I set out to have a great summer with my little family. One full of memories, all spun on a tight budget and woven in between busy work schedules and summer camps. I have to say, think we did a really great job of relishing plenty of sun-soaked mornings and balmy late nights this season. I can’t say it was anything in the realm of relaxing, but it was a summer full of outdoorsy bliss that has left us wind blown, sunburned, and most importantly, even closer than before.
We aren’t ones to anticipate fall to early, though we love orange leaves, cornfields, and hot cider as much as the next person. We’ve always been a clan who loves living in the moment, hanging on to every last shred of the day, the meal, the place that we happen to be in at present. If Chad and I have taught the kids anything, it’s that right now deserves our full attention. If not now, then when, ya know?
I thought it would be fun to share some of the memories we made this summer and then welcome the autumn with open arms, with this lovely soup recipe. It will ward off the chilly nights that catch us a bit by surprise as the heat goes from the sidewalks and the sun fades into the glow of fall.
It’s called Tuscan Fennel and Bean Soup.
The fennel gives this creamy soup all kinds of sophisticated flavor, but the recipe is as simple as stirring up a big mug of your favorite hot chocolate. It’s simple food, done perfectly right. If you have never used fennel, this will be a great introduction for you. It’s one of my favorite vegetables because it’s as easy and versatile as celery, yet lends an earthy, licorice-like flavor and aroma to foods. I wouldn’t eat this around anybody you are shy with because you will want to use a really big spoon and just slurp, slurp, slurp away without any reservations or shame at all!
We started out our summer this year with our annual visit to Zion National Park. I feel so fortunate to live a few hours away from this absolute paradise. On this vacation we simply hike, eat, hike eat, sleep a little, and do it all again. With exquisite scenery set in a sweet little tourist trap of a town, it’s a getaway that we simply can’t do without. This is the view from our patio at the Desert Pearl Inn. It sits facing the Virgin River. Heaven!
We had both the boys birthdays, and those were a riot as usual. Mason turned 13 years old! We took him and his buddies to pizza and out to see Jurassic World, which was a great and exhausting adventure. I think we went through three family sized pizzas and six pitchers of soda that night before topping it off with $50 of ice cream. Good times.
Little Luke had a great time at his party too. I think I cooked for three days straight to accommodate our 50 plus guests. Nothing is too much for my boys.
We went to downtown Ogden for a Raptors baseball game. I just love sitting in that stadium in my home town, eating nachos and singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”! We have to get in at least one game a summer. It’s fun to go on a weeknight and watch the sun go down on the field. It’s what summer is all about. (You will have to excuse my less than ideal i Phone photos. I took this while balancing nachos in my lap and holding Luke’s tiger’s blood slushie in my other hand!)
My parents invited us for a whitewater rafting trip in Star Valley Wyoming over the 4th of July. Can’t figure out why we’ve never done this before, it was awesome and terrifying as you can tell by my face. We stayed in a fun little RV park and watched fireworks out in a country field with all of 50 other residents of this tiny little town. We all parked our cars in a circle that was so tight you could actually hear the men talking that were setting off the fireworks. It was a totally new experience and sure beats fighting with hundreds of people for a tiny space on the grass.
On our way home from Star Valley, we stopped in Bear Lake and had the most heavenly burgers at Lebeau’s. I really haven’t spent much time in Bear Lake which is unusual for somebody living in Northern Utah. I just fell in love with the place over my onion rings and we decided to go back for a weekend in August. We went to Pickleville Playhouse and saw Juanito Bandito, spent time at the lake, and took our first horseback riding trip as a family.
We enjoyed a summer picnic and concert at Red Butte Garden. Chad and I had a good time embarrassing our children with our dancing, but I think they had a great time otherwise. It’s times like this that I cherish living in Utah. Enclosed in a wreath of mountains, the warm sun on your shoulders, you appreciate the beauty around you and see it in a different way.
I went with my girls to see the play Hairspray. It’s a wonderful thing to have friendships that are nearly as old as you are.
Chad and I know it’s fall when our Utes start their season again. I know I’m not known as the world’s biggest football fan, but if it means a bonafide date with my husband then I’m in every time.
We just got back from our annual Havey family reunion. We went up to Soda Springs in Idaho and camped out with the family. It is such a gorgeous place and we had such fun catching up with the family around the campfire. The best thing about it was that there wasn’t any WIFI and my kids got to spend time actually socializing with their cousins, which was priceless. The second best thing was that Chad and I made an early morning coffee run and saw a mama moose and her baby grazing on the rode side as the sun came up. I thought to myself how many memories I’ve made with Chad and how practically every place I’ve been, it’s been with him. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
After all this fun, we managed to get all the school shopping done and the boys have been back at their studies for two weeks now. Our little chinchilla has been sick and had to have surgery so we’ve nursed her back to health slowly but surely. I’m on the verge of finishing up the cookbook and am back in business with a win in a cooking contest that I will be announcing soon. We also started our running routine up again. Time to work off all those hotdogs and hamburgers consumed this summer!
I look at all this and no longer wonder why I am exhausted and so behind at work that I wonder if I’ll ever dig out. Back in my younger days I would have worried about stuff like that, but I now know that nobody ever wishes they’d worked more and played less. I no longer care about material things in any sort of way that I used to. Family life has changed all that for me and I’m so very thankful for that.
With that, I’m ready to break out my sweaters, the slow cooker, and the fun plans that come with fall and the holiday season. We’ll be as busy as ever with new adventures around every corner. I can’t wait to share them with all of you. In the mean time, cook up some soup to get you in a wintery mood. Soon we will need it to thaw ourselves out at close of those endless cold days that a Utah winter brings.
May we always remember to cherish the unique gifts that each season brings to our table, and the people that grace the chairs around it.