Summer Favorites 2017

**I meant to share this post a couple of weeks ago, but apparently forgot to schedule it!**

Hello, everyone! It has been quite some time since I’ve written anything in this space – and I’ve attempted a few times to sit down and pour out some words…only to delete it all. It was a heavy summer filled with loss, hard times, and frustration and the fact that our computer is on its last leg didn’t help much. Yep, I’m typing this post from my phone…totally not fun, but it’s helping to force me to let go of “perfection.” All photos in this post were taken with my iPhone and aren’t edited. These words were typed in the middle of the night because I couldn’t sleep.

{{I’m dedicating this post to Jen, one of my best friends. Thank you for always inspiring me and pushing me in ways you will probably never realize…I don’t think I will ever be able to fully express my gratitude.}}

This was definitely not a normal summer for us – usually we went on a new (or revisited an old favorite) hike each week, but with all of the wildfires, we were forced to stay indoors for most of it to spare our lungs.

BUT it’s officially Autumn and I couldn’t be more excited. I’m ready to pull out the heavy blankets, cozy sweaters, and let go of summer. I’m ready to welcome change in every sense of the word. Before I say goodbye to summer, I wanted to share a quick…or not so quick recap of my favorites!


**If you’re used to reading my “favorites” posts, you’ll know they’re always organized by products, recipes, etc – this post is not. I’ve compiled my favorites here in the order they happened or when they were tried. If I continue with these posts, I’ll definitely go back to a more organized fashion! Hopefully by then our computer will be nicer to me!


We flew to Vermont in June to spend a couple of weeks with Josh’s family and to get away from tourist crazy Bend! Felt good to visit with everyone. While there, we took a road trip to Rhode Island to spend a day with Jen and Tyler!!! (Seriously my favorite people) It’s truly incredible to spend time with people who just get you. Conversations flow and it’s definitely nice to not have to explain your reasoning behind certain choices (lifestyle, diet, etc) because for the most part, our values align. It’s a beautiful thing and I’m grateful to have them in my life.

Playing KUBB with Josh’s family! Even Willow got into it! If you haven’t played this lawn game, definitely check it out! Loads of fun!

Spending a couple of hours at The Montshire Museum of Science in Vermont. It’s amazing to watch your child light up with excitement to learn. I think she needs a microscope for Christmas…she literally spent 30+min using it!

Another highlight….FINALLY getting to meet Jen and Mike (and Eily + Taco) in real life! They came through Bend in July and we got to spend a few days with them. Feels like we’ve been friends forever and I know we will be. If you’re not familiar with their Etsy shop, Compassionate Paws, definitely check them out.

Teaching Willow how to play UNO. Let’s just say there were a few days of nonstop games. So fun!

Josh and I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary with a hike! My parents were so kind to spend the day with Willow while we finally got to complete this gorgeous hike at Clear Lake.

While in Rhode Island, Jen sent us home with some goodies and this tea became my favorite. I loved it so much that I shared some with my Mom.

Vegan Lemon Sauce with Basil >> The Vegan 8 >> Yet another fantastic recipe from Brandi! So rich in flavor with the perfect lemon tang and the basil is a lovely addition. We used potato noodles (made with our spiralizer) instead of edamame noodles. I used leftover sauce on roasted veggies the following day. SO good!

FERRERAW ROCHERS >> @mindful_moose eBook >>  Jess and I have been long time friends on Instagram and I was so excited when she released this beauty of a book! Lots of delicious recipes. It’s no surprise that our first choice was a decadent chocolate recipe. Willow and I had a blast making these and my entire family approved!

CRISPY ROASTED CURRIED CAULIFLOWER >> @thefitforkfeed >> Lindsay shares my love for cauliflower and curry so I obviously jumped on this recipe as soon as she shared it on her page!! She shares a lot of amazing recipes within her posts on IG – I would highly recommend giving her a “follow!”


And Wildbrine’s fermented Sriracha! We love how it’s raw and doesn’t contain things like citric acid, “natural flavors,” sugar, etc. It tastes SO fresh!

Poor photo, but I can’t say it enough, I wish everyone would watch this documentary! Such an eye opener and I really enjoyed the variety of doctors interviewed and how it didn’t feel like a preachy film. I learned a lot!

Watching the solar eclipse with Willow and my Dad! Thanks, Mom, for making that awesome setup for Willow to ease my worried mind!

MAPLE WALNUT CREAM CHEESE >> Veggie Inspired Journey >> I could cry. The photo somehow got erased from my phone!! But if you click HERE, I’m hoping you can see the photo I posted on IG. This was a huge family hit (entire family, including my Oma). We paired it with banana bread and Willow ate a good bit by the spoonful! Haha!

Buddha Chocolate Coffee Fudge Cups. Oh, my. Paleo, vegan, and worth every penny. And it’s an Oregon company! We found this at Market of Choice here in Bend and they were sold out of all the other options by this company….which made me believe it had to be amazing. I can’t wait to try other products!


Remember how I said Jen sent me home with some goodies?? Well, she included some books (the bottom three in the stack below). I spent all of my summer with my nose in a book and these were my absolute favorite! The Outlander series is incredible and while I’m dying to start the fourth one, I decided to take a little breather and read something else! Ha! I have reviews for most of these on Goodreads. Are you on there??? If you are please let me know! And if you’re not (and you’re a big reader), definitely check it out!

I just have to add…Lily and the Octopus has my heart. SO GOOD!!! Even Josh read it and loved it!

Acorn ring made by Tamara of The Striped Cat Metalworks >> You guys. Have you seen her creations? I’ve been following her for a while on IG and have admired her craftiness….when she posted about this acorn ring and that a portion of the sales go to help the squirrels, I had to order one. And guess what? When my order arrived I was so surprised to see a little ring she made just for Willow! You can absolutely feel the love she puts into her work.

Circle Creations: 3 Cami Bra Package Deal

I will be the first to admit that I am “cheap” with some things. Bras were one of them. In the past I would get them from Target or Kohls…and I hated every single one. They were uncomfortable or broke after a few washes or wears. Finally, last month, I said, “I’m done. I NEED to find a bra I can get behind and one that is made with organic materials.” I immediately went to Etsy and ended up finding a shop in Oregon. I was SO hesitant to invest more than my usual $10-20 per bra, but I took the plunge and ordered a three pack! After reading every single review, I chose to order up from my usual size small and I’m glad I did. I AM IN LOVE WITH THESE BRAS!!!!! Hands down the most comfortable bra I have ever owned – I honestly forget I’m even wearing it. They’re beautifully and wonderfully made, they were shipped fast, and I feel good supporting a company who uses sustainable materials. Click HERE to view these bras. Also know that they offer them for sale individually for $36.

Nothing new, but being silly with this kid is my favorite. And this was probably my favorite Instagram post in a long time. It felt good to not care what people think and to really connect with people. I seriously had so much fun reading the comments and thank you to those who played along!

Homeschooling a kindergartner now! Woohoo! Crazy how fast time flies. She’s not a baby anymore!

3-Ingredient Vegan Chocolate Pots >> Feasting on Fruit >> If you have a major sweet tooth AND you love chocolate (who doesn’t???) then you need to try these!! They’re fluffy, dreamy, crazy rich pots of deliciousness. And believe me, you’ll only be able to take a few bites…it’s that rich.

Favorite local shop! Forge Humanity. Beautiful space, amazing people, and every single product goes to support a cause. For example, this book I bought Willow helps give 10 people clean water for a year! If you’re ever in Bend, Oregon, definitely stop in!

Vegan Lemon Bars with Spiced Tahini Caramel >> The Vegan 8 >> This is a recipe of Brandi’s from 2014!!!! And I finally tried it last month for the first time. If you know me, you know I’m addicted to tahini. BUT for those of you who are not, rest assured these aren’t strong in tahini flavor. Definitely rich and a small square is plenty, but that bite of spiced caramel is heaven. It truly makes these bars fantastic and pairs so perfectly with the lemon. This was absolutely with the wait and will definitely be a repeat recipe.

Coconut Secret UnGranola Bar: I. Am. Hooked!!!!!! Found these at Market of Choice and I was so excited! I should add that Willow is obsessed with them too! I love that they’re grain-free, soy-free, cane sugar-free (sweetened with coconut nectar), and they use fair trade chocolate!

Also, these Chaco sandals are the best. I have worn nothing else (literally every single day) for the last five months and I’ll be sad when I have to break out socks. I have worn these on 5+ mile hikes and normal every day wear – so comfortable!

Went on a date with Josh to Salud! All raw and everything is delicious! We found a coupon for buy one get one half off so we took advantage. We love this spot, but prefer to save money and eat at home. Our meals were amazing though (as usual). Plus it feels good to support a local business who cares about health!

Addicting. That is all I will say….

Chocolate Monkey Bread >> Feasting on Fruit >> I’ve never actually had monkey bread before and after having this version, I don’t think I need to try another…because it’s amazing!! Fudgy, gooey, balls of brownie. BUT it’s fruit sweetened, grain-free, and vegan (of course). This was gone in a flash and we’ll definitely make it again for soon!

The Fit Fork Feed : Everything Bagel Crusted Cauliflower >> She shared this recipe on her Instagram…if you can’t find it, let me know and I’ll tag you in her post! I hope this works…click HERE to see her IG post.

Favorite movies that Josh and I saw in the theater:

  • Guardians of the Galaxy 2
  • Wonder Woman
  • Baby Driver

As always, I would LOVE to hear from you. Tell me some of your favorites from the summer! Books? Movies? Recipes? Moments?

Thanks for stopping by!


6 thoughts

  1. Computer troubles totally suck, and emotional times that make sharing and writing and putting thoughts to words difficult. But I must say the wait made me all the more excited to see this post pop up from you today, I’ve missed these a lot! Props to you for typing so much on such a tiny keyboard, but I must say I actually love the as-it-happened flow here. It makes me feel like I am taking a little journey through your summer–trips, adventures, fun finds, milestones, and all 🙂 Wow Vermont looks absolutely beautiful, and even better with good company. And I’m happy you still got some summer hiking in even with the wildfire situation. I am so very intrigued by these un-granola bars, they sound equally as addicting as cacao almonds! And thank you for trying some of my extra chocolatey things this summer too 🙂 Best of luck to you both with Kindergarten! Lots of love <33

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Natalie!! Oh, how I’ve missed you! It truly feels like ages since I’ve chatted with you and that makes me sad. Thank you for always supporting and reading my rambles – really means a lot, my friend ❤️ this whole computer madness bums me out, but has definitely forced me to unplug a lot…typing on a phone is tiresome 😂 my thumbs cramp up! Really??? Well, maybe if I do another favorites post, I’ll keep it in this form because it’s honestly a lot easier! Haha!! Especially when typing on a phone. You would LOVE both the ungranola bars and the cacao almonds…they’re my go-to purse snacks!! I have a giant list of your recipes to try because so many of them are grain-free!!! Makes me so happy! I’m sorry for not commenting more on your blog posts – I tend to write novels (as you know) and the amount of times that my fat thumb accidentally hit the wrong button and deleted everything 😫😭 has happened more times than I can count! I’m always thinking about you!!!! I hope you had a great summer and I promise to write you a proper email soon ❤️❤️❤️ lots of love to YOU! xoxo


  2. I’m always glad to see you back here checking in! It sounds like you had a packed summer 🙂
    I honestly didn’t do much at all, but still dealing with all the medical/health problems kinda threw things off for ALL of 2017 now.
    She is the cutest little kindergartner!! (I can’t believe I’m a senior in college right now!) xoxoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww! Thank you!! Oh, goodness, I am so sorry to hear 😢 I’m sending all sorts of healing-healthy-good energy your way. I’m always here if you need/want to chat! Omg. I can’t believe you’re a senior in college!!!!! That’s amazing!! ❤️❤️❤️ xoxoxo


  3. Omg Mandy! As always, I never get your email updates (grrrrr!) but I’m home today doing a lot of work on my computer thinking of you and decided to look at your site and see I’ve missed a post from you, so sorry friend!! I never get the linkback notifications or anything…stupid wordpress, lol.
    Anyways, I’m absolutely in LOVE with this post. You seriously are theeeee queen of sharing new products and opening my eyes. As soon as I saw those chocolate coffee fudge cups, I LITERALLY (no lie!) gasped out loud, hahaha! I know you and I both love coffee and chocolate equally so I immediately googled them and am going to order them. I cannot WAIT.
    On another note, these pics are absolutely breathtaking. I cannot even imagine what it must be like to live and visit in those areas…the beauty is evident in your stunning photos, but I know it is only a glimpse into what it must feel like to actually BE there. I’m so envious. You are so blessed. It’s so not like that here in Houston,haha.
    And Willow, omg, she is getting SO BIG and is just as beautiful as ever…she looks so much like you! It’s wonderful to see her in these pics and you both looking so happy. That makes me happy.
    I need to see that movie, I have read so many amazing reviews about it. I don’t need convincing to be vegan of course, haha, but I would love to see the movie I’ve heard so much about.
    Thank you so much for making my recipes, you are such a sweetheart, I’m so happy you loved them!! I second Fit Fork Feed too, she is so talented and creative with her ideas!!
    Love you! xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So I wrote a novel of a response to your sweet comment here a while back and I popped back on here to see that it never posted! You’re always so kind to me – I know your life is crazy busy right now and I never expect you to read/comment, but it sure does mean a lot to me when you do ❤ I have NO idea why the email updates don't go through for a lot of people…I should look into that because maybe there is something I could do on my end.
      I wish you could come visit!!!! We really do feel blessed to be surrounded by so much beauty here. Hehe – I've actually always wanted to explore Texas more – I've only driven through it…and if it means finally getting to meet you, I need to make it happen!
      OMG. Did you order the chocolate???? I have had to stay strong and not walk down that aisle at the store because I would spend all of our money on those chocolate cups! Ha! I still need to try their other varieties.
      Awww! Thank you! A friend texted us the other day to say happy half birthday to Willow and it blew my mind that she's now halfway to SIX! It kills me that they grow up so fast. But this age is so much fun!!!
      You are SO welcome. Thank YOU! We seriously make your recipes all of the time (lots of repeat favorites) and now I'm dying to try your new alfredo sauce! Hoping to make it next week!
      I hope you're having a beautiful weekend, my friend! Thank you for your kind words and for reading my rambles. ❤
      LOVE YOU!!!! xoxoxoxo


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