Deb's Butternut Squash Soup

It's not really soup season right now.  But let me tell you, I cannot get enough of this butternut squash soup!  So I figured it was still worthy of sharing even if it technically is not the correct season for all things soup.  I made it the other day and it has been my perfect go to lunch meal ever since.  It is also very easy and quick to make giving me more reason to indulge in it on a regular basis!

It is my friend Deb's recipe and she adjusted it to include Greek yogurt, making the soup a little lighter and higher in protein. Plus by reserving some of the squash during the puree process, you get just the right amount of delicious chunkiness.  It really is the best butternut squash soup I have ever had and so being able to make it at home is pretty spectacular.

Butternut Squash Soup

6 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
6 tablespoons chopped onion
4 tablespoons margarine or olive oil
3 cups of water
2 tablespoons/cubes/servings chicken bouillon
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 - 8 ounce package cream cheese (I use neufchatel)
1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
Croutons (optional)

In a large saucepan, saute onions in margarine until tender.  Add squash, water, bouillon, marjoram,
pepper, and cayenne.  Bring to a boil.  Cook 20 minutes or until squash is tender.

Reserve a cup or two of squash.  Puree remaining squash and cream cheese with an immersion blender or in batches in a food processor or blender until smooth.  Use a potato masher to lightly mash reserved squash.  Return all squash to saucepan and heat until warmed.  Serve with croutons (homemade is even better!).

Our Maternity Photos

The third trimester is finally here and my bump is feeling very large and in charge these days.  So we thought we would take advantage of this nice spring weather for some photos while I am not insanely uncomfortable or tired yet.  It is a little early based off what the internet advises at around 32 weeks (I was closer to 29).  But I was feeling the need to check it off my list.  And plus my go to photography worthy dress still fits at this point (not sure how much longer that will last)!

As we always do, we set up our handy tripod with remote in hand.  It felt a little silly to do such posed shots all on our own, especially while a run for autism was going on the bike trail right besides us!  But Brent is a good sport and I think we got some pretty good shots for having the photographer in the picture and not behind it!

It is kind of crazy to look at these photos and think about our sweet baby that is growing.  But even still I am feeling really nostalgic about this time with just Brent and I.  Though these photos are about the bump, to me it still feels like it's still just us and about our relationship - a moment in time before our world changes and our hearts open up to welcome another member to our family.  The next time we get all gussied up for another photo shoot like this, we will have a baby in our arms.  And honestly the last time we did this was when we got married six and a half years ago.

These are special milestones in our lives and I am happy to be able to capture them behind a camera. 

Spring Front Yard 2016

Every Spring I wait like a giddy child for just the right moment to snap some photos of our front yard.  First I have to wait for the flowers to bloom.  But then I have to be a little more patient and wait for a perfectly overcast day to get these magical and romantic images.  I then run out into the street with my camera as cars drive by.  I don't care what people think - this is my flower moment!  It is most definitely worth the wait and even though I do this every year, it still brings me so much joy.

I really believe that investing in and caring for beautiful plants in your yard is a gift to yourself year after year.  It has taken years for me to accumulate a garden that I love - slowly buying things and figuring out what works best and looks best based on climate and personal taste.  It's definitely been a labor of love but I am happy to be at a place where I am doing less work in the yard and more of just simply enjoying it. 

I try to stagger out my blooming trees both in our front and back yards.  I have a mix of spring blooming trees as well as a handful of pink crepe myrtles that will bloom in the summer.  Having flowers bloom throughout the seasons is such a treat for the eyes!

I also try to be intentional of where I have planted the trees.  We use them in front of certain windows of our house to add a little privacy.  And I cluster them in the yard to create balance throughout our garden beds.

And in case you couldn't tell, I have a thing for pink and white!  It seems to work well against our neutral colored house and I have found that finding a consistent color theme makes everything look better together.  Plus it keeps me accountable to not just buying every pretty flower plant I see!  Having a clear direction for what I want helps me only buy what is really necessary in filling in gaps.

Growing up, my mom told me that they had planted a blooming tree outside of my bedroom window for me to look at.  It didn't mean much to me at the time.  But now I find myself doing the same thing.  I need a flowering tree in front of every window so that I have a pretty view to look out to!  Though I may have not fully appreciated that tree out my childhood window, little did I know I was being trained to fill my surroundings with beautiful things to look at!

Here is the tree that is in front of our large kitchen window.  I always try to take a picture from inside the house but it doesn't do the tree justice.  But it really is a beautiful sight to see each spring while I am in the kitchen.

So thank you for letting me indulge you today in my overabundance of flower photos!  Spring really is magical as it awakens us from the cold of winter.  I am so thankful for the reminder of new life that a little sunlight and refreshment can provide.

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