May 2020 in Review

Hello, my friends and happy JUNE! As I’m sure many of you can relate, I’ve been losing track of days. Birthdays, holidays, and deadlines (such as this very blog post) have been sneaking up on me! I guess that’s bound to happen during times like these. How have you been? How are you holding up? We had a rocky month as far as emotions go, but managed to not let a bad day turn into a string of bad days. I feel pretty blessed to have a supportive network of people in my life.


May was a very exciting and very surreal month for me because one of my favorite humans drove all the way across the country with her family to move to Bend!!! It’s been hard to not be able to hug them all and properly hang out, but knowing that they now live a few minutes away makes my heart so happy. We’ve managed a couple of short social distance visits, and I’m really looking forward to many more visits to come ❤ Welcome home, Julie and family!

Our month of May was filled with lots of arts and crafts, FaceTime/Skype/Zoom, gardening, reading, games, backyard relaxation, and solidifying good habits. I might actually go into more detail + depth regarding those habits in a separate post.

Check out the broccoli!


Willow and I also started some flowers and more kale from seed – we were shocked at how quickly they sprouted in less than a week!



Playing around with rocks and things in our backyard:



APRIL in Review:

P R O D U C T S:

Miyoko’s Creamery >> Cultured Vegan Farmhouse Cheddar >> Biggest. Disappointment. EVER. Josh spotted this at Whole Foods, and because we have loved everything else from Miyoko’s (hello, butter and cheese wheels), we thought this would be a guaranteed hit. Boy, were we wrong. The flavor: terrible. Strong taste and after taste, and I have to wonder if it’s due to the mix of beans and oat milk. The mouth feel was also off. I do think it’s great to see a nut-free option for those who can’t eat cashews/almonds. I’m so glad we tried a few shreds plain before topping Willow’s pizza because she really disliked this. Josh and I did use it on our pizza, and while the flavor wasn’t as strong due to all of the other toppings, it didn’t melt at all. BUT after doing some researching, I found several high praise reviews for this new line of Miyoko’s cheese. Some even described it as “life-changing,” which makes me wonder if we got a bad batch???

May 2020 In Review

Violife Foods >> Just Like Colby Jack Shreds >> Tried a new option from one of our favorite brands! Willow LOVES vegan cheese, but she’s also super particular about texture/flavor…she adores this one. Not only does it melt better than any other vegan cheese, it doesn’t have an icky artificial flavor. Josh found this at Whole Foods during a recent sale.

May 2020 In Review

Erin Baker’s® Grain Free Better Cookie >> My Dad found these at Costco, and my parents dropped a bag off for us to try! We like to end our day with some form of chocolate, and these are a great treat. Nuts + chocolate + a little sweetness is a great combination, and they pair perfectly with tea or coffee! I think these would be a great topping (broken up) for ice cream or a smoothie bowl. With the weather warming up to summer-like temps, I will have to give that a try soon!

May 2020 In Review

Nature’s Path >> Qi’a® Creamy Coconut Oatmeal>> Josh wasn’t able to restock our cream of buckwheat supply when he went shopping, but he spotted this for us to try. While I’m more of a savory breakfast person, I have enjoyed eating this with LOTS of fresh berries on top and a generous dollop of nut butter. I have never been one to cook my oats in water (gross, in my opinion), so I make this with unsweetened almond or coconut milk. These packets have come in handy for those mornings when you need something fast! Just bring water or milk to a boil, then mix with a packet of this oatmeal, and let sit for 2-3 minutes to thicken! I love that this has oats, buckwheat groats, chia, and hemp for a decent amount of protein + fiber. I can totally see us grabbing this for our next camping trip! Josh found this at Whole Foods.

May 2020 In Review

R E C I P E S:

Taco Spiced Roasted Potatoes (oil-free) >> The Vegan 8 >> One thing I love about Brandi’s recipes is how she doesn’t skimp on flavor. She has taught me to be a bit more heavy handed with spices! These potatoes were wonderful and the perfect addition to our taco bowls! Perfect amount of heat, and the addition of coconut sugar was a great way to balance the flavor. We used the leftovers in our breakfast scramble/stir-fry and it was SO good! Below is a photo of my taco bowl which contained: sauteed kale, roasted chickpeas, chopped carrots, sauteed red onion, and a generous drizzle of tahini!

May 2020 In Review

SunButter Brownies >> Feasting on Fruit >> Since Willow and Josh aren’t the biggest fans of SunButter, I made these with a mix of almond butter + peanut butter…WHOA. Even better, and the reason why these came to be, Josh randomly came home from work with a pint of vanilla almond milk ice cream. Fudgy, chocolate-y brownie with heavenly swirls of peanut butter, and topped with a scoop of ice cream! Easily the best dessert we’ve had in quarantine!

May 2020 in Review

Roasted Tomato and White Bean Stew >> Cooking NY Times >> I met a wonderful new friend when she adopted a dog we fostered back in March, and we’ve been keeping in touch ever since. If you’re reading this, hi, Shanna!! When it came up that we eat a plant-based diet, she shared that she had just tried a great recipe….this DELICIOUS Roasted Tomato and White Bean Stew. Josh gets full credit for the actual prep – the house smelled absolutely amazing! This stew was a perfect bowl of comfort as it was packed with protein, heartiness, and warmth. Since we had some leftover lentil noodles in the fridge, Josh added those to the stew as well. I was amazed by the rich, creaminess even though there wasn’t a drop of milk or nuts – ah, the magic of white beans! I loved the use of fresh tomatoes and parsley, along with the generous amount of onion + garlic. We will definitely make this again!

May 2020 In Review

Best Vegan Mozzarella Cheese (No Oil!) >> The Vegan 8 >> If you are looking for a super easy, plant-based, wholesome cheese recipe….look no further! While I’m not opposed to store-bought vegan cheese (we’re big fans of Violife and Miyokos), sometimes it’s nice to make your own and have more control of what ingredients are used. Brandi really surprised me with this one! She provides instructions for different uses – if you want to make grilled cheese, there’s an extra little step involved after blending. We used our batch for pizza, which was seriously incredible! Tangy, creamy, gooey, and paired wonderfully with all of our toppings. Over the next couple of days, I used the leftovers by baking the cheese up with a little salsa (HIGHLY recommend) in our toaster oven. It was really good with some fresh carrot and pepper slices and crackers. Can’t wait to make this again! Pictured below is our pizza topped with: pizza sauce, spinach (added more after it baked), kalamata olives, red onion, roasted chickpeas, and the vegan mozzarella.

May 2020 In Review

B O O K S:

I apologize to those who follow me on Goodreads because the reviews below are pretty much what I wrote word for word there.

The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff {historical fiction} >> This was a fairly fast paced read with likable characters, and told from three different POVs (Grace, Eleanor, and Marie). The story opens with Grace in NY, 1946 and then we meet Eleanor in London, 1943 and Marie in London, 1944. I enjoyed following these three women in their separate (and entwined) experiences, and like many of the other historical fiction novels I’ve read during this time period, I loved the strength, ferocity, and resilience of these women. I found this novel to be full of suspense, heartache, and beauty. The author did a good job pulling me into the story and holding my interest. I couldn’t give it a higher rating because I felt there were a lot of rushed moments, the romance pieces felt weird, frustrations with a character or two, and then there were some unanswered questions (in my opinion). Oh! AND I wanted more from a couple of the other characters that were introduced.

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks {fiction, thriller, suspense} >> Full of suspense and twists to the very end, but there were some twists that had me rolling my eyes. When I read thriller/suspense novels, I like being thrown off because otherwise, what’s the point?? BUT when a far fetched twist is thrown in, I’m not a fan – especially when it feels like a last minute, forced addition. The pace was good and the plot (and writing) had me up late turning the pages – it was an overall good suspense novel. I’d be curious to read more from these authors.

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn {fiction, thriller, suspense} >> Initially I thought, “Great, another alcoholic, female lead character,” but as the story progressed, Anna’s drinking actually added to the mystery, and had me second guessing a couple things. I LOVED the Hitchcock vibes and the black + white movies playing in the background. This was a pretty solid suspense novel that kept me up late turning the pages. While I figured out some of the twists, there were others that surprised me. I would definitely read more from this author! The movie was supposed to be released in May, and I would be interested to see how it holds up to the book – I’ll probably wait until Netflix 😉

The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #2) by Rick Riordan {fiction, fantasy, middle grade) >> Second time around for me and it was just as good as the first! Willow is absolutely LOVING this series and learning more about Greek mythology. Looking forward to reading the third book because I haven’t read beyond The Sea of Monsters.

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson {fiction, humor, contemporary literary fiction} >> What a strange, quirky, oddly humorous, and surprisingly heartwarming book. Under 300 pages, it was a quick, entertaining read with a weird cast of well written characters. Twins who spontaneously combust and unlikely friendships, I really enjoyed reading this one!

Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor #2) by Jessica Townsend {middle grade, fiction, fantasy} >> I actually enjoyed this sequel even more than the first, which was a happy surprise! Full of adventure, excitement, magic, humor, and an intriguing world, Willow and I had so much fun reading this! While nothing can fully replace our extreme love for Harry Potter, we have found another set of characters to be swept away with. Looking forward to the third book, but how are we going to wait until August???

Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe #2) by Neal Shusterman {young adult, fiction, fantasy} >> I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this one, and I’m honestly still processing it! While the first book (Scythe) was good, Thunderhead really sucked me in, and shocked me with some of the twists…and the ENDING!! I have some library e-books to get through, but then I plan to dive into the third (and final) installment of this series!

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson {nonfiction, sociology, psychology} >> After seeing a 5-star review for this book on Goodreads from someone I’m friends with, I quickly added my name to my library’s waitlist. What a fascinating and thought-provoking read! I went into this one blindly, and found that I wasn’t aware of the majority of the shame cases Ronson discussed. Having said that, it meant that I was at a neutral stance when each case was presented, and I was able to really empathize with those who suffered. I was shocked at the brutality, and how lives were completely ruined by public shaming. This book will really make you think before speaking/sharing, and also how your actions could impact someone else. I think anyone who regularly uses social media (or has a website/blog) could benefit from giving this a read.

Willow and I are almost done with the third Percy Jackson book, and I’m currently reading The House in the Cerulean Sea – REALLY enjoying both!


Whew! Another month down and another loooong rambling post. Thank you to all who read this to the end. As always, I would love to hear from you and how your month was! I look forward to your comments, emails, and text messages – so thank you in advance for sharing! I hope June is a good one!




Here’s a sneak peek of a recipe coming very soon! I’m so excited to share this one with you!