A new perspective

Today is my thirty-eighth birthday. I woke up early this morning intending to spend time setting new goals and dreaming big for the year ahead. This is a yearly tradition for myself; I like to think about where I am, where I want to go, who I want to become, think big for our future and then figure out the steps I need to take to move closer towards seeing those dreams come to fruition. It’s no secret that I am a dreamer… Jamie would probably tell you that sitting down and dreaming about the future is one of my love languages and the way to my heart.

But something different happened this morning. As I started thinking to the future and worked to define new goals, something inside of me told me to just stop, reflect and give thanks. As my mind wandered through the blessings in my life, my heart nearly exploded as I thought through the people who fill my life with greater joy than any accomplishment, dream, wedding or project ever will. My family… my tribe… my people. They are my dream and the best part of life.

Dreaming big is a beautiful thing… but sometimes it causes you to rush past the beautiful life you might already have. It can be a struggle to find the balance of wanting more for your future while just being content in the moment. In the past I’ve feared that contentment would lead to complacency, but as I’ve grown older I’ve come to realize that contentment leads to greater joy.

So this morning I am going to hit the pause button on all my dreaming and scheming to be still, give thanks and enjoy the people I get to call “mine”.

And… of course I walked away with a few new goals for this beautiful year ahead. What are they? To love more fiercely, to give thanks more often, to choose joy and to be content through whatever my circumstances may be. Something tells me these new goals will give me the strength to soar to even greater heights.

Thirty-eight… you might be the best year yet.

photography: Alanna Maria Photography 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

sinclair-and-moore-chocolate-peanutbutter-cake-1Many of my favorite childhood memories are centered around the cakes and desserts my mom would make for our family to enjoy. Chocolate cake with peanut butter icing was one of those special treats we always looked forward to. I can still smell the cake baking in the oven and remember anxiously waiting for a spoonful of that delicious peanut butter icing.

When Grey turned one, it was a no-brainer that we would have a chocolate peanut butter cake at his party. We had planned to do all of the baking ourselves for his party, but we moved into our new home just a week before his celebration, and I knew we needed to take some things off of our plate.

Our friends that own Deru Market jumped right in to help. Deru is famous for their choclate cake iced in salted peanut butter frosting. It’s amazing. We ordered one of those cakes in addition to 4 other flavors for our friends and family to enjoy. If you are ever in the Seattle are you have to stop by their place for amazing food and a slice of their heavenly cake!

The recipe I’m sharing today is not Deru’s recipe- that is kept under lock and key. The recipe below is for a classic chocolate cake that I based off of Hershey’s timeless recipe, but made some modification and updates to. The frosting recipe is light and airy and easily whips right up! I’ve also provided a few tips below to help with your success!

I hope you’ll enjoy this recipe and that it becomes a signature cake for some of your special celebrations!

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* Remember to always use fresh ingredients when baking. Avoid using supplies that have been sitting in your pantry for too long as it can affect the outcome and taste of your cake! Fresh ingredients will yield a fresh cake!

* The nicer the cocoa powder you use the finer your cake will taste. Splurge on good chocolate if you are making a chocolate cake.

* The espresso powder will not make your cake taste like coffee! I promise! The espresso powder will enhance the flavor of your chocolate and add depth.

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* You don’t have to use chocolate milk, but it can be a fun addition to your cake to add a bit of richness and to get a little extra chocolate flavor into your baking.

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* Grease and flouring a pan is an important step or your cake will not flip out of the pan once it has baked! Lightly coat the entire inside of your pan with vegetable shortening using a paper towel or pastry brush. Once the surface is thoroughly covered add a few tablespoons of flour and shift the pan around in your hands to make sure the flour coats all of the vegetable shortening. Tap the pan on the countertop to collect all of the excess flour, and then turn the pan on the side to dump the excess flour  out of the pan. Taking your time to grease and flour you pan properly is a foundational step to a successful cake.

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* Be careful not to over mix your cake batter. Follow the mixing time on the recipe. Over mixing your cake batter will lead to a dry cake.

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* This cake batter is very thin, and you may think you added too much water to the batter. Don’t worry! Part of what makes this cake batter so moist is that it baked from a thin, liquidy batter.

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* Fill your pans 2/3 full. This will allow your cakes to bake higher so you can have nice tall layers. Once you have filled your pans, tap them lightly on the countertop several times to release the air bubbles and bring them to the surface.

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* You’ll know that your cake is baked long enough when you insert a toothpick or cake tester into the middle of the baking cake, and it comes out clean.

* I always try to set an alarm for 8 minutes after the cakes come out of the oven so I can flip them out of their pan before the cake cools too much and sticks to the pan. Once the cakes are flipped out, make sure to let them cool completely before attempting to ice the cake. If the cake is not completely cool your icing will melt.

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* There are many ways to ice a cake. I prefer to use pastry bags fitted with a round tip for quickly filling the middle of each tier and then a cake icer tip for icing the sides.

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* Once your cakes are filled and stacked, take a small amount of your icing and a spatula and lightly frost the sides of the naked cake. This is called your “crumb coat” and helps to seal in all of your crumbs so that they do not make an appearance in the outer layer of icing.

* Let your crumb coat sit for a minute to crust over before using your large cake icer tip to get strips of icing onto the side of the cake.

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* After you pipe all of the icing onto the sides of the cake, have fun with a spatula and make waves in the icing until you achieve the level fluffy texture you are looking for. Your cake is complete and ready to be served!

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photos: Matthew Land Studios 

recipe calligraphy and design: La Happy 

Download and print our recipe for Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Buttercream Frosting.

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When Grey Turned One

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In a couple months Grey will be turning two, and I couldn’t let myself start planning his 2nd birthday party until I finally posted the images from his first birthday party. I’m sure people will think we are the crazy parents who were completely out of control with this party. I’m ok with that. We wanted an epic party for our son, and I make no apologies for that. We are party planners; entertaining and throwing an awesome party is one of the ways we show love to our friends and family.

Jamie came up with the idea to have a cardboard party. We often jokingly refer to our son as “Prince Greyson” and so we thought it would be fun to narrow the theme a bit more and have a cardboard castle party. We used cardboard to make shields, crowns and Erik, the production manager for our business, absolutely killed it with building this castle from empty boxes. Brandy from Marabou Design created several banners. Our friends Jamie and Jordan who own Deru Market brought the fried chicken and waffles, a buffet of food and 5 incredible cakes.  Matthew Land brought his camera and snapped these photos. Jamie and I worked together on the remaining details including baking all of the treats for the dessert table.

As with every party, something doesn’t go as planned. The banner of honeycomb balls that I spent hours hanging up collapsed from the weight on the fishing line I used. I kind of like how it cascaded to the floor, and truth be told, I didn’t have time to fix it. So… I went with it and tucked Grey’s high chair around the honeycombs and it looked like an intention design moment. Sometimes the things that go wrong end up being my favorite part of the party. The plus side to this was that the kids also had easier access to grabbing the honeycombs and they had so much fun playing with them.

Now we face a big dilemma… what do we do for Grey’s 2nd birthday?!

Follow along over the next couple days and we’ll have a few recipes and how-to’s for some of the fun details at the party!