October Daily 5

Happy Halloween! I am using the holiday today as an excuse to binge eat some of my favorite paleo candy. Chocolate for breakfast on Halloween? Totally acceptable.

Fall is flying by, and I've rounded up some of my favorite from the past month. Enjoy! (Recent past Daily 5 posts: July, August, September)

1. The Blanket Scarf

2014 was the year of the blanket scarf, and it has definitely made its mark again in 2015. The upside to a trend 2 years in a row? More colors at lower prices, like this gorgeous blue version of the now autumnal-staple. 


2. The Pumpkin Cocotte 

I know last month I mentioned my favorite cast iron dutch oven, but I just couldn't resist sharing this cast-iron pumpkin cocotte with you all. Stab is another quality brand that I adore, and this pumpkin dish pretty much epitomizes everyone's fall pumpkin spice obsession. It comes in all sizes, but I am definitely enamored with the mini, ceramic, version. So cute!


3. The Amazon Echo

The Amazon Echo is the thing I didn't even know was missing from my life until it arrived all bright and shiny one evening as a surprise from CK. Alexa, the device's software, is cloud-based, meaning it is evolving all the time. She is pretty good at playing my music upon voice command, telling me the traffic on my morning commute, updating me with the weather, and informing me of upcoming events on my schedule. She can even do quick Wikipedia searches and answer the really important questions like: "What should I eat for breakfast?", "Who's your daddy?", and "Do you wannnnna build a snnooowmmman?". Seriously.


4. The Travel Coffee Mug

The whole world is obsessed with Kate Spade, and as even colder weather approaches, we need something to keep our hot chocolate and tea nice and toasty. #goldstripeserrything


5. The Utility Knife

Knives are singlehandedly the most important tools you will ever have in the kitchen. Knives can be as expensive as you want them to be, but, I think its important to think of quality over quantity. For years, I have survived, and even started this food blog, with 3 knives in my tool-belt: a utility knife, a paring knife, and a chef's knife. This knife here is a Shun utility knife, which I personally think is one of the best. Plus, Amazon has them on special frequently, so make sure to watch out for sales.


September Daily 5

I feel like fall just happened, and we are already flying through it. Its already the 4th week of the NFL, and October is tomorrow. Here in the midatlantic, it literally just started to drop below the 80s in the morning and evenings, so I hope this fall weather hits in full force soon.  Without further ado, here are the things getting me through my health-conscious, foodie days this month. (Past Daily 5 posts: June, July, August)

1. Burt's Bee's Spot Treatment

I’ve been trying to clear up my beauty routine for months, and back in May, I decided to go cold turkey and ditch all the chemicals. Surprisingly my skin got a whole lot clearer since ditching everything artificial, but I still do need something to spot treat for a breakout here and there.  I love this all-natural option from Burt’s Bees, and the ingredients are pronounceable.


2. Le Creuset Dutch Oven, Matte

I have long been a fan of Le Creuset. Their dutch ovens especially are a staple in any kitchen, and their quality is really unrivaled. They come with a lifetime warranty, and I even learned that many write their Le Creuset pots in their will. (Holy cow! A pot in someone's will!)

Le Creuset came out with a matte collection not long ago, and I am totally obsessed, even more so than I was before. I recently bought a 6-quart casserole in the matte navy finish, and I have been absolutely loving it and using it for everything. (Including baking some paleo bread in the oven!) Its also perfect for soups and stocks as we head into chilly weather and flu season. The price is a hefty one, but for as much time you spend in the kitchen over the course of a lifetime, its definitely worth the splurge.


3. Jackson's Honest Potato Chips

These potato chips are currently the only paleo potato chips on the market. They only have 3 ingredients: potatoes, salt, and coconut oil, and they are especially tasty. Granted, you can make your own paleo potato chips at home, however, if you want to save a whole lot of time, these are the ones to grab. Seriously, they are delicious; even more so than a conventional potato chip. (Especially the Salt and Vinegar!) Really. I can't rave enough about these sweet little bags of goodness. Plus, you can get them for a slight discount on Amazon and ship for free with prime.


4. Trader Joe's Grilled Cauliflower

This past summer, Trader Joe's came out with cauliflower rice, and the release nearly broke the Internet. There were hash tags, there were outcries of happiness, and I thought there almost may have been an cauliflower-fueled, social media riot. Sadly, its hard to get a hold of TJ's cauli rice; it sells out immediately after stores get it in stock. While TJ's is ramping up their cauli rice production (Really, I reached out to them and asked), this frozen grilled cauliflower is a fantastic substitute. It currently only has two ingredients: cauliflower and salt, and tastes exactly like it has been grilled over charcoal mid-summer. I don't know how they did it, but I do know that its been a staple of our meals ever since I discovered it.

Trader Joe's Grilled Cauliflower


5. The Trendy Sparrow

Ok, so....this last product might not be exactly real-food, whole-food, paleo related, but I just had to include it. The Trendy Sparrow is an Etsy shop/blog that sells the most fabulous, witty, and millennial related mugs, prints, and t-shirts. I may just have the "What Would Blair Waldorf Do Mug", and this Gilmore Girls t-shirt is next on my list. Plus, the owner of the shop is in Chicago. Hometown pride. 

Gilmore Girls t-shirt from The Trendy Sparrow


The Daily 5

I thought I would try a new thing here on South of Vanilla: The Daily 5. Now, I don't plan on doing this everyday, which begs the question of whether or not I should really have the word "daily" in the title. Ahh, well, semantics.

I get questions all the time from people wondering what things have helped me be paleo, what helps me stay on track, and what are the things I just can't live without. Simply stated, there are many things that help me get through the day, and many of these things change according to the actual day.

Maybe you see where I am going with this.

Or maybe not.

But here are the 5 things I am using today that help staying on the paleo track a little easier:

South of Vanilla's Daily 5, 1-19-2015

1. The Day Designer: No, this product was not intended for those following the paleo diet. However, it was intended for those that are the letmewriteeverythingdownandmakelists type of people. It is also intended for those that run small businesses, bloggers, high achievers, those that have specific goals, and people are just really busy. I've been open in talking about how following a primal lifestyle takes a lot more time- in terms of planning, shopping, and food preparation. I also run this blog (obviously), work full time, pick up PRN shifts, and travel about 2-3 times on average during each month. I have a boyfriend who I live with and an active social life. Busy is an understatement, so I really rely on this planner for a lot. I schedule the things I need to get done, plan out my days, and make lots of lists for every area in my life I am trying to manage. It even comes with worksheets that help you create goals, visions, and plans of action to help you achieve all that is possible in the areas of anything from personal finance to careers to strategic brand planning. The price tag for this one is expensive but so incredibly worth it.


2. Myrrhaculous Face Oil: I know, I've talked about Fat Face Skin Care before. A few times. And even hosted a coupon code for all my readers. I just love this company, and their products cleared up all the acne I had been struggling with for years. I wish I would have cut the chemicals from my body and beauty products ages ago.


3. Dehydrator: I use my dehydrator to make healthy snacks, which are both raw and primal friendly. My favorite, after the almost 3 years I have now had my dehydrator, are still kale chips. The dehydrator I have is on the lower end of the price spectrum, but it has suited me just fine all along. Love this gadget.


4. A really cool water bottle: I'm not the best at drinking water- I constantly have to remind myself to take sips during the day. Why? I'm not sure. That part in my brain that regulates adequate hydration must be damaged, I'm convinced of it. What does make me more attentive to water? Really cool looking water bottles. I currently love this one, and it is quite possibly the most simple biohacking experiment ever, the equivalent to "ooo look, something shiny!, to make me pay attention to something important.


5. Dry Shampoo: I do Crossfit and hot yoga, which, as you probably guessed, makes me sweat a lot. I dont have time to wash and dry and style my hair after every workout, which is where dry shampoo comes in. Not only does it keep hair smelling great and clean your hair without washing, but also it adds hair-commercial worthy volume. I've tried a lot of brands, but my favorite are Lushs No Drought Dry Shampoo and Kloranes Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk.   




What do you guys use to get yourself through your days??


Some Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas (and our 2014 Hybrid Thanksgiving Dinner Menu)

Its less than week before Thanksgiving.

LESS than a week. As in 5 days.

Five. Days.

Months ago, I decided that this Thanksgiving was the Thanksgiving I was going to head; I was going to be the master planner this year.

Ha.

Hahahahahahaha.

Not that I don’t have things under control, because I definitely do (Ummmm except I haven’t decided on how to cook the turkey in entirety yet. No. Big. Deal.), but its just a lot to think about and coordinate considering that I am flying to Tampa and have to make several trips to the grocery store (Everyone always has to make several trips to the grocery store to fight over the last can of pumpkin puree, right? Right.), and actually prepare the food. Oh, and I think the last headcount I got was for 11 people.

Now, I know 11 people for a major holiday probably doesn’t sound like a whole lot to most of you guys, but my family is so spread out (California, Arizona, Illinois, Georgia, Florida, Massachusetts, and counting…) that over the past 10 years, I think we’ve had an average of maybe 4.5 people for most major holidays. And 4.5 people is not difficult to cook for, because that’s essentially the proportions I cook for regularly. (Christopher pretty much eats as much as 4 people [not kidding]. I don’t know why he is so skinny, but dear lord, life is not fair.)

A challenge I’ve already faced when trying to plan for this Thanksgiving was trying to strike a balance of paleo dishes and nonpaleo dishes. Although I’m an avid fan of the paleo lifestyle, and I am more than happy to share with anyone who asks, I definitely don’t push it on anyone, and I definitely do not want to spring a Paleo Thanksgiving on unsuspecting dinner guests. That would just be cruel. Delicious, but cruel. Singing the praises of a paleo lifestyle are never ending, but perhaps a holiday that celebrates gluttony is neither the time nor the place.

On the upside, I've outlined the menu, and created a grocery shopping excel spreadsheet with coordinated tabs by the area of where the product is found in the grocery store. OCD at its finest, folks. 

I’m sharing my menu with you all as a way to illustrate a way to plan a hybrid paleo and nonpaleo meal. I tried to choose paleo recipes that are not only tasty, but beloved by people who are also nonpaleo. I included links to all the recipes, whether they are from South of Vanilla, or not, so if you’re searching for some dishes serve, make sure to check them out. Some of these posts are also scheduled to be posted in the next week, so stay tuned for those. Enjoy!


2014 Hybrid Thanksgiving Menu

Appetizers: 

  • Sweet n’ Savory Bacon-Wrapped Dates (Paleo)
  • Brie with Pears and Apples (nonpaleo, technically)(annnd…. no recipe for this one. Just have a nice, high quality brie with some sliced apples and pears)
  • Home-baked Rosemary French Bread with Garlic-Chive Butter (nonpaleo)

Salad:

Main:

Sides: 

Dessert: 

 


Cinnamon-Sage Sweet Potatoes

Cinnamon-Sage Sweet Potatoes


Sweet n' Savory Bacon Wrapped Dates

Sweet n' Savory Bacon Wrapped Dates


Cranberry Sauce   

Cranberry Sauce

 


Kale Salad

Kale Salad

Sunday Snaps 11-9-2014

Hi guys! As hopefully most of you know, we've been doing a Giveaway here on South of Vanilla for the past couple weeks for the chance to win a box of paleo cookies from Honey + Soul. Well, I'm excited to announce that the winner is.....

Manda Overturf Shank!

Congrats Manda! Keep an eye on your inbox for an email from me so I can get those cookies shipped to you ASAP! Thank you to everyone who entered! Hopefully I'll be able to do another giveaway soon!


Its been a crazy busy past 6 weeks guys. I know everyone says this, but I don't even know where the whole month of October went. Since the last week of September up until now, I've either been traveling like a maniac or have had guests stay with me, so I haven't had much time to myself. Combine all that with squeezing in regular recipe posts, training for a new PRN job (I'll provide details on that later), my checking account being hacked and some very mean person hitting up every online store in my name, trying to keep up with Crossfit, and then...oh wait, actually working without taking too much time off of work....

...I need a spa weekend or at least a huge slice of paleo chocolate cake. Or something.

BUT I did have some pretty amazing travels, including unreal fall foliage and scenery I saw in New Hampshire:

Don't worry, there will be a whole post dedicated to this trip, and I'll share more pictures with you then.

On top of all the craziness that has been the past 6 weeks, Christopher and I not-so-sanely decided to redo our bedroom. When we bought the house, we knew it was going to need a lot of work. Well, I was the one who decided it needed a lot of work. Even though it was functional (his opinion), it wasn't exactly fashionable (my opinion). So we started chipping away on the house bit by bit, and every single project has taken longer than expected. Like 3 times longer. Redoing the kitchen was really important to me, for obvious reasons, but redoing the kitchen on a tight budget has been more of an exercise in creativity than anything else. Its still coming along, and there are still some things we need to do, but here's a little preview:

Love me some sunshine yellow <3

Love me some sunshine yellow <3

Anyway, it all started with a laundry hamper- the bedroom redo, I mean. Yes, we're back to the bedroom. It started with a laundry hamper. Our bedroom has been essentially a room with a bed, some curtains Christopher's mom gave us, and one picture frame on the wall. That's it. Completely undergrad-esque. This week, I had a enraged and panicked moment when I decided that it was totally and completely unrealistic that two grown people with full time jobs and years of traveling around the world and advanced degrees were sleeping in such a room that didn't even have a proper place to throw dirty clothes. Up until now, we've been using this strange mesh and wire dirty laundry contraption that I'm pretty sure Christopher had back when he was still in law school. It is that. cool.

So after that mini-meltdown, I proceeded to go to 4, yes 4, home stores looking for a laundry hamper that really resonated with me. (Did I really just say that out loud? Yep. Of all the things to care about…) After all those stores and 2 days, I finally found one that I loved, and wasn't over-the-top feminine. Once I brought that home, I realized that the walls really needed to be painted, and the room really should be decorated to match the paint. That then started an hour (ahem, four hours) of browsing on Pinterest for ideas, when I then decided that our bedroom was going to be decorated in the theme of tan, black, white, and gold. Which sounded great to me, but the I realized that we didn't really have anything in the bedroom to go with that theme (or any theme, really), which meant that I needed to do some shopping, but I really couldn't because my checking account has been put on hold due to those aforementioned debit card hackers. So that’s when Christopher said “Hey, why don’t we go to Hobby Lobby to get some crafting stuff for the bedroom? You can have whatever you want, my treat.”

Swoon.

So that was that, and now I am happily chipping away on doing crafty stuff, like this piñata painting I created as a nod to Christopher’s Hispanic heritage:

When I proposed this gilded bedroom idea to Christopher, he was so sick of hearing about the laundry hamper drama I created in my head, he blankly said "do whatever you want". Then, he left down to go to a conference, so I painted an accent wall in the bedroom gold.

Yep. Shiny, metallic, gold.

If I sound crazy, its probably because I am.

But what is an exhausted girl to do when a little respite is needed? Paint everything gold. That's the new answer for everything. Paint. It. Gold.

The infamous laundry hamper.

The infamous laundry hamper.

Doesn't it look good so far? #allgolderrythang

I may choose to post some posts on home repair stuff, but honestly, that may be a little premature, since I am definitely not an expert on anything that requires a drill bit or a level or a tape measure. Maybe some before and after pictures? That might be nice.

Totally random, and I'm not sure if you guys have noticed, but in almost all of my recipes, I use Himalayan pink sea salt instead of regular table salt. Have you ever wondered why? Here's a nice infographic:

OH. I started doing CROSSFIT. Strangely, Crossfit was something that I was never really interested in- I'm more of a goonalongrunandthinkaboutyourlifegirl in between doing some asanas in a really hot, humid room. But then, I hurt my sacroiliac joint from running too much, my beloved barre classes and spin classes just haven't caught on yet here in NM, and the thought of paying a monthly membership fee to sweat in air conditioning while watching The Real Housewives on an elliptical made me want to puke. So I joined Crossfit, which incidentally makes me want to puke sometimes, but in a different kind of way. I don't understand how I can run 13.1 miles, but sometimes can't keep up with the WOD. (Which is not a wad of paper, its actually an acronym for the Workout of the Day- Now you know.)

Crossfit has been really fantastic, mostly because I feel so much stronger, and I am getting an insanely incredibly workout in a fraction of the time I used to spend working out before. I go to classes 2-3 times a week, and walk away incredibly sore each time. I say this while now very humbly admitting that I started Crossfit only being able to lift the bar- and that felt heavy to me. Now, depending on the movement, I can actually put some weights on the bar, so I pretty much feel like a b.a....until I look around and the dudes lifting 300 lbs. next to me. Ok, not really 300. More like 220. But NBD. Its just 220 lbs.

The weather here in NM has finally, finally cooled down. Nights and mornings get chilly, and the past week, the mornings have been very chilly. The highs here have been hovering somewhere between the low to mid 60s, which suits me just fine, but my New Mexican peers aren’t handling it too well. My coworkers show up in the morning bundled in snow parkas and mittens, and I’m the girl bouncing around excitedly because I can finally wear my fall vests (#obsessed), and asking if anyone wants to finally have a bonfire. Needless to say, they think I’m a little nutty.

Leather leggings, chambray, and vests &lt;333

Leather leggings, chambray, and vests <333

In other Paleo and food related news, I’ve got some exciting recipes coming at you guys soon, and I am thrilled to be able to share them with you in the coming weeks. (Make sure you’re subscribed to the blog.) Here’s a little sneak peak:

Cinnamon-Sage Sweet Potato Hash with eggs and Bulletproof Coffee

Cinnamon-Sage Sweet Potato Hash with eggs and Bulletproof Coffee


Paleo Marshmallow Fluff

Paleo Marshmallow Fluff


Kale and Green Chile Rice + Chicken Soup

Kale and Green Chile Rice + Chicken Soup

I can safely say that just by judging the aisles and aisles of Christmas stuff in almost every store I have visited since October 1st, the holiday season is now upon us. I've been trying to work on some Thanksgiving appropriate recipes to post before Thanksgiving, but it would be helpful to know what you all are looking for. Do you want more desserts? More breakfast? More pumpkin spice? How about Christmas? What paleo holiday recipes are you looking for? Cookies Peppermint? Ham? Please let me know! You can either comment on this post, or send me an email at southofvanilla@gmail.com! I am more than happy to work on stuff that I know you actually want!

Happy Sunday! Hope you all have a fabulous start to the week.

How gorgeous is this sunset I recently was lucky enough to snap? SO PRETTY!

How gorgeous is this sunset I recently was lucky enough to snap? SO PRETTY!






Top 12 Ways to Stay Primal While Traveling

Happy Friday guys! For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you'll know that earlier in the week, I wrote another guest post for Health Starts in the Kitchen while Hayley, the writer behind that amazing blog, is working on her cookbook. (Can't wait until it comes out!)

I'm a little behind on updating the blog this week (to say I've been busy is quite possibly the biggest understatement of the year), so apologies for the delay on this one. Without further ado, go ahead and check out The Top 12 Ways to Stay Primal While Traveling! 

Hope you guys enjoy it! 

Sunday Snaps, 10-12-2014

Sunday again? I can’t believe it- the weeks seems to go so fast, especially these past few. I not only had one whole week off from work during the first week of October, but I also went to go visit my friend Dani and her fiancé in Vegas. I originally decided that I was just going to take this fall break and chillax at home with the 6 books I am currently reading, but then the temptation of $15 cocktails and hungover Tuesday mornings got the best of me. Just kidding! I really went to go see Dani, who is not only in the midst of wedding planning, but has her own blog, Care to Pair, which she is slowly, but diligently, building up.

Dani and I made a dinner one night, where she taught me all about the basics of pairing. I’ll be posting about it…eventually. I would like to say soon, but seeing as I’m behind on fall recipe posting, and have 15 recipes with pictures but no accompanying blog posts….I’ll get to this one eventually. In the meantime, here’s a picture of our meal:

In addition to doing all the typical Vegas touristy things, Dani and I went to Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, and Red Rock. Ahhh-mazing. I am in constant awe of things like dams, bridges, and really really tall skyscrapers; its truly amazing what we as people are able to build.


This fall display at the Bellagio was amazing.&nbsp;

This fall display at the Bellagio was amazing. 


NYNY

NYNY


Succulents on a car? Count me in.&nbsp;

Succulents on a car? Count me in. 


Always in love with the Venetian.&nbsp;

Always in love with the Venetian. 

Oh, and red rock? I can’t believe I have never heard of it before. Not only was it gorgeous, but it sufficiently inspired me to sing the Flinstones theme song in my head for most of our time there. I highly suggest checking it out if you’re in the Las Vegas area. #nerdalert

To my surprise, Vegas was much drier than southern New Mexico. Now that I’ve been here a few months, I am starting to see the nuances between different desert climates, and I can even notice tiny changes in humidity. So could my skin, which is why the face oil from Fat Face Skincare was a lifesaver.

Obsessed. In other news, I never though I would be the girl putting beef-tallow on her face to stop breakouts and help with moisturizing. Weeeiiir-dooo.

As colder weather is starting to seep in, I’ve fallen back in love with stock making, soups, really hot coffee, and fancy warm drinks. My new favorite? S’more’s lattes. Definitely not paleo, by any mean, but there’s a place, Becks, not too far from my house that uses a crème brulee torch over a homemade (whaaat?) marshmallow to give the latte a really rustic, campfire feel and taste. Its incredible. I want one right now. Except its 10pm as I’m writing this and I would be up all night.

Since posting these Sweet n’ Spicy Bacon Wrapped Dates, I’ve made them 3 times. We just can’t keep them in the house because they’re so good. I tried them with turkey bacon once as well, and they just weren’t good- so don’t do that. Stick to the real deal, folks. I’ll likely be making another two batches this week.

Some other updates? I dyed my hair, the first ever time in my life. I decided that after 26 years, it was time for a change. I ended up deciding on a reverse ombre, which I am so incredibly happy with. My stylist, Vanessa, is the best, and I even got to partake in a hair-modeling photo shoot with her a few days later. (Complete with a set, cameras, lights, and 3 hours worth of hair and makeup.) Hopefully I’ll be able to share some the professional pictures with you later. Until then, here are some fabulous hair selfies:

I’ve been so happy to see more and more primal and paleo friendly products hitting the shelves at local grocery stores. Of course, they will never replace fresh vegetables and high quality fats, but a little bit of a break in constantly preparing fresh meals is undeniably awesome. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably noticed a post or two about these paleo cookies from Honey & Soul. They’re incredible, and no, I am not getting paid to say these things. I highly suggest checking them out. Also, make sure to subscribe South of Vanilla via email to stay updated because I’ll be giving a way a box of these goodies next week. <3 Don’t miss it!



DSC_0157.JPG

 

Happy Sunday, and have a great rest of the week!




Exciting Announcements and a BIG Thank You!

Happy Monday night! I wanted to write a quick post to update you all on some exciting announcements!

Have you guys noticed a new page on the website? This new events page is a calendar that lists, you guessed it, upcoming events. I’ve recently been asked to teach a few paleo cooking classes and speak at seminars on everything ranging from brewing Kombucha to grain-free pasta substitutes to the link between cognition and nutrition. I’ve added this page so you can see when, where, and what I’m speaking about. I would love to meet and see you if you are in the area! The calendar doesn’t have any events listed yet, but the dates will be finalized by the end of this week. The calendar will list all the information about each event, and it even has a button allowing you to import the event details directly onto your own personal calendar with just the click of a button. (Technology is so cool.) I will let you know when those dates are up!

Second, I’m excited to announce that this week, I will be guest blogging on the fantastic website Health Starts in the Kitchen. The writer of the blog, Haley, is such a kind and clever blogger, and I’m beyond excited that she invited me to post on her behalf. I’ll be posting on this Wednesday, August 20th, and I will let you know when that post is up and ready to read. In the meantime, here a little teaser of what I will be writing about:

Want another clue? This dish is both savory and sweet. Yummm. It will be posted on Health Starts in the Kitchen on Wednesday, August 20th.&nbsp;

Want another clue? This dish is both savory and sweet. Yummm. It will be posted on Health Starts in the Kitchen on Wednesday, August 20th. 


Guess what? There are even more announcements. I know I know, this is becoming a long update, but I'm trying to not bombard your email inboxes with bunch of small updates throughout the week. I hate junk mail just as much as you do. Bear with me while I tell you guys everything all at once. But first, let me take a selfie…..

photo 3.jpg

My one-year anniversary of becoming Paleo is approaching, and I’m in the middle of writing some posts to celebrate. (How has it been a full year already?!) Among other things, I am now coining the word Paleoversary. Soon, it will make it into the dictionary right next to gazillion and selfie. Webster, watch out.

Lastly, I wanted to take the time to thank each and every one of my readers. I’ve noticed a big jump in subscribers and views especially over the past two weeks, and it makes me incredibly happy that people (other than my mom and my dog) read South of Vanilla regularly. Also exciting? I am now the first result when you search for South of Vanilla on Google. This gives me motivation to keep writing posts, and I’m starting to learn more and more from the site statistics about which recipes readers enjoy reading the most. (Currently, 67% of you love my Paleo Protein Pancake recipe the best.) Thank you everyone so much for reading! Please make sure to post comments or ask questions if you need any help in your cooking or paleo endeavors! I’m always willing to help J

Hope everyone is enjoy these last sun-filled summer days.

XOXO,

Kristina

 

Land of Enchantment: another huge announcement

Well, I’ve got some news here at South of Vanilla. It might be a little sudden for you guys, but…

…I’ve moved. I have left D.C.

I’ve meant to post this earlier, I really did. When I found out about the move, I decided that I needed to make sure that I told friends, family, work, etc. in person before they found out via social media, word of mouth, or the blog. I succeeded exceptionally at telling everyone personally about my move…. but then moving across country got the best of me. Saying goodbye to friends and the city, packing up my apartment, finishing up my current job, arranging my new job, and arranging moving details in less than a month proved to be very challenging. Near the end, I was throwing things into boxes haphazardly and bribing friends to help me take apart furniture in exchange for alcohol. (P.S. Thanks Sandra!)

So where exactly did I go? I moved to New Mexico. As in the home of the best salsa I have ever had, and more green chilies than I have ever seen.   New Mexico, as in the home of more sand I have ever laid my eyes on, and more panoramic vistas than I ever could have imagined. It’s a big change for me.

So why did I leave D.C.? There are a lot of reasons, many of which I hope to touch on in future posts, but mostly to be with my man, a new job opportunity, and the need for some changes in my life. Yes, I loved D.C., and I still very much do, but things fell into alignment and I made the decision to leave a city I passionately love in exchange for a new adventure. Moving is always hard, and saying goodbye was extremely difficult. D.C. has been such a good city for me: it gave me my master’s, introduced me to some of my best friends, taught me the importance of remaining true to myself, and showed me the way to live a life full of motivation, passion, and dedication. I have learned so many life lessons in my years in D.C., and I can say with confidence that my time in D.C. has challenged me to grow, thrive, and develop into the person I think I was meant to be. I do not think a different city could have done this for me. I still have so many memories: going on long runs around the monuments, 4 a.m. nights in Adams Morgan and H street, my first half marathon, incredible restaurants, Nats games, and infinite amounts of museums. I’ve also been incredibly blessed to make the most of my time while living on the east coast; I’ve traveled across Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, and West Virginia.  I’ve seen a lot. I’ve done a lot. And now I get to do a whole lot more.













So what does this mean for the blog? I will continue posting, and my new (day) job actually gives me a lot more freedom and flexibility, so I hope to be posting more on the blog, especially as it seems to be gaining more and more momentum. (Ummm, I am so excited about this!) Since this move was a quick one, I actually have a lot of recipes and corresponding photos that were taken in D.C. so you might be hearing some stories that took place on the East Coast even though I am very much in the Southwest. Also…. I’ve made it my mission to learn how to cook authentic Mexican food (I’ve already had 2 burritos and 2 types of salsa since I’ve been here, and it hasn’t even been 72 hours #paleofail.), so I will hopefully be posting some recipes for Paleo Mexican dishes in the future. Also, if you want to keep up immediately on my life and blog, follow me on Instagram. (I am addicted to Instagram.)

When I was little, my mom always told me to make the best of situations and opportunities; I should experience all that I could because I never knew when things would change. When I was 5, I thought this meant to always color with the prettiest crayon. When I was 12, I thought it meant that I needed to figure out if I should focus full time on my rock collection, my shell collection, or my sand collection. (Don’t ask.) In college, I thought my mom’s persevering advice meant to drink every shot given to me (Sorry, Mom), and in grad school, I thought I needed study as hard as I could to ensure I could get the most out my degree. Currently at 26, I’ve settled on an interpretation, for now, that is guiding me to deeply explore every aspect presented to me at the moment, whether that be relationships, jobs, food, cooking, or traveling; I’ve decided that I want to live a genuine, passionate, creative, and curious life.  New Mexico will let me do this on many different levels, and like my mom always says, you never know how long you’ll be in place, so explore it while you can. I suppose that this is a Carpe Diem Wanderlust outlook on life, and seeing how well this has served me in the past, I never want to give that up.

Here’s to the next adventure. Thanks for joining me.

 





Just like the Jurassic Era

Maybe I'm just speaking for myself here, but I have been OBSESSED with succulents lately. Succulent potters, succulent floral arrangements, succulent wedding favors, succulent wreaths, succulents in jars, succulents, succulents, succulents. The species has taken over Pinterest, successfully putting the gerbera daisy and country sunflower trend to an end. I've even recently noticed my local farmers markets selling them.

Mmm green smoothies and green succulents

Mmm green smoothies and green succulents

I obviously love the trend, but city living doesn't lend itself well to gardening. Once, I tried to grow basil on my windowsill, and it died. Then, I did some research, realized that basil needs to be in full sun (don't quote me on that), and it still died. So I gave up.... And then I realized that I REALLY like succulents.

So one weekend, my friend Kathy and I found ourselves in the aisles of Home Depot, trying to find materials to make our own succulent terrariums. After about 20 minutes of staring at soil types, I decided to call my mom, an avid gardener, for some help.

"Oh, honey? You're getting out this weekend? To plant some succulents? On a Saturday night? That's nice, I'm happy for you. I'm glad you've found a nice friend to plant succulents with."

Thanks, Mom.

Anyway, we learned that succulents can grow in any soil, but they prefer cacti soil... Or get this, succulent soil. Succulents also don't like to be in direct sun because their delicate leave-y arm things will singe. Also, in order to make a closed ecosystem (aka you don't need to water it, it automatically becomes its own ecosystem), you need some charcoal, stones, and a jar/container with a lid. It's pretty simple, and it took Kathy and I longer to acquire all the materials than to actually put it all together. (Albeit, our Terrarium Day Adventure included a class at our gym, some shopping, lunch, and a few wrong turns.) Another great benefit? These were much cheaper to make than ones we found premade at stores or on Etsy. Overall, I think we spent around $30 (Thanks in part to our thrift store/TJ Maxx container finds) to make two of these, and we had lots of material left over.

In terms of materials, in addition to soil, you need large stones to help drain water, and charcoal help things clean and recycle. I actually don't fully understand the details, but it's been about 3 months since Kathy and I first made our little home science experiments, and they're still going strong. Actually, my succulents have grown so much that it kind of looks like the Jurassic era in there. I expect to find some dinosaurs soon. I will call that a success.

 

Easy Succulent Terrariums

  • Succulents
  • Potting soil/cacti soil/succulent soil
  • Charcoal (This can be found in pet stores)
  • Stones or rocks
  • Closed container or jar

 

  1. Place large stones in an even later on the bottom of the jar
  2. Put a layer of about 3 inches or charcoal over the stone layer
  3. Fill with soil
  4. Plant succulents
  5. Water, slightly and then close lid.
  6. Place terrarium in a place that gets sun, but not direct sun.

 

 

Update: while still on the succulent trend, I made these for my boyfriend’s house (he regrets giving me his credit card):

 

The glass containers I got from (you guessed it) a thrift store for 50 cents each, and this time, I took the soil and rocks from his backyard. Cheers!

 

Of course, no girls night is complete without some Paleo snacks, kombucha, and some bubbly ;)

Of course, no girls night is complete without some Paleo snacks, kombucha, and some bubbly ;)