Contest closed. The winner was selected via Comment #47, Alanna! Congratulations. Thanks for entering. This was fun. Let’s do it again sometime. :)


She came into our lives a year ago today. Because of her there has been more pink, more ruffles, more rosy cheeked dolls, more kisses, more love, and more joy. Because of Ivy I’m not the only girl in the house any more. Because of our sweet sister baby I’ve gotten to see my boys, big and small, be more kind, compassionate, tender, and loving than I ever thought possible. She’s only been here a year, an incredibly fast year at that, but I can not imagine our little family without her.


To honor her first year with us we had what we called, “A Ladies and Gentlemen Tea”. The men folk donned felt mustaches while us ladies snacked on tea sandwiches and sipped iced mint tea.


There was cake. Lots of cake. Some slathered in chocolate while others wore layers of pink fondant.

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Petite sandwiches came in all shapes and sizes. Mini blt’s, cucumber with blue cheese, cucumber with jalapeno and mint, and radish, butter and salt sandwiches.

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Little rounds of melon bathed in a tarragon syrup and were doused in fresh lime juice just before serving.


All she cared about was the cake.

She initially approached her hefty slice timidly but after one sweet taste she left her manners at the high chair and dove right in. I couldn’t have been happier.

It was the perfect way to celebrate my daughter’s first year.


To my sweet baby Jane, you are more loved than you will ever know. Your presence in our lives has made each one of us a better person, already.

I melt as I see your brothers stopping everything they are doing to acknowledge you when you enter the room. At the slightest whimper they are at your side giving kisses and doing whatever they can to make your sweet, dimpled smile return.


Never have I seen your daddy so proud and joyful than when he’s dancing you around our living room. When he looks at you I can see in his eyes that he is eager to do absolutely anything in his power to make your joy his priority. I love your daddy more because of how he loves you.

And then there’s me. Oh sweet sister baby, you inspire in me the strength I need to be the woman I am called to be in order to teach, guide, and love you. Being your mother is a gift I don’t take lightly. Each and everyday I give thanks that I have the honor of being a mom to you and your brothers. Everyday I’m not perfect, there are always things I can do better. Then I wake up to your smile, eager for me to just hold you. Your chubby little arms wrap around me and wash away the doubt and encourage me to simply love you in the way I was first loved.

You, my daughter, are a gift. I am so thankful for each day we have together. I pray we will have many, many birthdays together. For now, we’ll start with this one. Happy 1st Birthday, Ivy Jane.


For Ivy’s birthday she would like to send one of you lucky readers a gift!

Did you happen to notice that beautiful wood serving board where many of the tea sandwiches sat? That was made by an incredibly talented artist who has a business called, Red Onion Woodworks.

I adore their work and philosophy. “With RedOnionWoodworks, like the rest of my life, I take sustainability very seriously, using only locally-sourced wood including trees taken out of backyards by arborists and hardwood logs salvaged from industrial logging operations, reusing or repurposing shipping materials, and applying non-toxic finish on all my cutting boards and serving trays.” from a featured seller interview on

Camille is the artist and has happily agreed to let us giveaway one of her stunning boards.

There are three ways to enter. You can 1. Leave a comment on this post. 2. Follow on Twitter or 3. Like NWS on Facebook. Simple. (For those of you who live outside the U.S. I apologize, this contest isn’t for you as these are very large boards with hefty shipping costs).

I’ll pick the winner, randomly, next Friday, September 16.

The board Camille is giving away will very similar to the one pictured.


A sweet birthday gift from my birthday girl.

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Yellow Cake with Fudge Frosting

Melon Salad with Tarragon and Lime

1 small water melon

1 small cantaloupe

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

a couple sprigs of tarragon

1 lime, zest and juice

Combine the water and sugar in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar. Turn off the heat and add the tarragon. Let cool.

Cut the melon and place on serving tray. Drizzle the cool tarragon syrup on top of the melon. Finish from lime zest and a squeeze of lime juice over the top.



Yellow Cake

adapted from

6 large egg yolks

1 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cornstarch

1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray two 9-inch x 1 1/2 inch cake pans with pan spray, line bottoms with parchment paper, then spray again. Set aside.

In a medium bowl lightly combine the egg yolks, 1/4 cup  milk, and vanilla extract.

In the bowl of your electric mixer combine the dry ingredients (flour, cornstarch sugar, baking powder and salt) and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds or until blended.  Add the butter and remaining 3/4 cup milk.  Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened.  Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for about 1-2 minutes to aerate and develop the cake’s structure.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Gradually add the egg mixture, in 3 additions, beating about 30 seconds after each addition to incorporate the egg.

Divide the batter and pour into the prepared pans, smoothing the surface with an offset spatula.  (Pans will be about half full.)  Bake 25 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in center.

Place the cakes on a wire rack to cool, in their pans, for about 10 minutes.  Then invert the cakes onto a greased rack.  To prevent splitting, re-invert cakes so that tops are right side up.  Cool completely before frosting.

Fudge Frosting

1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup cocoa powder

3/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces

3 cups confectioners sugar, sifted to remove lumps

1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a microwave safe bowl combine the chocolate chips, cocoa powder, milk, espresso powder, and butter. Heat in 30 second increments until melted, thoroughly stirring in between each heating. You could also use a double boiler if you prefer.

Carefully beat in the confectioners sugar, one cup at a time. Stir in the vanilla.  Press frosting through a fine sieve if there are any lumps.

Cover and chill until firm, a couple of hours.

Once the frosting is firm remove from refrigerator and place in your mixing bowl.  Beat the frosting for a minute or two or until it is nice and smooth and of spreading consistency.

Frost the completely cooled cakes. Serve with a cold glass of milk.


384 Responses to “she’s one + a giveaway”

  1. Karen

    Hi! found your blog via Twitter Gluten Free Girl. so glad I did–Yummy recipes!!! The soups to swoon over!!

    What a sweet baby girl. Her ringlets are precious! You sure must be a proud mama!

    Peace and many happy birthdays!

  2. Kerry

    & Facebook — And a new reader, so I’m super excited to find out you’re in Seattle! I just moved here from Florida and am looking to make connections as I’m in the first months of my blog. :)

  3. Simply Vintagegirl

    Happy birthday, little Ivy Jane!

    It looks like you provided the party attendees with some delicious food! Thanks for the give-away… would be delighted to win one of Red Onion Woodworks’ cutting boards – a great tool that would work excellent with food styling!

  4. Tonya

    Your party looks wonderful. I actually noticed the cutting board right away. Gorgeous.
    I also liked NSW on fb.
    Thanks for the opportunity to win.

  5. cyndi

    I noticed a photo in the birthday party section of a tomato-basil-mozzarella or ricotta salad. This is one of my favorite flavor combinations- what is the recipe?

  6. Kristin

    We have our first baby on the way and I’m so inspired and touched by the celebration of little one’s birthdays – your Ivy’s party looks just right, intimate and a little something to tickle everyone’s fancy. Those cakes look incredible. I’m so love the graded pink on the one cake. Ivy is adorable. The cutting boards are gems!

  7. Jennifer saugen

    LOVE IT. Wow what a gorgeous piece! It would totally match our decor… Plus I am always up for trying out a new gorgeous product.

  8. Linda M.

    What a beautiful post. Loved all the food and that pink cake is gorgous! Happy birthday sweet Ivy! :)

  9. Kerstin

    Dear Ashley! Thank you for sharing this special moment with us! I’m – not a mother yet – but an aunt of two beautiful baby girls. Emily turned two in May and Aeden will be two years old in December. Although I’m ‘only’ an aunt, I know how specially all the little princesses are who come into our lives. My husband is in the military and we are currently stationed in Germany. Due to this fact, we were only able to meet our little niece Emily yet. Aeden we only know from pictures. When I look at your little Ivy she so much reminds me of Aeden. Sooo much dark and curly hair !! :) I love it !! HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the little princess !! And thanks again for your wonderful blog !! Greetings from Germany !!

  10. Megan Gordon

    What a beautiful party (and cake!), Ashley. I loved this heart-felt post and the photo of you and Ivy in the kitchen. Happy (almost) Friday, my friend.

  11. Melissa DiLernia

    Oh my! How did I not know about your blog until now?? Thank you tumblr!!! Amazing stuff…love this blog!!!! Facebook liked too :)

    Officially obsessed!!!

  12. Kathleen

    First may I say, the black and white photos of Miss Ivy – stunning!!!
    Happy First Birthday Ivy!
    Second….everything for her party looks stunning! Though we’ve no children, I’ve 2 adorable nieces who would love something so wonderful – I can’t wait to try your recipes! I would love a birthday party like yours Ivy! :) Thanks so much for sharing this!
    p.s. ……hoe does one get an invitation to Ivy’s 2nd birthday party? :)

  13. Lalitha

    Happy Birthday to your little girl. I tried to make the chocolate fudge frosting for my son’s birthday cake, and it was super runny, and I really couldn’t ice the cake with it. I had to run out and buy boxed icing from the grocery store, which did the trick, and tasted great. Any one else have the same problem with the runny-ness?

  14. Diana

    Your daughter is adorable! And, I think you should sell prints of your photography. I would like some for my kitchen.


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