The days are getting longer. The weather is growing warmer. Cherry blossoms fill the trees on my street, completely covering them with dainty petals of pastel pink, while buttery yellow and bright white blooms sprawl across the land behind our homes.
After a long and rainy winter, spring is (finally!) in the air…
And I thought it’d be fun to share five fun spring-themed things going on in my life behind the scenes!
It’s been far too long since my last Coffee Break post, so grab a cup of coffee or tea (or even homemade lemonade!), and pretend like we’re sitting across from each other, trading stories and catching up over a coffee date.
And if we were… This is the big news I’d share first.
MY 10-YEAR ANNIVERSARY
Amy’s Healthy Baking has been my full-time job for ten years. Ten years. On April 1, 2013, I temporarily walked away from the chemistry world, arranging a five-month leave of absence to think about my future, evaluate my options, and determine whether I wanted to leave for good.
I debated about even stepping away, leaning heavily on the rationale that I had already put in years of difficult classes, rigorous labs, and complicated research projects… And did I really want to throw that all away? Flush it down the drain? Leave it all behind — on the teensy tiny off-chance that I could somehow start earning an income, or even just a few dollars, from my little blog that I mainly updated on random nights and weekends as a hobby?
My parents encouraged me to try. They saw and believed in my dream, even when I thought it was better to keep it as a fantasy in my head or something that I postponed for a few more years, and they gently nudged me towards taking those months off.
Within the first week, the three of us knew…
There was zero chance I would return to the chemistry world.
Yet none of us could’ve predicted what happened next.
Over the last decade (gosh, I feel old phrasing it like that!), I’ve baked in four different kitchens, developed over a thousand recipes, and published a cookbook. I’ve been featured in magazines, appeared on TV, and traveled around the country for business trips and retreats. I’ve built a team, collaborated with incredible clients, and met the most amazing bloggers-turned-friends.
So much has happened…
And yet I feel like I’m just getting started.
I have big ideas and lofty goals. Bright hopes and vast dreams. Work and projects and things I want to do, the kinds that fill your heart and light up your soul, keep you awake at night from earnest brainstorming and eager anticipation, and promise to change the trajectory of your life in the best and most meaningful sorts of ways.
But despite all of that, the milestones and growth and successes of the past ten years, building a business from nothing and following my heart into food blogging, what stands out the most and what I’m most grateful for is something else…
I wouldn’t be who or where I am today without your support for Amy’s Healthy Baking and the recipes that I share. You’re a vital part of this journey, one that has enabled me to turn my dreams into a reality, and I’m truly grateful for you and the role that you’ve played.
Thank you for showing up. Thank you for being here. Thank you for scrolling through my recipes, giving them a try, leaving me comments, and mentioning my blog to your family and friends. ♡
And… I’m so excited to share the things I have in store for Amy’s Healthy Baking in the future with you too.
A lot has changed in the last ten years. Website design, plugins, digital photography, email newsletters, SEO… And especially social media.
Those outlets that started as fun ways to share pictures and keep in touch with hometown friends have blossomed (if not snowballed or exploded!) into something much bigger. They’ve become almost essential to running a business and interacting with followers and fans, especially in the food blogging world, channels that sometimes feel as important and necessary as sleeping or breathing.
(Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration… 😉 )
They’re not the same as they used to be. The main ones have vastly evolved, while others have come and gone, but that’s okay. Change is a part of life, and I’m working on embracing those changes and experimenting with different things.
So in the spirit of spring and new beginnings, I’m starting a new Instagram account: @amys.healthy.baking!
There’s a bit of a backstory here. I love to write and tend to tell long stories (perhaps you’ve noticed?), but I’ll spare you today and save the whole epic saga for another time. 😉
The nutshell version is that I learned Instagram accidentally flagged my account on the day I posted my first reel back in 2021. Although it took me two years of testing, experimenting, and trying just about everything I could think of…
I’ve realized there’s a very strong chance I won’t be able to salvage my original account or change Instagram’s mind about flagging it and hiding my posts.
Hence why I’m starting this new @amys.healthy.baking one!
I’ll still share what I did before: recipes, photos, tips, and occasional thoughts or anecdotes about my life behind the scenes. That part will stay the same!
My team and I will continue to check our original Instagram account too (@amyshealthybaking — without the periods!). We love seeing the comments, photos, and stories that you’ve tagged us in. That brings us so much joy!
I just won’t be posting any new content on that account. I’ll share it all on the new account instead!
So if you’re on Instagram, it’d mean so much if you followed this new @amys.healthy.baking account! ♡
LOCKS OF LOVE
And on that same theme of springtime and fresh starts…
I cut my hair!
It was my fifth time cutting off 12 inches to donate to Locks of Love. Once in middle school, once in high school… And then a very long break before back-to-back-to-back haircuts in 2019, 2021, and now 2023.
Although the four previous ones were completely premeditated and planned, this haircut was slightly spontaneous. I knew I wanted to donate my hair again, but when I measured with a ruler, the resulting length felt a bit too short.
I also knew I wanted to ask my favorite stylist back in my hometown. She had done three of the four, and because of a particularly bad disaster with the other one (after handing me my foot-long ponytail, the Southern California stylist I had approached chopped off another four inches just because she thought it’d look “cute”), I preferred to schedule an appointment with someone I absolutely trusted.
I just didn’t know when I’d return to Northern California and be able to see her.
When I found myself there around Easter, I mentioned wanting a haircut to my mom — just a regular haircut, nothing drastic! — and she quickly discovered our favorite stylist had a last-minute opening the following day. Although somewhat emotionally unprepared to part with my long hair practically on a moment’s notice (does anyone else feel like they have to psych themselves up for a big change like that? just me??), I turned to my mom when we hopped out of the car that afternoon.
“I really don’t think I will… But would you take a picture of my hair? So I have a ‘before’ photo, just in case?”
I deliberated the entire time the stylist and I chatted and she shampooed my hair, waffling back and forth and back again, mentally spinning around in circles faster than a dog chasing its tail, but…
I’m sure you can already guess how it ended. 😉
I loved the way it turned out, and I’m so glad I did it. I think this fifth one will be the final time I cut my hair to donate. It feels like a nice round number and good stopping place.
Then again, I said the same thing in September 2021 after the fourth one, so…
I guess I’ll just have to wait and see!
After most of our rainy winter weather disappeared, I decided to celebrate by visiting my favorite beach. However, I didn’t realize until I arrived… The Saturday I selected was THE official start of spring break for colleges and many local schools!
I drove in circles a few times until I found a spot, which almost never happens due to the ample parking in the residential neighborhoods near that particular beach. Once out of the car, I headed away from the main stretch, sprawling hotel, and large concrete lifeguard tower. I felt like a salmon swimming upstream, but eventually the throngs of people disappeared…
At the same time the rock wall and walkway did. Oops.
Yet I turned left and followed the short path that cut through the sand, almost immediately amazed by my luck — and by my newfound discovery.
Only the locals came that far down the beach! The tourists seemed to prefer the glamour of the hotel and convenience of the restaurants nearby (along with the public restrooms!) and rarely ventured the mile away to the other end of the sand and the dog-friendly section. Despite the crowds elsewhere, that part of the beach felt rather quiet and secluded, with only a few groups clustered around square concrete fire pits set further back from the waves to grill burgers, sausages, and marshmallows to make s’mores.
With a small grin tugging at my cheeks, I plopped down on the sand, closed my eyes, and inhaled deeply.
There’s something so calming about the ocean, smelling its salty breeze and hearing its frothy waves tumble over themselves and crash against the shore, something so soothing and rejuvenating, something that releases tension from my shoulders and stress from my body and brings a childlike smile to my face of pure joy. And in those moments, the ones spent sitting with blue skies overhead and my toes half buried in sand…
It’s still hard to believe that this is my life — and this is my home.
In sunny California. A beautiful city. Mere minutes from the sea. Not just during the spring — but all year round.
And I feel blissfully lucky that’s true!
BASEBALL WITH MY GRANDMA
I saved my favorite sign of spring for last…
Baseball is back — which means watching plenty of games with my grandma!
When I was in 4th grade, she and my grandpa surprised my family with tickets to a game with fantastic seats in row 12 along the third base side. However, they left out one key detail…
That particular ballpark was a multi-use stadium, shared between the city’s baseball and football teams, so although row 12 truly was twelve rows back for NFL games, it was the first row for MLB ones. Literally. The first row. On top of the visitors’ dugout. Nobody between us and the field.
Or, as I found out during the national anthem, nothing between me and my stubby souvenir scorecard pencil rolling down off of my seat, over the concrete edge, and into the abyss of discarded sunflower seed shells in the dugout below. (A very belated thank you to the kind Colorado Rockies player who held it above his head for me to retrieve as the song ended!)
Pencil back in hand, my grandma sat next to me and patiently taught me how to keep score with numbers, symbols, and squiggles. She also caught the attention of two different Rockies as they ran off the field, pointed at my younger brother and me, and managed to convince both of them to toss us each a used souvenir game ball.
I’ve been a massive fan basically ever since, and our baseball bond grew stronger after I moved into her same neighborhood as an adult. She’s a huge reason why I love baseball as much as baking!
This year, she invited me over to watch the Opening Day game, along with the second game the following evening. We’ve watched a few more games together, texted back and forth during most others, and sent each other articles and video clips of news, highlights, jaw-dropping plays, and (our personal favorites!) “fun facts” about the players. We’ve even started wearing special colors and hats for Friday night home games, just like the team, along with beginning a brand new tradition of our own…
Enjoying a Julian apple pie for dessert after the games we watch together.
They’re a local specialty baked by (you guessed it!) the Julian Pie Company. Started in 1986 and still family-run, they grow the fruit for their pies on hundreds of acres in the mountains of Southern California. They offer more than 20 different flavors year round, along with some seasonal ones like pumpkin and strawberry rhubarb, and we’ve enjoyed every pie we’ve tried… Especially the Dutch-style ones with a sweet crumble topping.
It’s nearly impossible to pick a favorite! But if you forced me to choose… I’d put the Dutch raspberry apple, Dutch blueberry apple, and classic Dutch apple at the top of my list. Oh! And the Dutch boysenberry apple too. Plus the Dutch cherry apple, if I’m allowed to add another.
Like I said — virtually impossible. They’re all incredible!
So if you’re ever in San Diego or another Southern California city close to Julian, my grandma and I highly recommend trying a Julian apple pie. 😉
Tip: You don’t necessarily need to drive to their original location to buy one. Many grocery stores stock their pies, including Vons and Costco!
Anyway… That’s a roundabout way of saying that my grandma introduced me to Julian pies, they’ve become a staple for virtually all of our baseball nights together, and I’m so grateful for those sweet and special times with her. ♡
And… One final (semi-shameless) plug to follow my new @amys.healthy.baking account, if you’re on Instagram! 😉