Dairy-free Lemon Creme with Oat-Thyme Crumble


This post comes to you today from the great state of Maine. I’m most likely on a boat without Internet. This is most likely driving me crazy…because I have a problem. I’m on a vacation, which makes me feel wonderful and guilty all at the same time. It’s my Catholic blood, it doesn’t let me relax without hints of guilt… which is probably why I’m writing this blog post from my dang phone. Again… I have a problem.


We really need to talk about this pudding. No. It can’t wait. It’s made from tofu and it’s mondo-mega good. Good like… a dude who loves fried chicken, steak, and ice cream would totally eat a whole batch without ever knowing he just ate a bunch of tofu.  Dude proof tofu. No joke.

That good.

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Notes to Self: Part Four


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. 

Short Version:  Everyone is as scared as you are.  If they’re not, they’re just faking it.   Chill.

Long Version:  Sometimes you lose yourself.  It happens more easily than you’d like.  You enter a situation on your own, and you just don’t feel as confident as you should.  It’s silly, really… but it’s real.  Forgetting your confident coat is like running out of the house without your bra on… and you really need a bra.  You’re over 30.  The time for free-form experimentation is long over.

Sometimes it’s superficial.  You’re not wearing the right shoes.  The top you chose rides up in the back (wwwhhhyyy!?).  You don’t accessorize well.  Your car is too dirty to valet.  Ooooh the list of reasons why you’re not good enough and why everyone is cooler, more prepared, and less scared could go on for centuries, leaving you feeling iffy-at-best going into social situations.

Sometimes it’s brainy.  You haven’t read the correct books, and you don’t quote the New Yorker.  You’ve got a good arsenal of Far Side comics committed to memory, but that doesn’t really fuel a political discussion.  Wait… remember the Far Side where the moose has a bull’s-eye tattoo?  I think the caption is something like “bummer birthmark, Fred.”  So there’s that.  When ‘bummer birthmark, Fred” is the only thing that comes to mind in a serious literary conversation… that’s when the terror sets in.  Why is everyone smarter than us!?

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Roasted Plums with olive oil, thyme & yogurt


On the long list of things that complete me are the following:



My sisters.

Unsweetened, too creamy coffee.


and things that I can’t ruin (yea… generally speaking).

It’s Monday.  Sometimes Mondays are stupid with their challenges (ie: getting the heck out of bed), and I just need to embark on a task that I know I can’t futz up.  Roasting fruit is absolutely my go-to no-futz maneuver.  It’s all about starting with something already delicious, adding to its delicious, then toasting it in the oven.  I really can’t go wrong.  It’s summer Monday perfect…. especially if you add coffee and granola (just sayin’).

Tomorrow can I bring you a Notes to Self: Part Four?  I need to tell you how I’m afraid of everything… (but so is everyone else).

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No-Knead Whole Wheat Pizza with Corn, Hatch Chile & Bacon


Give me just the hint of an excuse, just a whisper of a reason, just an inkling of gesture, and I’ll find a reason to politely and quietly back out of social plans that involve more than four people I don’t know.  I have some rock solid excuses for coyly excusing myself from social situations where I will, no doubt, be awkward and weird.

Excuse number one:  traffic.  I live on the other side of town and you know it will take me approximately two days and 4 hours to get to that restaurant.  Nevermind that I live on the other side of town on purpose.

Number two:  my cat.  I actually don’t know why this is an excuse.  I should generally want to get away from the creature that is constantly hunting my shins.

Excuse number three:  pizza.  Ooooh.  I wish you would have called earlier.  I just took a pizza out of the oven and I’m going to eat it all, all all all all.  Eat it all.  I didn’t even have to knead the dough.  I’m totally going to eat it all.

Um… I sound so unkind and unsharing.  Really I’m just awkward (and I like pizza) (and I’m not very good at sharing).

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Back to School Giveaway


UPDATE!  We have a winner!!  Katherine of Miceli Fitness!  You won the Back to School Giveaway.  Thanks for being lovely!

It’s time for a treat!

I’m moving towards September kicking and screaming.  I’ve been moving towards September kicking and screaming ever since I realized that the first day of school is completely bunk.  On the first day of school, my mind was always a mishmash of… Which pair of overalls am I going to wear?  Where is my dang locker?  I’m really not fit for this AP Biology class!  Someone tell me why all my girlfriends are making out with boys this year!  I can’t go out tonight,I’m watching X-Files alone in the dark.  Seriously, it’s cool.

I was a late bloomer.  I got cooler in my early thirties (um… this year).  By cooler I mean that I’ll wear slippers at the grocery store if I dang-well want to.

Thank goodness my school days are over.  There’s still something about September that gives me the jitters.  The tides are changing to Fall.  Let’s work with the change.  Let’s treat ourselves.

I want to send you a box of some of my favorite things.

I wrote a cookbook and I totally want you to have it!  The Joy the Baker Cookbook is in the gift box!

We’re going to need some actual school supplies:  fancy pencils, clever and colorful Washi Tape, a planner for your plans, hello hello bookmark tabs, and a capsule letter.

Oh!  And Mentos.  Yea…

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What to Do with Leftover Herbs


I have a real problem with leftovers.  If they’re contained and refrigerated for more than a night… I am generally more than pleased to forget they’ve ever existed.  Actually… I should say that I do have patience for sexy leftovers.  Sexy leftovers I’m inclined to, not only not forget about, but to wake up in the middle of the night to snack on.

Sexy leftover include pizza, lasagna, and basically anything else Garfield that Cat might consume in excess.

Beyond the weird amounts of brown rice and salsa I have  lazing around in my fridge, I sometimes have a shameful amount of fresh herbs wilting away, asking for forgiveness and such.  I feel so guilty wasting these herbs that I’ve taken a stand, put my foot down, and busted out my olive oil.

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Sixteen Things To Do When You’re Bored

to do if you're bored

Watch as Stevie Nicks is more awesome than us all in this 1981 demo of Wild Heart.  Gah!  Sing my life why don’t you!? SING!

Read this smart writing on blogging by Helen Jane.

Listen to a Podcast.  I have one you might like.  It’s called the Joy the Baker Podcast with my friend Tracy from Shutterbean.  It’s not a big deal… but it kinda is.

Put a bunch of weird stuff on Etsy.  I’m smitten with this print.

Thought Catalog.  Get obsessed.  It’s full of thoughtful articles like this one:  I’m Sick of Summer.  The thoughts and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily express the true feelings of the linker.

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Dark Chocolate, Pistachio & Smoked Sea Salt Cookies


I was going to start this post by saying ‘Please please don’t hug my back fat.   There’s this area on my back that you have no business squeezing, sir.  That side hug and subsequent finger clench was awkward for both of us’… but that seemed like an pretty tense way to kick things off around here.

I was going to talk about how I’m listening to entirely too much hip hop lately because all I can think about is champagne,VIP, and all the ladies that love me. It feels like talking about hip hop is like talking about Fight Club.  Not ok.   Plus… just saying the words ‘hip hop’ make me feel like a grandma wearing her baseball cap backwards.

Ok… Next!  What should we discuss?

YOLO?  Is it too late to talk about that?  …if you have to ask.  yes. 

Should I write about how sometimes I think my blog would be more popular if I were engaged or pregnant?  Should I write about how that thought makes me want to run full throttle into a wall?  Probably not.  That’s a little hot-button for these parts.  Those are just my weirdo backbrain thoughts anyhow… I know you’re mostly stoked to be here regardless of my… status (is that the right word?).

Should I write about how Pinterest sometimes stresses me… Oh nevermind!

Let’s just cookie.

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Tomato Zucchini Soup



Soup in August.  I know this is weird.

Soup is my de-stresser.

Ok… to be fair pancakes (especially the chocolate chip variety) are also my de-stresser.  I find cheeseburgers to be a wonderful distraction.  Peanut Butter Cookies rock my de-stressed world.  But… focus, Joy!  Soup is my de-stresser.  It’s the chopping and stirring, chopping and stirring.

I made a big batch of soup late last week.  I felt like I needed to stand in front of a pot, stir chunky vegetables around, and let my mind deflate and wander.  The result:  delicious soup that’s warm and hearty here in the dog days of summer.  Should you want a more summer-y experience, might I suggest stirring a bowl of ice cream with a spoon until it reaches near soup consistency…. then scarfing it down like a maniac.  That’s also totally therapeutic.

I needed to stand and stir.  I didn’t need to stand over my chopped and simmering with a camera.  Let’s just let this be what it is.  It’s Monday and…  dangit, today we are who we are.

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I Accidentally Saw a Picture of You


I accidentally saw a picture of you because you are still a friend of a friend of the Internet.

It was a picture of a party with the appropriate amount of cool people in hip glasses… and a dude in a Paris, France t-shirt.  I didn’t know that Paris made shirts.

In this photograph, people are mid-conversation, their mouths shaped with what are surely interesting words.  One man stands awkwardly in his beard choice.  Old friends embrace center frame, most sincerely, with open clenched hands and softly closed eyes.

You stand in the back, slightly off-center, the only one looking at the camera.  You have that half-smile I recognize.  The one between pleasure and obligation.   You’re wearing your shirt the way you did… and do… down to the third button (or is that the two and a halfth button?).  You look comfortable and relaxed, with just the most tender amount of self-doubt.

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Fig, Apricot & Mascarpone Tart


In general.  In life.  If you ask me to be somewhere… I’m either 10 minutes early or 15 minutes late.  If I’m 10 minutes early, I surely have arrived having forgotten both lip gloss and deodorant.  If I’m 15 minutes late, at least I smell fresh while I apologize for disrespecting your time.  I can’t seem to figure out how to be on time.  It’s a terrible quality. I know… ugh.  I have no excuse.  I know.

With this tart… praise God… for once in my life I was right on time.  This darling is the perfect marriage of fresh figs and summer apricots.  It’s a mash of the current season.  It feels indulgent and expensive. Aaaannndd it’s dang timely! It makes me feel like the wonderfully flawed and tardy adult that I really am.

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Notes to Self: Part Three


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. 

SWITCH IT UP!  We’re more than half way through the year and one thing is certain… I’m most excellent at sticking myself is a happy-go-lucky-comfortable-RUT!  Seriously, Joy… your routine has become 100% routine, and I mean that in the most uncharming way possible  Even your cat is bored with your morning tea, afternoon doldrums, and evening Real Housewives.

Halfway through the year.  Dang more than halfway through the year.

This isn’t about big goals or lofty resolutions… it’s more about the day to day.  Switch things up.  Get out in the world and try your best to see it differently.  YeaYeaYea… see things differently.  Be more present.  Downward dog, yadda yadda yadda.  But how do you actually make this happen?

Step One (of several):  wake yo ass up early and get going!


Step Two:  Do notnotnot checking your email from bed.  It’s a trap.

Step Three:  Get out.  Treat yourself to a fancy coffee from a cute barista in suspenders.  Write.

Step Four:  Write anything.  Write about your dreams.  Write about how you can’t go to the laundromat too early on Thursday mornings because that creep dude with one eye is always there… giving you the eye (no pun, real life)… and you can’t seem to get through a load without dropping a pair of your incidentals on the laundromat floor.  Write about how you have nothing to write about but the creep dude from the laundromat.  It’s an exercise.  No judgements here.

Switch it up.  Let’s go!

Notes to Self:

Part Two:  You’re Allowed

Part One:  Be Bold

Strawberry Raspberry Vanilla Quick Jam


strawberry raspberry quick jam

Whoa, you guys… whoa.  I thought we were friends.  Why didn’t anyone tell me we were all wearing slimming shapewear now?  You know… those Spanx-y, waist cinch-y, butt lift-y, tummy slimming undergarments.  Why didn’t you tell me!?  This is on par with not telling me that I have lipstick on my chin, spinach in my teeth, and naturally that… my fly is down.

I’ve been marveling at your tiny waists and tucked in bellies.  Seriously.  You’re looking completely major.  I actually just wondered how you hold your breath for so long.  I know how to suck and tuck it in… but come on… I have my moments when I actually have to breathe.

Can we just… can we stay on the same page?  If you’re in awesome Spanx-y, cinch-y land… can you just let me know?  Don’t leave a good girl behind.

strawberry raspberry quick jam

Since everyone is wearing shapewear and not telling be about it, I made a simple and earnest quick jam.  Ok… so the two things have nothing at all to do with one another.  I was just trying to lay a guilt trip on you.

This is a quick jam because it hasn’t gone through the traditional canning process.  The process that involves boiling fruit and glass?  Yea… I didn’t do that.

There is a wonderfully lovely blog that specializes in boiling fruit and glass called Food in Jars.

Maybe I’ll get into canning one day.  Intellectually I understand the benefits.  Boiling glass makes me nervous… there, I said it.

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Banana, Walnut & Chocolate Cookie Cake


Sometimes I am a destroyer of myself.  It’s the strangest thing… aren’t we designed to self-preserve?  It feels like the most bonkers counter-intuitive part of me.  My destroyer-self  has tendencies.  Tendencies are so annoying.  Tendencies like, oh… I dunno… drinking way too much wine under stress or duress.  Tendencies like… telling lies that need not be told.  Tendencies like… believing the demon inside… the ones that say that I’m never ever good enough so why even try.

Gosh these tendencies.  Dang them!  They’re tough.  They travel in packs in me and I end up in a cycle where I’m not doing myself, or anyone around me any good at all.


Is this too real?  Is this just me?  It can’t be.  I can’t be the only destroyer.

Thank goodness there are tools.  My tools of prevention include: brunch with a best friend, a super honest conversation with a stranger (taxi drivers are wonderful for this), words on the Lord, and the sharing of a cookie cake.

Let kindness prevail inside and out.

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