Cake for all!

birthday cake

Delicious homemade cake

My youngest turned 1 on Friday. She also took her first steps the week of Christmas. It makes me feel old knowing she is growing up. Things are getting easier though, she is starting to eat many of the same things we eat. I won’t have to cook separate ‘mushy’ food for her anymore. I will have to cut back on the spice though, I tend to make things too hot for children. But, back to the point of this, cake! I made the youngest a homemade birthday cake and icing. It was insanely delicious, and used only simple ingredients, so it was perfect. The tradeoff was that it was tons of work, and made a huge mess. The cake uses Baker’s semi-sweet chocolate, and the icing is mostly sugar and butter, um, 5 cups of sugar. I can’t think of anything better, honestly. We used white icing and covered it in pink sprinkles, because that is what you do when you have girls. My house is vomiting pink. Anyway, just thought I would share this delicious recipe with you guys, in case anyone needs a special cake recipe.

We are staying in this year for NYE. Things have been so busy and hectic over the holidays, it feels nice to stay home and do nothing except raise babies. Maybe next year will be more exciting. Happy New Year’s Eve Ya’ll!

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Heart strong

Having recently recovered from being sick made me realize how nice it is to feel good most of the time. I’ve been slowly getting back into running and I went for an early morning run the other day. It was cold outside, 44 degrees cold. For southerners, that is cold! It was wonderful. I rarely go running in the morning since having my second child. I normally refuse to get up before the kids because sleep is such a precious resource, I don’t want to waste it on a run. I would rather push two heavy kids in a double joggy in the afternoon, than set an alarm and get up early. I know, crazy. But for some reason, a morning run just worked that day. I used to hate running in the cold, but the past couple of years I’ve come to appreciate it. You start out freezing, but warm up as soon as you get going, and I swear you run faster just to stay warm. The cold air clears out your lungs, and makes you feel alive.

I love that running keeps my heart strong. Your heart is a muscle, and you have to work on that muscle to keep it healthy, you have to push it sometimes. Your heart is a muscle, and your body is a machine. I remember a couple of years back, we went to the mountains, and I was driving my Jeep. We ended up on this scary steep mountain pass and I was worried about whether or not the Jeep could make it up the mountain. My husband, who I wasn’t even dating at the time, told me I was silly to worry because Jeeps were born for that type of thing. I hadn’t thought about it that way before. Your heart and your body are the same way. We were born to push our bodies, and if you train your body, it will respond. Push your body with physical activity and you will be amazed at how it responds, and how proud you will be of your body, and yourself. Think about that, and then go outside and run!

Oh, and Merry Christmas!

Holiday Party Gluttony

My first holiday party was earlier this month, and I swear, no one ever leaves those parties unscathed. I’m just as guilty as the next girl. I literally made out with that buffet table, not with any of the delicious treats the host made, but with the peanut M&Ms. Seriously. My point is that overeating during the holidays happens, and the most beautiful thing about it is that you get to hop back on the horse the next day. If you overeat/drink, go for a walk or run the next day. I promise you – it is the last thing you will want to do, but the only thing that will make you feel better. Oxygen will flow to your brain and wash out the cobwebs and flush away the toxins. If you eat tons of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, etc. most of your life, splurging at the holiday party is not the end of the world.

The main thing I love about eating healthy and exercising is that you can always start over. You can and should enjoy splurging every now and then. But by ‘every now and then’, I mean one or two meals this month. Not once or twice per week. Pick the party with the best food, the best cheese if that is your thing, or best cake, and have a big ol yummy piece. Life is too short to be strict with EVERY SINGLE meal, you’ll drive yourself crazy living that way. But you have to do the work the next day, and every day. A healthy lifestyle is so worth it!

Happy Holidays, Ya’ll!

The holidays got me, again

I always think to myself, “This year will be different. This year won’t be so stressful, and I’ll have plenty of time to get it all done. I’ll even get stuff done early this year!” Yeah, right. It is 8 days until Christmas and I’m still frantically planning my portion of two Christmas meals, new windows we decided to have installed at the last minute, a car that decided it needed to be fixed today, all my Christmas gifts, since for some reason I start doubting I’ve gotten enough for the girls 8 days beforehand. Oh, plus being a stay at home mom and cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, raising babies, etc. Luckily, cleaning went out the window once my littlest arrived. Oh, well. Holidays, you got me again! I’m trying to keep it all in perspective, because honestly I’ve never been happier in my life. I have two precious angel babies, an adoring husband who works very hard for us, great friends and a close extended family. What more could you want? Except maybe just one more week to get ready.

We eat a lot

I guess humans, in general, eat often. I mean, three times a day, 365 days a year, ends up being like 1,095 times/year multiplied times how many years old you are. That is a lot of food. But my family eats more frequently, like 6-7 times per day. Granted we eat smaller meals each time, but that is a lot of food!

I wasn’t sure where I was going with this post at first, but thinking about how frequently we eat led me to think about those without food. I know there are a lot of folks out there without access to food, or the resources to purchase food. I can’t imagine going hungry. Just the thought of not having enough to eat would make me even more hungry. This fall, I had a wonderful opportunity to volunteer with the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle at their teaching farm on Tryon Road in Raleigh. They are an awesome organization, because they not only feed the hungry, but they teach them to feed themselves. Their mission is to: “FEED, TEACH, GROW and bring innovative, transformative solutions to end hunger in our community.” Read more about them here.

They are matching funds right now, “For every dollar from a NEW donor and every INCREASED donation above what donors gave the previous year, the Steward’s Fund will match that donation dollar for dollar…until December 31st, 2012.” Donate to them this year, if you can.
 

Neti pot, peti not

Neti pot

High quality neti pot

In keeping with the sickness theme I started this weekend, I wanted to point out this wonderful little gadget I just started using. Now, I’ve seen these things before, and have known several wild and crazy people who have used them, even in my presence. But I’m no fan of technology, until I get desperate, like I’ve been lately. This cold is ugly and mean, and it just won’t go away. I feel like my head is full of snot and about to explode. So now I’m willing to try just about anything. I’m still breastfeeding my youngest, so I can’t take decongestants because who knows what and how much of that stuff passes through breastmilk. This ‘new to me’ technology is called a neti pot. It is pretty awesome at thinning mucus and flushing it out. You have to use it a couple of times to get the hang of it. The first time I tried it, I felt like I was getting hit by a giant wave at the beach, warm salt water was running down my throat. I ended up pouring all the solution out in the sink. You have to hold your head just right so the solution flows from one nostril to the other, and doesn’t go in your mouth. You also have to breathe through your mouth the whole time, which seems weird, but it works.

The pot we bought came with very specific instructions, so I won’t list them here. I’m sure if you purchase a neti pot, it will come with instructions. If you want to make your own solution, mix about 16 ounces of lukewarm water with 1 teaspoon of salt. Be sure to use distilled, sterile, or previously boiled water to make up the irrigation solution. Seriously – pay attention to this, some people in Louisiana died from just using plain tap water, or well water. Be sure to clean the pot every time you use it, and let it dry completely to make sure no bacteria grows.

I researched a little online, WebMD.com has some information on how neti pots work – and whether or not they work, plus side effects, which are basically none – score! I really like that ENT surgeons recommend these. And, you can buy a nice, ceramic neti pot on Amazon for only $13. We got our neti pot at a drug store late one night when my husband was desperate. It is starting to sound like we make most decisions out of desperation. I’ll have to think on that.

Being sick has actually made us more mindful recently. We can’t really go out and hang out with our friends, or go for walks/bike rides, since no one really feels like it. It has made us do more puzzles, and talk to each other, and just experience boredom, which isn’t all bad. Sometimes you need to be bored I guess, and silly.

Sick season is here

Detox Bath

Detox away the cold and flu

My family has been through the ringer this past week, and honestly we are still recovering/going through it. It started with my husband catching a really bad cold, my oldest had the stomach bug, then recovered, then caught the cold, then I caught the cold and now my youngest has it, too. It really stinks, as everyone who has ever been sick already knows. I wanted to share something I found online that may help with those suffering from the cold or flu, a detox bath. I found the ‘recipe’ on wikiHow, and was drawn to it because I actually had all the ingredients in my pantry. The main things you need are hot water, Epsom salts, and baking soda. You can add ginger and essential oils to the detox if you have them on hand/are so inclined.

Normally, I buy the largest box of Epsom salts I can find at the grocery store, in the first aid section. It is much cheaper than the exact same product in the organic/natural section. The cheaper box has uglier marketing, but I can live with that. I always choose the biggest box of baking soda in the spices/cooking section at the grocery store because the larger box is cheaper per ounce. Sweet!

I did a detox bath last night, and I felt better this morning, not as sick as yesterday. I’ll admit, I could just be recovering from my cold taking its natural course, but the detox made me soak in warm water for twenty minutes, which is relaxing and made me feel better, so that is worth something. So how does it work? Basically, fill up your tub with the warmest water you can stand, pour in 2 cups of Epsom salts, 1 cup of baking soda, and a tablespoon of ginger. Soak your tired, achy body for at least 20 minutes. Make sure to drink lots of water before, during and after to keep hydrated. Baking soda leaves your skin really soft, and it also has anti-fungal properties (baking soda can be used for cleaning the tub you are soaking in!). Epsom salts help replenish magnesium levels, which combats hypertension. wikiHow states that, “The sulfate flushes toxins and helps form proteins in brain tissue and joints.” So win – win!

Good luck weathering the snots and cold/flu this season. And if you do get sick, try out this detox bath. I think you’ll be glad you did.

P.S. I’m not a doctor, please don’t take this as medical advice.