Beautifully Baked Beginnings

Growing up in (über) rural Illinois as the daughter of two baby-boomers I learned a thing or two about cooking, baking and beauty from a young age. But I think to learn about me, you’ll have to learn about my boomer parents first…

My Mom grew up in suburbs of Chicago, the second eldest of six children. Mom’s daddy was a tall, lanky man from South Carolina stationed at Navy Pier and her Mom was one of the twee-est women I’ve met (she was raised in Chicago). I have two pictures of them – their wedding photo (with Grandpa in his Navy whites and Grandma in this gorgeous hat and killer shoes) and another a few years later (she has another pair of great shoes and he’s wearing a dress shirt and suspenders. Those were the days!) My teeny grandma had to learn to cook the southern yumminess that Grandpa had grown up with (biscuits, gravy, grits, pies, cakes, cobblers, crisps…sorry. I need to stop. I’m drooling.) That’s the kind of food my Mom learned to cook. She also learned from her Grandma who was the cook at a camp for under-privileged kids in the suburbs. Almost every one of my Mom’s summers were spent at the camp helping her grandma in the kitchen, riding the horses, and making new friends.

My Daddy grew up pretty close to where I did, the youngest of twelve siblings. His family was pretty poor. His Dad was grave-digger for a few local cemeteries and his Mom…she had to be resourceful. With twelve kids to feed on a small salary, you’d have to be! My Dad spent his time with his Mom around the house because he was the youngest. He learned to garden, raise poultry and cook with her. They didn’t have much, but they made do. I don’t have any pictures of Daddy’s parents though. His Dad passed away when he was thirteen. His Mom died not long after my parent got married. I never got to meet my Daddy’s parents but I did get to know them through stories from aunts and uncles over the years.

Now that know who raised me let me tell you a bit about me. Baking and beauty have always been a part of my life (save the short time in my youth where I was a tomboy and then my freshmen year of high school when I embraced the grunge culture). I can still remember the smell of my Mom’s meatloaf cooking. I can also remember the smell of her makeup bag as she was getting ready for a night out with Daddy and her dress coat that always smelled of Lady Stetson (it was the early 90s people!) So I learned to cook and to bake right alongside my Mom and Daddy. I remember baking an apple pie from scratch for the first time and being sure to use all the crust bits that were leftover (don’t waste anything!). It was so rewarding seeing everyone’s face as they took their first bite. Utter satisfaction! Likewise I remember the first time I did my best friend’s hair and makeup for prom. She was a sophomore attending junior prom with her boyfriend. I went over to her house to see her in all her splendor – but she was so unhappy! Her hair didn’t turn out at all like she wanted and her makeup was smearing from her tears. I grabbed a brush and some bobby pins and went to work fixing her distressed tresses. Next it was time to fix her makeup. I reapplied her liner and shadow and applied some blush and concealer. As I sit here and recall watching her face as she looked in the mirror I feel myself getting a little wet around my eyes. She was so happy. She was so excited. She was (and is to this day) so gorgeous. And I helped. I did that. Oh the wonderful power of apples in crust. What strength we can wield with some powder and a brush. I was hooked…by both.

So here I am a thirty-something that migrated to the suburbs of Chicago after attending a small, private college there (and meeting the love of my life and now hubby – Squee!). While I am an Admin Assistant by day I am also an amateur baker/cook and licensed esthetician/makeup artist by night (or weekend, depending on the day.)

glitterThere is something magical about slowly peeling the paper liner from a gorgeous cupcake with your glittery nails. Or enjoying that first, warm spoonful of a sweet and tart peach cobbler all the while making sure you don’t smudge your lipstick. Why can’t we love more than one thing? Why can’t we be really good at more than one thing? If my parents taught me anything, it was that you need to do what you love because life is just too darn short not to! I love to make people look and feel beautiful. I love to make scrumptious treats. And I want to share these loves. So I’m going to. I am going to share with you how I do both everyday…and I can’t wait!

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