World’s Best Gluten Free Macaroni and Cheese

gluten free macaroni and cheese

I’ve had many requests for a gluten-free macaroni and cheese recipe. Of course, this is not Paleo, but it is gluten free and made with quality ingredients for all of you who are just restricted by wheat!

gluten free macaroni and cheese

World’s Best Gluten Free Macaroni and Cheese
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 8-10
  1. Cook the pasta according to directions (I brought the water to a boil, added pasta and cooked for 4 minutes–they were almost done, but not quite. You don’t want them mushy, so don’t over cook!)
  2. While that’s cooking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×13 baking dish with butter or coconut oil.
  3. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat.
  4. Add chopped onions and cook for 3-4 minutes.
  5. Whisk in tapioca flour and stir for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, then whisk in almond milk slowly.
  6. Return to low heat and bring to a simmer, cooking for about 2 minutes.
  7. Whisk in the cheese until it has all melted, then remove from heat.
  8. Pour the cheese sauce into the cooked macaroni and stir to combine.
  9. Add in the salt & pepper and sausage.
  10. Top with some more cheese if desired.
  11. Bake in oven for about 20 minutes, until browning on top and bubbling.
  12. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.
For a little extra kick, throw in a pinch of red chili pepper flakes!

gluten free macaroni and cheese

Roasted Garlic Herb Cabbage

roasted garlic herb cabbage

I’m not normally a huge fan of cabbage, but this is THE BOMB! The flavor is amazing, the cabbage is tender…even my kids liked it! And that’s saying a lot.

roasted garlic herb cabbage


Roasted Garlic Herb Cabbage
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Tender, flavorful cabbage! A perfect side for St. Patrick’s Day or any other day!
Serves: 7
  • 1 large head cabbage
  • olive oil
  • garlic powder
  • salt
  • Italian seasoning
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Slice the cabbage into sections on each side of the core and lay them onto a baking sheet lined with foil:
  3. Drizzle the cabbage with the olive oil, then sprinkle with garlic powder, salt and Italian seasoning.
  4. Bake in oven for 20 minutes, until browning and tender.
  5. Remove and serve promptly.

roasted garlic herb cabbage 

Grain Free Lemon “Buttermilk” Pancakes

grain free lemon buttermilk pancakes

You know how sometimes you make grain-free pancakes, and they’re hard to flip over? Well, fret no more! These grain free lemon buttermilk pancakes are easy-to-flip and fluffy! You could swap out the lemon flavor for anything–almond extract, vanilla extract, whatever your little heart desires!

grain free lemon buttermilk pancakes

5.0 from 4 reviews

Grain Free Lemon “Buttermilk” Pancakes
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Fluffy, grain-free pancakes that are easy to flip!
Serves: 6 large or 10 small pancakes
  1. Pour the almond milk into a bowl. Gently stir in the apple cider vinegar and set aside.
  2. Heat a skillet over low-medium heat with just a tad bit of oil on the pan.
  3. Stir together the almond flour, tapioca flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In the bowl with the almond milk, add in the eggs, lemon zest or extract, butter or oil, and honey or syrup and whisk together well.
  5. Pour into the dry ingredients and gently stir with a fork.
  6. Pour about ¼ cup of batter into the pan and let sit until bubble start to form:
  7. Flip over and let cook for a few minutes until done.
  8. Remove and keep warm in the oven until the rest of the pancakes are ready.
You can swap out the lemon flavoring for any other flavor you desire!

grain free lemon buttermilk pancakes

Crockpot Korean Style Short Ribs

crockpot korean style shortribs

The slow cooker is my friend.

These simple Crockpot Korean Style Short Ribs are also my friend.

They were gobbled up by Superman and my kids in 10 minutes flat! This recipe made enough to feed our family of 7, with leftovers for the next day.

crockpot korean style shortribs

Crockpot Korean Style Short Ribs
  • ½ cup coconut aminos
  • ½ cup coconut sugar or honey (I prefer the flavor of the coconut sugar, but honey will work!)
  • 2 TBSP sesame oil
  • 2 TBSP rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 TBSP minced fresh ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 lbs beef short ribs (I used boneless)
  • For the glaze:
  • 3 TBSP tapioca starch
  • 1.5 cups shredded carrots (I used my Paderno Slicer)
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1 TBSP sesame seeds
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut aminos, coconut sugar, sesame oil, vinegar, ginger, garlic and red pepper.
  2. Place the ribs in the bottom of your crock pot and pour sauce over the ribs.
  3. Cover and cook on low 4-6 hours, until meat is tender.
  4. Remove ribs from crock pot and set aside.
  5. Take excess liquid and place in a saucepan.
  6. Combine the tapioca starch with 3 TBSP water, then add to saucepan.
  7. Bring to a boil, and cook for a couple minutes, until thickened.
  8. Stir in carrots, then pour over ribs and top with green onions and sesame seeds, if desired.



crockpot korean style shortribscrockpot korean style shortribs 


All About Redmond Bath Salts & a Giveaway!

Redmond Bath salt

Redmond Bath salt

I am not a bath person. I have never enjoyed baths. The thought of laying in my own dirty water is very unappealing to me. 

However, a week or so before my jaw surgery, I was in constant pain, my neck and back muscles were so tight I was desperate for some relief. Although my chiropractor was helping, a soak in a hot tub sounded very appealing.

A few weeks before, I had received a box with some products from Redmond Trading, which included some Redmond Bath Salt Plus. If you haven’t heard of Redmond Trading, watch this short video, and believe me, you’ll want to support them! 


“Redmond Bath Salt is a completely natural mineral sea salt that comes from a sea bed dating back thousands of years. Our bath salt is so natural you can eat it!  Both of our Redmond Bath Salts contain more than 60 natural trace minerals which are great for the body and skin including potassium, magnesium, selenium, zinc, and more.  The difference is that our Redmond Bath Salt Plus has a higher concentration of minerals and natural clay than our Redmond Bath Salt.  While both are very effective in detoxifying and remineralizing the body, Redmond Bath Salt Plus is preferred by some because of the higher concentration of minerals which are naturally present in the salt.” (From the Redmond Trading website.)

There are many other incredible products Redmond Trading carries, but today, we’ll focus on the bath salts. =)

I’ve never tried bath salts before. I have heard that they are very effective at relieving muscle tension, and boy did I have muscle tension, so I figured I could really put these to the test. I had zero expectations. If anything, I was quite skeptical that putting salt in my bath could make any difference in how I felt. 

I added about a 1/2 a cup of the salts to the running water and mixed it in a bit as the tub filled. 

I turned off the lights, lit a candle, and turned on some soft music.

I have to admit, just getting into the hot bath and leaning back made me feel relaxed. 

I was in that bath about 20 minutes. I got out and I felt better than I had in a long time. My back muscles were relieved, my neck was looser, and my jaw even improved! Now, I am sure the hot water had a lot to do with that. And I have no way of knowing how many toxins were actually released from my body because of the salts, but here’s what Redmond Trading Bath Salts offers to help with: 

Soothing Stiff, Sore & Aching Muscles
Detoxification & Cleansing
Improving Circulation
Promoting Sound, Restful Sleep
Remineralizing the Body

You might wonder what the difference is between regular Epsom salts (or other bath salts) and Redmond Bath Salts. Well, Epsom salts are refined and contain magnesium sulfate, which helps with inflammation. Redmond salts contain naturally-occurring magnesium, and also contain numerous other trace minerals (more than 60, to be exact!) while containing no added scents or oils. 

Are you interested in trying Redmond Bath Salts? Here’s your chance to try them for free!

Two lucky winners will win a jar of Bath Salt Plus! Enter in the Rafflecopter widget below:

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Note: I received products from Redmond Trading in exchange for a review about their products. This exchange in no way affected my opinions, and everything I’ve written is based on my own personal experience. =) 

Power Windows

Power Windows

A year ago, we bought my dream car:

Power Windows

A 2013 Honda Odyssey.

Up until that point, our kids had never seen power windows or doors. The only car we had since they were born was our basic, basic Dodge Caravan:

Power Windows 

No power locks. No power windows. No power anything. It did, however have air conditioning!

It was fine. I mean, many people all over the world would kill to have a reliable car, regardless of whether it had any bells & whistles.

When we first got our new car, our son said, “Wowwwwwwww! It’s like a limousine!” It really was. I can’t even say how fun and wonderful it was to have doors that closed automatically (softly, I might add–no more slamming doors!), windows that rolled down at the press of a button, and blue tooth over the speakers! It was just amazing to me. Our kids reveled in the backseat climate control and individual cup holders. 

For months, we oohed and ahhed every time we got in the car. We drove to Mexico on a mission trip a few months after getting the car, and it was like we teleported. Driving in luxury sure can make a trip go by fast. 12 hours? It felt more like two. 

Alas, the novelty of having all the bells & whistles slowly wore off. By the end of the year, it was the norm. No more excitement at being able to control the backseat temperature, no more comments about how amazing our car was. It had become comfortable, familiar. It was just normal.

To me, it’s still special. I love getting into my car pretty much every time I’m going to drive it. But for the kids, it’s just a plain ol’ car.

It made me think. (Sometimes that happens when I put my mind to it).

This car is a lot like our relationship with God.  

It starts out fresh, new, exciting. We want to share it with everyone. We go sit in it at 10:00 at night, just to be in it. Every crumb, every speck of lint gets picked up right away. We keep it shiny, clean and we baby it as much as possible. 

When we first make a decision to follow Jesus, we want to shout out to the world how excited we are. We stay up late at night, reading God’s word, yearning to hear from Him, just wanting to be with Him. We protect our faith–we make sure it’s a priority in our lives. 

But then, familiarity sets in. Suddenly, we realize it’s been days since we spent time with God. We forget what that spark feels like.

We approach God with the same attitude my kids approach my car: not with reverence and awe, but just to meet a need.

It’s utilitarian. Practical. Yes, we still love it. We wouldn’t want to live without it. But it becomes more about efficiency instead of emotion.

Now, I’m not saying efficiency is a bad thing, or that our lives should be run by emotion. But God wants our heart. He wants to know we long for Him and seek Him, and that we would do anything just to be able to steal away for a few moments alone with Him. 

But, how do you reignite that fire? How do you take a relationship that’s familiar and comfortable and “normal” and turn it back into something fresh, exciting and motivating? 

What do you do with a car when you really want to spruce it up? You detail it. You meticulously vacuum the inside, clean the dashboard, wipe all the smudges off the windows. You hang a new air freshener on the mirror.

Take a good look at your relationship with God. Detail itDust out the cobwebs by finding something new and challenging to work on. Serve other people. Ask God to come in and revitalize your prayer life. Pray. Find a book or a devotional that will help grow you spiritually. HERE are some books that have motivated me to keep on keeping on (not all of them are spiritual).

Most of all, be willing to put in a little elbow grease to get to your goal. Living life complacently will only end poorly. Actively seek ways to keep your relationship with God alive, and you will reap rewards you never expected! Don’t let familiarity cloud the amazing blessing you have right before you.



Layered Chocolate Caramel Cake (Grain Free)

layered chocolate caramel cake

This Layered Chocolate Caramel Cake is based off of my Chocolate Caramel Bundt Cake and is a gorgeous, decadent dessert!

layered chocolate caramel cake 

5.0 from 1 reviews

Layered Chocolate Caramel Cake (Grain Free)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 8-10
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease [two] 8-inch round cake pans with coconut oil.
  2. To make it easier to get the cakes out after cooking, place a circle-shaped piece of parchment paper on the bottom of the cake pans.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients for the cake.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, coconut milk, syrup and vanilla.
  5. Stir into dry ingredients and pour into greased pans.
  6. Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  7. Meanwhile, make the caramel glaze and ganache:
  8. Add all glaze ingredients to a large saucepan.
  9. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat and simmer until temperature reaches about 220 degrees (this will take 20-30 minutes)
  10. When cake is done, let cool for 30 minutes before turning upside down onto a wire rack.
  11. Let the cake and caramel cool for about 20 minutes, and while that’s cooling, make the chocolate ganache (if desired).
  12. Melt together the coconut milk and chocolate chips in a double boiler, then set aside to cool for 5-10 minutes.
  13. Slice each cake in ½ through the middle.
  14. Place one of the four pieces onto a large serving platter.
  15. Spread some of the ganache on top, then drizzle caramel.
  16. Layer another piece of cake, then ganache and caramel, and repeat until all 4 pieces of the cake are layered on top of each other.
  17. Top with remaining ganache and caramel, then place in fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.
This is so rich, you only need a small slice to satisfy that sweet tooth!

layered chocolate caramel cake

25+ Real Food Easter Basket Ideas! (Paleo-friendly)

real food easter basket ideas

real food easter basket ideas

Easter is a wonderful holiday. To me, it signifies the most important event in the history of our world: the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

But just like Halloween (and pretty much every other holiday), it’s become a commercial holiday filled with junk-treats and candy. I don’t mind my kids having a bit of candy now and then. But I hate paying money to fill an Easter basket with junk that I’d rather just seen thrown in the trash. 

A few years ago I did a post called “10 Ideas for a Candy Free Easter Basket.

I thought this year, I would put together a list of Real Food Easter basket ideas–treats that are grain-free and filled with real food ingredients.


copycat reese's peanut butter eggs

Copycat Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs from Life Made Full

Pecan Butter Cups + Sea Salt from The Kosher Cave Girl

Homemade Chocolate from Economies of Kale

Chocolate Nut Butter Bars from Life Made Full

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups from Red & Honey

Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles from The Humbled Homemaker

Homemade Chocolate from How We Flourish

Dairy Free Easter Fudge from Whole New Mom

Monkey Poop from Life Made Full

Easy PB&J Chocolate Bars from Raia’s Recipes

Grain Free Thin Mint Copycats from Life Made Full

No Bake Chocolate Coconut Macaroons from Red & Honey

Copycat Almond Joy Bites from Life Made Full

Coconut Carob Cups from Candida Free Candee

Brown Butter Chocolates from Raia’s Recipes

Fruity Treats

coconut blueberry faux lara bars

Coconut Blueberry “Faux-Lara” Balls from The Kosher Cave Girl

Healthy Sour Kiwi Gummies from A Happy Healthnut

Coconut StrApple Bars from Edible Attitudes

Crunchy Treats

coconut crispy bars

Buckeye Bites from The Kosher Cave Girl

Super Easy Coconut Crispy Bars from Raia’s Recipes

Other Easter Treat Ideas

salted cinnamon walnuts

Raw Cashew Dream Cake (these could be made into mini cheesecake bites) from Revived Kitchen

Cinnamon Raisin Granola Bars (uses oatmeal) from Raia’s Recipes

Browned Butter Fudge from Red & Honey

Chocolate Carob Coconut Nests from Whole New Mom

Salted Cinnamon Walnuts from Life Made Full

Easy Peanut Butter Fudge from Whole Food Mom on a Budget

Alternative Easter Basket Ideas

Maximize the Easter Basket from Healing Cuisine by Elyse

Homemade Natural Blue Food Coloring from Whole New Mom

10 Ideas for a Candy-Free Easter Basket from Life Made Full

How Do You Make a “No Junk” Easter Basket? from Kitchen Stewardship

Paleo Breakfast Burritos

paleo breakfast burritos

paleo breakfast burritos.jpg

My kids aren’t huge fans of fried eggs, but they love them scrambled. And if I tell them it’s a “burrito,” they like them even more! 

These Paleo Breakfast Burritos are quick to throw together, high in protein, and a great way to start your day!

Paleo Breakfast Burritos
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
High in protein, these Paleo Breakfast Burritos are an excellent start to your day!
Serves: 10 burritos
  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • raw cheese (optional)
  • couple teaspoons avocado or coconut oil
  • 1-2 lbs quality lunch meat of your choice (I used pastrami here)
  1. Heat a few tsps of oil in TWO medium skillets: one over low-medium heat, the other over medium-high heat.
  2. Scramble together eggs, salt, garlic powder, cheese (if desired) and any other ingredients you’d like to add into your burrito.
  3. Add the eggs to one of the skillets and cook until done.
  4. Once they are done, scoop some into a piece of lunch meat and roll up.
  5. Gently place into the other skillet with oil and fry for a minute or two on each side, and serve promptly.

paleo breakfast burritos 


I Support Small Business – Hill Chiropractic

hill chiropractic

small business week

It’s the last day in my series “I Support Small Business Week!” Today I get to share about a business near and dear to my heart, one that has helped me personally over the past 3 years. 

A few years ago, I was training for a 1/2 marathon, and I hurt my Achilles Tendon. I took a break from running for a couple weeks, but it continued to hurt. I even had a hard time driving. I researched online and was discouraged with what I read–so many runners wrote of how it was months and months before they could run again, and sometimes it was more than a year. 

I asked on my Facebook page if any of my friends knew of someone locally who could help me, and a neighbor friend referred me to Hill Chiropractic & Sports Therapy in Auburn, CA.

Seriously, Dr. Dan is a miracle worker. Even though it had been almost 3 weeks since my injury, I left that day feeling like someone had used magic on me. It took multiple visits over the course of about a month, but after a few weeks, I was out running again, and so thankful that I could be out there. 

I’ve been going to Dr. Dan off and on ever since, treating everything from tight hamstrings, to IT Band issues, to neck pain. And every time I go, I leave feeling so much better than before I walked in.

hill chiropractic

What makes Hill Chiropractic unique is their use of massage. I have been to multiple chiropractors, and never have I seen anyone use massage as part of their regular treatment. 

Right now, I’m seeing Dr. Dan for neck pain. My jaw issues have caused great tension in my neck, and sleeping upright while my mouth was wired shut seemed to aggravate it even more. This is how a typical visit goes:

Lisa (the massage therapist on staff) uses an ultrasound on my neck that looks something like this:


This helps to alleviate muscle spasms, increase blood flow, and reduce stiffness. 

Next, she goes to work massaging my neck using THIS awesome cream that I have on hand at home. This is my favorite part. =) She is amazing. Seriously.

Dr. Dan comes in next and does some deep tissue work on my neck, and then does a quick adjustment. The appointment generally takes about a 1/2 hour all together. That’s another thing I love–I’m not being rushed out, or just quickly adjusted without warming up my muscles first. I think people can get into some major trouble with inexperienced or ignorant chiropractors, but I am completely confident in Dr. Dan and his staff to take good care of me. 

Yesterday, I walked in with a headache and neck pain that was awful, and walked out with no headache and greatly reduced neck pain!

If you are looking for a qualified chiropractor who does solid work and will help improve your quality of life, call Hill Chiropractic at 530-885-0102. You won’t be sorry! 


I Support Small Business – Nectar Cafe

nectar cafe

small business week

If you want to know what “I Support Small Business Week” is, learn more HERE.

The Nectar Café in Auburn, CA is a brand new restaurant featuring farm fresh, organic foods. Definitely my type of place. They are Paleo-friendly and offer gluten-free options for their sandwiches and wraps. 

Their menu is chock-full of amazing dishes, including wraps, salads, smoothies, and breakfast dishes. I knew as soon as I opened that menu what I wanted: 

The Thai Wrap. Napa cabbage, carrots, scallions, cucumber, cilantro, celery and avocado topped with mildly spicy Asian Almond Sauce. You can see my wrap in the first photo below.

Oh. My. Deliciousness. 

Crunchy, bursting with flavor…I just wish there was smell-o-vision here. I had my wrap on a gluten-free tortilla, and it was warm and soft, to perfection. 

The kids all had Petite Flatbread Pizzas: house made seed crust with fresh marinara sauce, walnut basil pesto, and topped with macadamia nut cheese. They loved them!

nectar cafe photo 1 (4)


The owner, Roy, was welcoming, warm and made us feel like we were at home. 

nectar cafe

If you’re looking for amazing, quality food at good prices, head on over to the Nectar Café! Questions? Contact them at: 530-820-3314. Or even better, follow them on Facebook!


“I Hate Myself.”

Image Credit: Good Job and Other Things
Image Credit: Good Job and Other Things

Image Credit: Good Job and Other Things

As you may or may not know, today is the first day of Lent. Yesterday, I shared my 2014 Lent Commitment

This morning, my alarm went off at 4:30. I opened my eyes and thought, “Holy cow. How am I going to do this for 40 days?!” Then counteracted it with thinking of Jesus and the sacrifices he made for me. I guessed I could muster up the strength to get out of bed. 

I came to the computer, logged in to my private prayer blog, and started writing out my prayer. I won’t bore you with all the details, but suffice it to say I prayed specifically for one of my children. I decided I would focus on one of them each day for the first week of Lent. 

This child that I prayed for, I struggle with the most. I feel like I am constantly critical of him, because honestly, he makes very poor choices. Oh, who am I kidding? He makes flippin’ idiotic decisions that I just don’t understand. Know what common sense is? Well, he doesn’t. 

That may sound harsh, but truthfully, that’s where I’m at with him. My Lent commitment makes more and more sense…

This morning was going along like it normally does before school starts. The kids were rushing around, doing chores, and this one boy I speak of was continually spurring on his siblings to irritate them. Normal behavior for a boy, I know. It comes time for him to do his spelling, and he couldn’t find his spelling book. Again. It gets old, I tell you. Very, very old. After an escalating “conversation” with him about how he needs to keep track of his things and put them in the freakin’ BIN when he’s done with them, he continued to argue with me about how it was my fault for misplacing it. Finally, knowing I was about to lose it, I told him (it may have been more like yelled at him) that his attitude just earned him 5 pieces of wood (our kids haul wood or branches when they have an attitude with us–one of the perks of living on property). 

He stomped to the front door, opened it, slammed it shut, and I heard him say, “I HATE you!!”

Now, a better person than I am would have gone into the other room, let things cool down, and then talked to him after he had hauled his wood. But, I’m not a better person.

So, I got up, went out on the porch with him and said, “WHAT did you say?!” I was ready to give him a large piece of my mind. How DARE my child say he hate me. He’s not allowed to have feelings like that.

He didn’t answer. He looked at me, realizing he was in some deep doo doo, and then said, “Nothing.”

I repeated, “TELL me. What did you say?”

He continued to stare at me. Finally he sheepishly looked down at the ground and said, “I said, ‘I hate myself.’ “

Um. What? I could have sworn he said he hated me. But after I thought for about 3.7 seconds, I realized in my haste I had only heard “I hate…” and then didn’t bother to hear the rest. 

I stood there. Stunned, actually.

I’ve heard this child call himself a “bad kid” before (and not because I have ever said that. I have told him he makes bad choices on many occasions, but I’ve never said he was a bad child), but never had I seen him so desperately hurting, and saying that he hated himself.

I realized right then that THIS was what I had prayed for this morning. I prayed, asking God to allow me to see this child through HIS eyes instead of my own. Begged him to show me what he sees so I could relate to this kid who drives me batty and honestly hurts me with his behavior regularly. 

And I did. For that small moment in time, I saw this child through God’s eyes. And I saw myself. You know what else I saw? A sinner. Yup. And I remembered I am no better than him. He’s a child, for goodness sake. Why am I expecting him to act like a mature adult? I realized if Jesus had been standing in our home during our interaction, I never would have acted like I did. I would have turned to Him in desperation, asking Him to help me. I didn’t even ask God what I should do during our little hissy fit toward each other. I just felt myself getting angrier and angrier and it didn’t even cross my mind that maybe I should turn my eyes above instead of straight ahead. 

Yes, this boy pushes my buttons. Yes, he makes me want to climb up on the roof and hide. But he also has an amazing heart, he wants to do the right thing, and he has obvious gifts that I know will eventually be used for God. It’s not my job to change him or force him into the perfect round peg hole that I’d like him to be in. It’s just my job to protect him, encourage him, discipline him when needed, and most importantly, to not be a hypocrite. Why would my son want to follow Jesus if he sees his mom “representing” him in this way? Ouch. The truth hurts. It really does.

I almost didn’t write any of this down. You know, it doesn’t reflect well on me. But, as I’ve said before, I’m all about authenticity. And I want you to know, I failed miserably today. Actually, I’ve been failing miserably quite a bit for my whole life. But that’s ok. His mercies are new every morning. Tomorrow is a new day. This afternoon is a new moment. I am a work in progress, and I’m ok with that. After all, if I was perfect, it would mean I would have nothing to work on, and I’d be dead. I’d rather be alive and a little bit broken.

I apologized to my son for letting my anger {again} get the best of me. I told him I was not a good example of Jesus and that I was sorry I misrepresented him. He smiled, gave me a big hug, and said, “Can I have a snack?”

I Support Small Business – Abbi’s Grooming

Abbi's Grooming

small business week

If you want to know what “I Support Small Business Week” is, learn more HERE.

I used to take our dog to PetSmart to get groomed. Nothing wrong with that. They did a fine job, no real complaints. 

But, I found out there are small dog grooming businesses in our area, and we wanted to support them! 

The one that seemed to have the best ratings and was close to our house was Abbi’s Grooming in Lincoln, CA. Abbi’s Grooming was named after a sweet Shih Tzu who sadly recently passed away from cancer. Jenissa has owned this business for 5 years, although she has worked at the grooming studio for 8 years!

Abbi's Grooming

Walking into Abbi’s Grooming, I could tell that the owner loves animals. A wall filled with photos of her four-legged clients sealed that deal. 

Our dog, Babe, was welcomed with open arms. 

It had been months, and I mean months since Babe had been groomed. Poor dog. Being a 6th child is difficult. Her nails desperately need to be cut.

Jenissa did a fantastic job of cleaning up our sweet Babe, making her smell nice, and trimming up her nails so she didn’t keep getting them snagged everywhere. I seriously wanted to bury my face in her fur after we picked her up, she smelled so good. 

Abbi's Grooming

Adorable, right? Look at the cute bandana that came with her grooming!

Her coat smelled amazing for a full week. I don’t know if I’ve ever had a dog smell nice for that long. It was wonderful!

If you’re local and looking for a place to get your furry pet groomed, definitely give Jenissa at Abbi’s Grooming a call. You can reach her at: 916-434-0111, or follow Abbi’s Grooming on Facebook. You’ll be well taken care of!



My 2014 Lent Commitment

2014 lent commitment

2014 lent commitment

Sometimes we need to sacrifice. 

I think we grow the most when we are willing to go outside of our comfort zone.

It gives God room to work in us.

As I’ve said before, I’m not Catholic, but I have found great joy and satisfaction in participating in Lent. I don’t typically “give something up,” per se. I usually spend a few weeks praying about what God might have for me to work on, and then plot out my plan of how I will accomplish this. I don’t like to be vague–I like to be very specific.

A few years ago, I committed to getting up at 4:30 every morning to pray for Superman’s healing. Going back and reading my prayers (I created a private blog that only I can see–it’s easier to write out my prayers, and they “flow” better) brings back those feelings of desperation, yearning, pleading for the Lord to hear me. Boy, did He come through for us. 

And this year, I prayed long and hard about what it is that I should focus on for 2014. And it’s something similar.

This year, I am committing to get up at 4:30 every morning during Lent to pray specifically for my relationship with my kids as well as their futures.

I love my kids. I really do. But I struggle with them sometimes. A few of them more than others. Do you have that one kid who can push your buttons like nothing else? Well, even if you don’t, I do. 

I want my kids to grow up and have healthy, fun, solid relationships with me. Don’t get me wrong–I want them to “leave and cleave,” so-to-speak, but I want them to feel like they can always call mom for a bit of encouragement or to spoil the grandkids. And right now I feel like they may not always want to do that. I think I need to work on my softness. 

I pray for our kids’ futures ever night. Usually it’s a quick “help them to have strong relationships with you, God” or “please be preparing spouses for them,” etc. 

But separating out a designated time each day to pray deeply for their futures is something I feel I need to do right now. 

So, that’s what I’m going to do. 

You may wonder about my kids, and whether they participate in Lent. 

I’ve asked each of our kids over the past week to think and pray about what God might want them to work on for these next 40 days. I’ve let them know none of them are required to participate in Lent, but for those that do, they will each get a chart to mark off each day, and then on the last day, we will have a family celebration to recognize everyone’s efforts. I don’t expect perfection, just progress. 

I showed this little video to them, and thought it was so sweet. A reminder of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness for 40 days:


So, how about you? Are you making a Lent commitment this year? 


I Support Small Business – Baagan Vegan Cafe

photo 2 (1)

small business week

Finding good restaurants is hard. Finding restaurants that serve quality food is even harder. 

We’ve been fans of this place for years. If you’re not vegan, don’t let the name scare you away! Baagan is full of healthy, Paleo-friendly and gluten-free options! It’s located in Roseville, CA, and is easily accessible for anyone in the area!

photo 1 (1)

Angelique is the co-owner and marketing director of Baagan (her co-owner is Rajbir Randhawa) and has done an amazing job of making this little cafe welcoming, fresh, and delicious! They use quality ingredients and we always feel like we’re just going to a friend’s house when we eat there. 

Bagaan Vegan Cafe

I ordered an Indian Curry Panini on gluten-free bread. The kids had PB&J sandwiches. The flavor. Oh, the flavor. 

photo 5 photo 4 photo 2 (2) photo 1 (2)

If you live locally, you must try Baagan. And I highly suggest the Indian Curry Panini. It is, however, a seasonal item, and they recently replaced it with a Butternut Squash Panini. I recommend trying whatever seasonal items they have when you go in!

Even though we didn’t order dessert on this visit, there are some amazing, healthy dessert options. Check out their menu to see mouth-watering blended drinks, smoothies, and soft serve flavors. Seriously, they are SO good.

Sure, you could go to a fast food restaurant and get your food faster and probably a bit cheaper (although I would argue that the prices here are competitive and will fill you up longer than a fast food meal). But supporting small restaurants like Baagan makes a statement. Continually put your dollars into small restaurants like this, and more and more places like this will pop up.

I want to do everything I can to ensure my kids have options like Baagan to eat at when they’re teenagers. When they have their freedom, I want them to pick a place like Baagan to go grab a quick lunch instead of a place like Taco Bell. 

Interested in trying Baagan? Check out their website HERE, follow them on Facebook, or call them: 916-771-2117.

I Support Small Business – Lincoln Florist & Gifts

lincoln florist

small business week

I have to admit, I’m a Target girl. I love the store. It makes me happy going in there. But I had a moment the other day. I thought back to the days of small town America, when you went to Smith’s Hardware for your home improvement needs. Or you wandered down to the corner store to pick up a few things for dinner. 

I’ve said before sometimes I think I was born in the wrong era. I treasure small town charm. I truly enjoy supporting small businesses, even though the convenience of big box stores often takes over.

So I decided to make a change for a week. I’d do my best to use local small businesses to meet my needs. 

And so “I Support Small Business Week” was born.

Each day this week, I’ll be featuring a local small business, one that we love for various reasons. I challenge you to do the same. If you can, try to find one local small business you can support this week. Then tell them why you’re doing it! And come back here and tell me where you went!

First up is Lincoln Florist & Gifts.

Lincoln Florist and Gifts

We went to Lincoln Florist & Gifts to get flowers for my mother-in-law’s birthday. It’s always hard shopping for Nana. This year, we decided we would get her a bouquet of flowers. Not just any bouquet, though. Each of the kids decided to pick out a special flower and add it to the bouquet. 

Walking into Lincoln Florist & Gifts was like taking a step into The Secret Garden. The scent of flowers filled the air. My kids were mesmerized by the beautiful arrangements and decor. I felt happy to be there, instead of the flower department at the grocery store, which is where we would normally go for flowers. 

Each of the kids picked out his or her flower, and then one of the {incredibly helpful} store employees said she would find some “filler” flowers and put them all together. 

The arrangement turned out beautifully.  The owner, Jennifer, was so helpful and kind. She didn’t even know until I was about to leave that I was planning on featuring her business on my blog, and she still treated our family with the attentiveness you just wouldn’t see at a big box store.

lincoln florist and gifts

 Nana was very happy with her flowers!

imageHere she is getting her “cake”: 

lincoln florist and giftsSupporting a small business like Lincoln Florist & Gifts is rewarding. It sets a good example for your kids, letting them know that you value people, not just convenience. 

Thank you to Jennifer for a wonderful experience! We will definitely come to your business again! 

If you’re interested in ordering flowers from Lincoln Florist & Gifts, you can do so through their website HERE or call Jennifer at 916-645-2303 or 800-440-3569. Follow them on Facebook for all the latest news!

Copycat Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs (Dairy/Gluten-Free)

copycat reese's peanut butter eggs


The Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg. 

It’s an Easter tradition here in America. 

Unfortunately, just looking at the ingredients in these babies gives me a tummy ache:

Peanuts, sugar*, dextrose, vegetable oil (cocoa butter, palm, shea, sunflower and/or safflower oil), chocolate, nonfat milk, contains 2% or less of milk fat, lactose, salt, whey, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, corn syrup*, soy lecithin*, cornstarch*, glycerin, TBHQ & PGPR**, vanillin. 

*GMO ingredients
**PGPR stands for Polyglycerol Polyricinoleate and is a chemical used to replace the expensive cocoa butter that is normally found in chocolate. TBHQ stands for Tertiary Butylhydroquinone and comes from petroleum and is related to butane (often used as a preservative).

Really, there’s no need for all that junk.

I came up with a Copycat Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg recipe that will knock. your. socks off! And with only 6 ingredients (ones that you’ll actually recognize, too), your tummy will thank you.

copycat reese's peanut butter eggs

Copycat Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs (Dairy/Gluten-Free)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Ditch the nasty processed, questionable ingredients in Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs and make these “cleaner” copycats!
Serves: 18 eggs
  1. In a bowl, beat together the peanut butter, 3 TBSP butter (or coconut oil or palm shortening), almond milk (or coconut milk) and coconut sugar.
  2. Cut out a piece of parchment paper and place it on the bottom an 8-inch round dish or pan (I just used a stainless steel skillet). You could pretty much use anything here that’s about that size.
  3. Spread the mixture on top of the parchment paper and place in fridge to chill for at least a ½ hour.
  4. While that’s chilling, melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler.
  5. Once they are melted, stir in the 2 TBSP palm shortening.
  6. Set aside to cool.
  7. When the peanut butter mixture is chilled and able to be handled, turn it over onto a cutting board covered with parchment paper.
  8. Using a small round lid or small cookie cutter, cut out circles, and mold them into more of an “oval” shape. I used this medicine measuring thing, and it worked perfect:
  9. If the mixture gets too soft, put it back in fridge for a bit to harden back up.
  10. Dip in chocolate that has cooled off a bit, and place back onto plate covered with parchment paper.
  11. Chill for another ½ hour or so, until the outside is hardened.
Note: If you want to eliminate the palm shortening from the melted chocolate chips, you can. The chocolate, however, will go on thicker, and be harder than it is with the palm shortening.
For best results, store in fridge.

copycat reese's peanut butter eggs 


Discouragement, Defeat and Satisfaction

family photo

family photo

Today was my first day back teaching a “full” day of school–Since a few weeks before my surgery, I’ve had a wonderful college gal coming in 2-3x/week to help with school, and my mom and sister helped out last week. I have to be quite honest–the past few days I have been in quite a slump emotionally. I have felt discouraged, defeated and the pain in my jaw has been frustrating. I’ve felt limited and aloof to my kids and a sense of a heavy heart. I want to eat food. Like, normal food. Steak. Pizza. A big ol’ freakin’ hamburger. 

Last night I broke down crying to Superman, slumped in his arms. I didn’t even know why. I just knew my mouth hurt, the arch bars were ripping holes in my cheeks, and I was hungry. And I didn’t want to be near our kids because I felt like I was going to just melt into a puddle of tears if they looked at me sideways. 

Today I realized a big part of the reason why. Aside from the fact that I think I’m lacking in proteins and fats right now which is affecting my mood, I haven’t had much purpose these past few weeks. My purpose has been to heal as much as possible. It was hard letting Superman take care of me. I felt guilty for the burden I was. Even though he told me it was a privilege to take care of me (have I ever mentioned how much I love him??), I still felt like I was failing somehow knowing that he had to care for me, figure out what to feed the kids for each meal, and keep the house up. This, my friends, is a complete lie. It’s what Christians in some circles might call “from Satan.” These words of discouragement are not from my God. My God is a light, a beacon of hope, the One who carries my burdens. He does not burden me with lies such as “you are a burden,” “you are failing,” “you are not trying hard enough.” He is the author of truth. And the truth is, my marriage is sanctified, set apart, and my husband is to treat me as Christ treated the Church…with unconditional love, understanding, and service. Likewise, I would do the same for him, and honestly, find pure joy in serving him, nursing him to health. Allowing these thoughts to float through my brain is denying my husband the blessings of caring for his wife. And it’s denying God the joy of softening my heart and my pride.

Sitting down this morning to teach math to my boys, I felt my heart well up with that old sense of pride and fulfillment in what I do. And I was struck with something: I really enjoy homeschooling. There are times where I absolutely despise it. There are days when I want to pack up my kids in the car, drop them off at a school, any school, and return 8 hours later to pick them up. But today, today I realized that just like any teacher, I have days filled with accomplishment and days filled with discouragement. I think it’s normal. Right?

Sure, I don’t have a “job” or get paid for what I do (although I wouldn’t turn someone down if they wanted to pay me for teaching our kids! wink, wink). But I find serious satisfaction in teaching our kids, having them learn from me, and knowing that I’m investing in something that will return very high dividends. I may fail at a lot of things, but I think our kids will grow up knowing that I did my best, and put in as much time as possible. At least I hope they do. 

So, that’s how I’ve been feeling. 

And so I say: If you’re listening to those lies, kick ‘em to the curb. 

You are not a failure.
You are not a burden.
You are not a loser or a waste or worthless.

You are loved, adored, and filled with potential. 

You are right where you need to be in order for God to meet you. Are you ready?


Clean Sesame Chicken

Clean Sesame Chicken

I love Asian-inspired dishes. 

This Clean Sesame Chicken is easy to throw together, but tastes like it’s from a restaurant!

Clean Sesame Chicken

Clean Sesame Chicken
Easy to put together, but tastes like you spent a bunch of time on it!
Serves: 8
  • For the chicken:
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ cup tapioca flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • ¼ cup avocado or coconut oil
  • For the sauce:
  • ¼ cup coconut aminos (I get mine at Whole Foods)
  • 3 TBSP water
  • 1.5 TBSP toasted sesame oil
  • 5 TBSP coconut sugar
  • 5 TBSP rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • ¼ cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 TBSP tapioca flour
  • Optional for topping:
  • green onions
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the chicken. Add the chicken and stir together.
  2. Heat a large skillet or wok with the avocado or coconut oil over medium-high heat.
  3. Add the chicken, only stirring a few times, so it can crisp up on the outside.
  4. While that’s cooking, make the sauce by whisking together all the sauce ingredients.
  5. Once the chicken is cooked through and golden brown, pour the sauce over the top.
  6. Toss with the chicken and cook for a few minutes, until the sauce has thickened.
  7. Remove promptly and top with sliced green onions, if desired.
  8. I served mine over rice, but you could serve it over cauliflower rice!

Clean Sesame Chicken


Clean Sesame Chicken

Mini Crustless Pizzas

Mini Crustless Pizza

I was going to make my Primal Crustless Pizza tonight, and then I thought it would be fun for each of the kids to have their own “mini” pizza. So, that’s what we did! 

Mini Crustless Pizza

Mini Crustless Pizzas
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 8-10
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the meat and spices (your hands work best here!).
  3. Form meat into *flat* patties. (I used THIS to help)
  4. Place onto a broiler pan so the grease can drain
  5. Bake in oven for 10 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven (drain excess grease if desired), and add sauce and toppings on top of meat, turn oven to BROIL, and broil for another 5-7 minutes, until top is bubbly and meat is done.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool a few minutes before eating.
Note: Your cook times may vary depending on the thickness of your meat. Keep an eye on it while it’s cooking to adjust the times if necessary.

 Mini Crustless Pizzas