Happy November, sweet friends!! I double and triple checked to make sure the comment box is available below…sorry about that error last month! Thank you to those of you who pointed that out! I hope you all had a wonderful October and that you’ve managed to stay healthy. It was a very overwhelming month for me and I felt like I was being pulled in about a million different directions. If it wasn’t for the supportive, encouraging people in my life and my daily meditation practice, I’m pretty sure I would have completely lost it. That’s not to say I didn’t have a couple of good cries and moments of low patience, but I think I did pretty OK. I’ve been working on a fairly deep, personal post that I hope to share soon…if I can stop deleting and starting over, deleting and starting over 😉
We started fostering dogs through a local organization here and it’s been both incredibly challenging and emotional, but it also feels amazing to be part of such an important movement. To be able to help rescue dogs from often times horrific situations makes my heart feel good. By opening our home, they’re able to rescue more and fly in dogs from all over the world. Moxie has loved having a dog in the house and Rockford is slowly becoming OK with it.
Our busier weeks made it harder to get to our to-do lists and we missed the pumpkin patch this year! But we did keep up with our mid-October tradition of driving up to Devils Lake ❤️ We love going there every year to experience a little snow and still see the colorful leaves – some years have more snow (or no snow) and sometimes the temperatures are mild enough for t-shirts. This year it was snowing while we were there and it was pretty chilly…we didn’t dress appropriately, so we didn’t stay as long as we would have liked because our toes were numb! But we all felt recharged while there. It’s so peaceful and to be surrounded by gorgeous trees, a serene lake, and no other people…it’s just what we needed. Nature is incredible like that.
Moxie is still keeping up with his nightly routine of following Willow up to bed and cuddling with her while she reads. ❤️
Another highlight from October was starting up the tradition of handwritten letters with my beautiful, dear friend, Jen. Both of us really limit our time on our phones and appreciate the art + presence of sitting down with paper and pen to share thoughts with a loved one. Truly makes checking the mailbox more fun and I look forward to seeing one of her envelopes waiting for me ❤
Willow and I have dedicated Sunday mornings to lighting a candle, sipping on a mug of tea, and writing to friends. Kind of a beautiful ritual.
Shall we dive in?!
OCTOBER 2019 in Review:
P R O D U C T S:
Towel Rack Holder & Organizer >> OK, I know this seems really weird, BUT it’s been a game changer! I brainstormed ways to keep our yoga mats within eye sight (not hidden behind a closest door) AND safe from Moxie. We used to keep them rolled up in the corner of the living room, but he started using them as scratching posts. For a while we kept the mats hidden away in the garage, but then by not seeing them all the time, we’d forget to do yoga. Then I had an ‘aha’ moment and thought, “what about a hanging towel rack?!?!” After a quick Amazon search, I found this and it comes with a piece to hang over the door, which means no need to nail it to the wall. We having it hanging over the outside of our downstairs bathroom door and it’s a great space saver! And Moxie can’t get them!
Premium Pet Bed/Cave >> Bow Meow >> We bought one of these last year for Rockford, but now with having a second kitty, we ordered another one. These are fantastic! Cozy, warm, and you can switch between bed and cave depending on your furry friend. When this second bed arrived, Rockford and Moxie both crammed into it together! Now they each snooze in their own and seem pretty content. Moxie still has lots of room to grow, so sometimes Willow tucks him in with some stuffed animals 🙂
Paleo Chocolate Chips >> WildRoots >> My excitement over finding these cannot be properly described. What’s even better? It comes in a TWO POUND bag!! Costco is really stepping up their game with all of these organic and vegan options. This bag is around $14. We’ve baked with them, melted them down, eaten straight out of the bag and still have a lot left. I couldn’t find a link specifically for these paleo chocolate chips (might be just a Costco find?), but in case you want to check out the company as a whole, I provided the link to their site.
I absolutely love trying new drinks…whether that’s tea, coffee, kombucha…not a month goes by where I’m not throwing new beverage items in our cart. October was a good month for new drinks!
REBBL Sparkling Prebiotic Tonic (Cold Brew Cola) >> I actually first saw this in September when I was with my dear friend Julie in Portland (at a stop in Whole Foods). Super intrigued, but hesitated because I wasn’t sure how I felt about the citrus twist + coffee. But a week or so later, while in our local Whole Foods, I found this on sale and had to try it. Verdict….I actually really loved it!! Very reminiscent of a Coke. Granted it’s been about 20 years since I’ve had one, but it brought me right back to that flavor! Except this was well balanced, not sickly sweet, and the lemon + vanilla was wonderful.
You can check out the other flavors HERE.
I LOVE GT’S line of adaptogenic teas and when I saw some new flavors, I gravitated right to the vanilla one. If you don’t like matcha, this isn’t for you, BUT I will say it’s mild and not an overly earthy flavor like matcha tends to have. I think the vanilla really helps to tone the earthiness down. I let Willow have a couple of sips and she loved it. I found this at Market of Choice.
CocoCoast Coconut Water with Passionfruit >> Coconut water has always been one of my favorites because it’s so hydrating and naturally sweet. Sometimes it’s fun to have a flavored one and this brand did a phenomenal job!! No artificial flavors and just two ingredients. Found this in a local market (CE Lovejoys) for $2.99. The link above is for a 12-pack, but I at least wanted to direct anyone interested to their site.
Vanilla Peppermint // Pumpkin Spice >> Yogi Tea >> One of my favorite things about this time of year is all of the seasonal and limited edition flavors. Yogi actually has a few other seasonal ones out right now, but to start, I grabbed these two (there’s also Orange Clove for immune support). We end each night with a cup of tea and some reading and these have quickly become a favorite. The Pumpkin Spice is so warming with a slightly spicy, sweet flavor. Literally pumpkin spice in a tea with some chamomile and roasted chicory. The Vanilla Peppermint is such a lovely combo and it also has some ginger in it. I really love to end my day with either one…just depends on my mood!
R E C I P E S: we lucked out with recipes, as every one we tried was a giant success!
Chili Cheese Pasta (one pot) >> It’s Liv B >> This recipe randomly popped up in my YouTube feed and I knew straightaway that we had to make it. I’m a HUGE fan of one pot meals and this really hit the spot with my little family. The best of both worlds: noodles + chili. I did cut back significantly on the spice level to keep it Willow friendly and I’m so glad I did…she loved it! We used gluten-free elbow noodles by the brand Jovial and like she did in her video, we used Beyond Meat burgers. This was a really high protein meal full of flavor and comfort. I could see this meeting the approval of non-vegans! Next time I would like to try making this with homemade cheese/cheese sauce instead of the large amount of packaged vegan cheese. In case anyone was interested, we used Violife Foods vegan cheese.
I linked this to the YouTube video, but in the description box of the video you will find the link to her blog.
Vegan Millionaire Shortbread >> Feasting on Fruit >> What’s not to love about these?!? Buttery shortbread, rich-salty-sweet “caramel” AND chocolate? Sign. Me. Up! We absolutely loved these!!! I ended up with a good bit of extra caramel and chocolate so I dipped pretzels in them and made caramel filled chocolates. I was super sad when these were all gone…must make again soon!
SunButter Scotcheroos >> Feasting on Fruit >> Willow had a friend over one afternoon and I decided it was a perfect time to make these! Super kid-friendly and they loved them so much, they each went back for more. I loved the chewy, sweet, caramel-y base (very reminiscent of a rice crispy treat) and anything with melted chocolate on top has my vote. Big thumbs up from all who tried them. Willow said this was her favorite thing we made in October.
Vegan Cosmic Brownies >> Feasting on Fruit >> I have to apologize for the lack of photos to accompany this review, but it’s because I didn’t make them for my little family…I made them as a “thank you” to a friend who helped us out when Willow got her thumb closed in the art studio door. That’s another story in and of itself, BUT we thought you can’t go wrong with chocolate AND we had all of the ingredients (minus sprinkles) on hand. I saved one brownie for Willow to enjoy and gave the rest away and Willow declared them the best treat ever! And they got a thumbs up from our friend. I will have to make these again for just my family ❤
Cashew Butter Cookies >> The Vegan 8 >> I have been on such a SunButter kick these days (and tahini….of course), that I forgot how magical cashew butter can be! When I saw the email for this recipe come through, I made some cashew butter and whipped up a batch of these cookies. You know what I love about Brandi’s chocolate chip cookie recipes?? She doesn’t skimp on the chocolate chips. Every cookie has an abundance of chocolatey goodness. These were so buttery with crispy edges and tender, chewy centers. They easily could have been devoured in one go by the three of us, but we stayed strong and saved them for our nightly tea…for THREE nights! Definitely making these again!
Healthy Potato Carrot Tomato Soup >> The Vegan 8 >> Another thing Brandi is really good at creating is soup! So we immediately added this to our menu for the week when she posted it. Besides the fire roasted tomatoes, everything else is stuff we keep on hand. I knew Willow wouldn’t eat this soup because she’s funny about chunks of things in her soup, so I followed this recipe exactly – no cutting back on the spice level. It was perfect! Such a deep, bold flavor and loaded with good veggies. It really is like a minestrone soup meets deep tomato soup. My body has really been craving a higher amount of protein these days, so after I snapped a quick photo, I drizzled a good dose of runny tahini to my bowl and it was delicious. Had I made quinoa or something to pair with the soup, I would have skipped the tahini 😉
Poor lighting thanks to the sun setting ridiculously early, but wanted to still share a photo.
Curry Lentil Soup >> Cadry’s Kitchen >> This is actually an old recipe of Cadry’s (but new to us). I was looking around in the pantry trying to figure out meal ideas for the week and realized we had everything on hand to make this! Love when that happens! Red lentils are my favorite for a few reasons: super high in protein, they add a great texture to soup, AND they cook fast! We love all things curry in our house and go through curry powder really fast…we’re also a bit heavy handed when it comes to adding it to dishes, so we added extra to this soup. Such a cozy, hearty bowl of comfort! We paired it with some red roasted potato wedges and it really hit the spot. We didn’t have cilantro, but I chopped up some fresh baby spinach and it worked really well! Adding this in our soup rotation!
Another poor photo, but here you go:
Salted Chocolate Hemp Shake >> Oh She Glows Every Day >> I love cookbooks, but over the last few years, I’ve limited myself to what I actually buy. I adore The Oh She Glows cookbook and it gets a lot of love even a few years later, but I haven’t brought myself to buy her second one yet. I recently borrowed it from the library and I think after taking some time to look through it and bookmarking several recipes, I need to add it to my list of ones to purchase. We had some beautiful weather in October with some days in the 70’s so I took full advantage and made a smoothie for a snack…I don’t start my days with smoothies much anymore, but every now and then I love blending one up for a mid-day snack. This one was absolutely delicious!! I cut the recipe in half (it’s supposed to be for two) and it was the perfect size. Loaded with protein, fiber, chocolate, and the perfect salty-sweet balance. I could get on board with making this a frequent snack!
SunButter Butterfingers >> Feasting on Fruit >> When I was a kid, my favorite candy for Halloween was Butterfinger. So you can imagine my excitement when Natalie shared a recipe for a “healthier” version! Even better…after reading through the ingredient list, I had every single thing needed to make them! No extra trips to the store! Willow isn’t a huge fan of SunButter (she doesn’t share in my love for it), so I tried to keep her eyes averted while I was mixing together the base…sadly, she caught me. But I asked her to try just a little slice of the finished product and she actually liked it. She did say the chocolate was her favorite part though 😉 But everyone else I shared these with really enjoyed them as a whole! I cut them into smaller bars since they are quite rich. I loved how they did have a slightly crunchy middle – reminiscent of a real Butterfinger. I think I may have ground the cereal too fine, so next time I will be sure to leave bigger pieces in there before pulsing in the SunButter and maple syrup…to maybe get a better crunch. My melted chocolate was a bit too thick, so I struggled a bit to pour it over the base of the bars – not sure if it was the chocolate chips I used (see the paleo chocolate chips above). BUT no one complained about the uneven chocolate! These were incredible, in my opinion!
B O O K S:
Call of the Wild + Free: Reclaiming Wonder in Your Child’s Education by Ainsley Arment >> I have been a HUGE fan of Ainsley Arment and her Wild + Free movement for quite a few years now so I immediately put in a request to my library when I heard she had a book coming out. Homeschooling comes with its challenges and sometimes doubts or other’s opinions creep in…this book is a massive help. Not only do my beliefs and styles align with Arment’s, but I really appreciated how encouraging and empowering this book was. I’ve added it to my list of “must buy” books because I could definitely see myself returning to certain passages or even just sitting down to read it cover to cover again. Loaded with gorgeous images + photos, lovely words of inspiration, and so many resources, this book is an absolute gem…in my opinion! I gave it five stars on Goodreads.
Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jones Reid >> Someone I’m friends with on Goodreads highly recommended this book, but suggested listening to the audiobook as opposed to reading the physical book. Well, the wait time for that through the library was incredibly long, so I just borrowed the book instead. I found the concept to be kinda cool, but reading an entire book in interview form meant there was a lot of telling and a lot less showing. I love when you can just feel the emotion through written word. BUT I did LOVE how real the characters felt! While reading it, I was tempted to Google names and the band The Six….but they’re fictional 😉 Reid also did a phenomenal job setting that 70’s vibe (sex, drugs, and rock n roll) without being graphic. I could picture the clothes, the hair, and what life was like for this (fictional) band in the 70’s. I gave it four stars on Goodreads.
A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin >> Whereas Harry Potter was very fast paced and plot driven (with fantastic characters), this book can be respected and appreciated as a beautifully written classic…originally published in 1968. It’s a slow, coming-of-age story about a young wizard – very different from your typical fantasy novel. I enjoyed it, but it was one that I took my time with and didn’t feel the urge to binge read it like a lot of fantasy books. In the end, I gave it four stars on Goodreads.
Everything You Are by Kerry Anne King >> My least favorite book from October, but even then I still gave it three stars on Goodreads. I downloaded this one for free via Kindle First and this was the second book I read by this author. Oddly enough, the same issues I had with the other book, were the same struggles I had with this one. Parts of it felt very rushed and forced and I wanted more from the characters. I did like the idea of the curse/ the cello having a soul, but that piece of it felt underdeveloped to me. If the book had been more consistent with the writing – there were some really beautiful, almost lyrical pieces to it – I would have given a higher rating.
Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke >> Willow is a HUGE bookworm and plows through long chapter books on her own, but we pick a book to read together aloud before bed…and we’re about halfway through Dragon Rider. We both look forward to this cuddle down time and more often than not, we stay up later than planned reading, “just one more chapter.” It’s a fun book with great characters, adventure, excitement, and it has both of our attentions! Willow says, “I like how they meet new creatures and they’re magical.”
I really want to hear from you guys! And I’m so sorry to those who weren’t able to leave a comment last month….please fill me in on what you’re loving lately (recipes, products, books, etc) or maybe there’s something you tried that was a big thumbs down! Let me know in a comment below! And for those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving, I would love to hear what you’re planning to make!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read and for all of the support.
So much LOVE & GRATITUDE ❤️