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The Intention Project

Hello party people!

I’ve missed y’all! It’s been a season and I’m super grateful to be back. For the longest while,  I’ve been sitting on “What’s going to be the BEST post to jump back into it?” I was driving myself crazy with my feeble attempts at putting myself back out there with something mind blowing for all of you lovely folks. Nothing was good enough. Or creative enough. Or exciting- why weren’t my ideas exciting?!

Then, while I was entertaining these ridiculous thoughts, I looked up and realized I had neglected us for four more months than I intended! Yikes! And big cyber hugs for that.

Well, God is good and he sent me a friend, who I hadn’t seen in about that much time, to nudge me along. She welcomed me to join her Intention Project. A post-a-day of your daily intention. This is very much a practice in imperfectionism and vulnerability. Guess what? I’m on Day 2 and it’s incredible – I had to share this with y’all! 

My youngest son asked what I was doing when I sat down with a sheet of white paper, drawing out my intention of gratitude. When I explained that I was going to practice gratitude for the day, he said he wanted to create an intention, too! And it was luv. Then the most amazing thing happened, he sat in luv for most of the day! There were a few hairy moments, but I gently reminded him of his intention and his face would light up and back to luv he went.

So, once I got passed the silly voices that y’all would only love me if I was perfect and I could only inspire by being Pinterest worthy, I decided that this special, little big project should be shared with my blog tribe. I hope you’ll consider joining me. It’s so easy and freeing all at once! Grab a journal or even a single sheet of paper. Heck, a scratch piece of paper will work! Set your intention for the day. Write or sketch away- I’ve spent about 5 minutes on mine with a three year old crawling over me and drawing next to me. Keep it visible for the day and breathe. That’s it! As my wise friend who began this life movement said- there’s nothing bad that can come from it.

Happy to be reunited!

In love and joy,

May the Fourth Be With You

Happy Fourth, everyone! Today is one of my favorite holiday non-holidays! And for this exceptionally awesome day, I thought I’d share our Star Wars Birthday party I threw for the boys a couple of years ago. The location was a rock climbing gym which made for a simple, Tatooine-ish planet. Then etsy helped us out with their abundant assortment of SW themed anything you could possibly imagine and then some.

Easy Yoda ears on kid friendly Izze’s.


Force Fuel  water bottles to keep the young Jedi’s hydrated!

Jedi Robes – take one yard of  basic brown cotton fabric and fold it in half horizontally. Cut out a half circle for the head. Fold into a nice square and wrap the party favor up with white rope or chord (also doubles as the belt) and there will be a plethora of happy young Jedi’s running around.

Because you just have to.

Light saber popcorn holders.


Don’t worry- thermal detonators were chocolate covered cherries in disguise.

Two gluten free chocolate cakes stacked on top of each other cut down to look like a volcano where Lego Star Wars mini figs were battling amidst the strawberry lava sauce.

Star Wars sketched wrapping paper was saved by both boys. I think they were surprised their mama had it in her!

Birthday party success! 
I don’t know who enjoyed this day more, the boys or their mom. One of my favorite parties created yet! Use the force, my friends, and have a blast!

In Love and Joy,


THE Tortilla (Paleo, Gluten Free, Vegan)

Being from Texas, I LOVE Mexican food. Tex Mex, not so much, but real, honest to goodness, homemade, straight from the heart, Mexican food. I have been blessed to know and love several women from Mexico and we have shared time in the kitchen – laughing, loving and creating feasts.

Keep dough moist in a wet towel

Before my Paleo days, I got schooled on the beautiful art of creating homemade tortillas, flour and corn (o arina y maiz). Through many torn, burnt and brick hard attempts, my family was extremely grateful when a friend gifted me a tortilla press. My tortilla rocks turned into consistent, soft and much tastier palettes of deliciousness.

Ready to be pressed

When I decided Paleo was a good fit for my life, I quickly realized I would no longer going be able to enjoy homemade tortillas. Cue sinking heart.

And then my kitchen game face took over. My mission was to turn all foods I once loved into a healthier version for my family and myself. Of course, without sacrificing the taste!

This has been a project in the works but I think you’ll love how simple and delicious these grain free tortillas are. Con AMOR!

Paleo Tortillas (Grain Free, Gluten Free, Vegan)

1 c almond flour
1/2 cup arrowroot (or tapioca) flour
pinch of sea salt (optional)
6-8 TBL warm water

Mix dry ingredients together then add water. If your mix is dry, add more water 1/2 tablespoon at a time. It should feel the slightest bit sticky. I’ve found the best way to mix this is by hand, so take off your rings and roll up your sleeves and enjoy this very therapeutic art form!

Once your mix is well incorporated into a round dough ball, divide that ball in half and reform balls. Go halvesies on your balls until you have 8 small balls. Keep your balls tucked into a damp towel so they don’t dry out while you’re pressing and heating the tortillas. Heat your skillet or griddle to medium. Fold a parchment sheet in half and place in between the press. Add one ball in between the parchment paper then press. Pull the parchment back slowly from the top of the tortilla, then flip the tortilla onto your hand and pull the other end of the parchment off SLOWLY. If it rips, don’t cry! Roll it back into a ball and press again. Gently lay into your skillet or griddle. Cook on each side for about 45 seconds – a minute, depending on your stove. You want to see slight brown marks. If it overcooks, it will get crunchy, so keep your eyes peeled! Keep covered in a dry towel or a tortilla warmer. Tastiest if eaten hot off the skillet!

In Love and Joy,

++If you love tortillas and are grain free, you can invest in a tortilla press from Amazon here.

A Minute with God

Have you ever tried to spend one still minute with God? Not praying or talking but simply silent and still with Him. I tried this morning. Alone in my hotel room, it should have been easy. But it wasn’t. It was unsettlingly hard. All of the thoughts I wanted to share with Him. I was that kid. The one on pins and needles, ready to explode three seconds into 1-2-3 Quiet & Still. I’m pretty sure I didn’t last much longer than that before attempting to start over again in my stillness with God. And again.

But that’s the amazing thing about God. His Grace starts over again and again. And again.

Over the last few weeks, I feel like God has gently been nudging me to “Rest.” I’m not sure why there is so much guilt associated with resting. Embarassingly, I’ve been one to judge and envy stay-at-home mama friends or someday parent friends who take these things called “siestas” or “naps” while their toddlers slumber or just because they’re tired. Wth?? And it makes no sense at all for me to have those judgy feelings since I’m exhausted after a weekend morning at home with my three Angels. It also makes no sense since my Father God rested, too, on the seventh day of creation. Not that one can quite compare a morning at home with the kids and the creation of our universe, but I digress. He doesn’t need rest. He just doesn’t. But that He would model resting to show us that resting was His will. His plan. His gift.

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.” Genesis 2:2

Resting with butter coffee

With the constant distraction of society, social media, work and all the voices in my head shouting about what needs to be done, what needs to be cooked, cleaned, bought, prepared, dropped off, picked up, fixed, etc, etc, etc. Rest tends to be my last priority- which doesn’t really make it a priority at all, does it? But Daddy God is relentless, isn’t He? Rest…He whispers. A deeply soulful converation shared on the way to a meeting this week breathed “Rest” into me. Again, He whispered “Rest” in my Bible Study on She Reads Truth (which I can’t recommend enough!). And as I sit on the plane heading home, I “rest” in between two experienced women- one of which marvels at the couple next to us on their iPads. “Look at those things! They’re huge! They’re like  blackboards.” A perfect moment to be still and allow my Father to do His perfect work in me- Rest.

“Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10

Ahhhh. Daddy. Father God, I hear you. I feel you. Thank you, Lord, for your unrelentless love. Thank you for your gentle and perfect nudges. For the perfect conversations inspired by your Word and your Will. Thank you God for rest. Renewal. Restoration. Resolution. A moment to be still with You. Please forgive me Jesus for not resting more. For not resting daily. For not resting weekly or even monthly. Please take away all feelings of guilt associated with your rest. Please quiet my mind, still my heart, and close my eyes to the world around me. Help me to lean into You. To rest in you. I love you! I need you! I drink you into my heart and soul. Amen.

So in this pererct moment on the plane, I tried again. Funny, this time I didn’t want to leave. The voices and images of distraction began again and I quickly (and firmly) directed them to “Get out.” They did. Then I leaned. I leaned long. And deep.  And I didn’t want to leave. I was sitting in the B seat, squished as one is sitting in the B seat, perfectly nestled against Jesus. More content than I’ve known, possibly ever. Finding God in a perfectly imperfect moment of my day.

For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:30

Travel Hacks!

Tis the season for traveling! Whether you’re skiing, camping or beaching it, these travel hacks will surely make your vacation a little smoother. Read, sit back and relax!

Rent It Like It’s Hot
Anytime we can airbnb, VRBO or HomeAway it over over a hotel, that’s the route we go. We pack half a week’s worth of clothes and wash and re-wear. Cooking versus eating out every meal makes for a fatter wallet and slimmer waistline! Plus, more room for the kiddos to runaround always seals the deal for me.

Dump, Stir and Bake
This hack is my new favorite- shared by a wise friend and fellow baker. If you have access to a kitchen, you can easily bake up some of your favs without lugging or buying all of your ingredients there. Simply layer all dry ingredients your recipe calls for into a plastic baggy. Write on the baggy all of your wet ingredients you need to add With a sharpie and baking temp and time. Dump, add wet ingredients, stir and bake! I baked my thumbprint cookies in a fraction of the already short time.

Over two dozen cookies - in the bag!

Over two dozen cookies – in the bag!

Starbucks, Don’t be Hatin’
Calling all tea drinkers! Carry your favorite tea bags with you (such little space they take up!) and ask any restaurant for hot water. $3 tea = $0

A warm belly and thicker wallet!

A warm belly and thicker wallet!

Ask and You Shall Receive Part I
Ask friends, family and social media networks to borrow ski clothes or camping gear, especially for kids!

We have SUPER awesome friends who live a couple of hours away from our vacation spot and were going to hang for the weekend. They graciously offered to grocery shop for us so we didn’t have to stop and spend another hour or so in the store after getting off the plane. Find friends like these!

Each of my kiddos carry a backpack that they pack with a book, game and small lovie (stuffed animal). The night before I add a few surprises like a tiny toy or Lego and a special travel snack to entertain during the flight or drive! Cliff Z fruit ropes, Lara bars and honey sticks have all been a hit. Even my husband gets a few (grown up) treats! Paleo Banana Bread!

mmm…mini Paleo Banana Bread!

Then, I packed airplane surprise/snacks in the suitcase for the ride BACK and reused my ziploc baggies from the ride over!

So Fresh and So Clean
I use a small mason jar to transport laundry detergent but a 3 ounce toiletry container would work, too. Label clearly! This small container has saved us half a suitcase per person in clothes.

Ask and You Shall Receive Part II
Rewards memberships and ask, ask, ask! Join any and all free rewards membership programs- airlines, hotels, car rentals, etc. Even if you don’t use that particular company frequently they will add up over time and members will always be more likely to receive an upgrade over non-members. If you don’t ask for free upgrades you’re probably not going to get them. Unless you’re the Duchess. Then you don’t need a free upgrade. Plus, the worse that could happen is you receive a polite “No, there’s not one available.” Become the king or queen of asking!

My Love/Hate with Disney
I grew up loving Disney and now that I have children I hate it. It’s hot, sweaty, and expensive. And honestly, people just aren’t that pleasant to be around because they’re all hot, sweaty and broke. But if you’re making the trip, here are a few tips we’ve discovered! Buy your souvenirs ahead of time. What the what?! You’ll save a ton and your kiddos can don them as they arrive at the park. Plus, more time in ride lines versus retail lines! The retail stores at the parks are Craz-AY with a capital AY. And don’t even think about skipping the fast pass option- the park’s not worth going to unless you utilize this perk!

Cruz was tickled by his surprise breakfast guest. And look who's sporting his pin!

Cruz was tickled by his surprise birthday guest. And look who’s sporting his pin!

Oh, and order some pins off of Amazon for practically nothing. All of the Disney employees have to trade a pin if your child requests it. A fun little extra addition to the entire trip without having to spend a lot of dough!

Klean Kanteen
We love our reusable water bottles. Hydration at the pool or beach is SO important! As is cheaper cocktails if you’re staying at a hotel. Mix your own drink and bring down in your water bottle to avoid $10 beverage charges. We do use them for water, too! For the kids.

Dump That Junk
Last but not least- ladies, dump out your purses a day or two before you leave and clean those puppies out. You wouldn’t believe what I found in mine that was weighing it down. Ugh. Travel was 50% lighter!

Hope these help smooth out your next vacation! What are your go-to hacks for a more relaxing trip? Share below in the comments!

Happy and safe travels everyone!

In Love and Joy,

And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” – Exodus 33:14

Quinoa Power Balls (Grain Free, Vegan)

How’s Spring Break everyone?! Ours has been oh-so lovely. We haven’t done anything spectacular (yet!) but have simply had a really beautiful time doing a lot of nothing together.

This week we’ve been snacking on these super easy Quinoa Power Balls (quinoa is pronounced keen•wah; it took me forever and a half to figure that one out). I love any and all protein balls. They’re packed with such goodness and provide an incredible pick me up throughout the day! Plus, you can’t beat all of the amazing flavors and combinations you can make with them. I’ve made these little nuggets of goodness with oats, without oats, raw, cooked, smashed them into bars, etc etc.

Our current fav is grain free (quinoa is technically a seed, not a grain!) and pumps us full of omega 3s from the chia and flax. They’re moist and delicious and we think you might just fall in love!

Quinoa Power Balls

2 cups of cooked quinoa
1/2 cup of nut butter (peanut, almond, sunflower)
1/4 cup of sweetener of choice (I used *xylitol but honey or maple syrup work great!)
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/4 cup chia seeds
1 TBL vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
optional pinch of sea salt

note: If using a dry sweetener, like xylitol, add 1/4 c melted coconut oil for more wetness. If using a wet sweetener, like honey or maple syrup, this step can be skipped.

Add all ingredients to your food processor or blender. I have made all my other balls by stirring them by hand but the processor pulverizes all of the ingredients nicely (especially the quinoa) which gives it an extra sense of moisteness. Pulse until finely mixed. Scrapes sides. Pulse again. Scoop out a  tablespoon full of mixture and roll into a ball. My mixture wasn’t overly sticky but if yours is, wet your hands in water to keep it from sticking to your hands. Roll out all of your balls. Enjoy approximately 30 bites of sweet goodness!

This is a great recipe for you to play with! Mix and match your favorite tastes- sub nuts and dried fruits or dark chocolate(!) for the 3/4 cup of seeds I used.

In Love and Joy!

*Xylitol is a great natural sweetener substitute. It’s the stuff found in gum and has a low glycemic index aka processes like sugar but at a much slooooower rate. It also looks like sugar but is slightly less sweet! More to come on this newfound ingredient.

SXSW: Pow! Wow! Hawaii and SprATX Artists Please Stand Up

Didn’t see that one coming, did ya? Move over delicious delicacies and make way for two tasty artists I have had the extreme pleasure of doing life with. These two profoundly talented, yet extremely different, friends are scaling the art + life scene in our uber creative Austin. I have been blessed to witness both of their journeys from arriving into the city to career moves and leaps of faith. They are changing the streets of Austin by spreading joy, passion and love to all they meet and all who meet their work at any given turn through the city.

Lucas Aoki + Mike (Truth) Johnston. Brothers of Life. Brothers of Art.

mike and lucas and other guy

Mike (l) and Lucas (c)

Today, Mike and Lucas join me for lunch to share a bit about the beginning of their journey, what inspires their art and their brotherhood.

LoveJoy: Share with me the first time you two met.

Truth: We met in NYC more than 10 years ago – Erin (Mike’s wife) and I were in town for the marathon. Ellen (Lucas’ wife) brought us to a bar and I remember speaking very slow. (Lucas and Ellen met in Argentina and had just wed in NYC).

Lucas: At the time, I had a few illustration projects going on but wasn’t so deeply involved in art. I remember Mike’s sketchbooks and his shoes he painted on.

Truth: When y’all moved to Austin, and Erin and I would come back for summer visits (from Shanghai or Kuwait), we would challenge each other to add more drawings in our sketchbooks…I remember when you were living in Hyde Park and I would see more paintings in the back of the house.

Mike "Truth" Johnston

Mike “Truth” Johnston. Mural under bridge on Lady Bird Lake.

LoveJoy: What inspired you to move forward with your art?

Lucas: I was stuck in life. I was in one of those spots where I was feeling sorry for myself. In automatic mode. Not thinking, just working. Doing a job I didn’t like. Having no motivation for life. I knew if I really wanted to just “do art” I had to face it. I had a love for life and I wanted to move forward and be the best version of myself.

Rob (a cousin-in-law) introduced me to the “The Artist’s Way” and I knew I needed a method. A way to face those fears. I was writing every morning before I would go to work. For months. It helped me understand what my fears were. What I wanted. What was my potential? What were my desires? It didn’t happen over night…the drive was there. The feeling of wanting to move forward was very strong. I was inspired just to do that. It’s really been a very interesting process, it never ends. It goes through ups and downs, through a lot of doubts. There’s self doubt. It’s an ongoing process. I do see the brighter side. I try to stay focused and stay positive.

Lucas Aoki

Lucas Aoki. “The Mysterious World of Mr. Thomas” Oil on Canvas.

LoveJoy: Truth, you recently had to take a jump of faith and dive into your art. How has that process been for you? (He left his 12 year tenure as an art teacher)

Truth: Everything happens for a reason and I knew it was time. I had projects I was already doing on the side so I felt warmed up and had been transitioning for the last year. It was my turn to follow my passion. I’m super grateful for doing it (teaching) and there were steps along the way that helped prepare me.

Mike "Truth" Johnston. Acrylic on canvas.

Mike “Truth” Johnston. Acrylic on canvas.

LoveJoy: How do you center your work around the idea of LOVE?

Truth: The main form of art that I get excited about is street art. Since I know many eyes will see it I try to think about what gets me excited and that’s art that’s positive and inspirational. When I create a piece a part of it is for me but a part of it is also “how can this impact somebody else?” and “how can this brighten somebody else’s day?”. Sometimes it’s just the image. Sometimes it’s the image and words. And sometimes I am just having fun with it. I try to stick with things that will be positive and motivate people, like the phrase we talked about earlier: Letting love drive you. The work would make people feel encouraged versus beating them down.

Mural by Mike + Lucas and more of the SpraTX crew

HOPE Outdoor Gallery: mural by Mike + Lucas and more of the SprATX crew

LoveJoy: You both create with a very playful and thoughtful, emotional energy. You bring out such different emotions in people. I have personally experienced the joy of seeing many people respond to your pieces, live painting and otherwise. Can you share your process on choosing your subject matter and what drives you?

Lucas: I try to stay away from the thought, from the actual thinking. I have a hard time dealing with negative thoughts or with over thinking. My art is to stay away from that. I’m trying to be a channel. A mediator. The person captures the energy in the air and puts that energy on a canvas or whatever medium. I don’t think of art as a task. I see it as the way I express my love and that I am something for this world. How my existence makes sense. Me being the best of myself. That being said, art is just a part of it. I don’t want to overthink it. It could be anything. My art is 100% of my art when I am flowing and I try to bring this energy to the surface. The rest isn’t up to me, it’s up to the viewer. We have the idea that we want people to like our work. The best of myself is going to be when I’m authentic with myself. When I’m looking within and expressing it out. And when the viewer, those who really interact with my art, makes a connection that’s fantastic.

Lucas Aoki

Lucas Aoki. Oil on antique panel.

LoveJoy: Share with us your process on working together to create a public piece.

Truth: The very first project Lucas and I did together were on some old doors we found. We did a lot of planning and sketching beforehand. We enjoyed the process and I remember Lucas told me after “Mike, it’s important that you know, through this you really had your mind set on certain things.” (I was a really focused teammate) “And you should know that whoever you team up with next might not be so giving or as open.”

LoveJoy: (as we’re all howling with laughter) I remember this!

Lucas: I was coming from a background where I had no experience. I felt like I had too much guidance and Mike had that artistic process figured out and I didn’t. So I just wanted to have fun and make mistakes.

Truth: And I was too regimented!

monster mural MJ

Mike “Truth” Johnston “Everything is Bigger in Texas”

Lucas: Our next project was our first paid project together. It was challenging and fun.

Truth: The first project that I was super, super excited about doing together was the HOPE Outdoor Gallery and we took the front wall. I took half and Lucas took half and we met in the middle with a little bit of overlap. Just the fact that we were out there together. That was a big part of it. We are two completely different styles. Visually you can see that. People tell us we (our styles) go together well. I believe that but for me, even more important, is that experience to be together, to be working together. And of all the people that I’ve collaborated with Lucas is the one that I feel most comfortable with and definitely the one that I feel challenged by. I know that if there’s a day that we’re working on a project and I’m feeling tired that Lucas will step it up and I can’t be the weak link. I gotta be pulling my part and…

LoveJoy: Be the best you?

Truth: Yes. Be the best me.

Lucas: From the beginning there was a really good interaction. We had our quiet moments. We had our time when we needed to chat. We like the same music. Except for hip hop. Well, hip hop is ok. We had times when we support each other. There was a good dynamic. Apparently, that is something that’s not that easy to find. You can’t just paint with anyone. For our case, it really happens pretty smooth and gets to be pretty fun.

Mike (on top of the HOPE wall) and Lucas (on top of the ladder)

Mike (on top of the HOPE wall) and Lucas (on top of the ladder)

LoveJoy: Who is your biggest inspiration in the art world?

Truth: A group from Poland, the Etam Crew. There are 3-4 artists. They just do a phenomenal job doing kinda surreal, but lifelike images on the side of buildings that can be 6 or 7 stories high. These guys do an amazing job with their colors and shading. The way they create people is like modern day Norman Rockwell, with cool clothes and hats and birds on their heads. I love looking at their images and get inspired by that. They put together a really fun scene and it looks effortless.

Lucas: I feel like the question is like “what is your favorite song” or “what is your favorite movie” and I don’t have one. I just love things so much. There is just so much out there that gives you the idea of how much love, how much life, is there in the world. There are so many artists out there that are so incredible, so inspiring. This guy Greg Simkins, that goes by Crayola. He’s incredible. I make a real connection with Latin American artists. Franco Facoli from Argentina, he goes by Jaz. The list is endless. There are a lot of people that really inspire me, both in the street art world and in the fine art world.

Lucas Aoki "El Visitante" Oil on wood.

Lucas Aoki “El Visitante” Oil on wood.

Fascinating facts about the artists:

Truth is a pug snuggler, hip hop lover, treasure finder, repurposer (of all things paintable), lover of Jesus, godfather to my first born, and marathoner who decorates the world in joy.

Lucas is a master chef, woodworker, rock climber, baby whisperer, gardener, meditator, thinker, and lover of life kind of Renaissance friend.

Lucas and Mike have both been blessed by two incredibly supportive and beautiful wives that happen to be sisters… Everything happens for a reason.

mike and lucas

Lucas and Mike

If you’re in Austin for SXSW, catch Mike and Lucas LIVE painting on commissioned walls for the festival, a collaboration between Pow! Wow! Hawaii, SXSW and SprATX!

Mike will tear it up on Red River and 12th Street at the Brick Oven Saturday – Monday, 3/14-16.

Lucas will be painting at the Megalomedia building on Barton Springs, across from the Palmer Events Center – Friday-Sunday, 3/13-15.

If you happen to be MIA on these dates, follow @powwowhawaii on instagram to be a part of the magic!

Cruz holding an original piece by Mike Johnston. Noah carrying an original piece by Lucas Aoki. Paint on repurposed skate boards.

Cruz holding an original piece by Mike Johnston. Noah carrying an original piece by Lucas Aoki. Acrylic paint on repurposed skate boards. This was most definitely back in the day.

Paleo Banana Bread

Oh, for the love of the weather! I don’t know about you but around here it is cold today, hot tomorrow. This time of year in Texas it’s quite confusing. In my closet and in my kitchen. When it’s cold, I love to make soups and loads of baked goods. When the weather warms up, get ready for greens and lots of veggie dishes! I believe the rest of this weekend is going to be chilly so here’s what we’ll be snacking on.

My (easy peasy) Paleo Banana Bread is so moist and buttery you can’t even tell it’s gluten free, much less Paleo. I’ve played with the recipe several times, subbing in coconut flour for some of the almond flour. Coconut flour is a tad bit cheaper than almond, but also a tad bit more finicky. It’s a tricky flour to nail down but I’ll keep at it and share my results!

stellas banana bread

But for now, enjoy the all almond flour original and our family’s favorite of all of the Banana Breads tested.

Paleo Banana Bread

3 ripe bananas
1/4 cup organic grade a maple syrup
1 TBL organic vanilla
1/3 cup of melted coconut oil
3 eggs
2 cups almond flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
(optional) 1/2 cup of coarsely chopped walnuts

Pre-heat oven to 350F. Melt your coconut oil on low, be sure to put it aside as soon as it’s melted so it doesn’t get too hot and burn the flour. Line an 8 inch loaf pan with parchment paper, enough so that the paper is sticking up from each side of the pan. In a food processor, pulse your bananas until they become a smooth consistency. I, personally, prefer a few lumps. Add wet ingredients and process until smooth. Add dry ingredients and process until smooth. Scrape the sides of the processing bowl, if needed, to incorporate all dry ingredients. Stir in your walnuts if using them. Pour mixture into lined loaf pan. Pop into the oven for approximately 55 minutes. Check with a wooden skewer or knife at 50 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when your skewer comes out of the center clean. Wait to cool then devour!

We slather our bread with grass fed butter or a drizzle of honey or nothing at all, because it’s that yummy. Stay warm (or cool) this weekend!

In Love and Joy,

Baby, It’s Cold Outside…A (Paleo) Shepherd’s Pie Worth Squealing Over

Okay, so it’s not so cold here right now but when I started working on this post it was freezing. Welcome to Texas, folks!

One of my favorite people in the world came to visit last month and I was delighted! My extended family has always lived half way across the country so we see each other maybe once a year. Twice was a really good year! Needless to say, I was thrilled that my Aunt was coming for some sister time with my Mama and the kids and I decided to plan a feast for her.

My cousin is one year and a day younger than me and we have always joked that they switched us as babies because our personalities definitely resemble the other’s parent. Remarkably so.  Now, my Mama has always guided me spiritually but my Aunt and I have this different connection. When we start sharing about God – thoughts, experiences, feelings, we’re on this crazy multidimensional plane as though our Spirits are sitting together, drinking a cup of tea and nodding “Amen’s”. I pray my kids have a Spiritual Mentor that’s not me. Someone else they can go to with questions, doubts, fears, joys and just sit with in love. Don’t get me wrong, of course I want them to come to me. But I definitely want them to have that special one. The outsider from their daily lives that can be their sounding board that will feed them Truth. No sugar coating. Simply hard, beautiful Truth. I never knew I wanted this for my kids until I reflected back on this part of my life with my Aunt.

When I shared with the kids that she was coming, I asked what we should make and Noah immediately replied, “Shepherd’s Pie!”. I was quite surprised as I had only played with this recipe a few times and he was so excited. But Shepherd’s Pie it was and it turned out AH-mazing! She and my mom have both made it since, they loved it so much.


+++This recipe is time consuming if made all at once. This savory pie journey began using leftover “mashed potatoes”. I recommend either preparing this all at once on a weekend afternoon or using your leftover mashed potatoes the next day in this delicious dish!

Shepherd’s Pie

Paleo “Mashed Potatoes”

1 head of cauliflower
2 medium japanese yams (if you can’t find these you can sub another half a cauliflower or un-paleo it with3-4 yukon golds)
1 TBL organic olive oil 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup of chicken broth
1/4 cup of organic or grassfed butter
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp garlic pepper

Chop cauliflower and potatoes into 1 1/2″ pieces. Boil for approximately 13 minutes. Strain. On medium, sauté minced garlic in olive oil for two minutes. Add the cauliflower and potatoes back to the pot as well as broth, butter, salt and garlic pepper. Use immersion blender for smoothest potatoes. If you don’t have one, you can mash by hand or carefully transfer to a blender and pulse a few times. Enjoy with any meal but save 3/4 for your pie!

Savory Ground Turkey

2 TBL olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 lb turkey (this is interchangeable with any meat, chicken, lamb, etc)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp garlic pepper

Sauté onions in olive oil over medium. After 2-3 minutes, add ground meat and sauté until browned. Stir in sea salt and garlic pepper.

Paleo Gravy

1 onion, diced
2 TBL butter
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp garlic pepper
1 TBL tapioca starch (or arrowroot)
5 TBL almond flour
1 cup chicken broth

Sauté onion in oil over medium high, stirring quickly for about 4-5 minutes until carmelized. Traditional carmelized onions are cooked on low for 20+ minutes but who’s got time for that? Same yummy taste, just don’t turn your back on them for these few minutes. Turn heat down to medium low and add all ingredients but chicken broth. (If you have an electric stove, wait a few minutes until your burner has cooled to the lower temperature or be prepared to stir your heart out. If your burner is too hot, your flour will burn!) Stir in broth. Use your immersion blender for a smoother gravy or carefully transfer to your blender and pulse a few times until desired consistency.

Now that you have your main pie ingredients made, all you need is one small bag of frozen organic carrots and peas. In a casserole dish, add a TBL of olive oil or so (or a swish as we say at home) to coat the dish.

Layer accordingly:

Half of the Gravy

Savory Ground Meat

Savory Ground Meat
Peas + Carrots

Peas + Carrots
Half of the Gravy

More Gravy!
“Mashed Potatoes”


Bake at 350F until all flavors have had a dance party and gloriously become one, or approximately 30 minutes. This filling, all-in-one meal will be sure to warm your belly and your heart. I hope you and your specials enjoy this as much as we have!

In Love and Joy,

A Present of Presence + a Simple DIY for Valentines

How’s everyone feeling? Lovelier? Lighter? Crazy and tired? Yep, me, too. Wrapping up our (almost) two weeks of love spreading, I subconsciously focused the first week on friends and strangers. This week I realized there were a few people who could use some extra impromptu love right under my roof!

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I started thinking about what kind of Valentine surprises and treats I would make for the kiddos and Joe when God hit me with a big – Your presence is the best gift they could receive.

Wow. Ok. Got it.

After that very loud whisper I began consciously leaving my phone and laptop in our bedroom or in my purse. If it’s not out, I’m not perusing mindless activity that has nothing to do with the current moment I’m sitting in or who I’m with. And guess what? It worked!

I’ve had a really lovely week with my children and my husband. Nothing mind blowing. No fireworks. We kept our quota of crazy, hair bending moments, too. But there were loads of extra hugs and laughs and giggles.

I, as a woman and mother, of course felt extreme guilt for all of the wasted moments of the past. Then I received another quick nudge that now is now and that’s what we can care for.

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I’ve decided to write each one of my kiddos and my amazing husband a love letter for V Day. At first, I thought I would make it fun and crafty, but honestly, there was no time for that. I also realized that the fru fru is wonderful when you can, but a beautiful and honest sharing of “why I love you” on a white notecard will simply be perfect…and of course some Paleo Pancakes on the side!

love letter

And I have a special little something for you, too! Here’s a quick and simple DIY Body Scrub. If you’re like me and wait to the last second to share some sweet love with a co-worker, friend or teacher then this will definitely come in handy! We actually made these for the boys’ teachers at Christmas and I love them so much because all of the kids are able to help prepare them.

Sweet Stella mixing bath salts

Sweet Stella mixing bath salts

Lavender+Peppermint Body Scrub

1 cup of virgin/unrefined coconut oil
1/2 cup of coarse pink sea salt (I buy our salt in the bulk section for the discounted price)
1/2 cup of sugar
15 drops of lavender essential oil
5 drops of peppermint essential oil

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Once well mixed, transfer to a mason jar or a cute glass container. I found ours at Hobby Lobby (and used the 40% off coupon that’s always on their site!). This recipe fills three of the containers with wooden lids.

Have fun with this one – add orange, lemon or lime zest for a splash of color. Or finely chop rosemary or thyme to throw in. Feel free to mix and match oils to create your own signature scrub.

Have a lovely weekend everyone!

In Love and Joy,