Banana Cake

Because I love you all so much, I thought I would share one of my all-time favorite recipes. Anytime I volunteer (or am volunteered) to bring a dessert somewhere, this is my go-to. It makes a great cake or cupcakes, and it always gets rave reviews. So, you’re welcome. Really. You can make it and thank me later.

1 1/2 c. bananas, mashed, ripe
2 t. lemon juice
3 c. flour
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
3/4 c. butter, softened
2 1/8 c. sugar
3 large eggs
2 t. vanilla
1 1/2 c. buttermilk

1/2 c. butter, softened
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese
1 t. vanilla
3 1/2 c. powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 275.

2. In a small bowl, mash 3-4 bananas and add lemon juice. Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt.

4. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy

5. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Then, stir in vanilla.

6. Add flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk (milk, flour, milk, flour, milk, flour). If you don’t have buttermilk, simply add 1 t. of lemon juice to regular milk.

7. Add banana mixture.

8. For a 9×13 pan: butter pan and pour in cake batter. Bake for approximately 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean

For 3 9-inch pans, line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper. (The cake sticks REALLY bad to the pans, which makes stacking a 3-layer cake difficult). Bake for approximately 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

This recipe also makes amazing cupcakes. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

9. Remove pans from oven and place directly in the freezer for 20-45 minutes. 20 minutes for cupcakes, 30 minutes for 9-inch round pans, and 45 minutes for 9×13 pan.

1. Cream butter and cream cheese until smooth.

2. Add vanilla.

3. Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, and beat on a low speed until combined. Mix on high speed until combined.

4. Spread frosting on cooled cake.

**When I make a 3-layer cake or “fancy” cupcakes (where I use a piping bag to frost them) I will either double or make 1.5x the frosting recipe.



glitter nails

a few months ago, i got started on a serious glitter kick. i even thought that it might have been a good idea that i wasn’t engaged, or i would probably try to cover our entire wedding in glitter.

if you saw my wedding inspiration board, you probably noticed that the glitter obsession is still in full force. and you better believe that glitter will probably make its way onto some nails for the wedding. only probably not mine because my fiance thinks it looks weird. maybe my toes?

glitter nails

a colored nail polish
a corresponding shade of ultra fine glitter [i used smoky quartz by martha stewart]
a clear top coat
a small paintbrush

glitter nails

1. paint one nail with the desired shade of nail polish.

2. while the nail polish is still wet, generously apply glitter.

3. use a small paintbrush to carefully dust off excess glitter.

4. repeat steps 1-3 on all nails.

5. when the first coat of nail polish is dry, apply a clear top coat. [i sometimes apply a few coats throughout the day to give my nails a smoother texture].

glitter nails

glitter nails

ps. my the first photo and the two above were taken by my little sister. seriously. she is awesome.


lemon bars, jana laurene

it has been a while since i have posted a recipe, and ever since my mom visited in december i have been craving her lemon bars.

lucky for you guys, my mom doesn’t believe in secret family recipes – so enjoy!


1 c. butter
½ c. powdered sugar
2 c. flour

cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. add flour. press into a 9×13 pan and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes, until lightly golden. [do not overcook].

3 eggs
2 c. sugar
8 T. lemon juice
Zest from 1 lemon
4 T. flour
1 t. baking powder

beat eggs, sugar, lemon juice, and zest completely, making sure not to over beat.  gradually add in flour and baking powder. pour filling over crust. bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, until edges are golden brown. cooking time will vary depending on your oven, altitude, etc. let sit for about 5 minutes, then sprinkle powdered sugar [using a sifter] on top. cut once cool.



i thought i would give you a break from all of my wordy posts and share some photos i have been hoarding since august. if you are ever in northern california in the summer, you should definitely pay the boardwalk a visit.
i love this place.

ps. in case you were wondering, my little sister makes the silly faces on purpose. such a stinker.

jana laurene photography, santa cruz

jana laurene photography, santa cruz

jana laurene photography, santa cruz

jana laurene photography, santa cruz

jana laurene photography, santa cruz

jana laurene photography, santa cruz

jana laurene photography, santa cruz

jana laurene photography, santa cruz

jana laurene photography, santa cruz

jana laurene photography, santa cruz

jana laurene photography, santa cruz

jana laurene photography, santa cruz

jana laurene photography, santa cruzjana laurene photography, santa cruz



as you may or may not have noticed lately, i am kind of on a goal kick. it’s just that i am feeling super motivated at the moment. so instead of getting ahead of myself with this gung ho attitude i have at the present, i have decided to get organized.

now, before i continue, i have a disclaimer: i am no goal-making and keeping expert. ask anyone that knows me. but, with that being said, i have come up with a system that i feel really good about. in fact, it is already yielding results. and since it would be pretty selfish of me to keep all of my goal-accomplishing secrets to myself, i am going to share them all with you. ready?

1. grab a spare piece of scratch paper and start writing down your goals for the year. all of them. just rattle them off – however big or small they may be. just get an idea of what it is that you are hoping to accomplish. this is your rough draft.

jana beck

2. in a more permanent place – a handy notebook, your journal, planner, whatever it may be, make a more solid list. maybe buying 15 new pairs of shoes isn’t a very worthy goal. and since you haven’t gone for a run since high school, maybe you should start with a 5k instead of the marathon you put down earlier. there isn’t a limit to the number of goals you can accomplish in a year, just make sure you are being reasonable with yourself. i decided to write all of my resolutions for the year on the front page of a new journal – since journaling is something i want to do every day. just make sure your final draft of goals is somewhere where you can see it. often.

3. start getting specific. are the any specific dates or deadlines for your goals? for example, you want to run a 5k. maybe do a little research and pick out a race. then write the date next to your goal. trust me, you are about 20 times more likely to accomplish something if you give yourself a finish date. there have been studies. go through your list and see how many of your goals you can set a reasonable date for [it doesn’t have to be ALL of them].

4. break it down. what can you do every month to accomplish your goal? what about every week and every day? take each of your goals, or as many goals as you would like to focus on, and start finding things you can do on a monthy, weekly, and daily basis to accomplish them. start writing everything down. because i like to write in pen and hate scratching things out, i like to brainstorm on scratch paper, then transfer the final draft somewhere more permanent. in case you want an example of the break down, here you go: one of my big goals for the year is to really nurture my creativity. each month, i plan on completing a sewing project – whether it’s sewing a skirt from scratch or adding ruffles to a plain t-shirt. every week, i want to make sure i want to make time [at least one day] to paint. and every day [at least during the week] i want to put up a new blog post – it’s amazing how that really gets my creative juices going.

sound simple enough? that’s because it is! the hard part is getting it done. so how do we keep on track? to be honest, this is where i usually get lost. until now [at least hopefully].

i am a very visual person. that being the case, i thought it may be helpful to me to have a constant visual reminder of these daily, weekly and monthly goals. here is what i came up with.

jana laurene goal chart

pretty AND functional, right?

this is where i record all of my repetitive goals: things i should be doing EVERY day, like waking up by 7 and exercising. or things i should be doing EVERY week, like trying a new recipe and painting. it works great for me – everything is in one place and it is the perfect way for me to literally check in on my goals on a daily basis. it could also work as an awesome to-do list, if that’s the route you wanted to go. at the end of the week, i plan to tape it into my journal so i can track my progress from week to week.

i know my methods may not work for everyone, but i hope there is something here that you can use to get you motivated and to keep  that motivation going strong even after january.

and, as a little gift, i would be more than happy to share my goal chart with you. if you are on a teal kick, like me, you can simply drag the above version onto your desktop and print away [i print 2 per page].

UPDATE: because of the increasing requests i have had for a number of different colors, i decided to update the design of my goal chart and offer it in 6 fun color varieties. these goal charts are pdf files that can be customized to fit your needs. to view the new design and featured colors: click here.

Goal Chart

happy goal making [and keeping]!