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. Dear Sally,

    I’m so sorry for your loss of your loved one Jude. I’m also happy for your new addition Elise (great name by the way). Please check out “The Art of Racing in the Rain.” SPOILER ALERT – you will cry your eyes out!

    It sounds like Jude was a fighter who lived for you and your family. He was truly a loved one who loved you and your dear family as well. Behavioral Scientists have proven that dogs feel the same emotions including love as humans. So naturally you feel his loss as you would any other loved one. I believe, like Enzo (In The Art of Racing…), Jude was reborn as a little baker. So the next time you meet a little baker she/he will most likely have Jude’s old, dear soul.

    Kind Regards,
    Elisa

  2. Sally, please take all the time you need to heal. Pets are so special and you are perfectly valid in feeling this loss in such a big way. I am so sorry about Jude, and can’t imagine what a confusing, overwhelming, and emotional time this must be for you, having also just had your second baby. 2020 has been a hell of a year for us all, that’s for sure. Hang in there and all your loyal readers will be here for you whenever you’re ready to get back in the kitchen! Wishing you peace and calm.

  3. Christy Delucchi says:

    Sally, so very sorry for loss. I understand and echo your importance of our pets in our life. I have three large dogs and don’t want to look ahead to the aging outcome. Times are very hard as it is currently, I hope with your family’s blessings your heart will heal.

  4. Elizabeth Popielarz says:

    Dear Sally,

    Thank you for this beautiful, heartfelt post. I am so sorry about Jude. He was such a lucky boy to have you – and you were so lucky to have him. I “get” the dog thing. I still think about my girls (Mindy and Opal) all the time.

    Oh, and loss, in my opinion, is relative. What might not seem like a big deal to some, might mean a lot to others. It’s ok to feel things with all your heart! Clearly, you do, which is why so many of your devoted followers follow you!

    I, too, had a baby girl this year. She is a happy and healthy 4 month old who I treasure with all my heart. That said, it hasn’t been easy amidst a pandemic. It’s a heavy loud (postpartum everything) so to add in a pandemic is absolutely challenging. I “get” that too!

    Thank you for opening up your heart to us and for continuing to provide us with amazing, delectable recipes. You make SO MANY people happy – especially me! 🙂

    Elizabeth in Buffalo, NY

  5. Sally, you are not alone in so many of the feelings you expressed in this post. So sorry about your Jude, I’m a long-time follower and know how very special he was to you and your family. I remember he was in your wedding pictures, so adorable. These are such unpredictable times and the best quote I’ve seen (for me) was this one – “We are not all in the same boat, but we are all in the same storm.” Everyone has suffered some kind of loss during this time and we all need to be forgiving, kind and gentle with one another. I hope you take the time you need to heal, rest, and enjoy these special days with your family. We, your followers, understand and know you put your heart and soul into your recipes. Take care.

  6. God Bless Jude ❤️

  7. Take your with the loss of your family pet combined with postpartum time. It will ease eventually in its own time. I know the feelings well. We all will wait for you to recover yourself. Hang in there.

  8. I am so sorry about the loss of your sweet Jude. I recently lost my cat, Miss Gertie, after only 6 years together. She was a rescue cat, and I think we rescued each other. Thank you so much for your post today.
    Congratulations on your beautiful baby girl. I love baking and trying all of your different recipes. Bless you and your family.

  9. Sally, my heart is with you. The loss of a pet is heartbreaking and you should take this time to be with your family. I cried during this post because I know how much I love my big dogs and snuggled them a little tighter. Your fans understand that you are not posting and we just want you and your family to be well. Sending peace and sprinkles of love to you.

  10. We had to let our rescue dog Kratos go in June, after having him for 16 years and it was one of the worst days (week actually) of our lives, and we are still mourning him, even though he lived an amazing life and we were beyond blessed to have him for so long. Pets are a part of the family, and I am still wrapping my head around the fact that he’s not here with us and the kids. I am just at the point now where I can let myself think about him without feeling some type of anxiety with the fact thats he’s gone. Mourn for as long as needed, celebrate his life however you feel necessary and feel all the feelings, I am still doing that, he’ll be apart of your life forever, because our pets are truly that special & loved.

  11. Dearest Sally
    Mazal Tov on the birth of your precious daughter. I am so sorry to read about the loss of your Jude. I’ve enjoyed your sharing your relationships with your dogs with us. Two months ago I Lost my precious 8 year old little Coco who only one month before got diagnosed with a rare inoperable neck tumor. It was shocking but I’m grateful for the 7 years I had with her. What helps me get through my grief is remembering that death took her life, but it didn’t take our relationship. That I will carry in my heart forever. Let’s all stay strong during this very difficult year.
    Stay well, and when you can come up for air, remember you have your “virtual family” waiting for you.

  12. Dear Sally,
    I’ve followed your blog for years and I know how special Jude was to you. I understand the pain and sorrow about the loss of a pet. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of our dog, Oscar, who was 14 when he passed away a little over 2 years ago. Like Jude was for you, Oscar was my shadow. Our pets are family members and we should grieve them when they pass away. On another note, congratulations on Elise’s birth! Enjoy your time with your beautiful family!

  13. Dear Sallie;
    Your lovely chidren are such a beautiful treasure! Know that the time will come that you aren’t so weary physically and emotionally. Hang in there! I too have had similar experiences. Speak up regarding your struggles, and know that you are loved and cherished as wife, mother, and bestest to your furballs.
    Your thoughts of and connection to Jude are so correct!
    Birdie

  14. Sally, I am so, so sorry for your loss. Pets are family and losing someone like Jude is heartbreaking, I know. He looks like such a happy soul in all the pictures you have posted of him.
    I look forward to when you’re back but know this is very important time for you and your family. Well deserved and much needed.
    Take care of yourself and know that many are thinking of you. Be well.

  15. Thank you for the deeply honest and personal post. I hope that the world outside starts to mend. This has been the saddest of all the years I’ve witnessed, so far, in my life. I have such sadness for the people of color who have perished at the hands of law enforcement, all those who have perished due to the pandemic (some, needlessly) and now, I feel such sadness for those who have lost their homes due to the vast fires. The upside is that people such as you are having babies, and continue to think positively about what is good in this world. I feel that sharing food is an act of love and I always share my sweets with others when I bake. I wish you nothing but good thoughts for getting through your difficult times. Losing your dog was a BIG DEAL. I await and appreciate having your emails reach my in box, but can certainly appreciate your need for a break when you take one. Be well, and thank you for all you do. I so appreciate you.

  16. Sally….so sorry to read of Jude’s passing. Thank you for sharing his life with all of us on your blog. It’s a hurt that no words can take away.

    Love the picture of you and your girls. You have such a precious family.

  17. So sorry for your loss. We have only had our rescue dog for a year but he too is my shadow. You should to take all of the time to spend with your beautiful family that you need. Work will always there and your babies will be grown before you know it!

  18. Sally, I am so very sorry for your loss. Please don’t think you need to apologize for mourning the passing of your sweet boy when there is so much going on in the world. We, who follow your website, know how much you loved Jude and how big of a hole his absence has left in your heart. Take care of yourself and grieve as much as you need to…no one here is judging you ❤.

    Mary B

  19. Thank you for sharing where you are at right now. It’s a crazy time right now. I’m in Melbourne where we’ve been locked down for 6 weeks but baking your funfetti cupcakes with my 4yo was a highlight for us. My point is that you are a wonderful source of joy, even if you’re not feeling it. There’s plenty of joy in the recipes you’ve shared so please take the time to feel and process your grief. We’ll still be here when you’re ready!

  20. Dear Sally,
    My heart is with you. So sorry about Jude, it is truly heartbreaking : ( He’ll be terribly missed but he is loved : ) Congratulations on Elise, so cute! And please take your time to heal : )

  21. Sally,
    Congratulations on your beautiful new baby! As I was reading through my news feed tonight, I read this article and thought of you: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/god-dog-dies/
    Praying for you!

  22. So very sorry at the loss of Jude. Losing several pups and recently my cat only a few months after I lost my Mom, it is heart-rending. Pets are family and a part of you. This year has been awful for us as well. One thing after another. Family is what has been keeping us going. That is what is important. So hug those little girls, let yourself grieve and know there are many of us sending you virtual hugs.

  23. Pets are a very important part of any family. Take all the time you need to grieve. I missed a week of teaching when our Westie passed away may years ago. My principal had trouble understanding, but I did it anyway. Spend time with your husband and beautiful girls. Healing takes time and you have all the time in the world.

  24. I am new to this so I hope you get this. First, thank you for all the wonderful recipes I receive in my email from you. They are fantastic. Second, I am so sorry about your Jude. My 19 year old Yorkie passed last year June. Difficult times. Hang in there. Third, continued blessings to your whole family. The girls are too cute for words. What blessings. I hope and pray that all the great memories you have, along with all your blessings, carry you through this difficult time. Sincerely, Irene

  25. So sorry for your loss of Jude, Sally. I can only imagine all of the emotions you have been juggling with lately. It is hard enough to have a baby during “normal” times let alone during all this craziness. I am glad you are taking time for you and your family and I hope you continue you do so!!!

  26. Thank you for sharing your heart, Sally. It’s been almost a year since we lost our beloved cockapoo. She was my husband and I’s child, before we had a child. She passed away when my son was three months old and it was a complex time that was absolutely heartbreaking. I’m thinking of you and wishing you healing. Jude is still with you

  27. Dear Sally,
    Sending much love your way. Thank you for sharing so much about your baby, your big 3 year old and your family. I understand the grief of loosing a beloved pet, and hope that your heart will find comfort in the wonderful memories of the time you had him with you. We all look forward to your return to your blog and wish you a delicious autumn.

  28. Your daughters are just so, so sweet!
    What a beautiful and tough time you’ve been through.
    I’m so sorry about the loss of your precious Jude. It’s so hard.
    I know personally that our dogs and cats are a real part of our family too, so it’s sure not easy. Know that you gave him an amazing life.
    I am making your Pumpkin Coffee Cake tonight for the second time in a month. It’s so good! Thank you!
    Guess I’ve been in the mood for fall!
    And hope you have a super fun birthday with your 3 year old!!!

  29. So many of your readers have posted exactly what I wouLd have said . In my book you are one in a million, the kindest soul Ive ever “met “ I will be praying ..Please Give yourself time to grieve the loss of Jude, time for your hormones to get back to normal , time to RELAX and enjoy your beautiful family… clearly we all love you!

  30. Dear Sally, thank you for sharing your thoughts and emotions, which certainly tugged at my heart. So many losses for everyone, but thank you for all your wonderful recipes which kept me going during quarantine flatbread pizza, French bread and your delicious cheesecake, just to name a few. Do not worry about publishing new recipes, you have so many here on your website to choose from. I am so sorry for the loss of your beloved Jude, but happy to here your baby got to meet him. Enjoy this time with your girls and take it one day at a time.

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