Lemon Blueberry Poppy Seed Muffins


Have you ever had one of those days where you’re driving along, battling traffic, trying to let Kelly Clarkson lull you away from outright rage… and it’s totally not working… and you’re about 4.7 seconds away from deliberately smashing your car into the Porsche in front of you?  You’ve probably never had one of those days.  You’re a better human than me.

If you are familiar with these sorts of days, the solution would look something like this: abruptly pull your car over into a shopping mall, buy yourself a cheap maxi dress, change into new dress in the car, walk to a drugstore, paint your nails in the cosmetic section, purchase a package of Peanut Butter M&Ms and a purple juice for a homeless dude, walk back to your car, put on fresh lipstick, and carry on.


 Can this be the only traffic jam I encounter for a bit?  A cluster of lemon, poppy seeds, and blueberries… less Porsche, more butter.

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Brown Sugar: Pack It!



Let’s talk about brown sugar!  It’s easily one of my favorite baking staples.  It’s deep, sweet, and utterly lovely.

Commercially produced brown sugar (the kind most of us probably buy) is a mixture of granulated sugar (from canes or beets) and molasses.

Wait… do you know how brown sugar is made?  Unrefined sugar is stripped down to bare bones sugar crystals.  Two things are created in this process:  granulated sugar and molasses.  Did you know that molasses is a by-product of the sugar-making process?  Pretty cool, I think.

Molasses is then added back to the processed granulated sugar to create Light Brown Sugar and Dark Brown Sugar.  Light Brown sugar has less molasses than Dark Brown Sugar… makes sense, right?

You probably have granulated sugar and molasses on hand.  You can totally make your own brown sugar!  It’s a thing.  It’s a total lifesaver.

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Notes to Self: part two

My Notes 1, page 26

so continues the series on Joy the Baker.  I make notes to myself.   How to live.   How not to live… and how it’s ok if I burn the cookies.  

YOU’RE ALLOWED a maximum of one freak-out per month.  After said freak-out, get it together… call your mom, text your sister, walk it off, dance it out, massage it away, buy a new lipstick, fax your accountant, write your grandmother, and eat as many Tootsie Rolls as necessary.

Exceptions include:  the nine months of pregnancy, tax season, and any month that contains one or more days of jury duty.

Part One:  Be Bold

Watermelon, Feta & Mint Salad

Screen shot 2012-06-24 at 6.37.19 PM


Let’s get out there!

There’s a whole lotta living to be done out in this gorgeous world.

When there’s lots of living to be done outdoors… that typically means that kitchen time is at a minimum.  Sunshine, sandals and cocktails is the zone.  Next to the stove… not ideal unless your stove is outdoors next to the sandal and cocktail people.

Incidentally… you might want to perfect your summer cough now.  I’m not suggesting that you call in sick on a Friday and make your very own three day weekend.  That would be totally irresponsible.  But, well… those summer coughs can get nasty and I’m pretty sure the only cure is picnicking and wave rushing.


… I’m just sayin’.

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Peach Cobbler Scones



I woke up needing the comfort only provided by morning carbs and a pre-noon nap.  Carbs can be a standard morning happening, but Thursday morning naps are probably considered illegal.

I think summer vacation is trying to take root in my brain.  I want to sleep in, wear jean shorts, smell like sunscreen, get grass stains on my clothes, put lemon in my hair, and eat peaches in excess.

Oooh summer… I can’t indulge the nap, but I will indulge in the jean shorts, carbs, and peaches.

These breakfast treats are basically Peach and Scone Sandwiches!  Whatever ‘I still have work to do because I’m totally not a kid on summer vacation’ problems we might have… these are the solution.

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BLT Corn Salad Wraps



My Mom would always say “well if (insert childhood friend’s name here) jumped off a bridge, would you jump off the bridge too?”

No Mom… I wouldn’t.  Unless I had some sort of bungee cord and a survival guarantee.  I mean… duh.  But if (insert childhood friend’s name here) is going to pierce her ears, and dye part of her hair bright blue… well heck YES, I want to do it too!

Why couldn’t the question have been more like “well if Tracy made a delicious corn salad, would you make a corn salad too?” The answer:  oooooh yes!  And let’s dye our hair tips blue while we’re at it!


This corn salad is summer amplified.

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Buttermilk Pancake Mix Presents



I’ll just come right out and say it:  I’m an excellent houseguest.

I usually come with an edible treat that usually involves butter and sugar.  Heck… I’ll even bring a pink box of doughnuts and champagne if the mood strikes me.

If I don’t have anything edible in tow, rest assured that I come bearing The Gift of the Dance… meaning that I’ll shake my groove thing all over the house (this may or may not involve a cartwheel or two).

My most recent houseguest happyplace is this homemade pancake mix.  Naturally, it has dark chocolate chips in it.  All that’s required is that there be an egg, butter, and buttermilk in the house.

If you let me sleep over… I’ll probably even make these for you.  If you feed me mimosas, I might even do the dishes.

Can I come over?


I found some old diner-style sugar shakers to hold the pancake mix.  I totally found these suckers at the dollar store.  So many bizarre treasures at the dollar store.  I decorated the jars simply with some brown packing paper and twine.

The handwritten recipe is included.

Inspire breakfast!

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Maple Blueberry Syrup


This blueberry syrup was inspired by… living!

This blueberry syrup was inspired by surprise sunny afternoons in Washington state.  This sweet syrup was inspired by cart wheels in the grass… when you think you might be too old for cartwheels anywhere.  It’s inspired by neighbor horses, nephew cats, and ferry boat rides.  It is inspired by a Sunday afternoon visit to Vashon Island to see Gluten-free Girl and the Chef… we shared a meal, fed a horse, and entertained each other by dancing the the grass like stone-cold maniacs.  It felt just like sweet sweet summer.

seattle 2012

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Why Use Parchment Paper?



There’s always a certain amount of chaos in my kitchen.

The oven is screamin’ hot.  There are egg yolks in the egg whites.  Flour : Everywhere.  I have an 8-inch round pan, a 9×13-inch pan, a burnt saute pan from Ikea, and a wooden spoon….and now I need a special spring-form pan just for a cheesecake!?  Yea…

Also… there’s flour everywhere.  A cat, too.  The cat, however, is medium normal.

There is something that can ease my chaos.  Ok… there are a lot of things that can ease the chaos:  a dishwasher and a kitchen assistant, for starters.  But I’m thinking of something that costs far far less… parchment paper!

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Ginger Walnut Chocolate Blondies



This is proof that I’m stubborn.  This is proof that I believe in myself.  This is proof that I’ll keep trying.  This is proof that I have a sweet tooth that just won’t quit.  This is proof that I want to throw the entire kitchen sink into an 8-inch square pan.

I once had a real problem with Blondie Brownies.  The main problem … the big, embarrassing elephant in the room was simple:  I couldn’t make a good Blondie to save my life.  I’ve failed with so many greasy Blondie messes.

It was always Brunette (brownie) for life.

But I LOVE Blondie Brownies.  LOVE with my heart.  Blondie Brownies are like chocolate chip cookies, in bar form.  Adding chocolate and walnuts is a natural and highly advised choice.


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Summer Love

summer love

Are you ready for a summer love?

Let’s get our feet in the grass, our shoulders in the sun, our laughter in the air.  There is no time like the present!  It’s time to SHINE!

I’m armed with a loose knit summer sweater, a color-pop swim suit, some bonkers lipstick, and a handful of beautiful summer recipes (like these Lemon Raspberry Breakfast Rolls).  Let’s make this summer living look effortlessly beautiful… even though I totally just spent an entire 7 minutes and 45 seconds putting on lipstick.  No bigs.  Let a lady live.


I dream of this view at Christmas time.  I really do.

This living is good living, indeed.


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How to Make: a Cake Banner



Over the past four years, there have been exactly 776 things that I’ve blogged about.

There’s the obvious:  mushroom biscuits, strawberries, and doughnuts.  I’ve shown you a craft or two, and a few of my life essentials.

But… the one thing I don’t get my blog on about is my birthday cake.

It’s bad enough that I have to make my own birthday cake (mostly because I’m a slight control freak)… it’s just not a thing I want to turn into photo editing and uploading and.. well, some things are just for eating.

This year’s birthday was spent in Palm Springs, California with friends, champagne, a heated pool, some floppy hats, soooo many hot dogs, some really competitive card games, and and and… I made a little paper decoration for the birthday cake!

It’s so easy.  You’ll feel so crafty.  Major satisfaction.

I’ll show you how!

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