Friday, July 25, 2014


I'm cleaning out guys. Like majorly cleaning out. I've gone through every room, every closet, every nook where I've stuffed something and things are going fast. I took a bunch of vintage stuff to a local consignment shop, craigslisted like a pro and made a few trips to goodwill. We only have two bedrooms and the second is our office, art studio and soon to be completed nursery all in one! So it's been really important to get rid of a lot of my materials that I don't really use and to pair down to the essentials. Etsy paintings are on sale! I'm making room for new inventory, animals that I've been working on in the same simple and graphic style. They're coming along slowly as I have time to work on them, but they're very special and it makes me happy to make them.

You can shop at
All paintings are acrylic on 10x10" canvas with a 1.5" profile. They're ready and easy to hang on just a nail in the wall.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Who I Am, and Who I Want to Become

I'm back from a Pacific NW vacation and on summer break from teaching. I'm 32, pregnant with our first baby, and in the last few years I've been trying to realize what I really want to do with my life and so I got serious and decided to make an actual decision. I'm writing today on who I am and who I want to become.

I wanted to be honest with myself and not settle on how I spend my days, what I can do everyday that is creative and handmade, and that I would love and be proud of. So after a ton of writing, thinking and "what if" scenarios, I decided on a gluten free bakery with an almond flour and natural sugars focus. I had to let go of my other ideas, even though they're good ideas, so that I could focus my time, money and energy on this blog and future bakery so it actually happens and can be successful.

What I didn't realize would happen is that making that decision has lead to this awesome focus, openness and clarity. Space for all of these other things in my life has come to the surface and I feel like I'm a little more centered and aware of who I really am and who I want to be.

From when I was a little girl, there were some things about me that just came naturally. I was so sure about them it was never even a thought that they weren't right for me. It turns out those things still apply today. I still love animals and am so happy that we adopted Clover. I love knowing about all sorts of things and I've learned that I do better with more information as opposed to keeping my head in the dark. I still love the mountains and want a country house one day, but I also love the beach and the little trails near our house. I'm still nice and friendly, but I've learned to also be assertive and trust my instincts. And I still value and want to live a life full of creativity, hand made goodness and variety.

As for who I want to become, I just love thinking about that as an option for your life. To me it means coming back to the basics of who you are and what you love and then making your life work for you. I don't want to shy away from life's very real responsibilities, and I want to be happy, fulfilled and grow as a person. I want to look back on these years of my twenties and thirties when I was a teacher, bought a house, adopted an amazing dog and had a baby and feel that I used them well. So who I want to become is a little unknown, but I do know that it starts with coming back to the basics of who I've been and who I am.

So now I'll be working on sprucing up the blog, learning how to start a bakery (even if it's out of a rental kitchen and a farmer's market stand), letting go of other interests and projects for a while, and thinking more about doing things that are right for me.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Grain Free Brownie Collection (Obsession)

I love brownies and so does my Dad. They're so chocolatey, but different from a slice of cake or chocolate sauce on a sundae. They're rich and velvety, filling without being too sugary. They're just so good! Out of all of these that I've made, my favorites are the simple ones. Classic Brownies with a hint of espresso, and Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies because the slight tartness of the cream cheese pairs really well with the rich chocolate base. Give me a simple brownie and I'll find ways to eat it five times a day.

Chris and I are back from our Pacific NW vacation. I'm still posting pics from our trip on Instagram and I'll have some posts about traveling gluten free in Portland, Seattle and Vancouver in the next few weeks. We made some good habits over our trip of being out of the house and walking around for most of the day, drinking a green juice most days, eating smaller meals and not watching too much T.V. So we've talked about trying to keep up those habits this summer and we're doing pretty well so far!

Monday, July 7, 2014

My Rules for Summer

Chris on our roof
 Girls trip to Asheville, NC (post coming soon)
Clover Dog on a summer walk, which really means just lay in the grass 
All pics from my Instagram

Chris and I are on vacation in Portland and Seattle; and today we're driving to Vancouver! We've been loving it. You can see more pics over on my Instagram  and I'll be back in a few days. Happy Summer!

My Rules for Summer

1. Wake up early and enjoy the morning

2. Shower and get ready for the day before 9:30, and wear a bra

3. Drink fun iced drinks- like peach water, mint iced tea, and iced herbal teas with honey

4. Clean and organize the house

5. Leave the house and do stuff

6. Take a siesta

7. Go on vacation/weekend trips/day trips and be inspired

8. Only read books I love, and re-read books I love

9. Do something in the evenings and summer nights

10. Remember that around us in Virginia the humidity kind of sucks and to wear less clothing, wear my hair up, drink cold drinks and move slower

What are yours?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Grain Free Berry Recipes for the Fourth of July

We're off to Portland and Seattle for our summer vacation/baby moon! We'll be staying with family friends the first two nights, and then we haven't booked any hotels or travel for the rest of the trip! Travel with iphones changes everything. I looked up airbnb options in Portland and got really excited for tiny houses, vintage trailers and canvas tents.

For this vacation I plan on trying as many gluten free bakeries as I can, visiting breweries and watching Chris drink beer, eating my fill of raw oysters and seafood and finding some really awesome healthy eateries and cute shops. Mainly food and shopping. We're planning on staying in the cities for the majority of the trip but we'll definitely be making a couple trips out into the wilderness to see mountains, greenery and ferns.

I've put together a collection of some of my favorite new recipes to help you celebrate the 4th. They're all gluten free, all grain free, a couple have vegan options and a couple use real sugar in the toppings. They're delicious. Have a great holiday weekend!

Icebox Pie with Creamy Lime Filling and Berry Medley

Strawberry Lemon Curd Cupcakes

Vegan Peach and Blueberry Cobbler with Cinnamon Coconut Sorbet

Flourless Chocolate Cakes with Strawberry Whipped Cream

Chocolate Raspberry Crumble Bars (on a chocolate crust and with a vegan option)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Cardamom Bundt Cake with Lime Coconut Butter

Happy summer guys! It sort of snuck up on me. I love living in Virginia because of the seasons. The transitions remind me to get back to myself every few months, clean up, get rid of extra stuff and be inspired. But recently with the end of school and an extended year due to extra snow days, summer just rolled on in and I was busy busy. We're taking a vacation in a couple of days and I'm so looking forward to that time to get away from all of the little to-dos, get some perspective again and just enjoy time with Chris in new cities. 

This Cardamom Bundt Cake is a refined version of my Cardamom Cake. I made just a few changes and I'm really happy with the updated cake. It's sweet, moist, has those delicious browned buttery edges and isn't overly spiced. I think it would be so good with a vanilla glaze, a ginger ice cream, maybe even a chocolate cardamom frosting. 

This cake from Roost is gorgeous and has the coconut butter drizzle topping I was aiming for. I heated the coconut butter (a spreadable puree of the coconut flesh) over a makeshift double boiler and it melted perfectly. However the moment I added the 3 T of honey, it all seized up back into a thick spread. Then I ran out of coconut butter. So for this post we have a cake topped with lime coconut butter. Tastiest at room temp as the topping gets a lot harder in the fridge. I'll try the coconut butter glaze again, but my problem was I didn't think it was sweet enough. The recipes I found called for only 1 T of honey and for me that just wasn't enough. So maybe I try agave, or stevia? Not sure- anyone out there tried it sweeter and found success? 

Cardamom Bundt Cake with Lime Coconut Butter
serves 12

Cardamom Bundt Cake
1/2 C (1 stick) butter
1/2 C yogurt
3/4 C honey
1/2 C maple sugar granules
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 C blanched almond flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Lime Coconut Butter
1 C coconut butter
3 T honey
zest of 2 limes

Preheat the oven to 350 and butter a bundt cake pan, place on a baking sheet
First make the cake by mixing the yogurt, honey, eggs, vanilla and cooled melted butter
In a separate bowl mix the blanched almond flour, baking soda, salt, spices and maple sugar granules
Blend the wet into the dry until fully combined then pour into the buttered bundt cake pan
Bake around 50 minutes until the cake is browned, the top is not jiggly and the sides pull slightly away from the edges of the pan
Remove from the oven and let cool completely- 30 minutes to an hour before loosening the edges, gently shaking up and down to make sure the whole cake pulls away from the pan, then flipping over on to a serving plate.
To make the lime coconut butter, gently heat the coconut butter on the stove top over a double boiler and add the honey and lime zest
Mix well to combine and let cool to room temperature
Top the cake with the mixture and then form it with clean hands around the top of the cake

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Time for Change

Stella Maria Baer from Design*Sponge

I like change. I think it's good, I think it's healthy and I think it keeps life interesting. I very much like the comforts of home, I'm definitely a homebody. But I want to live in different homes and places, try new things and new foods, find new neighborhoods and shops. I don't ever want to get so comfortable and settled that I don't challenge myself to grow and try new things. Over the years I've realized that Chris, my husband, started a sort of informal life mantra which I have adopted: "don't go backwards". We use this way of thinking in big ways, like when we bought our house and in small ways, like when we're out on country drives.

At the time we were house shopping, we were renting a condo in South Arlington and had an opportunity to buy the exact same version in another building. I wasn't sure about it though and my friend ended up saying exactly what I needed to hear, "why would you want to do the exact same thing!?" and she was right. We had rented that condo for 3 years and loved it and the neighborhood. We wanted to stay in that area and were sad when we realized we wouldn't be able to. Trusting that there was more out there for us made it easier to move on and eventually we found our current home. A 1200 sq foot row house built in 1942. It's not in our first choice neighborhood, it's small and it's old. But there are positives too. It has a finished basement with a full bathroom and an exterior door so we can have guests with out a problem. We've heard we may be able to build a top level, we could definitely build an addition on the back, and we have a parking pad and long back yard where we could build a garage or a studio. We have room for a deck, a patio, and a small garden. All things not possible in a condo with no yard or lot and with condo fees. For us, buying this house was a really good move.

In small ways we "don't go backwards" by literally not turning around, we just move forward or take a new route. Chris and I like to take drives on the weekends with our dog, Clover. It's something we started doing because it's cheap, Chris likes to drive, I like to get out of town and see other little small towns, and then we usually find a park or trail to walk Clover. So when we're out exploring we just keep walking or keep driving. We don't just rely on the google directions or the main street we just walked down. This little way of thinking has helped me be a little braver when it comes to new places and new situations.

Right now this applies to two big things in our life. We're having a baby, due in October, and god knows we'll have to let go of a lot of our old way of life! Hopefully we'll manage dealing with all these new things, moving forward and not dwelling on old comforts we can no longer have with a new baby. And next year I hope to start a gluten free bakery which means I'll eventually have to leave teaching elementary art. I know it's what I want and that leaving a career that I'm comfortable with to pursue something new and full of challenges and unknowns is the step I have to take.

So here are some links that have really got me thinking:

Find out who you are, but also who you should become from Braid Creative
Be Who You are & Explore Who You are Becoming

"When we take a leap, change our course and direction, something is lost and something is gained... We may lose our comfort zone and gain some new mastery." I hadn't really thought of this before even though reading it seems obvious. You have to be okay with letting go and moving on, knowing that the next step is right for you, change is good and you will grow even though you will lose some things. 
When Do I Leap? A post on Justina Blakeney's blog with questions for her mom, Dr. Bubbie.

This article by Lydia Netzer, 15 Ways to Stay Married for 15 Years- I like the whole article, but read number 9.

A post about Style and The Evolution of your Voice on MerMagBlog

Follow Your Heart, Smell The Roses on LuneBlog

Secret to Work Life Balance on Sycamore Street Press

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

It's My Birthday!

(Our family's go-to birthday cake)

How timely that I just read this post on DesignMom and I feel the same way! She just turned 40, I'm 32 now, but I get the pressure and hype around a birthday. So for this year I just listened to myself and realized that I didn't want to plan anything for my birthday. On my actual birthday I want to go to dinner with Chris and last Saturday I went to a vineyard and stayed over with my college roommates/soul mates. I didn't want to plan another thing on a summer weekend (they always get so filled!) I just want to relax and be free to do whatever comes up.

My birthday always falls at the end of the school year so I say it's the best birthday present. But the flip side is the end of the school year is always super stressful, crazy and busy. I always tidy up the art and storage room at work, order supplies in bulk for the fall and try to finish personal to-dos as well so that when the last day of school hits I feel like I'm really on vacation. This year I added getting lessons prepped and ready for the fall and organizing lessons for all of next school year because I'll be hugely pregnant when I return in the fall; and then I'll be out on maternity leave for the middle of the school year. I think I've mentioned this before- that I never thought of myself as a planner or go-getter but I'm definitely turning into that, it turns out I'm good at it, and I like it!

So even though it added more work to the end of the year crazy, I started early and it allowed me to really get grounded for next school year and not worry about the work aspect. We'll have a new baby and that's a whole new project to learn and worry about, so having other things settled feels really great.
We're going on vacation July 1- which is basically like a huge birthday present. And I wanted to do something for myself but I didn't want it to be centered only around material goods (like my typical new shoes/bag/anthro purchases).

So this week I decided to do something small and nice for myself everyday. A little treat that I wouldn't
normally indulge in, but not something so big that I felt stressed about spending the money.

Sunday- I used my store credit at Current Boutique, a local consignment store and bought a cute little summer dress that fits over my belly!

Monday- Starbucks stop on the way to work for a decaf iced vanilla latte (my favorite) and two expensive fruit drinks (used my gift card)

Tuesday- a few new maternity tees from Old Navy

Wednesday- (my actual birthday!) Today may have to be another iced latte day...and then Chris has surprise dinner plans for us

Thursday- Pedicure

Friday- I think I'll buy a new album on itunes

Saturday- I want a new body scrub or lotion, something fresh for summer

Happy Birthday June babies!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Flourless Chocolate Cakes with Strawberry Whipped Cream

I love when I end up making a new recipe out of mistakes and what I have left in the fridge. I was trying to make my Brownies  but I didn't have enough chocolate, butter or honey. So I reduced all of those ingredients and ended up making a yummy chocolate cake. The ingredient proportions are different, and the use of bakers chocolate squares as opposed to cocoa made for a different tasting cake from my Perfect Chocolate Cake. I was really pleased with. Dare I say, I like it more!

The Strawberry Whipped Cream is about the perfect thing I've ever eaten. Simple, light but decadent with fresh, in season strawberries that taste aaaaamazing. I used real sugar (organic, fair trade, lightly processed in a compostable bag no less) because whipped creams made with honey don't set up as well or last very long. I brought these to a bbq on a hot day and didn't want them to be soggy messes when I arrived. But I know that a lot of people who follow this blog are all about the sugar and dairy free (which I mostly am!) So here are some other great toppings you may like:

Strawberry Frosting from The Urban Poser using palm shortening, arrowroot powder and coconut flour
Clementine Orange Frosting from The Spunky Coconut using clementine peel, cashews and coconut oil
Simple Meringue Frosting from Health, Home, & Happiness using honey and egg whites
Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes from Against All Grain using honey, egg whites and strawberry preserves
Coconut Whipped Cream from Oh She Glows with a tutorial

Flourless Chocolate Cakes with Strawberry Whipped Cream
makes 20

Flourless Chocolate Cakes
3 squares bakers chocolate
1/2 C (1 stick) butter
1/2 C honey (you could certainly use more if this is not sweet enough)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 C blanched almond flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

Strawberry Whipped Cream
1 pint (2 C) whipping cream
2/3 C sugar
1/2 C pureed strawberries (about 4 strawberries)

Preheat the oven to 350 and line two muffin trays with paper liners
First make the flourless chocolate cakes by combining the chocolate, butter and honey and either heating over low-heat on the stove stirring constantly, or in a microwave safe bowl in 15 second increments, stirring in between.
Let the chocolate mixture cool and add the eggs and vanilla, whisking until smooth
Add the blanched almond flour, salt and baking soda and mix to combine
Use a mini ice cream scoop and scoop twice into each paper liner (this makes 20 cakes and also makes the perfect height for a cupcake with a flat top)
Bake around 18 minutes until the tops look dry, are slightly firm to the touch but not burnt. Don't burn chocolate!
Remove from the oven and let cool completely before topping with the strawberry whipped cream or until you're ready to serve the cakes

To make the strawberry whipped cream first puree about 4 medium clean and ripe strawberries in a food processor. Wipe down the sides and puree again until they become a smooth red pulp
Measure to make sure they make 1/2 C puree and if not, puree another strawberry
Use a large metal bowl (it's even better if it's been chilled in the fridge) and add the pint of chilled whipping cream
Beat a few minutes with an electric hand mixer until the cream is becoming whipped cream consistency and wipe down the sides
Add the sugar and strawberry puree, beat a little, wipe down the sides, and beat once again until combined and thick enough to pipe though a bag
Open a large ziploc or frosting piping bag and fold down the top then scoop the topping into the bag
Cut off a small piece of the corner and pipe a little onto a plate, cut the opening larger if needed and then pipe the topping onto the cakes by swirling from the center out and then back around again
Serve these fresh or if refrigerated let them thaw 20 or so minutes to room temperature before serving
They should keep about a week in the fridge with the topping

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Yay! We're Having a Baby! Boy!

Our little baby is due at the end of October and we found out last week that it's a BOY! I wanted a girl because I'm pretty girly and calm myself, and I really wanted to buy cute dresses and bonnets and play tea party. Boys play with weapons, and get dirty, cause a ruckus and smell. But you know of course I feel so so so happy, excited and lucky to grow a little baby and to be the mother of a boy. I love the kids I teach at school and I've known them now for a few years. Seeing them grow, watching how they treat other students, and listening to how they talk with their friends has been amazing. Kids are so cute and awesome and I'll be so lucky if our child turns out anything like the kids I've known.

As for pregnancy, I'm feeling pretty even keeled and normal about it all. I don't have a lot of uncomfortable symptoms, my belly's still pretty small,  I don't feel all wacked out from hormones (yet). We'll see, of course, how I feel in the fall when I'm huge, wearing TOMS and leggings everyday and starting out the craziness of a new school year. I have started to feel him move (it's also really fun to say "him" instead of "it") and that has been pretty great.

For me, I've always wanted to have a baby and be pregnant. I think pregnancy is so amazing and weird. That a woman's body grows this tiny little thing into a real baby and then accommodates to push it out.  So crazy! I'm trying to drink enough water, get enough sleep, take a lot of walks, cuddle up with my dog, and be calm and peaceful with this thing I'm growing and generally just experience and appreciate my first pregnancy with my first baby for what it is.

Some cute and ridiculous things kids have said at school:

"Is it a girl, is it a boy, is it both!?"

They hug me goodbye and then say, "by baby". Everyday.

"Can I rub your belly?"

"I have a baby!" (meaning their younger siblings of course)

"Um, your belly's getting big, you look like you're having a baby."

And from the 5th graders, "We kind of figured. No offense but you're kind of getting bigger."

A whole Kindergarten class erupted in applause when I told them I was pregnant.

"Is it twins? My sister and I were in my Mom's belly!" (from a set of twins)

"But where is the baby?"

"The baby's really small and then it gets bigger, and then it comes out. And then your belly's still kind of big. My mom's still trying to make her belly smaller."

From a more advanced 5th grader, "Yeah...I know how the baby comes out."

I said I was really hungry and a 4th grader said, "You ate your baby!"

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Dairy Free Cinnamon Swirl Muffins (made with coconut oil and blanched almond flour)

I took a break from muffins for a bit. I was eating a lot of them and really, they're just basically little cakes. I'm back on though because they're a great nutrient dense snack and good for travel or to bring to work. I can get really hungry and gluten free pretzels, grapes or carrot sticks just DO NOT cut it some times. So I've been trying to eat muffins that have a little less sweetener and a little less fat. Sometimes the recipes I make just taste too dense or too greasy, and there's still good fats from the almond flour. So I've been using half the fat and adding water and it actually improves the batter and makes it fluffier and lighter!

You can find the first version of my Dairy Free Cinnamon Swirl Muffins here. Made with coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut flour and walnuts. For this second version I kept it a little simpler with coconut oil to keep it dairy free and just used blanched almond flour as the base. No coconut milk or coconut flour in the batter this time and no walnuts in the cinnamon swirl. There's a little less honey so they're not quite as sweet, and I used half the cinnamon which you could just double if you want a stronger flavor.

You may also like
The Best Almond Flour Cinnamon Roll Biscuits at Urban Poser

George and Juli’s Paleo Cinnamon Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread at Tasty-Yummies

Dairy Free Cinnamon Swirl Muffins (made with coconut oil and blanched almond flour)
makes 12

Muffin Batter
2 eggs
1/4 C melted coconut oil
1/4 C water
1/3 C honey
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 C blanched almond flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

Cinnamon Swirl Topping
1/4 C melted coconut oil
1/4 C honey
1 T cinnamon
2 T blanched almond flour

Preheat the oven to 350 and line a muffin tin with paper liners
First make the batter and whisk together the eggs, cooled melted coconut oil, water, honey and vanilla
Mix in the blanched almond flour, salt and baking soda
Use an ice cream scoop to fill the muffin tin
Next make the Cinnamon Swirl Topping by mixing the melted coconut oil, honey, cinnamon and blanched almond flour
Spoon the topping on top of each muffin then use a toothpick or the tip of a sharp knife to swirl the topping into the muffins
Bake 15-18 minutes and let cool a few minutes before eating or the sugary topping will be a little too hot and sticky and more of the muffin will stick to the paper liner

Monday, May 26, 2014

Spring Time Thoughts

Spring mornings where I wake up naturally sometimes at 5:30 and spring evenings where it's 8:30 and there's still some light in the sky. These are the times when I so badly want to be in a small, simple cabin in the woods or a little house in a small town where I don't hear cars or planes all day when my windows are open and there's a lot more green and old buildings than there is sidewalk, asphalt and brand new homes. 

But I don't live in the country, and I won't buy a country house/land/trailer any time soon. So I purposefully focus on the things I like about this area, my neighborhood and our little house right now. I love waking up early, having tea in our office with the window cracked and looking out at the giant tree out back every few minutes. I love that I know a lot of our neighbors and I can walk barefoot down our crooked sidewalk and sit on their lawn with them, talking about babies and dogs. I love that even though I wanted to move away after College to somewhere new and instead I came back home, this area is a great place to come back to. There are all kinds of people, all kinds of food and the ocean, the mountains and different little towns and bigger cities are just a drive away. 

From A Well Traveled Woman

When you are washing the dishes, washing the dishes must be the most important thing in your life. Just as when you are drinking tea, drinking tea must be the most important thing in your life. Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the whole world revolves—slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. Live the actual moment. Only this actual moment is life.

- Thich Nhat Hanh

It's almost time for Breaded & Fried Yellow Squash and I'm reading Nightwoods by Charles Frazier again.

never say “she works for me.” always remember that nobody works for you. they work for the job and for themselves and for a million reasons, maaaaybe if you are super awesome you are a tiny reason. but it’s always more accurate to say “we work together.”

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Nina Cake (Grain Free Yellow Cake with Classic Fudge Frosting)

This is a very special cake in my family.
One that gets made at every birthday or celebration.
It's simple, rich, delicious and brings back so many memories I don't know where to start.
My grandmother Nina would make this cake and when we'd get to the house there would be a small plate of leftover cooled frosting waiting for us.
I asked my mom to make this for my wedding rehearsal night and this year I made it to celebrate my Mom's and husband's April birthdays.
It's tricky on a two layer round cake and to be honest, when I make it again, I'll probably just keep it simple on a single layer rectangle cake still in the pan with this frosting poured over. It's so much easier! But if you are bold and love layer cakes like I do, then I've included directions at the end of the post with tips on how to frost the cake.

Kneadtomake cakes with modern designs, all natural ingredients and fresh flowers
My Strawberry & Lemon Curd Cupcakes  with another grain free vanilla cake recipe
My Dairy Free Ganache on Cupcakes  with a vegan chocolate frosting (it's thinner than this fudge frosting)
My Strawberry Buttercream Chocolate Layer Cake with a grain free chocolate cake recipe
And I used this recipe for Moist Yellow Cake from Bakerella and changed it to be gluten, grain and sugar free

Nina Cake (Grain Free Yellow Cake with Classic Fudge Frosting)
serves 12
You will need:
Sauce Pan
Metal Whisk
Two 9" circle cake pans
8" Parchment circles
8" cardboard cake rounds 
Offset spatula or knife

Serrated knife for trimming

Grain Free Yellow Cake
1 C (2 sticks) butter room temp
1 C honey
4 eggs room temp
1 T vanilla
3 C blanched almond flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

Butter two 9" cake pans and coat in a dusting of almond flour and/or line with parchment paper
Whisk the butter, honey, eggs and vanilla
In a separate bowl mix the blanched almond flour, salt and baking soda
Mix the dry ingredients into the wet and blend thoroughly
Pour into the two prepared cake pans
Hold the pans and carefully drop from a few inches onto the counter to release any air bubbles
Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and not jiggly in the center
Remove from the oven and let cool in the pans 15 minutes
Run a knife around the edges and gently shake the pans, repeating this until the whole cake feels like it's lose
Then remove from the pans and cool on a wire rack until completely cooled
(this is a dense cake so the rack may make marks in the cake)

Classic Fudge Frosting
(double batch)
18 T cocoa or 6 squares unsweetened bakers chocolate
2/3 C milk
3 C sugar
1 C (2 sticks) butter
2 tsp vanilla

Place all ingredients in a sauce pan and melt over medium-low heat, stirring constantly so the bottom does not burn
Bring to a boil and then boil two minutes, stirring constantly (this is dangerous as it's boiling sugar, be very careful!)
Remove from heat and whisk for 15 minutes so the frosting begins to set and gets thicker

Have the cakes ready and place the bottom later on a flat plate/tray or cardboard cake circle
Pour a good bit of the frosting on top for a center layer, spread out to almost the edges
Place the second cake layer on top and quickly trim the edges with a serrated knife to make the sides as even as possible (I use a small steak knife. If you want to, save the scraps in a bowl and cover with the leftover frosting for dump cake!)
Now here comes the tricky part- frosting the cake with gooey fudge frosting.
First make a crumb coat by scooping up frosting with a knife and spreading on the side of the cake, wipe the knife on a separate bowl so that no crumbs go back in the frosting. Repeat until all of the cake sides are frosted.
Then pour frosting on top so that there's excess
Spread with a knife from the center to the edges so the frosting starts to cascade over the edges
Smooth the edges with a clean knife (no crumbs) as you go and repeat until the sides are covered
Add more frosting at the top if it seems a little thin and spread out evenly
Then use the tip of your knife and along the bottom of the cake, wipe up any frosting that has spilled onto the plate
The frosting should be solidifying a little more now so once you clean up the excess the rest of the frosting should stay on the cake
Place in the fridge to set the whole cake 

Friday, May 9, 2014

My Dream Bakery

My dream bakery would be open 10-4, small and cozy, with a mix of rustic, sweet and modern. The space, atmosphere and attitude would be low-key, welcoming and not fussy. My friends would come by to visit or work a few shifts and I'd sell some artwork, teach small fun baking classes and drink green smoothies any time I wanted. My baked goods would be just like this blog's recipes- grain free, natural sweeteners, local farm butter and eggs and we'd use seasonal fruits from the farmer's market. I'd make pies, cakes, muffins, treats, cookies and donuts, definitely donuts.

I visit bakeries everywhere I go and I think the feel of the place is so important. You're selling delicious baked goods that make people happy or fill them with nostalgia. The people working there and the look of the place have a huge impact on the overall enjoyment and I want mine to be kind and inviting. I love these bakeries and shops below for their style, the simple design, rustic qualities and eclectic nature.

(I know it's not a bakery, but I love the mix of vintage, handmade and pops of current design)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Clarity, Part 2

In a recent post, Clarity, Part 1 I wrote about finding clarity in all of my ideas, how to make them real, letting go and asking why. I really had to think hard about each facet and right now I think letting go is the hardest part. Because letting go means you're consciously deciding to move on from something that you like, is important to you, or even something that defined you. And it means that you're trusting the thing you're committing to is worth it, even if it's not a guarantee. 

I've always had lots of ideas and I've always loved to make things with my hands. I was really artsy and crafty since I was little- I had a tiny little art desk in my Dad's basement office and he still has all of my childhood drawings up on his wall. Art came to me naturally and I realize now that I liked doing a lot of different things because I wanted to learn how to do them. I never just focused on one thing, I learned how to do it- like beaded necklaces, and then I got good at it, which is why there's still a giant pile of old necklaces I made hanging in my art cabinet at home. But then I moved on to something else that interested me. In adulthood that's translated nicely into teaching elementary art because I like kids, I'm good with kids and you have to teach a wide variety of projects and subject matter. 
On the artistic side of things, it didn't translate so well. I opened a bunch of Etsy shops, tried out craft shows, overbought materials and then ended up selling them on craigslist or just donating them. It's taken me many years to understand that if I were to be a full-time artist or craftsperson I'd have to figure out something I could make repeatedly and still love both the process and the products I'm selling. For now that's my painted canvases which are working for me because I have a set medium and style and I can explore the imagery within those constraints. However I have to say that once I committed to focusing just on those paintings- the thought of doing it full time was daunting. I can't give artwork up completely, there's something very special about having an idea, seeing it through to the end and creating something from nothing with your own ideas. But for now I think it's a hobby and I'm okay with that (two weeks ago I wasn't but now I think I am...) Maybe one day I'll want to go back to artwork as my main focus and create a fabric and paper goods line like I've always wanted, but that has to be on the back burner for a while and that's okay too.
Gluten free baking actually fits with my preference for learning new things, conquering them and then creating new recipes that taste great and fit within a few constraints. I've always loved to cook and I didn't start baking a lot until Celiac disease came along. Then I went into it full force because I wanted to know what it was all about and because I couldn't find what I wanted in the stores. What's most important to me now and what I need to commit to in order for it to really happen is opening a gluten free bakery. Maybe I bake from home, rent a kitchen space, sell wholesale or at farmer's markets and eventually open an actual storefront. But it's what I want and I have to let go of other things that take time away from making the bakery happen. 

It's hard for me to let go of pursuing a career in the arts because I've always self-identified as artistic. But I also think that growth and change are good and I love the unknowns of life. I want to embrace the idea that I can't perfectly plan out my life and that I can take these different paths with optimism and courage. So,

I'm letting go of teaching art- I'll still teach for a while and maybe then I'll go part-time. But I know I'm ready to move on.

I'm letting go of teaching private art lessons and summer art classes- for an art teacher this seems like the smartest and most obvious way to earn extra income on the side. But at the end of the day, I don't want to be doing the exact same thing I've done all day and in the summer I want to explore something new. When I sit down and envision myself running out right now to teach a lesson, I just don't really want to do it. 

I'm letting go of crafty/diy projects- There are some amazing ideas out there. But let me tell you, they always take more materials, more labor, more time and more money than I originally expect and lately the projects I've done have not really been worth the money, effort or time and on top of that they've turned out kind of crappy. Let someone else refinish the vintage dresser and I'll pay the money because I know how much time, money and effort it took. 

I'm letting go of making all my food from scratch and eating totally Paleo- I felt SO GOOD when I followed the SCD and GAPS diets, I've written a lot about it here on this blog and I even started this blog based on my experience. But working a full time job and painting, baking and blogging on the side leaves very little time to make your own ketchup, yogurt, breads and basically everything. I'm not against that way of eating, I would LOVE to eat that way consistently. But I think I've found that what I need is to stress less about the food we eat and that I need to make more time for other things. I'll still eat all natural, lower carb and as little processed sugar as possible, and I'll definitely still eat my baked goods with almond flour and honey, but sometimes a girl just needs some Indian Buffet, Pho and buttercream frosting

I'm letting go of selling vintage things on Etsy- I love me a good thrift store find- fur and leather vintage boots hand-made in Italy for $8? Amazing! But I have a good couple of boxes that have just been sitting in our basement full of stuff waiting to be sold and just like crafty/diy projects, doing the work to photograph, list and sell those goodies takes time and effort. And I need to be using my time for other things at this point. So good bye beautiful milk glass vases, good bye.

I'm letting go of artwork as a main focus, as mentioned above.

I've taught long enough now that I'm ready for a change and I'm ready to explore something new. I want to develop a new side of me, learn the ins and outs of a new business/job/career and support my passions. I want to make a living from doing the things I love! That means making money and choosing the projects that will be successful but that I also enjoy. 

Which is a gluten free bakery. I'm passionate about it, it offers enough variety that I won't get bored and I'm sure it will keep me on my toes and out of all of my ideas, it makes the most financial sense as a business. So to make it real I'm researching business plans (, home bakeries (which are regulated by the Department of Agriculture), rental kitchens, farmer's markets and I even spoke with a commercial real estate agent about the cost of renting a space in my preferred neighborhood (it was too much and caused me to freak out and give up for a couple of months). I've also written out all of my possible ideas and scenarios on paper (what some call a "brain dump") and then organized everything in Google Drive. I tend to get really excited and have lots of ideas about something in the beginning, and then when I have to take the next steps to figure out how to actually make it real and if I really want it, that's where I get a little stalled. So the writing out and organizing of everything has helped because it allows me to be excited but also to stay focused.

I want to be happy and live the life I want
I want to make things I enjoy and do the things I love 
I want to be myself, show my style and not conform (more tattoos people!)
I want to put valuable things into the world
want to make people happy
I want to be around my future babies and dog more often
I want to get fresh air, go outside and see the sunshine more than just in the morning and evening
I want to be creative and make things
I want to be around stylish things and eat really yummy food!

So, there is all is for ya. What are your things, what do you want and what are you willing to let go of?