I started baking at a young age. At 4 years old my mom introduced me to the world of cowboy cookies and zucchini bread. I would mix the sticky dough and grate fresh-from-the-garden zucchini while smiling and singing – baking and creating things with Mom that tasted so good made me really happy.
On top of that, my parents loved to socialize. Whenever we could we’d gather with friends for “family parties.” There were so many of us that there was always a special occasion to celebrate. I was constantly surrounded by good people and a variety of delicious food. That was the foundation for my love of desserts and sharing them to bring happiness to others.
But my parents also taught me that a happy life is something that involves dedication. At the age of 5 and 4 they registered me, and my little sister Gigi, to be amateur roller skaters (the 4 wheel, old-school kind). This meant that for 8 years we practiced 6 days/week, 2 to 4 hours/day and competed in state, regional, and national meets. Along with my parents, who expected only the best from us in school as well as on the rink, our skating coach Patty was a tough cookie. She demanded our all, but also gave us the same type of unconditional love my parents did. She also had a wicked sense of humor! I learned that winning competitions required crazy hard work and discipline – growing older, I realized the same principles applied to life. I’m so thankful for my family and friends, and for those days that taught me to go after what I wanted and be happy in the process.
Fast forward to college – influenced by my mom, (did I mention she’s an RN?) who always wanted me to be a doctor – I graduated with a B.S. in Biological Sciences and decided to pursue a career as a Physician Assistant (PA). I knew it was my calling – I had a deep compassion and empathy toward helping others heal from sickness that I could not ignore – I still feel that way.
After graduating I married an amazing man named Romeo, who is my soulmate, my hero, my everything (a long, but endearing story)…and became a Neuro PA, specializing in neurosurgery and neurology. I was fascinated with the brain’s capabilities and resilience, as well as intrigued by the challenges I would face daily.
Most importantly, I felt that God had led me there to care for these special patients with brain tumors, strokes, epilepsy, traumatic brain injury, and spinal conditions. It was a joy for me to first assist in brain and spinal surgeries because I love to work with my hands! I can’t explain it, but surgery is one of my favorite things to do.
Above all, I’ve witnessed many miracles – neurological conditions involve a long process from injury and disease to recovery and healing. To be a part of that process, to treat patients through the most difficult times – advise them, cry with them, laugh with them, hope with them, and feel joy as they improve – there are no words for my gratefulness.
In between my work as a Neuro PA, I had my three wondrous babies, who are, as Elizabeth Stone says, “my heart walking around outside my body.” It was during my child-rearing years that I happened to see Ace of Cakes on Food Network and I was immediately hooked. The things he could do with cake were beyond what I had ever imagined. The baking spark in me had reignited! Then along came Cake Boss and I was glued to the TV. I guess you could say Duff and Buddy were my pastry mentors!
I found myself trying out recipes and working with my hands again! I opened a small cake business with a friend of mine who also got the baking bug. Long story short, I went back to work as a Neuro PA and only recently left to be there more for my family during this demanding part of their childhood. I treasure being able to do so.
Covid-19, however, has put an interesting spin on life for all of us. One good thing for me is that during this quarantine, I have actually baked the most ever, and have learned so much about baking through self-study and the Internet. I’ve also launched Glamour and Sugar, my home bakery and blog – something that’s been on my mind for awhile now.
So, as one of my cool Neurosurgery attendings always said, I’m “living the dream”. Dream big, have fun baking, and God bless!