Archive for January, 2012

Tasty Tuesday: Dried Apple Stack Cake aka Appalachian Wedding Cake

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Often times you know your heritage just by the kind of foods that are made in your home and passed on from one generation to another. Every year, for my Grandpa Walton’s birthday his mom would make him a Dried Apple Stack Cake. After she passed on, someone else in the family took over and eventually the task was passed on to me. Now that he has passed on and I have a family of my own, I am excited to pass on a recipe that has been in my family for generations.

Old Fashioned Apple Stack Cake

This multi-layer cake is a heavy and moist, but not exceptionally sweet. The layers are thin and biscuit like, and the filling is sweet, spiced apples.

Some of my family migrated west from South Carolina into Tennessee. Tradition tells us that during pioneer times, wedding cakes were quite expensive (um, now too!), so guests would bring a layer of cake and the family would provide the apple filling. You could tell how popular a bride was by how many layers her cake was. I just like making the cake to remind me of home.

Apple Filling:
1 lb. dried apples
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 tea. cinnamon
1/2 tea. cloves
1/2 tea. allspice
Cover the apples with water and cook until tender over medium low heat. This may take a while, so check back often, stir and add more water if necessary. When done, mash thoroughly with a potato masher. You are going for an apple butter consistency.
3 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup molasses
4 tea. baking powder
1/2 tea baking soda
1 tea. salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup soft butter
1 cup buttermilk
2 tea vanilla
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Generously grease a few 8-9″ cake pans. Sift the flour into a bowl. Add remaining ingredients in order given. Mix quickly into soft dough. Divide into about 6 parts. Use some flour to keep you from sticking and pat down one of the parts into a cake pan. You could also roll out the layers, but I always found it easier just to pat them right into the pans. Bake each layer until lightly browned (about 8 – 10 minutes). Do this with each layer. As you take the cake out of the oven, spread each layer with the apple mixture. Don’t put the apples on the top layer. Put in covered container (or cover with plastic wrap) and let sit at least 12 hours before cutting (this seals in the moisture!).
While perhaps not the most lovely cake in the world, it does hold its own on taste. It is the perfect compliment to a nice cup of tea or coffee….and on your second attempt at making the cake, you may have trouble waiting the 12 hours to partake!
Slice and Enjoy!
~ Abbie


Cloth Swim Diapers

Monday, January 30th, 2012

8 month old Iz in a Imse Vimse Reusable Swim Diapers

With Spring Break on the horizon, your family might be getting ready to take a vacation to a warm destination where you’ll be spending lots of time pool or ocean side? Or perhaps you take baby swimming on a regular basis at the local recreation center for open swim or to participate in a baby swim class? Or you might be among the lucky few who live near an ocean and visit the beach frequently? Whatever the case maybe, if you are taking your baby swimming, you might consider using a cloth swim diaper.

Cloth swim diapers carry all the same ecological and economical benefits that regular cloth diapers do! Here, let’s actually do the math:

Name brand disposable swim diapers run about .90cents a piece. A brand new Imse Vimse Reusable Swim Diaper in a size large will cost you about $16 and on average will fit baby from 6months old to 15 months old. But remember that cloth diapers can be used with multiple kids. The Imse Vimse pictured here on 8 month old Iz, was actually used by his two older brothers when they were babies. So imagine how many uses this bathing suit has gotten, keeping in mind that we live in a hot, dry climate and have access to a pool and hot tub on a daily basis.  Let’s just pretend we’ve used it 100 times, even though the actual number of uses is probably higher. If we had been using disposable swim diapers we would have spent about $90, so using a cloth swim diaper saved us around $74 (not to mention that is 100 less diapers in the landfill). However it’s likely that the savings are even higher simply due to the convenience of always having a swim diaper available. You know how it is when you have to run to the store for something, you are likely to pick up other random stuff even if there is only one item such as ‘swim diapers’ on your list. Or you stop at a higher-priced convenient store on the way to the beach to pick up swim diapers and pay twice the amount you would at a big box store. The convenience of always having a swim diaper available is definitely an added bonus in my mind. Additionally because I have boys, the cloth swim diaper also functioned as a bathing suit so I never needed to purchase a separate bathing suit.

Bummis Swimmi Swim Diaper

Now you might be wondering if a cloth swim diaper is effective in holding in messes in the water. In my five years experience we have had no issues with blowouts in the pool…thank goodness! The design of cloth swim diapers is not to absorb, but to contain. Therefore you want to be sure to have a snug, but comfortable fit. In addition to the Imse Vimse Reusable Swim Diaper  I have a Bummis Swimmi Swim Diapers. One thing I like about the design of the Bummis Swimmi Swim Diaper is the velcro closure because it allows a custom fit. I also like the interior mesh fabric as it seems very effective in containing messes. The other question you might have is in regards to how well the fabric holds up with the repeated chlorine exposure. And my answer would be it does surprisingly well! As previously mentioned we’ve used the same swim diaper with multiple children over multiple years with no issues of the fabric wearing out prematurely.

Both the Bummis Swimmi Swim Diaper and the Imse Vimse Reusable Swim Diaper are great swim diaper options…and I almost forgot to mention that they both come in super-duper adorable prints including gender-specific and gender-neutral options. 🙂

Do you use a cloth swim diaper with your baby? Any extra thoughts to share? Would love to hear from you!


Sunday Funday Giveaway: Hygeia Manual Breastpump

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

This week’s giveaway is for a Hygeia Manual Breastpump. Even if you are (or plan to be) an ‘exclusively-breastfeeding-straight-from-the-tap’ mama, it is helpful to have breastpump available. A manual pump such as the Hygeia Manual Breastpump is a great low-cost option for mothers who would be using a pump minimally. Some situations where you would benefit from having a manual breastpump include:

-to help relieve engorgement when you have a newborn who is still learning how to latch properly

-if you wanted to use the curative powers of breastmilk for topical purposes (diaper rash, pink eye, etc)

-if you are rarely away from baby, but a special circumstance requires you to be (ie- wedding, funeral, etc) you might want to express some milk for your own comfort

-if there were ever a special circumstance where you needed to ‘pump and dump’ such as a medical procedure that required medication that you didn’t want to pass to baby

– if you wanted to mix a small amount of breastmilk into baby’s first introduction to solid foods

A manual pump is a perfect low-cost option for these types scenarios that might occasionally arise during the course of your breastfeeding relationship. If you will need to pump on a fairly regular basis, you’ll definitely want to invest in a more powerful pump such as an electric single or double breast pump. However a manual breastpump such as the Hygeia Manual Breastpump is a good fit for the infrequently pumping mama. It’s easy to use and completely portable. It has a vacuum regulator with strength control and automatic release at the end of the stroke.

Enter this week’s giveaway today to win a FREE Hygeia Manual Breastpump!!


Silent Saturday: The irony of….

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

Go away kids, so mom can enjoy her tea!


API Principle #8: Strive for Balance in Your Personal and Family Life

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Attachment Parenting International provides 8 principles they belief optimally support the development of healthy parent-child attachment. Over the last several Fridays I have reviewed each of the principles and given suggestions for practical application. They are as follows:

1. Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting

2. Feed with Love and Respect

3. Respond with Sensitivity

4. Use Nurturing Touch

5. Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally

6. Provide Consistent and Loving Care

7. Practice Positive Discipline

The 8th and final principle is “Strive for Balance in Your Personal and Family Life“. I actually believe this one to be the most challenging of them all! The demands of raising a family often seem all-encompassing and striking a balance where everyone’s needs are met is a struggle. There are the individual needs of each family member as well as the needs of the relationships that exist between each family member to consider. Young children’s needs are often simple (ie- hungry, tired, need attention, etc) yet are riddled with immediacy and occur at a rather high frequency. As adults we are more capable of putting our own complex needs aside to care for our children. However it’s important to find or create the opportunity to revisit them at a later time. Otherwise they build and grow so heavy throwing off the balance within the family.

Shortly after the birth of my second son we went through a difficult phase in our family where things felt completely imbalanced. It took a great deal of consciousness about the situation, open communication with my husband, and creative brainstorming to find resolve. Of course we are not perfectly balanced and I doubt we ever will be, but we are in a good place that feels manageable.

Previously I was on a fast track to feeling ‘burnt out’ as a mother. API defines ‘burn-out’ as a physical, emotional, and mental response to high levels of stress where parents may feel relentlessly fatigued, strained, and physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted. They may also feel overworked, under-appreciated, angry, resentful, powerless, hopeless, drained, frustrated, detached, anti-social, unsatisfied, resentful, like a failure, indifferent, and lacking motivation (API, 2008). As I felt any or all of these emotions day after day, I knew something had to change.  I waived a white flag and cried uncle to my husband letting him know I needed more balance in our family. As a mother it is easy to nurture everyone else but yourself…but rule #1 is the nurturer must be nurtured so she can continue to nurture! If she is continually depleted of her resources she will have nothing left to give. I did not want to become empty and hallow with nothing to give. Rather I desired a more sustainable rhythm of reciprocal giving and receiving.

We made two relatively small changes that ultimately had a big impact on our family. First I started to exercise more, namely running and practicing yoga. Running was something I missed incredibly and yoga was something I was curious in exploring deeper. Finding the time, space, and energy for these activities was relatively easy once we determined it was a priority. Secondly, I actively worked to develop a social network and support system. Late into my second son’s pregnancy we had moved to a new state where I didn’t know anyone. After he was born, the adjustment to two children was difficult and lonely. Realizing my need and desire to connect with other women, I started attending local La Leche League meetings and Birth Circle meetings on a regular basis. From there I developed friendships and a much needed support system. My heart and soul began to feel full again and the burnt-out feelings subsided.

If you are heading down the path of being burnt-out from parenting, take action! Perhaps a few small changes can make a big difference. Try to prioritize your needs into your daily activities; even something as simple as waking up 10 minutes earlier to start the day with deep breathing/meditation can help infuse more balance into your family. Once you become closer to feeling balanced (as opposed to experiencing the extreme imbalance that goes along with burn-out), you will be more attune to acute changes in balance and respond accordingly. Thus you can ideally minimize the shifts that occur on either side of the fulcrum by being proactive. API gives some great practical tips for maintaining balance on their website. Be sure to check them out if you haven’t already.  🙂

Have you experienced extreme imbalance in your family? What helped you achieve more balance? Would love to hear from you!