Wow, I can’t believe its been 19 years already!  It doesn’t seem that long ago that a nurse put her in my arms and then stuck me in a wheel chair to escort me out of the hospital.  Wait, you want me to actually leave here by myself and take care of her?  While I was scared shitless, it helped that I was young and a “go with the flow” kind of person. šŸ˜€

I just remember my sister and I were still living in our apartment when she was born.  My sister was at work, and I put Hannah down after her morning feeding around 7 in the morning.  I only was able to take six weeks off, so she was probably a month old.  By 6 at night she was still sleeping!  I kept checking in on her making sure she was still breathing.  In desperation, I called my Mom and said “Hannah won’t wake up!”  To which my Mom replied “just go wake her up then.”  Duh!  It never dawned on me – I was just waiting for her to get up!  Fast forward 19 years later and she’s still an awesome sleeper.

She walked at 10 months, and didn’t have her first hair cut until she was 3 1/2.  Whenever I left my parents house, this was where she would be – or in their front window.  More times than not she would cry when I left, but my Mom always told me she stopped crying by the time I drove away.

Probably because that meant Poppy time!  My Dad was her # 1 fan.  He thought she was the smartest kid and couldn’t wait to brag about her.  Most mornings I would wake up, come down to the kitchen, only to have Hannah and Poppy sharing breakfast off the same plate, and my Dad making hats out of the Sunday paper.  I hope Hannah remembers those moments!

It was round age 3 that Hannah became known as “The Bag Lady.”  She routinely carried around two or three bags at all times, sometimes up to 10.  My parents had a pantry that had low cupboards, and every night after Hannah went to bed, I had to clean out her bags – she’d have cans of tomato paste, tuna and lots of silverware – she was just tall enough to pull open the silverware drawer and would just reach in and grab whatever she could.

And her babies were a constant companion – the tiny one on the right especially – she would start to panic if we couldn’t find it when it was time for bed.

And when I had given up all hope of her having any hair – all of a sudden it grew like a weed.  She loved flipping her hair around.

Hannah and I used to take lots of day trips – she loved the zoo, especially the dolphin show, which was a special treat because it wasn’t included in the entrance fee to the zoo.

Since Hannah was such a heavy sleeper, I had to find ways to get her up every morning.  One of the ways that would instantly wake her up and start laughing was putting on a Celine Dion tape of “Treat her like a lady” and singing it at the top of my lungs while dancing around her room: “Go, go go goes around comes around!”  Isn’t laughter the best way to get up? šŸ˜€

My sister and I took her to a Celine Dion concert in 1998, this was a year before I went to Weight Watchers, and yes, I believe I have spilled food on my size 20 shirt!

Once she started school, summer and spring breaks were a challenge.  I ended up picking a “sports” camp because, truth be told, it was the cheapest back then – but still $150 a week.  I am not a good swimmer at all, so you can imagine I was a bit concerned that 1/2 of the sports camp day was to be spent at the local pool.  On the first day I was like “Hannah can’t swim, so if you can make sure she stays in the shallow end, I would appreciate it.”

Half way through the summer they had an open house.  I sat down on some bleachers with the other parents, when all of a sudden I see Hannah climbing up the steps to the diving board.  I started to panic.  I couldn’t believe they didn’t listen to me when I told them she couldn’t swim!  I started to stand up to save her when I watched her dive beautifully into the water and swim to the side of the pool.  I was in total shock!

I went to her and she said “that lady over there taught me how to swim.”  She was pointing to a high school student who was one of he camp counselors.  I was so proud of her!  She and my step-son Joe are still fish in the water.

That picture was taken at my Aunt and Uncle’s lake house at Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia.  Imagine my surprise that one of my favorite bloggers, Robin Sue’s (of Big Red Kitchen) parents also have a place there – small world!  If anyone lives near Reston, Virginia, Robin is setting up at a farmers market this year – I would go there every week if I lived close!

Another one of our favorite past times (which I realize we haven’t done in a long time!) is go to the pet store and pick up tiny dogs.  While our black lab is 80 pounds, we like to pick up the tiny dogs that won’t get bigger than 15 pounds. šŸ˜€

And I would be remiss if I didn’t post her favorite school picture – although truth be told, each one looks exactly the same to me! šŸ˜€  I love her smile!

Here is a picture of me about the same age as Hannah in the above picture – I never noticed it before but my eyes are brown in this picture, but today they are hazel green!  Gotta love the 70’s jumper!

people say we look a lot alike, but we don’t see it!

And then one morning I wake up and she’s a woman!  Almost a year ago you graduated from high school with a 3.8 GPA and now have almost finished your first year of college and made the Dean’s List with a GPA of 3.9 your first semester.  I could not be prouder of you – you have such a bright future ahead of you!

and its almost a year later and my sunburn marks are still present!

I asked her what kind of cake she wanted for her birthday and she said “I don’t know – something mocha.”  So with that word in mind, I went to Tastespotting and found THE.PERFECT.CAKE for her!  I did make some changes – I made it two layers and did a vanilla butter cream frosting instead of heavy whipping cream.  But as soon as I saw the coffee bean brittle – that’s what won me over!

Double Layer Mocha Cake with Coffee Bean Brittle

(adapted from Baking with Lisa, which was adapted from Belinda Jeffery’s Mix and Bake).

Ingredients:  (this is for one layer, I made two layers)

  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder (I used Ghirardelli)
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup cold strong coffee
  • 3 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (I used one 72% and the other dark chocolate with sea salt)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/4 flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk


  1. Heat oven to 300 degrees.  Spray a cake pan (two if you are making two layers).
  2. Put the cocoa powder, butter, oil and coffee in a large saucepan.  Melt over medium heat, stirring until the mixture is silky.  Take off the heat and add the chocolate and sugar – whisk until chocolate is melted and let cool.
  3. In the same pan, add the egg and vanilla and whisk.  Sift the flour and the baking powder into the mixture and stir until just combined.  Whisk in the buttermilk.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan – tapping it to get out air bubbles and to even it out.  Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  5. Cool for 5 minutes, then invert over a wire rack and cool completely.

Buttercream Frosting:

  • 2 sticks of softened butter
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup heavy cream

Beat everything together with a hand mixer.  Start with 1/4 cup of heavy cream and add up to 1/2 a cup to get desired consistency.  I had about 1/3 of this frosting left over after decorating the cake.

Coffee Bean Brittle

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon roasted coffee beans, coarsely chopped

In a skillet cook the sugar and water over medium heat until it gets a medium brown color – this will take about 20 minutes – be careful because it can go to burnt really quickly!  Remove from heat, stir in coffee beans and pour on a baking sheet that has parchment paper on it.  Let cool 30 minutes before breaking into pieces.

I love how it didn’t stick, which usually happens to me, which is why I don’t bake very often!
all frosted – not going to win any decorating awards there šŸ˜€
the brittle after 30 minutes
the brittle broken up – holy cow is this good – the coffee bean is slightly bitter but balances with the sweetness of the sugar

Are you ready for the finished product?? . . . . . . .

I still can’t believe I made this!

With the leftover tiny brittle pieces, I just put them all over the top of the cake:

I think the brittle makes the cake though:

So Hannah, I hope you have a wonderful birthday!  Sorry you have to go to school all day!

I love you and you make me so proud!  New readers can check out our story here.  Best birthday gift ever was when Tony bought her a car when she was 17!  Still makes me cry when I watch it! šŸ˜€


A quick note:  BSI is back this week – Marisa from Loser for Life chose proscuitto!