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Wednesday, November 27

A Love Letter {Of Sorts}

So many people have told us that this precious child we are having will be the beginning of the hardest season of our lives. And while I am sure these people mean well, it feels so unsettling. We are nowhere near a perfect couple, but we know each other. We've learned each other's needs, how to communicate these needs, how to be open and honest about what we feel and why we are feeling that way, from the serious to the trivial. And while I am sure that we will disagree about a million things when raising this child, the one thing we will always agree upon is us. This child is an amazing blessing, but our marriage comes before even this sweet little life. 

So today and every day I am heartbreakingly thankful for the man I call my husband. You are and will always be the one thing that I know.

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Monday, November 25

Monday Meal Planning: A Paleo Thanksgiving

For this week's meal planning tips, I decided to share some of my favorite paleo Thanksgiving recipes with you. Since husband and I host for his family, we usually have a mix of paleo and traditional items as most of his family isn't exactly on board with our way of eating. That being said, husband and I still feel like we get all the benefits of Thanksgiving {even the pumpkin pie!} without sacrificing our health or priorities. Some of these recipes aren't strict paleo and include things like  honey or coconut sugar, but they are much better alternatives to the standard American Thanksgiving menu.

The main event: the turkey
We use this recipe for roasted turkey with cranberry butter, and it is easily my favorite turkey recipe I've had. We also use a simple brine for our turkey overnight, which I have done both with and without the brown sugar. I will say that the sugar in the brine does help if you're using fresh cranberries for the butter. I decrease the sugar content to 1/4 cup and have used both brown sugar and coconut sugar with the same results. For the rub, you could simply substitute ghee for the grass-fed butter to make this dairy-free. I wouldn't suggest leaving out the honey or a sweetener of some sort, just because the fresh cranberries can be a bit tart.  

Support staff: side dishes
Maple bacon pecan roasted butternut squash: savory and sweet and so delicious that even non-paleo eaters will love this recipe
~ Primal cauliflower casserole: this recipe does include dairy so it's not strict paleo but would be good for a mix of eaters like we have. {This creamy cauliflower and artichoke soup is also delicious, but I'm just not a fan of soup at Thanksgiving dinner. No real reason, just not for me. This soup is amazing for breakfast though!}
~ Brussels sprouts with toasted walnuts & dried cherries: I've been making a similar version of this recipe for years, using walnuts and dried cranberries or cherries {depending on what I have at home!}. I don't use the chick peas or cheese in mine, making it completely paleo and amazingly delicious. Substitute frozen Brussels for fresh for some cost savings as well as time savings. Added bonus: this dish is tasty served either hot or cold. 
~ Green (not bean) casserole: again, not strict paleo because of the use of heavy cream, but you could substitute full fat coconut milk or even almond milk to make this completely paleo. 

A Sweet Ending: desserts
~ Pumpkin pie: LOVE this recipe from Elana, the woman behind one of my favorite cookbooks. I suggest making your own pumpkin puree from a freshly roasted pumpkin. It makes the pie much more flavorful. And really, what Thanksgiving table is complete without pumpkin pie?
Eggless eggnog cookies: served with a glass of spiced cider, these cookies are a great way to end a Thanksgiving meal.
~ Apple pie tartlets: for those who prefer apple over pumpkin. Me? I'm equal opportunity.
~ Gingerbread squares: you can also cut these into shapes with the littles (after baking them) for a fun twist.

Quite a few of these recipes will be on our Thanksgiving table this year, specifically the turkey, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash and pumpkin pie. Hopefully you will find a few that you can use as well! Let me know what you think!


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Friday, November 22

Week Ending

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This week has gone by in a whirlwind of long work days, grocery shopping for Thanksgiving dinner, achy feet and a bit of melancholy. {Just being honest!} I'm not sure what it was about this week, but I am really looking forward to the weekend. We don't have anything special planned, but Saturday pancakes and coffee on our back patio sound absolutely perfect to me. I'm craving time alone with my man, just to talk and connect after an insanely busy week, and I'm looking forward to catching up with our small group at church on Sunday. We are also trying out some new recipes, including take two on paleo hot chocolate. Sometimes, it the littlest things that make the most difference, right?

Other things...
Like everyone else on the interwebs, loving these mugs (which would be a great gift!)
Seriously considering these boots (in cinnamon/walnut) - they are so comfortable!
If I could, I would drink one of these this weekend.
Really loving all black ensembles these days.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!
Also, don't forget to check out Maelu Designs and take advantage of the discount for Hiking in Stilettos readers!


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Thursday, November 21

Forward Thinking: Holiday Gifts with Meaning

I am definitely one of those people who starts thinking about Christmas presents early. As much as I try throughout the year to pick up things on sale, I have a hard time saving them for the holidays. If I find something in the spring that I know is perfect for my sister, I'll find a reason to give it to her. Ha! I'm terrible at keeping gifts. That being said, I get the giving bug pretty early on in the holiday season. And this year I've decided to give the women in my life beautiful gifts that help support other women around the world - Guatemala, India, Ecuador. Here are a few things that I'm eyeing for the ladies in my life.

Clockwise from the top left:
Extra Large Bold Tribal Shawl - Maelu Designs
Sea of Flowers Infinity Scarf - Maelu Designs
Illusion Waves Turban - Maelu Designs
Golden Compas Infinity Scarf - Maelu Designs
Dainty Red Flower Pouch - Maelu Designs

Maelu Designs is an Etsy shop owned by a friend of a friend, Meghana, a beautiful woman with a beautiful spirit. Her company directly supports the local artisans in India and also donates a portion of all sales directly to, a non-profit foundation supporting women's human rights around the world. As a gift to Hiking in Stilettos readers, Meghana is offering 10% off your purchase through the holiday season! Just use the code "GOMAELU" at her Etsy store checkout. 

Other companies to check out include Mercado Global and Noonday Collection.

 Clockwise from the top left:
Ikat Matea Weekender - Mercado Global
Bukenya Fringe Necklace - Noonday***

Happy gifting!

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Wednesday, November 20

Handwritten Hellos

Lately it seems as though all of my close girlfriends and I are having trouble connecting. We are all so very busy, especially this time of year. And since all of my close friends are either newly minted mothers, full-time pharmacists that live two+ hours away, or working moms with littles in tow, finding time for phone conversations can be next to impossible. Inspired by my sweet friend Lesley, I've decided to make more of an effort to send handwritten hellos to those I care about but can't seem to connect with. {Side note: I'm all about Lesley's post on thank you notes. Sending thank yous is honestly one of my favorite things to do, even if it takes me a while to write them sometimes!}

I picked up these adorable cards at Target {where else?}. I love the fun, cheeky options and being able to personalize them for each of my friends. I also picked up a couple encouraging cards for a couple friends who are going through some tough things. I think for them especially, it is important to know that someone close to you is thinking about you and lifting you up in prayer.

Do you send handwritten cards or letters?

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Tuesday, November 19

Paleo Hot Chocolate* // Take One

Hot chocolate is one of those comfort foods for me. I remember my mom making me a cup to go as I headed out the door to high school... and when she stayed up late with me writing papers or studying for organic chemistry exams in college... and when she sat with me while I memorized countless amino acid structures in pharmacy school. For me the ultimate comforting snack is creamy hot cocoa and crackers with cheese. So naturally, I decided to make a more paleo-friendly version for the winter and holiday season.

You will need:
about 1 cup raw cacao butter chunks
1/2 cup cocoa poweter
1/2 cup room temperature maple syrup
a pinch of fine grain sea salt
flaked sea salt for finishing, if desired (I left this out as I knew we would be using these primarily for cocoa)

I followed this recipe from Oh She Glows (one of my favorite recipe sites) which was really very simple. I found the daisy mold and the raw cocao here (of course). Unfortunately, I wasn't as impressed by this recipe as I had hoped. While our mug of cocoa was tasty, the individual chocolates didn't melt very well, and overall, it just wasn't quite chocolatey enough. Next time I will try this recipe, but nonetheless, these little homemade chocolates were quite a tasty treat on their own. 


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*I've said this before, but I use the term "paleo" loosely when referring to treats. Strictly speaking, sugar of any kind (maple syrup, honey, coconut sugar, etc.) is not a part of the paleo diet. That being said, I also believe in indulging every now and then, and in this season of apple ciders and fireplace fires, I think that a healthier version of my favorite childhood treat is more than appropriate. 

Monday, November 18

We've Been Keeping a Secret....

... We have a little one on the way & a great new adventure coming in March!


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Thursday, November 14

The Great Shoe Debate {Continues}

Because I stand for eight to ten plus hours a day, I am always on the look out for cute but comfortable footwear, and this winter is no exception. I am absolutely determined to find a pair of boots that I can stand in all day. Especially since I made it through last year with only a pair of Dansko wedges {and no socks!} and a pseudo-comfortable pair of booties. Let's just say that I had to choose between cold feet or painful soles. Here are some of the contenders....

The Aerosoles and Dr. Scholl's pairs are currently on their way to my house for a test run. I am on the fence about the TOMS, simply because my summer pair left my feet a bit achy. Perhaps they are too flat? Either way, those leopard botas are stinking cute, although I'd probably opt for the grey hemp for a more versatile look. I also love the simplicity and color of the suede Clarks booties, but I'm not sure that even that small heel would be the best option for a long work day. They would be really cute with skinny jeans for holiday hosting, though...

Do you have any comfortable shoe suggestions?
I'm all ears.


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Monday, November 11

Holiday Hosting

{I love this simple, rustic table. I also LOVE the idea of relocating our farm table outside, but we will most likely end up just eating in the dining room and venturing outside after our meal.}

The holiday season is definitely one of my favorite times of year, possibly second only to the cool mornings and changing leaves of fall.. that promise the start of the holidays in just a couple short months. In keeping with our new tradition, we are hosting Thanksgiving at our house for K's family. Last year was the first year that we did this, and it was so wonderful having everyone over to our home. (We live the farthest out from the city, so it is rare that K's family comes over.) I am really looking forward to hosting again, even making the Thanksgiving turkey! Recipes and decoration how-to's are in the near future, but for now here are some of my inspirations for our Thanksgiving dinner.

{A simple but festive place setting (that will smell delicious) + GF iced oatmeal cookies for the kids... and me, who am I kidding!}

{Rosemary roasted carrots + roasted cauliflower with whipped goat cheese}

{Homemade spiced apple cider + pumpkin icebox cake (not paleo, but delicious and easily made GF)}

{I think making stars out of sticks would be a great project for the kids. We can collect sticks from the yard, make the stars, and then have the kids hang them on our tree. For our tree this year, we are doing a smaller one (maybe 3-4 feet tall?) placed in a galvanized bucket and decorated with white and neutrals.}

{all links, recipes and images can be found here}

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Friday, November 8

Sick Days

My last few days have looked a lot like this. I move between the bed, the couch and sometimes the front porch {blankets and tissues in tow}, dosing, watching Netflix {currently loving the show Revenge}, sipping chamomile, and trying to be productive. I did manage to come up with a skeleton of a Thanksgiving menu, tell my mom where to put most of our dishes, and revamp this site just a bit.

I'm still not back in the saddle completely but am definitely on the mend. {I broke down and took an antibiotic. Boohiss, but I'm feeling better.} This weekend we are riding up to north Georgia to visit friends on Saturday, and I am really looking forward the a low-key reunion. Our time with them always means delicious food, strong early morning coffee, blankets by the fire or on the screened porch, and lots of laughter. And that's the best medicine I can imagine.

Happy weekend.

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Thursday, November 7

Adventure is Calling

Husband shared this video with me the other day, and I just can't stop watching. The amazing beauty of this world is so breathtaking, and I am so grateful to be able to enjoy the vast creation of our God.

Having spent the last week battling a cold, trying to do too much while under the weather, and living with my kitchen in shambles {pictures soon!}, I am acutely aware of the amazing people in my life. 

I am so very grateful for an understanding husband who didn't make me sleep in the guest room despite my hourly coughing fits in the middle of the night, who asked repeatedly if there was anything he could do, who brought me tissues and hot tea, who stayed home from work yesterday so I wouldn't be exposed to paint fumes while the painters finished our kitchen, and who rubbed my back as I slept in fitful bursts on the couch.

I am also grateful for my sweet, caring mother who cheerfully takes on even the most insignificant task as meaningful to someone else. Over the last week she has helped me hang wallpaper in our built-in book shelves and organize the mess of our guest room closets {pre-death's door cold}, spray painted the kitchen hardware when I was feeling puny, swept my kitchen floor, and found and purchased the most perfect piece of furniture that I've been searching for for our second bedroom {details to come!}. 

I am grateful for a boss and co-workers who are understanding and caring, and for being able to genuinely have fun at work.

I am grateful for blue skies, changing leaves and cool breezes, for spending the afternoon wrapped up in a warm blanket on the front porch and having my husband bring me hot tea. 

And most of all, despite it's difficulties past, present and future, I am grateful for this season of my life.

What are your grateful for today?

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Monday, November 4

Meal Planning: November 4th - 8th

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Since our kitchen was a bit destroyed from having the painters over on Saturday, I opted for some simple recipes for the week, things that I could make simultaneously. Here's this week's menu of clean, paleo meals:

I made a frittata version of this breakfast lasagna - layer diced sweet potatoes, caramelized onions, wilted spinach (I omitted the mushrooms), cooked breakfast sausage (I used chicken) in a baking dish. Whisk together 12 eggs, spices and the coconut milk from the original recipe and pour into the baking dish. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the eggs are set. I reheat mine in the toaster oven in the mornings and pair with half an apple or a slice of this bread if I'm being less strict. You could also top with some avocado!

Since I've had a cold since last Thursday, no-noodle chicken soup (recipe from 'It Starts with Food') sounded like a great alternative to my usual lunch salad. Carrots, celery and broccoli with chicken and salty, savory spices? Yes, please.

Gremolata mushroom beef stew - this recipe is not only delicious, it is really easy to make in advance since most of the cooking is done in the oven. It's great for meal planning because you can put it in the oven and work on something else (like chicken soup) while it's cooking.

Paleo spaghetti with spaghetti squash noodles - no real recipe here, just your standard spaghetti, paelo-ified. I used grass-fed ground beef, garlic & onions, organic sugar-free tomato basil sauce from the local farmers market, and diced zucchini. Serve over spaghetti squash 'noodles' - simply cut the squash in half length-wise and scoop out all the seeds. Bake face-down at 375 on a baking sheet for about 45 minutes. Remove and drizzle with some olive oil, then bake about 10 more minutes. Scoop out the 'noodles' with a fork! I store the spaghetti and the noodles separately until it's time to reheat. Then I reheat it together in a skillet with a touch of olive oil or ghee. (Also, this is a good version using meatballs.)

I cheated a bit on this one and picked up some gluten-free, dairy-free chia seed muffins at the farmers market. Not strict paleo since there is some sugar in them, so judge if you must, but I'm okay with it this week. Having to remove everything from our kitchen cabinets + a serious head cold = no baking for me this week.

Paleo pumpkin granola - again not strict since it uses honey, but you can easily omit that if you wish. I've been having some trouble eating eggs on my early mornings when I eat breakfast at 6:30, so I've been allowing myself some grass-fed, organic Greek yogurt. This granola is perfect alone, with a splash of almond milk, or even atop some yogurt. 

Here's to a week of making up for all that Halloween candy clean eating!

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Sunday, November 3



The last week and a half seems to have simply flown by. Between working extra shifts (my boss is under the weather), trying to meet a presentation deadline, deciding to paint our kitchen cabinets, and coming down with a cold myself, I feel like I lived in a blur for the last ten days. Halloween came and went, and we had zero trick or treaters. Which honestly, was probably for the best as I would have easily scared them away in my current cough/runny nose/congestion-induced stupor. Ha!

Hope you all had a lovely week, a fun-filled Halloween, and a beautiful fall weekend. 


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