cinnamon coconut custard cake (a GF recipe review)

cinnamon coconut custard cake
Every once in a while I find myself pinning something and going back to it again and again and again …

and again …

and again …

… until someone gives me an excuse to make it.

Like today, when it just so happens that the husband of one of my BFFs is having a birthday and my very pregnant friend’s kitchen is mid-remodel and she can’t bake a cake for the love of her life.

Thursday also happens to be a very unscheduled homeschool day for us. No ballet. No violin lessons. No skiing or horseback riding. No piano or art. Perfect time to have school in the kitchen (measuring, weighing, blendering, baking, chemical reactions … can you think of a better way to introduce science and math to a 3-year old? Me either!!)

You see, since the New Year I’ve been working to eliminate grains from my diet. I’m not going “strict” paleo, but more paleo. Lots of veggies, some protein, good fats (like Coconut Oil and Ghee) and limited grains and sugars.

And if I’m gonna make a cake for someone, I would like it to be a cake that I can eat, too!

So this is the pin that caught my eye …

cinnamon coconut custard cake

Looks pretty moist and cake-like for a grain-free cake, doesn’t it??

Guess what? … it IS!

It’s moist.

It’s just this side of sweet perfection.

And if you like coconut, it’s deliciously coconutty goodness.

But I have to admit I struggle to follow recipes. I mean … I saw white chocolate chips in this cake and I don’t like white chocolate, so … no white chocolate. I didn’t even replace them, although I THOUGHT about swapping in some pecans or hazelnuts.

I imagine it’s because we’re at a higher altitude than the original baker, but it took at least 10 minutes longer in our oven to firm up and cook through.

And of course, I made this to celebrate a birthday, which to me means it needs frosting. So I whipped up a quick cream cheese vanilla coconut icing and sprinkled it with shredded coconut.

Happy Happy Happy Happy Happy Happy Happy Happy.

The hardest part of today was waiting to sing Happy Birthday!

One more time … here’s the recipe by the Holistic Health Herbalist. If you’re looking for a tasty grain-free, refined sugar-free dessert … I like it!



the kindergarten quandary

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Abby here, confessing that I’ve gone back and forth as to whether or not write about this.

Part of me feels like this should be an easier decision, and I need not rely on other peoples opinions and experiences. But the other part of me feels like I’m running in circles, and I’m hoping maybe some of you have really wrestled with the same issue…

So here’s where I’m at: I’ve got a wonderful 4 year old son who will be starting kindergarten next year.

For the last 2 or 3 years, I’ve been pretty amped up about homeschooling. This really wasn’t something up for debate. I was excited about it. I researched, looked into the local co-op, read blogs and books, and asked a million questions.

Now here we are, with just one short year before kindergarten, and I feel stumped. I’ve felt less and less adequate to homeschool the closer we get to kindergarten, yet a huge part of me still longs to do so. I love the idea of it, I’m just not sure about the reality of it.

As for most parents, the three obvious options here are homeschool, private school and public school.

Private school wasn’t something we considered until our church began meeting a wonderful private school here in town. Getting to know the school and some of the students and teachers has definetely warmed me up more to this idea. There are just so many factors…. a few being the price, that fact that it takes a classical education approach and then also the rumors that there is very little emphasis on play for the students. One advantage to this private school is their kindergarten program is a 1/2 day, which I think could be a good transition into school for my boy.

Then there is the cute little public school down the street, that every person I’ve met in Bozeman who knows anything about the school district here says I am CRAZY to not send my child there. There is usually only one class per grade, and I have heard nothing but amazing things about the place. To top it off, my son just started a neighborhood soccer team, and every single boy on his team will be in the kindergarden class next year. Many of the parents have older children already in school, and they think the world of that place.

But then I’m back to square one in that in a perfect world I really do think I’d like to homeschool… I think.

So… I guess this is just a brain dump, but I would love and appreciate any advice. Surely I am not the only one who has struggled with this….


“It is an incalculable added pleasure to any one’s sum of happiness if he or she grows to know, even slightly and imperfectly, how to read and enjoy the wonder-book of nature.” – T. Roosevelt

With that idea in mind … to teach our kids to read and enjoy the wonder-book of nature … we went on a great adventure last week.

A 250 mile road trip to Yellowstone National Park.

Two moms.

Four kids (which means four car seats.)

A rented Suburban.

Way too many snacks (because with four kids, there never seem to be enough snacks).

And more than a little enthusiasm for 13 hours on the road!



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“The Park is just a howling wilderness of three thousand square miles, full of all imaginable freaks of a fiery nature.” – R. Kipling

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It’s also a good place to find a bench and relax.

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Note the lovely glare?  It’s true … just because the dude is carrying a really fancy camera, there’s no guarantee he knows how to take a picture 🙂

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Somehow … 13 hours, 250 miles, 35 bathroom stops, snack stops, nature walks, rock climbs and races …. we are all still friends and reminded just how lucky we are to live so close to this amazing gift.
Happy Monday!

discipline doesn’t have to be a dirty word

Two weeks ago, I attended a course on early childhood development at The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential (which is kind of an intense name of an organization, don’t you think?)

The thing is … the folks at the IAHP spend most of their year working with brain-injured children and have incredible success rates in changing the course of the lives of littles who suffered seizures as infants, who live with autism, who are born with cerebral palsy, who suffer brain injury from accidents, who have behavioral problems due to undiagnosed ailments and injuries, and the list goes on.

They are an incredible group of individuals.

And a few times a year, they open their doors to the parents of “well-children” in the hopes of giving us a better understanding of how the human brain develops, how we learn, and how we can create an environment for our children to embrace their innate love of learning.  And since I’m in the midst of exploring a lot of different homeschooling curriculum, it just seemed like a good idea for me to attend this course.

Actually, this is the second course I’ve taken at the Institutes.  I took the first one a few years ago, when our oldest was just 2 years old.

Now, at 4, she’s reading a little, and writing more, and starting simple math, but I felt like I needed a boost … like I needed to be reminded of everything I learned the first time.  This “graduate” course seemed like exactly the right thing.

And now that I’m home, I’m only a little overwhelmed.

Overwhelmed with how much I can still be doing.

How much I haven’t done exactly right (although exactly doesn’t matter much … it’s just about the doing.)

It’s an incredible program … and if I can share one tidbit from this week that has already had a transforming effect on our home:  One whole day of the program was about Social Growth, the Law and the Policies that govern one’s home and how they impact childhood development.  Incredible.  So simple.  Basic.  Obvious.  And a common sense approach to creating a “sane” environment at home.

Have you ever read Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids by Dr. Laura Markham from

Or ever seen those “rule boards” on Pinterest?

the rules

They all teach the same thing … discipline (or setting boundaries, or establishing the law, or defining the parameters we live by … depends on who is sharing the information about how it’s worded) is good for kids.  Not: “hitting is good for kids.”  “DISCIPLINE” is good for kids.  But discipline doesn’t work if we don’t let our kids know the rules.  (How can we expect them to know the rules if we don’t tell them what they are?)

So we took the advice from all these places pretty literally.

We had a family meeting.

Announced “The Law.”

Posted it on our front door.

the law

Designated our time-out spot.

time out

And here we are.

yes, they’re posing … but it’s not something they don’t do several times a day now so I didn’t feel so bad asking them to show a little love 🙂

One week and one law down … next … “pinching” … good thing we have the rest of their lives to get it right 🙂

NOTE: it doesn’t work if we’re not consistent … which is the most challenging part of this whole endeavor.  But in just one week our house has become a much more sane environment.  It’s not perfect.  But we’re moving in the right direction and that feels good.

How do you deal with discipline in your house?