It’s Caleb’s first Easter this year! Even though I know that he’ll not really have any idea what is going on, I still wanted to do a little Easter basket for him. We are also planning to take him to see the Easter Bunny next weekend as long as the weather is decent. So one of the hardest things for me was finding items for his Easter basket. My mom always did such a great job of putting together baskets that were actually useful instead of having junk in them that we just tossed. Sometimes I would get items for the beach or items to use in the garden but she always made sure to get me something sweet!

When creating an Easter basket, especially for that first Easter, I think it is important to go with more practical items. Keeping that in mind, here are some of the items that will be in my little one’s basket this year.

 

Philips Avent BPA Free Soothie Pacifier – Caleb has already gotten to the point where he doesn’t seem to need a pacifier but when he uses one, these are his favorite. Since he seems to be starting to teeth, I think they help him out a little bit. Plus, they are made of silicone and are super easy to sterilize by just tossing them in the dishwasher.

 

When Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes – I picked this little board book up a few weeks ago and absolutely love it. I try to read to Caleb almost everyday so getting him another book was a no-brainer for me. The artwork in this particular book is great and I love how it using small, basic words to talk about the changing of the season.

 

Wilderness Romper from Finn and Ark – Isn’t this romper adorable? It looks like the perfect thing for Caleb for wear during the summer so I got it in a 6-9 month size. This Etsy shop (based out of Canada) is full of great products in a variety of styles. I’ve been eyeballing her nursing hoodies as well. Even though Caleb has plenty of clothes, he doesn’t have anything similar to this so I thought a little outfit would be the perfect addition.

 

Wooden Name Puzzle from FromJennifer – Jennifer’s Etsy shop is full of beautifully crafted wooden items and I have been wanting this wooden puzzle since I found out that I was pregnant. I know that Caleb won’t be able to actually do the puzzle for a while but the letters (I went with maple) are perfect for teething.

 

Coconut Cream Easter Egg – Okay. I’m not going to lie. This one is really for me but what is an Easter basket without a little something sweet in there? I love, love, love the handmade coconut cream Easter eggs that are sold this time of year (and the peanut butter ones as well). I don’t think there has been an Easter yet that I haven’t either been given one or picked up one for myself. Robb, Caleb, and I are headed to the farmer’s market tomorrow and the word on the street is that there will be some eggs at the market!

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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Happy 2018!

2017 was certainly a stellar year for my boyfriend and I. We found out that I was expecting a little one, turned 30 years old, and we welcomed our Lil Bean into this world. Even though my business didn’t make an appearance at many in-person events, I had more online sales than in previous years.

I fully believe that 2018 will be even better. I plan to continue growing my business and I have a super awesome project that I’ve been working on the past few months launching this March.  I’ll get to watch Caleb develop in so many ways. My boyfriend and I will be one step closer to achieving our goals (the homestead).

I stopped making New Year’s resolutions years ago. If there was a change that I wanted to make, I would go ahead and implement that change. I didn’t want to have to wait until a new year rolled around. That being said, I have decided to try Veganuary. Veganuary challenges you to go vegan for 31 days (the month of January) in an attempt to raise awareness about animal suffering and to show the impact of veganism on your health.

We already have cut down on meat consumption in our household (and rely mostly on what Robb has hunted instead of purchasing meat from the supermarket) but I would like to make it so we one day only consume what we produce ourselves.

I don’t plan on ever going 100% vegan as I don’t see an issue with using the infertile eggs from our own chickens but I can see us adopting even more of a plant-based diet for humane and health reasons. I didn’t start Veganuary today as I didn’t want to waste leftovers but plan to make an honest effort of it and look forward to experimenting in the kitchen.

Have you ever thought about adopting a plant-based diet?

Week 37 was a bit of a rough week, more so emotionally than anything. Robb and I went on Tuesday to my ultrasound appointment and they confirmed that Lil Bean was breeched (Lil Bean and I both checked out healthy otherwise). On the bright side, we did get to see Lil Bean waving at us and learned that he has a fat lower lip (he must get his lips from me). The technician also stated that it appears that Lil Bean is currently in the 90th percentile and weighs a little over 8 pounds (she said that she could be off a pound either way).

37 Weeks!

When we met with the doctor, he gave us a few options – we could try external cephalic version (ECV), which is an attempt to physically turn Lil Bean so that he’s head down. There’s about a 50/50 chance that it would work and no guarantee Lil Bean would stay that way until it’s time for labor. He also stated that it could be risky for Lil Bean depending on why he was breeched. We could just see if Lil Bean would turn on his own or we could go ahead and schedule a cesarean. He told us to take the weekend to discuss our options and do some research but our minds are made up.

I’ll be calling Monday to schedule my C-section. It’s a bit ironic because at the very beginning of my pregnancy, I wanted a home birth (which Robb nor my mom felt comfortable with as this was my first pregnancy).

It’s not what either of us wanted and it is a bit upsetting. We are both disappointed that we won’t have the “full” birth experience – the anticipation of if “it’s time”, the rushed journey to the hospital, Robb hearing me moo like a cow, etc. My pregnancy has been so easy this entire time and I’ve been so confident that I would give birth naturally that a C-section never crossed my mind. Ever.

But that’s okay. I know that if it was meant for Lil Bean to turn then he would have. It feels like he has tried but he just can’t make it happen. It could be many things – umbilical cord wrapped around something, he could be stuck because of my size versus his size, or it could be something with me (I did see where the technician notated that my placenta was in a different position than what is common). My health and Lil Bean’s health is what matters most. If I lived in a larger city with more options, I would maybe attempt to give birth vaginally but where I am, I need to make the best choice for us. Besides, I don’t want to end up in a situation where I have to have an emergency C-section after being in labor for hours upon hours.

Our doctor did a good job of explaining things, especially the timeline. Basically once everything gets started, it’ll only be about 45 minutes until I get to touch Lil Bean.

On a lighter note – here’s some other pictures from last week!

Belle has become addicted to cuddling with me during my pregnancy – not that I mind, I love her warmth!

The obligatory Thanksgiving plate photo – yum.

Cranberries that I made – I LOVE cranberries and made sure to buy an extra bag to throw in the freezer.

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.