Charlie’s Chocolate Bundt + Lavender Vanilla Glaze

Lately, I have been craving rich, yummy comfort foods. Especially sweet ones! I’m currently trying to break that habit because my jeans don’t really like it, but man! do I love a good slice of cake or decadent pastry. And my passion for baking has only shown itself more in the past few weeks.

I wanted to share this recipe because is a refreshing take on the typical chocolate cake, but it’s also very moist and indulgent. Kudos go to my daughter, or this recipe would have never been born- so it’s named after her. She requested a chocolate butterfly cake a while back, which I obliged with this recipe. However, her cake was slathered with vanilla buttercream and then decorated with a trillion sprinkles.

After making her cake, I started thinking about ways I could make it again, but in a more sophisticated, simple, and elegant way. I have also been trying to use as many unexpected herbs in my cooking as possible, recently. While chocolate and vanilla are classic flavors (and what my daughter picked), I wanted a twist and ultimately decided to add lavender.

I also made a large batch of lavender lemonade to serve with it. YUM! Which my husband eventually turned into a cocktail with gin and ginger beer. Basically, we’ve been living in a lavender heaven!

In my opinion, this is a wonderful cake to bring to a spring or summer gathering or share with family on a special occasion. However, in my case this was just for fun, and I ended up sharing it with my sister-in-law and family. I was glad they loved it- enough to even enjoy it for breakfast! Haha! ( I apologize for not having more photos!)

If you decide to try this out, I truly hope it brings you as much happiness as I had making it.

Ingredients:

Cake:

3 cups flour

2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 Tbsp baking soda

2 eggs

1 cup buttermilk

1 cup cooking oil (I used coconut)

1/2 cup hot water

1 Tbsp vanilla

1 pkt instant chcolate pudding

1/2 cup sour cream

Glaze:

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tbsp dried lavender buds

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 tbsp lemon juice

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. For the Cake, mix all dry ingredients, by hand or in a mixer. In a separate bowl, combine pudding mix, eggs, buttermilk, water, oil and 1 tablespoon vanilla. In large mixer bowl, combine dry ingredients and wet, by slowly pour in the wet ingredients while whisking with electric mixer on low/medium speed for up to 2 minutes. Stir in sour cream. Pour into greased bundt pan.

Bake on 350° for 50-60 minutes. Cool in pan 20-30 minutes. Invert cake onto wire rack or plate. Cool completely.

Meanwhile, for the glaze, Bring cream just to a simmer, stirring occasionally, in a small saucepan over medium. Remove from heat, and stir in dried lavender; let stand 10-15 minutes.

Pour lavender milk through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a bowl, and cool completely, about 20 minutes. 

Whisk together powdered sugar, salt, 1/4-1/2 of the lavender milk, and 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice. Whisk in up to 2 teaspoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached. (However, because I didn’t want the lemony taste to take away from the lavender I ended up adding a little bit of water instead, to thin out the glaze. Don’t add so much water, though, that you dilute the taste or make your glaze so thin it sinks into the cake.)

Sprinkle with dried lavender buds, if desired. Enjoy!

Hopefully you whip this up, post a picture, and tag me on social media @lone_birch.

Bohemian Oil DIYs

I’m so excited about today’s post! I have loved essential oils for a few years now, and I’m (finally) taking big time advantage of using them again since we moved into this house. They were in a storage box for far too long!

My Aussie, insta-acquaintance, Sinead (who is AMAZING at essential oil DIYs, by the way) inspired me to do a few projects of my own. After seeing her pretty little posts and projects, I thought I’d come up with some new blends to bottle; for a few different uses.

Now, I admit that I am not an essential oils expert. It’s just something I enjoy and find helpful in my day-to-day. I also understand that what oils and brands people choose to use are highly personal, and sometimes controversial. So, I won’t delve too deeply into a spiel, trying to get you to use what I do.

I will only mention that I’ve been using Eden’s Garden oils forever and I LOVE them. I’ve found them to not only be affordable, but effective. I LOVE that the company doesn’t recruit distributors! They are a family/woman-owned business, and their products are 100% pure. That being said, I encourage you to use WHATEVER oils you are comfortable with. Every boho babe has her own groove!

Today, I’m going to be sharing five easy, oil “recipes” you can start with for these diy projects. But, if you’re familiar with, and love, oils already- feel free to experiment and add to what I’m blending here! I’d love to know about your fave oil blends and creations!!

Here’s what I used for these 5 projects, besides the oils themselves:

NOW Solutions Vegetable Glycerin

Thayer’s Witch Hazel Facial Toner (w/ Rose Water)- I chose this product knowing that it was alcohol free, it contained aloe, and I liked the added depth of the rose water component. I also will use this product alone in future. I also really like THIS brand that also comes in unscented.

Carrier Oil- Carrier oils are very important when it comes to formulating your oils for application to skin. Read this great article from HelloGlow, to find out more! I used this particular “coconut oil” product because it’s specifically formulated for skin + absorption, I’ve been using it for a long time and knew it wouldn’t cause irritation, and it also has percentages of safflower oil, jojoba oil, cotton seed oil, almond oil, argan oil, olive oil, sunflower seed oil, and avocado oil. Holy hydration!!

However, I can no longer find this one in stores or online. Therefore, no link available. But, I encourage you to use whatever you have handy and what works for you! It’s so important that you don’t feel pressured to go out and buy a bunch of fancy, expensive products to do this. Find what’s cost effective and easy to obtain, and what might be the best for your skin type. Not everyone will choose the same combination; that’s what makes it so fun & experimental!

Dried Flowers- This part is totally optional and unnecessary, but I love the way it looks! Adding dried flowers can help you identify which oil is which and add to the artsy vibe of the whole thing. You can get dried flowers in a number of places, online, or even dry your own! I got my lavender from Amazon and have been using it for everything imaginable. The lovely chamomile came from Sage Hill Botanicals via their etsy shop.

Vessels- Besides the blends themselves, choosing the vessels to put them into might be my favorite part. Sinead uses The Vessel Collection (as do I) because they have all beautiful, glass containers you could want. I went to place an order from them immediately, BUT then I saw the $40 shipping to the USA and knew I’d have to do something different. So, I searched for something I loved, US based, and found these gems from Karma & Cosmo. They are SO GOOD!!

I also have a monthly subscription to Grove Collaborative and received another one of their perfect, spray bottles in my box last month. Similar HERE. Or you could reuse/repurpose a container from home.

Funnels- I reccommend getting funnels for besically any project that requires dumping liquid from one container to another, but especially for small/narrow necked bottles like this. I got a pack from Amazon (linked), a lot of times they come with a bottle when you buy them, or you could probably find them at the dollar store.

If you are (and even if you’re not) new to essential oils, I HIGHLY recommend getting a book like “A Beginner’s Guide To Essential Oils”. It’s a helpful and quick reference to remember what each is helpful for, their uses, and what they blend well with…etc. I use this one regularly to maintain knowledge of what works well for me.

Let’s get down with the blends!

Cloud Nine Room Spray:

Unscrew the top of your glass bottle and add essential oils.

4 drops lemongrass

4 drops clary sage

4 drops patchouli

4 drops pine

Fill the glass halfway with distilled water, then fill the other half with witch hazel. replace the lid and shake the bottle to combine the witch hazel, oil, and water. (If your glass bottle is clear instead of colored, you could also add some dried flowers or greenery to add beauty and also- if desired- show the scent.)

This blend helps to energize, reduce anxiety, support mindfulness and concentration, as well as boost air quality. Perfect for literally any time of day and any room in your home.

*For the roller balls, drop essential oils in, fill the rest of the bottle with carrier oil. Be sure to leave a little space at the top so there is room to drop in any dried flowers and put the roller back on. My rollers here are 7.5ml.

Tranquil Slumber Roller

4 drops lavender

2 drops vetiver

2 drops ylang ylang

2 drops australian sandalwood

This roller recipe is great for treatment of insomnia or sleep disorders, promoting calm & relaxation, and overall easing restlessness. As someone who suffers from insomnia, I LOVE THIS BLEND! And can attest to it’s soothing qualities.

Lifegiver Roller

5 drops tangerine

1 drop spearmint

3 drops lemongrass

3 drops lime

This roller is designed to boost mood, refresh, and alleviate the blues! Everyone needs this one in their life. And all my kids even loved how it smelled (not that they need more energy lol). Eucalyptus would’ve been a great addition to this, even replacing the lime. (However, my 2 year old dumped out all I had left before I could make these!!)

Look Lively Roller

3 drops pink pepper

2 drops frankinsence

2 drop bergamot

1 drop rosemary

Loving this roller for those days when you just need a “pep talk” to get you through those late afternoons when you’re so badly craving a nap. Good for invigoration, emotional support, and increase alertness.

*For body spray, add your oils, then one tablespoon of vegetable glycerin, one tablespoon of witch hazel, and fill the rest with distilled water. The perfume bottle I’m using here is 50ml.

Nature’s Child Body Spray

12 drops patchouli

12 drops bergamot

10 drops myrrh

8 drops tangerine jasmine blend (if you don’t have this blend you can use 4 drops of each, separate oil)

8 drops australian sandalwood

6 drops lemon

This is a very subtle scent, but I love it for after the shower. It’s got a sweet, earthiness that’s extremely pleasant and uplifting. It improves feelings of contentment, enhances meditation, intensifies attentiveness, & supports overall well-being. Keep in mind though, it’s a body spray, not a perfume, so the scent does fade with time.

Okay, that it for me. I hope you guys try some of these out, or, as I mentioned, I would love to hear some of your creations you think I should give a whirl!

Stay groovy, friends,

6 Ways I Save Money Clothes Shopping For Kids

If you have multiple kids, I’m sure you’ve heard all of the “Oh my! You have your hands full, don’t you?”, and the “You must be a glutton for punishment”, and the “You know how that happens, right?” remarks that folks will say in passing. If you don’t have multiple kids…then you’re house is probably a lot quieter than mine. Haha. Either way, this post will, hopefully, be able to give you some ideas on how to save some cash when it comes to stocking up on clothes for your children.

Some of these are probably things you’ve already employed. Others may be things you’re hesitant to try. But, basically, this is what works for me and my family, to make clothes shopping for four kids more cost effective.

Now, don’t get me wrong… There are plenty of times I have splurged on specific items. I’m a lover of small shops and handmade, sustainable, grow-with-you clothing. However, if those things were going to be the sole pieces of my child’s wardrobe, I’d be living in a cardboard box. For most of us, it’s just not practical to supply each of our children with completely custom, handcrafted, one of a kind filled closets and dressers. So, let’s jump into it!

  1. Consignment + Thrift

It’s a shame, but many, many people have reluctance to buy anything from a consignment or thrift store. The “previously owned” factor, or “in used condition” description makes them feel uneasy about the quality of what they might find there. Or, they associate the idea of these types of stores with a lack of funds. Therefore, thinking that more money + shopping = commercial retail only and big brand purchases.

This misconception is very unfortunate. I have found some of my FAVORITE kid’s clothes, of the most luxe brands at places like Once Upon A Child. There are hidden gems amongst the crowded racks at shops like this. You just have to be willing to put in the elbow grease and search.

Recently, I donned my mask (because COVID) and went shopping for a bunch of summer clothing components for the kids because it seems like they have all had a growth spurt at the same time. It always seems to happen like that, doesn’t it? And, I can’t imagine how much money I saved by making consignment my first stop that day. For example, my seven year old son is currently very into sport brands and athletic wear. That usually means shelling out big bucks for brands we love, like Adidas, Nike, Under Armor…etc. But, when I dug into the bulk of his size section, I found tons of LIKE NEW items of these exact brand names. And walked away with hundreds of dollars worth for a fraction of the cost.

The other great thing about many of these stores, is that they will buy items your child has outgrown and you can apply that credit to your purchase. Or, they will simply accept a donation of items you no longer have a use for, [like Goodwill] so that you aren’t just compiling a wealth of clothing clutter. If you have been leary of exploring your local thrift or consignment scene, I encouraging you to give it a go. You may be surprised!

2. Online Resale

Okay, this aspect of shopping requires patience; I won’t lie. There is a lot to sift through. But, if you’re willing, to spend the time and effort to look for what you want, you can get a great bargain! Plus, you don’t even have to leave home!

Above are just a few examples of sites I’ve had success with, but there are loads of others with similar ideas behind them and user friendly buying. This avenue of procuring apparel is a go-to of mine for lots of reasons. Here are a few:

  • You can search for specific brands, sizes, styles quickly; no roaming a store. Just a few strokes of the keyboard. Such as, “Boys 16 Gap jeans”.
  • Many of the items are sold NIB (new in box) or NWT (new with tags), so you can be confident that what you’re getting is authentic.
  • Returns are often accepted, and if they aren’t, you are usually able to come to an agreement with the seller. Make sure you read the terms!
  • You can, many times buy items in a “lot”, which saves you $$ per item. Shipping is often free on these as well.

But, of course, the best thing about these sites it that your can find items at a MONDO discount. Used or new, unless you are buying from an actual “boutique” or “store” hosted by these sites, you can usually purchase for much less than retail value. And, similarly to the last tip, you can sell your gently loved pieces and use that money towards more shopping! It’s like an entire cycle…and it can get addicting.

3. Amazon

Who doesn’t use Amazon for EVERYTHING?! If you have found a way to live without it, let me know how! I have an absolute obsession and it gets a little worse every day. My husband can’t even complain because he’s just as bad about those midnight purchases. Who else is with us?

Their tagline doesn’t lie! And, typically, I know that when I order clothing from them for the kids, I won’t be disappointed. And, if a return is needed… they make it SO easy. Biggest tip with Amazon shopping– SIGN UP FOR A PRIME ACCOUNT! Best money spent. Period. Two-day shipping cannot be beat.

Pricing here, obviously for brand new items, will vary based on what brand you’re looking at. But, I have found that lots of things will have a different/lower price than the MSRP. Example: I ordered an Adidas shirt for my son that he loved. It was somewhere in the $20 range on Amazon. When it arrived, the tag said the regular price was $40! Who doesn’t wanna save 50%?!

Also, there are some great shops/brands/items that are amazing dupes for small shop items you may be unable to afford. Lots of cute little jumpsuits, and rompers, and tops that are to die for. Here are a couple of my fave Amazon outfits on my baby girl last summer…

Bottom line? Amazon has everything. If you haven’t bought clothing on there before, go search your vibe. There is great stuff there for the whole family!

4. Zulily

I’ve been shopping Zulily for years. If you make an account with them, you will never regret it. They have new sales, every day, on tons of great brands. Major discounts on everything from pj’s to formal wear for little ones. They even compare prices for you.

I have hands down gotten some of my daughters’ favorite dresses on Zulily and the shoes are bomb! Run, run, run and check them out.

From their site: “Maximize your savings by ordering several items. Buy one item, it’s a good deal. Buy more than one item, it’s an unbelievable deal.” Returns are easy and simple, and they let you know the estimated time of processing before you even add something to your cart. I’ve even gotten great home decor and fun play items from them. Do yourself a favor and shop with Zulily! Download the app for an even smoother experience. Plus, then you can check deals from the comfort of your bed.

5. SALES

This is a bit of a no brainer, but reminders never hurt. Look for sales anywhere and everywhere! Some of my favorite places to shop sales are Nordstrom, Old Navy, Gap, Macy’s… Even Target has 30-50% off sections. Even if you can’t find the exact size you need, but they have a size bigger, consider investing in something that your child can grow into. And, if you have two kids of different sizes, but you love the item enough, buy one for each kid. That way one of the pieces will get twice the wear and you get more than your money’s worth.

Shopping sales usually pays off. Especially because the expensive items that are now in your budget were probably never worth the exuberant amount that was being charged for them in the first place. Clothes are made fast and cheap nowadays. Don’t overpay for something if you don’t have to.

6. Hand Me Downs

Because of the forethought of your clever mama, you may have had the experience of wearing your brother or sister’s hand me downs. And while you may have grown to not like it, it was probably the most economically sound thing for your parents to do. Clothes cost money. The more kids = the more money.

I have saved bags and boxes of my older kid’s clothes to pass down to the next. I’ve never been dissatisfied with that decision. And, truthfully, my kids haven’t either…yet. We have even accepted clothes from friends who haven’t had another child to pass them down to. The dress my daughter is wearing below was given to us by my best friend while she was visiting us last year. Her youngest child had outgrown it. My daughter proudly wore that dress until it didn’t fit her anymore.

You don’t have to spend a dime to use hand me downs. And, it might just be me, but I love their sentimental value. You may also be able to benefit those who are in need by giving them things your children don’t wear anymore. It always comes full circle.

So there you have it. The six places I shop the most and the tips that help me make it through without forking over a fortune. Kids are always changing and growing, and ruining and staining! This is what gets us through those fun, messy, beautiful, sprouting times in the most frugal way.

What are some ways you’ve found that help you keep some pennies in the bank while shopping for a large family? Or, if you only have one child, what do you feel like differs about their wardrobe than if you had more? I’d love to hear your thoughts!