Chocolate Chip Cookies

IMG_3344My family and I just came back from camping–in 90 degree weather.  In the Pacific Northwest, we usually see temperatures this high late in July or early in August, and it normally lasts about a week.  Well, the heat spell here started towards the end of June and lasted almost 3 weeks.  I can’t remember a 4th of July watching the fireworks in shorts and a t-shirt.  We are usually in jeans and a sweatshirt!  I was planning on making chocolate chip cookies to snack on while camping, (and use to sandwich a s’more or two) but I didn’t for two reasons–one, we have no air-conditioner in our house, and two, I had no way to keep the cookies from melting once we arrived at our campsite, and for those of you who tent/cabin camp, you know how valuable cooler space is!  In fact, we only had a campfire twice because it was so hot.  The last night of camping we started the fire early so our kids could have s’mores.  My two-and-a-half year-old daughter had never had s’mores before and I was excited for her to try it.  I thought she’d love it as much as my son.  Unfortunately, the only thing she liked was the chocolate squares, as you can see in this picture. Continue reading

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Rainbow Cake


Do you have a favorite recipe, one you come back to time and time again? This is my come-back-to recipe.  Not only is it delicious, but it has that “wow” factor, which is definitely a bonus.  I’m not gonna lie, this cake takes work, but it is totally worth it.  Plus, you can make the cake ahead of time, so it’s not so labor-intensive in one sitting.  What’s nice about this cake is it’s versatility.  The first year I made it, it was for my son’s 3rd birthday, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar was the theme.  It had fondant (which I did not make–I used the brand Satin Ice, which tastes wonderful!) covering the cake and I made cut-out fruit wrapping around it.  (“On Monday he ate…”)  Even though I made this cake two years ago, my son still talks about it.  That’s how memorable this cake was.


The fondant caterpillar took longer than I thought it would to make.  But I thought the little guy turned out pretty cute.


In March of last year, I made the same cake, but it was an ombre blue cake, for my sister’s baby shower.  I didn’t use fondant, but used sprinkles to cover the top of the cake, so it didn’t appear so plain.

Shower Cake

For my son’s 4th birthday, I made the same cake.  (Matthew asked for a shark cake for his 4th birthday, which we then turned into a shark-themed party. My husband wanted to point out the hour it took him to make the watermelon shark.  He’s quite proud of it.)

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Gratitude Jar

GJ2Happy New Year! I hope your New Year is off to a great start.  Did you start 2015 with tradition, or begin something new?  My neighbors have a tradition every New Year’s Day to go hiking in the Gorge (which in the Northwest is quite cold!) and it got me thinking about New Year’s traditions that I have, or ones I would like to start with my young family.  The only thing that really came to mind was New Year’s Resolutions.  Normally, each New Year’s Eve, I sit on the couch and contemplate what I want to accomplish in the coming year.  When I was younger, I made 10 lofty goals, but as the years became me, I started to be more intentional about what I wanted to change in my life, and thought beyond that year, to five or ten years down the road.  These contemplations then morphed to a series of 5 resolutions, and the past 5 years or so they have usually revolved around God, my health (as in exercise of come kind), and some career/hobby goal I wanted to accomplish.

However, as I was making breakfast for my kids this morning, I realized that I forgot to write down my New Year’s Resolutions. And this very task-oriented, tradition-held me felt a surge of guilt at not only forgetting, but feeling slightly relieved that I didn’t create one.  As I was reflecting on my previous lists and what I wrote, I  feel like something is missing, as if I’m not getting the whole picture.  Do you ever feel that way? Are your resolutions the same every year, or do they change a bit/change drastically?


This day, one year ago, I created a Gratitude Jar for myself and a few friends.  My hope was to write down on a sheet of paper something I am thankful or grateful for–and do this throughout the year.  The idea was on New Year’s Eve to look through the jar and realize just how blessed we have been throughout the year.  Unfortunately, after January, like many resolutions, I forgot about it, and only noticed it this afternoon sitting on my desk in the office.  Maybe it shouldn’t be on the corner of my desk, but out where I see it every day.  So, this is my only New Year’s Resolution in 2015.  To write down and chronicle the blessings that occur this year, because there will inevitably be many of them, as there are each and every year, and come December 31st, to look back at all God has blessed me, and my family and friends, with.

I wish you a very wonderful and blessed 2015. And if you have any great New Year traditions, I’d love to hear about it! xoxo

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Christmas Scones

CS1Thanksgiving flew by and now Christmas is almost here.  I have been piled under a mountain of essays these past few weeks and have just now emerged. Yeah to Christmas Break almost being here!  And speaking of Christmas, one tradition that I had growing up was my mom making cinnamon rolls Christmas morning.  In elementary and middle school, I was up before the rolls were done, but once I hit high school, it was the smell of the rolls from the oven that awoke me.  (You can read about these cinnamon rolls here .)   Now that I have children of my own, I am thinking about what traditions I want to continue, and a large breakfast spread is on the top of my list!


I had some leftover fresh cranberries from Thanksgiving that I wasn’t sure what to do with.  And believe it or not, I have never worked with fresh cranberries before.  Wow, what a difference is fresh versus dried! I didn’t realize how naturally sweet fresh cranberries are! I’m not sure I’ll ever go back.  Dried, schmied…well, maybe in a salad.   Continue reading


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Grace’s Second Birthday


My baby girl’s birthday was yesterday, and it was all I could do to not cry.  Why do the teenage years seem to drag on forever, but when life really begins, does it go so fast?? It seemed like only yesterday that I held this tiny girl in my arms, staring into her sweet, newborn face.  Anyway, enough sappy-sweet stuff.  We celebrated Grace’s big milestone by having a bird-themed birthday party.  Right now, she is really into birds of all kinds, so I thought it fitting.


I made vanilla sugar cookies and hummingbird cupcakes, and had caramel apple cider and lemonade for drinks.  My husband told me that all previous birthday parties I made too much food and sent goodie bags of desserts home with guests, so I decided to agree with him this year and make it simple.


I purchased these really cool apothecary jars from Amazon as an early Christmas present and loved putting candy in them.  My original plan was to have the malt-ball robin eggs and chocolate eggs wrapped in the shiny foil, but I think they are only out around Easter.  Gumballs, sixlets, and Jordan Almonds worked as a close second.   And the birch straws added a nice touch.  (It was also nice that I happened to have them in the pantry. Yeah to reusing!) Continue reading


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Apple Puff Pancakes

So I have been on hiatus for a year and a half.  Wow, I wasn’t planning on taking that long of a break!  During my absence, I put off renewing my website domain name.  Actually, it was more of a lapse on my part, one of those I’ll-get-to-it-when-I-have-a-free-moment kind of lapses.  However, when I did get around to renewing it about a month later, not thinking too much about any repercussions that might have ensued, I was quite shocked that my blog name was no longer available.  WHAT??? I’ve had this blog name for 4 years. Four long years! After some investigating, a friend figured out someone from Japan had snatched up my name.  I am sure this person was waiting for me to BEG for my name back, at any price, but this only fueled my complete annoyance at this person (and complete annoyance is an understatement).  (By the way, if you do go to the website, it has absolutely nothing to do with baking.  Just warning you.)

But truth be told, I wasn’t fully sold on my web name.  It does come from my favorite novel, Pride and Prejudice, but my idea many years ago of starting a side business of baking out of my home came with too many bumps in the road.  So while creating a new blog name, I thought about what I wanted this blog to be, how often I would like to post, and what creative outlet I wanted it to serve.  With that in mind, I decided to just simply call it Holly Bakes, because, well, that’s mostly what I do on this blog.

I can’t guarantee that I’ll post every week, as I have two young kids and work full-time, but I can guarantee that what is put on here is fantastic food and something I hope you’ll try and share with your family.  And if you do, I’d truly love to hear from you.  Sometimes writing and sending posts out into cyberspace feels like such a lonely vacuum.  So, without further adieu, here is my first post in a year and a half.  Enjoy! xoxo



We went to an apple orchard on a dreary, drizzly, October day.  Actually, this is quite common for the Northwest, so we were prepared with raincoats, umbrellas, and goulashes.  My parents have friends who own this orchard and had a fun morning planned for kids; both Matthew and Grace had a blast riding in a four-wheeler, eating delicious applesauce, and picking what apples they could reach.  I couldn’t help but laugh at Grace as she tried carrying the bucket full of apples as we moved our way down the row of trees.


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Easter Desserts

p1020282[1] So in early March, I came up with a list of Easter treats I wanted to make and share.  Tutorials on fondant Easter bunnies, little carrots, and cute eggs, all to go along with carrot cake cupcakes.  (And I don’t know why I like carrot cake, because I certainly do not like carrots.  In fact, they are the number one food on my list of Foods I Don’t Like, but there’s something about adding sugar that changes everything.)  I also wrote down ideas for decorated Easter sugar cookies and even a cake.  Last post I said that we are moving, and in fact we are.  We get our keys April 5th!  It’s our first house and we are so excited.  However, it was a last-minute decision to list our condo before we move, instead of after.  As a result, my mom came over last Friday and helped me pack almost everything in my kitchen, to get ready for the open house.  And with the boxes being moved to the garage were my ideas for Easter treats.  The only baking “things” in my kitchen are cookie sheets and a 9″x13″ pan.  It’s really sad. So what I’ve decided to do is give you a list of a few things I have made for Easter and some recipes from around the web that I think are fantastic.  They’re certainly ones I’ve wanted to make, and some are even on my Pinterest board.  Speaking of Pinterest, if you want to see more Easter or spring dessert ideas, check out the board titled SPRING.  Enjoy, and Happy Easter! xoxo

From the blog

Lemon Poppyseed Cake–Light and sweet, this is a nice cake with a raspberry filling. 081[1] Carrot Cake Cupcakes–These cupcakes are super moist and paired with a cream cheese frosting–yum! Continue reading

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