Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Butternut squash soup

It's been cold lately, and all I want to cook is soup. 

This is a delicious butternut squash soup, changed up ever so slightly from my favorite Soup of the Day cookbook.

Sweetly Savory Butternut Squash Soup

2 butternut squashes (about 4 lbs) halved, seeded, peeled, cut in 2" chunks
1 lb apples, peeled cored and quartered
1 leek, white and light green parts only, rinsed well and sliced thick
5 garlic cloves, peeled
2 Tbsp chopped sage, plus more for garnish
2 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper
3 Tbsp olive oil
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup hard cider
1/2 cup creme fraiche

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the squash, apples, leeks and garlic on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with 1 Tbsp chopped sage and 1 tsp cumin. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Drizzle with the oil and stir to coat. Spread all into one layer.

2. Roast the vegetables and fruit for20-25 minutes, stirring twice, until golden and the squash is tender. Remove from the oven.

3. Place roasted fruits and veggies into a dutch oven or other large pot and add half of the chicken stock. Using an immersion blender, blend until very smooth. (If you don't have an immersion blender, you can use a food processor or blender, working in small batches until complete.)

4. Add the remainder of the stock, cider, and 1 Tbsp sage an 1 tsp cumin and stir to combine. Bring all to a simmer, stirring often. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Ladle the soup into bowls and stir 1 Tbsp creme fraiche into each. Garnish with sage leaves if desired.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

My 2015 Shelf

In past years, I've selected books I want to read at the beginning of the year and shared them here with you. I've been moderately successful at working my way through each list…but I have found that through the year, new books entice me…my interests veer in a new direction…I get stuck again somewhere in the depths of Anna Karenina.

So this year, I'm changing it up. I saw this 2015 Reading Challenge (on Pinterest of course, via Popsugar) and thought it sounded like fun…and a very lofty goal.

I'm starting out by wrapping up a few books I'm almost done reading and then I'm excited to choose books based on these topics! I'll keep the blog updated with progress and/or reviews of what I've read.

And a dose of reality: I know that I probably won't complete this in just one year…but I'm excited to give it a shot! Anne over at Modern Mrs. Darcy (one of my favorite daily reads) has a similar but more condensed list this year…so if you like this idea but think that 50 books is a bit steep, check out Anne's challenge of 12 here.

I'd love to know if you have a reading plan for this year…please share in the comments!

Friday, January 09, 2015

Hello 2015!

Since you've last heard from me, we have:
  • celebrated the kids turning 11, 9 & 7
  • taken a trip to Disney World
  • said goodbye to sweet Georgia friends as we...
  • moved to Mississippi
  • discovered a mold issue in our rental house the day we moved in 
  • enjoyed a beautiful autumn…we love our trees!
  • been matched with a precious little boy to adopt from China
  • tried our best to keep up with homeschool despite unpacking & dealing with the previously mentioned mold
  • traveled to NC and then OK to celebrate with family & friends (a baby shower & wedding)
  • decorated our new home for Christmas 
  • celebrated the birth of our new nephew Kayson!
  • enjoyed seeing all three children participate in our church's Christmas pageant 
  • helped Brent as he hobbled around on a broken toe
  • made new friends
  • traveled to Asheville for Christmas and loved on our two precious baby nephews!
  • completed the first phase of paperwork for the travel portion of our adoption
It's been a full few months, but I am thankful to be feeling a bit more settled. I'm excited about what this new year holds for us as a family…and excited to be sharing more here.

I'd love to hear what you've been up to…and even though it's 9 days late, I want to wish you a very Happy New Year!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Day 13: Favorite Seasonal Candy

For the most part, candy isn't very tempting to me.

I love dark chocolate, Jelly Belly jelly beans…and the occasional Snickers bars…but when it comes to most candies, I pass.

And seasonal candy? Peeps, Cadbury Eggs, gumdrops…I avoid them.

But there is one seasonal candy that I love: candy corn.

Now, I'll enjoy Brach's candy corn any day…but a few years ago, I was introduced to Jelly Belly candy corn.

I was a little skeptical, but when I tried it? Yum.  And it's a bit hard to return to Brach's afterwards! It's not easy to find, but if you have a grocery that carries Jelly Belly products, you just might see a little package of their candy corn as well. And you should try it.

Do you have a favorite seasonal candy?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Day 12: Favorite seven year old

Today, my baby girl turns seven.

Madeleine brings us joy and laughter every single day. She is spunky, sweet, thoughtful, and sincere. She loves anything sparkly, reading, and playing with friends outside. And she thinks breakfast in bed is the best thing ever.  She is most definitely the baby of our family, and we all adore her.

Happy 7th Birthday Sweet Madeleine! We love you!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Day 11: Favorite blog "round-ups"

One of my favorite types of blog posts to read are those blogs who feature a weekly "round-up" of what they've enjoyed from around the internet. I love finding new sources of inspiration and reading articles that I haven't come across before!

I thought I'd share a few of my favorite blogs who do that today, as you usually see these shared on the weekend!

The Handmade Home features Handmade Savvy Saturday is one of my go-to spots for finding DIY projects around the web.

The Art of Simple selects a few Weekend Links that usually include something fun, a video, and thoughtful articles.

Nesting Place features Weekend Links, which she files under "Bird Watching." Love that. Her features tend to lean towards home decor and inspiration.

Modern Mrs. Darcy shares Links I Love which prominently feature book-related articles. I'm always in the mood for a good book recommendation.

Elise Blaha Cripe features Weekend Links that combine crafty with smart and recipes. Her style is a bit more modern than mine, but I love the inspiration found on her site.

I'd love to hear your favorites from around the internet!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Day 10: Favorite new (to me) company

I first discovered LS Slipcovers when I came across this photo from Holly Mathis' instagram feed:

I loved the details of the chair, especially that oversize monogram, and enjoyed reading about the artisan quality of these slipcovers. The only drawback was that this company was in Houston, TX.

Fast forward a couple months. Over at Nesting Place, Myquillyn shared that Laura and Nathan of LS Slipcovers would be doing a southern tour, meeting clients in their homes and designing slipcovers by pin-fitting the furniture and then taking the fabric back to TX and mailing it a few weeks later.

I called and spoke with Nathan that same day. My slipcovered chair that had been purchased for our nursery 11 years ago was in need of a new look to coordinate with our now nursery-less home.

After a few weeks of planning and working out details, this week I drove up to Atlanta with my chair to meet Laura and Nathan (and their adorable children!) It was so much fun to watch Laura take pieces of linen and pin-fit my chair…it's a bit mesmerizing to watch! They were both so kind and friendly and personable. I felt like I was just hanging out with friends. Before I knew it, an hour and a half had passed and we were done.

And now I get to anticipate receiving my new slipcover!

So here's my chair. I love this chair…it just needs a fresh look! I chose a flax-colored linen, and asked for small box pleats, similar to this picture below but ones that skim the floor, as I want to hide the gliding mechanism.

I'm so excited I can hardly wait! So in the meantime, I'm  thinking about what else I could have slipcovered!

If you're in Texas, you should definitely check them out…but I know they are working on ways to work with out of state clients, so don't let your location hold you back from getting in touch with them.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Day 9: A favorite moment remembered

I imagine I'm a lot like many of you. I have a great idea for a family photo, and I can't wait to make it happen. A few years ago, I saw several cute shots taken from above of families lying in lush grass.

So back in the summer of 2011, my extended family was together at the beach…taking a few large family shots on one of our final nights all together. And there was this great grass.

So I convinced Brent it would be cute (and worth the effort) and we began. The two of us laid down in the grass and then aunts and uncles and grandparents helped the kiddos get into place. My sister sweetly took pictures (gaining height by sitting on her husband's shoulders.) We tried a few different arrangements, but it wasn't long before our littlest was done.

We got a few shots that (while not exactly what I was imagining) were still good and special with everyone making a face that could pass for happy.

But maybe my favorite one now? This one:

One of the final shots. Madeleine is crying. Nathanael is being silly. Or trying to make his sister (or Aunt Katy) laugh by making a face. Hadleigh is sweetly smiling, but I remember her asking if we could be finished yet because the grass was itchy.

And Brent and I are just laughing. Soaking up the crazy moment. I look at this picture, and I can remember this moment so clearly. And it makes me thankful for saving the not-so-perfect pictures, because that's where memory lingers.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Day 8: Hadleigh's 11th Birthday Breakfast

Today is our precious Hadleigh's 11th Birthday! It's hard to believe that eleven years have passed since we first looked into those blue eyes…but there she is, on the verge of being a young lady and not just my little girl.

Happy Birthday, my Hadleigh girl. You bring me such joy…you have taught me so much…and you make each day sweeter with your gentle smile, generous heart, and giant hugs! I'm so thankful for you and eager to see all that this coming year will bring! 

It is one of our birthday traditions for the birthday girl (or boy) to choose the meals for their special day. This year, Hadleigh chose our family's favorite pancake recipe. So in honor of her birthday (and in the spirit of revisiting old favorite recipes), I'd love to share our deliciously easy pancake recipe!

We love these plain with syrup…but we also find them perfect for adding your favorite fruit or topping, especially blueberries, chocolate chips, or pecans!

The Best Buttermilk Pancakes Ever!
1 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. butter, melted and cooled slightly
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg

1. Melt butter and allow to cool. Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium bowl.

2. In another bowl, combine liquid ingredients. Add liquids to flour mixture and whisk until just blended. Let stand 10 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat griddle. Pour batter onto griddle and cook until pancakes are bubbly and the edges are slightly browned. Flip and cook approximately 2 minutes on other side. Keep pancakes warm until ready to serve.

Yields: about 12 medium-sized pancakes.

And it seems like it was just a few moments ago that this two-year old Hadleigh was helping me make these pancakes!

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Day 7: A character I've grown up with

I don't remember how old I was when I first met Anne Shirley. But I quickly realized that she was a kindred spirit…though I never knew the term until I met her.

I think I probably first read Anne of Green Gables when I was in fourth grade. We had recently moved to North Carolina, and I can remember exploring our street with my brothers, pretending to "run away" but never getting past the "haunted" cottage that we glimpsed through the old hemlock hedge at the end of our street. All my memories there are laced with a vocabulary and imagination that reminds me very much of Anne.

My picture of Anne is a cross between Megan Follows' on-screen portrayal of my favorite character and the drawings of Anne on the covers of my copies of Anne of Avonlea and Anne of Windy Poplars. As a child, I admired her courage, smiled at her curious shenanigans, and wished to have such a loyal friend. I identified with her love of the beauty surrounding her and found someone who had similar romantic notions as I.

Before long, I had read all eight "Anne" novels (followed by everything else Montgomery wrote) and was so thankful to get to follow the eleven-year old girl for much of the rest of her life. I always dread a book ending at the "happily ever after" point…I always yearn to know "what's next" and with Anne, I got that.  

Tomorrow, Hadleigh will unwrap her first copy of Anne of Green Gables…I'm so excited to share this favorite character with my almost-eleven year old. Autumn always seems to be the perfect time to reread Anne…and I think I will read along with Hadleigh. I understand Anne from a different perspective now…a teacher…a wife…a mother…but when I open my well-worn and well-loved copies and read their pages, I am reminded of the girl I used to be.

Do you love Anne as much as I do? Share your favorite character with me in the comments!

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