Fresh Lemon Tart with Candied Lemon and Lavender Infused Honey

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I bake A LOT of cakes. I’m still learning, but they’re becoming second nature to me. Sometimes, it’s nice to step out of my comfort zone and try something new. With an overabundance of lemons in my kitchen, I tackled a traditional lemon tart with a non-traditional kick. Much easier than I anticipated and absolutely refreshing and delicious! The candied lemons and lavender-infused honey are optional, but absolutely worth the extra effort.

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Mocha Latte Cake

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When asking my husband what he wanted for his birthday, he kept telling me that he didn’t need anything. When I asked him what kind of cake I could bake him, he said, “I don’t need a cake.” To which I immediately refused to accept as an answer: EVERYONE should have a cake for their birthday! For me, baking has become a love language for me and I absolutely enjoy putting my heart and joy into creating something delicious for the people in my life. Of course, baking during a pandemic means using whatever you have on hand, and in our house, there is never a shortage of coffee or chocolate. Since Brian’s favorite froufrou coffee drink is a mocha latte, I set out to recreate the flavor into an absolutely phenomenal cake that is now a favorite.

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Peanut Butter & Chocolate Cake

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One of my favorite things to do for visiting friends is baking them something that they’ll love. Whenever I ask, “what do you want me to make,” more often than not I’m met with, “oh, I don’t know; just surprise me.” With a plethora of options that overwhelm me, I then start to dig so I can find out what their favorite flavor combinations are. For our friend Micah, chocolate and peanut butter were at the top of his list. This classic combination makes for a delicious and satisfying dessert for any occasion. Continue reading

Violet Sugared Shortbread Sweethearts

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February brings us all the beautiful first hints of springtime. We start to feel the sun on our faces a little longer, the melting snow reveals budding new life, and inspiration for new beginnings touches many of us. Many of my inspirations are driven by looking for new and interesting recipes, especially those that feel like the current season. Inspired by the legend of Saint Valentine, I was searching for recipes using violets. Serendipitously, a dear friend sent me a link to Gather Victoria’s Wild Violet Sweethearts and I immediately fell in love with the idea. Delicious, light, and simple. Continue reading

PAX South 2020: Baby’s First Convention!

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Mommy-and-Me Jedi costumes!

When you’ve done conventions for as long as I have, they become a part of your identity. The excitement and inspiration for new costumes, the meet-ups with friends we haven’t seen in months or years, Artist Alley filled with incredibly brilliant pieces, the occasion of bumping into a celebrity, and the bustle of the convention floor become engrained into your very soul. Sure, I complain about how crowded certain conventions have become *coughSDCCcough*, but despite my annoyances, I inevitably end up joyously anticipating the next one I can attend. When I became a military spouse and then a mom, I began to fear that cherished piece of my identity would certainly become a distant memory. With the constant moving to new locations every few years, how could I develop a community similar to what I was already familiar with in California? When a friend came to visit me in Texas during PAX South, I decided to do that craziest thing I imagined: attend a convention I’ve never been to before with a toddler all on my own.

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Apple Cake with Caramel Buttercream

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Autumn has finally arrived! It may still be 90ยฐ here in central Texas, but that isn’t going to stop me from enjoying my favorite fall treats and staring longingly at my beloved flannel shirts, dreaming of crisp breezes and turning leaves. Yes, it is in fact so hot here that carving actual jack-o’-lanterns would render them sad, moldy mounds of orange sadness within a day, and makes for pumpkin patch trips or hayrides only enjoyable with several layers of sunblock and summer clothing. To lift my spirits, I started decorating the house for Halloween, planning our costumes, and researching recipes that fit the season. What better way to get into the fall mood than baking a delicious spiced apple cake with some homemade caramel buttercream? Continue reading

Achievement Unlocked: Nursing & Pwning Noobs

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About two months before Hazel was born, I went ham on video games because I knew after she was born, there would be precious little time for anything that didn’t involve taking care of her. Don’t get me wrong, I normally log away arguably too many hours immersed in whatever my favorite game happens to be at the time, but this gave me an excuse to really overdo it. Picture this: a 185 pound, 9 months pregnant woman bouncing around on a fitness ball screaming obscenities that would make George Carlin blush. My husband was seriously concerned that Hazel’s first word might be less than socially acceptable. Then she was born and nothing else mattered in the world except keeping her alive and healing my body and mind. Slowly but surely the days started to get easier as naps started regulating, breastfeeding became second nature, and multitasking was starting to make a comeback. The natural progression for me was to attempt an online match or two with friends while the baby was preoccupied with a boob sandwich. It was an absolute success which not only made me feel normal again, but also made me realize it was possible to still fulfill “me time” as a new mom. Continue reading

Baby Food and Intuition: A Tale of Baby Led Weaning

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Who knew pureed fruit and veggies could be so pretty! Strawberry, carrot, sweet potato, mango, apple, pear, melon, peas, broccoli, and spinach.

I used to roll my eyes and guffaw at the very idea of making my own baby food. I knew friends who did it for their little ones, saw books and gadgets for the homemade stuff in their baby registries, and plenty of mom blogs proclaiming the benefits of doing it yourself. It always seemed like a Martha Stewartesque waste of precious energy and time when the jarred stuff existed and was readily available on supermarket shelves. When Hazel started longingly gazing at food and smacking her lips hungrily, my perspective shifted a bit. So did the overwhelming sense of, “I can’t bullocks this up; if I do, she’ll forever be screwed up.”

Spoilers: she won’t be, and it’s okay to mess up a bit – pretty much the definition of parenting, in a nutshell. Continue reading

Adventures in Fitness While Breastfeeding, Part 2

In my previous fitness post over a year ago, Adventures in Fitness While Breastfeeding, I explained how challenging it can be in our society to be kind to ourselves after having a baby. Instagram is full of celebrity moms snapping glamorously posed shots of breastfeeding and holding their babies oh-so lovingly, making motherhood and the fabled “bouncing back” seems like a breeze to achieve. For some extraordinarily fortunate souls, this may be the case, but for the rest of us normies, it is beyond challenging and sometimes absolutely soul-crushing. We can feel judged and like we are an embarrassment to our friends and family when we gain weight and aren’t as good shape as we once were. We can view ourselves in a warped, distorted manner as if we are standing in front of a fun-house mirror. It won’t matter how many compliments and praises we may get, how we feel about our own bodies is ultimately what matters. Everything else will feel like a lie. What does matter is how we feel inside our own minds and bodies.ย  Continue reading

Lemon Cake with Fresh Cherry Jam and Cherry Buttercream

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My birthday was this past week and my aunt dropped in for a visit, so I decided I wanted to bake myself something delicious and summery to celebrate. I happened upon a mouthwatering recipe for lemon cupcakes with cherry buttercream and decided I would attempt to convert the recipe to a cake. The results were not only irresistible but also quite pretty.ย  This is definitely a recipe to keep in the books for special occasions. Scrumptious! Continue reading