Crumbling Stigma

STIGMA. “A mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.”

When I first planned this post, I was so sure and excited to share it. But as this week drew near, I became increasingly hesitant & nervous; because the stigma is very real, and there is a very real risk on negative responses. 
I’ve been battling the insecure voices whispering “no one cares about this,” “this account is just for baked goods,” “people might judge you,” or “people just want to see cakes and cookies.” But, while some of those may be true, this post isn’t for those people. This post is for people like me, who have or are struggling with an eating disorder; for those who have felt, or currently feel, alone in that struggle due to the stigma and misunderstanding that surrounds it.

This week is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, and I’ve had a feeling in my gut to share my past struggle with you. That this post is meant to help someone in their journey, as it would’ve helped me in mine. I felt called to help crumble the stigma, to help support the #ComeAsYouAre campaign, to share that eating disorders don’t discriminate, that they affect people of any race, gender, shape, size, and circumstance, myself included.

My eating disorder did not start intentionally. In college, I experienced stressed induced GI issues which caused me to get sick after nearly every meal resulting in a minor weight loss. I underwent dozens of tests with no successful diagnosis/treatment while also struggling with deep rooted insecurities, and negative self image, so I was drawn to the idea of being able to seek comfort in food without weight-gain and thus began to intentionally purge. I believed I was in control, but it quickly became a habit/addiction to which I was a slave. I felt broken, full of shame, and utterly alone in that struggle when I so desperately wanted to be seen and be free from it's control. I felt like I couldn’t talk to anyone about my eating disorder, because of the stigma surrounding it, it’s not something we talk about in society other than being stigmatized in TV. 

There were a few months in my senior year that I stopped, sheer determination to not feel broken kept me from purging, but the weight gain broke me down and I relapsed. It wasn’t until a few years later that I began my recovery journey, around the time my brother asked me about it. He addressed it out of concern for my health, identifying eating disorders as a dangerous medical condition, and that I could ask for help if I wasn't ok. Of course I denied having an eating disorder at first, but after that one email I no longer felt invisible and alone in my struggle. That email gave me the courage to seek help, (though it still took a few weeks to admit to my brother that yes, I was struggling with an eating disorder.) 

As I healed, and addressed the root of my insecurities, I began to open up to family and friends. But it wasn’t until the past year or two that I’ve felt comfortable being more open about my past, and sharing my struggle. Even now, having been fully recovered for a while (I honestly haven't kept track of how long), I am still intimidated by the stigma, the fear of not being accepted, of being seen & treated differently--you’ll notice that even throughout this post, I’ve shied away from naming it, because saying “eating disorder” carries a LITTLE less stigma than saying “I’ve struggled with bulimia.” A statement that makes me quickly want to follow up with the statement “I've never shoved my fingers down my throat to purge.” Why? Because of the stigma, because of how bulimia is portrayed and presented to the world. I feel the need to rationalize and normalize it, to explain myself so that I'm accepted. Talking about bulimia (and eating disorders in general) makes people uncomfortable, which prevents someone from seeking help. 

But, I remind myself that any negative response to my story doesn’t matter. I remind myself of how alone I felt and how my story could help someone else in their journey to recovery. So even though I will always be aware of the risk for relapse, and I avoid my triggers, my eating disorder bulimia is not who I am and it doesn’t define me, but rather it is a chapter in my story of becoming the woman I am.

I’m not sharing this for pity or reassurance, I’m sharing this because when I was in the depths of my struggle, if I had seen a post like this, I would’ve felt less alone, less shame, less guilt, and less brokenness. I would’ve felt like I was seen by someone as more than my eating disorder, and I likely would’ve sought help sooner. In fact, the vulnerability of a former classmate sharing a post regarding shame and an unhealthy relationship with food, that made me think “maybe I’m not alone,” and sparked the desire for healing & recovery, opening the door for me to hear my brother’s concern. That. That is why I’m sharing. To help even just one person feel less alone in their struggle, (eating disorder or other).

"Be Our Guest"

"Tale as old as time..." 

When Beauty and the Beast is the bride's favorite fairytale and a part of her love story with her fiance, throwing a Beauty and the Beast themed Bridal Shower Tea is a no-brainer. So, this past weekend, the other bridesmaids and I did just that.  

From the moment we picked the theme, I knew I was going to decorate a Beauty and the Beast sugar cookie set and decorate cupcakes with roses using my Wilton 2D piping tip


"Try the Grey Stuff, it's delicious...."

I wish I could take credit for the cleverness of this themed cupcake -- but it's a result of a Google search for Beauty and the Beast themed desserts. One of the bridesmaids had come up with "Mrs. Potts Tea," "Chip's Chips," and "Belle's Bookworms" (gummy worms), and I was trying to continue on with tying the movie into the desserts--thus "The Grey Stuff" Cupcakes, and more!

Ok, now that I've told you about the sweets, I should tell you about the rest of the theme...

"Be Our Guest..."

When we first began planning the bridal shower, we found these darling invitations on Etsy by Sweet Tea and A Cactus, and just had to use them! 

We included recipe cards with the invitations, and asked guests to write down their favorite recipes to share with the bride-to-be. 

Guests signed a teapot as a guest-book, which was sent home with the bride-to-be with instructions to bake and set the signatures.

To aid the bride-to-be with thank you notes, there was an envelope addressing station. 

There was an station for guests to leave marraige advice on Jenga pieces for the happy couple to play.

For shower games, we played "Guess the Bride's Age" with photos from her past, "Match the Disney Couples," "What's in Your Purse," and "Bridal (Present) Bingo." 

As I mentioned, we tied the theme into all the food, just take a look.......

"Philippe's Fruit & Veggies"
belle's bookworms, Lumiere's Cheese & Crackers
"Belle's Bookworms" - Gummy Worms
"Lumière's Cheese & Crakers"
"The Baker's Sandwich"

Beauty and the Beast bridal shower drinks

For the favors, we put together packets of tea for the guests to enjoy at home. 

bridal shower tea favors

And the finishing touch for the shower theme, an "Enchanted Rose."

Check out this video of the sugar cookie decorating:

Combat Control Cookies

Last week my brother asked if he could order cookies for a buddy who tragically lost his leg stepping on an IED in Afghanistan, and was en route to Walter Reed for treatment.  He asked for the US Air Force Combat Control Flash and Green Feet & Lightning Bolt Insignias. 

I challenged myself to replicate the insignia, and hand delivered the cookies to JD in Walter Reed. 

Combat Control Flash and Green Feet & Lightning Bold Cookies
Combat Control Flash and Green Feet & Lightning Bolt Cookies

It was an honor to thank him for his service and sacrifice, and meet his family--their strength and resilience is inspiring.

Combat Control Flash and Green Feet & Lightning Bolt Cookies
US Air Force Combat Control Flash and Green Feet & Lightning Bolt Cookies

The details surrounding JD's injuries can be found in this news article and updates from his family can be found on the GoFundMe Page created for him and his family.

Thank you, JD and every other member of the US Armed Forces, for your service and sacrifices made for our country. 

Ombre Wedding Cake

ombre turquoise wedding cake
I snuck a picture holding the cake before the reception.
It's always an honor to be a bridesmaid for a close friend, and an even bigger honor to make the wedding cake too! 

I combined the look of two cakes the bride found online, to make a three-tiered obmbre turquoise cake, adorned with buttercream pearls at the base of each tier, topped with a trio of gerber daisies. 

obmbre turquoise wedding cake cutting
Cake Cutting!
Photo by: Purple Horse Designs

Though I didn't use my bridesmaid dress for a color match, the cake ended up matching almost perfectly. 

The top and bottom tiers were vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream, and the middle tier was red velvet cake, at the request of the groom. 

I love the simplicity of the three gerber daisies topping this wedding cake -- would you believe that I added the flowers while we were getting ready? 

This allowed the flowers to remain as fresh as possible, and also included the bride in the final decoration. It was so special to share that moment with her hours before the “I do’s.” .

ombre wedding cake
Photo by: Purple Horse Designs

A Woodland Birthday

I love bringing a customer's dessert vision to life. 

I often receive Pinterest screenshots for pin-spiration. My most recent order was for a woodland themed birthday party. I replicated deer cupcakes, using buttercream (and royal icing for the antlers), as opposed to the fondant work from the Pinterest photo. 

woodland birthday party
Fawn Deer Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting
Acorn Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

Before adding the antlers and spots, these chocolate cupcakes with buttercream frosting looked like foxes, so I will definitely make these again as foxes, deer, and a few other woodland creatures. (I used vanilla buttercream for the white "fur".)

Deer Cupcakes and Acorn Cookies
Acorn Sugar Cookie
deer cupcakes
Fawn Cupcakes

The order also included vanilla cupcakes with vanilla and raspberry frosting. 

vanilla cupcakes
Vanilla Cupcakes
with Raspberry & Vanilla Buttercream Frostings
Deer Cupcakes and Acorn Cookies
6 dozen cupcakes & 6 dozen cookies
packaged for delivery.

My favorite aspect of this order, is that it was placed by the first official customer of Sweetly Entwined. 
It's been nearly 5 years since she ordered a fishing themed birthday cake. 

Supposedly Spring

simple floral wedding cake
 Photo Credit: Willow Roots Photography

In March I had the pleasure of collaborating with local wedding vendors for a spring styled wedding photoshoot which was just 
photoshoot is published on Annapolis Wedding Blog. Pop over to their site for all the beautiful details! 

spring styled wedding
Photo Credit: Willow Roots Photography
Check out out the talented team of vendors:
Photographer: Willow Roots Photography
Hair and Makeup: Pretty Weird Beauty
Desserts: Sweetly Entwined
Stationary: Susan Wilson Designs
Custom Art: Kimberly George Art 
Florals: Custom Florals 
Event Planning: Hannah Belle Events 

I still remember the look of delight when I told the bride & groom (and the vendors) they could eat the cake.

eating wedding cake
These two newlyweds radiated love, passion, and joy! 
Photograph Credit: Willow Roots Photography
cutting floral wedding cake
Cake cutting is my second favorite part of a wedding.
Photograph Credit: Willow Roots Photography

We all enjoyed a slice of the semi-naked vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream when the photoshoot was over...

bride and groom with spring wedding cake
Top Tier: 6" Vanilla Cake with Raspberry Filling & Vanilla Buttercream
Bottom Tier: 8" Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Ganache & Vanilla Buttercream

Photo Credit: Willow Roots Photography

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Behind-the-Scenes of the cake florals

National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day

Happy National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day! 

I know it's been a few months since I've posted to the blog, but I sure have been busy baking and planning big things! (Hop over to my Instagram or Facebook for my most recent sweet treats!)

In honor of National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, I’m traveling back to my first Instagram post (hence the old logo), and one of my first orders after forming Sweetly Entwined in 2013. (These cookies were also my very first order, nearly a decade before that, when the idea of owning a baking business was just the perpetual day dream of an ambitious 11 year old.) 

In honor of National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, I’m throwing it back to my first Instagram post (hence the old logo),...

Chocolate Chip Cookies will forever hold a special place in my heart. They are the first thing I learned to make, and first recipe I learned to follow and memorize. I can still recite the exact measurements of each ingredient in the 1.25x recipe my Dad and I would make on Sundays.

#NationalChocolateChipCookie day may be made up, but hey, I’ll take any reason to celebrate these classic and scrumptious cookies, and using it as an opportunity to dive back into blog posts! 🍪💕