November 2019 in Review

Happy December, sweet friends! I’m in complete disbelief that we’re in the final month of the year. How is that possible?! We had a very mild November with quite a few days still wearing short sleeves and sandals, which was very much enjoyed. Never for a second do I take for granted how lucky we are to live where we do – lots of sunshine, snow-capped mountains, the smell of the juniper trees, and endless places to explore outside.

Update: I clearly jinxed things because not long after I typed up that intro and added these photos, we got between 8-10″ of snow over the course of two days (just before Thanksgiving)! And the temps dropped significantly! We went from highs in the 50’s and 60’s to highs in the 20’s! YIKES!

November brought some stress as Josh’s car broke down on the way to work one day and we found out it needed a new engine. Since his car was 14 years old and the repairs were going to cost over $3,000 we decided it wasn’t worth fixing (nor do we have that kind of money) which means we are now a one car family. Definitely comes with some challenges, but I’m grateful we homeschool and I’m a stay-at-home mom! Josh’s car got him to Oregon from Illinois, to and from work (Salem to Portland), a road trip to Wyoming, and the round trip (14 mile) drive to and from work here in Bend…definitely held up longer than I thought it would!

November Highlights:

We fostered another dog and absolutely enjoyed having her with us for a few days. She flew in from Mexico and when we picked her up from the airport, she instantly stole our hearts. She LOVED to snuggle up with me any chance she could get and was always wagging that tail. Her happiness was so infectious and we certainly miss having her around, but nothing warms my heart more than seeing a rescue dog go to their forever home.

Learning to knit! Finally! A couple of girls taught Willow how to finger knit, which inspired me to pull out my yarn and knitting needles! Knitting has been on my list of things to learn for YEARS and I’m so excited to share that after about 50+ attempts and 20 or so YouTube videos, I’m starting to get the hang of it! It’s been a humbling experience for this perfectionist!

Starting with small projects…like this scarf for one of Willow’s stuffed animals!

Finding my rhythm in this curly hair journey! I’ve spent the last ten months embracing and finding what works best for my naturally curly hair. My hair used to be really curly and then when I got pregnant, it went straight! But last year I noticed curls coming back so I’ve made it my mission to figure out how to properly care for them – been a true test of patience and lots of trial and error, but I’m getting there! I’m also stepping waaaay outside of my comfort zone and sharing a couple of photos 😉


Random spiral curl…if only I could get the rest of my hair to do that!

Another highlight…taking Willow to play bingo for the first time! Definitely making it a monthly habit! So much fun AND it helps raise money for a great organization!

Their nightly routine still going strong:


November Review:

I didn’t try any new products (*gasp*), but I have LOTS of delicious recipes to share here! And of course…books!

R E C I P E S :

Bananas Foster Chia Pudding >> Feasting on Fruit >> sadly, I don’t have a photo to go along with this review, BUT I will say that we made it not once, but twice! So I think that should tell you that it is absolutely DELICIOUS!!! I used a combo of homemade almond milk + coconut milk to make the chia pudding which made it ultra creamy and decadent. That combined with a rich tahini caramel + cinnamon-y, sweet, caramelized bananas made for a truly epic treat. We skipped the ice cream because we didn’t have any on hand and I’ll tell you what…I probably would have been in a coma from sweetness overload had we added it. I was completely content without it. I will say that the caramel sauce I made ended up being really thick. The first time we made it, I used a raw, thick tahini and I thought maybe that was why, but then the second time I used a runny tahini (made from toasted sesame seeds) and ended up with the same thick sauce. Totally not complaining because it was heavenly, but sometimes I get discouraged when my results don’t look like the photos from the recipe post. Highly recommend trying this recipe!

Vegan Oatmeal Cream Pies >> Feasting on Fruit >> anyone else remember eating those Little Debbie oatmeal cream pies?? Even though it’s been two (maybe three) decades since eating one, I can still remember the taste. Natalie really nailed the flavor of these beauties. Wonderfully spiced (hello, ginger) and the texture was perfect: slightly crispy exterior with a chewy, tender middle. Then you’ve got the cream filling….we took the cheat route and used Simple Mills Vanilla Frosting because it’s just to dang good AND convenient. Willow told me we need to make these for Christmas, so we’ll probably make a double batch and share with family.

November 2019 in Review

Vegan Oatmeal Blender Pancakes >> Making Thyme for Health >> One morning, Willow requested pancakes, but I was out of buckwheat groats and yogurt (ingredients used to make her favorite recipe). After looking at the ingredients I did have on hand, I did a quick Google search and stumbled upon this recipe. Since I had an open jar of applesauce that needed to get used up, we gave this a go! I really enjoyed how quickly these came together and the flavor was really nice. My first round in the pan didn’t turn out…I couldn’t flip them without breaking apart, but the remaining rounds were a big success. Please excuse the poor photo below! Willow enjoyed these for a couple of days and we’ll add this recipe into our pancake rotation!

November 2019 in Review

Vegan Pumpkin Cream Cheese >> The Vegan 8 >> We have made and LOVED Brandi’s other cream cheese recipes, so we obviously had to make this ASAP. I am still enjoying all things pumpkin and pumpkin spice so I was very excited to try this! Verdict….I’m in love. I was a little sad that mine didn’t turn out as thick as Brandi’s, but I know where I went wrong. I followed all of the measurements exactly (used my kitchen scale), but I don’t think I drained the cashews enough and too much water ended up in the food processor. That’s OK though because the flavor was wonderful! I even brought some to share with a friend and we devoured it with some gluten-free pretzels. Can’t wait to make this again!

November 2019 in Review

Thanksgiving Favorites! Thank you to my parents for hosting yet another fully vegan Thanksgiving! Always an amazing spread of food and good company. I’m so grateful for my family ❤️

Cranberry Salsa with Cream Cheese >> Cadry’s Kitchen >> I think it’s pretty safe to say that this was not only the most vibrant dish on the table, but also one of our favorites! {see photo above} Thanks to Cadry for an amazing appetizer and thanks to my hubby for making it! The flavor was out of this world – such a wonderful combo of sweet, slightly tart, and perfect amount of spice. We used Violife cream cheese and served it along side sliced veggies and some gluten-free crackers. I think we’ve already decided to make it again for our Christmas Day gathering!

November 2019 in Review
Veggie pot pie, mashed potatoes + gravy, green bean casserole, and Lentil Nut Vegan “Meatloaf”

Individual Super-Veggie Pot Pies >> Yum Universe Cookbook >> It’s the cookbook that keeps on giving. Five years later and it continues to wow me and those I cook for – her recipes are incredibly delicious and satisfying. This was my first time making these pot pies and even though they were time consuming to prepare, they were absolutely worth it! The filling was loaded with so many veggies, a good dose of protein, and the flavor was very reminiscent of pot pies I ate decades ago! I used a low-sodium vegetarian “chicken” broth instead of veggie stock and that really intensified the flavor! I think it also helped that I prepared the filling the night before, so the veggies and sauce had time to marinate.

Josh made his homemade mashed potatoes that were so so comforting and creamy!

My Mom and Josh made a gravy that might be my new favorite! We chose not to blend it super smooth and I really liked it that way. The only adjustment made to this was using less oil.

My Mom made this green bean casserole which was SO good!! And the crispy fried onions were gluten-free AND vegan thanks to Whole Foods brand! It’s been over ten years since I’ve had the chance to enjoy those! My Mom also made this DELICIOUS Lentil Nut Vegan “Meatloaf” and because she used a combo of orange flesh sweet potato and purple sweet potato, the color looked eerily meaty! I loved the strong thyme flavor…such a wonderful savory flavor and she used BBQ sauce for a glaze and it was perfect! She used coconut aminos instead of worcestershire sauce to keep it soy-free. Thank you, Mom!

My pumpkin pie was a traumatic flop and ended up in the garbage, so I scrambled to figure out another pie with ingredients we had on hand…oh, the joys of LAST minute baking. I had everything to make the filling for Brandi’s Vegan Chocolate Cream Pie, but not the crust…so I had to scroll through Google for what felt like forever until I found a recipe I could make. Sadly, the crust was terrible (in my opinion and Willow’s), BUT the filling was rich, creamy, decadent, and almost fudge-like. I cut the slices a bit too big after such a hefty meal, but everyone enjoyed it! In Brandi’s post, she talks about how this pie holds up and doesn’t turn into a melted blob and I can personally vouch for the texture holding up beautifully! I also didn’t have the whipped topping and I think that would have taken it to a ridiculous level of EPIC deliciousness. I would love to make this pie again the way it was written.

I’m so glad my Mom made one of our favorite cookies because it really made up for my pumpkin pie fail. Gotta love those thumbprint cookies!


B O O K S : 

It was an INCREDIBLE month for books! We scored 25 books for $11 at our library book sale (not all are pictured because some we bought for gifts)…Josh left with the biggest haul and even though I only walked away with three books, I have high hopes January’s sale will be more successful! I bought one outside of my typical genres because there was a girl who spoke so passionately to me about it, that I felt I had to give it a try (The Other Boleyn Girl)…if anyone has read it, what did you think?? I only spent 25 cents for it 🙂

November 2019 in Review
the bottom three on the left were my finds

Let’s dive into the books I read in November!

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo >> I’ve read a few books by this author, but they were all young adult…this is her first adult fantasy book. It was just released last month and I was excited that I had put my name on the waitlist for the library early! Honest review…I almost abandoned the book. It was very s l o w to start with a lot of world building and at times I felt overwhelmed by the amount of information to take in. Be warned, there are some graphic/explicit scenes that could be triggers for some people – there were parts that made me uncomfortable. The pace and intensity picked up in the last 100 or so pages and I was fully consumed. Really dark, but incredibly well written and I liked that the ending didn’t leave us with a major cliffhanger, which will make the wait for book two a little easier. I did give it four stars on Goodreads, but after sitting and processing this book more, I might go back and change my rating to three stars.

Kindness and Wonder: Why Mister Rogers Matters Now More Than Ever by Gavin Edwards >> If you loved Mister Rogers, you will most likely enjoy this book! I grew up watching his television show as a child and have had a strong admiration for him ever since. This book made me fall in love with him even more and develop a deeper appreciation for him. Such an inspiring man and he makes you want to be a better human. A very heartwarming read that will make you want to find more ways to spread kindness.

November 2019 in Review

Willow and I finished Dragon Rider! What a fun book! Willow gave it five stars.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern >> I LOVED The Night Circus, so as soon as I found out her latest book was coming out soon, I immediately checked to see if my library had ordered it and put myself on the waitlist! Oh, my goodness. I fell in love once again with her beautiful writing and her amazing gift for storytelling. She has a way of pulling you in with not only the characters, but also how atmospheric her books are. You can easily picture in your mind the surroundings and the world…and oh, how I enjoyed this magical, enigmatic world. I gave this five BIG stars!

November 2019 in Review

Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?: Big Questions from Tiny Mortals About Death by Caitlin Doughty >> I borrowed this via Kindle through my local library and it was a quick, entertaining read! I applaud the author for finding humor in an otherwise scary/dark topic…death. I actually learned a lot from some of these silly questions and enjoyed the bits of history she weaved into this book.

The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer >> One of my very favorite genres is historical fiction and it’s been a little while since I’ve picked one up. I grabbed this book a few months ago on sale at Barnes & Noble and finally got around to reading it…and could NOT PUT IT DOWN! What an emotional read. Josh and I were sitting outside at one of our favorite coffee shops reading and I was so grateful for my sunglasses that day because they hid my crying eyes! I became so emotionally invested and in love with these characters. The chapters alternate between 1940’s Poland (told through the eyes of Alina) and present day United States (told through the eyes of Alice) and both were beautifully and realistically written. Highly, HIGHLY recommend this book! I think it was my favorite book from November.

November 2019 in Review

The Queen of Nothing (The Folk of the Air, #3) by Holly Black >> I’ve been reading less and less YA lately, but sometimes I pick one up to take a break from the heavier, emotional books. I welcomed it after reading The Things we Cannot Say. I’ve enjoyed this series and it was somewhat bittersweet to come to the end it. Quick, entertaining, and fast paced, I plowed through this one really fast. Twists and turns, likable characters, and just a fun fantasy book!

November 2019 in Review

**I am currently reading Starsight by Brandon Sanderson and I’m loving it so far! I have yet to read a Sanderson book that I didn’t love. I’m also slowly working my way through The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin and there’s a chance I might abandon it. Josh is currently reading the last book in the trilogy so I feel like I need to give it a shot. Has anyone read it???

Willow wanted me to tell you guys that she read and loved The Tail of Emily Windsnap! I guess I need to add it to my list of books to read!


Please comment below and share with me what you’ve been enjoying lately!

Lots of love,