I made these mini cakes to reclaim my birthday cake tradition but also as a way to choose life and joy instead of fear. It seems appropriate that now, as I'm sharing the recipe, the world is in the grips of fear. We're in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and when I start to feel overwhelmed, stressed, scared or all of the above, I remind myself to return to gratitude.
It's about to get a little louder and a little brighter than it typically is in this corner of the web. I am a nuanced human being after all, and as much as I love vintage wood grains, I love a nearly neon, pink, stone-washed jumpsuit and roller skates. But before we fully get this party started, I want to share why this party, this loud, silly, colorfully over-stimulating party was so needed.
I'm trying to remind myself to choose gratitude and excitement over negativity and fear because after all, I get to make and play with food. I get to share recipes with you and with those I love. In the case of this berry beauty, a Gluten-Free Vanilla Butter Cake, I shared it in celebration of the moms in my life.
Exfoliation is a necessary step to keep skin glowing, and making a homemade sugar scrub, it turns out, is easy- just mix the ingredients in a bowl, transfer to a jar, and … that’s it! Plus, homemade scrubs give you the power to customize the scents to your fancy and to make sure every ingredient is top quality.
For the past six months or so, I've been working on something big, something scary, something that has broken me, built me and flipped me every which way. I've missed summertime traditions, family gatherings, and missed seeing lots of my friends, but there was one day I couldn't miss: my Rustbelt Farmer's birthday! That's a day that called for cake, specifically a Gluten Free Rhubarb Cake with Whiskey Whipped Cream and farm-fresh strawberries and mint.
I'm 34 now. Why would I leave my dog, go out, and pay for margaritas, when I could sip from home and watch true crime shows?!? Allow me to introduce you to these Blackberry Jalapeño Margaritas. They're worth staying home for. (The 30's bring so much wisdom, friends. If you're in your 20s, just know it gets so much better, or at least, way more comfortable.) Cheers!
Welcome to our home! This is a recap of our Design*Sponge home tour feature, plus a table full of food and a pumpkin cake recipe because I’m here to feed you!
For more than a decade, I have been a loyal Design*Sponge reader. For more than a year and a half, I’ve been on the other side — a contributor. I’ve been inviting myself into people’s homes, both physically and figuratively, to bring you the stories and spaces that inspire many a Pinterest board, your dream homes, and your very real renovations. But then it came time to turn the tables and invite readers into my own home.
To have my home featured on DesignSponge was a goal and a dream I nurtured for a long time. It was one of the first blogs I followed, one of my longest relationships, if you will. It has been a constant, daily source of inspiration, both through design and through Grace Bonney’s mission to make the site a safe, embracing space. Today I’m sharing parts of the tour featured on DesignSponge, as well as some food bonuses and a pumpkin cake recipe because you come here to feast with your eyes, right?
You can read the stories of this space in the original D*S tour, but for a bit of a different take, come on in!
Photography by Dave Bryce.
Even though my dream kitchen would probably be dark and rustic, I let the bones of this kitchen, mainly the cabinetry and the enamel sink, inspire the design. It’s very kitschy, and I painted the cabinets and accent wall with a very 1960s vibe.
Welcome to my favorite room- the dining room! As much as I love styling and blogging, there’s nothing quite like cooking and baking for people. I love hosting friends and family in this room, or simply celebrating special occasions with Kyle, while Julep lurks under the table hoping for scraps. This room reflects my affinity for aged and worn surfaces and the many layers of a building. I painstakingly removed paint from the doors and fireplace tiles but purposefully left the chippy accent wall and exposed lathe.
I am constantly drawn to old books, but before moving into this apartment, I vowed to put the books to better use (because boy, were they heavy to move!). I had two photography books depicting French life in the city and the countryside, and those pages became the collaged mantel accent. I studied abroad in Aix-en-Provence and worked as a jeune fille au pair (a nanny) in Paris after college, so these vintage prints bring back so many pleasant French memories.
This is a question we ask everyone who shares their home on Design*Sponge – What do you love most about your home? We ask our home tour features to respond with an element of the handmade too, so naturally, I incorporated the table, food and dessert- pumpkin cake!
What I love most about my home is…it tells my story.
I love sharing our home with friends, family, and our fur baby (see her at the head of the table?). I enjoy watching the way guests interact with my collections and the associations they make, whether it be glassware their grandmother used or a fascination with the mechanics of a typewriter.
For our tour, I brought together some of my closest friends to showcase our dining room at its best – when it is filled with food and friends. Kyle and Julep, obviously. Dane and I met over a love of vintage, architecture and Pittsburgh adventures. Bess and I met through a love of Western Pennsylvania vintage, and the lady cracks me up until I cry. Lindsey and I met over a LOVE [obsession] of dogs and while working on her cookbook, Eat Your Feelings, which I gush about all the time.
The living room gallery wall sums us up: food still lifes, beekeeping and farming scenes, dog portraits, old cameras, French cityscapes and Q’s (because you’d be surprised how frequently that letter is omitted from alphabetical merchandise!). The wooden frame highlights a Kenyan ekichilong, a small wooden stool the Turkana shepherds use for sitting and sleeping, which I purchased on a trip to rural Kenya. You’ll even find the small velour hat from my childhood Samantha doll. I parted with the doll, but I had to keep one little memento.
The bedroom is my maximalist self’s attempt at minimalism. My goal was to create a really calming space where I would want to unwind, or where I would want to nestle with Julep and my morning mug of coffee.
Be sure to check out the full home tour feature on Design*Sponge for more photos and all the stories of these quirky nooks and crannies. Thanks for visiting. Now go preheat that oven. There’s a pumpkin cake to make!
Gluten Free Chocolate Pumpkin Cake
About this Cake: Healthy, whole grain brown rice flour makes a rich, nutty pumpkin cake that’s gluten free- perfect for a crowd. I topped the cake with pumpkin chocolates from Trader Joe’s, which were a seasonal item, but you can dust with cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice and decorate with cinnamon sticks and sage as an alternative.
Valentine's Day is on the horizon. Skip the heart-shaped chocolate boxes, skip the generic bouquets, avoid the lame cards, and make something yourself. Make this Valentine's Day a dark chocolate love fest with dark chocolate cakes and a homemade, spicy, dark sipping chocolate called Atole (ah-toe-lay).