August 2021 in Review

Happy September, my friends! Just like that, another month flew by as we inch closer to the next season. I’m ready for it. August was hot and smoky, but we had some fun adventures and got out when we could.

We’ve been slowly easing back into a bit of our homeschool routine, but for the most part I’m continuing to follow Willow’s lead and go with where her passions are. Lots of reading, writing, and art with some math thrown in!

I’ve been working on a couple of side projects that I will share more about very soon! I’m excited as it is forcing me to get out of my comfort zone, AND getting me to work more on my own personal goals and passions.

How about some photos before I dive into some reviews?!

A trip to the coast (Yachats) for a night:

We went to SOLID’s half-price used book sale, and I grabbed these (I’ve already read Migrations but couldn’t pass up the chance to own a copy for $1). Have you read any of these?

Other adventures:

And look! These two are getting closer to being friends! Hank is still crazy and full of energy, but Moxie takes advantage of his stillness.

P R O D U C T S :

OATzarella >> Italian Herb Oat Milk Cheese Wheel

Definitely not worth the price and easily the worst dairy free “cheese” we’ve had. It was very oily and pretty bland. Josh grabbed this from Food 4 Less, but I have also seen it at Market of Choice.

Wildbrine >> Cultured & Plant Based Wild Creamery Cream Cheese Alternative

If you were to ask Willow what her favorite cream cheese is, she would tell you this is her first choice. It has the texture of whipped cream cheese – fluffy, airy, light – with a great flavor and mouthfeel. The only con with this brand is that if you spread it on a hot toasted bagel (or anything warm), it will melt like butter. It doesn’t hold its form like a soy-based cream cheese, but overall we really love this. Great ingredients, too! We found this at Market of Choice.

REBBL Root Beer POP Sparkling Prebiotic Tonic

I’m a sucker for new beverages, and since we have enjoyed most everything else from this company, we had to give this a try. I personally didn’t like it nearly as much as say OliPop, but if it ever went on sale and I was in the mood for a root beer, I might grab another can. It tasted a lot sweeter than I was expecting, but I really liked the flavor.

Trader Joe’s Organic Veggie Bites

We have been on a major tater tot kick and thought we’d give these a try. The air fryer has been our go-to for most things these days, which is how we cooked up these veggie bites. Willow was NOT a fan and said that she didn’t like the taste or texture (too mushy). I thought the flavor was good, but I have a feeling that unless you deep fry them, they’re just going to have mushy centers no matter how you cook them. They were a good last minute dinner addition, but I probably wouldn’t get them again or add them to our shopping list.

R E C I P E S :

Beer Battered Fried Pickles in Air Fryer or Pan >> Cadry’s Kitchen

How did I go all of my life (up until now) without ever trying fried pickles?!?! Goodness, these were delicious. Great flavor and really satisfied that crispy, salty craving. We served this up with a homemade spicy ranch for an appetizer before dinner. Even Willow gave these two thumbs up and requested that I make them again!

Easy Air Fryer Chocolate Chip Cookie in 20 Minutes >> Glue & Glitter

I had heard of people making cookies in an air fryer, and I wanted to see how they compared to oven baked. After a quick Google search, I stumbled upon this recipe and gave it a go! It was REALLY good – crispy on the outside with a tender center and just an overall classic taste. If I ever found myself alone for an evening craving a cookie, I would definitely make this again! But seeing as I live with two other cookie lovers, we’re generally making bigger batches of treats…So following this method to satisfy my family would take longer than baking an entire sheet of cookies. BUT if you have an air fryer, I recommend trying this! It makes one large cookie 🙂

1-Bowl Vegan Zucchini Bread >> Nora Cooks

When you’re gifted with approximately ten pounds of garden fresh zucchini…You make zucchini bread, of course! And muffins and zucchini sticks! Okay, back to the bread. This was so easy to make and used ingredients we had on hand. I really enjoyed the cinnamon in this, and loved that it didn’t have a mushy center – which was a struggle I had with a lot of gluten-free vegan zucchini bread recipes.

B O O K S :

This Savage Song by V.E. Schwab

4.5/5 stars

This wasn’t my favorite V.E. Schwab book, BUT I still really enjoyed it! There were moments when it definitely felt like a YA novel, but then there were times when it got dark and deep and took on a more mature vibe. No lovesick teenagers here, no romance. August and Kate were fantastic, complex characters…and the dialogue (both inner and between characters) was a perfect mix of sarcastic and snarky, sensitive and raw.

This was a book about monsters, set in a city divided, with a few twists I didn’t quite see coming. Moments when I gasped, ready to throw the book in frustration – times when I didn’t know what to believe. But Schwab hooked me in again with a unique take on a dystopian fantasy, AND the cliffhanger?!? I will need to get my hands on the second book ASAP!

Breath by James Nestor

4/5 stars

This one came recommended to me by a local bookseller, and it’s one I both read and listened to the audiobook. It had some really interesting takeaways, and since finishing it, I’ve paid a lot more attention to my exhalations. There were a few times when I questioned some of the claims, but for the most part found it to be pretty thought provoking. Like anything, I’ll take it with a grain of salt until I do further research.

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

3/5 stars

Definitely outside of my norm, and easily the spiciest, steamiest one I’ve ever read! Ha!! But sometimes you need to throw a fluffy, light book into the mix. I actually listened to the audiobook for this one. The Kiss Quotient was a good beach/summer read, and while there was a lot of eye rolling at the dialogue and some of the scenes, I appreciated the deeper storyline. There was more to it than I thought there would be. I enjoyed Stella’s character and Michael (for the most part), but I loved Michael’s family! Overall this was a fun, easy break from the heavier books I’ve been reading…And I’m on a waitlist to listen to the next book.

Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy

4/5 stars

I was so close to giving this five perfect stars, but then things took a bit of a harsh turn…A direction I wasn’t expecting, and I was sadly a little disappointed.

“If we’re talking about conservation, about saving this planet, we have to start with the predators. Because if we can’t save the predators, we’ve got no chance of saving anything else.”

This story takes place in Scotland, where Inti Flynn is part of a team of biologists who are reintroducing wolves into the wild….but we’re also flashing back to unravel some secrets and missing pieces of Inti and her twin sister’s (Aggie) lives. I thought the author did a wonderful job with going back to that timeline in Alaska – the story flowed effortlessly and I gained a real sense of the bond between the sisters.

I adore Charlotte McConaghy’s writing and her attention to detail, but there were parts in here that felt rushed or unnecessary. I didn’t understand the romance, and I would have been okay with it if there was more depth. This novel is only 256 pages, so there wasn’t a whole lot of time to build that relationship on top of following the main storyline.

Watching You by Lisa Jewell

3-3.5/5 stars

I may not rate a lot of Lisa Jewell’s books super high, but I really enjoy reading them. She keeps you guessing and second guessing, and with this one I didn’t see a couple of the twists coming. I went in blindly and that’s definitely the way to go.

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson

5/5 stars

Willow and I started off by reading this one but switched to the audiobook partway through, and I highly recommend it! Not only is it narrated by the author himself, but the personalities had a chance to really shine through. This was full of adventure and suspense, lots of humor, some violence, but enough feel-good moments to make up for it. I am glad that had the physical book to refer to as well because the illustrations were wonderful. We plan to continue on with this series as part of our homeschool reading curriculum.

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

4.5/5 stars

I absolutely LOVED Beach Read, but I went into this one with no expectations just in case…But I was actually pleasantly surprised. I think I’m in this phase where I want to read feel-good, lighthearted stories, and this one hit the mark. Or maybe I’m becoming more okay with chick-lit/rom-com books 🙂

Emily Henry did a great job with the friends to lovers trope – We bounce between current summer and a span over ten years worth of their summer trips (and how Poppy and Alex meet). You can feel their connection and love for one another as the story progresses, and I couldn’t help but get sucked in. Was there some eye rolling and cheesy moments? Absolutely. But I really enjoyed the characters, the humor, and their inside jokes and phrases. I think it’s safe to say that I will read anything that this author writes!

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

3/5 stars

I know it’s been a long time since I’ve seen the movie, but I’m pretty sure this is one of those rare instances where the movie is better than the book. It took me a few tries to get into this one as it moved slow, and nothing overly exciting happens. The characters could have used a bit more depth, as well as the storyline – my interest was piqued, but ended up falling flat. I do want to revisit the movie again!

The Last Flight by Julie Clark

5/5 stars

Wow! This one sucked me in immediately and stayed strong throughout. Easily one of the best mystery/thrillers I’ve read this year. Lots of twists, super intense…I literally had to put it down a couple of times because it was stressing me out! Highly recommend!

The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk

4.5/5 stars

This one was recommended to me last year by several people – including my doctor. It may have taken me four months to get through, but that’s due to the heavy subject matter. Most of the cases regarding trauma involved sexual and/or physical abuse, which is not the type of trauma I endured. There were many moments when I had to set the book aside and take a break…And pick up a fluffier, lighter book. I did find a lot of what was discussed to be informative and helpful in my own healing, but there was also a good bit of repetition. Since this was very dense and science heavy, I opted to bounce between the physical copy and audiobook, which helped a lot. It had some great takeaways, and I experienced a number of “aha” moments that allowed some much needed reflection and reminders.

Phew!! Hope that wasn’t too much rambling. As always, I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below, email, or shoot me a message to share how your month was. Tell me about any books you’ve read (good or bad) or any recipes you’ve tried.

I hope September is a good one!

Lots of love,