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


Sunday Snaps, 08-09-15

Well, summer is winding down and everyone is starting to prepare for a new school year and preparing head first to tackle fall. Whattt? What. BUT if you haven’t seen my big announcement yet about what I am doing right this moment, definitely go check it out here. You can also  see more day to day stuff on my Instagram page. Current location? Alexandria, Virginia, which I am LOVING. I'll post an update on that sometime soon, once I am organized enough to get all my thoughts together. In the past couple weeks I've been to about 10 states. I can't even believe that one. 

My last sunset in the Land of Enchantment...for now. 

My last sunset in the Land of Enchantment...for now. 


I captured this shot just a few days before leaving NM. I took it as a sign that I was about to depart on the right path. 

I captured this shot just a few days before leaving NM. I took it as a sign that I was about to depart on the right path. 

Yesterday was Dani from Care to Pair's birthday. Go check out her blog, and then wish her a very Happy Birthday. :) HAPPY BIRTHDAY DANI! I will drink all the drinks for you. 

Right before I left, Swell Caroline was so kind enough to send me one of their necklaces, and they totally customized it for me. Rose gold and monograms together makes me swoon, and I have been getting a ton of compliments about it. They have everything from statement necklaces to preppy earrings to delicate, bespoken pieces. Swell Caroline, can you send me everything? Kthanks <3 Definitely go check them out.


My absolute favorite breakfast these days, even in the midst of traveling, has been high quality eggs over lightly sautéed greens. SO easy and so healthy.

I’ve found myself reading a lot this summer, and have been though a ton of books, even now as I am on the road- there is just something about reading that is so relaxing. I read The Girl on the Train in probably 10 hours, Still Alice in a couple days, and A Spool of Blue Thread in the course of a week. I recently bought Station Eleven, so I’m excited to give that one a go.  Anyone have any good book recommendations??

I was SO sad to leave my garden. This was my first year of vegetable gardening, and I did get a good run. I know my tomatoes and zucchinis and peppers will still produce well into fall, so my neighbors will definitely get to enjoy those ones. This year, I enjoyed a few different kinds of tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, and herbs. A tiny little butternut squash was just starting to grow right before I left too. It was adorable. I planted the butternut back in May- I know butternut squash is fall produce, but for some reason, I thought that if I planted it really early, it would grow faster. Silly me, mother-nature knows best.





Speaking or gardening, can we all agree how amazing it is that France banned Roundup? Can the U.S. do the same thing soon please? Likely, this will never happen, not with all the politics surrounding this hot topic. That can be a whole rant in itself.

Lately, I’ve moved away from CrossFit and have been doing more yoga. Don’t get me wrong, CrossFit continues to be the best workouts of my life, and has given me more muscle tone, strength, and cardiovascular fitness than anything else, including training for half marathons. (Crazy, right?) Right now, however, I just feel that I need to focus on a workout that allows me to foster the mind-body relationship, so I’ve been doing more yoga, which has been great. I’ve done yoga on and off since I was 14 (That’s 13 years of yoga!). Wow, time flies.

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I’ve been obsessing over Stitchfix, which for those of you that don’t know, is a service that sends you 5 pieces of clothing in your size, styled by a stylist. They also send you illustration cards showing how to wear your pieces. Anything you don’t want, you send back, and it is my new favorite way to shop. Stitchfix recently found me my new favorite pair of distressed boyfriend jeans, and I am shocked that a complete stranger found me jeans that fit like a glove when I feel like I can’t even find jeans that fit me well myself. Bravo, Stitchfix! If anyone is interested in trying the service out, I definitely recommend it.  

As many of you wisely pointed out, I started KonMari-ing my house well before we decided to move. You guys definitely knew that something was going on before I even announced it. (Well done!) The whole idea was that we needed to downsize enough to be able to put things into storage, and to ensure that this rather strange we are doing runs as smoothly as possible.

The whole idea of KonMari is to de-clutter and rid of excess by discarding things that don’t spark joy. This method worked really well when going through things like paperwork and old electronics and a drawer (literally, a whole drawer, whyyyy?) of pens and scissors, but I struggled with my kitchen. Of course, I spend a lot of time in cooking. I really struggled with the difference between “sparking joy” and functionality with kitchen objects. For example, my food processor doesn’t necessarily spark joy, but do I use it? Yes, all the time.  Same goes for things like my grater and baking pans. They don’t spark joy but I sure do use them on a weekly basis. In the end, however, I decided that it was time to get rid of some cookware and dishes I had been holding onto since college. I bought them on a college budget, and for as much cooking as I do, its time to give myself an upgrade. I also got rid of a lot of multiples- there truly is no reason to have 6 wooden spoons and 5 baking sheets. If there ever is a situation in the future where I need 5 baking sheets at once, I will borrow them from a neighbor.

We must have taken at least 5 fiat-loads of stuff to be donated, and that doesn't even include things we sold on Craigslist and the loads of stuff we took in the roomier Pilot.&nbsp;

We must have taken at least 5 fiat-loads of stuff to be donated, and that doesn't even include things we sold on Craigslist and the loads of stuff we took in the roomier Pilot. 

There has been a TON of research and media attention towards gut health, bacteria colonies, and overall health lately. New research has been emerging linking the health of our digestive tract to weight loss, circadian rhythms, longevity, disease prevention, acne, etc. Seemingly, it looks like even more of our overall health is being linked to the bacteria in our bodies. However, a lot is now being said about the link between digestive health and mood, i.e. depression, anxiety, happiness. There is a really great article in the NYT about it here, and I highly suggest you go read it. I am so amazed by this new science; I am hoping that this means someday targeting mental health and mood disorders will be through a holistic, natural approach. Maybe one of these days I'll go into the probiotics I take and the fermented foods I eat. 

I know I am approximately 9 years late on this trend, but omg RHONY. Due to my disappointment with the Bachelorette this season, it was only a matter of time until I gravitated towards a different reality show. But a retro reality show was never on my radar. (Retro reality TV? Is that a thing? It is now.) But then I got Hulu and started on Season 1 and was sucked in. Alex and Simon are weirdos. Ramona is crazy. And I have 9 years of internet gossip to back up my instincts.

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If you haven’t been keeping up on my recent recipes, there have been really great summer recipes here on South of Vanilla.  I am far too lazy to link them to you right now, since I’m doing this from my ipad, but you can navigate to them through the little calendar to the right of this post. So you can, you know, #gomakethemrightnow. Or something.

Watermleon-Mint and Goat Cheese Salad with Balsamic Drizzle

Watermleon-Mint and Goat Cheese Salad with Balsamic Drizzle


Seared Sunflower Tempeh salad with Ginger-Miso Dressing

Seared Sunflower Tempeh salad with Ginger-Miso Dressing


Grain-Free Garden Sandwiches

Grain-Free Garden Sandwiches


Ginger-Miso Dressing

Ginger-Miso Dressing


Grain-Free Cinnamon-Sugar Graham Crackers

Grain-Free Cinnamon-Sugar Graham Crackers


Coming this week: a super special sweet treat. Hint: it involves chocolate donuts. &lt;333

Coming this week: a super special sweet treat. Hint: it involves chocolate donuts. <333


I will keep everyone updated on my travels and progress- I am in the midst of drafting a little summary of what I have done so far, so I will keep you posted!

Have a great rest of your weekend and I hope you have a wonderful week ahead, but of course, I've included some other great shots below of my last adventures in New Mexico. 

XOXO, 









A Big Announcement! (#yolo)

Ok friends, we need to talk. Is it serious? Yeah…kinda, and this post is a little lengthy, so feel free to skip to the end if you just want the big news I’m going to share.

I moved from D.C. to Las Cruces, New Mexico on July 18th, 2014, just barely over a year ago. The decision to move was a hard one, but at the time, it really was the best option, for a multitude of reasons. If you recall, or maybe you don’t because it happened so fast, I packed up my D.C. apartment, with lots of help from friends, and moved within a week. I was ready for a new adventure, and New Mexico was the natural choice.

You probably see where this is going now. New Mexico has been fun: I have seen a lot of great things, met many wonderful people, have eaten the best Mexican food of my life, been on some magnificent hikes, and have seen some of the greatest vistas and sunsets. New Mexico truly is the Land of Enchantment.

However, I also knew from the moment I moved that New Mexico was never going to be a long term home for me. I thought I would be here a few years, maybe 2-4. As beautiful as it was, living in a town of 100,000 after living in cities and metro areas ranging from 1 to 10 million was really, really difficult. Being so far away from my family in the Midwest and the east coast was even harder. New Mexico, as many benefits as it has, also very much has a “mañana” culture, something that I just don’t blend in with very well.

In January, things suddenly started to shift again for us. Moving away from New Mexico, both for Christopher’s job and a new one for me, seemed like again, another natural choice, but we just didn’t know when or where, which you know, are two pretty important pieces to moving.

I am the type of person who likes plans. I like dates. I like lists. I like things being in order. I typically have reports at work written 2-3 weeks in advance. My South of Vanilla blog posts are written anywhere from 2-6 weeks in advance. When I go to the grocery store, my list is organized by category AND by geographical location of items. Maybe its OCD, maybe its because I don’t really like any surprises, maybe its my German heritage coming through, I don’t know. But I really, really like order and planning. Having anything not planned out is difficult for me to deal with.

Oprah once said that:

"…the universe speaks to us, always, first in whispers. It's that subtle…and if you don't pay attention to the whisper, it gets louder and louder and louder… like getting thumped upside the head. If you don't pay attention to that, it's like getting a brick upside your head. You don't pay attention to that—the brick wall falls down…”

Since 2009, I have been in countless situations similar to the one I am facing now. I have strangely been in unstable, unpredictable, un-plannable scenarios. To say I handled this ambiguity with tact and grace would be a huge misrepresentation. Living in a shade of gray without concrete plans would throw me into full-blown meltdowns, overwhelming anxiety, and sleepless nights. I like, I need plans.

Here is the big difference this time: I’ve decided to just surrender to this ambiguity. The fact that I have not learned to modify my behavior after living through these past scenarios, despite my meticulous planning, leads me to believe that there is a life lesson here that I need learn. There is a reason why these patterns keep reoccurring. I have been resisting these seas of gray for years, and at first, it started off small, a whisper. The past few months especially, I have felt like bricks were being thrown at me.  I need to handle this, figure out whatever life is trying to teach me, before the brick wall crumbles down around me.

So it is with happiness, hesitation, pure fear, and exhilaration that I now officially announce that we are leaving New Mexico. Christopher will be traveling around the East Coast, searching for some jobs, finding a landing place where both of us will be happy; we don’t know yet where exactly that will be, or when it will happen. I will be leaving New Mexico (probably) the first week of August, although I don’t exactly know to where. I don’t have a solid job lined up. I don’t have a solid location of where I will be going. I don’t know where I will be living the next few weeks, let alone the next year. I am currently looking into doing some travel therapy jobs, but I might not- whatever job I choose needs to be the right opportunity and fit for both me and the organization. I do know that for the next couple weeks I will be doing some road-tripping around the U.S., seeing some new places, revisiting some past haunts, and hopefully seeing some people that I love. I don’t know how long this nomad, soul-discovering phase of mine will last, but its of course dependent upon things that are just out of my control right now. 

To say that I am terrified is an understatement. My life was more stable and figured out at 17 than now at 27. For the first time, I am embracing this ambiguity I once again find myself in and just going with it: there has got to be a life lesson for me here.

So what does this mean for the South of Vanilla? I will still be posting regular recipes: the uber-planner in me (of course) has worked really hard over the past few weeks to make sure that the recipes will be posted consistently while I am (maybe) away from a kitchen. My Sunday Snaps will probably reflect more of what I am doing on these trips, and I might throw in a post here and there about what I am doing and where I am. I will be posting more regular updates on my Instagram page, so you can follow along with me there. I will still be available via email, and I will be more than happy to chat or answer any questions, paleo or otherwise.

I hope you all follow along with me: this will be quite the adventure, and quite the learning experience! I am terrified, but excited, and I hope I can share it will you all every step of the way.

XOXO,

P.S. Below I have compiled a bunch of my favorite New Mexico pictures. (Which admittedly is a lot.) Feel free to swipe through them- I just can't even believe how gorgeous this state is! Definitely sad to leave these gorgeous landscapes. 












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.

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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.

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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!


XOXO,

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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??


Sunday Snaps, 01-04-2015

Happy first Sunday of the year! It has been quite the month, hasn’t it? (I also now do realize the irony of “Sunday Snaps”: this doesn’t seem to be a weekly thing at all. More like monthly. Ah well, better luck next time.)

Its been a whirlwind guys. I suppose the holidays always are, but this year seemed to go really fast. Now I have the post-holiday blues, mostly because Christmas isn’t for pretty much a whole year minus 1 week, and it won’t be appropriate to wear all glitter errythang until next New Year’s Eve. Life is hard sometimes.

This Christmas was low-key, which was exactly what Christopher and I needed after a stressful and crazy busy fall. We figured out that since September, either one or both of us had been traveling or having guests stay with us almost every other weekend and sometimes back to back weekends. Also a perk of a New Mexico Christmas? Shooting guns. And biscochos. And Ponchoclaus. (He had a donkey. With a reindeer antler headband.) Nope, not a joke, and yep, a New Mexican staycation was just what we needed:

Old town Mesilla on Christmas Eve

Old town Mesilla on Christmas Eve




Ponchoclaus is real.&nbsp;

Ponchoclaus is real. 



Can't stop eating

Can't stop eating

And it has been full of gorgeous scenery, especially the past couple weeks:





A friend just told me that eggs are actually considered protein/meat and not dairy. Whatt???? Mind blown. I mean, it makes sense, it does. Its not like an egg is made of cheese and milk or anything, but then why is it always found in the dairy section?? And why hasn’t anyone informed me of this? I’ve gone almost 27 years thinking eggs were dairy. Step it up, world. I’ve lived in ignorance for far too long.

I’ve really noticed the prices of food going up the past few months. Admittedly, healthy eating, and especially following a paleo diet, is always more expensive than conventional diets, but really. Is it just here in the southwest? Anyone have insight on this one? I am baffled.

I am currently obsessed with my new Christmas gift acquisitions, which include a blanket scarf and a pair of Hunter boots. I think they're super cute, but Christopher has been looking at me quizzically and asking why I am insistent upon wearing a blanket around me neck and bright red rain boots in the desert. Men. They will never understand. 

Many in the paleosphere are doing a Whole 30 this month, which is admittedly a great idea following holiday eating. Currently, I feel like this:

I thought about doing a Whole 30 as well, except I’m going to D.C. soon, where I will inevitably eat 10 Georgetown Cupcakes and drink approximately 12 moscow mules, so I’m holding off. Until then, I’ll be continuing to indulge in these wonderful paleo treats I recently posted:

Paleo, dairy-free caramel hot-chocolate with homemade marshmallows

Paleo, dairy-free caramel hot-chocolate with homemade marshmallows


Paleo hot chocolate bar

Paleo hot chocolate bar


Paleoish Kombucha Gin Ricky

Paleoish Kombucha Gin Ricky


Non-dairy chocolate "ice cream" with peppermint-mocha marshmallow swirl

Non-dairy chocolate "ice cream" with peppermint-mocha marshmallow swirl


After I’m back from my D.C. weekend, I’ll be strict paleo…at least until the next sprinkled pastry comes along. But really, I’ve even working on some detox-ready, paleo-friendly recipes. I can’t wait to share, but here’s a sneak peak:



Clearly, this photo is appropriate right now. Except I have been diligent about doing Hot Yoga lately, which I feel detoxes my body, but I really have no scientific evidence to back that one up. I just like sweating. It makes me feel good. And the showers after a long sweat are epic. I also like wearing my lululemon yoga pants for doing actual yoga, and not my normal lululemon routine of drinking coffee while browsing through instagram.

Today is my last day of break before returning to work, and I am so sad. My days of lounging and doing nothing are over. During break, Christopher has figured out a gentle way to tell me to go find something else to do and not bother him while he watches football. Very subtle:

 

Happy New Year! I hope 2015 brings you lots of happiness and health!

 

P.S: If you haven’t seen my Top 10 Faileos of 2014, go check it out here. You’ll get a good laugh:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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 &lt;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!