The last time I checked in with a personal update was nearly a year ago!
Last September, I had a 2 month old, almost 3 year old, our 12 year old family dog just died, and I was adjusting to life with 2 young children. It was… heavy!
And now– suddenly it seems– our youngest just turned 1. Elise is crawling, teething, laughing, playing, pulling herself up, saying mama, and all the wonderful things babies and families get to experience in that first year. It’s been so exciting living these moments all over again, but in a new way because both girls are so different AND because our oldest is a big sister now.
I know you’re here for the baking, so let’s show off that 1st birthday cake. 🙂
1st Birthday Cake
I made a 6 inch banana cake, using my banana muffins batter. I added another 2 Tablespoons of milk to thin the batter out, used the melted coconut oil option, and sweetened it with coconut sugar. As far as desserts and baked goods go, this is a slightly healthier recipe. I divided the batter between 3 6-inch pans. (See my 6 inch cake recipes blog post for details.)
For the frosting, I used my cream cheese frosting recipe but removed 1/2 cup of confectioners’ sugar so it wasn’t quite as sweet. I added freeze-dried strawberry powder to half of the frosting. Remember this strawberry frosting? Same method. Grind a heaping 1/2 cup of freeze-dried strawberries into 1/4 cup powder, then beat it into half of the cream cheese frosting. I used regular strawberry frosting on my oldest’s 1st birthday cake too. It’s always a hit. I reused the same cake topper. The yellow cake stand is from Home Goods!
For the frosting, I used a large round piping tip to pipe rings of alternating frosting around the sides and on top. Then I used a bench scraper to smooth it all down. This look is called a “striped cake” but mine’s not quite as neat as most professional ones! It was very simple but fun, which was my goal.
I used these naturally colored sprinkles for decor. I LOVE THOSE! They make all desserts so much fun. My oldest loves the stars. We made drop sugar cookies with the same sprinkles, too. We’re celebrating again this coming weekend. Lots of fun!
Speaking of strawberry and cake, I discovered a new online bakery called Blondery. 100% women and minority owned, this virtual bakery is known for exceptional bite-size blondies. Owner and professional pastry chef Auzerais Bellamy reached out and let me know about the bakery’s newest summery sweet: an 11 layer strawberry cake and coinciding cake jars. They’re gluten free with strawberry blondies, chantilly cream, buttercream, and more. It was SUCH a special treat to receive one and each spoonful tasted like pure luxury. (Not sponsored, genuinely loved it!) Her menu is quite popular, but keep Blondery in mind when you need a unique and special treat for an occasion. You can follow Blondery on Instagram too!
Another piece of exciting news! I’d like to introduce you to our new German Shepherd mix puppy, Simon. We adopted Simon from a rescue a few months ago and are so in love with this sweet snuggly boy. He came from a wonderful foster family with young children and another dog, so he fit right in here. He’s 6 months old and weighing about 50 lbs. He’ll be a big boy! He and Franklin, our 5 year old dog, are getting along wonderfully. Franklin was so sad when Jude died, but this has certainly got him on his feet again. They’re inseparable! And Simon is already bigger than Frank.
Things have been busy with 2 young children and now 2 wild dogs! I’ve never been great at work/life balance, but decided to be firm with those boundaries this year. For the first time in 10 years, I’ve finally taken the time to slow down! (I’ve been blogging for 10 years this December. Crazy!)
Another reason that I slowed down content and put a pause on various social media is that my team and I are working on something very exciting. We have a brand new website redesign coming out later this summer. It’s been nearly 2 years in the making as we’ve been taking in feedback from readers to improve the website’s functionality and overall experience. It’s finally coming together and I can’t wait to share more details soon! We’re updating many older posts, I’m refreshing old photos, and trying to make this the best site it can be for you.
One new feature already put in place: when you sign up for my email list, you’re automatically sent the most popular recipes & posts!
And Surprise! Cookbook!
And while I’m spilling all the beans today (thanks for listening/reading!), I might as well tell all of you wonderful bakers that I’m working on a proposal for my 4th cookbook!!!! That’s yet another reason I’ve been so quiet over here!!!! Slowing down and taking time off has not only been what I need on a personal level, but professional as well. Sometimes you need time and space to determine a plan, path, or goal. That’s what I gave myself this year and now I’ve never been more excited about a work project! And I’ve never felt more inspired.
Keep in mind that the journey to cookbook #4 will be a very long one because I need to actually finish my proposal before I can move to the next steps. (Including, um… testing all the recipes and authoring the entire cookbook.) Stay tuned because I will continue to share cookbook updates when I have them!
Some fun things to look forward to even if I’m not posting as often! I hope to continue updates like this, but I’m trying to keep everything just about baking. Thank you for being here and don’t forget about the July Sally’s Baking Challenge. Can’t wait to see all your turnovers!