Coffee Break

deep creek lake photo

Hi! I’m currently taking time off from regular posting after having a baby this summer, but want to check in with a little update.

Sweet readers, I’m having a tough time right now.

Whether you’re (1) evacuating your home or have family/friends on the west coast during these devastating wildfires, (2) trying to find normalcy in a very not normal world, and/or (3) adjusting to children learning at home or back in school during this pandemic, this season of life feels very different. It certainly feels different for me. We welcomed our beautiful baby girl this past summer and are absolutely in love with her. From her big curious eyes down to her tiny little toes, she is honestly the sweetest. She’s such an easy baby, but maybe that’s because we have the experience under our belts. Our older daughter just loves her and wants to be around her all the time. We’re so blessed to have our health, home, and happy daughters.

My heart is just so full.

However, at the very same time, a piece of my heart feels like it’s missing.

jude the dog

Our beloved dog, Jude, passed away last month. Jude was diagnosed with cancer in August 2019 and fought it for a year. As pet owners know, pets are a very big part of the family. And Jude? He was my shadow. My sidekick. A true companion in every sense of the word. An irreplaceable part of this family. Wherever I was, he was. If dogs have souls, Jude has one of the biggest. Not only because he was enormous at 120 lbs, he just had a very big heart. He was the kind of dog who could sense how you were feeling. Laid with you while you were sick, sat with you while you cried, smiled at you (seriously!) when you were happy. For 12 beautiful years, Jude was our constant through it all: new homes, new jobs, cookbooks, our wedding, birthdays, book tour, miscarriage, pregnancies, babies, and all the other moments in between.

For anyone who thrives on routine, the loss of such a prominent part of your life feels impossible. Additionally, the transition from 1 to 2 children certainly has its difficulties. Pair all of this with postpartum recovery, postpartum emotions, sleepless newborn nights, and the isolation felt during this world pandemic and your emotional and mental stress feel like a mountain weighing on top of you. My husband, always looking on the bright side, reminds me of the silver linings we have. We’re so thankful our daughter got to meet Jude and that we even have a few pictures of him sitting beside her bassinet. And having activities and gatherings cancelled this summer has encouraged us to slow down. Maybe it’s the same for you too? We’re enjoying more time outdoors and savoring the present. And one last silver lining: While Franklin, our other dog, misses his big buddy, he’s certainly loving all the extra attention. He deserves it.

I mentioned this on social media and want to repeat it here. I know it might seem unseemly to grieve the loss of a dog when so many are losing their lives in the chaos of our world right now. But loss is loss and I’m feeling this one really hard. I recently experienced one of my best days and one of my worst. It’s been an absolute roller coaster of emotions and I’m still trying to work through it all.

sally and jude

black and white photo of jude

I miss him so much. Jude was the happiest dog until those final few days.

I planned to post more recipes during my postpartum time off, but haven’t had the chance to clear my head and publish them all. I promise I’m trying my best to bring you fresh new recipes that I prepped while I was pregnant. Thank you for your patience with me and understanding that I need this time to be with my family.

On a brighter note, it’s Noelle’s 3rd birthday next week! I can’t believe my little girl is turning 3. No big parties this year, but we’re going to make the day as special as we can. She loves the Trolls World Tour movie and I plan to make her a special Queen Poppy cake. I’m terrible with fondant, so I’m thinking vanilla cake, rainbow frosting decoration, and a Trolls cake topper. Have you ever made a Trolls themed birthday cake before? I’m open to ideas!


We took a little vacation to Deep Creek Lake last week. It was a quiet and relaxing family getaway in one of our favorite spots. We just needed a change of scenery. If I’m being honest, sitting on the back deck with coffee and a view was all the medicine we needed. It was after Labor Day, so the lake wasn’t crowded. We lucked out with weather.

picture of deep creek lake beach

‘Tis the season for quick bread. We brought a loaf of the September Sally’s Baking Challenge recipe to the lake with us: cinnamon swirl quick bread. (There have been hundreds of participants so far this month!) This time I mixed 1 cup of chopped and peeled apples into the cinnamon sugar swirl mixture before layering it in. Same bake time. It tasted unbelievable– sort of like last week’s apple cinnamon babka but without a yeasted dough. I highly recommend it.

apple cinnamon swirl quick bread

I was going to wait until the official start of fall, but couldn’t resist. Here’s my first loaf of pumpkin bread this season. I actually prefer it plain without the chocolate chips. I used whole wheat flour in this loaf and topped it with coarse sugar before baking. Same bake time. Always so moist and flavorful.

pumpkin bread in loaf pan

sliced pumpkin bread


I want to lead by example not only for my daughters, but for my readers and followers too. In my last coffee break post, I shared my commitment to help break the unjust cycle of racism in our world and country. I hope we each yearn for a more loving and inclusive world and sometimes it’s hard to understand that in order for that to happen, we have to be the change… right now. Over the past couple months, I’ve thought a lot about the privilege I have simply because of the color of my skin. I found this article on Allure.com and while the entire piece is a great resource, the section titled “Reflect on all the ways you benefit from privilege” has been enlightening. (It links to a few more pieces and essays too.) I shared this on my Instagram account, but I joined Rachel Cargle’s eye-opening Do The Work course. It’s a free email course that provides comprehensive and concrete ways for being anti-racist. The emails also include links to articles, other resources, and videos. There is also The Conscious Kid organization. By joining, you have access to many resources for how to teach children (of any age) about anti-racism.

I’m still learning and growing in my own advocacy, but I hope to keep the momentum going that was seen earlier this summer. Racism has deep roots and as we continue to see it in the news every single day, it will not go away without the work.


Have you joined the sourdough bandwagon?

I just picked up a copy of New World Sourdough by Bryan Ford. I’m excited to finally learn more about from-scratch sourdough. I’ve always been intimidated by the entire process because the wealth of information online is overwhelming. However his book and comprehensive guide to sourdough (with FAQs) breaks things down into understandable steps. Super helpful if you’re a beginner like I am.

I also got Whole Grain Sourdough at Home. I haven’t had the chance to dive into it yet, but this book covers how to tackle sourdough using whole wheat flour and ancient grains. Recipes seem very easy to follow too.

two sourdough cookbooks

I think that’s about it for now. Let’s end this post on a positive note though. No matter what we’re facing in this moment: loss, heartache, exhaustion, injustice, natural disaster, anxiety, change, and anything in between, I know that food can be healing. Baking has always lifted my spirits whether that’s receiving something homemade from a loved one, baking to ease my mind, or baking for someone who needs cheering up. It’s so much more than something sweet, it’s comforting for the mind and soul. Need proof? Last year I wrote a post called What Baking Means to You. The comments are beautiful.

Thank you for being here. xo

393 Comments

  1. I am so sorry for your loss. I know to well the pain you are felling. They certainly are part of the family and when they depart they leave foot prints in our heart ❤️ forever. Jude was lucky to have been part of such a loving family. Jude misses you too!

  2. Taylor Fisher says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. I have been following your blog for years and I know what a special dog Jude was and such an important member of your family. He was so loved and the happiness radiated in his face. You gave him an amazing life and he is surely watching over you, your husband, and your beautiful daughters. ❤️

  3. I am a little late reading this coffee break and actually came in search of an update on Jude. As I sit here crying, please know that your loss is recognized and felt deeply. As a pet owner myself (who are my children, since I haven’t been able to have any) I cannot imagine how this has uprooted your routine. I am so thankful for pets that have homes that love them so deeply, spoil them as they deserve, and make wonderful memories. Thanks for always sharing his sweet stories, photos, and bond he shared with your family.

  4. Hello Sally!
    I just wanted to thank you for everything that you are doing. I have such confidence in all of your recipes. As a 14 year old, more challenging recipes look daunting. But your step-by-step recipes and wonderful pictures, make every recipe look easy. I love that you incorporate you everyday life into your blog posts, it really gives me a picture of who you are as a person. And i love that, i truly do. We, your readers, can experience the ups like your beautiful daughter Elise, and the downs like losing such a fantastic dog as Jude. You are my absolute go to when it comes to recipes. I know i can count on you to be honest and just as crazy about caramel as i am. btw i made you tiramisu crepe cake for my 14th birthday and it was amazing! Thank you again for everything you do!

  5. I trust your recipes beyond any others and appreciate how easy it is to understand why and how they work. I enjoy hearing updates on your life and how many things we all share in common. However, I appreciate most of all that you used your platform to spread messages of anti-racism and how we can all work together to make life truly equal for all. Thank you for doing the work and being such a wonderful human being.

  6. I love your website and have had so much fun preparing delicious items for my family. I just stumbled on your blog. In my opinion, if you don’t consider a dog as a family member, then I would not recommend owning a dog. Grieve the loss of your dog. He was part of your family.

  7. I haven’t been baking a lot this year because I have no one to share it with but I wanted to start planning some covid safe Christmas cookie packs. Upon scrolling recent recipes I saw this and want you to know that my heart goes out to you. You have started posting again but I hope that you continue to take time for yourself and your family.

  8. Love your honesty. I think it’s important for us all to share how we’re experiencing life these days. Congrats on your new baby.

    I’m retired and living on a barge in France. We had planned to do lots of traveling but obviously that hasn’t worked out this year. So I am teaching myself (with your help) to bake and learning to knit with help from Youtube and a friend. I’m a good cook, but never found time (working mother) to learn to bake. My success rate with your recipes is quite high. Grateful to be happy and healthy.

  9. I lost my dear dog while I was pregnant with my first daughter. I cried for a whole week straight. Those non-judgemental, unconditionally loving, faultless beings give you stability and carry you through life. My heart goes out to you who brings so much light into the world through your baking. Now our three kids are old enough to stay home while we go out for walks with our new puppy. Giving yourself completely to two little beings and dealing with hormones and sleep deprivation are hard enough. Having a loyal companion who was an oasis and calming center disappear through it all is harrowing. Your pain is understood.

  10. We lost our Mitzi years ago when she was sixteen. She was truly a member of the family. She was by our side as your Jude was. Through sadness, sickness, and happiness she was right there. Our daughter and her husband have a rescue pup. She is so sweet and we enjoy being around her. Our daughter had sent us a picture of two dogs sitting at the end of a pier facing the water. One of the dogs says, “They still talk about you.” The other one responds with, “I know.” The dog that responded has a halo on his/her head. Maybe you have seen this picture. Take care and enjoy your beautiful family.

  11. Sarah Fairbairn says:

    Sally~
    I stumbled across your blog just now. Six in the morning, seven degrees outside in Vermont. I was watching your video on Swiss Buttercream frosting. Which led me to looking up sourdough, which led me to your post about Jude.
    We have always had a dog. In my life, I am sixty five, I have known a total of six. Each dog was special and my memories are all entwined with them. I cried when they died, I can still cry if I talk much about any of them. But, they never broke my heart when they died as the loss of Jude has certainly opened up your heart. I was in tears reading your post. Your ability to communicate your feelings is great.
    I’m thinking you have a wonderful capacity to love.
    Your family is beautiful. Those little people allow us to see all the beauty in the world.
    Thank you for sharing your life Sally.
    Sarah

    1. Thank you so much for your kindness, Sarah. Your comment means a lot to me. Thank you so much for visiting my website and trying my recipes.

  12. Found your website during the pandemic and have enjoyed making and sharing your wonderful recipes, thank you. They are a joy. May God bless you and your family.

  13. Kelly-Jane M says:

    I’ve not visited in a while.

    Congratulations on you new baby.

    I’m so sorry to hear about your Jude. You grieve so strongly for him because your love for him was so great. All my furry ones are / have been so precious to me. Totally get it. It’s a privilege to be their people. Take care xx

  14. I am so sorry for your loss. I too welcomed my 2nd baby girl this past summer (2020), and lost my 4 legged best friend. He was also my constant companion for 15 yrs. I’ve lost many people over the years, but this was a pain and loneliness like I’ve never felt. Sometimes I feel guilty being so upset when I have this new perfect baby girl in my arms, but unfortunately the joy and pain don’t cancel each other out. And like you said, the lack of routine is so confusing. So much of my day revolves around him, and it’s just so empty now. I’ve always been a stress baker, so between the new baby, losing the puppy, the pandemic, and everything else, I’ve been on your site A LOT this past year and it’s been such a comfort. The spectacular recipes and your fun posts have helped so much.

  15. Hi Sally, im missing your posts, i really hope you are doing well. I also had a daughter last year and lost my beloved dog recently( through having to rehome him, because of my baby) but I’ve also been in the same place recently losing that one special pet. I cried every day for a year.
    I just wanted to say i miss your posts and hope covid isn’t taking too heavy a toll in your life, its been an awful year.

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