Happy 19th Birthday! The many faces of my daughter Hannah

Wow, I can’t believe its been 19 years already!  It doesn’t seem that long ago that a nurse put her in my arms and then stuck me in a wheel chair to escort me out of the hospital.  Wait, you want me to actually leave here by myself and take care of her?  While I was scared shitless, it helped that I was young and a “go with the flow” kind of person. 😀

I just remember my sister and I were still living in our apartment when she was born.  My sister was at work, and I put Hannah down after her morning feeding around 7 in the morning.  I only was able to take six weeks off, so she was probably a month old.  By 6 at night she was still sleeping!  I kept checking in on her making sure she was still breathing.  In desperation, I called my Mom and said “Hannah won’t wake up!”  To which my Mom replied “just go wake her up then.”  Duh!  It never dawned on me – I was just waiting for her to get up!  Fast forward 19 years later and she’s still an awesome sleeper.

She walked at 10 months, and didn’t have her first hair cut until she was 3 1/2.  Whenever I left my parents house, this was where she would be – or in their front window.  More times than not she would cry when I left, but my Mom always told me she stopped crying by the time I drove away.

Probably because that meant Poppy time!  My Dad was her # 1 fan.  He thought she was the smartest kid and couldn’t wait to brag about her.  Most mornings I would wake up, come down to the kitchen, only to have Hannah and Poppy sharing breakfast off the same plate, and my Dad making hats out of the Sunday paper.  I hope Hannah remembers those moments!

It was round age 3 that Hannah became known as “The Bag Lady.”  She routinely carried around two or three bags at all times, sometimes up to 10.  My parents had a pantry that had low cupboards, and every night after Hannah went to bed, I had to clean out her bags – she’d have cans of tomato paste, tuna and lots of silverware – she was just tall enough to pull open the silverware drawer and would just reach in and grab whatever she could.

And her babies were a constant companion – the tiny one on the right especially – she would start to panic if we couldn’t find it when it was time for bed.

And when I had given up all hope of her having any hair – all of a sudden it grew like a weed.  She loved flipping her hair around.

Hannah and I used to take lots of day trips – she loved the zoo, especially the dolphin show, which was a special treat because it wasn’t included in the entrance fee to the zoo.

Since Hannah was such a heavy sleeper, I had to find ways to get her up every morning.  One of the ways that would instantly wake her up and start laughing was putting on a Celine Dion tape of “Treat her like a lady” and singing it at the top of my lungs while dancing around her room: “Go, go go goes around comes around!”  Isn’t laughter the best way to get up? 😀

My sister and I took her to a Celine Dion concert in 1998, this was a year before I went to Weight Watchers, and yes, I believe I have spilled food on my size 20 shirt!

Once she started school, summer and spring breaks were a challenge.  I ended up picking a “sports” camp because, truth be told, it was the cheapest back then – but still $150 a week.  I am not a good swimmer at all, so you can imagine I was a bit concerned that 1/2 of the sports camp day was to be spent at the local pool.  On the first day I was like “Hannah can’t swim, so if you can make sure she stays in the shallow end, I would appreciate it.”

Half way through the summer they had an open house.  I sat down on some bleachers with the other parents, when all of a sudden I see Hannah climbing up the steps to the diving board.  I started to panic.  I couldn’t believe they didn’t listen to me when I told them she couldn’t swim!  I started to stand up to save her when I watched her dive beautifully into the water and swim to the side of the pool.  I was in total shock!

I went to her and she said “that lady over there taught me how to swim.”  She was pointing to a high school student who was one of he camp counselors.  I was so proud of her!  She and my step-son Joe are still fish in the water.

That picture was taken at my Aunt and Uncle’s lake house at Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia.  Imagine my surprise that one of my favorite bloggers, Robin Sue’s (of Big Red Kitchen) parents also have a place there – small world!  If anyone lives near Reston, Virginia, Robin is setting up at a farmers market this year – I would go there every week if I lived close!

Another one of our favorite past times (which I realize we haven’t done in a long time!) is go to the pet store and pick up tiny dogs.  While our black lab is 80 pounds, we like to pick up the tiny dogs that won’t get bigger than 15 pounds. 😀

And I would be remiss if I didn’t post her favorite school picture – although truth be told, each one looks exactly the same to me! 😀  I love her smile!

Here is a picture of me about the same age as Hannah in the above picture – I never noticed it before but my eyes are brown in this picture, but today they are hazel green!  Gotta love the 70’s jumper!

people say we look a lot alike, but we don't see it!

And then one morning I wake up and she’s a woman!  Almost a year ago you graduated from high school with a 3.8 GPA and now have almost finished your first year of college and made the Dean’s List with a GPA of 3.9 your first semester.  I could not be prouder of you – you have such a bright future ahead of you!

and its almost a year later and my sunburn marks are still present!

I asked her what kind of cake she wanted for her birthday and she said “I don’t know – something mocha.”  So with that word in mind, I went to Tastespotting and found THE.PERFECT.CAKE for her!  I did make some changes – I made it two layers and did a vanilla butter cream frosting instead of heavy whipping cream.  But as soon as I saw the coffee bean brittle – that’s what won me over!

Double Layer Mocha Cake with Coffee Bean Brittle

(adapted from Baking with Lisa, which was adapted from Belinda Jeffery’s Mix and Bake).

Ingredients:  (this is for one layer, I made two layers)

  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder (I used Ghirardelli)
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup cold strong coffee
  • 3 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (I used one 72% and the other dark chocolate with sea salt)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/4 flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk


  1. Heat oven to 300 degrees.  Spray a cake pan (two if you are making two layers).
  2. Put the cocoa powder, butter, oil and coffee in a large saucepan.  Melt over medium heat, stirring until the mixture is silky.  Take off the heat and add the chocolate and sugar – whisk until chocolate is melted and let cool.
  3. In the same pan, add the egg and vanilla and whisk.  Sift the flour and the baking powder into the mixture and stir until just combined.  Whisk in the buttermilk.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan – tapping it to get out air bubbles and to even it out.  Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  5. Cool for 5 minutes, then invert over a wire rack and cool completely.

Buttercream Frosting:

  • 2 sticks of softened butter
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup heavy cream

Beat everything together with a hand mixer.  Start with 1/4 cup of heavy cream and add up to 1/2 a cup to get desired consistency.  I had about 1/3 of this frosting left over after decorating the cake.

Coffee Bean Brittle

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon roasted coffee beans, coarsely chopped

In a skillet cook the sugar and water over medium heat until it gets a medium brown color – this will take about 20 minutes – be careful because it can go to burnt really quickly!  Remove from heat, stir in coffee beans and pour on a baking sheet that has parchment paper on it.  Let cool 30 minutes before breaking into pieces.

I love how it didn't stick, which usually happens to me, which is why I don't bake very often!

all frosted - not going to win any decorating awards there 😀

the brittle after 30 minutes

the brittle broken up - holy cow is this good - the coffee bean is slightly bitter but balances with the sweetness of the sugar

Are you ready for the finished product?? . . . . . . .

I still can't believe I made this!

With the leftover tiny brittle pieces, I just put them all over the top of the cake:

I think the brittle makes the cake though:

So Hannah, I hope you have a wonderful birthday!  Sorry you have to go to school all day!

I love you and you make me so proud!  New readers can check out our story here.  Best birthday gift ever was when Tony bought her a car when she was 17!  Still makes me cry when I watch it! 😀

A quick note:  BSI is back this week – Marisa from Loser for Life chose proscuitto!


54 thoughts on “Happy 19th Birthday! The many faces of my daughter Hannah

  1. Aww! Happy birthday, Hannah! =)

  2. What a fun post! Happy Birthday to your sweet daughter 🙂 I’m so thankful for my awesome 17 year old daughter!

  3. Our “kids” are just 4 days apart in age. Now that’s so cool. HAPPY BIRTHDAY HANNAH!!! I hope that today is the best day ever. You so deserve it. And mama, you enjoy this day too cuz you have an amazing daughter.
    Take care and God bless you all.

  4. Beautiful post, Biz!!! I can’t believe my teenager is 19, too…Time flies. The cake looks fabulous!

    Happy, happy Birthday to Hannah! Have a fabulous day!

  5. What lovely and nice girl! Your daugther i awesome, remembere me my daughter has 16, hope in the future look like yours happy and nice! gloria

  6. Happy Birthday Hannah!! She is a gorgeous girl with a 100-watt smile!! You have the same smile, Biz!

    I can feel your love and pride jumping off the page, you are both lucky! I hope to have such a wonderful relationship with my daughter – keep fingers crossed as we approach teenage years – hahaha.

    And, finally…OMG..that cake looks yummy!!

    Blessings to your family, you all deserve a celebration!.
    much love, jen

  7. Happy Birthday Hannah!!! And what an awesome cake!

  8. Happy Birthday Hannah!!! Loved this post.

  9. Happy Birthday Hannah! May you be blessed beyond measure today.

    Biz, don’t you know the very reason she has that 3.9 GPA and is making the dean’s list is because she’s so good about going to school?

  10. Happy Birthday Hannah!!!! What an incredible cake!

  11. awe…happy birthday to Hannah! My oldest, my only daughter, turns 19 in September…you are right…where do the years go? Doesn’t seem possible they can grow up so quick…

    What a lovely tribute to her today! You can tell how proud you are. She is lucky to have you!

  12. Look at you with the beautiful, homemade cake and fabulous, smart daughter who looks SO much like you – you guys are too cute! Happy Birthday to Hannah!

  13. Happy Birthday Hannah! And I do think you two look quite a bit alike!

  14. Happy Birthday Hannah! People with March birthday are the best!

  15. Happy Birthday Hannah!! I agree that you guys look alike. And that you look like your dad!

  16. Time flies! Love all the pictures. The cake looks great. Happy Birthday to Hannah!

  17. What a fantastic cake!!
    Great pictures – how time flies.
    Happy Birthday HANNAH! We will try to catch her today.

  18. Happy 19th to Hannah and to you, mom! She radiates the same glow and joy that you do Biz. Beautiful cake!

  19. Happy birthday to you beautiful Hannah! Your relationship with each other is everything I pray that my daughter and I will have when she’s older.

    Your cake turned out lovely! Enjoy a big piece for me! 🙂

  20. i feel like she just had her birthday! maybe it’s because i remember her getting the car…and i was jealous. haha!

    great job on the cake for her! that looks awesome~

  21. Awwwwwwww……….sweetest post ever, Biz. I hope Colin and I have the same close relationship you and Hannah have when he’s 19. Hannah’s a lucky girl to have such an awesome mom!

  22. Beautiful story! Happy Birthday Hannah! May your life continue to be filled with love and joy!

  23. Happy Birthday Hannah!!!!!!!! Enjoy the day, and may the year ahead be filled with all you wish for!

  24. Happy Birthday Hannah! I feel like I turned 19 so long ago, when in reality, it was only 4 years!

    I hope you all enjoy Hannah’s birthday 🙂

  25. This is such a beautiful post! Happy birthday, Hannah!

  26. Loved all the pics Biz – especially of Hannah and Dad! 🙂

    Happy Birthday Hannah! – You are the best. And I seem to remember singing our hearts out on the way to and from the Celine concert!! 🙂 Good times!

  27. Happy birthday beautiful girl! I loved seeing Hannah through the years–most especially at Smith Mountain Lake where I have boated and swam and had many picnics. Part of my grandfather’s farm is under all that water. It’s o.k. since he was paid a lot of money for it!!



  28. Holy cow, it seems like just yesterday I watched that video of Hannah getting the car! Happy Birthday Hannah!! 🙂

  29. I just went and read your story about having Hanna! You had me in tears! I am so proud of YOU. For making such a huge and courageous decision. What a blessing children can be, but to have to make that decsision alone…YOU are AMAZING. And what loving parents you have. So Happy Birthday to Hannah and YOU! You amazing woman you, and happy day to Tony for stepping up and being a dad to Hanna and an amazing Husband to YOU!

  30. Love this post!! So cool. Happy birthday to Hannah! That is one of my favorite names, by the way 🙂

  31. aw, bless her heart, what a sweet girl! i love all the pics and that video is presh! happy birthday hannah!

  32. AWWWW Biz you are just the cutest MOMZ everrrrr!!! (ok tied w/mine ;D)
    Happy Bday Hannah….love how she’s always smilingggg!!!

  33. Happy Birthday Hannah!!! Enjoy your day and that incredible cake!!!

    Biz, I love that picture of her sleeping, thumb in mouth and hand on dolly – heart-melting!

  34. Hope you have a great birthday Hannah and that cake looks AWESOME

  35. That video is SO cute…as is the rest of this post! I think I just melted into a puddle. I hope I have that fabulous of a relationship with my future daughter 😉 You are such a wonderful Mom. And the cake? Ah! Coffee Bean Brittle? YUM

  36. Happy Birthday to Hannah!
    She is too darn cute!
    That cake looks amazing! You are so creative! A mocha cake..a girl after my own heart! yum!

    • I would love this blanket for my dauehtgr Ingrid, who was born on 16.7.2012 she is not even three weeks old yet. I knitted her a merino blanket, but we are still missing a cotton one. As for the border color I would love the one that YOU think fits best with a dark haired Ingrid.

    • That’s really shrewd! Good to see the logic set out so well.

  37. A beautiful post and a beautiful smile:) Kudos on a job well done, Mom.

  38. Happy Birthday Hannah! You did a beautiful job Biz!

  39. Happy birthday to your daughter! That cake looks PERFECT! What a wonderful birthday treat, amazing 🙂

  40. Happy birthday to Hannah! The celebration cake looks absolutely perfect!

  41. I loved reading this! Happy Birthday Hannah! Today is my dad’s birthday too! I got him a gnome! Muahahahha!

  42. Happy Birthday Hannah! That video is too sweet. :)!

  43. Hannah has had the same beautiful, glowing smile through all of her years! And I can tell through your writing, she has your kind heart, Biz! Happy 19th Birhday, Hannah – the best is DEFinitely yet to come for you. 🙂

    That video made me tear up, too!

  44. Holy crap Biz! That cake looks so incredible. Hannah’s a lucky birthday girl! Happy Birthday Hannah!!!! 🙂

    You seem like such an awesome mom Biz!

  45. Love the photos!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY HANNAH 🙂 You’ve got one amazing daughter, Biz 😉

  46. The time has flown by! I think I have known you about three years now and Hannah was in HS going off to Germany for some fun! Now she is 19! You are a wonderful mom Biz, and have down a beautiful job with this lovely young lady! I wish we could meet at SML some day, that would be too fun! Hope Tony is doing well today! Oh my and that cake you made Hannah is over the top yummy looking. Have a great day!

  47. You have Hannah look very much so alike! I loved that story about her on the diving board! And the purses…OMG, that photo is ADORABLE!!! Happy Birthday, Hannah! Man, does your mommy love you!

  48. happy belated birthday to hannah! i love your posts about her…you guys have such an awesome relationship and they always remind me just how much i love MY mom! awesome cake btw. it looks so fancy!

  49. What a great post! Happy Birthday Hannah! And OMG THAT CAKE!!! Must. Have. Piece. Now. 🙂

  50. Happy Belated Birthday Hannah! Loved all the photos! And that video made me choke up – so sweet!
    And OMG that cake!!!

  51. My 1 year old boy would love the one with grey! I like to see how cozy my boy can be wrapped with this beauuiftl blanket. My 4 years old boy also would love to play with the blanket to create his imaginary world. We will move to a new house 2 weeks later so it would be a memorial gift to them. Thank you for such a lovely giveaway!

  52. Oh my young niece is expecting her first bubba this year. I have pasesd on all my baby things to her and she is just so grateful. She will be single parenting and she doesnt have a lot. It would be lovely to gift her this? It certainly is one special blankie.

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