Coffee Break

Let’s sit down and chat for another monthly update!

Update on Jude

Thank you so much for all your kind words and well wishes for our dog the past few months. Jude was diagnosed with cancer back in August– we actually found out on Kevin’s birthday– it was awful. After we noticed Jude drinking a crazy amount of water for a week or so, we took him in for a check up. His calcium levels were abnormally high, a particularly dangerous situation for his kidneys. Given Jude’s age (11), we take him in if we notice anything out of the ordinary.

Soon after that, Jude had a cancerous tumor removed and he’s been in post-surgery treatment since. He’s had 4 rounds of canine chemo and is doing wonderfully. In fact, ever since he started treatment, Jude’s been smiling, wagging his tail, playing with Franklin, and overall acting like his normal self. We are so glad to see him in good spirits!

The vet says Jude’s blood work is healthy and physical shape is awesome. We understand the cancer will likely return, but we know Jude has more love and life left to gift this world.

Thank you again for all your kind words! You know how much our dogs mean to us. ♥

Recipe Page Update!

Before I forget. Have you seen my new recipe page yet? You can select exactly what you want to see. So many categories! I also have more categories in the “Select Category” dropdown menu on my sidebar (on desktop) or if you scroll all the way down on your mobile device.

And you can search by ingredient too!

gingerbread muffins

Life as a Working Mom

Something’s been on my mind a lot lately.

This is my busiest time of year and as I worked late in my kitchen one night, I was totally consumed by guilt. This isn’t anything new, I’ve felt guilty for working since the day my daughter was born. I don’t know how working moms do it, but I’ve been doing this for 2 years and I’m convinced we all have a shred of guilt at some point. The guilt is especially consuming because I own a business that literally never stops. The internet doesn’t turn off and my website doesn’t shut down when I’m taking care of my family.

I know I’ve talked about this before, but it’s hard. Working parents essentially have 3 days in 1– (1) getting the kid(s) up and ready for the day (2) work and (3) dinner and bedtime. When all I feel is guilt, I try to remember that I’m not only a mother. I’m also a wife, business owner, daughter, sister, and friend, and I have a lot of passions, hobbies, and dreams that make me who I am and most importantly, make me a great mom.

I found an article earlier this year– and I forget if I shared it with you before– but it reminds us that we’re working to provide a meaningful childhood. And hopefully, you’re also working because you enjoy your independence and all the other aspects that make you… you.

Living in the Moment

My friend who just had a baby sent me this video the other night. (Brace yourself– there will be tears, especially if you’re a parent.) It’s a wonderful message, obviously, but emotional because it speaks the truth about how quickly these stages fly by. When you’re in the thick of a really hard stage like tantrums, teething, or sleep regression… it’s hard to not wish for that stage to be over. Not every moment is enjoyable, but every moment races by quicker than the speed of light. Now having a spunky two year old who loves independence, I wish I knew the last time she fell asleep on my chest would be the last time!

Firsts become the lasts all too soon. The video was a beautiful reminder to cherish as much of this precious time as we can, especially this hectic time of year. 🙂

Holiday Success Guide – Email Series

Earlier this month, I wrote and published a new email series called Sally’s Holiday Success Guide. Ok, the name is super corny but it gets the message across! This is the time of year when we’re told to slow down and savor every moment (like what I said above!) but it’s also the time of year when we need to do 14798347 things. There’s bake sales, cookie exchanges, gift shopping, holiday parties, work potlucks, brunches, school projects, hosting, big meals, traveling, and more. You also want to kick back, bake cookies, and watch Elf.

Truth is– there’s not enough time to do everything so I compiled all of my holiday success tips into 1 place so you can simplify this season. This 5 day email series includes:

  1. my pie crust cheat sheet
  2. ultimate Christmas cookie guide
  3. make-ahead baking tutorial
  4. 5 ingredient or less holiday treats
  5. homemade gift ideas and more

Sign Up Here

This is a completely free email series. You can unsubscribe at any time. It’s simply something FUN and USEFUL I created in addition to the regular holiday recipes you see on my blog. 🙂 If you’re already on my email list, you won’t receive these emails unless you sign up above. This series is in addition to what I regularly send out to you!

75 Christmas cookie recipes

Thanksgiving & Christmas Menus

We’re not hosting Thanksgiving this year, but we are having both families here for Christmas. It will be an absolute packed house (which I love!) but that also means a ton of food. If you’re making Thanksgiving turkey this year, I recommend our favorite herb-roasted turkey with delicious citrus flavors. We make it every year when we host. Sides you can’t miss:

I’m making a few sides and bringing dessert, of course. Traditional pumpkin pie is always my go-to and I’m also making apple cranberry pie, one of my husband’s favorites. I’m going to use the crumble topping from my apple crumble pie. (We love it that way!)

When we host Christmas, we might actually make the turkey recipe I linked above or we’re considering a big ham. What sides do you love with ham? I’m thinking scalloped or mashed potatoes, dinner rolls, a nice Christmas salad, and a vegetable dish of some sort. Also, here are my annual Christmas goodies– these are constants I make every December.

November Baking Challenge

November Baking Challenge recipe: Praline Pumpkin Pie

November’s baking challenge recipe essentially combines pecan pie and pumpkin pie. The pecan praline topping is sweet and caramelized, while the pumpkin filling underneath is smooth, spiced, and custard-y. This is a fun twist on traditional pumpkin pie and your reviews have been amazing!

I love seeing your pies!

Cookbooks I’m Loving

If you need gift ideas (for others or yourself!), here are some favorites:

  1. Super Simple by Tieghan Gerard, author of the blog Half Baked Harvest. This book is absolutely PACKED with recipes that focus on easy entertaining, fewer ingredients, and hassle-free meals. And, bonus, you get Tieghan’s beautiful photography on every page, too. Try the spinach & artichoke mac & cheese first!
  2. Hello, Cookie Dough by Kristen Tomlan has become one of my all-time favorite cookbooks for dessert lovers. Kristen is the owner of DŌ Cookie Dough Confections, so you already know you’re in for a real treat. It’s filled with dozens of safe-to-eat cookie dough recipes, plus endless fully photographed chapters of sweet treats including brownies, cakes, bars, cookies, fudge, and breakfast sweets all centered around our favorite flavor: cookie dough!
  3. Weeknight Baking by Michelle Lopez, author of the blog Hummingbird High. If you have a demanding schedule but still love to bake, this book is totally for you. Michelle packs this book with time-saving tips and kitchen-tested favorite baking recipes. I love it!

Thanks for reading and have a delicious week!


  1. Congratulations on Jude’s progress. Canine companions bring so much love into a family. In return, you want to give them the best life possible. It’s palpable how much Noelle loves Jude.

    1. Thank you so much! He adds SO much to our family 🙂

  2. I’m so happy that Jude is doing better.
    The most important thing you can do is be by them and make the best memories with them.
    I remember when I was about 5 I was riding on one of the dogs we had and it was so funny to me because I’m now 13 and when I think back it is just funny.
    But that it the point the point is that you make the best memories you can with your dogs.
    I hope and pray that God will watch over your dog.
    Thank you Sally

    1. Thank you so much Zoe! We are definitely making as many memories as we can with our dogs! 🙂

  3. Sally,
    I just made the everything bagel breakfast casserole. It is AWESOME!
    I love your blog!
    Thanks for all your hard work!

    1. Isn’t it so addicting?!! Thrilled you loved it!

  4. So glad Jude is doing better!!! I got teary just by Reading your post on being a working mom, once I get a bit of courage I Will watch the video and read the article… being a working mom is very hard Sally. my lil girl is just a few months younger tan Noelle, and I feel the guilt almost everyday. I spend 11 hours at work, and when I finally get home at night she doesnt even want to hug or Kiss me, I always feel like she is mad at me for being gone all day, and every night I work on earning back her love and spend every minute I can with her until she falls asleep. On a daily basis I have to remind myself that I am working this hard for her, to provide a better life and that I need to enjoy every moment I can with her. You are not alone!! You are doing a great job!! you are a true inspiration!!

    1. I agree! And everything is just a phase. I have a feeling things will get easier once they are busy and in school!

      1. Yes, I have that hope too… once they start school and have more extracurricular activities it should get easier!!

  5. Hi Sally. I just wanted to share a tip I discovered a couple years ago. I make my grandmother’s pumpkin pie recipe during the holidays. I upgraded it by accident. I swapped the milk with eggnog because that’s what I had and holy moley I was amazed by the change! Velvety consistency and it punched up all the warming spices in a way that’s hard to describe, you’ll have to tell me if you try it.
    Thank you for all you do. I am a youngish person with a rotten health issue that has made me not as active in my kitchen but your recipes and resources help me plan and I CAN bake and cook with confidence even on a bad day. So when the guilt gremlin is in your head again, give him a swift kick from me by remembering that I use your work and it gets me out of bed and in my kitchen again. Just something you can sprinkle in to the long list of reasons you already have to defend against Mom guilt.

    1. That sounds absolutely divine!! YUM 🙂 And thank you so much for your kind words- I truly appreciate your readership and support of SBA. Thank you for baking and trusting my recipes!

  6. Beautiful post, Sally! I’m SO glad to hear that Jude is doing well; he’s such a beautiful dog, and you must all love him very much. I’ll be praying that he continues to be healthy for his age <3 My dog is not yet ten months old, but has been ill a few times, and it's really hard to watch your pets go through something like that; especially because they can't speak and tell you exactly what's wrong!

    I'm only fourteen, but I love kids and babysit and volunteer in childcare at my church, and I want to spend as much time as possible with them, but I also realize that there are other areas in life that I should pay attention to as well. I'll pray you find a balance between work and mom-life, Sally 🙂 But I'm 100% positive you're a great mom; even though I've never met you, your lovely personality shows through your blog, and Noelle must love you very, very much <3

    I hope you enjoy your holiday season. I'm so excited for Christmas this year; holiday baking, Sally's Cookie Palooza, decorating, Christmas caroling, singing in my church choir…it's all going to be tons of fun, and I'm planning to make tons of Sally cookie recipes to bring with to all the events I attend 😀 And do you have any recommendations for recipes using Meyer lemons? I bought a big bag of them from Costco and am excited to bake something with them, since lemon is one of my favorite flavors and I have heard that Meyer lemons taste amazing in desserts.

    1. You are so kind, Erin, thank you! The holiday season is the best and there’s so much to look forward to. You can use meyer lemons in pretty much any recipe that calls for regular lemons. I love meyer lemons in these lemon blueberry cupcakes. 🙂

  7. I’m so happy for your family that Jude is doing so well! The sweet photo of Jude and Noelle is the sweetest. He has been watching over her even before she arrived! I remember you sharing a photo of him laying by her crib before she was born! He really is a special fella. All the best to the Happiest dog I know!

    1. He is so protective of her- it’s just the sweetest thing! I love watching their relationship unfold 🙂 Thank you for your kind words, Shannon!

  8. Jude looks like such a happy guy in those pics, so glad he’s doing so well. We have a 13 year old german shep that had a tumor removed last year and she’s still living the good life. We treasure every day with her and crack up at her attempts to still get frisky. And yes to the scalloped potatoes with ham. My grandmother was an excellent cook and always served those together for Christmas or Easter. She would usually do asparagus with hollandaise too, so super heart healthy 😉

    1. He’s just the happiest guy 🙂 I am so glad your pup is doing well- sending continued positive thoughts her way! Thanks for your recommendation about the scalloped potatoes!

  9. I hope your doggy is doing okay.
    We love them unconditionally.
    Hugs to Jude.

    1. Thank you!

  10. SO glad Jude is getting better. What a Cute doggie. Thanks for all the great recipes and words of wisdom. Have a Wonderful Thanksgiving Sally.

    1. Thank you so much, Naomi! Wishing you a wonderful holiday season 🙂

  11. I’m so glad your sweet dog is doing better! For the ham– I always serve something called Corn Pudding– a baked corn casserole that is easy, delicious and everyone loves it! I think it would be a great new addition to your holiday table. Let me know if you would like for me to email you the recipe. And oh– the MOM GUILT! I didn’t work when my boys were little and still I felt guilty over the things I wasn’t doing well, or losing my cool or whatever. No one is a perfect mom. But if you are loving them, providing for them, disciplining when necessary and hugging always, you are doing good!

    1. As parents– working when they’re young or not– I think that we’re all just trying our best! It’s easy to be hard on ourselves.

      Corn pudding sounds great! I’ve seen recipes for it before but have never made it. I love that suggestion, thank you!

  12. Jan Sharpless says:

    I am so happy to know Jude is doing well. What a joy for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
    I also was a working mom but found that I treasured my daily times with my daughter so much more because each one was special and “not work”! I left guilt behind because I knew our time together every day was our time. Both of us grew up to love each other’s company, and to love cooking together, as well as other activities together. By taking the time to focus on her and always doing special things together- reading, playing, swimming, cooking, all those activities became ones that we continue to love to do together.

    1. This is such great advice– so simple, too! Thank you so much for sharing.

  13. Sweet potatoes are a must with ham for me. They go so well with pork. We usually have them with pork loin or roast too. Oh the mom guilt. Why don’t dads suffer too? I think just having it means you’re doing a good job because it shows you care. My daughter is 15 and it never goes away. Now that she doesn’t seem to want to communicate with me I worry that it’s my fault for something I did or didn’t do when she was younger. Just hoping this is another phase to get through. Thanks for sharing your feelings. It makes us all feel better knowing others are going through the same thing. Happy Thanksgiving! Looking forward to baking some of your cookies for Christmas.

    1. Everything is a phase– you’re right! Thanks Melissa. And Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, too!

  14. I know that mom guilt is inevitable. My kids are adults now. When your children are young you seem to wish for the times when they when they were younger. Look forward to all there is to come. It’s so magical to see them grow into adults and have a relationship with them as adults. I’ve loved every stage!!

    1. Also great advice. Thank you so much Shannon!

  15. Sally, I love the photos!!! I’m so relieved Jude is doing okay, he’s a true handsome isn’t he? I just find him so amazing! Thank you for your hard work, we truly appreciate it! Your site is THE ONLY ONE i visit everyday : ) More power!

    1. Thank you so much, Emily!

  16. Sally,
    Happy to hear Jude is still wagging that tail. I am sure your love and support is helping his doggy attitude. Boy do I remember the 2’s! It does seem like yesterday and in reality my guy is 25, living in another country and helping my aging parents (his grandparents). I was a NICU nurse when my son was little and I worried about all the passion and energy I was giving to my babies at work. I see now I have raised a kind and giving son. BTW-he remembers making pictures for the “babies in the boxes”.
    We are getting ready for our second Expat Thanksgiving. I was able to get 2 turkeys, on the smaller side is they will fit both in my fridge and my oven. It’s so fun to see what everyone brings. Some will be American dishes and others favorite holiday foods from their country. I will be in charge of desserts…pumpkin pie, your pecan bars and your spice cake, baked in my Bundt pan.
    Happy baking!!!

    1. 2 is a tough age! That wish for independence is coming in strong. I bet that was difficult– mentally and physically– managing both the babies at work and baby at home.

      Love all your choices for Thanksgiving dessert. That spice cake is forever one of my favorites this time of year. Such great flavor.

  17. So happy Jude is doing well! I love that he smiles for the camera ☺️

    1. He loves the camera!

  18. Hi Sally! I always love reading your life updates and knowing I’m not the only one who goes through certain emotions and struggles. A side dish my family has made many times for Christmas to accompany a turkey or ham is potato pie…it’s mashed up potatoes with pepperoni and mozzarella baked in a casserole dish and topped with breadcrumbs…it’s delicious!!
    Enjoy your holidays!

    1. Thanks Stephanie! That potato pie sounds incredible– like pepperoni pizza with potatoes. Such comfort food!

  19. Heather M. Whipple says:

    That is good to hear Jude’s progress.
    The side dishes that would go with ham is homemade herb stuffing, yams/ sweet potatos, homemade macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, a salad, green bean casserole.
    I am not hosting thanksgiving or Christmas this year, I never have. We are going to my mom’s in Orange Virginia
    for thanksgiving. I t worked out great dude to my medical appointments at the university of Virginia hospital for two appointments on the 25th of this month and one on the 26th of this month. Then we are staying for thanksgiving and coming back home to Elkins, WV. On
    December 6th due to my husband Joseph have two medical treatments one on December 3rd and the other on the 5th. I would like to stay in Elkins , WV for Christmas

    1. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season, Heather!!

  20. Happy Thanksgiving Sally! Yes, being a mom is a difficult job. As a working mom I know finding balance is so hard and technology has made it even harder for today’s mom. I cried drinking my coffee as I watched that video because it’s so true! My children are all adults now and as hard as some days seem, they do grow up that fast! As someone else mentioned earlier; watching them as adults is wonderful too. Seeing them enjoy each others company as adults (when they fought like crazy as kids) brings tears to my eyes. They are kind, generous, and loving to each other and others. That’s what we strive for as parents; that we taught them well and pray they will live happy and healthy lives.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Maria!

  21. Glad to hear that Jude is making good progress!
    Ham is always our third meal of the Christmas week, but since we have ours with fried eggs, fries and spaghetti hoops, I don’t think my ‘side’ suggestions are what you are looking for!
    As for maternal guilt, believe me, it never stops. I went back to work when Son No 1 was 4 months old; we moved house after Son No 2 was born, so he didn’t go to nursery until he was 8 months old; but my daughter arrived during my PhD, and was in nursery at 8 weeks old, which is really unusual here in the UK. I have been constantly wracked with guilt for the last 24 years, give or take a couple of months! But they get through it, and you get through it, and everything will work out in the end so long as you trust that it will!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words- I really appreciate them!

  22. So glad doggo is doing better! Just wanted to say that mommy guilt never goes away, it just evolves as the kids grow!! I’ve always believed that when they’re little, parenting is basically about keeping the little MOFO’s alive. When they’re older, parenting is hoping that you’ve given them a solid foundation to make good decisions….and they will still make mistakes as they mature. My son is 22 but is still like a 3-year-old on most days!! My daughter, on the other hand, is a special needs child and that brings about a totally deeper, more intense kind of guilt. Nina is 20 and has a rare disease called ROHHAD Syndrome so the guilt about not being enough or giving enough to a kid who needs everything more than your average child. But at the end of the day, we can only do what we are able to do with the hope that it will be ‘enough’ (whatever enough equates to you and your family)!

  23. It may not have been the last time yet! One week before my third was born this summer, my second (2.5 at the time) unexpectedly fell asleep on me at church and napped in my arms for 45 minutes. He got to be “baby” one more time before becoming the middle child. Momming is hard, I literally have no idea how you maintain both aspects of your life! I can barely keep my little hobby of a blog updated once a month. Cheers!

    1. So sweet!! Hope you have a wonderful holiday season!

  24. So glad Jude is doing ok, and that he keeps on loving life.

    Elf is a great holiday movie but I also love Arthur Christmas, it’s an animated classic for me.

  25. Hi Sally! Hope Jude will live a happy life and live a long, peaceful life. Give her all your love and she’ll be fine!

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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