Hello from a snow-covered Virginia! I’m currently sitting by the fire in the comfort of our house, looking out at fields of snow. It’s a beautiful scene, and the snowfall definitely made for some festive holiday celebrations this weekend!
But before we jump too far ahead of ourselves, how about we rewind for a minute and fill you in on 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…
I met Mollie for a morning walk in the woods (as we often do on Sunday mornings), while Keith chopped wood…
and his assistants helped to stack it!
After lunch Keith had to catch a flight for his week-long business trip, so he went to the airport and I headed south with the boys for a visit with my parents.
We stopped to do some quick shopping in Charlottesville since Gibbs had birthday money to spend, and went through the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thru for special road trip snacks.
Brown Sugar Cinnamon iced coffee for me,
and the boys tried the seasonal Sugar Cookie Filled Donut (thanks for the recommendation, Megan)! They were out of the Gingerbread Cookie donuts, which was kind of a bummer, but the Sugar Cookie version was a hit with the kids.
Once we arrived at my parents’ house, it was a whirlwind of activity! We joined my mom and Aunt Barbara for a hike in the woods,
went fishing with GrandDaddy in the backyard pond (they even caught a couple of fish!),
and decorated a gingerbread house. Oh, and Casey ate a ton of candy!
My mom served a delicious Chicken Pot Pie for dinner, along with salad and bread.
Plus seasonally appropriate Peppermint Stick ice cream, hot fudge sauce, and gingerbread cookies for dessert!
We got home late Sunday evening, headed straight to bed, and then jumped right back into our normal routine on Monday morning.
They had a great selection of my favorite nail polishes, so I also came home with this new shade: Pearls of Wisdom. It’s kind of hard to tell on the computer screen, but it’s a plum color with little flecks of gold throughout. Perfect for the season!
Dinner that night was an easy, kid-friendly meal: Dump-and-Bake Healthy Chicken Parmesan, which I served with pasta. Always a hit, and since Keith didn’t come home that night, we were all fed, bathed, and in our pajamas by about 6:00 p.m.!😂 The rest of the evening involved cozy Christmas movies on the couch…
Oh, man. Our Tuesday morning started WAY too early when Casey woke up at 4:24 a.m. to search for the Elf on the Shelf and to open his advent calendar.😩😴 I couldn’t go back to sleep after that, so needless to say I had an extra cup of coffee and moved along with the day…
Spence and I rallied for a quick trip to Costco so that I could be home by 11:00 in order to join a webinar.
Among other things, we loaded up on bread, apples, detergent, Goldfish, and a big beef tenderloin for Christmas dinner (I’ll keep it in my freezer until we need it). As usual, we’ll be serving THIS beef and THESE potatoes for our special holiday meal!
It’s that time of year when packages arrive at our front gate on a daily basis, since I don’t do any of my Christmas shopping in the store (it’s all online, baby)! I was excited that one of the packages that day was an early gift for myself.🤩
I bit the bullet and finally bought an Instant Pot when I came across a great deal (mine’s not technically the Instant Pot brand, though. I got this one!). So tell me…do you have a pressure cooker?! Any favorite recipes that I need to try? I’ve already made one chicken dish in here, and I’ll be doing even more experimenting with it in the coming weeks.
When Keith is traveling, I like to take advantage of casual mealtimes and just make really simple dinners for the kids. That night we had soup, frozen green beans on the side, and some Trader Joe’s Cornbread Crisps for dipping.
Homemade soups are always best, but you can’t beat the convenience of a can from the pantry every now and then!
Chicken noodle for the kids, and this one for me…
I dropped everyone off at their schools on Wednesday morning, and then headed up towards Culpeper for a trip to the grocery store. But first — a quick stop at Mollie’s farm for a walk/visit as I was driving by…
I picked up a week’s worth of food,
and then I still had a few spare minutes before I had to get Spencer at noon.
I was hungry, so I went through Panera’s drive-thru to pick up an early lunch on my way back to Orange (don’t worry — I made sure to park the car before actually eating this)!
I had a cup of Creamy Tomato Soup,
plus half of a Steak and Arugula Sandwich. I loved the combination of seared steak, arugula, tomatoes, pickled onions, garlic and herb cream cheese spread and mustard horseradish sauce on Sourdough. YUM.
Dinner that night was an oldie-but-goodie: Taco Pie! Taco meat, veggies, and cheese are topped with a cornbread crust…
and I just realized that I had beef for two meals in a row that day — which is very unusual for me! Maybe my body was craving iron?!😃
Spencer and I spent Thursday morning at home, since I was busy testing new recipes in the kitchen and he was happily playing at my feet.
After lunch we were both ready for some fresh air, so we ventured out for a walk in the woods. He wanted to pose for photos at various points along our walk,
and he talked my ear off the entire time (but what’s new?!). His brothers call him “the chatterbox” for good reason…
When the man of the house is out of town, I take advantage by serving veggies for dinner!🥒
This was actually a Dump-and-Bake Zucchini Noodle Casserole with chicken. It tasted great, and I have a feeling that some of you might be looking for a lighter comfort food dish come January, no?! I’ll share the recipe later this month! And don’t worry — I offered plenty of bread on the side for my carb-loving kiddos…
Oh! And one other quick note from Thursday! This ad for the new Starbucks Christmas Tree Frappuccino popped into my inbox…and now I think I need to try it!
I don’t even really like whipped cream that much, but the cuteness factor might change my mind. Clearly I’m a sucker for the seasonal marketing.
This is “a swirl of mocha and peppermint with festive whipped cream and ornament-worthy sprinkles.”
We woke up to cold, wintery weather on Friday with snow in the forecast.
While Spence was in school for the morning, I took a short walk around downtown Orange to look at some Christmas decorations and to do a little bit of shopping. I popped into an antique store and came out with a copper pot that I just love! I’m sure it will appear in photos soon…
The cold weather put me in a baking mood, so I stirred together a loaf of gingerbread that afternoon. It sounded like a good option for the kids’ afternoon snacks or with coffee for breakfast, and I already had all of the ingredients in my pantry.
I used my favorite recipe for Lightened-Up Gingerbread Muffins, but I baked the batter in an 8.5 x 4.5-inch loaf pan at 400 degrees F for about 25-30 minutes.
I covered the top loosely with foil during the final 5 minutes since it started to get pretty brown before the inside was done. Just keep an eye on it. Perfect!
Speaking of gingerbread, I think it was on my brain because SO MANY of you have been making (and loving) my Old-Fashioned Williamsburg Gingerbread Cookies this season. Thank you for letting me know!🎄
And since I’ve had quite a few questions about preparing them in advance, I can assure you that the baked cookies freeze beautifully (I’ve got a stash in my own freezer right now).
We hosted Gibbs’s friend Will for a sleepover that evening, and since it was Friday night, pizza was on the menu (the perfect slumber party food)! We don’t have any pizza delivery here in Madison (rural living!), but Pie in the Sky is definitely my favorite for carry-out.
I also served an unpictured salad on the side for some greens.
My friend Becca (Will’s mom) and I shared the veggie pizza, while the boys had their own cheese pizza.
The kids spent the rest of the evening watching movies, snacking on Goldfish and Rice Krispies treats, and reading side-by-side in bed. They were in heaven!😂
Keith finally made it home late that night too, after his second flight was cancelled due to snow in Charlotte, NC. He had to rent a car and drive through the storm to get back to Virginia. Such an odyssey!
And on Saturday morning, Spencer’s wish was granted: it snowed at our house!
Saturday morning snack update: I found these seasonal yogurts at Costco in flavors like Cranberry and Apple Cider.
They’re really good — especially when topped with fruit and this granola (the granola is from Martin’s)!
I fed everyone an early lunch before we parted ways: I went to a yoga class at a new studio nearby, while Keith took the boys sledding. Everyone was happy with that arrangement!😬
After supper, Keith and Gibbs opted to stay home by the fire and watch Home Alone, while Casey, Spencer and I went out to meet Santa!
This was definitely one of the highlights of the season. Oh my gosh, it was magical!
Our sweet little town of Madison set up an evening with Santa in the snow-covered woods, complete with lights, Christmas carols, s’mores, and hot cocoa by the campfire.
The kids had fun with their friends, ate as many toasted marshmallows as their bellies could hold,
and almost died from excitement when Santa was delivered by the Volunteer Firemen on a truck with blaring sirens.
Priceless! And yet another reason why I love this small community that we are so fortunate to be a part of. Have a wonderful week ahead, friends!
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