Sunday Snaps, 06-07-2015

Oh, hi. Happy Sunday! If you area reading this, I survived May.

I am going to be concise here, but in May: CK finished up his master’s program, I finished up my school year, we went to 2 weddings, unexpectedly traveled through/across 7 states, accepted some contracting jobs which start over the summer, and hosted a visitor. I think I might go into details about all of these a little later; most of these deserve their own posts.

I still don’t know how I did all that, while still working. Granted, I was running on 5 hours of sleep a night, but I did it. And kept up this blog! (I deserve a high-5! Or a box of chocolates. Or something.)

Granted, I developed almost all of the recipes I’ve been posting lately in advance, so I really just had to post them and schedule them, which made things way way easier. To all you fellow bloggers out there, the “schedule in advance” option on most hosting platforms is a god-send.

I knew May was going to be busy (Although, things just happened to keep popping up last minute too.) so we actually froze a lot of meals in advance. I noted that earlier in a post, but I thought I would elaborate a little more.

Two blogs that I love, The Brown Eyed Baker and How Sweet It Is, recently just had babies, and leading up to their babies births, they froze a whole bunch of meals so they wouldn’t have to cook for awhile, and they would have fresh, homemade meals whenever they wanted. Now, I know what you’re thinking: I am comparing my busy month to having a baby?? Well….yes, sort of. I didn’t freeze 6 months worth of meals like one of those bloggers did (seriously), but I did make sure to have several staples so I could maintain paleo eating while being super busy. It really cut down on a lot of stress. I highly, highly recommend it. Here are some resources:

Aaannnndddd, here are some sneak-peaks of recipes coming to the blog soon. I am SUPER excited. Summer food is so easy and just so good:

I was really excited because I was going to share with you a ginger beer recipe, but then, my fermenting bottle EXPLODED. I was reading in the living room, and all of a sudden I heard a large pop and then a gush of water. I still have NO IDEA how this could have happened. I literally had just put everything in that bottle a couple hours prior at most. I was lucky I wasn’t in the kitchen when it happened; there were shards of glass and ginger literally flying through the air and crashing into the wall like darts headed for a bull’s-eye. I am so thankful no one was hurt, but let me tell you about the mess it made. It was very similar to mashmallow-gate of 2014. Only this was quite possibly worse because I had sugar water and ginger on every surface of my kitchen: floors, walls, ceiling. I am still finding some.


The garden is doing extraordinarily well. I am shocked. I am not going to go into that much here, essentially because my last Sunday Snaps was me rambling on and on about gardening. Don’t want to bore you guys J

I have been on this s’mores obsession lately. Maybe its because its officially summer? Or maybe its because I’ve had these weird intense cravings for marshmallows the past year? (See here, here, and here.) Not sure. But of course, S’mores are different because, ummm hello, BARS OF CHOCOLATE.


Chip the Fiat now has his very own succulent. <3 People laugh at me, but I think garden cars could totally be a thing.

You guys, cracked nut butter. As in Brownie Batter Nut Butter and Cookie Dough Nut Butter. They. Are. A. Thing. And really really good. I will have a tablespoon or two of this right from the jar if I am hungry but too busy to eat. (And did I mention brownie batter?) They also have a squeeze pouch, incase you’re too lazy for a spoon. (Guilty as charged.)

I have become obsessed with matcha over the past couple weeks. I never really liked matcha- it tasted too earthy to me- but then I tried a higher quality matcha and I was hooked. It has a great, clean, caffeine buzz without a crash, and the green color is just so vibrant:

If you guys haven't seen my iPhone photo tips for food bloggers, you definitely need to check it out. Here are some examples: 

As many of you know, I grew up in the Midwest, but spent the 3 years before moving to NM in D.C. I moved to NM at the end of July, just before August, so I spent a good portion of the summer still on the east coast. I haven’t yet spent a full summer her in the Land of Enchantment, but I can tell you already that I am really, really, really missing the beach. During my time in D.C., I definitely took for granted how easy it was to drive up to the beaches in New Jersey or Delaware, down to the beaches in Virginia, or across to the beaches in Maryland. One of my favorite spots was Assateague, which is most famous for its herds of while horses, which roam around the eastern shore, barrier island. CK and I went there last year, just before the move, and we actually camped on the beach. As well traveled as we both are, few things have come close to that night on the island, sleeping on the beach, watching wild horses gallop, listening to the waves crash against the shore, and gazing at the milky way all night. I hope we can go visit again soon!

As always, have a restful Sunday, and a great start to your week!




Sunday Snaps 7-20-14 (One Day Late)

It has been a hectic week here at South of Vanilla. If you didn’t see the big announcement, I’ll fill you in: I moved from D.C. to New Mexico.

As you can imagine, my week was full packing, moving boxes, goodbyes, and doing some last minute things in the DMV area that I’ve been meaning to get to…

…Like a road trip to the eastern shore of Maryland where we stayed on Assateague Island. The island has been on my bucket list ever since I heard that there were wild horses. (Where didn’t I come here when I was 10 and going through my horse obsession phase???!)

I heard from a coworker that a Spanish ship carrying a shipment of horses crashed on the barrier island, leaving the horses to roam free and create their own herds. I tried to verify this on the internets, and found similar stories, but also found more reasonable stories stating that farmers let horses roam free within the natural barriers of the island before it was a national park. I prefer the former, romantic story, so that is the one in which I will believe.

Also on this road trip? Crab Balls. A cuisine so descriptively named and so incredibly delicious. How had I not heard of this before? I have no idea. But they. Are. Delicious. Farewell crab balls. I hope to see you again soon.

Every time I move, I debate throwing out all my stuff and just starting over again. It’s a lot of work to move, and it’s a lot of work to have stuff. Once I am all packed, I feel a sense of accomplishment, until I realize I have to unpack all the work I just did. Which is why I haven’t yet. Not even the suitcase I have full of clothes that I brought ahead of all my other stuff. Everything is just in a huge pile on the floor. (I can’t find anything, so I’ve resorted to just wearing the same two things for the past 3 days. I am full of logic.) I’ve also decided that the best place to eat is on an old trunk that has somehow become a table. So there’s that. #movingsucks

Right when I got here, I went to the Farmer's Market and bought, among other things, these fabulous pasture-rasied, organic, grain-fed humanely raised eggs. You cannot tell me the color of and taste of these eggs are the same as conventionally raised ones. No filter, ladies and gents.

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Last night, CK and I went to some natural hot springs against a beautiful mountain backdrop to relax after an overwhelming couple of days. My ginger self, being super sensitive to temperature changes, loved them. Until I didn’t.

Hope everyone’s week is treating them well!










Half the distance, full on fun: preparing for a half marathon while still being Paleo

I ran a half marathon.

I ran a half marathon. 13.1 miles on 4-27-14.

Sometimes I catch myself repeating these words in my head, even though its been nearly a week since I crossed the finish line. Still, whenever I walk by a mirror I catch a glimmer of the Nike Tiffany Finisher’s pendant I’ve refused to take off since Sunday.

In high school, when I was a cheerleader (gag), our coach used to make us do a half-mile warm up before practice. It would take me 15 minutes to finish. (I’m not kidding- that’s 7.5 minutes per quarter mile- a 30 min/mile pace. I may as well have been walking my pet turtle.) Never in my life did I think I would run for run, or even attempt a half marathon.

I registered for the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in D.C. last fall (One of the races in the elusive Nike Women’s Marathon Series), right when registration opened. I had had a fantastic fall and summer running season, and I thought, well, why not? A half had been on my bucket list for a while, I was already running 10k races, and this race was literally in my backyard.

However, my fantastic running season soon turned into a winter full of minimal or nonexistent training. Part of it was a lack of motivation, but another part of it was that I had a lot going on: I (finally!) graduated graduate school in winter, started this blog, took on a new job, made the transition from a perma-student into an actual fully-functional adult (this just in: I have no idea what I’m doing), dealt with a cumulative 2 hours worth of traffic to and from work each day, and my 15 mile away boyfriend became a 1,500 mile away boyfriend. To say I was in over my head was an understatement.

As you can imagine, training for this half fell to the wayside. I went on runs here and there, but the everlasting blizzards combined with my skyrocketing stress levels left little desire to lace up my Nike’s and hit the [-10 degree] pavement. (Randomly, running on a treadmill leaves me with shin splints- anyone else have this problem?)

As race day approached, my boyfriend signed us both up for a 5k, a sweet gesture in support of my training efforts, and a way for both of us to support his field. This was in early March, and I was so worn out during the 3.2 miles that I had to walk part of it, and him, the non-runner literally ran circles around me….and then offered to piggy back me to the finish line. To make matters worse, just as I was building up my runs again, less than a month before the April 27th date of the DC half, I had an unexpected, late night ER visit due to a sudden kidney infection and dehydration. I was not ready for this half marathon.

After some incredibly supportive pep talks from friends, inspirational emails and posts from Nike, posting inspirational words around my apartment, fully recovering from my kidney woes, getting the doctor’s approval, and adjusting my work schedule so I could come in late on morning run days, I somehow came from having to take a walk break after 2 miles to finishing a half marathon.

My passion for running came back. The reasons for why I run came back. When I get to turn off my phone, put in my headphones, connect with my breath, and run so fast I feel like I’m flying- those are the moments where I feel invincible, the moments where I feel like I can conquer anything. These moments often fuel my energy for the rest of my day, or sometimes, the rest of the week. If I could conquer those miles, those hills, those loops, then what’s to say I can’t finish that last report? What's my reason for not doing those dishes? Not responding to those emails?  Almost everything is easy in comparison to those really tough miles. Its amazing what your mind can do when fueled on willpower and perspective.

So, I did it. I finished a half marathon. (Heat sheets and all.)


Now, I don’t recommend this last minute training. Building up to 13.1 miles so fast is rough and stressful on your body, but I should mention that prior to this past spring, I was regularly going on 5-8 mile runs, and frequently topped 20 miles a week. I had a good foundation that, thankfully, didn’t take me too long to break back into. I also had kept up my cardio endurance by doing classes like zumba at my gym, and had regularly done low impact resistance training through barre and yoga classes.

This half marathon was such an incredible experience. Nike sure does know how to put on a show, and all the little details really, truly made it a spectacular day. Live bands and DJ’s every few miles were so incredibly energizing, all the volunteers along the way that handed out water and snacks had nothing but encouraging words and smiles, and Nike staff members were truly interested in your running journey and why you had decided to take the time to register for their half marathon. Also a plus? They had a chocolate station somewhere around mile 11, just when I’m sure everyone thought they were going to die.  Cheers Nike, you’ve built a fabulous brand and a fabulous community. You guys believed in me when I didn’t think I had it in me.


Besides raving about how much I loved this experience, this half marathon, I wanted to take the time to post about how running works into my Paleo lifestyle. Avid Paleo followers do not actually advocate large amounts of cardio. Large amounts of cardio require a lot of readily available energy, which, in those that follow the Standard American Diet (SAD), usually come from glucose stores. These glucose stores come from carbohydrates or sugars. The body can most easily access these from grains or fruit. (Or junk food.) As many of you know, Paleo does not incorporate grains, and limits fruit intake. So what does your body do for energy? It takes energy from stored fat reserves, but during long and intense bouts of energy exertion, it is possible that your body will actually start to cannibalize your own muscles to get energy….and that, my dear readers, is never a good thing. So what’s a Paleo cave girl to do when a passion for running conflicts with primal nutrition? Make adjustments, and listen to your body. It will tell you what to do.

Personally, I upped my carbohydrate intake, however, I rarely consumed grains. I chose to eat most of my carbohydrates from vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, asparagus, and red cabbage. If I would eat an apple or a banana, I would do so with sunbutter or almond butter, since the fat from the nuts would slow the insulin levels entering my bloodstream. Doing this ensured that my blood sugar wouldn’t spike, and thus, wouldn’t rapidly crash, resulting in more stable energy throughout my runs and the day.

The night before I would go on a morning long run, I would incorporate starches into my meal in either the form of white rice or sweet potato. I am not sure if all Paleo athletes feel this way, but I personally get a big performance boost from starches.

The morning of a long run, I would always start with a cup of bulletproof coffee, and then I would have one of my homemade date-based protein bars post fun. (Post on this coming soon!) The combination of glucose from both the honey and dates would give me a big jump-start. If I felt especially tired or dehydrated after a run, I would have some Nuun (love their stuff)…and I didn’t even realize they were a sponsor of Nike until race day.

I was pretty consistent with my nutrition, although once, as I was dreaming of Mexican food, I had tortilla chips and salsa for dinner before the morning of a run. The result? A terrible, dragging, groggy run, with the worst time. Lesson learned: stick to your diet habits fast and hard when training for an athletic event. Nutrition matters.

And again, thanks Nike for a fabulous time.


This guy&nbsp;

This guy