It’s been so long since I’ve done one of these posts!! I love putting them together because I like to picture myself sitting down with a good friend just sharing the things that excite me in that moment ❤️ Not only that, but these are so casual and filled with quick iPhone photos that were snapped in the moment (so I wouldn’t forget to include something here)…which has been so helpful for me to let go of perfection!
Before we dive in, I wanted to say a big thank you and give you all a virtual hug for the love in response to my previous post. I was honestly shocked at the amount of texts, emails, and comments – so many of you who related to what I shared. It was a great reminder that we’re not alone…even if at times it feels so isolating. Thank you, again ❤️
* J U L Y * Favorites:
Moments & Highlights: time with family in Vermont, visiting close friends in Rhode Island, picking raspberries from my parents garden, spending time with Compassionate Paws while they were in Bend, going to our library’s book sale (scored a box of books for $6!!), celebrating our 10-year wedding anniversary, and Willow losing her front teeth….listening to her talk is priceless!
Here were my favorite, new-to-me products:
Josh brought these home from Trader Joe’s and they became an instant favorite! While I love both, I think the Pink Grapefruit is my ultimate fav! Perfect summertime drink! I hope to find and try the other flavors!
COYO just knows how to do things right. I’ve been a huge fan of their yogurt for a few years now and just recently found this at our Natural Grocers here in Bend. When I was a kid I used to love kefir! Thick, creamy, tangy…this is exactly how I remember it. I’ve only tried the vanilla, but it also comes in plain and mango. I love how there’s real vanilla bean and it’s not sugary sweet.
I have walked by this yogurt for weeks because I was a bit scared of the ingredient list:
(*=organic) Coconut Water*, Coconut Cream*, Vanilla (Vanilla Extract, Vanilla Bean Seeds, Lemon Juice Concentrate), Plantains, Pili Nuts*, Coconut Powder*, Cassava Root*, Lime Juice*, Himalayan Salt*, Live Vegan Cultures
Plantains, Pili Nuts, and Cassava root??? In a yogurt? But I finally got brave and tried it and guess what?? I love it! The tanginess from the lime juice is perfect and there’s a subtle sweetness that makes it a great vessel for toppings (like granola or fresh fruit). I LOVE that there’s ZERO added sugar, no gums, and no weird colorings or hard-to-pronounce ingredients. Can be found at both Natural Grocers and Whole Foods….and if you go to their website (click on the link above), you can download a coupon for buy one get one free!
Crack in a container. Enough said 😉 We found this in Burlington, Vermont and have yet to find it here in Bend. It reminds me of that pub cheese I used to love from Trader Joe’s forever ago! But now I’ve got a healthier, vegan option!
You know what goes REALLY well with that cheese spread?? PRETZELS!!
It has been YEARS since I’ve had pretzels…maybe even a decade since I’ve had that crunchy, salty goodness. It’s hard to find a gluten-free, vegan, and soy-free option – but then this brand came into my life and oh, my! They’re also corn free, which is honestly a huge win for me. My only qualm is that there’s xanthan gum, but since these are a treat for me, I don’t beat myself up and just ENJOY!
We found them at Natural Grocers and Whole Foods. Also found them in Burlington, VT at Healthy Living Market and Cafe.
We found these at one of the co-ops in New Hampshire. There’s an impressive 11 grams of plant-based protein in each bar and they’re the same size as your standard LARABAR. Willow really enjoyed the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup one, while I stuck to the Almond Butter Chocolate Brownie.
Chocolate is a source of comfort and happiness in my family…so when we got back from Vermont and found out that my parents dog, Leila, had passed away, I had to whip up a decadent, chocolate treat to soothe the spirit…and obviously share with my parents. I have made Natalie’s brownie sundae cups countless times so when I saw she created a BROWNIE CAKE, I knew it had to happen. We didn’t have the HU gems, but regular chocolate chips did the job and we were all in chocolate heaven. This was insanely rich, but not a single crumb survived.
And here’s a little throwback to an itty bitty Willow and her best buddy Leila….
For my Mom’s birthday, I offered to make cupcakes and vanilla frosting was requested. Brandi recently created a gluten-free chocolate cupcake that will blow your mind! The texture and crumb is unlike any other gf cupcake because it’s light and fluffy rather than dense. These were perfect for a birthday celebration and got the approval from my entire family! Rich, sweet, chocolatey and these were super simple to make. I stuck with the simple route and used Simple Mills vanilla frosting…no regrets! When I make these again, I would love to try one of Brandi’s frosting recipes.
Willow and I had plans to head to a friend’s house and I have this thing where I don’t like to go anywhere empty handed…baking makes me happy and I’m even happier when I can share treats with others. I opened my pantry and realized that I was completely out of chocolate chips! Which is unheard of, so I had a minor moment of panic! I was also super low on nut butters! I quickly searched through a few of my favorite blogs and found this recipe! Lifesaver!!!! You’re supposed to make a cherry jam to go in the center, but I cheated and used a fruit sweetened strawberry jam (store bought) and it was delicious! The cookie itself was buttery and amazing….I’m excited to play around with the endless possibilities of fillings.
Not from a specific recipe, but one of my favorite breakfast option these days is Little Northern Bakehouse Millet + Chia bread toasted and topped with hummus, sliced tomatoes, hemp seeds, and nutritional yeast. You guys, being able to eat bread again has been absolutely wonderful!
B O O K S:
One of the things I’ve missed most is sharing books with you! July was a small reading month for me, but if you’re curious about what I’ve read this year so far (or last year), I highly recommend finding me on Goodreads!
A Merciful Promise (Mercy Kilpatrick #6) by Kendra Elliot >> this series is a guilty pleasure of mine. Easy reading, mystery, fun and I like that they take place in Central Oregon!
We Walked The Sky by Lisa Fiedler >> a beautiful young adult, historical fiction book. I enjoyed the writing and how everything came together…I especially enjoyed the chapters told through Victoria’s eyes.
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch >> very original concept, but so crazy. Sci-fi, mystery/thriller that will mess with your head. I found the title to be super fitting.
The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens >> bit of a heavier subject matter, but I loved the characters. This book had a little bit of everything…mystery, suspense, family, drama, and somewhat of a historical fiction feel.
Pan’s Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun by Guillermo del Toro >> I saw the film when it came out years ago and lucky for me, I was able to approach the book with fresh eyes since it had been so long. I adored this book! A hauntingly beautiful fairytale filled with magic and monsters…the writing for me was absolutely captivating and the illustrations were stunning.
Peggy Dean’s Guide to Nature Drawing and Watercolor: Learn to Sketch, Ink, and Paint Flowers, Plants, Trees, and Animals by Peggy Dean >> ever since I became a mom, I have dappled in various creative outlets again….I’m realizing how much I love to doodle and sketch and I found this book to be incredibly helpful! The author provides detailed steps and tips on how to draw or paint several things found in nature, along with some fun random facts. I love the simplicity of her techniques and reading this book was not only a inspiring, but also empowering. Definitely a book we want to own in the near future.
I would love to hear from you! Tell me what you’re enjoying these days…anything and everything from food to books to Netflix shows! I hope you’re all having a great summer!
Lots of love!