So as I sit in my living room waiting for my son to fall asleep in his crib, which we are trying out today, since he usually sleeps in our closet, I am trying to come up with ways to keep myself busy instead of rushing in to pick him and and rock him to sleep in my arms (if you haven’t picked up already – he is currently screaming). I have been toying with the idea of trying to expand my baking horizons by trying to make new recipes, but haven’t quite figured out my plan yet. As all my former teacher friends post pictures of back to school time, I am feeling the need to begin something new myself. Should I get a baking cookbook and try to work my way through the recipes Julie & Julia style? Or, should I challenge myself to make one new recipe a week? The real challenge I have is that I don’t know who I’ll give all these baked goods. What I do know though, is that I want to become a better baker and I want to have somewhere to hold myself accountable. A blog seemed like the easiest way to make sure I don’t start a project and give up on it, like I tend to do when things get busy and it gets easier to focus on everyone else besides myself.
Therefore, here is what I plan to share on this blog-
- Delicious desserts that I am baking
- Try out at least one new recipe a week for one year to try to sharpen my baking skills
- Give my reviews about what I would do the same next time and what I would change in the future
- My passion for sharing baked goods with others
Here is a little bit of information about myself. I grew up in St. Louis, MO with three sisters who to this day are my best friends! I have loved baking for as long as I can remember being allowed to help in the kitchen. My mom has always been generous and giving when it came to letting me experiment with baking, but she never held back on her reviews. If things were not good, she would always let me know. I have still never mastered a pumpkin based cookie that she enjoys. In fifth grade she and I made meringues together for my french class. In sixth grade we made flan, again for my french class- I didn’t really care- it just looked cool in the picture in the cookbook. When I was in seventh grade, we had a major school project that was based on Elizabethan England. You could do anything you wanted to teach the class about Elizabethan England. So I set up our home video camera, found an Elizabethan cake recipe and made a cooking video in my kitchen. I was so proud of myself, I convinced my dad to let me use the camera remote control to start and stop filming so that no one else could watch me in progress. I remember talking to the camera when the phone rang in the kitchen saying, “Oh man, troubles of working from your home kitchen”. I thought that I was Julia Child or Martha Stewart. I loved every minute of it until I had to show it to my class at school and then serve them the cake. Luckily they enjoyed the cake but it was the longest minutes of my life watching that video in front of everyone. Fast forward to my thirteenth birthday where I BEGGED my parents for a Kitchen Aid Mixmaster. I wanted nothing else. My mom and sisters put my gifts out on the fire place before we left for dinner with my grandparents to celebrate my birthday. I knew that none of the boxes were big enough for a Mixmaster and tried really hard to play it cool all throughout dinner. When it came time to open gifts, I smiled at the clothes and the other cool things that I opened but I was so heartbroken knowing that I wouldn’t be getting my Mixmaster (spoiled brat – I know). The last gift I opened was a hand held Kitchen Aid mixer. I smiled brightly and and thanked my Mom and Dad. I told them that I understood that a Mixmaster was too expensive and I was pumped for the hand mixer. As I was thanking my grandparents for coming to dinner, my sisters come around the corner with the last “surprise” gift. A huge box wrapped up and I knew immediately that it was the gift of my dreams! That Mixmaster made countless batches of cookies and treats, it traveled with me to college and graduate school. I am now on my third Mixmaster and my love for it stays strong! (My mom bribed me with a bigger one to come home from study abroad in Australia when I really wanted to stay and then she kept that one when I moved out later- but she did give me my lime green one that I have now and I love- I know…spoiled) It sparked my dreams about going to Johnson and Wales to become a pastry chef.
Alas, that dream fizzled when I became more serious about school and volleyball. I really wanted to play college volleyball like my older sister Amy did at William and Mary. My dad made a deal with me that if I earned a business degree then he would agree to pay for culinary school after graduation. Luckily for me, I was offered a spot on the volleyball team at Emory University, which also had one of the top business schools in the country. I was set to create a baking empire, but I was also given the opportunity to finish my capstone service project in high school at Ladue Early Childhood Center. I spent one month working with small students and amazing teachers. That one month changed my plans for the future. I decided that I no longer was interested in getting a business degree or attending culinary school. I was going to get a degree in Early Childhood Education (which Emory did not offer). I would go to culinary school later if teaching didn’t work out or if I wanted a change of scenery. So I earned a degree in Educational Studies and Art History, then went to University of Missouri-Columbia and earned a teaching certification in Early Childhood Education and a Masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction in Early Childhood Education. I taught first grade and kindergarten in St. Louis for 5 years. Then my husband and I moved to Chicago where I taught pre-k 4 until I gave birth to my first son.
I now have a two year old and an almost eight month old and they are wonderfully amazing, busy, unique little humans who rock my world. No two days are the same and there is not much time to sit around in our house. As mentioned above, sleeping isn’t a high priority for either of my boys. I tend to get in a little bit of a baking rut. I bake lots of cookies that are quick to pump out and easy to eat. My older son loves to help me bake, mostly he just knows that he can eat chocolate chips when the ingredients are out – I don’t blame him at all, I’m pretty sure that this why I started loving to bake as well. But, I know that I can learn how to bake more diverse treats if I am intentional with my time and choices. So here we are. Ready to embark on a new and intentional journey of baking discovery with hopefully more successes than failures. Hopefully in 1 year I will feel like I have accomplished a thing or two in the kitchen.
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