I love July for so many reasons, but when I was growing up, I have to confess, I loved it because I had a birthday on the 28th day of the month!

Of course, the 4th of July was always a great holiday, back then, too. We’d gather up and go to “Bryan County” (as my dad always called it) where both sets of my grandparents lived and almost every single one of my cousins on both sides of the family. That was what I was interested in—being surrounded by a slew of cousins who were all close to my age!

We had fireworks, home-made ice cream (the kids had the job of sitting on the top of the ice cream freezer while the men cranked the handle) and so much food. If it was hot (and it usually was, being July in Oklahoma) we’d just make a huge pallet on the floor of the living room and the kids would all sleep there, with the box fans blowing on us and the front door standing open for the least bit of breeze.

When my birthday rolled around on the 28th, I always had a party of some kind. From the parties of the early days—early-mid 1960’s—where all the little girls dressed in their Sunday best, complete with anklets and white patent leather shoes and party dresses, to the later teen years when slumber parties were the thing. What a time we had!


I bet you figured it out–I’m the 2nd from the end on the left. This was my 8th birthday–here we are, all in our party-dress finery!





This is my 12th birthday. I was surrounded by friends as we celebrated, ate, and just had a wonderful time. I’m on the end in the striped outfit, and my dear friend and cousin, Julie is just to my left–so this birthday, I got the best of everything–a COUSIN and friends, along with cake and great memories!


Remember those birthday party games like Pin the Tail on the Donkey? Drop the clothespins into the bottle while standing on a stepstool? Wouldn’t it be great to be able to have fun like that today?


Mom always baked her “famous” chocolate “jelly roll” cake from scratch, and made her own thick, creamy, chocolate frosting. She’d let it cool, but it had to be rolled up while it was warm from the oven so it wouldn’t break later on. After she gently unrolled it and frosted it, she sprinkled chopped pecans on top of it. Then,  it went into the fridge. OH, MY GOODNESS.

I’ve often thought about making that jelly roll cake—my sister has the recipe—but I don’t know if I’m talented enough to keep it from breaking!

I’m including a link to a cake that looks a lot like Mom’s but hers had frosting on the inside AND the outside, too. If you make this, I’d love to hear how it turns out!

truffle cake roll


Do you have a favorite birthday cake? What is it? I have to admit, I’m a cake fanatic. I love them all, but that chocolate one my mom made…I wish I had some of that today!

As I mentioned earlier, I’m giving away a copy of FIRE EYES today—there’s a scene in it where one of the very young deputies, Frank Hayes, has made a terrible mistake that could have resulted in the death of our hero, Kaed Turner. In this scene, Kaed tries to find familiar ground to bring two young deputies Frank Hayes and Travis Morgan, to an understanding. Here’s what happens:





Frank whirled at Kaed’s voice, his hand at his Colt instinctively. Kaed and Travis stood behind him, holding their horses’ reins. Kaed stepped forward. “Didn’t mean to startle you.”

Frank nodded, standing stiffly awkward in front of them.

“Relax, Frank,” Kaed said. His gaze dropped to where Frank’s hand still hovered above the butt of his gun. Frank looked down, as if he didn’t recognize the hand was attached to his body.

“What’re you doin’ out here?” Travis asked.

Hayes shrugged. “Thinkin’ ’bout everything.” He turned to lean against the boulder, away from them. “‘Bout how I almost got you killed, Mr. Turner.” His voice was low.

Kaed glanced at Travis, and Travis looked away.

“Well, Frank, I expect you’ll remember to tell someone next time, won’t you?” Kaed said quietly.

“Won’t be a next time, Mr. Turner. I don’t b’lieve I’m cut out for this.”

Travis started forward, but Kaed put a staying hand on his arm. Travis met his eyes and Kaed shook his head. He came toward Frank slowly. When he got within arm’s length, he stopped.

“How old are you, Frank?”

“Twenty. Or close enough. My birthday’s next month. My ma, she always made a cake.” He glanced around at Kaed, a flush staining his neck, making its way into his face. “Chocolate,” he mumbled, “if she could get it.”

Kaed gave him a half-smile and closed the last bit of distance between them. “You’re awful lucky, Frank. I lost my mother when I was just shy of nine. I’m not sure I even remember exactly when my birthday is. But, that’s not really important, anymore.”

Frank nodded, but didn’t look at him. He kept his eyes fixed on the gently swirling water of the creek.

Kaed went on. “When you became a deputy marshal, you got another family. We all share the same life, the same dangers, the same loneliness of bein’ out on the trail.”

Frank shuddered, his lips compressing tightly. “I know you’re right, Mr. Turner.”

When he didn’t continue, Kaed said, “I’m not mad at you, Frank. Anybody can make a mistake. Travis, here, he was a couple of years older than you when he made his big one.”

Travis drew his breath in, and Kaed turned to give him a quelling glance. “Right, Trav?”

Travis nodded.

Kaed turned back to Frank. “You’ll have to get Trav to tell you about it.” He spoke easily, as one friend would to another, as if he thought Travis and Frank were on amicable terms.

Frank gave a short, brittle laugh. “I don’t think Travis Morgan is gonna talk to me about any mistake he ever made.”

“Trav, come on up here,” Kaed said.

Travis slowly stepped forward to join Frank and Kaed, swallowing tightly. “Frank, I guess I need to say—”

“You better do more than guess what you need to say, Travis,” Kaed said, his tone cool.

I’m giving away a copy of FIRE EYES to one lucky commenter today! Do you have a favorite birthday memory? What about a favorite birthday cake? Please share! I love memories of parties, cake, ice cream, presents—and GOOD TIMES!


Website | + posts

A native Oklahoman, I've been influenced by the west all my life. I love to write short stories and novels in the historical western and western romance genres, as well as contemporary romantic suspense! Check my Amazon author page to see my work:
I live in Oklahoma City with my husband of 40 years. I love to hear from readers and other authors--you can contact me here:
Follow me on Facebook:


  1. Happy Birthday! I’m also a July baby! My favorite birthday cake growing up was confetti angel food with my mom’s almond buttercream frosting – decorated with those hard sugar candies that were so much fun to eat. My mom would cut a circle from the cake mix box and place it over the hole in the top of the cake and frost over it. That part always went to the birthday kid so they could eat the frosting. She would use a ton of frosting so that was almost as good as the cake!
    As I got a little older, my birthday cake of choice was my mom’s apple pie. It was the best ever. I can get close, but never the same. She would roll up the pie crust scraps with cinnamon and sugar and bake them for little treats. For some reason, we always called them tarts. Hers always seemed better than mine. 🙂

    • Stacey, my mom made a lot of angel food cake during my growing up years, and I loved that, too–I especially love the idea of your mom’s about cutting the circle form the cake mix box and frosting over it! What a treat for the birthday boy or girl that had to be! And apple pie…oh YUM. You know, it’s never as good as when someone else makes it for us, is it? There’s just something about being the one that’s special and having someone else make us a cake or pie (or anything else!) we love. Thanks for sharing this!

  2. My BEST birthday memory was a visit to the doctor’s office because I was feeling really ill. The doctor looked at us (my husband and I) and said… “If I didn’t know better I’d say you are pregnant. We are going to do some tests to see what’s going on.” We all laughed because we were told many years before that that I would never have a baby because of my health. So we went and of course after the bloodwork came back, it said I was pregnant. We just looked at him and I finally said, ” Years ago you told me I never would have a baby and you know we have adopted four children since that day that I my tests came back saying I could not have a baby and he said, “Well, I guess we were wrong”, and laughed. At first we were shocked but we did want lots of kids and after the “you’ll never ever have a baby” baby was born the phone rang and we were told there was another boy needing a home so he came home to us at the age of 18 months.
    God blesses us in so many ways and that was a very special blessing. Everyone of our children were such huge blessings and now they are all adults and they are having children and we recently became great grandparents for the first time. It was my best birthday ever.

    • OH NANCY! That story brought tears to my eyes. What a wonderful birthday that had to be for you! I love true stories like this–they renew our faith! I’m sure you were in shock, but you and your husband seem to be the kind that could take anything in stride–what with already having four kids, then your miracle baby, and then ANOTHER child, as well! Bless you and your family. What huge hearts you have! And that truly was a wonderful miracle for your birthday! Thanks so much for this memory of a wonderful day in your life!

  3. My favorite cake for my birthday was Mom’s German chocolate cake. Her homemade frosting was amazing! We lived way out in the country, and I don’t ever remember having a birthday party with friends my own age, but my parents made it special with just us.

    • Janice, this brought back a memory I had forgotten about. We moved the summer I turned six. In fact, we were sitting in an empty house waiting for the movers on my birthday, and Mom went to the store and bought a cake. Back then (that would have been in 1963) it wasn’t as common as it is now to go “buy” a ready-made cake. She knew I wanted chocolate, but the only chocolate they had was a German chocolate cake. I just really hated coconut in anything, and she knew it. She ended up buying it and bringing it home (everyone else in the family loved coconut) and of course, when I took the first bite, I said, “THERE’S COCONUT IN THIS!” and she said, “Well, just scrape it off and eat the cake.” I was perfectly fine with that solution. So I ate the cake (and it was wonderful) with no icing on it and my sisters were thrilled because they ate my icing. LOL I think coconut was the only thing I wouldn’t eat flavor-wise, so my mom bought a LOT of Almond Joys and Mounds because she knew they were safe from me. LOL Great memories–I think MOMS make the very best frosting, no matter what kind it is, don’t you?

  4. My mom always made a cake from scratch, and usually made it into something, train, doll, dog, merry go round. She had a book of different cake designs, I don’t remember if we picked or she surprised us. My dad always helped her decorate it.
    We didn’t get a party every year, but got a cake. We did get a party at age 6, 12. Except my little brother, who had a birthday on July 3. We were always at grandma’s house so he always got a party with whatever cousins were around that year. And he always said the fireworks were to celebrate his birthday.

    • Veda, those are some great memories. I think my mom had a cake “book” like that too, where you could make different cake shapes and decorate them. She loved cake decorating and eventually signed up for some classes and took them. But no matter what…I always wanted that chocolate jelly roll cake. LOL She made cakes a lot though–I had sisters who were teenagers when I was very small, so there was always a house full of other teen friends and boyfriends. Sometimes she’d make 2 or 3 cakes every week, and she made them from scratch, too.

    • Hey Laura! Thank you–my saying is, once you get to be 60+ the party lasts a full month, and then at 70, it never ends. So today we’re going to Olive Garden (whole family and a family friend) to celebrate. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the month, too…LOL

  5. Happy Birthday! I have never had a birthday party. Just wasn’t feasible where I lived, way out in the country.

    • Estella, you are surely not alone. Many people are there right along with you. My mom always made sure we got parties because her birthday was January 10, and she mentioned many times about how there was usually bad weather and it was so cold they couldn’t go outside to play games or anything. She was the oldest of 11 kids, so inviting friends over and staying inside was just not going to happen, and I imagine, during those Depression days, and with so many mouths to feed in that family there just wasn’t time, money, or even inclination to try to make a cake and “party”–and I can certainly understand that. And they lived out in the country, too.

  6. Happy Birthday! The cake for my birthday is a gingerbread cake with whipped cream. I don’t remember when that became my favorite. For my eighth or ninth birthday I had a cake with a doll in it. The cake was her dress. It looks like you had a lot of fun on your birthdays.

    • Oh, how NEAT! I think any little girl would live a cake like that–how clever! Don’t you wish you had a picture of every birthday cake you ever had? I had a good writer friend who is no longer with us whose parents took a picture of her with her cake every year. I wish I had something like that to show not only the cakes, but the passage of time year to year. My dad took a lot of pictures, but nothing like that kind of tradition every year.

    • Teresa, I have to look this up. I never heard of it, but I can imagine it has to be great because of the extra eggs in Miracle Whip. Man…I wonder what people did before Miracle Whip ever came into being–I love that stuff!

  7. Happy Birthday!!! I didn’t have a favorite cake because I kind of love any kind of cake. I guess my favorite birthday was my 16 and we had a teen age party with music and dancing. All of my friends where there and we had a wonderful time.

    • Oh, how fun, Quilt Lady! I don’t remember ever having a “boy-girl” party like that. The last “party” I remember is my 12th–it was a costume party. The picture in the blog post is of that crew, but we’d already changed clothes (yes, I have the pictures of us all in our costumes and I post them on FB sometimes–everyone cackles).

    • Yes. Yes. AND YES!!!! LOL I do love cake, but I also love ice cream. I could not have a birthday without ice cream. I didn’t eat any yesterday, but tonight for dessert, I’m going to have some, even if it’s just a bit. And tomorrow, I’m going to go and BUY myself a decadent piece of chocolate layer cake (one of the grocery stores nearby has a wonderful bakery/cake dept.) and I might just eat that and a big helping of ice cream and nothing else. LOL

  8. Happy birthday! I haven’t had a birthday cake since I was a kid and my mom always made them. I don’t really remember, but I bet they were chocolate. My favorite kind of cake now is strawberry cake.

    • Thanks, Janine! I came across a recipe the other day for a cake I’m going to make and I don’t care if I’m the only one who will eat it. It’s called “Southern Mandarin Orange Cake” OR “Pig Pickin’ Cake”–and it sounds divine. The cake is orange flavored (and I love oranges) and then it has pineapple icing. It really sounds light and refreshing for summer. My thought? Make it and cut it into pieces and freeze what I’m not going to eat immediately. I love strawberry cake too, and sometimes I just want nothing but strawberry shortcake–I get hungry for that and I will make it and eat it, even though it does have a lot of sugar in it.

  9. Happy Birthday. You share your day with my nephew Marcus… My fav cake is a Strawberry Romanoff Cake. It is a sponge cake made and the layers are filled with strawberries and real whipped cream and then covered in the whipped cream. It comes from a bakery and they only have it in the winter, because they use real whipped cream. So as my birthday is in March, I would request it.

    • Thanks, Kathleen! VERY COOL–I always love to hear of other people who share my birthday! Oh, my goodness, I can see what that would be a FAVORITE! That sounds sooooo good. I love strawberries and I love whipped cream, so … the perfect cake, for sure! I never heard of it, but now that I HAVE…

  10. Happy Birthday! I’ve never made a roll cake, but I usually asked for a chocolate cake with chocolate icing. Except my 16th birthday, when my mom made me a unicorn cake per my request. Different that the layered cake unicorn cakes popular now, my mom used the Wilton lamb cake and figured out how to do it–very popular at the time.

    Enjoyed the excerpt.

    • Denise, I love that idea! Weren’t our moms COOL? They came up with some of the best innovative ideas to make things work. I would love to have seen that cake. I remember when those Wilton cake pans first started coming out and how expensive they were for the different shapes! Mom used to talk about buying one or two of them, but I think she just couldn’t justify it in her own mind. But she came up with some good ideas on her own for different shapes of cakes and so on. I wish I had the patience for cake decorating. There are some BEAUTIFUL cakes out there on the internet.

    • Thank you, Melanie! The best thing about birthdays is (at least this year it has been that way) I’ve been getting cards and little wonderful gifts in the mail for a week now. I know something is “on the way” today from a friend, but it’s not here yet…so I’m waiting…LOL (like a kid waiting for Christmas!) LOL

  11. My only really big party (that I have memories of) was for my 10th birthday. It was at the roller rink! My best friends, soccer team, and cousins all came, and we ate “dirt”!–chocolate pudding with crumbled up Oreos, and gummi worms, in little terra cotta pots, with coconut shavings dyed green on top. It was SO DELICIOUS. I was always shy, so it was one of the few times when I was the center of attention, and it felt great! Everyone wanted to sit by me! My moment of glory.

    • That is a wonderful memory! I was shy too, as a kid. I remember those “dirt” pudding cups. I think my son had those one year. That was such a great idea–whoever thought of it. My sisters have birthdays in Jan. and Feb. and they are only 2 years apart, so one year my parents rented the skating rink for them to invite their entire classes and had a party for them. They still talk about that and what a great time they had! My kids had birthday parties sometimes at the bowling alley–they always loved that, too, but I think the skating rink would have topped that.

  12. Happy Birthday.
    One year the place where my Dad worked went on strike, it was in December my birthday month. It’s my best memory because a month later in January he was able to come home. That’s my favorite birthday memory. My favorite birthday cake is chocolate cake with seafoam icing. It’s so delicious.

    • Crystal, I think it makes such an impact when our beloved family members are unable to be there for our special events as kids. My dad worked weird hours (oil fields) and I know there were times he couldn’t be there for recitals and so on, but he never had to be away for weeks at a time–sometimes days at a time–but even then I couldn’t wait for him to get home. You must have been overjoyed! Now I have to look up SEAFOAM ICING. I have not heard of that! Sounds light, airy and delicious.

  13. “Happy Birthday to you!” I’m sure you had a great birthday and hopefully still celebrating! One of my nieces shares her birthday with you, she turned 43 yesterday. I always looked forward to the month of July also and actually I still do as my birthday was on the 13th, we have so many b days in the month of July. Our youngest grandson’s b day was on the 18th and it is also my dad’s b day, my dad passed away 15 years ago, so 10 years later our youngest grandson was born on my dad’s b day, now how special is that, I really Thank God for having our youngest grandson born on my days b day, it makes it a happy occasion instead of a sad one, and would you believe our grandson’s birth date was supposed to be the first week of August, but God knew that I needed some joy back in my life on my dad’s b days. When I was growing up my mom and dad always made sure all our holiday’s were extra special, we were 6 kiddos. Our birthday would start with my dad playing Happy Birthday to us on his harmonica before he left for work, which was always so very special. My mom would take us to the bakery and she would let us pick the cake we wanted and then off we went to go get some ice cream . We would have cake and ice cream after our dinner all sitting together in our kitchen. Such beautiful and cherished memories from my childhood, God Blessed me with the Best parents and I am very grateful. Have a Great rest of the week and stay safe my friend. God Bless you and your family.

    • Alicia, that is all so wonderful–I’m glad you got that joyous reminder of your dad with your grandson being born on his birthday! That is soooo special. What great memories–I love that your dad played Happy Birthday to You! on his harmonica before going to work. That is so special. Just a “small” thing but something to always remember. You have a lot of wonderful memories to cherish! Thanks for stopping by today and sharing them with us!

    • Emma, that spelled FREEDOM for you, I know! I lived on my bike when I was growing up. I got a bike one year for my birthday, too. It was purple and a three speed — back when those were available to buy–cost a lot more, I know, but I had my heart set on that bike, and I rode it for YEARS.

    • Thanks, Debra! I do, too! Love the celebrating! LOL And I love the cake, too, of course…oh, yes, and the ice cream. LOL ALL OF IT! LOL Tonight is Olive Garden night so I’ve gotta go get ready to go, but I’m looking forward to CAKE AND ICE CREAM tomorrow night!

  14. Happy Birthday! I make a chocolate jelly roll cake for Lincoln’s birthday,Feb.12. The recipe is called “Lincoln Log Cake”. I have to admit mine usually have cracks on top. It is filled with cherry jam and and topped with a thin chocolate icing or ganache. The original recipe tops the cake with whipped cream. It also makes a pretty Valentine treat. Like others I lived out in the country and birthdays were a family celebration but always a special day.

    • Alice, that sounds wonderful! I would love that, I know, and heck, I would not care if it had cracks on it. That is a great variation. That link I added in the blog has all kinds of variations on those jelly roll cakes–one has caramel icing in it, and I love caramel. But I love cherry jam, too!!!! LOL

  15. My favorite cake is carrot and my favorite birthday was the year I went to see Billy Joel in concert! Happy Birthday to you!

    • Teresa, I love carrot cake, too. As a kid, my mom loved it and used to think, EWWW, WHO WOULD EAT THAT INSTEAD OF CHOCOLATE CAKE? LOL But I love that cream cheese frosting on there soooo much and the cake is so different and good…let’s just say I’ve matured and now I totally understand Mom’s love of it. LOL And oh my gosh–Billy Joel–what a great gift to get to see HIM in concert! I bet that was one you’ll never forget! Thanks for the birthday wishes!

    • Thanks, Megan. I have to confess–I love most any kind of cake there is out there…except if it has coconut in it. I love angel food because it is sooo versatile–you can do so much with it. I remember my mom making that in one of those springform pans–it was always sooo good. But chocolate will probably always remain my favorite.

  16. A belated Happy Birthday, Cheryl. The only birthday I can remember was my 16th. I had pestered my parents for a horse for years (totally unrealistic, but understandable for most girls back then). On the top of my cake that year was a porcelain horse figurine. That was the closest I ever got. My mom made a good chocolate layer cake. She made a boiled (?) white frosting that I sadly do not have the recipe for. I hadn’t even thought of that frosting in years. I will have to call around and see if my sister or any of my relatives has it. Without the person there to help you through the recipe a time or two it is a bit hard to do. She made a Christmas cake roll that was plain and should be simple. I finally got the recipe and cannot make it to resemble anything my mother ever made.

    • The boiled white frosting is probably 7-minute frosting in the red and white plaid Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. You boil it like divinity in the top of a double boiler, until it’s at hard crack stage, then you have to beat it until it loses its gloss. I haven’t made it for decades, but it’s so yummy, almost like divinity!

      • Sherry I never knew about this recipe that Patricia mentioned, but I bet my dad didn’t either because he LOVED divinity above all else and if he’d known about this, I’m sure he’d have had my mom making it for his cakes! LOL

      • Sherry, that sounds about right. I hadn’t thought of that frosting in decades until this post. Other than it being cooked and the nice glossy finish, I need considered it. I have the recipe book and will check it out.

    • Thanks, Patricia! Oh, goodness, yes–I wanted a horse SOOOO much “back in the day”–but we lived in a neighborhood and our back yard was small so my dad would always say, “Horses need a lot of room to graze and run and be happy. And he wouldn’t be happy in our backyard.” It never entered my mind that a horse could be boarded. I had friends who had horses but they lived out in the country. So I never got my horse.

      I think our moms and ancestors before them had secrets in their cooking that we know nothing about these days because everything has been shortened and consolidated to the point that a lot of the seemingly unnecessary steps in the recipe have been done away with–and those may be the steps that made things taste so good when our moms made them!

      • I keep the older versions of many cookbooks because I find the recipes are better than many of the newer versions. I got the 1972 version of the Betty Crocker cookbook for a wedding shower gift. When our daughter got married she bought a newer version of it. She complained things didn’t turn out or taste the same. I was able to find a 1972 copy at a flea market and got it for her. My grandmother made the best rice pudding. I went searching for the recipe buying cookbooks from the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. I finally found one with a recipe that sounds like it might be close. Now to take the time to try it.

  17. My birthday is Valentine’s Day, and my mom usually made a heart-shaped cake, chocolate with chocolate frosting, or sometimes 7-minute frosting which is much like divinity, very yummy! She also sewed an outfit for my birthday, the most memorable being a turquoise blue felt full-circle skirt with white cutout hearts glued around the bottom edge. She struggled to get the bottom hem to hang even, and kept trimming sections to even it up. The final result was several inches shorter than originally planned. She also usually cut my hair the night before, and always got my bangs extremely short like Mamie Eisenhower. She then put my hair up in tiny curlers and my head would look like a poodle the next day, it was so tightly curled.
    The birthday party was always just extended family with lots of cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents. I never had a birthday party with other invited guests until my 50th birthday.

    • Sherry, how neat to have a Valentine’s Day birthday! That’s funny about the skirt–my mom sewed too, and we’ve had some similar things happen in the past! LOL Oh, and goodness, yes, I always had to sleep on those pink foam rollers and my hair was board straight, so even after sleeping on those all night lots of times, the curl didn’t last but an hour or so. But Mom was persistent! LOL

    • Thanks, Sarah! I’m still celebrating! LOL I do love some chocolate cake–I was going to just go buy a big slice of it at the store today where I shop–they have a wonderful bakery there–but it’s Saturday, and I got up not wanting to do anything today! LOL So it’ll have to wait.

Comments are closed.