she thought. And when someone from the past comes back into her life, Eve’s future veers in a surprising new direction…
They say every love story starts with a single moment. What if it was just last night?
And finally, another mystery-thriller set in a vacation town on the coast of Maine. The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda was a recommendation from Reese’s Book Club, which I typically enjoy, and this one did not disappoint. Love a good surprise ending!
Monday was the Labor Day holiday, and we took full advantage of the day off. Casey and I met our neighbors at a farm up the road to harvest grapes, which I used to make grape juice.
The vineyard is so quiet and peaceful, and it was absolutely beautiful that day.
I pulled out some of my fall decorations that afternoon — this candle from Target is one of our new faves! It can be hard to find “pumpkin” scents that aren’t too sweet or overpowering, but this one gets it just right. I’m also enjoying this “falling leaves” candle that I discovered at Mollie’s house recently, and this “warm + cozy” scent that will easily transition to the holiday season with notes of pine, orange, and cinnamon.
While we’re on the subject of autumn favorites, here are a few others that come to mind:
- This mug brightens my mornings; the kids have these ghost versions for their hot cocoa.
- I’ve been saving this sweater for the cooler days ahead, and I can’t wait to put it on! Hah! My boys just roll their eyes…
- This set has earned a spot next to my kitchen sink, but I also love these.
- This wreath is on our front door for the second year in a row (it held up very well)!
- Ceramic pumpkins and gourds in various shades of white, orange, and brown, as well as woven pumpkins in different shapes and colors add a subtle festive touch to tables, mantles, and countertops. You can’t beat the price, either.
- This (in the burnt orange color) sits on my stovetop and doubles as both fall decor and as a functional pot for all of the soups, stews, and chilis that we’ll enjoy throughout the season.
- And I can’t forget my favorite fall dishes!
Dinner that evening was a tasty cookout: grilled hamburgers and hotdogs, sliced tomatoes, baked beans, and corn…
…followed by an easy apple galette for dessert. I had some honey crisp apples in the fridge from a recent stop at Jenkins Orchards, so we put them to good use! Wrapping up summer and ushering in a new season…
Back to work and school on a cloudy Tuesday, so I tried to plow through my to-do list while the house was quiet.
The boys had golf and soccer practices that evening, which meant Keith and I divided duties and headed in different directions. I prepped a pot of taco soup in advance, and just reheated individual portions as needed. We paired the soup with tortilla chips, salsa, and homemade guac.
I met Mollie for a walk on Wednesday morning, and then came home to test some new baking recipes. I had success with biscuits, but a total fail with cookies that just spread into flat pancakes in the oven. So it goes!
The younger boys had soccer practice in the rain that evening, so we ate an early meal before Keith took them to the fields. Chicken lo mein was on the menu — at the kids’ request — plus egg rolls (from the freezer section). Always delicious, and ready in 30 minutes!
Thursday was another gray, rainy day, so I stayed inside and got work done at the house. Quiet and productive, but otherwise not very interesting!
Keith and Gibbs went to a concert that night, which meant that I let the younger two boys pick our dinner menu. They both opted for my secret ingredient Bisquick waffles…
…which I paired with this easy ham steak with brown sugar glaze and fresh fruit on the side. Delicious!
The sun was shining again on Friday morning, and the weather was cool and crisp. Perfect for a walk with my friend Ashley once the kids were off to school!
I spent time in the kitchen making grape juice (and taking photos so that I can share the easiest recipe here), and then jumped on a work-related Zoom call after lunch.
Gibbs has been asking me to bake some chewy chocolate chip cookie bars for awhile now, so I finally got around to those on Friday afternoon. I don’t know why I forget about them — they’re so good, and so much easier than chocolate chip cookies. No need to chill the dough, and no scooping!
It was another night full of soccer, so Keith and Casey headed to Charlottesville, while Gibbs and I took Spencer to a scrimmage in Orange. Since Keith and Casey always grab a late dinner in town after he finishes up, I planned leftovers for myself and the other boys at home. They had the extra waffles toasted from the night before, while I warmed a bowl of chicken and wild rice soup from a pot that I prepared for lunches earlier in the week.
Saturday started with a pan of Amish baked oatmeal with apples and cinnamon for breakfast,
followed by a day on the soccer fields for the boys’ games.
Supper was easy takeout pizza from Pizza Hut on the way home from Charlottesville — a much-needed night off from the kitchen!
So there you go, friends — another week of dinners done! I hope that you’ve found some new inspiration for your own table in the days ahead. Thank you for being here, and have a wonderful Sunday!
After reading your post today, I’m ready for FALL!!
Yay! Thank you, Cathy!
Just made your pumpkin muffin recipe. Delicious! I love that you used the entire can of pumpkin. I didn’t know what to do with any leftover pumpkin puree either. Thank you , Blair
Thank you, Sandra! I’m so glad that you enjoyed them. The muffins are on our menu again this week, too. 🙂
Thank you for the fall ideas Blair. I’m really looking forward to your grape juice recipe! I have a really enjoyable week.
Awesome, Kris! Stay tuned, because I’ll be sharing the juice recipe later this week. 🙂
An uplifting post on 9/11….
Wow… Conrad’s Crabs! Been there… daughter went to Johns Hopkins school of nursing. But, thanks for all the years of posting and recipes… they get used a lot! I look forward to this every week. And your photos of where you live… so much like here in Maine on the NH boarder… the corn fields (potatoes and soybeans also)… you can just smell the corn… and the views to the west of the White Mountains and on a clear day Mt Washington. Fall is here…
That’s awesome, Scott! My husband went to Hopkins for undergrad, so we know it well! 🙂 It sounds like I would love Maine, too!
I’m definitely going to look for the Meyers Fall scent on my Target run this week. And definitely will try the chocolate chip cookie bars. We also just decorated for Fall. I seem to pick up more items with each season. Michaels is great for decorating; they have great variety.
Awesome, Renee! I just bought some more of the acorn spice cleaning spray, detergent, and hand soap last week. Love it!
Hello fall! I love the idea of pairing waffles with the ham steak. They will be on my dinner menu soon. I also those turkey plates. Great post Blair!
Awesome! Can’t beat that salty-sweet combination. 🙂 Hope you enjoy the meal, Denise!
My girls are all coming back home in early October for our middle daughter’s engagement party- those pumpkin muffins will be on the menu for sure!
Perfect, Heather! I hope that everyone enjoys them! 🙂