Lemon Lavender Coconut Cake for a Baby’s First Birthday (Sugar Free & Gluten Free)

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.

Lemon Lavender Coconut Cake for a Baby's First Birthday (Sugar Free & Gluten Free) // www.WithTheGrains.com

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.

Lemon Lavender Coconut Cake for a Baby's First Birthday (Sugar Free & Gluten Free) // www.WithTheGrains.com

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?

Lemon Lavender Coconut Cake for a Baby's First Birthday (Sugar Free & Gluten Free) // www.WithTheGrains.com

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.

Lemon Lavender Coconut Cake for a Baby's First Birthday (Sugar Free & Gluten Free) // www.WithTheGrains.com

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.

Lemon Lavender Coconut Cake for a Baby's First Birthday (Sugar Free & Gluten Free) // www.WithTheGrains.com

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.

Lemon Lavender Coconut Cake for a Baby's First Birthday (Sugar Free & Gluten Free) // www.WithTheGrains.com

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.

Lemon Lavender Coconut Cake for a Baby's First Birthday (Sugar Free & Gluten Free) // www.WithTheGrains.com

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.

Lemon Lavender Coconut Cake for a Baby's First Birthday (Sugar Free & Gluten Free) // www.WithTheGrains.com

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!

Lemon Lavender Coconut Cake for a Baby's First Birthday (Sugar Free & Gluten Free) // www.WithTheGrains.com

Lemon Lavender Coconut Cake for a Baby's First Birthday (Sugar Free & Gluten Free) // www.WithTheGrains.com

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.

Lemon Lavender Coconut Cake for a Baby's First Birthday (Sugar Free & Gluten Free) // www.WithTheGrains.com

Love,

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.

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Spiced Whiskey in a Custom Labeled Bottle for the Whiskey Lover

Take a long look in a full-length mirror. Does your neck lurch forward? Do your shoulders slope to one side? When you see yourself in photos, do you think, “Damn girl, stand up straight,” only to realize you were standing at your straightest? Then you, my friends, might need a doctor… a spine doctor!

Spiced Whiskey in a Custom Labeled Bottle for the Whiskey Lover // www.WithTheGrains.com

The above was my scenario. My many years of hunching over a drawing board, crouching over photo sets and then slouching into my computer had caught up with me- in a gnarly way. These poor posture habits had longer lasting and riskier effects than simply making me look slouchy in photos. We pay so little mind to our spine, and yet our very health and our very lives depend on its maintenance.

Spiced Whiskey in a Custom Labeled Bottle for the Whiskey Lover // www.WithTheGrains.com

Lucky for me, chiropractics found me. The Urban Farmer’s brother once wanted to be a medical doctor, only to realize the main stream medical system doesn’t prioritize health and prevention, focusing rather on fixing. In chiropractics, he discovered the fundamentals and a means to helping people live their best lives. He found a world in which health, nutrition and fitness combined to serve people, so he devoted himself to the spine and became Dr. Alex Pattison. I believed his words and explanations, but more than anything, I believed the way I felt within a few adjustments.

Spiced Whiskey in a Custom Labeled Bottle for the Whiskey Lover // www.WithTheGrains.com

If this sounds preachy, I can’t help it. When I find something good, something I believe in, I want to share it, want to sing it like Julie Andrews on those Austrian hills. Chiropractics often get a bad rap, as a scam or hoax, but I know Alex as a family member, as a doting father, as a loyal friend and as a doctor. I know him to be incredibly informed and earnest in his pursuit to make our city a healthy one. I also know Alex to be a whiskey aficionado. 

Spiced Whiskey in a Custom Labeled Bottle for the Whiskey Lover // www.WithTheGrains.com

This past Christmas, I drew Alex’s name from the hat for the family secret Santa. Rather than simply giving a bottle of whiskey, I played my graphic-designer-boyfriend card (did you know the Urban Farmer is also a design wiz?) to create a custom label to celebrate his love of whiskey and his devotion to spinal health. Introducing Doc Pattison’s Miracle Elixir

Spiced Whiskey in a Custom Labeled Bottle for the Whiskey Lover // www.WithTheGrains.com

To personalize the bottle even more, I concocted a Spice Infused Whiskey, a fiery flavor reminiscent of a fireball, derived from our forefathers.

Spiced Whiskey in a Custom Labeled Bottle for the Whiskey Lover // www.WithTheGrains.com

Below you’ll find the historical reference for this “receipt,” as it was called in the day. (The “Dulcify” step is my favorite!) You’ll also find the modernized version, designed to be fun and not kill you, by Steven Grasse, author of Colonial Spirits: A Toast to Our Drunken History, and the man behind Art in the Age, a personal favorite of mine. So toast some spices, toast a glass, find yourself a chiropractor, and let’s all toast to health and longevity!

Here’s to you Doc Pattison!

p.s: If you’re interested in creating a custom bottle design to give as a gift, get in touch!


Spiced Whiskey
from Colonial Spirits: A Toast to Our Drunken History

The Historical Recipe

Take of cinnamon, ginger, and coriander seed, each 3 oz. – mace, cloves, and cubels, each 1 1/2 oz.- Add 11 gallons of proof spirit, and 2 gallons of water, and distil [sic]; now tie up 5 oz. of English saffron, – raisins (stoned) 4 1/2 lbs.- dates, 3 do.- liquorice root, 2 do.- Let these stand 12 hours in 2 gallons of water, strain, and add it to the above. – Dulcify the whole with fine sugar.

-From Five Thousand Receipts in All Useful and Domestic Arts
by Colin MacKenzie, 1825
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Mulled White Wine & Homemade Gluten Free Crackers for Winter Entertaining

The Danish word Hygge seems to be resurging with the voracity of a seasonal flu. Perhaps it’s because our weather has finally dipped into real winter temperatures or perhaps because my peer group is reaching the nesting age, the word has been hashtagged and hashtagged again. Despite my knee-jerk reaction to the word’s overuse, I can’t argue the intention: let’s all find better ways to stay home and be cozy without completely cutting ourselves off from society. Shall we?

Mulled White Wine & Homemade Gluten Free Crackers for Holiday Entertaining // www.WithTheGrains.com

Winter is one of my favorite times to entertain. Extra bodies in our home means extra warmth without having to crank up the heat- win win. Aside from diminishing my guests to mere heaters, I do enjoy the coziness and comfort of having friends come to my home. I love when friends come to play a round of Clue, or warm up with the antics of charades and sip something toasty- all while I’m in my slippers!

Mulled White Wine & Homemade Gluten Free Crackers for Holiday Entertaining // www.WithTheGrains.com

I recently started mapping out my goals for the year, trying to distill them to months and days, and I realized one missing link from the past year: I didn’t host friends as often as I would have liked. I could chalk it up to an unruly schedule, a work overload, a lack of planning, etc, but the more important takeaway is to let the invites flow and start penciling in that calendar!

Mulled White Wine & Homemade Gluten Free Crackers for Holiday Entertaining // www.WithTheGrains.com

Mulled White Wine & Homemade Gluten Free Crackers for Holiday Entertaining // www.WithTheGrains.com

I recently invited some of the Urban Farmer’s family, who I now am very fortunate to consider my family, for drinks and snacks. In the winter, I love a crock pot full of mulled wine. The scent of simmering spices hits guests before they hit the door, and then warms their hands as they sip. Red wine tends to get all the attention on the mulling front, so I switched to a white wine with hints of citrus, honey and anise.

Mulled White Wine & Homemade Gluten Free Crackers for Holiday Entertaining // www.WithTheGrains.com

Mulled White Wine & Homemade Gluten Free Crackers for Holiday Entertaining // www.WithTheGrains.com

Mulled White Wine & Homemade Gluten Free Crackers for Holiday Entertaining // www.WithTheGrains.com

I tend to go overboard when planning for guests. In order to push this winter cozy idea more, I’m constantly looking for that teetering balance of manageable and special. Homemade crackers ride that fine line. They’re easy to whip up, customize and make a spread feel more homemade. 

Mulled White Wine & Homemade Gluten Free Crackers for Holiday Entertaining // www.WithTheGrains.com

The major holidays may be over, but the winter merriment should continue. There’s no reason to pack up the oven-dried citrus or the wintry greens. They can brighten the grayest of winter days.

Mulled White Wine & Homemade Gluten Free Crackers for Holiday Entertaining // www.WithTheGrains.com

Call it hibernation, call it hygge, or call it some mispronounced version of that word, but don’t call off the entertaining just because the holidays are over. Heat up the crock pot, whip up some crackers, arrange some fruits, and you have yourself a winter gathering to remember!


Mulled White Wine & Homemade Cracker Recipes for Winter Entertaining

This post is a twofer! Using a crock pot to make the mulled wine means it’s easier to devote attention to the cracker making and final preparations.
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