Favorite Things

Happy Friday! There’s a lot going on this time of year so I figured no time like the present to share with you some of my favorite things of the present moment.

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A dog stands on a hill in front of a pink setting sun in the distance.

Travel

We traveled to the ND Badlands again this year (and the SD Badlands, too). You can see from this image the red hue over the setting sun. There were wildfires in Montana (or maybe it was Wyoming?) that made photography a bust for Shawn.

I was so happy Adee joined us for this trip. We all enjoyed seeing bighorn sheep, bison, wild horses, and even a few Prairie Dogs. Ok. More than a few!

It was our first trip with our puppy, Otis. He wasn’t happy at the beginning of the car ride but it was a great way of exposing him to road trips and he is doing much better in the car these days. Nothing like a little exposure therapy!

Home Renovations

We’ve been so busy on remodeling our bedroom these last couple of months. When you’re updating everything from flooring, popcorn ceilings, to the closet, it takes time.

Actually, this project started earlier in the spring when Shawn replaced the shower and toilet in our bathroom. When you’re dealing with a 37-year old house where some rooms probably haven’t seen updates the entire time, things just have to be replaced and updated.

But we slept in our bedroom for the first time last night and it was wonderful to be back! We’re doing the finishing touches on the closet and should be entirely moved back into that room soon.

What I’m Learning From Tennis

In between painting walls, baseboards, and ceilings, we also watched a lot of tennis. The U.S Open had some very exciting matches and we enjoyed watching them!

We also play tennis and I feel like I’ve learned so much from the game. For example, it’s important to manage your expectations. It’s so easy to want to play like the pros! The reality is they’ve been at this for a long time (some start when they’re only toddlers), and have great coaches watching their every move.

Finding a balance between having fun and growing in skills is super important in whatever you’re doing, whether it’s tennis, cooking, or any new skill!

What I’m Reading

I’ve been reading some amazing books lately. If you’re into reading as well, you how tricky it can be to find the right books. I’ll share with you what I’m reading and how I feel about it. Who knows, maybe you’ll find something you’ll like to read, too.

First things first. My favorite reading “tool” is an app called Libby. It’s connected to public libraries around the world and as a result you can find e-books and audio books to check out from your library card. My favorite medium is audiobooks so I’m loving this resource. However, you can also check out e-books and read them on the app or via Kindle devices.

Here are some favorite books I’ve read recently:

  • Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro . ★★★★☆ Fiction. I wasn’t certain about the premise of the story. It’s about a robot and the story is told from her perspective. It tells of the sacrifice she makes to save the life of her human. It is a bit mysterious and nebulous at times, but the story was told well and kept me engaged. I read about it on Obama’s 2021 Summer Reading List so I knew it was worthy of a read.
  • Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore. ★★★★★ Fiction. I really enjoyed this book about a woman who starts a new year of her life at the stroke of midnight, living them out of sequential order. She jumps between the ages of 18 to 51 and suffers through losses and learns a lot along the way. I found the main character to be a bit whiney at times and sometimes the plot bugged me. How come she could change her financial situation but not her personal ones? But the storytelling is so remarkable that I was intrigued for each new chapter of the book and to learn about Oona’s out of order life.
  • The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. ★★★★★ Fiction. This book tells the story of Nora Seed who discovers the reality of multiple, simultaneous universes. We get to experience this character choosing different life realities, living out past regrets and seeing how each situation has its advantages and disappointments. This is a true feel-good novel and I was pleasantly surprised by the snippets of wisdom that came shining through. I would read it again, that’s how much I loved it.
  • How Stella Learned to Talk by Christina Hunger. ★★★★★ Non-fiction. Christina talks about her expertise as a speech pathologist and how she applied her knowledge and expertise to her dog, Stella. I was enthralled from beginning to end and it didn’t take me long to order my own set of Hunger for Words Buttons for our Otis.
  • The Cult of We by Elliot Brown and Maureen Farrell. ★★★★★ Non-fiction. This is a heavy read just because of all the veiled greed and hypocrisy displayed by the subjects, Adam and Rachel Neumann. Adam founded the company We Work and the authors of this book thoroughly researched his life and discovered all the ways he lied to potential investors, friends, employees, and anyone who would listen about the supposed profitability of the company. It was a great book, although complicated at times, and kept me entranced as I listened to his rise and ultimate fall.
  • The Captured by Scott Zesch. ★★★★☆ Historical Fiction. A friend recommended this book so I read it. It tells the story of several children who were captured by native Americans in the late 1800s. If you want to know more about the culture of settlers and native Americans, this tells the complicated story of both sides. The author has pieced together a narrative based on the limited details available of the time, and the story is quite interesting. It is dark and has some very violent information included so if you’re squeamish, I don’t recommend it. Otherwise, it’s a great read and I feel much more informed as a result.

On my list to read soon:

The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez, The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister, Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney, and Intimacies by Katie Kitamura.

I also have my own book coming out soon, The Girl Who Ate the World. Sign up to get more information, including how to pre-order. I’m very excited about it!

What I’m Watching

In addition to house projects and the US Open, we didn’t have a lot of time for TV this month, but we definitely watched a few shows. Here are my favorites:

  • Only Murders in the Building on Hulu. We just started this series, but I love the premise of three individuals in the same apartment building in New York City, solving true crime mysteries in a podcast format. It stars Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez. We’re only one episode in, but really enjoying it so far!
  • 30 Rock on Amazon Prime. We started rewatching this series last year and we’re still working our way through. We love this fast-paced show and both of us laugh out loud on the regular!
  • Grace and Frankie on Netflix. This was a solo watch for me, as Shawn is not into this show. So, when he was out of town for tennis sectionals, I binge-watched the 4-episode season. This one, I thought, was much better than the last two seasons. I wish it would have had a few more episodes!
  • Schmigadoon on Apple+. We have only watched one episode, but let me tell you something. It has to be a really good show for Shawn to watch anything that hints at a musical. He sat through episode one with me so I’m hopeful we’ll get to finish it. I also started listening to the accompanying podcast so I can be on the “in” for all the musical references. I don’t like to be left guessing!
  • McCartney, 3, 2, a Apple+. We are big Beatles and Paul McCartney fans so it has been fun watching this documentary series where record producer Rick Rubin asks Paul questions behind a lot of songs. McCartney is a musical genius so it’s amazing to hear him recall the stories of how he and the band created these amazing songs.
  • Val on Amazon Prime. I liked a lot about this documentary, but I am not a big fan of how the actor has and is trying to recreate the life and beliefs of Mark Twain. It’s as if he doesn’t like Mark Twain for who he was and is attempting to change that. Otherwise, I really liked this show and am impressed with the way Val has handled the challenge of cancer and losing his voice as a result.

On our list to watch soon will be See via Apple+ and continuing on with other shows we’ve started.

What I’m Listening To

Podcasts and Music. That’s what we’re talking about here. Here are some favorite albums, shows, and/or episodes that I’ve listened to recently:

  • Truth House by Sisterbot. Yes, it’s true this is Adee’s album and I’m her momma, but even if that weren’t the case, I would listen to this album passionately. I have some favorites, like Hello Moon, Time Lapse, Feel the Color, and Into the Moment, but I love each of these songs. That makes me a proud mom and a true fan!
  • The Wires. This is another KC-based band, but I love these two woman and the upbeat, modern, but still somehow classical music vibe that comes across in their music. It’s a favorite to listen to while I work because, you know, no lyrics to distract me!
  • Schmigadoonary. As I said above, I want to be in the know about the shows I’m watching. So I love these sidekick podcasts that give more background about the show.
  • Found My Fitness, Episode #67 with Ashley Mason on Drug-free Approaches to Treating Depression, Insomnia, and Overeating. Rhonda Patrick is once again filling up her podcast feed and I found this episode to be very informative. I love finding drug-free approaches to ailments (although I’m not opposed to modern medicine in the least…I love science!). Using sauna, diet, and exercise as an approach for depression is intriguing. They also talked about mindful eating as an approach to cure overeating. Sometimes we’re not just eating the food, so understanding what’s eating us is important.

Home Stuff

In addition to the bedroom updates, we also had a few other projects and organization hacks going on in the house.

  • Updated the living room fireplace. We painted the insert from its original brass to flat black and that made such a huge difference. We (Shawn) removed the big glass mirror on the wall behind the fireplace. It looks so much better now. We also added a new mantle, and I “smudged” the brick white. There’s still some brick showing through which I love!
  • Shaggy rug on the piano bench. I added a shaggy white faux sheepskin rug on the piano bench and it looks amazing! Sitting next to the fireplace, it really adds a modern touch to the living room, which makes me so happy!
  • Bamboo Drawer Organizers. I’m forever on the quest to get more organized which is why I bought these bamboo drawer organizers. Actually I got the set at Costco, but that link sends you to a set that is very comparable. They’re exactly what I was looking for and my drawers are looking much more organized as a result. Clutter be gone!
  • Modern Chair. I’m in love with this Barlow accent chair and hoping to have it in my office one of these days.

Getting organized is the name of the game which also means reducing clutter. Now that the bedroom project is “mostly” done, I’ll be focusing my attention on some “fall cleaning” and this has me excited and inspired!

Food I’m Loving

There’s no end to the food I’m passionate about, but here are some recent favorites I want to share with you:

  • Iced Chai. I can’t get enough of this tea and as the temperatures cool outside I know I’ll switch to hot teas soon. That means I’m drinking up as much of the iced stuff as I can.
  • Golden Milk. Speaking of iced drinks, this golden milk is a go-to favorite. I sometimes add a bit of vegan creamer along with soy milk and it makes it rich and delicious! Between you and me? This is my favorite dessert these days!
  • Beyond Sausage. I tried Beyond Sausage recently and loved it. We added it to our Vegan Pizza on Friday night and I couldn’t get enough. It helped that it was on sale at Natural Grocers!
  • Zevia. Adee convinced me to try Zevia on our recent trip to Costco. I wasn’t sure about it, but I actually love this product. I kicked the diet soda habit a long time ago, but having a soda every now and then is kinda nice.

Reader Spotlight

Shirlin recently left this review of our Vegan Ermine Frosting.

Reader Reviews

★★★★★
This is one of my favorite recipes. And since going vegan I had a hard time finding a recipe that had the right amounts to get that same consistency. And this is it!!! It’s just like vegan whipped cream.

Shirlin
A piping bag is full of ermine frosting that is being piped onto a cupcake. There are more cupcakes in the background.

On Namely Marly this Week

Vegan Thousand Island Dressing. This creamy dressing is perfect on salads but it’s even better on veggie burgers. It’s so great to keep this versatile sauce around, especially since it takes only minutes to make!

A spoon holds dressing and hovers over a bowl full of the the same creamy dressing. There's a bowl with salad in the background.

Vegan Soup Recipes. Soup is coming! Get ready with these tasty vegan soup recipes all in one place. This post includes everything from vegan potato soup (my favorite), vegan lasagna soup (like lasagna in a bowl), vegan broccoli soup, and more!

A spoon is in a bowl of tomato-based soup, with lasagna noodles and a creamy sauce on top.

Almond Milk Smoothie. We love our smoothies here, including our tried and true Green Smoothie which we have every day. Yes, every single day. But it’s not like that. We actually love it! And now we add this creamy, chocolate, almond-infused smoothie to the list of our favorites as well.

A tall glass holds chocolate almond milk smoothie with a raspberry on top. There is a bowl of of almonds in the background sitting beside a bowl of fresh raspberries.

Five Most Popular Posts This Week

  1. Black Bean Burritos — People love meal-prepping which is why these burritos continue to be so popular. Make the burrito mix and serve it on salads, on tacos, on tortillas, or even with a bag of tortilla chips. It’s all good!
  2. Vegan Creme Brûlée — This creamy dessert is a favorite all-year long, but especially in the summer months when no one wants the oven on. Yes, that’s right, this creme brûlée does not require an oven. Happiness!
  3. How to Cut Pineapple — This post continues to do well, but is getting less traffic these days. I’m reading the tea leaves and predicting that the end of summer is nigh when people are not into pineapple. Sigh.
  4. Elderberry Pie — Another sign of the times, elderberries are in season. That means it’s time for elderberry pie! I was so lucky to have a neighbor with mature elderberry bushes. That’s one reason this recipe is so popular this time of year.
  5. Vegan Cake Pops — These little delicacies are so delicious and festive, too! Of course, I make mine with a can of pumpkin, but believe it or not, there’s no strong pumpkin flavor in the finished product. You can add some pumpkin pie spice if that’s what you’re after.

Meal Plan

Saturday — Hello weekend! I love making this Vegan Macaroni Casserole on the weekends and enjoying the leftovers throughout the week.

Sunday — I’ll be making a Roasted Vegetable Pasta, a new recipe I’m testing for the site. Once it’s perfected, I’ll be sharing it with you. It’s already becoming a quick favorite here! And it’s the weekend so I like to live a little! That means some Vegan Blackberry Donuts. Swoon! Besides, I have a tennis match which means I’ll burn off those calories. 🙂

Monday — Back to the basics means I’ll fix some Vegan Minestrone. There’s just enough chill in the air to make it ok to make soup and it’s nice to have a healthy go-to meal in the fridge, too.

TuesdayBlack Bean Burgers are so easy to make and we can have the leftovers for lunch the next day, which is an added bonus.

Wednesday — While the weather is still nice, I’m going to make some Vegan Kebabs one more time. Besides, my garden cilantro won’t last much longer so it’s time to make some Chimichurri Sauce, which pairs perfectly with tofu kebabs.

Thursday — I think it’s high-time for some Vegan Enchiladas. We haven’t had these in awhile and we both love them! I’ll serve some Corn Salsa on the side because, you know, everything is better with corn!

Friday — In this house, Friday night is all about pizza. So, I’ll make my homemade Vegan Pizza Dough in the morning and let it rise throughout the day. Then I’ll make some Vegan Pepperoni to add on top. Or who knows, maybe I’ll get some more Beyond Sausage. I usually make a gluten-free Cassava Flour Crust for me. There’s no shame in buying pre-made crusts. I just like reducing single-use plastics which is just another reason I prefer homemade. If we stay in and watch a movie, I’ll make some Vegan Popcorn for the fun of it!

So, now it’s your turn! What are YOU having this week?

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