Hey, friends! I hope that you're all enjoying the first week of December! It's such a full time of year, and we're definitely feeling the hustle and excitement. We crammed a lot of fun (and good eats) into one week, and I'm sharing all of the highlights in today's roundup of Our Week in Meals!
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 blessed with a beautiful, warm Sunday, so I met Mollie for a morning walk in the woods.
The sun was shining and I shed that vest quickly!
While Keith and Gibbs went for a hike mid-day,
I took my younger two boys out to run errands.
We grabbed subs for lunch,
and then ran next door to the garden center at Lowe's for Christmas decor. The kids wanted to buy every single inflatable decoration that they saw (we didn't), but we did come home with lots of poinsettias for the house and a couple of pines for the front porch.
I didn't have to do much cooking for dinner that night, since I just thawed some leftovers from the freezer. I boiled pasta and served Spaghetti Bolognese with garlic breadsticks and a salad. Delicious! I'll share the recipe for the Quick and Easy Bolognese Sauce soon!
Since we got most of the holiday decorations up over the weekend, I thought I'd give you a little peek at how it looks. Let's start outside!
I was so excited when the kind folks at Lynch Creek Farm offered to send me a wreath for my farmhouse's front door!
I often resort to faux wreaths because I can never seem to find a live wreath that's the right size and style for our home. As soon as I caught a glimpse of this "Majestic Magnolia" wreath on the farm's website, however, I was in love.
I seriously can't think of a better way to greet our friends and family this season. The wreath just instantly brightens our front porch and adds the perfect holiday touch to our home.
I hope that you'll check out Lynch Creek Farm's website to select the perfect evergreen decorations for your house, too!
In addition to the wreath, I have two of these little pine trees on either side of the steps,
and an antique sleigh that my mom found for us many years ago.
You'll notice that I don't go over-the-top on any of our decor (I can't stand too much clutter), but instead I tend towards greens, plants, candles, and other simple seasonal options.
Shall we head indoors?
I won't bore you with every little knick-knack and decoration (you can check out more details about our farmhouse in this post), but I'll just hit the highlights!
First up: our perfectly imperfect Christmas tree! The kids picked this tree out at the local tree farm last weekend and decorated it almost entirely on their own. They had such a good time making the tree exactly how they wanted it (even if we shattered a few ornaments in the process).
Santa and his reindeer take up most of our mantel space, while a small wreath hangs above.
I have some of our favorite traditional decorations spread throughout the house, including holiday pillows on the couch and chairs,
and other pieces on end tables and sideboards.
There's nothing fragile around here -- I know better!
Nutcrackers and poinsettias are definitely favorites in almost every room (including the kitchen),
while simple candles and greens finish off the dining room table.
Our holiday decor is festive and cozy, but it's not overwhelming or over-the-top...just how I like it!
Monday was back to the normal routine! I spent the morning walking with Mollie and running errands while Spence was at school, picked him up at lunchtime, and then met our babysitter Hannah back at the house.
Hannah and Spencer played for the afternoon, while I attended a meeting at the School Board office. Just like that, my day was practically over...and I was hardly home!
Since I knew that I would be gone for the day, I threw dinner in the slow cooker that morning. I love when I can walk in the door to a meal that's already made!
We had Slow Cooker Beef Barbecue Sandwiches served with coleslaw and potato salad (from the deli), and carrots and cucumbers with hummus. I make this meal pretty regularly because everyone in our house loves it, it's easy, and it reminds me of the beef barbecue that my mom made when I was growing up!????
Keith and I spent the rest of the evening on the couch watching the CMA Country Music Christmas special and doing our Cyber Monday online holiday shopping. So convenient!
Spence and I were home for most of the day on Tuesday. He spent the morning playing with the Sheet Pan Roads that I made him last year, which reminds me that this easy project would be a perfect homemade gift for your favorite kiddos this season! It's amazing to me that he still pulls it out and enjoys it over a year later...
This Indoor Fairy Garden is also a simple homemade gift idea that we enjoyed putting together.
Meanwhile, I took care of a few tasks on my to-do list. I baked two batches of cupcakes for Gibbs to take to school on Thursday, and I prepared a batch of this cranberry sauce because I had fresh cranberries in the refrigerator that needed to be used.
I also wrapped Gibbs's birthday presents while he was out of the house!
Dinner that night came straight from the Simply Mailed meal plan. We had Dump-and-Bake Smothered Parmesan Chicken, which I served with rice, sauteed zucchini, and the cranberry sauce that I made earlier in the day.
I also tried to chip away at addressing our holiday cards that evening. 'Tis the season!
While Spencer was at preschool on Wednesday morning, I took advantage of a solo shopping opportunity. I headed up to Culpeper to buy groceries for the week and to quickly pop into Target. Target always has the best seasonal food products. Just look what I found!
Do you sense a chocolate-peppermint theme? I still have yet to grab my first Peppermint Mocha of the season, though! I need to get on that...
I grabbed this new soup at the grocery store so that I could heat it up for a quick lunch when we got home from school. I love Oprah, so I figured I might love her soups, too! These were in the refrigerated section of the deli.
The verdict? It was good! I definitely didn't taste the butternut squash that was pureed into the soup, and the texture was very thick and creamy. I'd buy it again, for sure!
For dinner that night I served 3-Ingredient Tuna Casserole, with a bit of steamed broccoli for added veggies.
Thursday was Gibbs's 8th birthday!
After opening presents, the boys were treated to donuts for breakfast.
Speaking of donuts, a reader named Megan has noticed our love for donuts around here and she mentioned that Dunkin' Donuts now has two special holiday donuts available: a Gingerbread Cookie Donut and a Frosted Sugar Cookie filled donut. OMG. Have you tried them yet? Which should we get? We don't have Dunkin' Donuts in our teeny tiny little Madison County, but I'm already scheming a trip to nearby Charlottesville or Culpeper for the drive-thru!
While Spencer played with his trains and watched The Polar Express later that morning, I got busy in the kitchen.
I wanted to photograph two different easy appetizers to share with you, since we're in the midst of holiday party season.
This Creamy Spinach Dip and Aunt Bee's 3-Ingredient Southern Cheese Straws Appetizers will be on the blog very soon!
Then it was time to hustle out the door to get to the primary school for lunch. We brought cupcakes to Gibbs's class, and then joined the second graders in the cafeteria for lunch with the birthday boy.
Dinner that night was Gibbs's request: my Lightened-Up Mini Meatloaf with tater tots and salad on the side! The kids adore this meal.
And of course, there was a special dessert! Gibbs isn't huge on sweets, but he does love chocolate.
I decided to try out a recipe that I found among my mom's old collection. It's from her friend Claudia, and my goodness -- Claudia's Easy Triple Chocolate Cake is heavenly. It starts with a chocolate cake mix, too...so it was REALLY easy. I'll share it on the blog in the coming months!
Friday was a pretty routine day, but the excitement came that evening when we headed into town for Madison's annual Christmas Tree Lighting and Holiday Parade.
First, we picked up pizza at Giovanna's for an early supper on the way home from school. I served the pizza with spinach dip and carrots.
This parade was so perfect. The weather was cool (but not freezing or unpleasant), the kids could run around with their friends in the town square while waiting for the tree lighting, and the parade was short and sweet!
It's basically just the local beauty queens, the volunteer fire department, and the high school marching band walking down Main Street, but the boys love it. The band is definitely their favorite, and now Spencer has added a drum set to his Christmas list...
We had a break from organized sports for a few weeks after soccer season ended, but we were back at it on Saturday morning for the older boys' basketball practices.
Then it was time to celebrate Gibbs's birthday! These growing boys ate their way through Charlottesville!
While Keith entertained the younger two, I took Gibbs and a few of his friends for a lunch date at Panera,
I loved the Creamy Tomato Soup and the Turkey, Apple and Cheddar sandwich.
followed by dessert at Sweet Frog.
Then we went bowling, where they had a great time knocking over pins...
and eating soft pretzels the size of pizza trays! Such a fun group of kiddos to spend the afternoon with!
When we finally made it home, I was wiped out and I wasn't particularly interested in cooking dinner.
Keith volunteered to grill some hamburgers, which was a great way to take advantage of one of our last warmer days of the season. I served the burgers with a salad and the leftover tater tots that were still in the freezer from Thursday night's dinner.
And there you have it! Another jam-packed week of birthday-celebrating, Christmas-decorating, and dinner-making!
I hope that you all have a great week ahead!
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