Mom’s Marvelous Carrot Cake 

I love my mom’s carrot cake.  It literally is the best carrot cake I have ever tasted.

I am very picky when it comes to carrot cake.  I remember the first time I ever tried carrot cake: I was probably six or seven and my aunt brought out a cake after supper.  I was so excited that we were going to eat cake- then I took a bite and was immediately disappointed.  It was dry and had stringy carrots and my mom made me be polite and eat it all anyway.  I tried carrot cake other times as I got older, but never liked any until finally, Mom convinced me to try hers.  I still haven’t found one that compares.

I made sure to copy my mom’s recipe so I could share it with you.

Ingredients 

Cake:

  • 2 c flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 c oil
  • 1 c white sugar
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp.baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 c grated carrots (I prefer finely chopped in the food processor, rather than grated)
  • 1 c or 1 medium can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1/2 c golden raisins
  • Optional: 1/2 c finely chopped walnuts 

Icing:

  • 1/2 c softened butter
  • 2 8 oz blocks of softened cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 tbsp cream
  • 3 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • 1 c walnuts, chopped and lightly toasted

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans.
  • In a large mixing bowl mix the sugar, eggs, and oil.
  • In a separate bowl mix together the flour, spices, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Add dry ingredients into the large bowl containing the wet ingredients. Mix well.
  • Add the carrots, pineapple, and raisins. Mix well.
  • Divide the batter into the pans.
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted into the center of each pan comes out clean.
  • Allow the cakes to cool and gently remove them from the pans. Cool completely on a wire rack before icing.
  • With a mixer mix together all the ingredients except the cream and powdered sugar.
  • Slowly add the powdered sugar (This is where I usually make a huge mess)
  • Add the cream, a little at a time until the icing is as soft or firm as you prefer.
  • Place the first cake on a cake plate or in a cake keeper.
  • Frost the cake on all sides and place the other cake on top, then frost it. 
  • Gently press the walnut pieces into the sides of the iced cake.

Store in the refrigerator.  The cake is even better the next day.


The first slice of cake with a side of ice cream. Yum!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

A Step in the Right Direction, a Weaning Update 

Photo: Ricardo Pilati/Unsplash

Initially, I took a slow and step-by-step approach to weaning Abby from breastfeeding.  When that sort of came to a standstill I decided to take a leap and quit cold turkey; while not offering to nurse, I would not refuse if she asked. 

Today is day twelve of my full time weaning efforts.  I am happy to report that Abby is doing fantastic!  I am really proud of how well she has done.  She has accepted drinking milk out of a cup at night if she asks for milk.  

Abby has not once asked to nurse, which really has surprised me, but just goes to prove my suspicion that she was wanting to breastfeed at night out of habit and for comfort rather out of necessity. 

It is so nice and so much more convenient to not have to pump each day.  Since I was taking certain medications I would have to pump before coming home to Abby or if I had a migraine I would have to pump if I took my migraine medicine.  

It feels very liberating to no longer be breastfeeding.  After so long it really began to feel like a chore.  I loved to do it, and I am happy I was able to do it for so long, but it wore on me after a certain point.  

I thought that perhaps my breasts would become engorged and I would feel uncomfortable,  but that has never happened.  I noticed when I became pregnant again that my nipples were constantly sore, no matter if I used ice, lanolin, or time without nursing pads or a bra, nothing I did made them feel better.  Now all the soreness has completely disappeared.  I think my body was as ready to quit as I was mentally.

I’m really happy with how we are progressing, but we’ll continue to take it one day, one step at a time.

An Early Birthday Dinner: Swiss Steak

Photo: Annie Spray/Unsplash

I don’t know if I have ever mentioned it before, but I have the best parents ever. They always do so much for me and I appreciate them very much. 
Saturday we drove almost an hour to my parents’ house to celebrate my birthday a few days early.   

My photographer husband helped my dad photograph items belonging to my grandparents’ estate in order to begin to sell some of it.  They were busy most of the day.

My mom and I played with Abby and cooked while the men were occupied.

My mom made a special birthday supper of swiss steak with mashed potatoes and cream cheese corn.  I requested this, as this meal has long been a favorite of mine; my grandmother used to make it often when we would come over for a Sunday lunch.  I have many wonderful memories of eating swiss steak off of her octagon shaped pewter plates with my family gathered around the table.  My mom’s swiss steak was just as delicious as I remembered it to be.  In fact, it almost made my father cry because it tasted so much like his mother’s.

For dessert, my mom made her incredible carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.  I was very full from supper, but somehow managed to stuff myself further with cake.  

Abby excitedly helped me unwrap my birthday gifts.  I received some wonderfully soft pajama sets and a pretty kitchen utensil cannister designed by Pioneer Woman.

My mother made me take home the leftover cake, so I will be enjoying it for days to come.  I will post my mom’s cake recipe and photos of the cake tomorrow. 

I apologize that I didn’t get any photos of the Swiss steak before it was devoured,  but I thought I would include the recipe for you.  My grandmother would always serve this dish with mashed potatoes and corn.

Grandma Julia’s Swiss Steak

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs round steak or minute steaks 
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped 
  • 2 cups celery, chopped 
  • 2 cups catsup
  • 1 can Campbell’s tomato soup
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • Flour
  • Salt and pepper 

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Flour steaks and fry brown on both sides.
  • Put steak into a sauce pan or deep pan that has a lid. Place vegetables on top of steak.
  • Add catsup, soup, brown sugar, salt, and pepper.
  • Put in oven and simmer for about 2 hours.
  • Optional: instead of cooking in the oven you can cook using a slow cooker. If cooking on low setting let simmer for 6 hours. If cooking on high setting let simmer for 4 hours.
  • Enjoy!

Jealous of Dad

Photo: Louis Blythe/Unsplash

When I became pregnant I began to prepare for the possibility that my firstborn would become jealous of the new baby.  It’s only natural, it happens.
I remember being jealous of my little sister when she came home from the hospital.  I was so excited to have a sister to play with, but I soon realized that she was too small to play, she cried a lot, and everyone paid a lot of attention to her and I felt left out.  I cut all the hair off of my Fraggle doll, Wembley.

I have had conversations with her about how when Mommy and Daddy bring the baby home the baby will require lots of our attention, but we will still love Abby just the same, always have time for her, and will still give her all the attention she needs.  I don’t think she really understands yet, but that’s OK.  

What I didn’t prepare for was the possibility that Abby would become jealous of my husband.  

In the past couple weeks she has gotten upset when Mommy and Daddy hug or kiss.  If we hold hands in front of her she will try to pull them apart.  When we sit next to each other or try to snuggle together on the couch she will act angry and try to hit my husband or push him away.

We have both tried to explain to Abby that hugging, kissing, and holding hands is how Mommy and Daddy show our love and affection for each other, just as we hug, kiss, and hold her.  I’m not sure how to get through to her that Mommy isn’t just hers.  Nothing we say seems to make a difference. 

I know and try to reassure my husband that this is just a phase she is going through and that will not last too long, but it is frustrating, especially for my husband. 

Has this ever happened to you?  How did you handle the situation?

A Page Out of the Toddler Rule Book

Photo: Samantha Sophia/Unsplash

The older my daughter gets, the more obvious it seems that toddlers operate by a different set of rules. 

I happened to find a page from the secret Toddler Rule Book and decided to share it with you.  Enjoy!

  1. No matter what delicious food you are given, always insist on eating what Mom and Dad are eating.
  2. Wherever Mom goes for alone time, find her and bug her until you have her full attention.
  3. Be incredibly quiet when being mischievous.
  4. Anytime adults are in a hurry or have a deadline, use this opportunity to move as slowly as possible and not acknowledge any instructions you are given.
  5. Even though you might be turning purple and shivering while sitting in cold bathwater, this is no excuse to get out of the bathtub.  Keep playing as long as possible!
  6. Even if every episode of Curious George has been watched 70 times, ask to watch it again.
  7. Even if you acted like a food was delicious yesterday, it is perfectly fair to act like it is the grossest thing on Earth today.
  8. Fake ouchies and boo-boos deserve as much sympathy and attention as real ones.  Band-aids are always necessary.
  9. Stickers must be placed on every available surface, from the kitchen table legs, to walls, or Mom’s butt when she isn’t looking.
  10. Stuff anything of an accommodating size into the toilet, clothes hamper, trash can, potato bin, and air vents.
  11. Shoes and socks must be removed during each car ride, no matter how short, especially when full of sand.
  12. Being naked at all times is better than wearing clothes. Always.
  13. It is lots of fun to walk around the house with Dad’s underwear around your neck on laundry day. No matter how many times Mom tries to take them off, find a way to put them back on.
  14. Cookies and marshmallows are acceptable for breakfast.
  15. Push any button that you see.  Remote controls, keyboards, and phones are particularly fun.
  16. Anytime Mom and dad are trying to have a conversation, immediately interrupt with, “Mom! Mom!” or “Dad! Dad!” and don’t stop until you have their full attention, even if you have nothing to say.

Fun in the Sand

The weather has been warm lately and the kids have been able to play outside at daycare.  Can you tell Abby had a fun time in the sandbox yesterday?  When I picked her up she looked like Pigpen from Peanuts.  She was covered in sand from head to toe.  There was even sand in her diaper.  I couldn’t believe how much sand was left in the bathtub after I gave her a bath last night.

The Joys of Being comfortable 

Photo: Andrew Branch/Unsplash

I hate wearing uncomfortable clothes and shoes.  Sometimes dressing up for work each day becomes unbearable by quitting time at five o’clock.  

I have always been the type to come home and instantly become as socially unacceptable as possible.  Ciao, shoes!  So long, bra!  Goodbye, pants!   The first thing I try to do is change into a more comfortable outfit right away.  

I can’t imagine living in a time where women were expected to wear incredibly restrictive undergarments like a corset or girdle.  Heck, I can’t even figure out why some women choose to wear Spanx or thong underwear on a daily basis.  I am super excited about Abby being fully weaned so that I can quit wearing nursing pads and finally sleep without a bra again, for a few months, anyway.

Lately with the body changes I have noticed due to pregnancy, I have put much more emphasis on comfort.  My pants have been fitting more snugly… my underwear have been feeling too tight… anything around my tummy feels uncomfortable.  

I feel as though I am in an awkward stage because I don’t really look different, other than maybe looking like I have gained a little weight.  I don’t have a baby bump.  Some of my clothes are feeling too small but I am not ready for maternity clothes yet.

I have pulled some of my old “fat pants” out of the closet.  They don’t fit well and are too baggy since they are too large, but they fit more loosely around my waist and feel better.  I’ve tried to wear longer and looser shirts, so hopefully the poor fit is not too noticeable.  I have been rolling down most of my yoga pants and workout pants lower around my hips to avoid feeling like they are too suffocating around my abdomen, even though they are not too tight.  I even went shopping for new underwear and what a difference it makes to not feel like you have a wedgie all the time!  

Everything seems so much better when feeling comfortable.  I can breathe easier.  It’s easier to relax and unwind.  I feel happier and less irritable.  Instead of focusing on how much my shoes are pinching my feet or how the underwires in my bra are digging into my sides, I  can more clearly focus on what’s going on around me.  

A more comfortable momma is probably a more fun momma.  Feeling comfortable is more accommodating to getting down on the floor and playing, chasing a kid around the house, or getting up and dancing when Abby comes and pulls me by the hand.  And that’s what really matters.

Working on Weaning

Photo: Averie Woodar/Unsplash

I have slowly been working on weaning with Abby and I think we are almost done.  I wanted to breastfeed for at least a year and this week Abby will be turning 20 months old, so we’ve really surpassed my hopes and expectations.  Weaning hasn’t been something that I have really been looking forward to, in fact, the prospect of weaning has seemed overwhelming and made me hesitant to start.  A couple months ago I stopped her first nursing session when she wakes in the morning.  She didn’t like it too much but accepted drinking her morning milk from a cup without much difficulty.  Then I stopped her first evening nursing at 5:30 p.m., the time when we arrive home, so she jad been drinking whole milk from a cup from the time she awoke until going to bed at night.  

I thought that she would have a hard time when stopping breastfeeding before bed around 7:30-7:45 p.m., but she handled it like a champ after a couple days.  After this she got a cold and was teething, so I was hesitant to continue dropping another nursing session until she felt better. 

Finally this week I let the other shoe drop and decided to try and not breastfeed at night, if possible.  I hid the Boppy pillow in my room, thinking that if she saw it that it might trigger her to insist on getting Mommy’s milk.  I then made sure she had a sippy cup of water in the corner of her crib and also on my nightstand and the side table in the living room at night.  My goal was not to tell her no; if she asked I would let her nurse but I wasn’t going to offer it.  

The first night she wanted to be held and fell asleep quickly the first couple times she woke.  The third time she saw her sippy cup full of water next to me and asked for it instead for milk.  The time she woke up after that she again asked for the water, so I think that perhaps the last few weeks (or more) that she has continued to want to breastfeed at night she may have just been thirsty instead of actually hungry.  Last night she only got up three times.  She never asked for milk.  Once while I was holding her while sitting on the couch she patted my breast a couple times then lay her head in that spot and snuggled in before falling asleep.  Once she took a few swallows from a cup of milk but otherwise she just cuddled with me.

I am really surprised that it has been so easy this far, but we are only two days in.  Hopefully she will continue to do this good and doesn’t regress. I’m going to miss our special time spent together, but I know it had to happen sometime.  

Cravings

I haven’t had too many cravings thus far in my pregnancy, but today I went to a clinic to train a couple associates and the manager made me try this delicious spicy dip she made.  It was so good, but after I left it left me craving the Spiderman Roll from my favorite sushi place.  

On my lunch break I didn’t have enough time to run all the way across town and then wait for a roll to be made so I went to our local Kroger store where they will make fresh sushi to order. It’s nowhere as good as from my favorite sushi restaurant, but it will do in a pinch.  I ordered a spicy crab roll (don’t worry, it’s cooked!)

Oh my gosh, it hits the spot. Yum!