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After Thanksgiving, the holidays really start to pick up. So instead of trying to fit in a dinner party, we decided to host a holiday brunch get together and gift exchange. We put together a spread including Bruegger’s Bagels Orange Cranberry bagel. This special flavor is the perfect juxtaposition of bright orange zest and tangy cranberries, and pairs well with sweeter toppings such as raspberries and Bruegger’s Bagels Honey Walnut cream cheese.

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What you need —

  • Bruegger’s Bagels Orange Cranberry bagel
  • Bruegger’s Bagels Light Plain cream cheese spread
  • Bruegger’s Bagels Honey Walnut cream cheese spread
  • Raspberries (or any other berries)
  • Honey
  • Cinnamon
  • Mint

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Bruegger’s Bagels Catering can be ordered online or by calling 1.855.776.0660.

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Bruegger’s Bagels. All opinions are entirely my own.

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Tumalo Mountain (not to be confused with Tumalo Falls or the town of Tumalo), is located almost directly across from Mt. Bachelor. It’s around a 4 mile up-and-down hike with a good amount of elevation gain (1,312 ft).

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For some reason, Tumalo Mountain is one of my least favorite summer hikes. It seems like a lot of vertical climbing, for not much of a reward. The first time we hiked Tumalo, it was late-August –the day before the solar eclipse. I remember because we looked from the top over to Prineville and could see a line of cars and lights. The wildfires and amount of smoke had been fluctuating, so there was a weird haze to the air and the sun.

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The second time we hiked Tumalo was mid-September, right after the first snow. Since the snow wasn’t too deep, we were able to hike in hiking boots. I found the snow to make the hike much more enjoyable because it didn’t seem as steep. Plus it made the usually dry mountain feel like a winter wonderland snow globe.

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Tumalo Mountain
Entrance: Dutchman Flat Sno-Park
Directions: Heading from Bend, you’ll drive on the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway. The parking lot is about 1/4 mile past Mt. Bachelor Sunrise Lodge parking entrance.
Miles: 3.9

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Neskowin, OR – This is a cute little town, nestled between bigger cities of Pacific City and Lincoln City. It’s made up of a few blocks of narrow streets and beach cottages. We visited here with a group of people to celebrate Logan’s birthday.

Where we stayed – cute beach house through a local vacation rental company, Grey Fox Vacation Rentals.

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What we did – While the boys went crabbing/surfing, the girls went clamming in Pacific City. Amanda identified a designated clamming area, and we ventured down with an empty 5 gallon ice cream tub, oatmeal (to help the clams open up and spit out water/sand) and gardening tools. I ended up getting so into it, I ditched the tools and just went hands first, digging and feeling around for any hard objects.

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Where we hiked – After capturing all the big mac daddy’s of clams, we continued our lady’s day with a hike. Originally, we were trying to hike to Hart’s Cove (captured, but from a different perspective) but missed it because we didn’t drive far enough up the road before we stopped to park. We were quick to park at the first sight of a trailhead, since the road up was windy and bouncy – and the Subi was carrying precious cargo – a sloshing bucket filled with oatmeal spitting clams.

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We ended up hiking the Cascade Head Nature Conservancy Trail, all the while looking for signs to Hart’s Cove. We got to the point where we calculated a 10 mile hike round-trip, and decided to ditch the cove and just head back. We also must’ve done the opposite direction of most people (parked at the top vs. bottom) because we got a lot of people congratulating us and thinking we had done the trail multiple times (up-down-up) in one go.

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The next day we also hiked God’s Thumb in Lincoln City. It was an easy hike until we reached God’s Thumb. Not being the biggest fan of heights, it was pretty steep but I just made sure to keep my steps in the natural steps and not lean back 😉 From the top we could look directly across to the Cascade Head Conservancy Trail.

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Where we ate – Post-crabbing and clamming, we had the most decadent feast. We also had dinner one night at the Cafe at Hawk Creek that we affectionately started calling “the littlest cute” because it, like the town, was so cute!

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The first time I hiked Green Lakes, it was an early morning during mid-summer. While I was only hiking, I remember seeing trail runners and thinking it would be a great trail to run. We started at the Green Lakes trailhead, and once we got to the Green Lakes campground, continued on the Soda Creek Trail, that would eventually loop us back to the trailhead/parking lot. Originally we were looking for the trail to reach Broken Top summit, but couldn’t find it. This hike was very green, and butterflies were abundant (especially on Soda Creek Trail).

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Fast forward to late September, when I felt like doing a solo trail run and thought Green Lakes would be a great option. We had just experienced our first snow dump in the mountains. However, I didn’t know how Green Lakes would be affected. My trail run ended up being probably less than a half mile, before I came across mushy ground lined by ice. I thought it would clear up eventually, but soggy dirt turned into slippery ice that turned into deep snow. This trail follows Fall Creek, where you’ll encounter some waterfalls (one of my favorite things about Oregon is that there is no lack of waterfalls). It’s a fairly mellow/moderate hike, with only a few switchbacks towards the very end. On the last stretch you’ll be required to jump a few rocks across some streaming water. Once you reach Green Lakes, you will have stunning views of Broken Top and South Sister.

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I found this hike to be entrancing, especially in the snow. Since the snow was fairly fresh and other trails weren’t well identified (and I was also only wearing trail running shoes), I decided to make this an out-and-back hike and return the way I came from.

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Green Lakes
Entrance: Green Lakes Trailhead
Directions: Heading from Bend, you’ll drive on the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway for 23.5 miles. Keep an eye out for the signage on your left and the parking lot/trailhead on your right. It is 0.6 miles past Sparks Lake, so be prepared as you’re driving.
Miles: 9.3 mi (Green Lakes via Fall Creek out-and-back) or 12 miles (Green Lakes to Soda Creek Trail)

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The landscape of the Oregon Coast is one of my favorites, with the rocky forest that meets the sea. It remains comparatively untouched to the California coast–sparsely populated and not impacted by houses brimming the cliffs.

Florence, OR – Immediately west from Eugene. Known for encompassing part of the Oregon Sand Dunes (largest expanse of coastal sand dunes in North America).

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Where we stayed – Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park. This campground has 7 first-come, first-served sites. Tucked on the east side of Highway 101, our campsite was under the ultimate tree canopy (to the point where we had to watch for falling branches). Even though we were in the center of some campsites, we felt completely secluded (my kind of camping!). 3 tents fit perfectly in this space, and we probably could have fit a few more.

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Where we hiked – Valley Trail to Hobbit Trail/Heceta Head Trail, accessible from the Carl G. Washburne Campground. First you’ll come across Hobbit Trail, that will take you down through a vine canopy to the beach. If you go back and continue on the trail further, you’ll experience sweeping views of the Oregon Coast through towering trees. Around 2 miles you’ll make it to the Heceta Head Lighthouse and Heceta Head Beach. We made this a one-way trek and met the boys who were surfing at Heceta Head Beach.

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Oh hey, it me!

It’s been a long while since I’ve actually written something and haven’t posted a sponsored post. I’ve tried to blog thought about blogging but haven’t been able to nail the words down.

In fact, this was my start way back in July — “Moving to Bend has been nothing short of amazing. Every couple of days (or 30 minutes) I just have to tell Kevin, “I love it here!” Aside from having one of the last standing Blockbuster stores…” That’s right, one of THREE Blockbusters exists in Bend.

It’s been about 4-5 months since we moved, and we couldn’t have lucked out more. Our house is 2 miles from downtown/work, and I’m seriously spoiled. Driving 15 minutes plus seems like SUCH A TREK. Man, if only I could transport back to my Little Italy days commuting 1 hour or more, one-way.

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Right now, it’s 32 degrees and I’m sitting at a local wine bar with Kevin, down the alley from our work, working on a side hustle. We had our first snow in town this past Sunday that actually stuck. I love winter clothes, and feel like it’s easier to dress in layers than San Diego “fall” aka summer clothes.

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We signed up for 30 days of yoga at The Yoga Lab. I also signed up for Orangetheory Fitness (finally opening next week) a couple months ago at the Farmers Market for the “founding fathers rate” on one of those days when I felt “so fat.” I really got back into running, waking up at 6:15am and doing a 5 mile trail loop nearby our house. But then 1.5+ months of forest fires and hazardous air-quality ruined that. I bought a new-used mountain bike and I’ve been bouldering a few times, but other than that, just getting acupuncture and seeing a functional medicine doctor after experiencing excruciating and consistent abdominal pain. After a breath test, stool test and blood test, I’m still waiting to hear the results – SIBO, leaky gut, etc. For the time being I’ve been eating gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free — so essentially GF and vegan plus meat.

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SO…I have A LOT to catch up on — hikes, camp spots, coastal trips, restaurants, recipes, etc. This blog isn’t dead it — not when I’m still paying for the domain :-P. More to come…

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The air is getting crisp, the leaves are starting to change, and PSL’s are in full abundance. It’s officially fall! To me, there’s nothing better than a warming meal at the end of the day. Especially one that incorporates one of the most symbolic flavors of the season — pumpkin. When Bruegger’s came out with their Pumpkin Cream Cheese, I knew I had to try and work it into a savory dish. The first thing that came to mind was a creamy Pumpkin Pasta, topped with sage to complement the rich flavors. This is the perfect dish to share for any fall parties or pumpkin-themed festivities, and really stands out as unique.

Creamy Pumpkin Cream Cheese & Sage Pasta
INGREDIENTS:
8 oz pasta (penne or other tubed pasta)
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 Tbsp. flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups 2% milk
1/2 cup unseasoned pumpkin puree
4 oz Bruegger’s pumpkin Cream Cheese
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage leaves, divided
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
Pinch ground cayenne pepper
1/2 cup shaved Parmesan cheese, for serving

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DIRECTIONS:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta to al dente, according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, drain pasta, and set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once hot and sizzling, add the flour, then whisk constantly until it turns a golden color and smells nutty.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Pour the milk in slowly, constantly whisking to remove any clumps. Increase the heat to medium high, then let cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce bubbles and thickens, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat, then stir in the pumpkin, pumpkin cream cheese, half of the chopped sage leaves, salt, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cayenne. Continue whisking until the cream cheese melts and you have a smooth, rich sauce. Taste and add additional salt and pepper as desired.
  5. Add the cooked pasta to the pan and gently toss to combine. Thin the pasta with a bit of the reserved pasta water as needed if it seems too thick or sticky. Serve immediately, topped with Parmesan and the remaining sage.

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Bruegger’s Bagels. All opinions are entirely my own.

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The key to camping is simplicity. And when it comes to packing, less is more. This was especially true this past weekend when Kevin and I kayaked into a camping spot. We knew we’d have limited space to transport all of our goods, so we tried to economize. This included planning our meals in advance and finding meals where we could re-use supplies. We decided to bring Bruegger’s Everything Bagels and Bruegger’s Garden Veggie Cream Cheese. With these ingredients, we were able to make a traditional breakfast with eggs, bacon, and bagels with cream cheese. And for lunch, we made a bagel sandwich with cream cheese and salami. Super easy and minimal, yet completely satisfying! Bagels and cream cheese also make the perfect pre-hike fuel, and the perfect packable lunch.

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For Labor Day weekend we’ll be camping again with friends, and plan to pick up a bundle of bagels and a variety of cream cheeses. Whether you’re camping, or celebrating Labor Day weekend at home with friends, make sure to grab up your bagel bundle, too. Starting August 31st, Bruegger’s is offering $3 off their Big Bagel Bundle (13 freshly-baked bagels and 2 tubs of cream cheese). You can claim your offer by visiting here!

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Bruegger’s Bagels. All opinions are entirely my own.

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One of my favorite things to do in the summer is to ride bikes to our local farmers market and load up a backpack of all the fresh produce. This includes finding the brightest and sweetest berries that literally pop with sugar. This, to me, defines summer.

Also finding inspiration from the farmers market, Bruegger’s Bagels has created a special limited time Whipped Blueberry Greek Cream Cheese & Greek Yogurt spread that perfectly encompasses the flavors of summer.

I think what makes this French toast casserole so delicious is the freshness of the berries mixed with this unique spread. The addition of yogurt to the cream cheese creates a lighter texture, while also adding 4x the protein and cutting half the fat of regular cream cheese.

This sweet casserole is perfect for a relaxing Sunday brunch or even a weeknight dessert. Allowing for this dish to chill overnight gives it a much appreciated lazy and low-maintenance factor.

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Mixed Berry French Toast Casserole
INGREDIENTS:
1 1lb. (16oz.) day-old loaf of French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (discard ends)
1/2 cup (4 oz.) Bruegger’s Whipped Blueberry Greek Cream Cheese*, softened
2 cups mixed berries (raspberries and blueberries), divided
6 large eggs
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup clover honey
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Streusel Topping:
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cubed

DIRECTIONS:

    1. To make the streusel topping: in a medium bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon together. Cut in the cubed butter with two forks. Set aside in the fridge.
    2. Prepare a 2.5-quart casserole dish with cooking spray.
    3. Place half of the bread cubes in the bottom of the pan.
    4. Drop spoonfuls of the softened cream cheese over the bread and top with half of the mixed berries.
    5. Layer with the remaining bread cubes.
    6. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cinnamon, honey, and vanilla.
    7. Pour evenly over bread cubes, pressing down on the bread cubes to ensure they absorb the liquid mixture.
    8. Top evenly with remaining berries. Sprinkle the streusel topping over top.
    9. Cover pan with foil. Allow to chill in refrigerator for an hour or overnight.
    10. When ready to bake, remove French toast from fridge. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake covered with foil for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 25-30 minutes or until bubbling, golden and fluffy.
    11. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm with syrup and additional toppings (berries, whipped cream, honey) if desired.

*Cream cheese flavor available only for a limited time.

 

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Bruegger’s Bagels. All opinions are entirely my own.

IMG_8908For our move to Oregon, Kevin and I sold most of our belongings and caravanned/road-tripped up with only what fit in our 2 cars. Our route included 1 night in Santa Barbara, 2 nights in the Sequoia National Forest, 1 night in Modesto and 1 night in Crater Lake. While in the Sequoia’s, I had the chance to field test both the Katya Top and Kayla Jean from the prAna summer line. Both of these items are made of organic cotton, creating a functional, and eco-friendly product.

IMG_8910 The Katya Top proved to be lightweight and breathable, and didn’t cling to my skin even when I started to break a sweat. While the Kayla Jean was thick and substantial, warding off bugs and any prickly shrubs. Both pieces were perfect for hiking and exploring around the Sequoia National Forest, and I definitely plan to wear both of these to work. I love that prAna creates versatile clothes perfect for indoor and outdoor activities, that are also sustainable, recycled and fair trade certified.

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Suit up for your next adventure at prAna.com. Use promo code “MSS17DA” for 15% off your next purchase, good until July 13th!

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This post is sponsored in partnership with prAna and Mambo Sprouts. However, as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

 
 
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