Coffee Break

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Valentine's day heart sugar cookies with buttercream

It’s been awhile! Let’s catch up.

I made these Valentine’s Day cookies last year. They’re my cut-out cream cheese sugar cookies topped with vanilla buttercream. So simple and festive and you don’t need to fiddle with royal icing and piping tips. But if royal icing is your thing, look at these beautiful snowflake cookies I decorated the other week! I’m having a major moment with decorating sugar cookies and I feel like I’m improving with each batch. That’s how we learn new skills, right? Here are the snowflake cookie cutters I have. Awesome little set.

Royal icing on sugar cookies

Updated Recipe Photos

While I love working on NEW recipes, I also enjoy going back and updating old blog posts with fresh new photos, video tutorials, and additional recipe tips. These are recipes I make on the regular, so why not refresh the photos! Can I admit that I completely cringe when I look at old photography? It’s normal to critique your work and reminds us that any skill, photography included, is a journey. If you’re interested, I updated my food photography page. I hope you can learn from it if you’re just starting out!

Wanted to share 4 recipe posts I recently updated. The recipes are still exactly the same, but the post content has been spruced up.

I’ll let you know when I update more!

Homemade biscuits

Monster cookies with M&Ms

Pepperoni pizza rolls

Noelle – Happy 16 Months!

I prefer to keep photos of her a little private from the blog, but I just can’t believe our sweet Noelle is 16 months old today! Long gone are the days I capture her monthly photos because this silly little lady can’t sit still! Walking has turned into running and sitting has turned to dancing. Yes, dancing. Anytime there’s music playing, she LOVES to shake her little hips and sway her arms. She also just learned how to twirl in circles and points to her belly when you say “hey noelle, where’s your belly?” She’s an awesome eater– will try everything. She loves cheese, berries, green beans, and bread. Chick peas are her favorite right now and, as a parent– how easy to just open a can of chick peas?!

She’s also picked up the most hilarious laugh. She has her regular laugh, but also walks around the house giggling like a little leprechaun. I can’t even explain how it sounds, but I think she learned it from a sound on her Vtech sit-to-stand walker. We just started swim lessons at a local indoor pool center and this girl is a natural. She’s always loved bath time, so I knew she’d enjoy swim class too.

This age is so much fun, but man it can be exhausting! She’s transitioning out of the baby world into toddlerhood, engaged and exploring, but at this age, you don’t really have an attention span or those fine motor skills yet. She loves reading books (and runs over to my lap to sit in it… melts my heart!) and her little wooden puzzles, but I’m always looking for more activity ideas. My friend introduced me to a couple Insta accounts/blogs called Busy Toddler and Happy Toddler Playtime where I’m gathering so many EASY ideas. Do you have any fun activities or playtime ideas for this age?

By the way, this time last year, I wrote a post called Dear First Time Mom (or Dad). Noelle was almost 5 months old and I was slowly gaining confidence in my role as a mother. Even though Noelle was such an easy happy baby, adjusting to parenthood was difficult for me and I don’t think parents should feel ashamed for admitting that. Of course we love our babies, but it’s really hard especially when all you see on social media are perfect, happy mothers seamlessly easing into motherhood. It affected me in a very deep way; I felt alone and was flooded with guilt. Time is on all of our sides and if you’re feeling overwhelmed and hopeless, I encourage you to reach out to a loved one and admit you are struggling. How brave of you and what a wonderful example for your child.

You will feel like yourself again. ♥

Bahamas Vacation

It had been a long time since Kevin and I took a vacation just the two of us, so we booked a trip to The Bahamas and spent 5 days on Nassau earlier this month. We stayed at Baha Mar resort and we LOVED it. It was 80 degrees and sunny the entire week with a beautiful view of the crystal clear water. The ocean was pretty chilly this time of year, but there were so many pools! What we both wanted from this vacation was relaxation, so we literally did nothing but hang by the pool, eat, and explore the resort. So, unfortunately, I don’t have any recommendations on activities in the area but I know there are plenty. The spa was a treat, though! There are 3 hotels on this resort and we stayed at the Grand Hyatt. There’s a huge casino, shopping, and tons of restaurants. Some of the best food I’ve ever eaten including fresh sushi, plantain chips, conch fritters, Thai green curry with scallops, tiger prawns, and more. And nothing beats fresh banana daiquiris by the pool!

In one of their pools, they have a grotto with a couple sharks. Another one with turtles and exotic fish. And there are flamingos, the national bird of The Bahamas, on the resort too!

We saw lots of kids playing and having a blast, so while this is definitely a family friendly resort, I still consider it perfect/romantic for adults. 🙂

Pupdate!

Franklin and Jude are great! The only update is that Jude, our 10 and 1/2 year old rottie mix, is currently in a cone. Poor guy. He had a severely cracked nail that needed some medical attention and the vet had to remove a significant amount of it. To prevent him from licking the wound, he’s rocking his little lampshade. Still in good spirits, as usual! He’s moving much slower these days, as expected, but the vet always says he’s in great shape for his age. I think Noelle and Franklin keep him young!

Baking Made Easy Email Series

I published a blog post about this over the holidays, but in case you missed it– let’s quickly revisit! My 2019 goals for Sally’s Baking Addiction are to condense, concise, and update– make all my blog posts easier to follow. With this in mind, I thought now would be the perfect opportunity to combine some of my best baking recipes, tips, and tutorials into one place: an email course. This series includes some of my most popular posts (that I’ve re-written and condensed!). You receive 1 email per day for 5 days. After that, I’ll send you 1 email per week with additional popular recipes as I update them with recipe notes and easier instructions. Again, it’s completely free just like the content on my blog and it’s in addition to the regular NEW RECIPE emails you receive (if you’re signed up for those!).

You don’t need to do anything– no homework– just read, learn, and get excited to apply some of the lessons in your own kitchen. I’m hoping to create more series like this– with new material such as bread baking, cake baking, sugar cookie decorating, etc. All series designed for beginners who want to improve their baking prowess!

Sign Up for Baking Made Easy Email Series

Q: Would you be interested in more email courses?

Bagels image

January Baking Challenge

The January 2019 Baking Challenge is homemade bagels and I’ve seen the most participation in a baking challenge yet! Can you believe Sally’s Baking Challenge is 2 years old? Which challenge recipe has been your favorite? I vote croissants. 🙂

Keep those bagel pictures coming. The February Baking Challenge is coming next week!

How to Join Sally's Baking Challenge

  1. Recipe: On or around the 1st of each month, I publish a new challenge recipe. Sign up for instant email updates so you’re alerted as soon as a new challenge recipe is published!
  2. Bake & Comment: Bake the recipe during that month, then come back and comment on the recipe and tell me how it went.
  3. Share: Share your photos using #sallysbakingchallenge on Instagram or email me, tweet me, or upload a photo of your recipe to my Facebook page or Facebook group. By sharing your photo, you are automatically entered in that month’s giveaway, which is usually an Amazon $250 gift card. For a bonus entry, leave a review on the challenge recipe. There is always an alternate challenge recipe just in case you’re not into the recipe published. Here is a landing page dedicated to all things Sally’s Baking Challenge.

Want to subscribe? Sign up for instant email updates so you’re alerted as soon as a new challenge recipe is published!

97 Comments

  1. Poor Jude. I hope he gets better soon and Noelle is SO adorable!
    Also I love your email series. It makes me try your recipes I completely forgot about.

  2. Lovely to have a little update Sally! My fave baking challenge has been the Choux month – couldn’t believe how easy they come together and the end result is always impressive .

  3. Aww Noelle is so cute! They definitely grow too fast, and yes now welcome to the endless running behind them stage lol at this age my son loved Spot lift the flap books (he loves dogs and animals) and also big blocks that he could try to stack or as he preferred, knock down our towers lol
    He also loved getting into my measuring cups spoons etc and various plastic items I left in a drawer just at his level when I had to wash the dishes or something
    That resort looks amazing!!! Wow! Hubby and I are debating taking a night away just for us but feel awfully guilty doing so even though I know its very necessary to make time for us
    Think you just inspired me to push ahead and do it, thank you

    1. We have the Spot lift the flap books! Though she has ripped off some of the “door” flaps. Whoops!

      I felt really guilty going on vacation– I even cried when we left!– but it’s important to take time for yourself. Makes you appreciate things more I suppose!

  4. Im so envious of your Bahamas trip! It looked so relaxing
    Your daughter is gorgeous and I’m sure super fun….love that she loves dancing!
    Yes to email courses! I could I always use extra help lol!
    I think the challenges are always pretty great….the creme brulee was a good one…challenging but doable, and oh, so rewarding!
    Thanks for all you do!

  5. Dear Sally,
    as a long-time reader, I always love coffee brake! I like the difference in tone and subjects in these posts 🙂 Thank you for sharing!

    About e-mail-courses: I think it would be very helpful if these e-mails were easily recognizable in layout, colours or otherwise from the ones announcing new blogposts. Unfortunately, I had some difficulties with the Baking made easy series in this regard.

    Oh, and get well soon, Jude!

    1. LOVE this suggestion and feedback, thank you! I’ve been trying to make the email series emails a little longer with a small square picture– they’re scheduled and send around 10am EST. The new recipes send automatically around midnight EST and come on days I have a new post published. (Usually Mondays and Thursdays, but this week it will be M/W/F.)

      Always looking to improve, so thank you!

  6. I so love these coffee breaks! I liked the email series and I think having more is a great idea. I have been on the FB group for over a year and bagels were my first challenge. I decided to attempt every challenge (or alternative challenge) this year as an attempt to learn new baking things. While bagels aren’t my favorite thing to eat, it was nice to know I can make them if I need to. Thanks for all you do!!

  7. Awww love your posts and so glad you share your pictures of your family with us. Your daughter is sooo cute, my granddaughter loves to to dance too.

  8. I love reading your coffee breaks. I cannot believe how adorable Noelle is! My oldest also used to bring books over for me to read. My current 16 month old brings me books but doesn’t let me read them much. He just likes to flip the pages. They are tiring at this stage but so much fun. <3
    Sorry about Jude. He certainly knows how to rock that e-collar though! Here's to a speedy recovery.

  9. I just updated one of my early posts, and yikes! My food photography is still super basic and limited, but in just 4 short months, I feel like I’ve come a long way. The post I updated was Mini Dutch Babies (https://www.bakesandblunders.com/try-new-pancake-mini-dutch-babies/). I’ll have to check out your food photography tips. Trying to improve any way I can!
    Good for you for being honest about motherhood! Like many military wives, I had my son (now 4yrs) away from family and friends. It’s hard and scary, especially when you’ve got no one you trust to help you out. Being a parent gets easier though.
    Love the update and thanks for all of your resources!

    1. Thanks so much Colleen. Isn’t it incredible how quickly you can improve if you continue to take photos and work on your craft?

  10. Thanks for sharing, Sally. Adorable daughter, get well Jude,love email series and all updates, yes to email classes, favorite challenge ….BAGELS. My hope is to complete all challenges this year! Youngest daughter’s and granddaughters wedding ….well you know

  11. I like the email series! That resort is gorgeous, sounds like an amazing relaxing time. I can’t believe Noelle is 16 months now; I remember reading your Dear Mom & Dad post in the middle of colic with my baby and it spoke to me in so many ways. While I love your food-related posts, your personal posts are just as welcomed and appreciated. Your sweet girl is just a little version of you! I’ve been thinking about getting my now-14mo in swim lessons soon, too. Glad you hear you and your family are doing well.

    1. We absolutely love swim class! It’s something fun and different– and learning how to swim is a serious life skill. She’s not a huge fan of going under just yet, but who is?! Find a good program in your area and check it out!

    1. Thank you so much Mary! I’m an early bird and exercising first thing in the morning has been part of my routine for 10-15 years, usually about 4-5 days a week. I run, bike, or lift weights. My time is limited lately and 30 minutes is usually my max, so I try to really work hard during my workouts. Anyway, that was a longer answer than you were probably looking for!

  12. I always love reading updates about your family 🙂 Your Bahama vacation looked AMAZING!!!! I think it may be a place I need to check out when booking our next vacation. I am hoping to do more of your baking challenges this year. I participated in your Jan one & it was so much fun trying something new!!!!! Thank you for all you do!!!!

    1. Would love for you to keep participating in the challenges if your schedule allows it! The upcoming February challenge is on the easier side. I’ll share it next week!

  13. Sally, Thanks for such a wonderful Coffee Break! My favorite Baking Challenge is by far the very first one….Chocolate Lava Cakes. And as for Jude, all I can say is aaahhhh, what a sweetie. We have a Golden Retriever who will be 10 in August and dogs do something to your heart that is hard to put into words. The closest I can get to describing it is just to simply look into their eyes and you don’t need any words! That look they give you says it all.

  14. Yes I would like to see more baking series emails . My I make a suggestion for one? Donuts that are baked then filled with custard style cream and frosted
    With a chocolate frosting. I would love to learn how to do this in my kitchen.
    And you are t he person I want to learn from.
    Have a good day.

    1. I think traditional doughnuts would make for an awesome baking challenge one month! Thank you so much for the suggestion.
      In the meantime, I do have this glazed doughnut recipe. They aren’t filled, but you could use this exact dough for filling.

  15. I, too, love your coffee breaks! I am a grandma now and kind of consider my blogger friends’ kids virtual grandkids!
    I LOVE getting updates about Noelle and while I COMPLETELY understand keeping little Noelle a bit private, I surely do enjoy seeing photos of her!
    Poor pup! We just hate it when they aren’t up to par, don’t we?
    I also really appreciate your challenging new mama comments. Its really tough work to parent, even, or perhaps when we see others do it pretty well. Its hard to emulate but not to envy!
    I really didn’t participate in the baking challenges but perhaps I will this year. Are they collected so I can go back and catch up?
    Take care!

  16. Hi Sally, I’m a grandmother of 4 little girls and a former teacher. I love to teach them in our “Grandma’s Cooking Class” each week! A while ago I read them something from your blog about chocolate chips not being made for melting and that Bakers chocolate bars were better. This week when I pulled out chocolate chips to melt for something the 7 year old politely put them back and pulled out a bar of Bskers…”Grandma , did you forget she said chocolate chips are designed not to melt”! You’ve made quite an imptession atound here! Thanks for helping educaye the mext generation of bakers!
    Donna Jones

  17. So nice to see all of your updates, Sally! Loved seeing the updated picture of Noelle and loved that you and Kevin got ‘away’ alone. You really need that piece in your lives as a family now. Finally, thank you for updating your photography Blog! I’ve always loved this Blog!

    1. I agree! The thought of taking a vacation without Noelle made me feel guilty at first, but… a relationship/marriage is crucial to the family. And alone time makes for healthy parenthood too!

  18. Thanks for sharing the toddler activity blogs! My daughter is 14 months today and I often struggle with coming up with things for her to do.

  19. Thank you so much for the update, Sally. I always love your coffee breaks. Your daughter is so precious – I know you’re enjoying your time with her. It just flies by! Jude is such a good boy – I hope he recovers quickly. The pictures of your vacation are amazing – do you always take your “good” camera on vacation or are those from your phone? Also, I would love any other email series you would be willing to offer. I have learned so much from you and your blog. I just really love it all! Thank you!

    1. Thanks so much Sarah! I hope to implement some new email series this year. Stay tuned! If I’m being honest, I don’t really like lugging around my big camera on vacations. Sometimes I do, but lately– it’s just too much and then I’m so focused on taking pictures that I forget to actually ENJOY the time! These were all taken with my iPhone!

  20. What a joy you are, living your best life. It’s inspirational! I love your video tutorials and have learned so much from you. My favorite baking challenge so far is hand pies. Thanks to that, I finally made a delicious pie crust and broke the family curse . Thank you for sharing your life with us. You were my favorite find in 2018, and I hope 2019 brings you nothing but blessings.

  21. Yesterday I made your six inch zebra cake with strawberry icing for a small birthday party. So delicious! Especially love your icing recipe; love that it uses freeze dried strawberries for the flavour and colour. Thank you!

  22. Thank you for sharing your expertise, recipes and your family. I have followed you unofficially for several years, but recently joined in, and I am so glad that I did. I have made many of your recipes and have never been disappointed!!!!

  23. I think these posts have always been my favorite. I love it when you share YOU! I loved all your pics. The pics of your vacation looked amazing. I’m glad you got some for just yourselves because that is important too. Noelle is getting so big! Pretty soon she will be helping you stir batter! 😉

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I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally

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