Wow! We are back from vacation. It was great, too. Rest. Recreation. Reflection. We don’t always take vacations; usually, we take “stay-cations,” which have been amazing, especially living in the great locations that we have been blessed to call home (Seattle and Denver). We enjoy taking day trips to various locales, especially when we lived in Denver, as there were so many gorgeous places to explore within driving distance of our home.
However, this year, we decided to take a family road-trip vacation. Jon and I realized that while our family has been blessed to travel around the world (Europe, South Africa, Costa Rica, Canada) for ministry/missions trips, we have never taken an honest-to-goodness family vacation with our kids. Early this year we began dreaming of where we would like to go and what we would like to do.
Many pastors (Jon’s mentors, especially), have told us that July is one of the best times for pastors to take vacations. Back in February, before going through some pretty major life changes (In April, our church plant closed and just a few weeks ago, we began serving at a new church.), we determined the dates (July 1-15), planned and paid for our first “real” family vacation. We decided to spend one week with his folks in Montana, an area that we love! (My birthday is July 2 and we love being in MT over the July 4th weekend with his folks!). The other week was spent in rural Northern Idaho, where we enjoyed swimming, miniature golf, bike rides, arts and crafts (especially, my daughter), and going to “Silverwood” Amusement Park.
It felt so good to get away, enjoy the beauty of God’s creation and make many memories with our kids. Going away for a vacation may not be an option every year, stay-cations are a great alternative. We have realized, regardless if we stay at home or travel, investing the time, finances and preparation in order to rest, recreate and restore is not an indulgence, but something that we deem necessary and beneficial.
Yet, we are back to real life, routines and responsibilities. Although, I enjoyed cooking on vacation and using what we had in our little condo kitchen, it is nice to be back home in my kitchen. While my kitchen is not huge, or equipped with the latest appliances or gizmos, it is my “creative space”. When we returned home, I was so excited to cook a meal! (I know, I am crazy!)
Now, back to Menu Plan Monday. This week, I am using several recipes from Eating Well: 500 Calorie Dinners. This cookbooks is so great. I checked it out from the library and keep renewing it. (I only have one more renewal….).
Monday: Beef & Bean Chile Verde from Eating Well: 500 Calorie Dinners, served with Quinoa, green salad and cantaloupe for dessert.
Tuesday: Leftover Jambalaya served with green salad and carrot sticks. (Being from Louisiana, Jambalaya is a staple on our menus. It is really easy to make, too!)
Wednesday: Cashew Salmon with Apricot Couscous from Eating Well: 500 Calorie Dinners, served with sesame broccoli.
Thursday: Indispensable Meat Sauce for Pasta from Eating Well: 500 Calorie Dinners, served with whole wheat spaghetti, green salad and S’mores. **Friends are coming over for dinner. So, I am cooking the sauce in my crock pot while I teach piano/voice lessons. After dinner, we will enjoy making S’mores on the deck over the fire pit! Funtimes!**
Friday: Breakfast for Dinner: Oatmeal Pancakes. I found this recipe online. We enjoyed these for breakfast on Saturday. My husband said these were the best he has ever tasted. I think a lot of it has to do with soaking the oats overnight.
Sunday: Red Beans and Rice, which will cook in my crock pot while we are at church. This is another Louisiana meal that appears on our menu quiet often. So good!