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

345 Comments

  1. Best wishes for you. So much going on with a new daughter, the older’s birthday, and the loss of your beloved pet. One day at a time.

  2. Sally,
    Lots of love and hugs your way! We will be here when you are ready to get back in the swing of things.

    Take care,
    Linh

  3. I’m very sorry for the loss of your sweet and precious Jude. I’ll be right behind you as we are going through this too. We don’t know how much longer we have with our Daisy, but I cherish every day I have.

    Your daughters are adorable. It must be very overwhelming having a new baby during this pandemic. Having a baby is usually something you are very proud to share with everyone, but now you have to be isolated. Hopefully, very soon you will be able to share Elise with all of your friends and family. Happy 3rd Birthday to Noelle! It seems like just yesterday when you had her. With you making her cake, I know it will turn out beautifully.

    Your family is in my prayers.

    Stay safe and be well.
    Christy

  4. Blessings for a new baby & great sorrow for the passing of a best friend. I am crying tears for you & yours.

  5. Thank you so much for sharing Sally. I’m so grateful for your honesty and you sharing it with us. I’m so so sorry about Jude. I can’t even imagine how difficult it would be losing my own sweet pup. Hope you get to spend your maternity leave with your loved ones and getting to know the new addition to your family!

  6. Jackie Beecher says:

    Don’t be embarrassed to admit that Jude has taken a fragment of your heart with him over the Rainbow Bridge. I lost my 4 legged wingwoman, Fifi, 3 years ago & it was heartwrenching because we had been inseparable for 13 years. Wherever I went, my lil’ Yorkshire terrior went too, be it visiting friends, shopping, dining (in dog friendly places) & even bed (for a small dog, she hogged a lot of space on the outside of the duvet!). Life is precious & relish every moment of family time with Your remaining 4 legged baby & gorgeous 2 legged ones 🙂

  7. Dear Sally, firstly, congratulations on the birth of Eloise. What a beautiful photo of your girls. Just gorgeous. Secondly, I am the ‘mother’ of a 12 year old Labrador who is now starting to feel his age. I dread the day he leaves us because we love him so much and he is such an integral part of the family so I felt your pain and shed a tear reading about your loss of Jude. Thirdly, thanks for the Sourdough recipe. I want to try to make it…once I work up the courage. Thanks for your posts.

  8. Marianna Froehlich says:

    Sally and Family..
    So..so sorry!!!!!
    We do..really do understand..it is a sore that is so bad for us it felt like your heart was squeeze inside your chest..
    Your daughters is a Blessing..and so beautiful..
    Again may you all be BLESSED!!
    Enjoy the off time..
    Marianna Froehlich
    (South Africa)

  9. Hope you are taking the much needed time to yourself, Sally. Between losing a beloved best friend and gaining a new little one; I can’t even imagine the craziness your mind must feel like at times. I just wanted to take the time to thank you for all the recipes you have published and written over the years. Between the pandemic, working in a hospital and dislocating my knee; your recipes have been my “go-to” stress reliever (I may have gained a few pounds but they were well worth it ). Thank you for doing what you do❤

  10. Thank you, Sally, for sharing such a vulnerable part of your life. I love my pups so very much and I try to be present in the moments I have with them because one day I won’t have them anymore. I love your tribute to Jude. He was always one of my favorite parts of your posts. Especially when he would wear the Christmas antlers and be Judolph! <3 Congratulations on your healthy and beautiful children. May you continue to find moments of joy during this time. All the best to you and thank you for all you do for the baking community.

  11. Life is beyond difficult right now but your blog brings smiles to so many people with its amazing recipes My heart aches for you and I hope that Jude is happy as can be in doggy heaven. ❤️ Noelle and Elise are the cutest and they’re so lucky to have an awesome, strong mom like you!

  12. Shawn Spaulding says:

    May God bless you and your beautiful family, Sally.

  13. Sorry for you loss, Sally. Baking is definitely soothing and I find always lifts my mood as well. Change of scenery also helps!
    Please take your time to feel better and enjoy your family time…we look forward to your new posts when you are ready. It was nice to hear from you though and congratulations to you and your family on your new baby girl!

  14. Sally, I’m so sorry to hear of Jude’s passing, but equally as happy to hear of the birth of your second baby. What an emotional time, for sure. We lost our beloved fur baby this past February and I still grieve for her. She was my sidekick for 13 years and life just is not the same without her.
    Additionally, I’m 36 weeks pregnant with my second, and life without our normal support systems in place has felt so surreal.
    Reading your post helps me know we’re not alone. Take it one day at a time.
    All the best,
    Erin

  15. Sally, I’m so sorry about Jude. And I completely understand the grief. My Lucy passed unexpectedly last week. I was blindsided. It’s ok to grieve him. To honor him. My other dog is so changed, but also enjoying the extra attention.
    Take care of you. You have a lot going on! That’s probably easier, dealing with the grief, honestly. With that said, there’s nothing ‘easy’ about having a newborn, a busy toddler, a career etc. So definitely care for yourself!
    I haven’t received Lucy’s ashes yet, but I’d like to do something meaningful for my kids (28, 19, 18) with her ashes. The right idea hasn’t struck me yet. I’ll know when it does.
    My daughter and I discovered your site after she moved home from her dorm at the start of COVID. She ‘stress baked’ to cope with the extra time at home. We both love your site! Thank you so much
    I wish you the very best. Xo Paula

  16. Sally, your daughters are beautiful and you and your husband are so lucky to have them especially in this difficult time. I am not a pet owner but I can see how much you have loved Jude through the years and it is sad to see him go. Baking and cooking let me concentrate on the precision of the measurements and directions and it lets me forget for a short time about the tough times. Don’t worry about posting for now. We will still be here when you’re ready to be back full time. Enjoy the girls. The time flies right by …..

  17. Sally, I am so vey sorry about Jude. Our animals are certainly family. That he blessed y’all with 12 years is pretty amazing! Lots of memories!
    Elise is precious, just like her big sister!
    Continue to take care of yourself. We will all be here for you when you are ready to return. Sending a big hug.

  18. Sally, you all are in my prayers and thoughts. I wish many happy moments ahead for you. I am so sorry about your pet. You are such a strong woman. You will get through this tough time.

  19. Sally,
    So much to absorb in your beautiful post. Starting with those stunning girls (and how fabulous you look)to the heartbreaking news of your family’s loss of Jude. These are such trying times. We just got news in my Oregon county that our evacuation status has been reduced to normal. Very exciting and I’ve unpacked our bags as we get to stay put. To give some perspective, air quality ratings of anything over 200 is dangerous. We are at 507 tonight. I miss taking my daily walks with my husband, but when the air is rated as the worst in the world and considered “hazardous”, you stay indoors watching gray ash from the fires fall like rain all day. I can’t wait for the next rain event tomorrow to clean out our atmosphere . We are hoping for rain during the upcoming week. Going to make that quick bread with apples from our tree. Stay strong and love each other daily. We are all in these times together.

  20. Take one day at a time Sally…
    Sending you and your family love, light and prayers x

  21. Martine POTTIER says:

    La photo avec vos deux petites filles est magnifique . Un instant de pur bonheur partagé

  22. Oh my gosh Sally, I am so sorry for your loss! Please don’t feel bad for being upset about losing Jude just because there is many other heartbreaking things happening in the world; pets are just as much a part of your family as Noelle and Elise! You have every right to be upset, and honestly I teared up reading about sweet Jude. As a very longtime blog follower, I feel like I knew him too. RIP Jude 🙁 and congratulations again on your new baby girl, that picture of you and your girls is absolutely adorable. Take care Sally, wishing you and your family all the best in these trying times. XO

  23. I am a recent subscriber to your emails, and love the recipes. I totally understand the grief you are experiencing with the loss of your beloved Jude. He looks like one handsome guy. Be good to yourself and your hurting heart. As you grieve and celebrate the joy filled times with your precious family.

  24. My heart breaks for you on the loss of Jude, I felt the same way when we had to put our beloved cat down 3 years ago.
    Your new baby is absolutely beautiful, and so glad Noelle is enjoying being a big sister. Keep your chin up, and try to stay positive. Know that every one of us is learning to adjust to these strange, new happenings.
    Readers will stay with you! Take the time to mourn, and love, and just live for now. We will be waiting.

  25. Your children look so sweet. So sorry to hear about your lovely pup . This year has been such a roller coaster for us all. Hold on to your family and take your time to recover. We are all baking your recipes and enjoying the results. I have gone through so much flour this year but my husband and family are enjoying my testing out new recipes. Your scone recipe won rave reviews by all. Keep up your good work

  26. I appreciate what a hard time it must have been for you-especially the loss of your beautiful friend Jude.

  27. First, I am so very sorry for your loss – pets can take up such a big chunk of our hearts and my heart goes out to you in what sounds like an immensely trying time. I don’t think I am alone in this sentiment but I hope you take all the time you need to grieve Jude’s loss and adjust to your new normal (there’s a lot going on!), even if that means you don’t get as many recipes posted or get them up as soon as you want them too. Your recipes and hard work are incomparable and I for one, will always keep coming back 🙂 and finally, appreciate you sharing anti-racism resources – it is refreshing to see businesses/bloggers/people who continue to do the work.

    My thoughts are with you – I hope you can continue to find some peace and calm.

  28. Thanks so much for sharing, Sally. Praying for you. Also standing with you in your commitment to help break the unjust cycle of racism in our world and country. Thank you for sharing the resources as we continue to listen, learn, lament, and act. Blessings to you and your family.

  29. Congratulations on the new member and I’m so so sorry for your loss too. Rest in peace, Jude. I hope the love of those surrounding you will provide you with the strength to recover. Take care and we’ll be here when you come back.

  30. Your comment, loss is loss, is so true. We can grieve for our own loss without taking away from others’ bigger and deeper losses. A dog is part of the family, a new baby is lovable but very hard work, and the world is in a state of turmoil. Good wishes and fond regards from Australia.
    PS – I love your blog and your baking. 🙂

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