Coffee Break

elise and noelle

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, Elise 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, Noelle, 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 Elise 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.

deep creek lake photo

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

302 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your heart Sally! I am experiencing some similar life changes as I am expecting my second child next month (I have a 3 year old daughter), and sadly lost my dog this summer all the while navigating the chaos in our world right now. I am trying to take it day by day and reading this post reminded me I’m not alone in my feelings. Thank you, and congratulations on your beautiful family!

  2. I was so sad reading your post and very sorry for the tough time you’re going through…. It is very hard to say goodbye to a family pet that has been bringing joy for so many years I hope time will help heal and you will hold on to the fond memories of him. You are allowed a break and shouldn’t worry about us followers, your happiness and wellbeing should be your first priority so you need to take the time necessary for yourself . Thanks for being so honest with us

  3. Thank you for the beautiful words.
    Such a beautiful family you have. You are an inspiration to me. My heart is full this morning. I hope you have a wondrous day!

  4. Carolyn Cheeseman says:

    I read this yesterday, I was at a loss as to what to say/comment.. buy you were on my mind all day. I know words from a stranger aren’t particularly important, but I just need to make sure you know how much absolute joy yiu bring my family and friends. When I want to make something, I don’t even Google it anymore I simply Google “Sally’s _______” because I knkw your version is going to be MY VERSION. I’m so so sorry you’re struggling, and I’m so sorry for the loss of your beloved pup. Just take comfort in knowing how many fans are rooting for you and praying for you, and of course baking with you. You are not alone. We are here xoxo.

    PS, I made your red velvet cookies yesterday and added a bag of white chocolate chips.. maybe one of my top 5 recipes EVER! Thank you

    1. I could have written this word for word !
      You are not a “stranger”, you are a kindred spirit !
      God bless !

      Deneen

  5. Oh, Sally; I’m so sorry. Losing a pet is like losing a family member … because they are family members. Don’t feel bad about grieving for your personal losses and struggling with change during this awful time in history. It’s okay to feel sad about your own situation because it’s obvious your sorrow has not lessened your empathy for others. And really, having a hard time when everything around us is so awful just makes our own troubles that much worse. We don’t have much of a happiness reserve stored up these days. But I love that you continue to seek the silver linings; keep doing that! Enjoy your beautiful girls and Franklin. Also, I have to tell you I made your peanut butter chunk cookies for the first time yesterday, and they definitely lifted my spirits, so thanks!

  6. I’m so very sorry to hear about Jude. I hope he’s running happily in the Summerlands now. We lost our cat just at the start of lockdown in the UK, and my daughter in particular misses her enormously. I’m sending hugs across the Pond to all the family!

  7. Sally, I am so sorry for your loss of Jude
    They are a part of our family and I so understand as I’ve had a similar loss
    Prayers for you
    Sherri

  8. Sally, I am so sorry for your loss. I know Jude was a tremendous part of your family. Thank you for opening up and being “real” with all of the issues you personally are dealing with as well as the world right now. You have always been such a bright spot in my family, much more than you will ever know. Your baby Elise is absolutely adorable and much congratulations are needed. As a mother of 2 girls I can tell you there is nothing like it. Always look for that silver lining. Wishing you much happiness – Maria

  9. Sally I applaud you for being so transparent. First your baby girl Elise is absolutely beautiful, and Happy Birthday to Noelle. I am so sorry for your loss of Jude. You do not need to justify your feelings of loss. Our pets are part of the family. Having been through this a number of times, it’s one of the hardest things to go through. My heart goes out to you all. It does get easier over time.

  10. Dear Sally,
    I am very sorry about the loss of Jude. The pictures you posted of him are so sweet.
    Just want to say i know how hard the loss of a pet is.
    I cried EVERY day for 8 months after my sweet Bambi died.
    Every day.
    Love is love.
    Hope you feel better .

  11. I’m so sorry to hear about Jude. There is really nothing like a great dog, and Jude looks like he was a great one.

    Like most people, I’ve had a difficult past year and a half, and I wanted to let you know that learning to bake from your website, and going through your recipes and baking them with my young sons, has been one of the few bright spots and has really sustained me.

    Thank you for all that you do and enjoy your time with your new baby!

    Julia

  12. Hi Sally,
    Please take all the time you need to be with your family, especially given all the circumstances you described. We readers can wait. I too feel like I need to be outside more with being more socially isolated- somehow it makes everything seem less stifling…
    And yes, these times are hard for all, but loss is loss. And a treasured pet is still super hard. I got teary-eyed when reading about yours and your dog’s special relationship. It sounds beautiful and like you always cherish your pup. ❤️❤️
    Please keep on keeping it real and sharing. I will love to hear more when you are ready to share.
    Blessings and peace mama,
    Jenny

  13. Thanks for the updates. I think now more than ever we learn, grow and heel through words. Congratulations on such a sweet new chapter with your daughter . So incredibly sorry about Jude. Calling a dog a pet underscores how impactful they are in our lives. They truly are family and when we lose them we loose a piece of our heart.

    On a lighter note thanks for your website. Since my non baking friends are stuck at home I challenge them each weekend to make one of your recipes. One thing I’ve learned is your bagel recipe can stand up to most ingredient both good and bad. I don’t recommend squid ink bagels, but fruit cake bagels…YUM.

    All my best.

  14. The hurt from losing a pet is heartbreaking and a piece of you goes with them but you have a great gift not only with your recipes but touching our hearts with you love and caring. You have taught me so many helpful tips and through Covid you taught me how to bake bread. As a senior I bake all the time not just for family but for friends and our senior groups. Your recipes bring a smile to all the face who have eaten them. You have a gift and thank you for sharing it with all of us. Enjoy your wonderful family they truly bring a smile to my heart. Stay well and thank you again for your passion in baking and for sharing a part of you with us. Peace, Love and Joy Mary Anne ❤️

  15. So happy for you and your family for the birth of Elise – she’s absolutely beautiful. And my heart goes out to you for losing Jude. It’s a huge loss – even in these strange and sad times. We lost my parents’ dog in May and that was so hard even though she wasn’t “mine” the way mine and my fiance’s dogs are. Dogs get us through so much and enrich our lives. Totally understand the emotions there.

    I have been selfishly dying for you to make a sourdough recipe because I don’t bother to bake anything that’s not from you anymore. My fiance asked if I could make pumpkin pie for his birthday (in July), and I’d never made it (or homemade pie crust) before. Full disclosure: I like pumpkin pie, but I don’t love pie crust. More of a crisp/crumble girl. I completely lied and said I make great pumpkin pie, looked up your recipe, made it with the all-butter pie crust, and now it’s his (and my!) favorite. Like, I want to make all the pies with that pie crust forever. SO good.

  16. Oh Sally, I can so relate to your feelings. You are not alone! We’re truly all in this together. So many are hurting right now and it shows how interconnected we are and how much we care about our fellow human (and animal) beings, despite all the nastiness and division portrayed on TV. We will get through this and I believe that these challenges have a greater purpose for us, both collectively and personally.

    And please don’t feel bad for grieving Jude. Pets are truly family members and it hurts so much to lose them. I’ve grieved first pets too and know what you are going through. Take all the time you need, cry if you need, and know that with time, your pain will lessen. Like people who have passed on, I believe our pets are never far from our sides, even if we can’t see them physically. Xoxo

  17. I’m so sorry for your loss, Sally! Dogs truly are family members – never feel bad for grieving the loss of your beloved pup, Jude. It’s no less significant than if a human family member passed away. Take all the time you need, we (your readers) love your recipes and we aren’t going anywhere! In the meantime, I’m making your chocolate cake for a birthday today – it’s always a hit.

    Sending you hugs & positive thoughts during this difficult time. XO

  18. I feel terrible to know about your dogs death. Elise is the cutest kid ever

  19. Sally, you are so brave, and I hope you take comfort in knowing how many people you’ve helped with this post. Sending a big hug from Boston. BTW, I’m chomping at the bit to make the apple babka recipe. Like you, I needed a change of scenery , and the place I’m staying at does not have a well stocked kitchen, so no baking for me. 🙁

  20. Dear Sally,

    I’m so sorry for your loss of your sweet Jude. I’m also the mom of two little girls (3.5 and almost 1.5) and your blog has been a favorite of mine for baking with my older daughter. We started the tradition of celebrating half-birthdays this year with a half-cake (honestly because I just need more excuses to try your recipes) and my 3.5 year old wanted a pink Trolls cake. I used your strawberry cake and strawberry cream cheese recipe as we love those. I topped it with a Poppy figure found out the checkout line in Target (you now, with the candy and other last minute grabs) and fresh strawberries. I had also bought fresh edible flowers but I ended up forgetting to use them! My daughter loved the cake. Thank you for all you do – we love your blog. Enjoy the precious time with your family and know you have the support of your readers!

  21. Congratulations on the beautiful new addition to the family, and I’m so sorry for the loss of Jude. Pets are sometimes the sweetest parts of our life, and their loss is just so difficult. You have a right to feel the way you feel no matter what is going on in the outside world. I am thinking of you.

  22. maria caballero olins says:

    Una vez te escribi y te dije que mi perrita de nombre PEBBLES le diagnosticaron cancer pero el cancer no la mató, le dieron veneno y fue triste y doloroso su agonía; yo me senti mal no poder hacer nada. Mi espodo me dijo que fuimos bendecidos por tenerla, ellos son único2s y lo mas hermoso estuvo con nosottos 12 años. Eso fue en el 2012 y a pesar del tiempo me duele su ausencia, la recuerdo, y como dices en estos tiempos de tantas pérdidas humanas la vida de un animalito para mi es muy valiosa porque vson seres vivientes que sienten, sufren y alegra nuestra existencia, y ante tanto maltrato de muchas personas su ❤ no es rencoroso.

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