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. Hello Sally. I just hoped over here for an incredible recipe and I got so much more. I had to tell you that.
    I am sorry for you and your families heartbreak over your sweet fur baby. A loss sure is a loss. no matter if it’s human or animal. I like to listen to Amanda Palmers song Lost when I feel this way. I hope you give it a listen. Art has a healing power for me much like baking does- I literally just made your banana bread last night because my heart said bake something before I explode! Of course the family loved it.-I am super proud to know that you are continuing on your antiracist journey. I’m inspired that you are continuing the work and conversation. I know I’m no one extremely important. But I gotta let you know that I hear you. I see you. if you or anyone on here ever needs to chat about Antiracism I am so down. Hit me up. We can learn from one another. I really need to start a personal community who are also on an antiracist path. What better way than to bake with peoples and speak the hard truths? Love to all of y’all and please for the love of all that is delicious, sweet and on a cookie sheet register to vote today! and cast your ballot this November. We must be the change we want to see in this world! ❤️

  2. Hi Sally,

    I’ve been a reader of your blog since 2018. You’ve put countless smiles on people’s faces whenever they get to try your recipes which I make for them. You’ve made a lot of people happy through your recipes. I am so sorry about Jude and I just want to let you know that yes, loss is loss. We have different ways of coping and you do not need to say sorry by grieving Jude since he was a huge part of your life. Take all the time you need. Congratulations with your healthy baby girl. Always stay safe and hang in there Sally. Your recipes have helped us this quarantine to stay sane and please take your time with posting anything. No pressure. Your readers are always here.

    All the best, Anna

    1. Sally,

      I have been a reader of your blog since almost the beginning! I love your recipes and know that I can always count on them to be great. Thinking of you right now, as you grieve the loss of Jude. Plus the challenge of going from one child to two. Take the time you need to process and take care of yourself, that is what is most important.

  3. I enjoyed this post very much. I feel so much closer to you. You really spoke from the heart, opening up and sharing your vulnerability. Congratulations on the beautiful birth of your new daughter. Such a blessing. On the other hand, I’m grieving with you on the loss of your best friend. That’s exactly what our pets are to us. I’m 66 years old and have unfortunately had to say goodbye to my share of furry family. It is heartbreaking for sure. I like to focus on all the great times we had and the wonderful life I tried to give each of them. Don’t fret over not getting recipes out to us. We’re here whenever you’re ready. Take this time for you and your family. I’ll be here when you’re ready.

  4. Sally, take all the time you need to grieve Jude. He was a part of your family. I am so sorry to read of this loss. He gave his love freely and certainly felt your love for him.

    You have had so many changes – the birth of a new baby! A toddler growing,
    coping with the pandemic, your amazing website, and Jude passing. So glad you got away to relax and recharge.
    Be gentle with yourself.
    We appreciate all of your talents you share with us.
    God bless.

  5. So sorry to hear that you lost sweet Jude. I’ve been following your blog for years and anytime you shared a photo of Jude and Franklin it brought a big smile to my face. Never feel guilty about your grief – it is real and it is valid and it is painful, no matter what else is going on in the world to compare it to.

    The loss of a pet is so difficult, and yet I think we’d all chose to go through it over and over because of the immeasurable love and joy they bring us in the years we do get to spend with them. Wouldn’t trade those moments for anything! <3 Take care!

  6. Love and prayers to you and your family Sally. ❤️ I’m so sorry for your loss. Please take this time to enjoy your beautiful family. I have little babies similar in age to your girls and know that finding the time to care for yourself can become an afterthought. Thankful for your many recipes that are therapeutic to make during this especially stressful time in our country for us all. Wishing you comfort and precious moments with your loved ones.

  7. Theresa Doerfler says:

    Sally, I am so, so sorry about your loss of Jude. I still feel your pain 5 years after we lost our beautiful golden, Bailey, of 12 years. I have enjoyed your pictures of Jude for the many years I’ve received your email newsletters. I could tell even in pictures what a great dog he was. I know exactly what you mean when you say that your life feels so different without Jude. Nothing will ever change that but we did eventually rescue another dog two years later. We know that Bailey would approve because that’s how he became part of our family. It doesn’t change how much we miss him but we feel so blessed to have had Bailey as part of our family as my daughters grew up. He was a gift to us as your Jude was to you.
    Congratulations to your family on Elise’s arrival! What a beautiful family! Thank you for sharing your pictures. They are uplifting at a time when we need uplifted! We also have two daughters and I can’t begin to tell you what a joy it’s been to watch them grow up together and become each other’s best friend. I wish that for your daughters as well.
    Hang in there Sally! Accept that you are mourning your loss but also find joy in the gift of your new daughter and soak up the love of your beautiful family. God bless you all!

    1. Jeanette St George says:

      I think Theresa said it all. I agree with all that she stated, such great sentiment expressed.
      Amen

  8. I know how you feel about losing your “member” of the family. It was so hard to have her put to sleep, but she couldn’t even walk to the vet. We had to carry her. I still think about her every time we pass the vets office. She also was a golden retriver named Sunny.
    Your daughter is beautiful and looks very content. Girls usually are very easy going, happy, and playful. They have a pleasant disposition.
    Enjoy the time together.

  9. I meant our dog was put to sleep. Can’t write well at midnight.

  10. Sally I am so deeply grieved for your loss of your precious Jude. Reading about how much you treasure your dogs is one of my favorite things about your blog. I lost my first born dog child three years ago and my heart still aches. I pray for your comfort. Congratulations on your newborn baby! Thank you for your amazing recipes. My coworkers are obsessed with your sticky buns. And they call them Sticky Buns now — for a while they were calling them cinnamon rolls and of course I corrected them so now they know 🙂 I Love making your salted caramel sauce I literally put it on everything I bake!!!

  11. Dear Sally and family,
    First I would like to say how much I appreciate you. Each morning I look forward to your blog almost as much as I look forward to my morning devotions. You have inspired me to bake more and give more. I truly have learned and enjoyed reading your blog . Your warm spirit is uplifting and I’m so grateful to have you as part of my daily routine. God is so good. You have inspired me to see more than just what’s in front of me. I see the beauty and creativity in what you do and share with ‘us’ your extended family . I was in tears when I read your blog this morning. Your honesty about what you’re going through took courage to share. I truly feel I have a connection with what you’re going through. God has blessed you in so many ways. Your family is beautiful. My condolences goes out to you in the passing of your amazing dog ‘Jude’. It has left a huge hole in your heart. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy will come in the morning. God has a plan for your life and he has chosen you for this special task. However it is something you can not do on your own. You must rely on him for His strength and encouragement. God is faithful. God is love. He will never leave you to walk alone in this difficult time. Anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one knows sleepless nights and deep sorrow. May you experience God’s comfort where it will surpass all understanding. May you be the light where there’s darkness. Now is the time to spend with your young family. When you rest in the goodness of God you will find the strength and the peace within. God’s blessing upon you and your beautiful family. Rest and He will meet you where you are.
    You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless til they rest in you. Augustine. ‘Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much – Helen Keller. Take your time and heal and know your extended family will support you in whatever you decide for the future.

  12. Tasia ~ two sugar bugs says:

    Sally, my heart is heavy for you. Our dogs come into our lives and steal a part of our heart. When they leave us, the hole they leave behind is huge. It can leave us so raw and broken. I wish I had words to help ease your pain. I’ve been there and can greatly relate to the loss you are feeling. I can’t stop tearing up while trying to type this. Please give yourself grace and all the time you need to grieve. I know in my heart that Jude is waiting for you at the rainbow bridge, free of his pain and looking forward to the day he gets to see you again. Hopefully my girls were on his welcoming committee and are showing him the ropes and making him feel at home. Thank you for sharing, hopefully writing this was a bit therapeutic as well. Sending you the biggest hug from the west coast!!

  13. Greetings Sally. I, too, totally enjoyed reading this coffee break. Happiness and sadness all rolled up. You take much time off to heal your body and soul. Your fans understand. We all love you. Your such a sweet gal. I have lost my fur baby 5 years ago and I miss him still…Many more blessings to you and family. Hang in there. We all been through it but, not quite what your dealing with in this day and age. It’s very unsettling. My prayers to you. Jude, sleep in Heavenly Peace.
    Bonnie

  14. Thank you for sharing. You’re 100% correct, a loss is a loss and pets are such a huge and wonderful part of our families. Thinking of you and yours. On a side note, I’m so interested to try the cinnamon swirl bread with apples!! Thanks for all that you do, baking has been one of my coping go to’s these past months.

  15. I wish you so much happiness with your two precious daughters, peace and comfort with the loss of Jude.

  16. Dear Sally, I’m sure this entire community is sending you a big, collective hug – and reassuring you that whatever you and your team are doing for your blog is fine. Is enough. Is perfect. You have given so much to us, and us supporting you taking a much-needed and well-deserved break is something WE can do for YOU in return!! Our hearts break with yours over the loss of Jude…most of us know that exact pang you feel….there is no magic cure for it, other than the passage of time. And our hearts fill with joy with yours over a beautiful new life and all the hope and promise that brings. You do what you need for you, however long that is. We’ll still be here, covered in flour, and sending you positive vibes and love!

  17. Stephanie Kelly says:

    I made Trolls themed cupcakes for my niece’s birthday earlier this year. I used an Ateco 869 tip to make the frosting look like Poppy’s hair. I placed little flower sprinkles in a circle around the frosting to look like her flower crown. They turned out pretty cute. Not sure if you could use that idea with your cake, but just throwing it out there!

    I’m so sorry about the loss of Jude. Pets are such big parts of our lives, and it’s so hard when they leave us. We all love you, and we’re always here for you.

  18. Thank you so much for taking the time to share this post Sally. Your daughters are beautiful! I’m so glad that Elise is such a good baby and that Noelle is such a good big sister. It’s hard to believe Noelle will be 3 already! A trolls cake will be so cute. I’m so very sorry about Jude. 🙁 Our 4 year old golden doodle pup was very sick last week to the point of being hospitalized for 3 days. They were talking about possibly needing to put him to sleep. I too know he’s “just a dog” but I was crying and so distraught for days. He’s such a big part of our family. I kept thinking how difficult it would be if we lost him. Thankfully my husband pushed for them to try another medicine, and that finally did the trick. He’s almost completely back to normal. I can totally understand how difficult it must be for you. I’ll be praying for your family as you move through this time. I’m glad you could get away to the lake. Looks like a beautiful place. Please don’t feel pressured about new recipes. We all understand that you’re taking some time with your family. There are so many great recipes on your website and in your cookbooks to enjoy!

  19. I send my sincere condolences to you and your family in the loss of your furbaby. They are a part of the family and when they are gone, they leave a hole in your heart. Please know people understand the grief you are experiencing too. And it is hard to go from having one only child to having two with one being a baby that needs your attention for everything. That takes a big getting used to!
    And as far as understanding the privileges of being a white person, I totally have opened my heart and soul up to better understanding the plight of the people of color in our nation. I just wish that everyone would have that aha moment as that is when we will really see some changes being made to make sure all people are equal and share the same privileges that we have always taken for granted. Thank you for being an advocate for change and speaking out! I applaud you!

  20. Please never apologize for being human and grieving the loss of your beloved pet. Their devotion and unconditional love is like nothing else on this planet. I live in OR, where the fires are raging, sad beyond words! Keep on doing what you do so well, encouraging all of us and providing these yummy recipes! Blessings to you and your family!

  21. Dear sally
    Talking about our happiness and our sadness is what makes us human!
    You are happy with your beautiful baby !!
    But your heart mourns the absence of your great Jude …
    I send you a hug with all my heart
    Blessings and lots of love !!!

  22. Saddened by your loss. As you take time to grieve and cope, enjoy the cherished moments and memories of Jude,stories to share with your lil girls. That way even though gone,Jude isn’t forgotten.
    Congratulations on your beautiful daughter Elise. God bless your family and thank you for sharing your heart and so many recipes.

  23. Hi Sally. Congratulations on your new addition…and empathizing with you on the painful subtraction. We just had dinner with our 25 year old son. I vividly remember taking him for his first haircut at 3 years old. Time flies! Several years ago I lost my golden retriever (lived 13 years). He was my best friend (after my wife). Trying your cornbread topped chili this evening..as we are experiencing colder nights now and I feel it’s time to up the comfort food. I do all the cooking now, as COVID has me working full time at home for the foreseeable future and my wife still goes to her office and comes home tired and hungry. I have begun “intermittent fasting” as a diet help. So I only eat from 11 am to 5 pm. It works and the best part is I can eat whatever I want within that timeframe! So hitting your recipes hard again! Trying to decide if I am going to plunk down $340 on a Le Creuset Dutch oven. I feel like I need the size that serves 8 because we entertain a lot. Any thoughts?

  24. Thank you so much for sharing your heart and recipes with us! I also lost my sweet 12.5 year old best friend pupper in May of this year. She had been with me for almost as long as I can recall vivid memories. I got her when I was 19 and lost her when I was 32. Such impressionable time and so much growth. She was always there for me, through breakups, college, back to grad school, several moves throughout the country, and through the toughest of times. After I lost her during this pandemic, your blog actually helped me remember how much I loved baking! It gave me the courage to dive into types of recipes I hadn’t tried before such as scones and homemade bread! I’ve been trying so many recipes and sharing with my corworkers (whom are also very thankful ) 🙂 It has helped to heal my heart and bring some joy back into my life where there is a huge hole from my loss. I promise it does get easier with time, but you will always miss that huge ball of fluff padding into the kitchen or snuggling at your feet. You made sweet Jude happy and got some wonderful memories for each other. That is truly the best and most meaningful parts of this world. 🙂

  25. Eileen Johnson says:

    Hey Sally,
    Thank you sincerely for your inspiration!
    Please know how much you are loved for this. I’m 71 & per my family & friends, a talented cook and baker, but I continue to learn so much from your site.
    Very sad to hear about your loss! Also sad to commiserate about our world situation!
    Enjoy the new babe and your little toddler!
    This is such a precious, yet demanding time for you as a mother!
    We, your audience, want you to know that we still have a lot of wondrous advice that you’ve already created & need time to get caught up with so many of your recipes and tips that we’ve been waiting to try!
    Thank you and please feel the loving gratitude coming to you from each of us!

  26. Barbara Rothman says:

    Dear Sally,
    I’m so thrilled with the birth of another beautiful, healthy baby girl! What a total blessing from the Lord! At the same time I’m so sorry for the loss of your fur baby boy!!! Our pets are part of the family & ones who come without mood swings but bring so much joy & Happiness.
    Take your time in coming back with recipes, you’ve shared so many wonderful ones up to now. I have both of your cookbooks on baking & love them!!! I also love your flatbread pizza & have made it often. In fact I taught my 10 year old granddaughter how to do it & she’s made it for her family multiple times.
    Lord bless you my sweet friend & enjoy those beautiful daughters as well as your sweet husband & your other fur baby!!!
    Barbara

  27. I just cried during this post. We also just had to say goodbye to our sweet Roxy girl. She was a rescue that came home with us on my husband’s and my first dating anniversary. She essentially was the mile marker for our relationship and at 14 years old, cancer came out of nowhere and we were (are) devastated. Loss is loss, and just because they are animals doesn’t mean our hearts break any less. It’s ok to grieve. We loved our pups and they will always be in our hearts. I’m thankful we got to make some good memories before we needed to say goodbye and I’m sure you did with Jude as well, especially those special ones with your new baby girl. Virtual hugs from Colorado.

  28. Hi Sally,
    I didn’t think I could love you more but I was wrong.
    I looked deep into Jude’s eyes in that great picture and he was a very good boy…I can’t imagine the feeling of loss multiplied by his especially sweet soul.
    I’ve been doing the work of anti-racism with Rachel Cargle as one of my guides but you’ve opened my eyes to a new resource in her online course. Thank you.
    The cherry on top is your brave pursuit of sourdough science by Bryan Ford’s instruction. Seriously, I threw my hands in the air in complete joy, having hoped for a while that you’d join the sourdough community.
    Enjoy those darling babies and cut yourself all sorts of slack while your beautiful, empathetic, loving heart navigates this painful time in world history.
    Much Love,
    Carol

  29. Congratulations on the birth of your lovely new daughter, and condolences on the loss of your beloved pup. Such an emotional time is difficult to navigate and we know that you owe it to yourself and to your precious family to do whatever you need to in order to get through it. We are cat people in our family, and with the loss of two cats in the last six months, our home feels empty in a way that is hard to describe. One of the things that I di that helped me a great deal is to make a regular donation to a pet-related charity in honour of each cat. I volunteer at a food bank, and a pet food donation is always welcome there. Many clients struggle to feed their pets, who are often their only companions and are thrilled to be able to access food for them.
    Take care of yourself.

  30. Loretta Stanton says:

    It wasn’t long after clicking on your email that the tears started to flow. I feel the pain you are going thru in losing Jude. Three years ago I had to say good bye to my beloved Kera. She was a pit mix. The dog noboby wanted. Things weren’t going well for her. And me, living alone and trying to get over a “home invasion” spending most nights awake and jumping at each little noise. So I took a chance on Kera. From the moment she entered the house, it was like she sensed what I needed. For the next 8 years she provided me with love, companionship, lots of laughter, and a true feeling of security. No more sleepless nights. She really rescued me. Cancer took her as it did your beloved Jude. My vet said she hung in so long because she didn’t want to leave me. It was one of the most difficult days of my life. I swear sometimes I can feel her presense still in this house. So don’t be apologetic for mourning Jude so deeply. You loved him. He loved you. It’s a deep loss.
    With everything going on in this world right now, I stop and think to myself, “There has to be some good that will come out of all this bad”.
    When you look into the eyes of your beautiful daughters as I look into the eyes of my grandson, the question of what kind of a world are we leaving them must enter your mind as it does mine. We must do all we can to make this world a kinder place for all people. We must care for Mother Earth and preserve her beauty. We must teach our children that by showing small acts of kindness to others and helping those less fortunate they in turn will receive that goodness back.
    Sally, take this time to embrace your lovely family. Take time for yourself to quietly meditate. Your baking buddies aren’t going anywhere. We’ll be waiting when you’re ready to return. One of the good things that happened over the last few months was discovering you. You’ll be in my prayers.

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