About Me

Italian Cream Cake with Mascarpone Buttercream LR-2526
I’m Mary, the writer, baker and photographer behind Sifting Focus.  I am currently living in Los Angeles but my roots began in Kentucky, where a piece of my heart will always remain.  I was lucky to have been raised in a family of great cooks and bakers – my Mom and my Dad and both of my grandmothers.  With eleven children in my family, there was always something in the oven at our house.  HA!  Money was scarce but great food wasn’t.  I learned a lot at the hands of my parents and grandparents; sharing that knowledge with others I view to be both a privilege and an obligation. 

You might be wondering what brought me to L.A. from Kentucky.  Well, that would be love – then marriage.  Then came, yes you guessed it, a baby carriage and a beautiful baby girl.  Alas, babies grow up and then they leave for college, which leaves an empty nest to be filled and the question of – what next?

From time to time I still suffer the pangs of “Empty Nest”.  Whenever my Girl returns to school after a visit home, it takes a day or two for me to regain my footing.  I don’t think that will ever change.  However, I have found that the salve best used to heal that wound is time spend in my kitchen baking away. 

At first I was hesitant about writing a baking blog – what did I have to contribute that wasn’t already being said and done on all the wonderful baking blogs already out there.  Then it occurred to me that a personal journal about baking wasn’t about being competitive or the “best”.  My musings and photos here only needed to fulfill me and offer a place where I could connect with others about something I love so much. 

So here I am – blogging away and loving it.  I can hardly believe that it has been three years since my first post.  Sifting Focus has provided me a space where I can be creative in the ways I most enjoy – baking, writing, and my latest passion photography.  Along the way I have met some wonderful people and made new friends; some in faraway places, some right in my own backyard.  These new friendships have been the ultimate blessing of this blog.

Welcome to Sifting Focus and I hope you find something here that delights your sweet tooth.  Glad you stopped by and please come again.   We can share a virtual cup of tea along with some recipes, stories and the latest in food gossip.

Happy Baking – or doing whatever it is that makes YOU happy!


61 thoughts on “About Me

  1. Hey Mary–

    Sherry sent me the link to your blog. I wanted to tell you that it looks fantastic. I wanted to reach into my computer screen to make all of your amazing treats. I love the name of your blog and its incredible style. In addition to all of your many talents, you are also a great food stylist.

    I wish you the best of luck with your blog and I’ll be following it and licking my lips!


    Robin Levander
    (Sherry’s cousin)

  2. Mar,

    I spent my Saturday morning with my coffee and your blog. I am very impressed and proud. The blog is a culmination of many of your talents and gifts that go well beyond baking, some of which you know, and some that can only be seen by others. I wanted a scone.

    Love ya, Dan

  3. Hi Mary,

    Howie posted your blog on Facebook so I had to take a look, and wow! I am totally impressed. Amazing job on the blog and fabulous pictures. You are an inspiration. Keep up the good work, and I am so happy for you.


    Jessica Candler

  4. Mary,

    it looks wonderful… the blog, the baking, and of course you! It is inspiring and I can’t wait to follow…

    Lots of love,


  5. Oh, Mary, it is such a joy to see your gorgeous blog up and running. There is so much deliciousness here, I can see the love and dedication in each post already. And I love that picture of you! So adorable!

    • Thanks Liren for the kind words! It is exciting to be up and running. Now I can start enjoying the experience of baking, writing and sharing.

  6. Love the photo! Looking forward to recipes for your favorite passover desserts! SO tired of matzo – meal sponge cake and macaroons!!

  7. Mary, I just love the blog and hope to try some of these amazing creations!!! Your art and talent just shines through and I’m so happy for you. The butter tip for the scones is GREAT!! xo, Robin Rome

  8. You’re more than up and running….you’re galloping.

    I love your writing as your true self comes through and the gentleness and sweetness permeates each post and exposes your artistry in a new dimension.

    I don’t know much about baking but I’m an expert in eating and I can testify to all who read this that you are not a baker so much as a magician in the kitchen.

    Your readership will spread beyond friends and family and will surprise you in all your modesty.

    I have it on good authority that Martha Stewart is looking over her shoulder.


    Zayzee (aka your loving father in law)

  9. Mary…. I am so happy for you. The blog looks fantastic. For anyone reading Mary’s blog, try the recipes. I have been fortunate enough to have tasted many of Mary’s desserts and they are as delicious as they look in the picture. I look forward to checking you out on a daily basis.

    Love you,

  10. Mary, as I read your blog, I felt that I was with you, experiencing your grace, generosity, and creativity. Only one missing piece: In person, I would be tasting one of your delicious creations, not just craving one. For the moment, I’ll be happy with a feast for the eyes.

  11. Mary, Congratulations on taking your passion to another level! I admire your talent as an artistic baker and photographer. I look forward to more tantalizing recipes!

  12. Mary,
    Reading your blog took me back to eating one of your scrumptious cup cakes from Alana’s b-day party. Yummy! Best cupcake (OK! I had more than one) I have ever had. SERIOUSLY! You are awesome. Love the site.

    Wanda (Sylvia’s friend)

  13. Hi Mary, you’ve got a lovely website, thoughtful voice, a great eye and your tribute to your Dad was wonderful. Best eWishes.

  14. Hi Mary! I keep up with your blog daily and am very impressed- wouldn’t expect anything less from you! I’ve been baking a lot recently and am dying to try some of your recipes. I’ll let me know which ones I try and how they turn out. Love, Megan

  15. Hi, Mary

    I’m the writer, editor, blogger who sat next to you on a recent flight from the Los Angeles Airport to the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport. We had a great conversation about the (almost lost) art of fine penmanship, the craft of writing and the proper outlook on food (we agreed that eating should be a thoughtful act that nourishes us body and soul).

    On the airplane, you were friendly, articulate, earnest and perfectly charming. I can see all of those traits reflected in your blog posts. Your Web site is elegant, inviting and fun. The photography is superb.

    Thank you for starting up the conversation on that long plane ride. It was a very pleasant diversion. I’ll hang on to your business card and will share your Web address with my friends who love to bake, enjoy wholesome food—or simply appreciate a well-crafted spot on the Internet.

    I hope you had a wonderful stay in the Cincinnati area.

    Best regards,


  16. Just found your blog site….I love your picture —- its a brave soul who can take a cute pic like that—Iwould have the spoon in my mouth!!!! Can’t wait for more time to read more!

    • Thanks Susan for stopping by and for your kind words. I have been toying with updating that photo but I must admit, I have grown pretty attached to it. My daughter and I had a lot of fun taking it. Good memories. 🙂

  17. Flipping through Facebook I fell upon your fabulous blog. Love the photos and your storytelling. I plan to check in often.

    It has been a lot of years since Michele and I wrote together. Good to see what you have been up to.

    • Wow Bonnie, you made my day. This is what blogging is all about – keeping us all connected, and sharing food of course. Thank you for your lovely words and I do hope you check in from time to time.

  18. Somehow I just came across your blog today, Mary. I am a serious home baker for many years and really do understand the pleasures baking brings besides the acutal baking! It is therapeutic in both happy and sad times, it’s good exercise (kneading bread dough), it makes other people happy, it’s creative, and the list goes on and on. My cookbook collection is around 400 now and most of them are baking books. I look at it this way: it’s better than gambling! I read them like novels. Between the books and all the recipes I’ve clipped for decades (which of course are categorized down to the nth degree), if I live to be 150 I’ll never have time to try them all. It sure is fun trying, though! Thanks for sharing and I look forward to more yumminess!

    • Thank you Vickie for stopping by my blog and for introducing yourself. It sounds as though we are kindred spirits. Please drop me a line from time to time and let me know what wonderful things have come out of your oven. The best part of having a blog is sharing with others our passion for baking.

  19. I will keep in touch, Mary. Unfortunately I’m not lucky enogh to be retired like some of my friends, but if I were I’d be baking every day. My current search is to find the best streusel topping for muffins and muffin tops. I”m one of those folks you almost loves the crumbs more than the muffin iteself. Happy baking!


  20. Mary, I was born in Kentucky and have long lines of genes there. My husband was too, so I didn’t slack on country cooks to learn from. Love your site.

    • Thanks Annette for stopping by Sifting Focus and for your lovely comment. Hope you will stop by from time to time to see what’s baking.

  21. Just read your recent post on applesauce and simply had to say out loud for all to read, having been with you through the gestation period and the birth of your blog, that your blog childhood is one of growth and beauty and a pleasure to watch.

    You fill each post with the sweetness and kindness of you, the best ingredient any recipe could have. You should be as proud of yourself as i am of you.

    Keep on your path and you will find, in some unexpected way and time, that the world has found you and your quiet way and gentle loving voice will be heard, and light will find you….and you will touch many in many ways.

    Your most adoring reader and eater.

    Love from Dad

    • Dad, thank you for your kind words of inspiration and affirmation. I so love my blog. It has brought me much joy. I’m thrilled to have a vehicle to share my passion for baking and a place to document tried and true family recipes and new creations of my own. Love you!

  22. Hi Mary, My name is Teresa and your Blog is beautiful. I wanted to meet you at the Bridge Bay party but didn’t get the chance. I was told that you collect cook books and I have been collecting community made books for several years because the old recipes are the best. Thank you for your site, it makes me hungry. Teresa

    • Teresa, so sorry we didn’t have the opportunity to meet at the party. Thank you for your kind words regarding my sight. Happy cookbook collecting!

  23. Through the years my favorite memories are those spent with family and friends. The smell of my Grandmother coffee cake or my mother’s peach pie makes me smile. Funny how when you get a hint of those aromas the memories flood back to you. Seeing your wonderful creations and knowing you through the years bring those same fond memories to me that I will always cherish.

  24. Hi Mary, I had the pleasure of serving your charming family tonight at Parkway Grill. I am so thrilled your husband mentioned this amazing blog. Your photography is beautiful and your recipes look delicious! Thank you so much for sharing your passion with the world:) I can’t wait to try some of these gems.

    • Thanks Colleen for your kind words. It was a pleasure meeting you last night. Always nice to know a fellow ice cream lover. Perhaps we will meet again over a scoop or two of some delicious ice cream.

  25. Ahhh! Mary!!!! Perhaps I am the only person ever to enjoy your stunning china and linen vignettes even more than your unearthing of delectable scrumptious sweets! All so divine. Such talent.

  26. Hi Mary,
    I just discovered your blog through Pinterest! Your lemon cupcakes recipe, in fact. Just wanted to say well done. Great recipes, lovely blog in general – well written, fantastic photos, and a special flavor all its own.
    Keep up the good work.
    All the best, Marina

    • Wow Marina! Your comment made my day. I have been in a slump since my Mom’s passing this past August. Hope to return soon with some yummy recipes. Thanks again for your kind words.

  27. Mary
    I have not long been into Pinterest but am addicted and now have found your Blog. A Big Thank You all the way from Australia for sharing your family receipes with us !

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