Happy Birthday to Me (And a Print Giveaway!)

Chocolate Coffee Birthday Cake

As of today I am a quarter-century old. Honestly, that freaks me out a little bit. I’m starting to feel the weight of my impending mortality these days. Quarter-life crisis, anyone? Life just seems short. So many places to visit, so many things to eat, so many recipes to try … people to meet, loved ones to spend time with, TV shows to get engrossed in, books to read, magazines piling up on my nightstand, cookbooks not getting enough love on my bookshelf, blog posts to write, jokes to laugh about, runs and bike rides to go on … you get the picture. I will continue to do my best to fill my days with as much as possible, in what will hopefully end up being a life that I am proud of at age 87. 

Chocolate Coffee Birthday Cake

But let’s move onto lighter topics – Today I am highlighting a cake that, should you end up with time on your hands to make a cake, this would be the one to make. For me, this is a very close second (or tied as #1) to the pistachio cake that began this blog. The pictures are from a year ago when I made it to take into work for my birthday. My blog was currently in its background formative stages, and  I was hopeful that it would be up and running in the near future so I could feature this recipe. The blog didn’t end up launching until a few months later, so I kept it on the back burner for a moment such as this. It was the first recipe we photographed, so we were working out the kinks. I think we have fallen into a more comfortable groove recently.

Chocolate Coffee Birthday Cake

However, the first time I made this cake was for my last day at my previous job. That also happened to be the day of my first date with Robert. I had been hoping to save a slice to bring to him on the date, obviously wanting to wow him with my baking prowess. However, I worked in a newspaper office, and word about this cake spread like wildfire. First it was mainly my department of design and advertising that was enjoying it, and then editorial started coming over, and then circulation … you know how this goes. By the middle of the afternoon, there were mere crumbs left in my cake carrier. Robert missed out until I made it again last year. Thankfully he’s not as obsessed with cake as I am, so he did not hold it against me on our first date. That first encounter obviously went well, seeing as Robert and I are tying the knot in just under two months.

Chocolate Coffee Birthday Cake

As of this morning I am headed to one of my homes away from home, Ocean City, NJ, with my family. We have spent a week there for the majority of the summers of my life. I plan to spend the day completing my favorite beach activities: sitting in the sun while devouring a good book (this year I’m starting with Delancey by Molly Wizenberg, which I cannot wait to begin), going for a run on the beach in the afternoon, and enjoying a happy hour cocktail on our deck overlooking the ocean – probably a mojito made by my Uncle Bill or a margarita made by myself, perhaps the roasted strawberry one from London Bakes (or both!). In the evening we will celebrate my birthday, my dad’s birthday (his was yesterday – Happy Birthday Dad!), and Father’s Day. There will be cake, one of my favorite meals, presents, and an appropriate amount of inappropriate conversation, as per the usual for my family. It will be wonderful. It breaks my heart that I will not be spending the full week there with them this year, but the reason for that is my 10-day French honeymoon at the end of August, so I shouldn’t really be complaining.

Chocolate Coffee Birthday Cake

In honor of my birthday, I’m hosting a giveaway of one of my illustration prints! The winner can choose one from my Etsy shop and I will mail it to him/her. You have three possible ways to enter: Leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite way to celebrate your birthday, follow me on twitter, and tweet about the giveaway. Just use the rafflecopter below to get in all of your entries. The giveaway will be open until 11:59 pm on Sunday, June 29, 2014, and then a random winner will be chosen. Good luck!

You can find the recipe for this cake – Chocolate Coffee Cake with Mocha Mascarpone Frosting – over on Bon Appetit. Make it for someone. They will probably fall in love with you.


Prints of my illustrations are available in my Etsy shop
Photos by Robert Cornelius


a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. AD says

    Thanks for hosting this awesome giveaway! My favorite way to celebrate my birthday is with my closest friends and family. Usually, delicious food is eaten! Also, I like to have a little “alone” time to reflect on the past year and do some journaling.

    • Sara says

      Thank you for entering! Delicious food and some alone time sounds like a pleasant way to spend a birthday. :-)

  2. says

    This cake looks like something I’ve been dreaming of for a long time! Happy birthday! Everything you’ve described in this post sounds perfect: book-reading, beach-running, cocktail-sipping – 25 looks amazing already! Hey, enjoy it. Life is just beginning and the journey does not stop once we leave our youth, if that’s what you’re worried about. Have a greatttt day!!

    • Sara says

      Thanks girl! Those activities are definitely part of what I would call a “perfect day,” so it was a pretty great way to spend my 25th birthday.

  3. says

    Enioy your week home away from home, sweet Sara! I’m turning 25 in less than four weeks so you’re not alone in this crisis. Although, I’m not sure how big my crisis is as I’m constantly forgetting how old I am… ;)

    • Sara says

      Ha! I forget how old I am too. I used to always think of myself as 2 years younger than I was, but recently I’ve been thinking I’m older than I am … but only a little bit. Maybe I’m just catching up to myself.

  4. Ellen says

    I always celebrate my bday with my brother, Sam, whose is 2 days after mine. Usually we both go home to Lebtown and go out for dinner with the fam!

  5. says

    My birthday is in august, so I love to spend my birthday on a blanket in the park with my boyfriend. Soaking up sun, eating watermelon and cake and getting random visits from my friends.

    • Sara says

      Ah, yes …a blanket in the park. That sounds great. That’s a lot like mine except my “park” is the beach! There’s almost nothing better than that feeling of soaking up some perfect sunshine.

  6. caitlin s says

    My birthday is always around labor day, so I make the most of the 3 day weekend, celebrating once with my husband, once with my family, and once with my friends!

    • Sara says

      Sounds like a smart use of your time! Robert (Future Husband)’s birthday falls around Memorial Day, so that provides a nice opportunity for a 3-day weekend birthday getaway.

    • Sara says

      Agreed! And I had plenty of both on mine. :-D More booze than cake actually … I blame my brother and his girlfriend.

  7. says

    Feeling the weight of my impending mortality is SUCH an accurate way to put it, Sara! But I thought 25 was an excellent year, and it sounds like it’s shaping up to be a great one for you too :):) I LOVE the look and sound of this cake (omg chocolate and coffee together, always yes) and I hope you have a perfect birthday and vacation with your family!

  8. Jill says

    What a refreshingly delightful reminiscence…when I was growing up, my mom always made our favorite dinners on our birthdays. Chuck loved mom’s baked macaroni and cheese, I enjoyed her chicken paprikosh, and Kevin loved his onion and ketchup sandwiches.

    • Sara says

      My mom does that, too! When I was younger … well, not that young – I still did this a few years ago – we would have french toast with blueberries, strawberries and whipped cream for dinner on my birthday.

  9. Norrie says

    I will be spending MY birthday watching two of my very favorite people tie the knot in the vineyards at my favorite winery! <3 HAPPY BIRTHDAY SARA! XOXO!

  10. Deirdre Carmichael says

    Sometimes my birthday is on Friday the 13th and sometimes it’s on Mother’s Day so I usually adjust my birthday plans accordingly. This year I went to see the Grand Budapest Hotel and fasted in preparation for my impending wisdom teeth surgery. Overall not a bad day. :)

    • Sara says

      Oh so your birthday is the day before Jesse’s! I really need to see that movie … Hope your surgery went well! I binge-watched Gilmore Girls when I had mine done.

  11. says

    Happy Birthday Sara! Hope you had an awesome day. I’ve been loving following this blog, where do you find the time to make each of these beautiful illustrations for your posts?!

    My favorite way to celebrate my birthday is hosting a party – I’ll never get too old to use it as an excuse to surround myself with all of my amazing friends!

    • Sara says

      Thank you so much Brigette! I honestly don’t know how I’ve kept up with this blog. Just putting in a little time here and there, I guess. It’s definitely a struggle, but a fun one that is worth the effort. One of these days I need to get to one of your birthday parties!

  12. Chartown says

    Loving the Birthday post. I usually celebrate my Birthday by going to out to an amazing dinner with my friends ;)! Growing up though, my mother would always make us are favorite dinner and dessert for our big day. I was always trying to choose between baked mac and cheese and chicken tacos. However, I ALWAYS asked for dirt cake for dessert.
    Welcome to being 25 and fabulous!

    • Sara says

      Haha thanks Char! We need to get back to that restaurant with you soon. Mac and cheese AND chicken tacos sound great. I approve of your choices.

  13. says

    Happy belated birthday!!! Haha I LOVED the line about trying to save a slice for Robert but then him not being “as obsessed with the cake” as you are. I feel like that sums up a lot of the food I make for Erik quite accurately. He LIKES most of what I make, of course, but he’s not a fanatical nut like I am about some of the sweets I love (i.e. if he didn’t save me a piece of cake, it would be a MUCH.BIGGER.DEAL. than me not saving him one.)

    Even though these pics were taken months ago, I still think they’re beautiful! But that illustration is GORGEOUS!!

    PS. I just read Silver Girl by Elin Hilderbrand and so your description of your vacation to Ocean City is reminding me of all the Hampton scenes in Silver Girl. If you like chick lit-y books, it’s a pretty good read!


    • Sara says

      Yeah – if Robert didn’t save ME some cake … whoa. You better watch out. Thanks for the book recommendation! I think I actually “listened” to a few of her books last year … I love beach-y books like that, although they always make me want to up and move to Nantucket or whatever. p.s. we are the same person.

  14. says

    Oh oh and my favorite way to celebrate my birthday is with tons of cake, naturally! A huge chocolate-y monster like this one would be a perfect ;)

  15. says

    My birthday {coming up June 29th!} is the only day of the year that I do whatever I want. No laundry, no cleaning, no working. I make the foods that are my favorite and eat as much as I feel like. Cake included! {although it’s gluten-free these days.} Great blog! Love the illustrations!

    • Sara says

      Thanks for the kind words! Your kind of birthday sounds great. In fact I really need one of those days soon, even if it’s a non-birthday day. They’re definitely important for the mental health.

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