Saturday, January 24, 2015

Random Greatness

A bit ago, I downloaded all the photos from my iPad to my laptop, and then to photobucket. Some of them tickled me just enough or in just the right way as to convince me that they needed to be shared here.

So, if you follow me on Instagram, you'll have seen most of these already, but if not, then here are the greatest hits of Charlotte's iPad:

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From ShaLiece. Makes me miss Cedar City

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The day I bought rum at the state liquor store and started the process of making my own vanilla.
(Jury is still out on this one, verdict coming soon-probably in March or so)

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Heather and I made our own salt dough nativity while listening to October General Conference.

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This was the summer and fall where Marilee became a prolific and generous mouse catcher and giver.

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Thankfully, Eric shouldered the vast majority of the clean-up of Marilee's handiwork.

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Speaking of Eric . . .
(what a gem.)

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And finally, two girls playing "Annie" in our backyard. Like, seriously. They were singing, "It's a hard knock life" while scrubbing the cemented back patio and having a grand time doing it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Sweet November - sweet for lion-finding, that is!

We have some North American Lions today, and if my calculations are correct, they were all discovered and photographed within the same week. Pretty cool if you ask me.

These next two pictures I shot on November 20th, while we walked from our hotel to Disneyland on our first full day in California.
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Meanwhile, Lyn was living it up in Merida, Mexico. She photographed this guy on November 18, just two days before I got the one above.
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And then, whe have this beauty from Juliana, who was in St. Louis on November 22, waiting at a stoplight when she looked over a spied our friend here. She couldn't get out of the car (stoplight, remember?) but she managed a photograph (I assume she wasn't driving) and sent it to me. Notice the name of the shop--The Bug Store. How cool is that? According to their website, the Bug Store has brought elegance, romance, charm, and humor at great value for 25 years.
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So there we have it, three lion pictures within six days, in fascinating places all over the continent, and as if that weren't enough, one of the lions lives at a place called "The Bug Store".

I don't know that it gets any better than that!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Smoky Butternut Squash Soup

I love this soup.

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It's creamy and hearty and silky and scrumptious, and it's chock full of vegetables, so it's like guilt-free creamy-hearty-silky-scrumptiousness. Win/win!

Eric thinks I have a bordering-on-unhealthy obsession with squash, and particularly winter squash, but really, isn't it more healthy to have an obsession with squash than it is to have an obsession with chocolate?

(Of course, I'm obsessed with both, so what do I know?)

Anyway, I was hankering for soup a bit ago and happened to have a butternut squash hanging around, so I made a batch of this deliciousness. I loved it so much that I thought I'd share it with all of you.

Smoky Butternut Squash Soup

(I always half this recipe--but we are a family of three and while all three of us will eat this, only one of us gets excited about having it left-over. So, while half makes plenty for our needs, it might not make plenty for yours.)

4 slices bacon (You can use bacon bits here, and it will save you some time, but it's not quite as yummy that way.)
3 pounds (about 2 small) butternut squash
3 Tbs butter
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
2 small carrots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 small celery stalks, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
¾ tsp salt
3 ¾ cups chicken broth
2 tsp sage
¼ tsp pepper

1. (This step can be omitted if you use bacon bits)  In a large heavy pot, cook bacon over medium-low heat, stirring until golden brown and crisp.  Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain, then crumble and set aside.  Pour off fat from pot and set pot aside

2.  (If you’ve skipped step one, skip to step three here, and then come back to this step while the other vegetables are cooking) Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds.  Cut each half lengthwise in half again, and using a sharp paring knife, peel the squash.  Cut the squash into ¾-inch chunks.

3.  Melt the butter in the pot over medium heat.  Add the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and ¼ tsp salt and cook, stirring, until the onions are translucent, 10-12 minutes.  Add the squash and broth and bring to a simmer.  Partially cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the squash is very tender, about 15 minutes.

4.  In batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth and return to the pot.  Stir in the sage, and season with the remaining ½ tsp salt and the pepper.  Reheat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until hot.  Ladle into bowls and sprinkle some of the crumbled bacon in the center of each serving.

Serves 8

Can be made as much as two days ahead.  When reheating, thin the soup with a little broth or water.

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