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. beth thompson

    happy birthday to your little girl! mine just turned one last month … i remember being in your class at Julie Hubert’s house – we were both pregnant and couldn’t drink the beautiful pomegranate granitas! now these little ones are a year … how time flies! :)

  2. Ashley

    What a beautiful sweet baby girl. My little one, Piper, also just turned a year, but we celebrated with a pirate theme…

  3. athena

    Beautiful post. Happy Birthday to your little girl. Just found you via twitter today, happy to be following you now there and on facebook.

  4. Brian @ A Thought For Food

    This is the definition of the perfect blog post. Beautiful photographs, a heartwarming story, and some of the most delicious food I’ve ever seen. Sending your sweet one a big happy birthday wish (from one Virgo to another). :-)

  5. Holly

    Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful Ashley (and Ivy Jane)! I was wondering, how did you ice the stunning pink cake with all those layers?

  6. Christina Bentley

    I appreciate the joy and love you put into your home and cooking. What a gift you are giving to your family! Thank you for sharing your adventures with your readers. You encourage me! May the Lord continue to bless you all.

  7. Samantha

    Beautiful cakes, beautiful sandwiches, beautiful baby girl! My little one is turning 2 soon and I would love for my cake to look as lovely as yours. Awesome board, too and great that it’s reclaimed wood. Lovely.

  8. Margaret Carlile

    I hope your wee one had a wonderful party – she’s a lovely girl and she is lucky to have a mom who so obviously cherishes her as you do!

  9. Wendy

    Ahhh, such sweetness. My first visit here. I’ll be back regularly.
    I have 2 girls and have loved every moment with them. Your post brought a surge of happy memories. Thank you :)

  10. Melissa

    Happy Birthday! Such a sweet, special time. And a lucky little birthday girl to have such love in her life. Good cake doesn’t hurt either. Can’t wait to try a pink cake for my girl.

  11. Kelsey

    Happy birthday beautiful baby Ivy! What a wonderful way to celebrate + beautiful photos to capture the memories. That serving board is incredible!

  12. elizabeth

    just found your beautiful blog. so sweet! everything looks amazing!!! family is everything :>
    would love to place some yummies on that gorgeous wood!

  13. Jessie

    I just stumbled upon your blog whilst googling “garlic scapes” and got sucked in. Your photography is beautiful as is your daughter.

  14. Thea

    Dang. The trouble with having kids so close to yours is that every time you post photos of their birthday parties, I feel immediately outdone! But that’s probably just because I can’t be their to celebrate with you all.

    Happy birthday, sweet Ivy! Welcome to the rest of your life, where you’ll measure your age not in months, but in years.

  15. Paula

    The food you prepared for Ivy’s birthday looks absolutely fantastic. Very light and colorful–a good way to have a close to the summer :)

    I am really curious: how on earth did you do the frosting for the pink cake? I am not sure I’ve seen something like that before!

    Lastly, I absolutely love the staches! So clever.

  16. Ali

    Happy Birthday, Ivy! What a lovely post and your photos are fabulous. Thanks for sharing and the giveaway opportunity.

  17. Angela Guida

    First off, Happy Birthday to little Miss Ivy! Your site is joy for the senses and I am inspired every time I visit. Thank you.

  18. Deb

    Happy Birthday Ivy!
    Your photos are beautiful and I look forward to making the recipes.
    Thank you!!

  19. MG Atwood

    Yeah for little girls, and curls, and brothers who will adore her. Wish I could have donned a mustache and sipped soda with the pretty pretty Ivy. Cheers!

  20. Alice

    I found your site via, which linked to this post. Lovely lovely, all around! Happy birthday to the beautiful little girl! (And I love how fresh all the recipes are… I feel like if I had a nice garden I could just pick out all the ingredients..)

  21. Karla

    What a beautiful post, these memories you are recording will be priceless treasures when your three little ones are grown. Happy Birthday Ivy!

    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Thank you all for the incredible comments. I can only imagine how loved Ivy will feel as she reads these sweet notes as she gets older. I’m humbled by your support. Thank you.

  22. Devon

    Absolutely darling!

    And those boards are spectacular. We have a lot of rustic wood pieces in our house and I have been on the lookout for a cutting board like yours. Awesome.


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