A letter to my niece, Remi June, to be opened on her 18th birthday:
Dear Remi June,
They say “you can’t choose your family,” but I was lucky in that I chose yours. I fell for a handsome Urban Farmer with a big heart, deep convictions and one of the best laughs I have ever heard. (I think it comes from your Pappy!) Lucky for me, he was the complete package because he came with a family I adored- your family.
I entered the Pattison story shortly after your big brother did, but I was there for your entire journey. From the moment you were announced, the love and pride beamed in everyone’s eyes. You Remi June, were well loved before the start.
From the beginning, your parents shaped their entire lives around your health and well being, but they’re also the type to look out for the health and well being of complete strangers. They’re good people. Don’t forget that. As you venture into the world on your own, to forge your own path, you have a support system with the strength of the steel that built this rusty city.
Above all Remi June, I would encourage you to make your own mistakes.
Many will try to spare you from failures and heartbreaks, and though these lows will hurt, the ability to scoop ourselves up tests who we really are and in the end, usually provides us with a path better than we ever could have imagined. Nonetheless, what kind of “adult” would I be if I didn’t offer you a few of the lessons I learned the hard way?
Don’t be afraid to quit. Change directions.
Too much of life is spent in pursuit of pleasing some elusive panel of judges. Life is full of “shoulds” and justifications for choices that don’t please our hearts, whether they be the job that looks good on paper or finishing a degree we don’t really want, or committing to a partner who isn’t the best fit. Never stop asking your heart what it wants, and don’t be ashamed to follow it. You only have one wild ride on this life coaster.
Past paths are not wasted. We glean from the journey.
When your heart tells you to redirect, do not fret about the miles behind you. Life has a funny way of collecting valuable souvenirs from all our routes, tokens that become so useful when we find ourselves following our internal compasses.
You are every bit as capable as a man.
Right now, women are angry and stepping into the light. We thought your very first president would be a female, a beacon of a narrowing gap, but we were wrong. In this misstep, we realized that we owe more to our foremothers who fought so hard to bridge so many gaps, and we owe more to the future generations who deserve better.
From the start, I watched people treat you like a girl. Pink appeared. Tones changed when speaking to you, and there was a gentler approach to you, but you, little tiny you, displayed a quickness, a curious spirit, an early grasp of words. You exhibited an innate strength, a resoluteness, a voice. Don’t forget that these qualities are in you. You deserve the education, career and life you want.
See the good. Fight for the good.
As I am writing this, we are entering a very uncertain time- a new president who has enabled a resurgence of hate and fear. It’s all too easy to retreat, to feel buried in the mire, but I look to people like your father and your uncle, people who cling to what is right, fight for it and work every single day to make the world a better place for your generation and beyond. I am learning to stand stronger because of their influence and to take more responsibility.
The big, loud protests are noble and good, but adding positivity to the everyday is just as admirable. Be kind. Be grateful, and be of service. You were born into a healthy, loving home. Never forget the advantages you were given, but stand against the disadvantages. The road is yours Remi June, and I can’t wait to watch where you drive!
I hope you’re reading this after a big ol’ slice of birthday cake (and I hope I made it!) because above all, your 18th year is cause for celebration. It was my honor and pleasure to make your very first birthday cake and watch you seize the day.
P.S: Take your vitamins. I’m pretty sure your dad would want me to say that. And thank your mom because this was a pretty special idea. She’s a giver, and she has a way of making everyone feel special!
Lemon Lavender Coconut Cake for a Baby’s First Birthday
(Refined Sugar Free & Gluten Free)
yield: 9 x 13 pan
About this Recipe: Sweetened with pure maple syrup and made from coconut flour, this light, spongy cake is easy for young tummies to digest and won’t send them on a sugar crash. For whipping the egg whites, be sure your mixing bowl is clean, the egg whites are at room temperature and avoid any yolk spilling into the mixture. The recipe yields a 9 x 13 cake, but I used a 5-inch biscuit cutter to create the round layers for this layered version (and snacked on the rest). The frosting was colored with India Tree natural dyes.
*Lavender Infused Milk (for the cake)
1 Tablespoon dried food-grade lavender
½ cup organic whole milk or full-fat coconut milk
Bring the milk to a boil. Add the dried lavender. Remove from heat, and allow to infuse for at least 5 minutes (the longer the better). Allow to cool to room temperature before incorporating into cake recipe.
Gluten-Free Lemon Lavender Coconut Cake
Avocado oil or melted coconut oil for greasing pan
1 cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon pink Himalayan sea salt
6 eggs (organic/free-range)
1 cup organic avocado oil or melted coconut oil
1/2 cup lavender infused milk*
2/3 cup organic maple syrup
4 teaspoons organic vanilla extract
1 teaspoon organic lemon extract
1 teaspoon organic lavender extract
4 egg whites (organic/free-range)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line a 9 x 13” glass baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a large bowl, sift together coconut flour, baking soda, cardamom and salt. Set aside.
In another bowl, whisk together 6 eggs, oil, lavender-infused milk, maple syrup, vanilla, lemon extract and lavender extract until foamy.
Add wet mixture to dry and mix well to combine.
In a clean bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites on medium until thick soft peaks form. Fold the egg whites into cake batter, careful not to overmix.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean and cake is golden.
Maple Vanilla Frosting
1 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
½ teaspoon cornstarch (organic/non-gmo)
8 oz organic Neufachatel cheese
½ cup (1 stick) butter (organic/grass-fed)
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Dissolve the cornstarch in the chilled whipping cream. Then combine with the remaining ingredients in the chilled bowl of a stand mixer. Whip until well combined and thick.
Note: To add the colored portions, I used India Tree natural food dyes, and applied with a paintbrush.