Celebrating M.O.M: Ani, the Sunny Believer

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This is Ani. She is brilliant, positive, and powerful, and I am absolutely thrilled to feature her on this blog. I’m so happy that I get to celebrate her amazingness in this series.

She makes the world go round for those she loves and she loves being a mother to Tatum, (5) and Maverick, (1).

She believes deeply in the good in people, and always looks for it, no matter where she is and who she meets.

She is vivacious, and determined.

I admire Ani for many things, but one of them is the way that she brings positive energy into any room, and into any situation, no matter how dingy or difficult they may seem.

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I love her for the way that she takes on life with such bravery and openness, and how she is not afraid to go after the life she wants, for herself, and for her family.

She’s got the faith of a child, and the mentality of a bulldog, which makes her a powerful combination for the hurdles and challenges that she faces, while often shouldering both mommy AND daddy duty, when her husband’s out-of-town job requires it.

Ani enjoys the simple things and is the happiest when she is wearing a sundress, and twirling in the sunshine with her kids. She dreams of mentoring women, and running barefoot in a field of wildflowers.

For now, though, she is just as happy running after bare feet and the small shoes of her children. Motherhood has taught her “to slow down and to recognize each child every day. To let them know they are seen as they are and that they matter.”

And what a beautiful gift she is to them!

Her passion and the sunshine that she pours out on life stretches far beyond her children, and she is known by many for her positive influence.

I count myself blessed to be one of them.

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She describes her life right now as “up and down,” but I say that whether it is up OR down, Ani has the tenacity and the courage to greet it all with a smile, and a determined heart, and nothing will stop her or keep her down.

She will continue to shine, bright and strong and beautiful, above all.

What a woman. What a friend. What a believer!

America, I Want to Believe in You.

Fourteen years ago, when those towers fell, it didn’t matter what religion you were, if you were hurting, we were there. If you were weeping, we were holding you. If your child was in need, we ran to help him/her.

We didn’t care if you were Muslim, Jew, or Atheist, if you were bleeding, we were carrying you.

Because that’s who we were and that’s what we did. As a people, that’s who we were created to be.

And I want to believe that’s who we still are. I want to believe that beneath all the back biting and religious slandering, we are still a people who care deeply about our fellow humans. That when something bad happens to one or two or ten thousand of us, we run, not walk, to help. That we come with our trucks and our hearts and our water, and we bring our best intentions.

Because we care.

I want to believe that behind all the hate and bigotry and lashing out in my news feed, that we are still a people that love enough to put our differences aside and pull together for the common good of another, no matter the color of their skin, or which god they believe in.

I trust that we still want to help each other. Grieve. Rebuild. Laugh again. And that we won’t wait for another mass tragedy to show our true colors.

I want to believe that we are strong and that we won’t wait for another building, or plane, or train to blow up, to show the world what we’re really made of.

I believe that we will do it today. Right now. That we will put down the guns we have picked up and reach out to our Islamic neighbor, or to the abortion doctor, who lives down the street.

That we will lay down our religious right-ness and our political correct-ness, and hug someone across the aisle, or across the world, who has need.

I want to believe that we will stop long enough, in our arguing and fighting, to look into the eyes of our opponent, and see a real human. One who cries and bleeds for the same things we do.

That we will give grace and bestow honor, even if we don’t agree.

And that when all is said and done we will be the city and the country and the people that changed everything.

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I want to believe that we are still America, the beautiful, the blessed, the free.

Not because we have money, or weapons, or power, or enough churches, or missiles, or enough of anything.

But because we have love.

Blueberries, Bananas, and Baby’s First Birthday Cake.

I’m a little late in posting this, but many of you have requested the recipe for the birthday cake I made for my baby who turned one, last week.

It’s always so much fun for me to come up with a cake that fits my child’s personality and stage in their life. I knew this one was going to be pretty straight forward, and that it would mostly just feature the FOOD that it is, since that’s my son and he LOVES to eat!

I went with blueberries and bananas, because well, he would live on those two foods for the rest of his life, I’m pretty sure, if I let him.

It was a little tricky to make this one “healthy”, since we were at the in-laws in the boonies of Kentucky, and I did not have access to the typical health foods I would normally have access to.

I was however, delighted to find a full bag of coconut sugar in my MIL’s pantry, which, lucky for me, she had not yet found a good use for! So I used that for some of the sweetener, hoping to reduce the glycemic load, (aka the sugar effect!) on my little one.

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I did the best I could and while it may not be considered a health food, it did have some nutrition (hello, blueberries and bananas!) and was by all means, way better than the high sugar, chemical-laced cakes from the supermarket.

Not to mention, it turned out pretty freakin’ delish!

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In fact, the birthday boy thought it was totally amazing!

And that’s all that matters. Right??!!

Ooh, alright. It totally rocks that everyone else loved it, and raved about it for days and that SO MANY (at least, two!) people have asked me for the recipe. (Makes my head want to explode, actually.)

So….because I care, and because you wouldn’t want THAT to happen, I thought I’d share.

Finally, my dearest loved ones, here’s the recipe!

Ruthie’s Somewhat Healthy Blueberry Banana Cake

3/4 cup Earth Balance (or whatever butter your MIL has on hand!)
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup organic white sugar
1 1/2 cups mashed, ripe bananas
3 flax eggs*
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups almond milk, mixed with 3 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon pink salt
3 cups organic AP flour

Frosting:

3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup Earth Balance
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons coconut cream (skimmed from the top of a can of coconut milk)

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla, and bananas and mix well. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt, simultaneously with the almond milk/vinegar mixture, until well blended.

Pour 1/2 of the batter into a small, 7-8″ square pan. This will be your birthday cake. Pour the rest of the batter into a round cake pan or in cupcake molds and serve this to your guests.

Bake at 275° for about 50 min, or until toothpick inserted, comes out clean. Remove from the oven and place directly into freezer for about 45 minutes to cool. Remove from freezer and frost as desired.

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(I cut my square cake in half through the middle and filled it with frosting and fresh blueberries, then I covered the top and sides with the same frosting.)

For the frosting:
Beat butter (earth balance) until it is light and fluffy. Add the confectioner’s sugar and mix until thoroughly combined and resembles fine crumbs. Add the coconut cream and vanilla and beat for about a minute, until smooth and creamy. Spread over cake.

*To make flax eggs, mix 3 tablespoons ground flax seeds with 1/2 cup warm water. Let mixture sit for 5 min, before adding to batter.

Note: I will post the printable for this recipe, as soon as I’ve fed the little guy who ate all the cake.

OK?

(Thanks for your patience!)

I’ll be back in a bit! But in the meantime, ENJOY, and have an awesome day!