I still remember the first time my mother and I attempted my granny’s 16-layer chocolate cake even though it has been almost 20 years now. We had worked all afternoon on it, carefully cooking each paper thin layer of cake, guarding the fudge-like frosting as it cooked away on the stove so that it wouldn’t burn, and finally, assembling it. Pleased with ourselves, we stepped out of the kitchen until a loud splat brought us running back. Our beautiful cake was now in bits and pieces all over the floor – we had assembled it while it had been too warm and the layers had slid apart. I looked at my mom and did the only thing that I could do at the moment. I sat on the floor and started eating.

It was delicious.

That’s the kind of magic that my granny’s cake had. I can’t think of the holidays without picturing her chocolate cake, sitting modestly on top of the freezer in the backroom, though it should have been issued a place of honor at the main table. Every time we gathered at her house, for Thanksgiving, for Christmas, for birthdays, the cake would be waiting for us. We all had to pass through the backroom to enter our house (no one ever used the front door) so we all would feel a glimmer of excitement when we spotted that cake sitting there.

Even when arthritis crippled her hands, she pressed on, switching from homemade cake batter to one out of a box. She faithfully made her icing the same way, though at times my grandfather had to take over for her (under her watchful eye of course). Sometimes the cake would have 14 layers, sometimes closer to 19. It was always a game to see who could come the closest to guessing the number of layers before we counted, peeling off each layer to eat, line by line.

My granny passed away this past January, only a few brief months before I would find out that I’m pregnant with my first child. I’m looking forward to sharing the magic of this cake with my own child as he grows. Even though I might have learned my lesson to let the layers cool before assembling the cake, who knows, maybe I’ll let him help me and start a tradition of eating cake off of the floor.

Trust me, it’s worth it.

Even though my granny started using a box cake mix in her later years, I went with her original recipe. When Robb saw me unloading not just butter but margarine for this cake, he said that it HAD to be good with all of that fat in there.

The key is nice, thin layers. I made my layers just a little too thick but my body was just exhausted. Being 8 months pregnant would do that to you!

There is an ingredient in the frosting that doesn’t normally appear in most other boiled frosting recipes, an ingredient that I think turns this into an almost foolproof recipe – marshmallows. I’ve done a little digging around and it seems that adding in marshmallows became a thing in a few areas of the country back in the 1960’s. When I called my mom to ask if she remembered including marshmallows during our initial fateful recreation years ago, she said that it didn’t seem familiar to her but perhaps that was why her attempt failed.

After letting your frosting cool for just a few minutes – and be careful because it will be hot – start stacking your cake, pouring the frosting over layer by layer. Making this cake requires a tremendous amount of patience.  If you try to hurry through it, your layers will start to slip and slide just like ours did.

The worst part about making this cake is even after you get it all assembled – you still have to wait. Wait for it to harden and solidify. It’ll be well worth the wait, trust me.


Print Recipe
Granny's Old-Fashioned Multi-layer Cake with Boiled Chocolate Frosting
Don’t be ashamed if your first couple of attempts at making this cake come out less than spectacular. It took my granny years to perfect her cake and even then, she would occasionally put out a product that was, in her mind, “sub-par”. I simply called it rustic.
Course Dessert
Servings
1 12-layer(ish) cake
Ingredients
Cake
  • 1 stick margarine room temperature
  • 1 stick butter room temperature
  • 2 c. white cane sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 c. self-rising flour
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 c. whole milk
Frosting
  • 1 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 1/2 c. white cane sugar
  • 2 1/4 c. evaporated milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 stick margarine
  • 12 large marshmallows
Course Dessert
Servings
1 12-layer(ish) cake
Ingredients
Cake
  • 1 stick margarine room temperature
  • 1 stick butter room temperature
  • 2 c. white cane sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 c. self-rising flour
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 c. whole milk
Frosting
  • 1 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 1/2 c. white cane sugar
  • 2 1/4 c. evaporated milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 stick margarine
  • 12 large marshmallows
Instructions
Cake
  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease and flour your 9” baking pans (I used shortening and flour).
  3. Beat butter, margarine, and sugar together with an electric mixer until creamy.
  4. Add in your eggs, vanilla, milk, and flour, mixing until well combined.
  5. Using a measuring cup, measuring out just over ¼ of a cup of batter in each of your baking tins. Smooth out the batter using the back of a spoon.
  6. Bake each layer for 8-10 minutes until done - depending on the amount of batter you add to each tin will dictate how long it will take to cook. You’ll want the cake to spring back when touching lightly in the center. Remove from pans to the cooling racks.
  7. Wipe out cake pans, grease and flour the again, and bake the remaining cake layers as directed.
Frosting
  1. In a large heavy saucepan, melt the cocoa powder, sugar, evaporated milk, vanilla extract, margarine, and marshmallows over medium-low heat until the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Bring to a rolling boil and cook for 8 minutes, stirring constantly. Be careful as the liquid will be hot.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  4. Assemble your cake, pouring your frosting over each layer.
  5. Let sit for a and enjoy!
Recipe Notes

Don’t be in a rush. If you notice that your cake is starting to slide after you begin frosting it, secure it with a few wooden dowels or skewers. Since the layers are so thin on this cake, you will notice that you can see the ridges through the frosting. That is okay!

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Meet Lil Bean – aka Caleb!

DOB: 12/5/17 | Weight: 9.9 lbs. | Length: 21″

I’m currently sitting in my living room on a chilly December morning, snug as a bug in my “throne” (i.e. numerous pillows and blankets tucked around me) with a hearty crockpot going in the kitchen. Most important of all, I get to look at my Lil Bean, also snug as a bug in his little swing, completely at peace with the world.

Lil Bean is officially one week old as of today and let me tell you, it has been a whirlwind of a week. On my Week 38 Update, I wrote that we had a set date for Lil Bean’s C-section – December 6th. I made December 1st my last working day so that I could take Monday and Tuesday to get some errands done, relax, and prepare for my c-section.

Pssh. Let me tell you what really happened.

Sunday, Robb and I went to visit a fellow couple and their two week old baby. After that, we went to a local restaurant – Montero’s – for brunch. He had never been there and I just wanted to go out to eat. We ended up leaving the restaurant way beyond stuffed.

That’s when I started feeling funny. Crampy, some back pain, nauseous, just a little out of sorts really. Still, I went on about my day though I couldn’t quite get comfortable at night. Monday came and I woke up feeling a little bit more out of sorts but I had a full day planned – I wanted to get a haircut, check out a potential daycare, etc. By lunchtime, I was starting to hurt so I went home to rest, thinking I would finish up my errands on Tuesday (grocery store and picking up contacts).

I woke up on Tuesday and Robb drove me to the hospital to have some blood work done. I hadn’t been able to sleep at all Monday night due to cramping so even though Robb suggested we go and talk to labor and delivery, I shrugged it off. Less than 24 hours from then, I would have my C-section anyway.

He drove me home and went off to work for a few hours. The pain grew worse and grew constant (I tried to time the waves but they never seemed to end). There was no relief or break – not through a shower or heating pad so when Robb called to check on me about two hours later, he suggested that I call my doctor and then actually called for me because I didn’t think I could get enough words out. Belle tried to help by bringing me toys and snuggling with me.

After a call from my doctor, Robb came and picked me up to carry me to the hospital. We got to the hospital about 11 a.m., they hooked me up to some machines to register my contractions and SURPRISE – active labor. Not long after, my mom showed up and we were told that they would start making preparations to have my C-section that day, basically within the next hour or so.

It was non-stop action at that point. People coming in and out of the room, getting me set-up with my IVs, measuring my vitals, etc. A little after lunchtime, I was given a pain medication that took the edge off – and it certainly helped. After having no sleep for the past few days, all I wanted to do then was close my eyes.

Being rolled into the operating room was a surreal experience. I had never had any sort of surgery so I had no idea. In my haze, it almost seemed a bit alien – big bright lights, people milling about everywhere in scrubs. I was given a spinal block which was not pleasant by any means. Then there was nothing but numbness. I had the shakes pretty bad, even though they covered my arms in heated blankets, I couldn’t stop shaking.

They put up the curtain and that’s when Robb walked in. He was quite brave and peeked over the curtain quite a few times. His eyes got really big at one point but he never wavered. Talking to him later, it was quite a trippy experience for the both of us – he saw more of me than most people ever see of someone and all I felt during the whole process was a bit of tugging. He saw my water being broken with a huge gush and not long after, watched our Lil Bean being snatched out butt first.

As soon as he came out, he started to cry. After 9 months, I couldn’t believe that he was finally here. The doctor held him up so that I could see him and after a few moments, his umbilical cord was cut. Robb followed them over to where they got his measurements and cleaned him up some (no bath) and then he was brought over to me and placed him on my chest. I think Caleb and I were both looking at each other with a sense of wonderment at that time.

Robb left with Caleb as they finished closing me up and I was wheeled back to my room. Start to finish, I’d say the whole process took less than 1 hour. I was feeling no pain at that time and watched my mom and Robb change Caleb’s first diaper.

After two hours, I was taken to the recovery room where I would spend the next two days with Robb and Caleb. Tuesday wasn’t bad. Wednesday, I felt like I had been hit by a truck. I tried to move around in the bed as much as I could and tried to make it a point to get out of bed every few hours. It sucked but even though pain medication was available, I didn’t take much advantage of it – the pain wasn’t that bad to me. Getting woken up throughout the night by the nurses was not fun nor was the fact that I really couldn’t tend to Caleb, but the time passed. We were discharged on Thursday and after a few quick stops, headed home.

Our first evening home – I’m not intentionally shooting Robb the bird.

Robb was a huge help in the hospital and even now that we’re home, he has been amazing. He has been the primary diaper-changer (just because it has been hard for me to move about) and has taken care of me and Caleb wonderfully. The first few days after getting home, I was still sore but today – there is a soreness but I feel much more invigorated (I’ve done dishes, cleaned the kitchen some, changed diapers). Everyone keeps commenting on how surprised they are that I am recovering as quickly as I am.

Since coming home from the hospital, Caleb has had two doctor’s appointments (one was a follow-up for his weight), been introduced to Belle (we’ve been letting her in for a few hours at a time – she really doesn’t seem interested in him other than in sniffing his butt), and gone on a Sunday drive with us (which was actually on Monday, but it’s what we call the days when we ride around to look at houses). Nights have been a bit rough but as Robb is a morning person and I’m more of a night owl, it’s working out somewhat.

To be honest, I’m glad that everything worked out how it did – that even though my C-section was scheduled, it ended up having to be a day early. It all happened so quickly that none of us really had time to think about it. Plus, I love the fact that Caleb had his little heart set on being born December 5th – ever since the early stages of my pregnancy, I just KNEW that December 5th would be his date of birth.

We have a date! It looks like Lil Bean’s birthday will be December 6th. I was sooo close to having predicted his date of birth back when I was three months pregnant. I said that it would be December 5th. But December 6th is a great day.

It’s weird knowing when his birthday will be. It’s weird knowing that I only have a few days left of feeling him squirm around in my belly. It really makes it real now that I have a date.

This Friday will be my last day at work before I start my maternity leave (which is perfect because we are having a potluck that day). It’ll let me have Monday off to relax/run some errands and Tuesday to go and get my blood drawn. They want to draw 2 pints to have on hand just in case I end up needing to have a blood transfusion during my procedure. I also have to take a shower the night before and the morning of using a special disinfectant soap. At least I’ll start the day with clean hair!

38 Weeks

When I went in for my doctor’s appointment, I really didn’t have many questions. Our doctor went over the basic procedure last week which was good enough for me. I have done research on the after part of having a c-section as well as looked up pictures of the process itself but for the most part (which I jokingly compared to the Chestburster scene in Alien), I know that if I research too much then I will only freak myself out.

We still don’t know what time yet and probably won’t know for a few more days. Scheduling a c-section on a Wednesday is a bit of an anomaly for our hospital but Monday/Tuesday (the usual days) were already fully booked with inductions, c-sections, and other birth/delivery procedures. It’ll either be at 7:30 a.m. or 12:30 p.m. Personally, I’m voting for 12:30 since we have to be there 2 hours beforehand.

It was nice weather this past weekend, so we took the dogs down to the pond. We all had such a good time and it was nice to get outside in the fresh air.

When you’re an expecting mother, you can sometimes lose sight of yourself among the preparations for your upcoming bundle of joy. It seems even more so if you are having a baby close to the holidays. One thing that my mom has tried her hardest to do during my pregnancy is to make sure that I haven’t been forgotten. For my birthday, she picked out gifts for me, not for Lil Bean. The same can probably be said for the Christmas holiday as well.

So I wanted to share some of my favorite gift ideas perfect for giving to the expecting mom in your life! These gifts are perfect for the upcoming holiday season or whenever you want to spoil that mama-to-be.

She deserves it.

Here we go!

Black Floral Pajama Pants from PinkBlush Maternity

PinkBlush Maternity has been my go-to for cute, comfortable clothing throughout my pregnancy and their pajama pants absolutely ROCK! The print is gorgeous, the fabric is so soft that the pants feel like butter against your skin, and the drawstring allows you to adjust the waistband as needed.

You can’t go wrong with pretty much anything from PinkBlush Maternity. Seriously.

Want more ideas on what not to get for a new mom? Then you need to see this gift guide from Priscilla at Multiwear.

Floral Bouquet from The Bouqs

When you’re pregnant, there will be days when you just aren’t feeling your best. Sometimes all it takes it a sweet little bouquet of flowers to brighten your day and The Bouqs has been my source for flowers for quite a few years now. The arrangements change frequently throughout the year and what I like most about the company is that they really work to build a relationship between the growers and the florists.

[Bonus: Order November’s Bouquet of the Month – the Chai Bouq – and Save 10% using coupon code NOV10! Valid 11/1-11/30]

Ecocentric Mom Gift Subscription

Ecocentric Mom box

I’ve waxed poetic before about how much I love receiving the Ecocentric Mom Monthly Subscription Box. The boxes are a mix of practical and pampering items tailored to the stage of motherhood. The contents vary every month but include some of the best non-toxic, organic, natural and unique products for moms, their babies and their homes.

[Bonus: Get 30% off your first monthly box with coupon code GETSTARTED]

Lavender and Calendula Hand Salve from The Southern Belle’s Garden

Filled with nourishing oils such as olive oil, sweet almond oil, coconut oil, and my favorite, kukui nut oil (which is known for its soothing properties helps sooth sunburns and chapped skin), this salve is perfect for dry skin. The added bonus of lavender, lemongrass, and cedar wood essential oils creates a relaxing sensation as you apply this salve to your hands. It’s a great pampering product to gift.

Looking for more of the best gifts for new moms? Alyssa over at Feathers and Stripes has some great suggestions.

Guided Pregnancy Journal from Studio Oh!

Time WILL fly by when you are pregnant. I’ve tried to keep up with my pregnancy journal the best that I can but even I have slacked off at times (right about the time I started blogging more up here actually). This pregnancy journal from Studio Oh! is super-cute and a great way for any pregnant woman to keep track of some of the most memorable moments of her pregnancy.

Milestone Pregnancy Cards from Our Green House

As I have learned during my pregnancy, it is amazing how quickly time will pass by. These cards will help a mom-to-be document the special moments of her pregnancy. The set includes a card for weeks 8-40 of pregnancy as well as other special moments such as “first kick” and “pregnancy cravings.”

Better Grip Yoga Mat from Clever Yoga

These yoga mats come in a wide array of colors and are made from premium 100% Recyclable and ECO friendly TPE material which is UV resistant, odor-less and free from PVC, Phthalates, Silicone, Latex and other toxic materials.

Kinesiology Tape Pro from Mytape

An odd choice, but I know that this would make a great stocking stuffer for any expecting mom. Kinesiology tape (which you’ve probably seen mostly athletes wear up until now) is a safe alternative to medication that can help to relieve many pregnancy symptoms including swollen feet, back pain, sciatic, etc. It serves to lift the skin and help promote better blood circulation to relieve pressure on pain receptors.

Amazon Gift Card

This is a no-brainer. Even though a lot of people think that giving gift cards might be tacky or impersonal, I LOVE to receive gift cards. It allows me to purchase what I really want. Get that mom-to-be a gift card to her favorite store and let her pick out what she really wants.

So there you have it – some of my top picks for holiday gifts for expecting moms. I hope this gift guide gives you some wonderful ideas for the holidays and after!

This Gift Guide is in participation with a Gift Guide Blog Hop. For the full list of Gifts for new or expecting moms, click here.

Today I rolled out of bed as a 30-year old. Literally, rolled. Robb laughs at me because I usually need a little momentum to get myself out of bed now, so I have to kick my legs or I’ll swing them over the edge of the bed and slide. Once I get bigger and start needing help, I know that he’ll be right there to pull me up.

So yeah. I rolled out of bed as a 30-year old, 31 weeks pregnant. I’ve been so fortunate to have the life that I have. I know that every life is filled with its ups and downs but I’m blessed that as of today, I have had so many more ups than anything else. I can only hope that with all the changes that are coming soon, the ups keep on coming.

How could I resist a 30th birthday bump picture – even if it’s a dreary day and the lighting is off?

My mom called as I was fixing myself breakfast. For as long as I can remember, she’s played this special birthday song for me from “Captain Zoom”. We both know all the words (and for the most part, it’s the first words that pop into my bed come the morning of October 12th). She purchased it as a cassette many, many years ago but as cassette players started to fade away, she started to panic about finding a way to play it so I surprised her one year with a CD.

I love traditions. We don’t have very many in our family really, other than “Captain Zoom” and my mom giving us pajamas or something similar on Christmas Eve. But all it takes to start a tradition is for someone to make that first move. With Lil Bean joining us, I look forward to starting even more traditions.

What are some of your favorite family traditions?

Update:

I thought I would give a quick update on some of the awesome things I received for my birthday.

Check out these goodies from my mom – she knows me so well! I love the little onsies and the “Beware the Hen Poo” sign is to replace one I lost earlier in the year. It came all the way from Ireland! I’ve been looking forward to reading “The Cooking Gene” by Michael Twitty. What is really neat is that the jar of pink rocks is actually rose quartz that mom found during their mountain camping trip.

What’s even neater is that rose quartz is a good stone to take to the hospital to place near the baby/mother during the birthing process to promote bonding!