summer sky.

I don’t mean late as in, belated. I mean late as in, good-grief-it’s-already-August-and-therefore-late-summer-and-kids-are-going-back-to-school-and-there’s-a-chill-in-the-air-and-I-still-want-my-sunny-afternoons-lounging-by-a-pool. That kind of late. And it’s that kind of late that I hate (hey, that rhymes! I’m a poet and I didn’t even know it).

But instead of moping around, staring out the window as one, then two, then three leaves fall off the trees until I’m mummy-wrapped in long johns, blankets and a balaclava (you think I’m exaggerating. I wore long jeans and three layers yesterday. In 80-degree weather.), I’m going to celebrate summer with my mouth until the air turns crisp and smells faintly of cider, the leaves change color, pumpkins and scarecrows squat on doorsteps and it’s no longer appropriate for me to wear flip flops (though one time in high school, I walked to school in a skirt and flip flops in the dead of snowy winter because I was SUFFERING FOR FASHION. Lesson learned.). And then, at that point, I will finally hang my non-existent summer hat (because I look terrible in hats. True story.) and succumb to fall baking. Which isn’t succumbing at all, because I love fall baking. You’re not confused at all, I’m sure.

But AS I WAS SAYING, until then, let’s celebrate late summer. With our mouths. Ahem. (I’m so awkward.)

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sweet potato zucchini bread.

I’ve been having a lot of real-life, grownup talks with friends lately. Conversations full of hugs, laughs, tears, looks of understanding and empathy, prayer. We’re all in different stages of life — some with kids, some without, some married, some single, some with or without houses, homes or Homes (that is to say, where we belong), some with broken families, families that were once broken and have been rebuilt, some with crumbling foundations and others firmly on solid ground — but at the same time, we’re all navigating this Thing They Call Your Twenties together. And all of us feel a little misled, too, that we were to believe this time would be easy, fun, carefree and inconsequential (not to say that it isn’t, sometimes). And yet, it’s seemingly the most defining part of our lives (I can’t say for sure, though, because I’m not beyond it yet).

For some of us, we’re going to make mistakes. We’re going to get bruised or beaten by the pebbles, rocks and boulders life throws at us. Some of us are going to be down for the count for a while, wondering what we did wrong and figuring out how not to fall again in the future — a lesson in which some of us will succeed, some not. Some of us are going to get right back up again and keep trudging through until we get to a better place. Some of us may even breeze through this decade and have it all “figured out” — lucky them. Some of us aren’t so lucky — or maybe we are. Because we have to endure the struggles, we have to grit and bear the growing pains and when things do get easier (and they do, and they will), we are wiser and stronger than we were before.

And through it all, we have good company. We have friends and family who get it. We might not have the answers, but we have shoulders to lean on in the waiting. And for me, in the quieter moments, I have the kitchen, too — just me, my oven and a few hours to measure, sift, stir, pour, bake and slice.

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You guys. I’ve been watching the Olympics, like, every single moment of my life the past few days. I wake up in the morning and watch Savannah Guthrie and Matt Lauer ham it up with athletes on the “Today” show. I scarf down lunch while cheering on the water polo and road cycling teams. At night, I scream at the television and jump on the couch like I’ve been coaching the U.S. swim team for the last decade or something… then I do a couple back flips and vault myself into bed. That’s a mostly true story.

So it’s hardly a surprise to me that, what with all this competition and winning and Olympic glory and whatnot, it’s all gone to my head and I thought I’d tackle a rather more complicated recipe that’s been on the books for a while now: Croissants. If I sat here and told you they are the easiest thing in the world to make? I’d be lying. But if I sat here and told you they take a lot of time, patience, dedication, hard work, training, coaching and endurance… but it is SO. WORTH. IT? Well, that’s a completely true story.

After a long period of having the baking fail cloud follow me around the kitchen, it finally lifted. The result? Buttery, flaky, soft, beautiful croissants. Some of them with chocolate inside. All of them with magic inside. So let’s stop talking about it already and get to baking!

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peach doughnuts with coconut.

I’m generally not a doughnut person. I’m usually not a white chocolate person, either. And I don’t often eat peaches (which is a huge travesty, I know, but it is what it is).

But after a loooooooong weekend of painting, toilet-fixing, painting, a few baking failures, painting, eye-twitching, painting, hair-pulling, painting, mind-losing, oh and painting*… all I wanted was a doughnut. With white chocolate. And peaches. And some toasted coconut for good measure**.

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garlic knots.

I’ve got a fever. And the only prescription is more garlic.

These parmesan garlic knot rolls were calling my name one day, so I made them and ate one. That night, I made spaghetti and I ate another one. Then I was hungry for a late-night snack and ate one more.

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Hello, friends!

I’m back home from a ridiculously lovely vacation week in Hawaii with the fam (photos hopefully to come soon!). I have tons of unpacking/laundry to do, my cat has been talking incessantly since we got home (apparently we have a lot to catch up on) and this thing they call jet lag is about to win our game of “Trying Not To Pass Out Before 8 p.m.” So, during this miniature recuperating spell, I’ve got a fantastic giveaway for all ya’ll!

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