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!

This One Year.

Sweet baby boy,

How can it be a year since you came, face and fist, and eyes searching for your Mama’s? How can it be that you have been in my arms for this long and yet it feels like yesterday when I first held you?

A year since you did somersaults in my belly, and flipped face down, at the sound of my voice, asking you to? A year since I heard your cry and I first pulled you close?

Twelve months is not that long and yet you’ve already grown and learned so much.

How can it be that you’ve already learned how to crawl and smile, and stand on those wobbly little legs?? You’ve already learned to laugh at your daddy and to “run” away from your sister, so that she will chase you and that you’ll end up in a heap, giggling together.

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You’ve learned that life is an adventure and that you’d rather be exploring. You’ve figured out that you’d rather be discovering, than sitting on your Mother’s lap. And that pulling drawers out is the best. thing. ever.

You’ve learned so much and yet, you’ve taught even more.IMG_20140815_134142

You’ve taught that NOTHING is impossible when you greet it with a smile, that love is everywhere when you look with an open heart. You’ve taught that it is better to explore and to get hurt, than it is, not to.

You’ve taught that life and love are always worth the risk. And that we should not be afraid.

We should not be afraid of the bleeding, and the big kids and the bottom of the cereal bowl. That there’s always forgiveness and there’s always more, and we should hold our hands open.

We should not hold back for fear. Of getting in the way, or of getting it wrong, because that’s how we learn and grow and get stronger.

You’ve taught that life is good, and that the best days are not ahead, or behind us. They are right now.

You’ve come and you’ve learned and you’ve taught so much.

You’ve come with determination and gusto, and wobbled your way into our hearts and our world, like a train rolling into a deep, jagged chasm. The raw protruding left by another we never got to meet.

You’ve come and interrupted my life in the most wonderful ways, and I am thankful that you did. I am deeply grateful for this ONE year, for it has been one of the most challenging and the most beautiful, because of you.

I can only imagine how many more lessons, how much more beauty and adventure awaits us, in the days and years ahead. I can’t wait to hold your hand and run together.

Love forever,

Your Mama

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Hippy Mamas and Heavenly Baby Wipes.

I’ve been wanting to make my own baby wipes since kingdom come. Or at least since I started having babies, five years ago!

I remember my Mom making her own (yeah, she was cool like that!) when my youngest siblings were babies. Something about the smell or the feel or the way the lightly scented bubbles poured over a freshly-folded stack of paper towels when she made them, stands out to me.

There was such a simple pureness to the way that she cared for us and the way that she kept her home, and making her own baby wipes was only another expression of that. She made them with the same ease and grace with which she baked bread and hung out the laundry.

It wasn’t a big deal.

It was just something that she did effortlessly, because it made more sense to her than buying them.

Now, as the primary keeper of our home, I appreciate that pureness so much and I find myself continually wanting to replicate my Mother’s grace in that way. I’m a far cry from it, but somehow I feel a little closer when I bake my own bread and make my own baby wipes.

Last week, I managed to do the latter. And boy did I love it! I felt like such an accomplished earth Mama, making my own “Huggies.” Bread’s still on the list, but hey. At least “we’re” clean. And “we” smell good!

Now that I’ve finally made some, I wonder what took me so long??!! I mean, five years of wiping baby butts, spaghetti fingers, and milk mouths before I finally made this most essential, life-sustaining, can’t-live-without-it household item?

When it was really THAT SIMPLE all along??

And yes, they are that simple. The main work is in gathering all your ingredients. I ordered most of mine from vitacost. And of course, my oils come from Doterra. All I needed at the store was a roll of high-quality paper towels, which I grabbed on my regular grocery run, so they didn’t even require an extra trip out!

(Major bonus points when you’ve got a heavy-ass car seat and a sleeping baby to lug around, right??!)

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Once you’ve gathered all your ingredients, start by cutting your paper towels in half.

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Like this.

Or not!

I don’t think I used the right kind of knife, cuz there was definitely some hacking involved, and my paper towels ended up pretty butchered. Suffice it to say, this step was a little more messy than I envisioned it to be (think: sharp, serrated edge of a knife blazing clean through a loaf of soft bread!)

Yeah. Not so much.

But I can make a mess out of just about anything! So don’t mind me.

Mix up all your liquids, til they’re nice and bubbly.

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Then, take a moment to enjoy those bubbles. Feel accomplished, for they are the purest, sweetest, organic-est bubbles you could possibly put on your baby’s skin. You could actually eat them. They’re that pure. Which is how they SHOULD BE!

Ahem, FDA. Ya might wanna take a hint here.

And now…Ruthie’s schpiel about commercial baby wipes.

Sorry! But I must go there for a minute.

You probably already know how horrible they are for your baby’s skin, so I will keep this short.

DMDM Hydantoin and Methylparaben.

Google them and then remember that they are the main ingredients in your Huggies. Remember them when you are swiping the spaghetti off that little punkin face. And when your baby “eats” one of them.

If you want to be horrified any further, check out this article about another main ingredient: Tetrasodium EDTA. Comforting, I know. But! Somebody needs to say it. And somebody needs to hold someone accountable for the poison that freely lines our grocery store shelves. In the BABY section, no less!

Today, I will be that somebody. Especially since I now know you can make perfectly good baby wipes with aloe vera and water. WATER, people! Good old H20!

Why put that toxic crap in our baby products?

WHHHYYYYYYYY?????

Ok, schpiel over.

Back to the pureness. And the bubbles.

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All you do is pour the liquid bubbles over your paper towels and boom! You have wipes! Good, clean, chemical-free wipes for the whole family, including the smallest and the purest of them.

These things smell so heavenly, I want to lay in them and have more babies. Ok, not really.

(You’re done, Ruthie, remember?? No more babies for you! Repeat: NO. MORE. BABIES.)

I DO still want to lay in them. And soak my feet in them. Then I want to place them over my eyes and go back to sleep.

Yes, it’s 8:00 in the morning. I am nursing an infant. Need I say more??!!

Tomorrow I will be leaving my babies for a conference in San Diego, but you can be sure I will be taking my baby wipes with me! And you can be sure I will be shameless in using them!

On the plane. In the car. At the beach. (Whoo hoo!!)  I will be pulling these out whenever I need a “wipe” down.

But really, when they feel and smell as amazing as these do, how can you keep from using them on yourself? When they’re as heavenly as these, how can you restrict yourself to only using them on your baby’s bottom?

Not here! And not me.

I, like my Mother, am of the simple belief that “baby” wipes are made for everything. Washing apples. Removing makeup. Wiping steering wheels. Coffee spills. Phone screens. Smooshed fruit. Public restrooms. You know…

EVERYTHING.

What about you? What do you use “baby” wipes for?

Do you use them a thousand times a day, like I do?

Regardless of how, why, or when you use them, you will love these homemade wipes! You’ll be happy knowing you’re not spreading weird chemicals like tetrasodium and methylparaben around.

And something tells me you won’t go back to Huggies. Ever again!

Print Recipe

Homemade Baby Wipes

These are super easy to make, they smell amazing and feel so soft against your baby’s skin, you will never go back to storebought wipes!

Ingredients

  • 1 roll heavy duty paper towels (such as Viva)
  • 2 plastic containers that fit one half roll of paper towels each
  • 1 3/4 cups boiled, purified, or distilled water
  • 1 tablespoon pure aloe vera
  • 1 tablespoon rose petal witch hazel (alcohol-free)
  • 1 tablespoon liquid castile soap (I made my own by pouring nine cups of boiling water over a solid bar of castile soap.)
  • 2 teaspoons virgin sweet almond oil
  • 4 drops each of lavender, thyme, and wild orange essential oils  (Doterra brand is best!)

Directions

  1. Mix all liquid ingredients together. Cut paper towel roll in half. Pull out cardboard tubing. Place a half roll in your plastic container and pour liquid soap mixture over until it is fully wet.
  2. Squeeze out extra moisture. Pull the inside end up through the middle of the roll.
  3. Repeat with second half of paper towels.
  4. Store in an airtight container and use for up to two weeks.
  5. Note: If you want to prolong the life of your wipes, add a few drops of colloidal silver or grapefruit seed extract to your soap mixture.

Amount Per Serving

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For more information about what’s actually in baby wipes:

http://www.muchadoaboutmoms.com/index.php/the-great-wipe-down/

The Chaotic. And a Few Things I know.

It’s been a bit chaotic around here.

Baby boy’s been squealing from bellyaches, Beanstalk’s been asking “why” and I’ve been jostling and juggling and answering questions. I’ve been chopping veggies, packing lunches, and buttoning up princess dresses with one hand, bouncing baby in the other….Holding and swaddling, explaining and swaying.

I’ve been returning phone calls, taking orders, and running a business, ALL while nursing an infant. Rushing one child to school while keeping the other one calm. Getting one up. Putting the other one down…

You know. That kind of chaotic.

The kind of chaotic that dangles you over the edge of insanity if you don’t quickly learn to accept the mess. The kind that leaves you in a constant state of desperation, if you don’t soon learn to let go of your ideals and your boxes and the way that life “should be.”

And so I am learning.

I am learning that it is better to embrace the chaos, than to fight it. To enjoy it, rather than to resist it.

I am learning to laugh in the face of frustration. To breathe through the crying and the not sleeping and the not knowing, because there are still a lot of reasons to smile. And there are still a few things I know.

I know that this won’t last forever.

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I know that this stressful, sleep-less season of our lives is only temporary and that eventually the bouncing and the bellyaches end and our babies will grow up.

I know that ten years from now, we will hardly remember the screaming and the stress of these chaotic times.

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We will only remember the smiles.

We won’t remember the nights spent in rest-less pacing or the hours in anxious praying. Only the kisses and the chatter and the joy that came in the morning. Every morning.

When I see the present in light of the future, I know that I am okay.

I know that I have the best of friends and the dearest of family who are there to help me, to bring me chocolate, and to make me laugh.

I know that I love my children more than anything, and that I would not survive without the man that they call Daddy.

I know that love is all we have and it will triumph a thousand sleep-less nights.

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At the end of the day, I know that life is not meant to be thoroughly planned out or even prepared for. It is only to be received as a gift, no matter how challenging or amazing it is.

Through it all, I know that God is still good and life is still beautiful. No matter how chaotic it gets.

On Odorless Poop and Waking up From the Fog.

So you’ve been heavily sedated for over two weeks, inoculated by the deepest love and the strongest bond known to man.

And now, slowly but surely, you’re waking up.

Slowly but surely, you come out of that euphoria-induced trance of peach fuzz and heaven-scented baby scalp and the innocent little squeaks of a newborn. That intoxication of soft buttery skin and odorless poop and sleepy eyes trying to focus on yours.

Little by little, you come out of that elation which makes you joyfully oblivious to the world and the crud and the ugly, and keeps you in a constant state of happiness for days. That bliss which makes you unconscious to the night sweats and the sore nipples and the aching body, and convinces you that you are living in a sordid wonderland, instead.

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You wake up from the fog of people coming to help and to visit, and to hold your floppy little bundle. Friends giving gifts and bringing flowers and sending their congratulations.

You wake up from all that is beautiful and right with the world, to some that is not.

Slowly but surely, those innocent little squeaks are turning into full-blown crying fits and the odorless poop is beginning to smell like, well…poop. Slowly but surely those sleepy eyes and that floppy body are becoming yours and the euphoria is turning into dilerious exhaustion.

That’s the tricky part of this post-partum road. The part you had almost forgotten.

You were so enraptured in the sweetness and the wonder and the glory, you had almost forgotten that those mega doses of happy hormones eventually leave your body, and you come down from the high.

You wake up from the fog to a brand new, less than glamorous reality. One in which a little human has thoroughly and completely rearranged everything. Your schedule. Your time. The way you do things. How often you leave the house. And what you wear, when you do leave. (You find out that it’s NOT a good idea to wear a full-length maxi dress when you’re breastfeeding!) You know…things like that. They get rearranged.

You look down at an odd-shaped body and wonder how in the world you’re ever gonna fit into those skinny jeans you bought last year, just before you got pregnant. You wonder why you ever allowed this to happen and how single mothers do it, and if your life is ever going to be normal again.

You smile at the cute little demanding person you’ve brought into the world and question how you can possibly be everything that he needs. And then he smiles, innocent and peaceful and you have hope again. Hope for the world and for your future.

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He opens his sleepy eyes and for a moment you close yours. You close your eyes to the world and the crud and the bag of returns that never got taken back. It’s now past the thirty-day expiration. You squeeze them tight shut to a pile of baby clothes that never got sorted and the moldy bread in the pantry from three weeks ago.

You close your eyes to the rain and the mud and the un-beautiful.

He looks up at you ever so sweetly and you smile.

You smile through the tears and pray those hormones drop you gently and that you can stay in euphoria a little while longer.

Ode to Birth. And the Life Thereafter.

I feel the light drawing me forward, pushing me gently

toward the epitome of bliss

that awaits my being

when I meet eternity

in that thing I have created,

that soul I have nurtured.

Veins pulse with excitement, the heart races

and my body crashes 

against the waves of doubt,

of breathless fear and awestruck fury.

Like

the shaking of a thousand boards of lumber

tumbling into the sea,

so the shaking of the self

’til nothing but love remains.

 

And then it breaks! The body breaks.

The soul bursts and a living, breathing

creation comes forth!

The storm has raged its fury on the body.

The shaking has ravaged the last bits of control

from my mind

until at last!

The cry of a tender infant breaks through

the noise and the incessant thrashing

and all is calm.

All is well and beautiful and calm.

He is placed on my heart, breath to breath

Skin to skin

And there is peace.

Peace that cannot be described

Or compared to any other

But can only be felt in the depths

Of human connection

When a baby

Touches his Mama for the first time.

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Here’s to that little boy, Emerson, who touched his Mama for the first time, ten days ago. And to the transformation of birth and life he has brought to the world, for it will never be the same.

 

Happy Little Finds: Lavender in My Mailbox!

What could be better than a happy little surprise landing in the middle of your otherwise ordinary day? Um….when that surprise comes in your mailbox, of course!

The other day I received one such happy surprise, in the form of a cardboard box filled with all kinds of natural, herb-y things from two of my dear friends in Tennessee. It made me so happy, I cried. (Seems to happen a lot these days!)

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I opened the box to the wonderful aroma of dried lavendar and chamomile and rose petals, and found big bags of rosemary and red raspberry leaves inside. I was in herb heaven as I pulled out one scented bag after another, dunked my head in and inhaled each one.

It didn’t take me long to realize that all of this herb-y goodness was coming from The Bulk Herb Store in Lobelville, Tn. I have heard a lot of good things about them, and I’ve been a long-time fan of their blog, as it is one of the most practical guides to herbs and natural remedies that I’ve seen. But I had never actually ordered anything from their store.

Now, my girlfriends had done the unthinkable and sent me their “New Mama and Baby Kit.”

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And I couldn’t be more impressed! Everything from chamomile tea to baby bath to an ample sized tin of Eden Salve, and a pretty little notecard, they thought of it all. There was even some arrowroot powder to make my own baby powder! How “crunchy” cool is that??!!

So…here’s a massive thank you to my friends, Andrea and Heather, for such a wonderful surprise, and a shout-out to the Bulk Herb Store for providing me with such a blissful and aromatic way to prepare for the birth of my baby.

I currently have the dried rose petal and rosemary mixture brewing on my stove. And I can’t wait to make all kinds of fabulous creations from the lavendar flowers.

Aaaah. I’m blissed out and ready.