Sweet Serendipity

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Serendipity (noun): Finding something good without looking for it.

Here I am looking back on a lovely weekend spent in Laguna Beach, celebrating the marriage of an old friend. Dehydrated, because I refused to drink much water during the drive there and back. Having caffeine withdrawals because I’m in the midst of hormone testing, for self-study. Severely lacking sleep from a weekend of adventure. And so wishing I didn’t have to come home so soon!

To be honest, I was a bit nervous about this trip, being my first big solo road trip. Whether it was fear of being alone with myself or something else, I decided to just let it be what it was, and enjoy the time I had to just be me, and enjoy my life exactly where it was. And that’s always how it is. When fear and expectation are dismissed, fun and adventure take their place.

I spent the time on the road listening to podcasts and music, and packed a few munchies (A Hu Kitchen Salty Chocolate Bar, Bulletproof Collagen Protein Bars, Epic Bars, and some pre-measured baggies of dry roasted and salted Almonds from Trader Joes – and I have lots leftover for my trip to Glendora this weekend!).

I could have done without most of the scenery, but I did enjoy the drive through the Grapevine, remembering the story my dad always told me, about the little Watermelon truck that ran out of water and almost didn’t make it through the Grapevine. The little truck used the Watermelon juice as a substitute. Whether he meant it to be or not, my dad’s story represented perseverance and hope, and I looked forward to hearing it during the numerous trips my family took to Laguna Beach while getting ideas for our Laguna Beach-designed family home. And of course, the first sight of the ocean always gives me butterflies!

Friday evening welcomed in the most brilliant sunset, and a lightning and thunderstorm, so I spent the evening in a big fluffy bathrobe with room service for dinner, and a sheet mask. The Ranch at Laguna Beach treated me well. Rated one of the National Geographic’s “Unique Lodges of the World”, it was a little oasis tucked back in the hills with a beautiful beach trail, and the most comfy bed I’ve ever slept in.

A rainy Saturday morning put a hold on my plans to be a beach bum, but I decided to make the most of it. So I sat outside and enjoyed the rain and a cappuccino, omelette, and mini croissant at Moulin for breakfast (I chose a mini pastry because, while I’m not necessarily following a certain dietary “plan” right now, I do set guidelines for myself based on what I know helps me feel good, and I knew I wanted wedding cake later!). I didn’t deny myself, but I also didn’t give in to every whim. Something I’m still learning.

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The rest of the morning was spent walking up every street I could, peeking in to every open shop, and soaking it all up (quite literally too). I even stumbled upon the Laguna Beach Farmer’s Market where I discovered some fun local flavors to take home! My favorites were Zukkee Bakery, which specializes in Gluten Free/Vegan/Paleo baked goods, and Brodino Broth Co. I got Zukkee Bakery’s Gluten Free Granola, and after chatting with them for a bit, they GAVE me a loaf of their Gluten Free Paleo bread to take home! It’s in my freezer now, and I can’t wait to pull it out and try it! I loved Brodino Broth Co.’s focus on clean, anti-inflammatory, and nutrient dense ingredients, and beautiful marketing. And I enjoyed the opportunity of meeting the owner! I plan to make a soup with the broth in the next couple weeks, and I’ll share my finds from both these companies as I enjoy them 🙂

My afternoon ended with a walk on the beach, and lunch at the Harvest Restaurant at my hotel before getting ready for Sarah and Ben’s wedding!

I wore a gorgeous West African dress designed by Raï Somdah, owner of Raïdah Designs, who I modeled for a few weeks ago. I loved her dresses so much that she invited me over for a fitting, a home cooked lunch, and a lot of fun. My make up and hair was done by Belo Blow Dry Bar in Laguna Beach. An adorable upper-level style bar. Needless to say, I had a blast.

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Sarah and Ben’s wedding took place at Seven Degrees in Laguna Canyon, and it was a dreamy night. I’ve known Sarah since we met at music camp when we were about 10/11, and it was so special to witness her big day, and see how her personality and style were represented in every detail. While the ceremony was reverent and intimate, taking place on the terrace under the moonlight and Chinese lanterns, it was so incredibly joyful, and the whole night thereafter was full of dancing and champagne, celebration and fun! And, it was the first time in many, many years that our childhood “sisterhood” was all together. You can bet there was reminiscing!

Sunday morning was spent with a coffee from Moulin, and one last walk on the beach. A trip down memory lane with all the songs I own on shuffle, and ticking off another bucket list item – visiting Sweet Laurel and the brand new Palisades Village!

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An absolute dream. I looked around the Zimmermann store to feel beautiful dresses I’ve been dying to see in person, explored new shops, and finally got to see Sweet Laurel in person! Sweet Laurel is my most highly recommended cookbook for Grain Free, Dairy Free, and Refined Sugar Free baked goods. I’ve made many recipes from the book (mainly for my dad, who is a desserts fiend, but who has recently taken to a lifestyle change), and every single one has been divine – chocolate chip cookies, chocolate fudge cake, brownies, maple pecan coffee cake……And, after following Sweet Laurel on Instagram and seeing updates on the very first storefront location, I knew I had to visit! It was everything I imagined it to be, and I enjoyed a slice of Lemon Coconut Cake on the lawn. I was even considering asking to franchise on the drive home! j/k, but seriously…..we need one of these in Napa!

Life is not easy, but the nice bits can be pure magic, if you let them be. Stay open to all the adventures in store for you, and don’t forget to enjoy them when they come 😉

“Since love grows within you, so beauty grows. For love is the beauty of the soul.” -St. Augustine

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Overnight Oat Pumpkin Pancakes

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Happy Sunday!

I can’t wait to share with you this recipe I created for Overnight Oat Pumpkin Pancakes! With Autumn setting in, I’ve been craving all the seasonal fruits and veggies, and Oats in particular for some reason.

I very rarely eat grains, but after doing some research on the health benefits of Oats (and the fact that my body seems to want them!), I have decided that I will try to come up with ways to include them in my diet (moderately), while preparing them traditionally.

Traditionally, grains were soaked which neutralizes the lectins in the grains, and makes them easier to digest. For this recipe, I soaked Oat Flour in home-cultured goat’s milk Kefir, which gave the pancakes a mild tang, sort of like Sourdough!

You can use Oat Flour alone, or use a combination of Oat Flour as well as rolled oats.

My recipe is a mashup of my cravings and two recipes – one I found online, and the Pancake recipe in the Nourishing Traditions Cookbook. I hope you enjoy these as much as I did!

Ingredients:

1 C. Oat Flour

1 C. GF Oats

2 C. Kefir (you could also use yoghurt, or water with lemon juice or ACV if you have a dairy sensitivity)

2 Eggs (I used duck eggs)

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. Baking Soda

2 T. melted Butter

1 c. Pumpkin Purée

2 T. Pure Maple Syrup

1.5 tsp. Vanilla

1/4 tsp. Nutmeg

1/2 tsp. Cinnamon

A dash of Ginger

A dash of Cloves

Directions:

Mix the Oats, Oat Flour, and Kefir together thoroughly in a glass bowl with a lid. Let sit 12-24 hours in a warm place.

Add the remaining ingredients one-by-one, incorporating well.

Spoon the mixture onto a 400 degree griddle greased with Butter or Coconut Oil (or, if you’re cooking bacon as a side, use the fat!).

Serve with toppings of your choice! I used a bit of Butter, and an unsweetened compote I made (literally just frozen mixed berries cooked down in a saucepan!).

*Approximate* Nutrition Information per pancake, toppings excluded (the recipe made about 17 pancakes, using a large-ish cookie dough scooper).

Calories: 85.3

Protein: 2.8g

Net Carbs: 9.8g

Fat: 3.2g

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