Because National Cake Day Needs a Celebration

Yes, tomorrow is Thanksgiving, but TODAY can't be ignored. Because today is National Cake Day. 

(I will never EVER get tired of that GIF.)

What possible use would you have for a roundup of favorite cake recipes the day before Thanksgiving? There's probably not an immediate one. BUT Christmas "starts" in two days, and you will appreciate having a list of potential cakes to serve or to make as gifts so you can avoid the imminent Target massacre. Consider this an early Black Friday special that doesn't require getting up at Dark Thirty or knocking over aggressive grandmothers.

Citrus Lavender Pound Cake

Christmas will never be so light and proper. This cake is deliciously rich, but the citrus and lavender lighten it substantially. It's just a special cake, and baking loaves of this for your co-workers or friends would be a delightful treat.

Want to make the gift even better? Wrap the cake in a cute tea towel and tie with a ribbon. Two gifts in one. Boom.







Double Chocolate Banana Bread

Deb at Smitten Kitchen never has a loser recipe. Very dependable and beautifully photographed, this cake/bread looks baller. I'm guessing it would make you a rockstar to your kids on Christmas morning.

Cranberry, Orange, and Pecan Coffee Cake

Stop it. Joy does it again. This screams Christmas, so file this away as a holiday winner.

Lemon Yogurt Cake

This is a stellar cake. I've made it multiple times with different tweaks here and there, but you can trust Ina's original. Light, lemony, and perfect any hour of the day.

Have a slice of cake today, y'all! And tomorrow on our day of thanks, I hope you know how thankful I am for all of you. Truly. You make The Sugar Box come alive, and I'm genuinely grateful.

Don't forget! Orders for the Christmas Sugar Box open at midnight on Black Friday because I'm trying to be Best Buy. Want the first word? Come join the mailing list!

Mockingjay Had Me Like...

There will of course be spoilers in three, two, one...

You saw the movie this weekend, right? And when you left the theater, you required drugs and a support group, right? Because OHMYWORD.

Favorite Moments That Won't Require Therapy

1. Haymitch is constantly in a toboggan. 

I'm not ashamed to mention this a 37th time, but he was always wearing it because the world is a good place, full of love and beards and sass and wool. He also made me feel better about needing alcohol or narcotics; we were both feeling the pressure.

2. District 7 is full of super hot lumberjack dudes.

peacekeepers district seven.jpg

Screw those "Which District Are You?" quizzes. The only answer is District 7. Burly lumberjacks who rock their faded flannel and then climb trees like sexy monkeys.  

3. I would pay mightily to have Boggs and Beetee keep me alive and also read me bedtime stories. 


Strength. Intelligence. Consistency. Velvety smooth voices. No nighttime routine is complete without them. Wanna see if they'll adopt us?

4. Castor and Pollux are the brothers we always wanted.

Both are fantastic and have cool helmet cameras and beetle backpacks and need more screen time in Part Two.

5. I wanted to join the rebellion when the people started singing The Hanging Tree with our girl.

Have a listen. Chills for miles and days and always.


Crazy Moments That Will Require All the Therapy

1. Gale.

All of Gale. All six and some feet of beautiful blue-eyed Gale. I'm Team Peeta, but Movie Gale is a force, man. When he watched her see Peeta for the first time, when he side-eyed her by that waterfall, how he threw himself on her to protect her from exploding buildings, when he went to save the guy who's cramping his love game... he's the stuff. And I'm still kind of emotional slash totally emotional about that "kissing" scene. "I'd have to be dead to forget that. And maybe not even then." All the wows, Tall Man. Also your jumpsuit wearing ability is astounding.

2. That thing when two story lines are cut together into one back-and-forth scene? The heart can't take it. 

The quiet singing alongside the dam explosion. Finnick's video slash control room alongside the rescuing of Peeta. This movie really upped its game in terms of cinematic vision. We're done with regular ol' linear storytelling, you guys. It's big time now, complete with a genius James Newton Howard who plays our emotions like a damn violin. 

3. Peeta is skinny and scary and THE CHOKING SCENE WHAT ON EARTH.

How can you know something is going to happen and still be completely unhinged when it happens? That choking scene. FortheLOVE. As it progressed, my hands and feet kept moving closer to my heart center, like I needed to protect my own soul from what was about it happen. Also I'm pretty sure Jennifer Lawrence actually died and they had to use shocker paddles to bring her back. I speak with zero authority here, but you know that scene was hard to shoot. Those two are best buds, and even if you're the kind of friends who joke around and drive each other crazy, you can't look forward to that kind of intensity. I'm still trying to get over it, and I might not until November 2015. 

Which is how long we have to wait until Part Two life is not fair.

But Part One shall sustain us for awhile, my Mockingjay friends. Because it was stellar. Also freakishly intense. One of my movie friends always brings Twizzlers to stress-eat in case things go awry. Those Twizzlers were mighty active the last half hour of the movie because we all thought we were going to die. 

But clearly we didn't go see the movie to watch annoying Prim (yep, I said it) pet that stupid cat or to listen to Effie (love her) make wig jokes. We went to join the rebellion, and man oh man was it awesome and stressful and I'm ready for more. Now. Plus, we need more than two seconds of Johanna. 

What were your favorite parts? Shall we share our therapy sessions?

The Best Cold Weather Movies on Netflix Right Now

You know that in-between space where a movie requires a blanket and a cup of hot chocolate but it's before the holiday fanfare begins? Here are my favorite cold weather movies that you can watch on Netflix right now. IMPORTANT CLARIFICATION FIRST. Cold weather movies do not necessarily equal cozy ones. Gloomy fits, too.


World War Z

I know; you don't like zombies. It doesn't matter. This movie is AWESOME. It's a little dark in feel which makes it better for a winter, and it's the most entertained and surprised I've been by a movie in an embarrassing length of time. It's totally fascinating and fun, and it needs to be on your queue this winter.

The Firm

The Firm 2.jpg

A little cheesy, a lot predictable, but oh so good and such a good time-waster on a cold Wednesday. Tom Cruise is a charming young lawyer who sweats a lot (I mean A LOT) and is wooed by a law firm that looks perfect on the outside but has Southern skeletons in the closet. Tom is cast alongside Holly Hunter, David Strathairn, Ed Harris, Gene Hackman, and Jeanne Tripplehorn in a Grisham thriller that just feels right on a gray winter night. Plus we get to see Gary Busey practically play himself, and he's CRAZY. Grab popcorn and a blanket, and make it happen.

The Man From Snowy River

Stop it. Hallmark movies WISH they could be this cool. Snowy River is the story of Jim, a young man suddenly without a father who takes a job on a cattle ranch where he learns lessons about life, love, and super ornery horses. Jim is super sexy, constantly dirty which contrasts nicely with the white henley he always wears, and Kirk Douglas is great as the domineering ranch owner. It's also full of Australian accents, so WINNING.

Don't be steered wrong by the love interest, Jessica. She's a terrible actress and not even that cute, but it puts you in the perfect position to pretend that you're her because I'll bet you a cupcake you can act better than she can. 

Phoebe in Wonderland

This is kind of a weird one, but give it a chance. An adorable Elle Fanning plays an imaginative, stifled young girl who seeks liberation from her world of rules via an eccentric teacher. She makes friends with characters and is all around a weird kid that my school-counselor husband would spend a lot of time with, BUT as a movie? It's dear. Colorful, interesting, well acted (Elle is magic), and the score is on point. Some of the most beautiful music I've ever heard in a movie. Because there's melancholy paired with the whimsy, it makes perfect sense in the winter.


NOT for everyone. Let's say that first. It's pretty violent in places, and the language can be intense during equally intense scenes. That said, it's a fascinating movie, and Chris Evans in a toboggan is everything. 

It's a couple of decades from now, and world governments have released a chemical into the atmosphere to stop global warming. Instead of stopping its effects, however, the world froze over, killing all but a small number of people who are on a train that never stops. The rich are in the front, the poor are in the back, and you know that won't last long. 

I mean, it's soooo fascinating. Beautifully shot, a great score, beyond-eccentric performances, and some really moving nuanced scenes. I'm shocked that it didn't get attention during awards season. Granted, the ending is kind of a head scratcher, but it's still worth seeing. And the word SNOW is in the title. No brainer.

Cold Mountain


This is one of those slow historical movies that can't be watched when it's warm outside. Again, the word cold is in the title. Another given that you watch this while wearing fleece. 

Nicole Kidman is beautiful with a weird accent, and Jude Law is even more beautiful and barely says a word with his mouth but a LOAD with his eyes. I'm calling it; a paint color called "The Eyes of Jude" would be the top seller. We're talking hella sexy. It's a beautiful movie with a sweet but sad story, and it's meant to be enjoyed in the winter. Even though Jude should be appreciated in all seasons amen.

Again, all of these are on Netflix which everyone must have by now, so get cozy and be entertained.

Jack Bauer Power Muffins

In eight seasons, i.e. 192 super dramatic whisper-yelly hours, Jack Bauer never ate a bite. Apparently when you're saving your daughter, the president, and the world with only a gun, a com unit, and PTSD, you tend to forget to eat. 

You, my friend, are not Jack Bauer. But close. Instead of saving the world, you're saving your world. Wife, mom, employee, friend... no matter your title, sometimes eating gets the shaft in the wake of more urgent matters. 


We need a go-to, y'all, Chloe-like in dependability that will make us more qualified to do our jobs. This muffin is totally that. Make a big batch to freeze, and you'll always have a nutritious and tasty bite on-the-go.

Full of whole-grain flours, unrefined sweeteners, bananas, carrots, apples, walnuts, flax, and healthy fats, you're basically eating a green smoothie in muffin form. (Minus the greens but whatever.) You'll notice a higher number of ingredients than most muffin recipes, but we're packing a lot of goodness into these. Otherwise, Jack might pass out and the world will explode. 

They're barely sweet, hearty, perfect with an egg and fruit at breakfast, and surprisingly satisfying. True story I eat one every morning. I vouch for them with the passion of a thousand Jacks.

Jack Bauer Power Muffins


  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (you can also use whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, spelt flour, or any combination equal to 2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 large carrots peeled and grated
  • 1 large apple peeled, cored, and grated
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3 large eggs
  • ripe bananas mashed
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (not extra virgin)
  • 1/4 cup brown rice syrup (if you don't have/can't find this, use the same amount of agave nectar, honey, coconut sugar, or any natural sweetener you like)
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Use a food processor for the carrots, apples, and walnuts. Grate the produce first and then chop the nuts. Or chop them all if you only want to dirty one attachment. I've tried both ways, and both work. Do yo thang, gurl.


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grab two muffins tins, and either spray them with cooking spray or line with muffins liners. Also? Make sure you spray the top of your muffin tin regardless; your muffins won't stick to the pan and spread out. Same goes for cupcakes by the way.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, flaxseed, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and ginger. Add the carrots, apple, coconut, and walnuts and stir until combined.
  3. In a small bowl or large liquid measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, bananas, coconut oil, olive oil, brown rice syrup, agave nectar, and vanilla. Measure your oils first followed by your sweeteners; they'll "fall out" of the measuring cup much easier.
  4. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until barely blended. Muffins get super wonky if you beat them too much.
  5. Fill muffins pans about 1/2-2/3 full of batter (I use a food scoop so it's quick and equal), and bake in the preheated oven for 13-17 minutes. The range depends on the type of pan and how accurate your oven temperature is. Once the tops look done, stick a toothpick inside the biggest muffin. If it comes out clear of batter, you're done.

This recipe makes a 30 muffins. It's a shame that it doesn't make exactly 24, but you know. Can't win 'em all.

Now eat a muffin, and go save your world.