October 2021 Wrap Up

Happy November, my friends! I hope this post finds you in good health and spirits. We had a very busy month that made the days fly by, and had us questioning where the time went. Projects left unfinished, started new ones, the same to-do list still sits on the counter weeks later, BUT we kept our family a priority. We managed to get out for an outdoor adventure every week, walked the dogs every day, and enjoyed family movie nights…The three of us watched Toy Story and Toy Story 2 together. It is so easy to get caught up in the hustle of work and extra responsibilities, but making the time to do the meaningful things together make it all worth it.

We did our annual October trip to Devils Lake and actually got to enjoy it snowing! It really added to the magic of this beautiful spot.

I volunteered at my first spay and neuter clinic in October! Such a great experience and it felt wonderful to be connected with an amazing group of people working together.

Oh! And our crazy Hank turned one! We spoiled him with lots of love, extra treats, and a long walk.

I don’t have too much to share with all of you as I hit some cooking ruts and reading slumps, but I have a strong feeling November is going to be better! For those of you celebrating Thanksgiving later this month, I would love to hear what’s on your menu – we’ve got a couple of ideas, but we’re still figuring out our main dish. We’re planning a quiet day at home with food, probably play a game or two, and continuing our tradition of re-watching the Harry Potter movies.

P R O D U C T S :

Youth to the People

I received the following two new products for free in exchange for leaving a review on their website. Youth to the People is one of my favorite vegan skin care lines, and they’re having a 20% off sitewide sale until November 3rd!

  • Mandelic Acid + Superfood Unity Exfoliant ($38) >> I was sent a trial size version of this product, and I fell in love after just one use. I love the cool, tingly sensation, and it leaves my face feeling soft. I’ve been using this a few times a week and have noticed that my pores aren’t as noticeable, and it doesn’t dry out my skin. If you’re looking for a gentle way to exfoliate, I highly recommend giving this a try.
  • Superberry Dream Cleansing Balm ($34) >> I received a full size jar of this, and I’m pretty sure it will last me for several months because a little goes a long way with this balm. This is my first experience with an oil to milk cleanser, and I think this is going to be perfect for the colder months ahead when I really struggle with dry skin. While I can’t attest to how well it removes makeup (I don’t wear any), it does a great job of washing off any leftover sunscreen on my face. I have been alternating between using this cleansing balm and the Superfood Cleanser – which is my personal favorite. There have been days when I double cleanse with both. On days when I use this balm, I find that my face feels super hydrated and I don’t have to use as much moisturizer. It has a great fruity scent, and I love how the cleansing process feels more like a ritual. I find myself slowing down and taking the extra time to practice self-care. I don’t think this cleansing balm is for everyone – I think if you have super sensitive skin or don’t like oil cleansers, then I’d skip it. But if you lean more towards the dry skin spectrum, this could be a game changer for you.

Boursin Dairy-Free Garlic & Herbs Cheese Spread Alternative

Trader Joe’s recently started carrying this, and Josh brought it home as soon as it came in. I remember eating Boursin products decades ago before I went vegan and loving them. So it’s great to have a dairy-free version! All three of us loved the flavor and agreed that it makes the best garlic bread!

NadaMoo! Seasonal Pumpkin Pie Dairy-Free Ice Cream

We get really excited about seasonal items in our house and usually scope out any new or new-to-us products this time of year. Josh found this ice cream at Whole Foods and grabbed us a pint. We’ve had some of their other flavors and enjoyed them, so I had a pretty strong feeling this would be a hit. The creamy coconut base is blended with pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spices, and has walnut-date pie crust crumbles. I love how the pumpkin flavor and spices really shine, and the coconut doesn’t overpower. I’m a huge date fan, so I thought the crumbles added the perfect touch.

R E C I P E S :

Creamy Vegan Olive Garden Chickpea Gnocchi Soup || Midwest Foodie

While I may not have ever tried the actual Olive Garden gnocchi soup, you better believe that when my good friend, Jill, texted me this recipe, I had to make it! And goodness, it did not disappoint. For one, this recipe makes a large pot – perfect for easy leftovers. Second, we loved the fresh ingredients, flavors, and textures! Did you notice that I said “we?” Yes, even Willow enjoyed this and went back for seconds! This was perfect chilly weather comfort food, and I know we’ll be making this recipe again over the next couple of seasons!

Served with homemade garlic bread using the dairy-free Boursin and roasted potatoes.

B O O K S :

What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing by Bruce D. Perry, M.D. PhD, and Oprah Winfrey

Rating: 5 out of 5.

It is really easy to think (or say), “What’s wrong with you?” when questioning someone’s behavior. Reframing that question is a game changer, and makes you think about what someone has been through. I thought this book was well written and easy to approach. It bounces between personal conversation/interview – Oprah asking Dr. Bruce Perry questions – and narrative. Reading this can only lead to a deeper understanding and compassion for other people and ourselves. It explores the effects of childhood trauma – in both a scientific and emotional way.

The Fisherman by John Langan

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I’m not completely sure how I feel about this book. And there were moments when I questioned what I even read, BUT I was looking for a creepy/eerie October book and this one definitely delivered. It was incredibly atmospheric and dark and had me holding my breath a few times. Unfortunately, there was an overly dark/twisted part in the book that ruined it for me – It crossed a line in my opinion, and while I can understand on some level the reason it was written, it just felt disgustingly wrong.

The Hidden Oracle (The Trials of Apollo, Book 1) by Rick Riordan

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Willow and I read and listened to this one together. Rick Riordan just knows how to write an entertaining book with great characters and humor. I appreciate these books because they’re a much needed break or escape from a hard day or heavier books. So if you like fantasy and mythology laced with comedy, I recommend giving it a try. I do suggest reading his Percy Jackson series first though (Percy Jackson and the Olympians and The Heroes of Olympus).

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Willow has read this series already (multiple times) and has been on me to read it too. I decided to borrow the audiobook from the library so we could listen to it together while in the car or making dinner. I was not expecting to love it as much as I did! Such a heartwarming story with a beautiful message and fabulous characters. And a perfect read for the upcoming holidays! The Vanderbeekers have always lived in the brownstone on 141st Street, but their landlord has decided to not renew their lease. The five siblings take it upon themselves to try and win over their landlord so he’ll change his mind. I absolutely adored the community in this book – the neighbors and friends – it made my heart so full and happy! I will definitely make my way through the rest of the books.

Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Have you ever finished a book that left you so satisfied you wanted to start it all over from the beginning? T.J. Klune has done it again. He first stole my heart with The House in the Cerulean Sea last year….And now this one. He has a true gift for writing – his characters are multidimensional and the stories themselves are incredibly beautiful. I was moved to tears several times and laughed out loud a lot. This was the feel-good book I needed to get me out of my reading slump! I’m on a long waitlist for the audiobook, because I want to immerse myself in the story again. If you take away anything from this month’s post, may it be my recommendation to READ THIS BOOK!

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is the third Colleen Hoover book that I’ve plowed through in just a couple of sittings. Wow. I literally just finished it minutes before October came to an end…So I’m still gathering my thoughts and wrapping my head around this story. This author sure knows how to grab your attention from the very first page and hold it. Every single emotion hit me, and even though I had heard the hype around this book, I wasn’t expecting it to be that good. It Ends With Us is beautiful and raw, powerful and heartbreaking, and at times….inspiring. It’s marked as a contemporary romance – so expect some spice and fluff, but it’s honestly so much more than that. And reading the note from the author at the end made me appreciate the book even more.

Thank you so much for stopping by here! I hope you’ll share in a comment below how your October was and if you have any recommendations (or thumbs down reviews) I would love to hear!

With love,