Banana Cake

Planning parties is one of my favorite things to do. It can sometimes feel like a lot of work, but that doesn’t seem to take the joy out of it for me. It is probably because the fun of being at the party and seeing people come together to celebrate is worth any amount of hard work and time that goes into it. The post-party chaos where it takes a couple of days to get the house back into order is also a favorite of mine. It is evidence that a good time was had, and I am always a little sad to clean it all up. I want the celebration to last just a little while longer.

I don’t particularly know where this love of having parties came from, but I can tell you that over the years the parties we throw as a family have become increasingly more elaborate. I love being in charge, so making sure all of the details come together is sort of my job. Or at least I just take over and make sure everything I want to happen gets done! When planning a party these are the steps I take:

1. Theme

2. Food

3. Decoration

4. Activities.

The most recent party we threw as a family was a birthday party for a dear family friend, David. The theme was “Death Row.” Because of this theme every person was responsible for bringing a part of what their last meal would be if they were on death row. We ended up with the best potluck I have ever had! The food included: biscuits and gravy, egg rolls, hamburgers, lemon bars, tacos, berries, macaroni and cheese, and Naga Curry- a spicy soup. For dessert, David got to choose what we would have. He chose banana cake with cream cheese frosting. I had only made a banana cake one other time before. My friend, Holly, and I made it for her daughter who was turning one. We combined a few different recipes to make it how we wanted it, which was low in processed sugar for the sweet little one year old. It ends up that this cake only has ½ cup of brown sugar and some honey for sweetness. This time when I made the banana cake, the cream cheese frosting definitely added some of that sugar back in. However, it was still a delicious cake and wasn’t overly sweet at all.

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The food for this party was easy because it was a potluck, so there was more time to think about decorations. We found black and white streamers, balloons, plates, and napkins all to go with our prison theme. On one wall of our house we posted pictures of everyone that looked like they could be potential mug shots. We searched Facebook and through old photos to find pictures of everyone.

At the party, we also wanted a photo booth to take mug shots of all of the guests, so we bought a black and white striped backdrop. We came up with crimes that each person might get locked away for and had everyone pose for their mug shot. I have an Instax Mini 9 Camera, which prints out Polaroid like pictures instantly. It is always fun to have it at parties and people can leave with their photos.

Parties can be really elaborate, but they don’t have to be. I think what is more important than planning decorations and themes is to simply have people come together. Don’t worry about the food. Have it be a potluck. Don’t worry about what you will do once everyone comes together. Get to know one another and ask questions. In the digital age we live in, I believe it is so important to continue to have face-to-face relationships and make time to spend with one another in person. Now, go gather some people and celebrate life!

Jewish Apple Cake

I have been reading Savor, a book of devotions by Shauna Niequist the past few days. Oh my goodness! Have you ever picked up a devotional book, turned to that day’s date, and it was exactly what you needed to hear? Well, that is what it was like for me a few days ago.

I had been sick for two weeks since getting back from a mission trip to Tijuana, Mexico with 80 high school students. I was feeling so frustrated that my body was still exhausted from this trip. The first devotion I read from Savor talked about giving yourself permission to be tired, and the second posed the question, “Where do I place my worth?”

I have long known that I put my worth in how much I can accomplish. I was proud to be the girl in college who worked two jobs and did an internship her senior year. It felt good to be able to juggle so many schedules and still stay afloat. Fast-forward a few years to the girl who only works 20 hours a week and is extremely insecure about the fact that I feel like I am not doing enough. I diligently fill my schedule with things, so that from the outside I look busy. I look like I am doing enough. I want people to think I am good enough, but I am exhausted of trying to prove myself.

This is the problem with placing your worth in what you can do and accomplish. Sure it feels good when there is a lot going on and you’re managing it, but what happens when that thing you’ve been placing your worth in goes away? You are left empty and tired and insecure.

I need to give myself permission to not do anything and realize that my worth does not change because of that.

I need to give myself permission to be tired.

I need to give myself permission to rest and be ok with the fact that I need it.

This is so hard for me to learn, and I feel like I constantly come back to wrestling with rest. If you are reading this and you relate to these feelings, I hope you know deep down that you are enough. You don’t need to prove yourself with all the things you can accomplish. You are worthy and are a beautiful child of God. He is not looking to see how much you can do. He looks down on you with eyes of love for the child that He has created exactly as you are. Today, give yourself some rest and the permission to be tired.

This week my life seems to be back to normal. My body has been able to wake up early and get back into my morning routine. I have energy again and felt excited to bake a Jewish Apple Cake yesterday morning. This cake is a Pennsylvania Dutch recipe. My grandparents were from Pennsylvania, and I wonder if this is why I love this recipe so much. As I made the cake, the world seemed to make sense again as I mixed the ingredients, cut the apples, layered it into a Bundt pan, and watched it cook in the oven. I cut myself a piece and was able to slowly enjoy it with my cup of coffee. I hate being sick. It is literally the worst, but I am grateful it forces me to rest. To stop the busyness and remember that I am still valuable and worthy even when I am stuck in bed and unable to do the things I want to do.

With Love,

Callie

This post was inspired by Savor, Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are by Shauna Niequist.

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BAYkery Tour

This post is long overdue! I actually just found the draft I had written right after coming back from my weekend trip to Oakland, CA back in February for a BAYkery tour. My best friend since 2nd grade lives in Oakland, and she spent the weekend showing me lots of bakeries in the Bay area. Hence, the clever name: BAYkery Tour. I cannot take credit for that. That was all Hannah!

Originally this blog post was a detailed description of all the bakeries I went to and what I ate, which could be fun for some of you to read, but I decided that wasn’t what was most important about the trip. What I took away from this trip the most was how good it is to have people in your life who support you. Hannah has been an incredibly supportive friend and has 100% confidence that I will open a storefront some day. I need people like this in my life because when I stop believing my dream could be a reality I just have to call her and she gets me back on track. Hannah has spent hours with me brainstorming how to make my business better. She helped me put together a plan for the coming year of what I want to do and where I want to see my bakery go. It is helpful that Hannah has known me as long as she has. She knows a lot of my insecurities and doubts, so she can easily address these and encourage me to keep moving forward. The fact that she gave up a weekend to take me around her city and help me research what I want to do in my bakery was such an act of love.

Another special thing about this trip was just seeing all of the bakeries that were operating. It really gave me hope that my dream can be a reality. A lot of the things I tasted were amazing, but I also felt really excited that I enjoy my baked goods just as much. I truly feel like I can be successful because I am passionate about what I make. Also, and maybe even more so because I am surrounded by a lot of people who support me and encourage me to pursue my dream. I am so blessed by the support I have in this dream of mine. Thank you to all of the people who have walked this journey with me and are continuing to support me and love me. 

Ok, and now some photos of things I ate for all the foodies out there!

With Love,

Callie

Things I Love

Things I Love

It’s the month of love, so I thought I would share with you some of the things that I love! All these things bring a little more joy into my life. What are some things you love?

-Family

-Donuts

-Coffee: I love everything about coffee. I love the smell, the taste, and the process of making it. I love my morning routine of waking up and immediately going downstairs to start making my coffee. I love meeting up with people to drink coffee. I love learning about the history of coffee. I love it all.

-Baking

-Celebrating: I will come up with any excuse to celebrate or have a party! I love seeing people come together to eat and laugh and enjoy life.

-Traveling

-My Grandma’s Bible

-Spokane, WA: I love a lot about Spokane, but one special thing I enjoy is when it warms up enough after winter that restaurants begin to open their patios back up. You see everyone sitting outside and there is this joy amongst everyone, like we have made it through another winter and can celebrate together.

-The color yellow

-Poppies

-Birkenstocks

-Rainy days

-My Birthday: Hands down my favorite day of the year!

-Fallbrook, CA

-The smell of baking bread

-Reading

-Rifle Paper Company: This is one of my all time favorite brands. I love anything from this company, but my all time favorite thing to buy is their yearly planner.  

-Pie

-Running

-Thursday night small group

-Saturday mornings at Rockwood Bakery

-Writing letters

-Books by Shauna Niequist: I love the words that Shauna has to say about life, faith, and food. If I could have lunch with any person in the world, I would choose her.

-Rugs

-Spending time with people

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Trifle

           Things do not always turn out like you had hoped. This is especially true when it comes to baking. Today, the entire center of my cake oozed out when I flipped it over because it was so under baked. Over the years I have had many mishaps in the kitchen. Things I had labored over for hours were just plain disastrous once I pulled them from the oven. For example, when I made my very first apple pie I forgot to peel the apples. So, into the pie went the apples- skin and all! My family compared eating this pie to eating shards of glass. I once had little tree shaped sugar cookies that fell into the bottom of the oven and caught on fire. We had a little forest fire in the oven that day. I have had countless cakes that did not rise or cook properly that were made into trifles, which you can make by crumbling up your cake that fell apart and layering it with whipped cream or pudding and fruit. It is a joke now that if something I make doesn’t turn out, my family suggests making a trifle with it.

            It can be very disheartening when things don’t happen like you expected them to. What is important is how we respond to these instances. Life will disappoint us, but we can’t stay in that disappointment because we can’t change what has already happened. We must continue to move forward and accept that the past is behind us. This is how I feel about baking school. It was not at all what I had hoped it would be. My writing this is not to give the school I went to a bad reputation because it is a really good program for a lot of people. I just wasn’t one of them. I think in my head I had imagined school would be like the popular television show, “The Great British Baking Show.” I had this fantasized image of learning to make something new each day in a pretty little tent with laughter and funny hosts coming around to check in and see how I was doing. But it wasn’t. A lot of school was doing things I had already learned from working in a bakery and I should have done more research into the program before attending. I gave up a lot to go to school, and it is really hard not to look back and ask, “What If I had done X, Y, or Z instead?”

            I have realized there is plenty of good that came from baking school. I feel more energized to pursue my dream of opening a bakery. I feel confident that I have the skills to be a good manager and leader. I think I needed a little push to get me to really start thinking about how I can make my dream a reality. I talk about this dream a lot, but now is the time to take the steps to make it happen. Although baking school wasn’t what I had hoped for, I am okay with that. I would easily have made other choices had I known then what I did now, but I am not going to dwell on that. I still have so much life to live and so many experiences to be had, so I am going to soak up those as they come each and every day. If I swore off baking after my first mistake, I wouldn’t be where I am at today pursuing opening a bakery.

With Love,

Callie

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Farewell, 2017!

              One of my New Year’s Resolutions for 2017 was to write something I was thankful for every day. 365 days of gratitude. When I studied abroad in Florence, Italy I purchased a leather-bound notebook from one of the leather markets and have been saving it for something special ever since. This journal is what I decided to put my “365 Days of Gratitude” in. Over the course of the year, I brought this journal with me to Fallbrook, California; Tijuana, Mexico; Houston, Texas; Westport, Washington; Hoi An, Vietnam; Los Angeles, California; Leavenworth, Washington; Seattle, Washington; and Reno, Nevada. It has become a dear little companion to me over the past year and has seen all of the adventures I have been on. Today I read through my words from the last 365 days and felt so blessed as I remembered all that I had done and been a part of in 2017. Here are seven things I learned over the past year:

1. God has surrounded me with incredible people. The majority of the things I listed I was thankful for were individuals that God has placed in my life. Whether it was my youth group girls who bring so much joy to my life, my small group that has been together for six-ish years and is a second family to me, my dear friends who support me and love me well or my beautiful family which is truly the biggest blessing in my life, I have amazing people around me who know me well and care for me. 

2. It is good to get outside of my comfort zone. There have been many blessings in my life over the past year as I have stepped out from what feels safe and tried new things. God continues to make me brave and helps me grow in confidence.

3. Sunrises remind me that God sees me and cares about me.

4. I am not good at resting. Another resolution I had for this year was to say no to more things because I too often fill every waking moment of my day with things to do. I still wrestle with remembering that my identity is in Christ and not in what I do, but was encouraged to find many days this past year where God granted rest for my busy soul.

5. Doing things with people brings me joy. I am a quality time person and found my last year full of memories of coffee dates, walks, talks on the phone, going to concerts all with the people in my life. I often take life too seriously thinking that everything I do must be productive. The people in my life have helped me simply have fun!

6. God is always with me. The past year was full of joy, sadness, doubt, laughter, insecurity, and boldness and Jesus was with me in every moment.

7. It is not always easy to be grateful. Some days I found it so hard to think of one thing from my day I was thankful for. Even after practicing gratitude for most of the year, I found December the hardest to be grateful in. I am not magically changed by this practice and will continue to learn what it means to be thankful even in the midst of hard times.

With Love,

Callie

 My little leather journal. 

My little leather journal. 

Triple Berry

           People often ask me, “What’s your favorite thing to bake?” That answer has changed throughout the years. I remember sugar cookies being my favorite at one point. There are all these stages you go through when making sugar cookies. You make the dough, chill the dough, roll the dough out, bake the dough, wait for the cookies to cool, frost and decorate the cookies, eat the cookies! I love the order of the process and the fun of frosting the cookies. Pecan pie bars were also once a favorite to make, but I really just liked eating them.

            Today, if you asked me this question my answer would be pie. Not just any pie, but triple berry pie. Making triple berry pie has become such a comfort to me. I get to form the pie dough, cook the filling, and then assemble the pie with a beautiful lattice top. Seeing that beauty come out of the oven is so rewarding. The other reason I enjoy making this pie is because God spoke to me one of the first few times I made it. Now, this wasn’t some audible voice from heaven nor was a message spelled out in the berries, but as I was thinking and praying while making this pie I knew God wanted me to hear a message. So, here it is.

            My version of a triple berry pie requires cooking the filling on the stove. You cook the filling until it reaches a certain thickness. As it cooks, I stand over the stove and stir. I watch the berries slowly soften and their juices mix with the sugar and cornstarch. There is a lot of waiting as the liquid takes time to thicken up to the perfect consistency. I wait and wait as I stir, and then almost instantaneously it thickens up and I only have to stir a few more times before it is finished. Really the filling has been heating up the whole time and once it finally reaches that certain temperature the consistency changes, and it is just about done.

            On this particular occasion of making triple berry pie, I was feeling rather impatient. I was stirring and waiting, but the filling would not thicken. I just wanted to move on to the next steps. In my actual life I was also waiting for something. I was pining for a new season in life. Anything but my current situation. I didn’t like my job. Post-college life was not what I had hoped for. I was honestly totally absorbed in myself and felt very lonely. I continued to stir my filling, and it seemed that all at once it magically thickened. God was telling me that I just needed to continue to wait and that all at once life will change. I was not going to be in that situation forever, and I needed to be grateful for where He currently had me because this life flies by. In the midst of the waiting God was preparing me for something. Just like the berries were being heated up to be made into a deliciously sweet pie filling, God was working in me and getting me ready for the next season of life. I just had to be patient and trust what He was doing.

            This memory has been on my mind a lot lately. Although I am in a totally different season than I was back then (I love my job. I just started baking school. I am surrounded by people who love and care for me.), I still find myself impatient and longing for the next seasons of life. I have to remind myself that God has me where He wants me. Even if I don’t know the reasons, He is constantly at work in me and growing me. I was on a walk yesterday and felt such peace about this. The beautiful fall leaves were changing, and I felt content. I know there are going to be lots of seasons in my life, and some will be better than others. For now, I am trying to choose to be present and grateful.

With Love, 

Callie

 Triple Berry Pies

Triple Berry Pies

Lemon Poppy Seed

            I recently went to Los Angeles for a wedding. My friend who was formerly an exchange student in my home when I was in elementary school was getting married. She came all the way from Japan to get married in a beautiful chapel overlooking the ocean. It was such a delight to be able to go to her wedding and spend time with her family.

            Our trip was quick! My family left Sunday morning and came back Tuesday afternoon. There was only one day where we weren’t at our house in Spokane, so it felt like a whirlwind. We packed a lot into those short 54 hours like driving over to Pomona for the LA County Fair (see the picture of my cotton candy ice cream sandwich below), driving down to San Clemente to visit with some of our oldest friends, spending a morning at the beach, and of course going to multiple donut shops!

            Donuts are a big deal in my family. One year for my mother’s birthday, we had a donut taste test. We went to five different donut shops in Spokane to find our favorite. We began at seven in the morning to make sure we got to the shops early enough for their freshest donuts. It started out that each of us got one donut. Well, by shop number two we were already feeling pretty sick. At the next shops we only ordered one donut and split it because we were so sugared out! It is pretty common for us to eat donuts on vacation as well. One of my favorite things about going on a trip is finding donut shops or bakeries that I have never been to before. Donuts are one of the things in life that make me incredibly happy. How can you be upset when you’re eating a donut? I even told my family that the way to my heart is with donuts. (Listen up, guys!)

            The particular area of LA we were staying in did not have any of the top ten donut shops found on this list, but it did have some hole in the wall places. We stopped at S K Donuts in Redondo Beach where I ate my all time favorite donut-a sprinkle donut with pink glaze. I hate almost everything pink except for when it comes to sprinkle donuts. Pink glaze is the way to go. This particular donut was not as great as my hometown donut shop’s version, but it was delightful nonetheless. As we were driving around town we made our way up to Manhattan Beach where I spotted a Blue Star Donuts! I first went to a Blue Star Donuts in Portland, OR and had one of the best donuts I had ever had, so I knew we had to go on this trip. The following morning, on our way to the airport we stopped in, and I got a lemon poppy seed buttermilk donut that was to die for. A perfect balance of sweet and sour! Unfortunately, I ate it before I could get a photo.

            Since being home from LA, I have been craving another lemon poppy seed buttermilk donut. Since I can’t just run over to Blue Star Donuts, I instead made lemon poppy seed loaf bread that I thought would satiate my craving. Because in my mind I was wishing it was actually a donut, I was not too happy with the result. Donuts are truly a thing of their own, so I’ll just have to wait for my next trip to Portland or LA to get that perfect donut.

With Love,

Callie

Wintergreen

            Sometimes I feel really inspired to start a blog and write about what’s on my mind or share the experiences I’ve had. Immediately after I sit down to start writing this fear of how everything is going to sound when someone reads it floods into my mind. I can’t write anything because I overanalyze what I am saying. Writing has always been difficult for me. I was that girl in school who took five hours to write two pages of my ten page essay while my friend next to me was complaining that her paper was fifteen pages, and she had to narrow it down! Oh, how I hated her ability to have words just flow from her mind while I was stuck trying to think of something new to say.

            So, this is going to be my attempt at having a blog. It will most likely not have regular postings because lets be honest-I have thought about writing a blog for almost two years now and am just getting around to it! I procrastinate A LOT! And sometimes, I just won’t be able to get past that mental block of trying to figure out what to say and how to say it. Regardless, this is my attempt at sharing a little bit of my life with you and my passion for baking. I mainly just want to brighten your day as you read the stories I have to share with you! Most of my stories will be about baking, but not always. Something could just pop into my head that I want to share with all of you, like this first story.

            Recently my sister texted me and said she had left something on my bed that was a throwback to our childhood. I forgot about her text until I got home and on my bed were Western Family Wintergreen Lozenges. Have you ever seen wintergreen lozenges before? They are the cutest little pink lozenges that you can’t help, but gobble up. I have not seen these candies in forever, and my heart was so touched by this sweet gift from my sister. The reason these wintergreen lozenges mean so much to me is because it takes me back to my grandparent’s pantry. In my grandparent’s pantry, my grandmother kept these wintergreen lozenges. The entire pantry (it was tiny) was filled with the smell of wintergreen. Every time I walked in I could smell those pink candies and search for them, so I could sneak a few. Ok, I probably asked for permission most of the time because that was the kind of kid I was, but there were definitely times I couldn’t resist. At the time they didn’t seem like that big of a deal, but one of the things that always reminds me of my grandmother is the smell of wintergreen.

            My grandmother died when I was in the third grade, so I really didn’t know her all that well. I think we would have been the best of friends though. My mom will tell me things about her every now and again, and I am so surprised by how much I am like her-even without really knowing her. My grandmother was the valedictorian of her class in high school. I was too. My grandmother went to college to study business, just like me. She, however, dropped out two weeks before graduation to marry my grandfather! That was so unlike me. My grandmother was a baker, and I am too. She would be extremely offended if anyone asked her if she used a box mix to make her treats. I have had similar experiences where someone questioned if my cupcakes came from a box! I was appalled, but I think he intended it as a compliment.

            I love that I feel this connection to her. So many times when I am in the kitchen I imagine what it would be like if she was still alive and could bake with me. I think we would laugh a lot because we both share ditsy personalities and would probably make lots of goofy errors. What I love most about my grandmother though is how she cared for people and was kind. She has always been my role model and someone I have tried to be more like. She was hospitable and wanted to make people feel welcome. Those characteristics have always been important to me and at the core of who I am. I love people. Sometimes I don’t even know how to explain how much I love people, but when I interact with someone my heart just wells with happiness and I want them to succeed and be happy and be the best that they can be and have lots of good things happen to them. I want them to know how special and cared for they are and how loved they are by Jesus. This is why I am so passionate about opening a bakery. I want to create a space where you can come and feel welcome. I want to feed you, make you a cup of coffee, and talk to you about your day. Maybe in my bakery I’ll even have a bowl of wintergreen lozenges. It will remind me of my grandmother and how she instilled a love of baking in my heart and a love for all the people I interact with.  

With Love,

Callie