Smash cake!

Ainsley had her first birthday party a couple of weeks ago. I started thinking about it and gathering ideas for her party months in advance. One of the biggest things I was unsure if I would be able to pull off, was her cake. I knew I wanted it to be gluten free, at the very least. We are keeping her gluten free for at least two years.
The more I read though, the more ingredients I decided were unnecessary for her first cake. So her cake ended up being free of refined sugars, grains, gluten and food coloring. It started out dairy free as well but I added creamed grassfed butter to the frosting. Ainsley never made it past the frosting. She still is not really into eating solids, so there wasn’t a whole lot of smashing going on. Hunter and I tried the cake with the frosting and we both thought it all tasted great.
Below are the recipes I used and the modifications I made. It was really easy and I definitely think it was worth the effort.
I made the cake friday, wrapped the layers in saran wrap and put them in the fridge. My sister and I decorated it Saturday afternoon and then put it back in the fridge overnight. Her party was on Sunday. I took the cake out when the party started so that it had a little time to soften before she ate it.
The cake: For the cake I used The Urban Poser’s smash cake recipe.  I could not find a 4 inch cake pan so I made the recipe twice using a 6 inch pan. So where the recipe makes two four inch layers, it only made one layer using the 6″ pan. So I made the recipe, cooked one layer, then did it all over again. Also, I had to increase the cooking time to 35 mins because of the bigger layer. I definitely suggest getting two 4″ pans. Save money on ingredients, plus time. The only thing I changed to the ingredients was I used maple syrup instead of honey. This is a good option if you are concerned about giving honey to your baby right at one year old.  I did one layer with honey but ran out. So the next layer I just used pure grade b maple syrup. I actually liked the flavor of the syrup layer more.
For the filling: In between the layers I used the 365 brand raspberry spread , found at Whole Foods. It was the only one I saw that did not have added sugar.
The Frosting: I found I could not get the coconut butter smooth enough when using The Urban Poser‘s frosting recipe that she has with the cake. It tasted amazing but the coconut butter would clog the tip I was using to pipe on the cake. So I turned to Against all Grain. I doubled her vanilla frosting recipe that is in her cookbook. I don’t see the recipe on her website but trust me, the cookbook is worth buying! I did add about 3-4 tbsp of butter to the frosting. I needed the frosting to be thicker for the way I wanted it decorated. I put the butter in a bowl, beat it with the hand mixer and then added it to the frosting. You could probably use palm shortening and get the same results.
To get the pink color I put red beets in a small sauce pan with a small amount of water. I cooked it on the stove until the water was colored and then poured it into the frosting and mixed. (Probably why I had to add butter to the frosting.)
And lastly, my sister and I watched videos on youtube on how to decorate a ruffle cake with buttercream.

I made the cake twice. Once for her birthday pictures (without coloring the frosting) and then again for her party.
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Photo credit: EllPhotography

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Sharing with me at her party.

Foodie Friday

Whew!  That week flew by!
So… I forgot to take pictures of what we ate. Here it is anyway!

Sunday: Steak & carrots
Recipe: Hunter seasoned the steaks with sea salt, pepper and garlic then grilled them. We used organic baby carrots. We first toss them in olive oil then season them with sea salt and rosemary. We roasted the carrots at 400 degrees for about 30 mins (until you can cut them with a fork). Easy peasy.

Monday: Maple mustard chicken, roasted brussel sprouts and green beans.
Recipe: The chicken recipe Is found here. This chicken is really good and is pretty easy to make. Win win!
The brussel sprouts recipe is found in Against all grain’s ebook Thankful that you can get for like $2 on amazon. (It has a really good pecan pie recipe, also.) These are REALLY good. They will make you a brussel sprout believer.

Tuesday: Tacos
Recipe: I used a recipe I found online but it wasn’t that great so I kept adding seasonings until it tasted right. I browned the meat with diced onions then used a lot of cumin, chili powder and sea salt until I got a good flavor.
I also threw together a “salsa”. I diced up two avocados, two tomatoes and tossed them with about 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil,  the juice from one lime and a couple sprigs of cilantro.
We ate these on sprouted corn tortillas.

Wednesday: Cracklin’ Chicken, broccoli and squash&cheese.
Recipe: I used nomnompaleo’s Chicken Recipe. It was good but I probably won’t make it again. I feel like I can get the same taste and crispiness from broiling/baking chicken; which requires less effort and time on my part.
I roasted the broccoli in Evoo (extra virgin olive oil) seasoned with garlic powder and sea salt. It cooked for about 20 mins at 400*. I like to cook mine until it starts to brown.
The squash&cheese was just spaghetti squash ( first roasted upside down on a baking sheet for 25 mins at 400*, then remove the “noodles” with a fork) cooked on the stovetop with kerrygold butter and grassfed cheddar cheese. It was ok. Probably would not bother with it again, though.

Thursday: Mexican Chicken Soup.
You can always trust Against All Grain for a good recipe. This is made in the crockpot so it is pretty easy to make and to clean up after. The most time consuming part is cutting up the chicken. I may try using chicken peices next time, to support my laziness.

Tonight, we are eating out. We are going to spend the night in Biloxi and enjoy a day away from home. There is something so wonderful about eating and not having to do dishes!

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!
-Callie

Parenting ain’t easy.

Being a mom is the most challenging job I have ever had. It requires physical, emotional and mental strength. As a parent ( or guardian) you are responsible for keeping a little person alive. You try your hardest to keep them happy. You worry whether or not you’re making them smart and/or creative. You question if you’re doing something that is going to lead them to therapy later on. Take all of that, then add on the stress that the world places on you. People are constantly telling you what you need to do and how you need to do it in order to be “super-mom”. There are a million different views on how babies should be raised. And for every person that says turn right there is someone else saying turn left. Everyone will tell you what worked for their baby. It is natural to have an opinion when you are just trying to help. However, it can seem that there are people who do not realize the difference between helping and controlling. I do not think most advice is ill-intended. I think each mom does what is best for her child. I belive God gives each mom the knowledge and skills she needs to raise her baby. 
I will be completely honest, I am pretty confident in my mom skills. Fortunately, I don’t get a lot of unsolicited advice. I have a great support system and I feel like they all trust me to do what is best for Ainsley. But like many others I can sometimes doubt myself.  I begin to ignore my gut and amplify the whispers in my ears. I can feel judged by others and allow myself to be the biggest judge.
Worst of all, I think our generation has a new enemy, the internet bully. You give them a computer and a graphic to add some smart aleck quote to and suddenly everyone is a comedian.
I saw something the other day that basically said ” Sure, being a mom and a wife is hard. But I also have this little side gig called a full time job.” Ouch!
I think I fall somewhere between a stay at home mom and a working mom since I work at home. But I found that saying really offensive. Being a mom is hard no matter where you spend your 9-5.
Being a stay at home mom does give you more time at home but that doesn’t necessarily mean you are getting anything done. I have gotten pretty good at doing things while holding a 23 lb baby. But I can’t do everything. Also If you work outside of the home there are certain luxuries you get to enjoy for a few hours out of the day. For example,  I doubt you have to use the bathroom with someone sitting on your lap. You probably get a lunch break. Hopefully,  your job doesn’t require you to determine why someone is screaming at you, for what seems like, no reason. Trust me, there are days when I wish I had a job to go to. And then I could cry just thinking about going.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think stay at home moms have it harder than working moms. When I was working I hated having to drop Ainsley off in the mornings. I felt overwhelmed by everything I had to get done and the lack of time I had to do it. It was really challenging for me.
My point is being a mom is hard. Neither type of mom has it easy. Keeping babies alive and well is difficult.  Keeping them happy all the time is impossible. But we do the best we can. There is no need to compare our lives.  Your life doesn’t have to be more difficult than mine for it to be more important.
What I want to encourage people to think about before belittling others’ way of life, is that maybe your way doesn’t work for their family. That does not mean it cannot work for yours. By loving and keeping our families’ best interests at heart we are doing what is right.
Trust your gut. Do the best you can. Love your children and your spouse.  Encourage others. Live in joy. And if you don’t have anything nice to say… well you know the rest 😉
-Callie

Foodie Friday

This is my first Foodie Friday post! Starting today, I plan on sharing what we ate throughout the week in a series titled “Foodie Friday”. I will link recipes I got from the internet. I will also try to explain how we cooked certain foods. Some recipes I won’t be able to share because of copyright laws (ones only published in cookbooks). But I will link to which cookbook I used.
I have found that planning ahead makes eating real food so much easier.
Every Friday, I plan the next week’s menu. On Saturdays, we go grocery shopping and get everything we will need to cook those meals. The weeks we fail to plan are usually the ones we end up ordering food out (which always ends up with French fries :))
I hope this helps you and takes some of the stress out of cooking and eating real food.

Breakfast is usually some sort of eggs/bacon/sausage/vegetable/plain organic yogurt/fruit combination with an occasional slice of gluten free toast.
Lunch is leftovers.
Ainsley eats what we eat.

Disclaimer: We started eating paleo two years ago. Now, it is more like a paleo plus lifestyle. As we sometimes eat full fat, grass-fed dairy and some non-gmo grains. We very rarely eat anything with gluten or refined sugars.
So here ya go!

Monday- Gumbo
Recipe: Linked here
Notes: If you have never made a gumbo before, we went for a little bit darker than peanut butter colored roux. The recipe just says “until you get the right color”. This was really good! We served ours over organic jasmine rice.

Tuesday- Pizza spaghetti Pie
Recipe: From Paleomg
Notes: This one is fairly easy and tastes great. Youtube how to cut spaghetti squash if you never have. I am always nervous I am going to cut my hand off in the process. When our pie had about 15 mins left, we added some grass-fed Monterey-jack cheese until it got bubbly. Yum.

Wednesday- Ribs with sweet potato fries and green beans.
For the ribs we just seasoned them with sea salt, pepper and garlic and grilled them. Green beans were frozen that we cooked in bacon fat with sea salt and garlic. For the sweet potato fries, I just cut up a white sweet potato, tossed it in melted coconut oil and seasoned with sea salt. I cooked them at 350 for about 30 mins (stirring once at 15 mins).

Thursday- Mini Meatloaves with green peas.
Recipe: I got the meatloaf recipe from the Everyday Paleo Family Cookbook.
Notes: This one is really simple since it is basically just meat, veggies and spices. You cook them in a muffin pan and top them with organic unsweetened ketchup. You could probably google paleo meatloaf cupcakes or muffins and find a good recipe.
Also, if you have a stand mixer you can use the dough hook attachment to mix the meat so you don’t have to use your hands! The peas were frozen and I cooked them on the stove in grass-fed butter (Kerrygold brand) with sea salt.

Friday: Wings with sweet potato fries.
Recipe: We make our wings using this recipe from Preppy Paleo.
Notes: We toss our wings in a store bought bbq sauce since I am not a fan of hot sauce. If you are feeling ambitious you could search the internet for a recipe to make your own. If you buy one make sure to check the ingredients for excess sugar and ingredients you cannot pronounce. Sweet potato fries will be made the same way as Wednesday.

This week was a more simple menu since we had Ainsley’s birthday party Sunday. I did not have the time to put a lot of thought into planning before shopping so I tried to pick meals that did not require a lot of ingredients.

I hope this gave y’all a little inspiration! Be on the lookout for future Foodie Friday posts with pictures and less of an intro 🙂

-Callie

Why I feed my family weird food.

Anytime I bring food to a party or dinner, it comes with a warning. If someone is getting too close to it with hunger in their eyes, you are sure to hear ” It’s paleo” or “Callie made it”. It is then labeled healthy, diet and/or weird. I don’t blame anyone for doing this. Everyone wants to know what they are eating prior to consumption. Even now, I find myself issuing the disclaimer.
For Ainsley’s first birthday, I made her a grain free cake, free of refined sugars. I sweetened it with some local honey. The frosting was a buttercream made with real butter and cream, also sweetened with honey. But to really get ’em talking I colored it pink using beet juice (which is flavorless, by the way). WEIRD.
I know it is unusual. But I don’t do these things just for the fun of it. So why do I do all of this? Why is eating a certain way such a big deal to me?
After a year or so of dating, Hunter and I both found ourselves overweight and sick all of the time. We ate out A LOT, drank cokes with every meal, never passed on dessert. We were blazing our own paths to diabetes and we didn’t even realize it.
I always hear everything is okay in moderation. This is true. But what is moderation?  If we decide to have the cake and ice cream at every party we go to and on every holiday, that is probably 2-3 times a month. For some people that may work.  But for us that version of moderation is too much.  We start sliding back down the slippery slope and quickly find ourselves wanting more. It is addictive. And we are recovering addicts.
Food is powerful.  It can be comforting. It can be your way of showing love. It can be linked to fond memories of your past. But it can also control you. So many people stress over food. Is this bite going to make me sick?  How long will I have to exercise to burn the calories?  I have been there. That kind of relationship with food did not work for me.
So two years ago I changed it. Hunter joined me. We have lost 75 pounds together and we are so much healthier.
Both of us have diabetes and heart disease in our families. These diseases can be managed and prevented to a degree with diet and exercise.  So if the food we eat can potentially save our lives or prevent illness then of course I am going to try.  This is what works for us. We are healthy. We are happy. And a couple of times a year we eat “normal” food.
Everyone has to decide what honestly works for their family. What is going to make you happy and healthy?  A lot of people think they are healthy because they aren’t as bad off as others. But we have to each strive to be as healthy as we can be. We owe it to ourselves and our loved ones.
I want my little girl to be happy and healthy.
I want my husband to be happy and healthy.
I want to be happy and healthy.
(and we are) 
That is why we eat weird (real) food.

Callie

Better check yourself…

November: the month of cooler weather, giving thanks and unshaven men. It’s a good time of the year. The holiday spirit is being found in most homes and people are gearing up for all of the food and the family. I know this because of everyone’s Facebook statuses.
A few of my Facebook friends are doing the 30 days of thanks, thing. Some of them seem like they are already struggling (it’s only day 7). But some of them start my day all teary eyed with how sweet they are. I will admit, it doesn’t take a lot to get me emotional. I can’t even count how many times my siblings would say “you’re so sensitive!” It is true. I am sensitive. But their 7 (so far) days of thanks have made me get to thinking about what I am thankful for. There are so many people and blessings in my life. But I don’t want to just make a status about it everyday on facebook. I want to live a life of gratitude.
I saw this pin that said, “Cultivate an attitude of being grateful.” A light was turned on. Being appreciative isn’t just saying thank you or writing a note, a blog post, Facebook status, whatever. It is an attitude we can choose to have or not to have everyday. We can choose to have joy, or not.
So that is my newest goal for myself. Stop complaining, or to become aware of when I am complaining and what I am complaining about. I feel people, including myself, don’t event realize how often we complain. I don’t want to be bitter or a grouch. Sure, I am tired and irritable sometimes, and everyone is allowed to have bad days but I don’t want my attitude to lessen the greatness of my life. There is another quote that comes to mind, “you better check yourself before you wreck yourself”. Exactly what I am getting at here.
It is easy to say thank you. We all should do it and do it often. But we should also start each day with a grateful heart and let our attitudes be ones of gratitude. Complaining just takes away from the beauty of everyday and refocuses our attention on the negative parts.
So at the end of each day when I am saying my prayers and I thank God for all that he has given me, I will know that the day I was blessed with was not taken for granted. I lived it and did so joyfully.

Bye bye, negative nancy!

-Callie

Run Callie Run

For some reason, every time I think about exercise, I flashback to middle school. I can see the reflection of an awkward pre-teen in stretched out royal blue shorts and a white tee with Callie N. written in sharpie, across the middle of it. I was in the middle school locker room for P.E. Good ole physical education. Some of the worst days of my life. -ha- It wasn’t that bad. But it does evoke a lot of uncomfortable memories. And that is where my dislike for exercise really began.
I remember one time we had to choreograph a dance in groups put together by our “coaches”. I was absent the day the groups were chosen. So the next day, I was assigned to a group with my classmates Bena and Dana. The two of them had already choreographed a hip hop dance. So I had the rest of the week to learn their dance. Up to this point in my life I had already taken eight years of dance lessons. Those lessons were in lyrical, jazz, tap, ballet. Never in hip-hop.
So the day came for us to present our dance. (If we were absent we would get an F, or trust me I would have been “sick” that day) I was mortified. I can remember it like it was yesterday. Bena was in the front, Dana to my left. I tensely, half-assed, Bena and Dana’s choreography. One of the coaches, Mrs. Harris, was laughing and telling me to “loosen up”. Obviously they weren’t too impressed, as I made a “c”. Oh well.
But this memory, highlights a personality trait of mine. If I think that I am not good at something, I discourage myself and only make it worse. If I can avoid it, I will.
Or at least this is how I used to be. I am finally getting to a point in my life where I would rather enjoy myself than doubt myself. Now, don’t get me wrong, I will NOT be signing up to perform a hip-hop dance in front of any groups of people anytime soon. But I am willing to get a little uncomfortable.
Which brings me back to exercise. My current physical fitness state is probably still a “C”. I cannot do a strict push-up or pull up. I can run only short distances before something starts to cramp. In a zombie apocalypse, I would not survive but I would last longer than some. So I give myself a “C” probably a C minus but whatever.
So why am I talking about all of this? Well next October my family and some friends will all be participating in the Warrior Dash . That gives me almost an entire year to prepare. And although my goal is to get strong enough so that I don’t die while trying to climb over a wall or drown in a mud pit, more than anything I want to get better at exercising. I want to be proud of myself when I can do push-ups, pull-ups and run a little further before cramping up.
Plus, I have this cute little girl watching me with her big blue eyes. Right now it may be that my attempts to exercise are amusing to watch but I hope it will create not only a good habit for me right now but one for her in the future.

SOREly yours,
Callie

Twenty five

This week I celebrated my 25th birthday. Twenty five years is not a super long time. But I think about how much has happened. The different stages I have lived through. And one thing has always been constant throughout the changes: I am immensely blessed. Every year I have less and less that I wish for as I blow out my birthday candles. Because as time passes I think about what I have and I know how fortunate I am.
I have had rough years but I continue to learn and grow. Here are some things I have learned and/or realized so far in my life.
1. Growing old is a privilege denied to many. Unfortunately a lot of good people are only given a short time here on Earth. So I am always thankful to see another year!
2. Balance. I think the key to being happy physically, mentally and spiritually is finding a balance in your life. You may have to compromise a little here and there to get it just right. What works for others probably won’t work for you. Create your own happiness.
3. People make mistakes. When I find myself getting angry with someone, I try to think if they are intentionally trying to be mean or hurt me. Usually the answer is no. So I try to let it go and move on.
4.A good nap and a good laugh go a long way. Pretty simple. Nobody likes a grouch.
5. Take a deep breath. Sometimes you may just need a second away from the situation.
6. Cry it out. So the deep breath didn’t work. Go ahead, cry it out. It’s okay to have a good cry session every once in a while.
7. You can’t change some people. Accept that and learn from them. If someone does something to you that you don’t like or treats you less than you deserve, learn from them. Don’t ever treat someone else that way or make them feel the way you felt.
8.The more you believe something is right the less you care what others think. This one is hard for me. I like to have other people’s approval. But I am definitely growing confidence in my decisions and it helps tremendously.
9. There is somebody for everybody. There were a couple times in my life my mom told me this. She was right. A walk through Wal-Mart is proof. But my proof is that I found my somebody.
10. It is ok to ask for help. Another hard one for me as I don’t like to ask for anything. But the answer is always no if you don’t ask!
11. Face your fears. That water slide may look ridiculous, but it may actually be fun.
12.It is okay to say no. This goes back to balance.
13. Wear that cute outfit. You don’t have to save everything for a special occasion. It’s never a bad day to look good.
14. Don’t compare your life to others. Sure, they have it going on on Facebook. But you don’t know the whole story. Love your life.
15. Be silly. You might look stupid but you’re likely going to have fun!
16. Enjoy being friends with your family. Because no matter how stupid you look (see #15) they will still love you. Enjoy your time with them, especially those who are always there for you.
17. Wave/smile at strangers. A little kindness never hurt. And if the person did turn out to be a creep, walk away (quickly!)
18. Go outside. From my brief experience with crying babies I have learned outside is a magical place.
19. Your health is important. Take care of yourself so that your health doesn’t cause you to miss out on things! Life is short. Do what you can so that you can truly enjoy it!
20.Be happy with a calm life. We all get busy but what we find ourselves busy with isn’t always important. Choose to make time to slow down, relax and enjoy the small things.
21.Accept change. Everything doesn’t have to be the same all the time for it to be enjoyable. Start new traditions. You may find that the new way works better.
22. Love people. Help them when you can. And give each person a chance to prove them self to you before you judge them.
23. Bend the rules (a little). I am the type of person that likes rules. However, there are times when it’s ok to get a little crazy and have fun.
24. This too shall pass. Time is constantly moving. So whether you’re dealing with hard times or you’re waiting for a bad haircut to grow out, remember, this too shall pass.
25. Continue to learn. About yourself, other people, the world, everything. Cause no matter how sure you are, you probably don’t know it all!

I of course don’t listen to my own advice all the time but hopefully in my next 25 years I will continue to learn, laugh and love.
-Callie

7 month update

I told y’all time goes fast! Ainsley is now 7 months old! She is growing a little more each day, both physically and mentally. She now weighs about 19.5 lbs. Everyday she seems to have a new trick.
She has learned to walk forward in her walker. She is doing a lot of scooting on her belly. She can go backwards and sideways but has not quite figured out how to crawl forward. She enjoys playing peek-a-boo and looking for Lexie.
She is really enjoying trying new foods. The first time she tries a food she seems a little unsure. But after a few tastes she starts chowing down on it. I have not found anything she doesn’t like.
This was my first full month being a stay at home mom. I am truly enjoying being with Ainsley all day. A couple days of the week we keep another baby. So I stay pretty busy! Hunter has been keeping busy with work and keeping all the girls of our house happy!
All is well in the Beall household!

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For this child I prayed

Yesterday, Ainsley had her 6 month check-up. She is growing at a perfect pace. She now weighs 18.5 lbs which puts her in the 87.9% for weight (she was in the 81% at 4 months) and she is 26.25 inches long. She only gained a quarter of an inch in length. We were waiting for the decline in length growth to happen. At 4 months, she was in the 95% for length. We all found this funny since neither Hunter or I are tall. She is now in the 66% for length. That’s more like it ;). We have just started giving her some fruits and vegetables. She has been exclusively breast fed until about 2 weeks ago. Her favorite foods are baked sweet potato, raw avocado, and cooked carrots.
Her list of tricks now include sitting up, walking in her walker, and she is becoming very vocal. She is a lot of fun these days!

One thing her doctor said though, that I can’t get out of my head was, the days are long but the weeks and months are so short. Isn’t this so true? Some days seem to drag on and on but before you know it you’re at another milestone, birthday or holiday.
Last year at this time, I was probably in bed wishing the days away, since I had severe morning sickness. And now I am holding my sweet girl who takes the best naps in my arms.
As I see everyone getting their babies ready for their first day of school, I hold Ainsley a little tighter. I, of course, want her to grow and be a happy, healthy girl and continue on to be a happy, healthy woman. But right now, I am happy to have a cuddly, squishy baby. Because I know the weeks, months and years will fly by.
Hunter and I are so blessed to be her parents. I thank God for Ainsley (and hunter) every day.
I prayed for them both before I knew them. They make my life so complete. I was made to be Hunter’s wife and Ainsley’s mom.
No doubt about it.

-Callie

Ainsley 1-6 months

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