February 2020 in Review

Hello, my friends and happy March! Yet another month flew by and I failed to get those recipes up…again. Need to shift my priorities for sure! We spent a lot more time outside with it being such a mild month weather-wise, it seriously felt more like spring so we took full advantage of it. In the 9+ years we’ve lived in Bend, I can’t recall a February without a winter storm or being buried in snow! Only a few more weeks until the official start of spring and I absolutely cannot wait ❤

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Skipping the paintbrushes and using items found in nature! Such a fun project!

What else happened in February??? Well, I celebrated my 41st birthday, which meant some special treats and feeling the love from lots of family and friends! We fostered another sweet dog, made plenty of delicious new recipes, and read SO many books. Overall, it was a pretty great month!

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FEBRUARY 2020 IN REVIEW:

P R O D U C T S >>

Brew Dr. Kombucha >> Watermelon >> Spotted this limited release flavor and after a couple of weeks of passing it by, I decided we deserved a “treat.” Upon opening it, I was instantly reminded of Jolly Rancher candy! This ended up being one of my least favorite flavors from Brew Dr. though – a bit too sweet for my liking and the flavor tasted a little off. I know a few other people who have tried this and loved it, so you might just have to try and see for yourself! We have seen this flavor at both Natural Grocers and Whole Foods.

February 2020 in Review

Trader Joe’s Savory Banana & Nuts Trek Mix >> I’m honestly not much of a snacker these days, but when Josh brought this home for me to try, I couldn’t stop eating it! I think a year or so ago I talked about Bubba’s Paleo snack mixes and how much I loved them, but how pricey they can be. Well, here’s a much more affordable option and equally delicious! Do not be afraid of the banana chips in here because if anything, they taste more like potato chips and not your standard sweet banana chip. Great flavor, well seasoned, salty, and highly addicting.

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Dark Chocolate Coconut Bars >> UnReal® >> I used to LOVE Mounds Bars growing up and these taste just like them…but better! And with a lot less sugar. I was impressed with the ingredient list and while I was bummed about them being individually wrapped, they were a fun treat. We found these at our local Whole Foods.

February 2020 in Review

Mighty Bright Rechargeable Book Light >> I have gone through several book lights over the years and have disliked every single one of them for multiple reasons: too bulky, too bright, clip didn’t hold, batteries died too fast (without notice), and many more. But then I found this book light and hopefully my quest for the perfect light has ended! Super lightweight, small, rechargeable (yay! no more batteries!!), stays in place, multiple settings for brightness/dimming, AND a light appears when it needs to be charged! The manual claims that when used at the dimmest setting, the charge will last for 60 hours and the brightest setting will last for 10 hours. I haven’t had it long enough to attest to this, but will definitely update this post when I find out. I’m excited to have a book light that won’t light up my whole bedroom while I read 🙂 I found this at a local bookstore, but it can be found at a lower price via Amazon.


 

R E C I P E S >> I apologize for the lack of photos for these recipes, but I think it was because we were so caught up in the excitement and deliciousness that snapping a pic was the last thing on my mind 😉

Crispy Breaded Cauliflower Wings >> Minimalist Baker >> Cauliflower is one of my favorites and I’m always looking for new ways to change up this veggie. We were excited to see this recipe come through my email and even more excited to have all of the ingredients on hand already! The recipe calls for eggs to dip the cauliflower in and while she suggests non-dairy milk + lemon juice for a substitute, I added some ground flax too for extra “stickiness.” The preparation was a bit time consuming and messy – the coating/breading mixture kept getting clumpy and too wet, so I added some almond flour to the mix, which helped. When we make these again, I might get a large ziploc bag to toss the cauliflower in – to shake it all together at once. The outcome was absolutely delicious and we devoured every last bite, but ours didn’t come out crispy like what was shown on Minimalist Baker’s blog. The flavor was out of this world though!

February 2020 in Review

Crispy Peanut Butter Waffles >> Feasting on Fruit >> I am loving having a good waffle maker and having so much fun trying (and eating) new recipes! Willow LOVES peanut butter and the number of jars we go through a month is crazy…so grateful for Costco 🙂 These waffles were a huge hit with all of us and it’s been requested that I make them again. The first round didn’t get crispy, but then I increased the setting and kept them in the waffle iron a bit longer even after the beep indicated they were done – that helped to achieve some crispy edges! While I am not following a grain-free “diet” anymore, I did enjoy switching up the use of flours (these used coconut flour + tapioca starch). These will definitely be added to our waffle rotation!

Homemade Golden Milk Spice Mix >> The Vegan 8 >> We LOVE golden milk and there was a stretch of time when it became part of our evening routine. There’s just something so comforting about the flavors and the color is so inviting + happiness inducing. I was excited to see Brandi create a mix that you can just scoop and enjoy when the craving arises! We used to purchase a mix from our local apothecary, but homemade means you can adjust the spice level and amp up your favorite flavor notes (ginger, etc.). I have been enjoying this with a mix of coconut milk + homemade almond milk! I also love to transfer this to the blender to ensure the mix is well incorporated…plus I’m a sucker for the frothiness!

February 2020 in Review

High-Protein Blueberry Almond Scones >> Eat More Plants cookbook >> I talk a bit more about this cookbook below, but this is the only recipe we’ve tried from it so far. I was really impressed with how quickly the dough came together and the wholesome ingredients used. Willow was not a fan of them and told me she didn’t like the taste, but Josh and I enjoyed them. These are definitely best eaten the day they’re made because our leftovers became “wet” and soft. I ended up reheating them in our little toaster oven and they firmed up a bit. I really liked how these were not overly sweet (only 1/4 cup of maple syrup is used in the dough) and the use of whole chia seeds added not only a good dose of protein, but a great texture!

February 2020 in Review

Blood Orange Muffins >> Feasting on Fruit >> My Mom made these as a surprise birthday treat and we all LOVED them!! My Mom is also really good at improvising and working with what she has on hand…she didn’t have blood oranges, so she used part lemon juice part Trader Joe’s blood orange soda! The flavor was incredible and the texture was so cake-like and moist. AND they held up beautifully. My mom took it to the next level and topped these muffins with vanilla frosting to make them a complete birthday treat ❤ I will definitely print off the recipe to make these at home!

The Best Vegan and Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies >> Making Thyme for Health >> In my opinion, one can never have too many chocolate chip cookie recipes on hand. Depending on my mood, sometimes I crave a soft, pillowy cookie, while other times I want that crispy, chewy texture. In this specific time, I was looking for a crispier cookie that spread out…reminiscent of those Tollhouse cookies we had when we were younger. Oh, my goodness! These far exceeded my expectations and achieved that nostalgic feeling. I wish I had photos, but just know that these literally were some of the BEST chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever had.

 


 

B O O K S >> 

Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain >> historical fiction. One of my very favorite genres is historical fiction! When done right, you get pulled into the world of a different era/time with characters you can’t help but feel for or grow attached to. This was a great book to kick off my February reading! The chapters bounce between Morgan Christopher (2018, North Carolina) and Anna Dale (1940, North Carolina) and I thought the author did a great job creating the mystery and tying things together. I admit to getting annoyed at times with the cheesy – sometimes cringe-y – romance, but luckily this book wasn’t romance focused (very minor). Between the likable characters and good mix of predictability and mystery, I really enjoyed this book!

The Giver of Stars by JoJo Moyes >> historical fiction. Based on a true story and takes place in Depression-era America, you follow the journey of the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky. A beautiful, yet heartbreaking story of friendship among strong-willed women with some humor laced in there, I found this book to be very enjoyable. This was actually the fourth book that I’ve read by this author – I really like how she draws you into the story with the characters.

Eat More Plants: Over 100 Anti-Inflammatory, Plant-based Recipes for Vibrant Living by Desiree Nielsen >> plant-based cookbook. I have always loved reading cookbooks like regular books…from cover to cover. It’s fun to get inspired with new or different ways to use your favorite ingredients and introduced to ingredients you’ve rarely (or never) worked with. This cookbook focuses on anti-inflammatory foods/recipes and is written by a registered dietitian. Before she dives into the recipes, she briefly discusses nutrition, supplements, the best food sources for Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats, her top 25 anti-inflammatory foods, nutrients to be mindful of and recommended amounts, and the benefits of plants. While all of the recipes are gluten-free and vegan, there is a lot of soy…so, obviously we can’t make most of these recipes. I do have some copied down to try and found myself feeling ultra inspired by her ingredient/flavor combinations. I found the photography style to be slightly off-putting…I don’t mean to be critical as my skills are highly lacking, but I want my cookbooks to have beautiful, appealing photos that make me want to dive into recreating the recipe! I do recommend this book to anyone new to plant-based living or those looking for new ways to change up their routine. I borrowed this book from the library and I will probably check it out again.

Godsgrave (The Nevernight Chronicle #2) by Jay Kristoff >> young adult, fiction, fantasy. I enjoyed this sequel so much more than the first (such a rare treat with series) and used some birthday money to order the third book…which I hope to read very soon! A very intense story of revenge full of suspense, violence, and plenty of twists.

Mercy House by Alena Dillon >> fiction. Very rarely do I abandon books, but after making it through about 120 or so pages, I had to give up. I couldn’t get into the story, it actually made me a bit uncomfortable, and reading it sadly felt more like a chore. It has received some great reviews, so maybe down the road I’ll check it out from the library again and give it another go – maybe I just wasn’t in the right mood for this one.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng >> fiction. I devoured this book very quickly (I think maybe two or three late night sittings) and absolutely loved it! The characters were well written and developed and while it wasn’t an action-packed, fast-paced novel, I anxiously turned the pages because I needed to know what happened next. I loved the different pieces of this story…coming of age, motherhood, love, loss, friendship, betrayal…and how the author weaves it all together. A little bit of everything and something for everyone – you will most likely find some part to relate to.

The Bear by Andrew Krivak >> science fiction/post-apocalyptic.  I went into this little novel (224 pages) blindly – stumbled upon it on my library app and was drawn in by the cover and description. Sadly, it didn’t quite do it for me. Beautifully written, at times poetic, but I wanted more. More of the story, more details, and answers. I ended up giving this one three stars on Goodreads.

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins >> fiction. Another book I completed in just a few late night/early morning sittings. I made a point to not read reviews on this one before I dived because I had heard all of the controversy surrounding it and didn’t want to be swayed. I went in with an open mind, open heart, and my bookworm self. I ended up really liking it. Albeit fictional, heavy, emotional, and heartbreaking, this book opened my eyes to subject matter I have very little knowledge on…immigration. Reading about this fictional journey makes me want to educate myself about the real life struggles of these brave individuals. Upon finishing American Dirt, I did go and read reviews and while I can understand the negativity, I cannot deny a beautifully written, thought-provoking novel that made me feel very deeply. Highly recommend.

Recursion by Blake Crouch >> science fiction, thriller, suspense. I’m only 100 or so pages into it, but I have a feeling it’s going to be good. Last year I read the book Dark Matter by the same author and really liked it.

 

***We’re almost done with the seventh Harry Potter book and I don’t know what we’re going to do when we finish! Go through withdrawal, I’m sure. It’s been so great for me to reread these because I pick up on things I missed and being reunited with my favorite characters (of all time) is priceless. I suggested to Willow that we reread this series once a year…I hope we do!


 

Phew! Thank you to all of you who read this post to the very end! Please let me know in a comment below how your February was and if you found/tried/read anything you’d recommend! Always enjoy hearing from YOU!

Thank you for stopping by!

Love,

Mandy

❤️