7.03.2019

Ruffle Sleeve White Jumpsuit & Other Jumpsuit Options

I am so happy that tomorrow is a day off and a day to celebrate the 4th of July!  I am going to be honest, I am just thrilled to have a day at home.  It is probably sad, but true.  I feel like I work 24/7 at times and when I can spend a day at home being productive, it is so therapeutic to me.  There is something about marking things off a "to do" list that makes me smile.  I am sure at some point I will do some baking (I have a great chocolate sheet cake planned for someone's birthday) and some grilling, but just chilling is my idea of fun.  What about you?  What do you have planned??

As most of you know, I have a love affair with work wear that you can dress up or down.  For the office, I would probably add a blazer to make it look more professional.  You can also knot a sweater in the winter.  I think because I dress up 6 days a week for either work or church, that I tend to lean towards styling those pieces more often.  I am a big fan of jumpsuits this season and this one I picked up from the Dressbarn is no exception.  There is something about a classic all white ensemble that is just perfect.  This jumpsuit also has ruffle sleeves which add just a little bit a flare to the design.  I am so sad to say that this exact jumpsuit is sold out, but don't worry, I have linked so many other cute and affordable options for you below, they range in price from $17-$118, so there is something for everyone!  I even found one that looks identical.  This particular one runs true to size, I am wearing a size 2 for reference.  

I styled this jumpsuit with my Valentino studded heel dupes that I adore and always get compliments on every time I wear.  I also added some classic gold jewelry and a gold belt to tie it all together.  Lastly, I am a big fan of a bold red lip, so I used this lipstick to make everything pop.  

Thanks so much for stopping by today.  I would love to know if you love jumpsuits this season too?  And I hope you all have a Happy and safe Independence Day! 

Laura Mintz with Illuminate Blog styles a ruffle sleeve white jumpsuit with gold jewelry, Valentino studded heel dupes and a classic red lip.  Perfect for work or play.
Laura Mintz with Illuminate Blog styles a ruffle sleeve white jumpsuit with gold jewelry, Valentino studded heel dupes and a classic red lip.  Perfect for work or play.
Laura Mintz with Illuminate Blog styles a ruffle sleeve white jumpsuit with gold jewelry, Valentino studded heel dupes and a classic red lip.  Perfect for work or play.
Laura Mintz with Illuminate Blog styles a ruffle sleeve white jumpsuit with gold jewelry, Valentino studded heel dupes and a classic red lip.  Perfect for work or play.
Laura Mintz with Illuminate Blog styles a ruffle sleeve white jumpsuit with gold jewelry, Valentino studded heel dupes and a classic red lip.  Perfect for work or play.
Laura Mintz with Illuminate Blog styles a ruffle sleeve white jumpsuit with gold jewelry, Valentino studded heel dupes and a classic red lip.  Perfect for work or play.




6.20.2019

Fashion Wars: Striped Maxi or Distressed Denim? Courtesy of Jayden P Boutique

How is everyone’s week going so far? I have to be honest it has been one of those weeks at the office. But it is also a full moon. In healthcare, you know it without even looking at the calendar, because all the crazy stuff happens when it is a full moon. Whether it is crazy people or crazy situations, it is guaranteed during a full moon. Haha! Do other industries experience the same thing?

On a more fun note, I am super excited to share some pieces from Jayden P Boutique! I got a couple of great pieces in the mail a week or so ago from them; you may have seen me opening the package in my stories. If you have been around the blog for a while, you probably know that I am a bit of a girly girl. I love dresses and skirts and have so many of them. So when I got the Paige Maxi dress from Jayden P, I was really happy. It is a maxi and has long sleeves, but the details on this dress are what make it so fun and feminine to me. I love a white dress in the summer, but when I saw this dress I knew I would be able to wear it year round because of the tan vertical stripes. Neutrals are ALWAYS in style and are versatile. Plus I love a basic that I can style and wear in other ways. This dress buttons up the front but also has a lace up neckline that adds some flare to the basic. It has a tie waist that cinches and adds definition and has some cute small pleated ruffles on the skirt part of the dress as well. But the show stopper for me is the front slit. It adds a sexy little kick to the dress that really makes it pop. I styled it here in a basic way with tan block heel sandals and low key jewelry. However, I think a straw or rancher hat would be really cute also. You could add booties in the fall and a fun clutch.  Or layer a sweater or denim jacket over the top to completely change the look as well. This dress is a keeper for sure! And did I mention it is under $50 with my code LAURA20??

As I told you earlier, most of the time I wear dresses, but I do love a good pair of distressed denim. I have the hardest time finding some that I really like and that are comfortable though. Jayden P sent me these Just Black Distressed Denim jeans and I have to say, I have worn them 4 times since I got them two weeks ago. That definitely should tell you they are comfortable or I would not have worn them. I also love that they are distressed but not overly done for me. They have a frayed hem and you can dress these up with heels, which I tend to do when I wear jeans. They are also incredibly flattering. I normally wear a size 0 or 2 in jeans and I got these in a 25 which was perfect for me and I love the high waist. I can’t tell you how happy I am with these. And they are made in the USA, which makes me love them even more, if that is possible. I styled them here with a basic black tank and a bralette from Free People that I have in like 4 colors now. I always get comments when I wear it because it is flattering and gives some beautiful details. I also think you could add some edginess to these jeans by pairing your favorite band tee with them or a fun top like this one for a more Casual Friday look.

So now that you have seen both outfits from Jayden P, which is your favorite look: the striped maxi or the casual distressed jean look? I would love to know, so head over to my last social media post and let me know in the comments on there or here on the blog. Thanks for stopping by and don’t forget to show Jayden P some love by giving them a follow and checking out their great clothes and accessories. My code LAURA20 is good for 20% off EVERYTHING on their site, excluding the Lack of Color collection. But HURRY, the discount expires on July 1st.





6.18.2019

Perfect Summer Vibes: Chicwish Watercolor Maxi Skirt with Free People Bralette and Tank



Hey y'all!  Have you had a good start to your week and a good Father's Day weekend?  I had several things to do over the weekend, but it was productive at least.  On Sunday, my family came to my house to grill steaks and celebrate my Daddy.  I got the best steaks from my favorite butcher shop in town, M & M Meatlocker.  (Full disclosure, I am biased and work at the butcher shop doing social media marketing, but they are seriously the best.  I would say that whether I worked there or not!)  My Daddy loves a good ribeye and they had some Wagyu Ribeyes that were out of this world amazing so we had them.  He loved it!  My grill took out on me that morning and the one we ran to Home Depot to get was broken when we got home.  So, we grilled them at my brother's house instead and had to bring them up to mine.  They were still fantastic, it just created some challenges to grill them at another location.  ;-)  My Dad always tells me the same thing, "I don't want anything for Father's Day but a hug and a kiss", but he is such a good Daddy that we always try to do more than just a hug/kiss.  We had a fun day, but the weekends always go too fast.      

Now to the fashion!  I have always been a huge fan of maxi skirts and dresses.  They are comfortable, modest, classy and easy to style.  I was so happy that Chicwish sent me this gorgeous watercolor maxi skirt.  It has a combination of colors and they range in shades throughout it.  It has an elastic waist so you know it is cozy too.  Chicwish has so many beautiful maxi skirts that would be so fun for summer.  I have linked some of those options for you as well.  Which is your favorite?  

I styled this maxi with a basic white tank and added some flair with this Free People bralette.  This particular bralette is super popular with lots of fashion bloggers and I have to admit, I was skeptical about it but I wanted to try it.  It is the best, most versatile bralette I have ever worn.  It looks so good under tanks, sweaters, dresses and more.  Every time I wear one, I get compliments.  I am not much of a splurge person, but since today is National Splurge Day I would say this would be the perfect item to invest in for long term use.  

As a fun note, I was able to get these photos while on vacation in Marco Island a couple of weeks ago.  The JW Marriott there has the most gorgeous landscaping and I knew this skirt would photograph beautifully with that in the background.  So Terry indulged me and we drove to the Marriott, pulled into the bottom of the lot, got out and ran to the entrance and snapped these pictures.  She was such a good sport at taking pictures for me.  When others would be embarrassed, she wasn't.  The things you do for the blog and the gram.  Haha!  

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6.11.2019

Marco Island, FL Roundup and Travel Guide + A Comfy Polka Dot Dress

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you probably saw that I was on vacation last week in Marco Island, Florida.  One of my mom's best friends called me a couple of weeks ago and asked me if I wanted to get the heck out of Hendersonville and join her for a trip to the beach.  I mean, who can say no to that?  It was totally last minute, but so needed and perfect. We had the absolute best time!  While we did not get to do everything, we did relax and didn't follow a schedule or any type of itinerary at all, and for a planner like me, it can be hard to for me to just let go and go with the flow.

When we began to plan our trip, we decided to fly into Punta Gorda via Allegiant Air, because the flights are super reasonable out of Asheville and it is so much better than driving 12 hours!  Ha! Terry and I stayed at the Marco Island Lakeside Inn.  It was 2-3 miles from the beach; but it was exceptionally clean.  It was a small room, but really, who cares when you aren't in there very much!  We had one queen size bed, a table and small kitchen and a bathroom.  It was the perfect size for two guests.  It also had a nice pool we could cool off in and a small "patio" right outside our door with a table and chairs too.  

Once we arrived we went to scope the area and figure out the best way to get to the beach.  The inn told us about two places for public beach access.  One was located at Tigertail Beach and the other at  South Beach.  I had read online that Tigertail was beautiful so we started there.  We had to pay $8 to park and then we grabbed our cooler bag and started for the beach....except the beach wasn't really that close.  When you go into the entrance there is a huge natural lagoon, again its beautiful but it isn't the beach.  So we followed the signs and thought well, this can't be too far of a walk.  We were so wrong. It felt like over a mile walk to the beach and the sand was kind of deep and really it was not an ideal walk to make every day.  So we sat on the beach in the breeze and then decided we had to find better beach access.  We walked 500 miles the mile or so back to the car and then took off for South Beach.  We parked and walked across Collier Blvd and to the boardwalk to the beach.  It was so much easier and we breathed a huge sigh of relief.  On the way back to the inn, we spotted another beach access next to the Crystal Shores Marriott and it had bike racks so we were thrilled because it was even closer to the Inn and looked less crowded.

The next item on the agenda was to find some bikes to rent, map a bike route to the beach access and find some chairs and umbrellas to rent!  We called around and got our bikes from Island Bike Shop. The bikes were in nice shape and had baskets since we wanted the cruiser type.  It was a reasonable cost of $30/each for the 4 days we were going to use them.  I wish that they had been able to deliver but their driver was out of town when we needed them.  We figured out our bike route to the beach and calculated it to be around 2.5 miles or so.  

We had called around and asked several people about renting chairs and umbrellas on the beach and they told us time and again, "we can't do that here".  But it just didn't make sense.  So when we were at the South Beach  entrance we walked down the beach and after a while we came across Pauls Beach Rentals.  The chairs were so nice, they had great comfy cushions and a large umbrella for shade since I am a bit over the top with sun protection. They looked practically brand new. If you don't want to lug your chairs and umbrella to the beach every day, I highly recommend them!

Food is a big deal when you are on vacation.  I love to eat at new places and try new things.  Luckily, I have a good friend that gave me the lowdown on some places to try while we were there.  She recommended Snook Inn, which is a fun little waterfront restaurant.  You can eat inside and still see the water, which is great because it is so hot.  Terry and I split the Snook Inn Platter which was grouper, mahi mahi, scallops, shrimp crab cake, veggies and rice pilaf.  It was a lot for one person to eat!  I did not really ask but I assumed some would be fried and maybe some grilled, but all the fish was broiled with a creamy sauce over it.  It was really good, but I am not gonna lie, something about grouper makes me want it fried.  I am sure it is the southern girl in me.  That and my Daddy says that water would be better if it was fried. LOL!

As you can imagine, since I was still craving some fried fish, I had to scope us out another restaurant.  One evening we went to Naples to shop and I found a hole in the wall with great reviews called Grouper and Chips.  I was really hoping that since it was their name, they would do it right.  And oh my word, it was so good!  Terry and I split the order of hushpuppies and discussed how they were crunchy on the outside like my Mama's.  They were so close to being as good as hers, but no one can surpass her.  Then we shared the fried grouper and french fries.  If I was going fried, I was going all out. Ha!  The grouper was amazing.  The breading was fantastic and everything was so fresh and fantastic.  We loved this place and even though we couldn't eat everything, we took the rest back to the room and had it for lunch the next day.

On one hand, I wish I could tell you more things to do while you are visiting here, but to be honest, I needed time away that did not include a lot of entertainment.  I felt like I just needed to relax and let things go for a bit.  It was the first time I can remember not having to do a lot and I throughly enjoyed it.  I am the typical overly prepared, planner that probably takes the fun out of vacation with my itinerary.  It was nice to just do whatever without a plan.  I highly recommend it.

I was able to grab some photos of this fun polka dot dress from the Dressbarn while I was at the Inn one evening.  I love how comfortable this dress is and polka dots have always been a favorite of mine.  The dress is navy but I love pairing polka dots with red, so red block heels were perfect.  It feels very retro to me.  I actually had a red belt too, but it was too big.  And of course, I love a red lip.  This is Lipsense in Blue/Red that my sister gave me.

In conclusion, if you are looking for a beautiful vacation destination, I would visit Marco Island again in a heartbeat.  Thanks for stopping by and reading about my travels, I have some pictures from the trip below too.  I hope you all have a great week!

Marco Island Lakeside Inn

Marco Island Lakeside Inn
Marco Island Lakeside Inn
Chairs and Umbrellas from Pauls Beach Rentals
Marco Island Lakeside Inn
Sunset in Port Royal, FL
Marco Island, South Beach
Marco Island, South Beach
Snook Inn Platter
Grouper and Chips-Hushpuppies
Grouper and Chips
Working Cow Ice Cream, Punta Gorda

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6.05.2019

Chicwish Floral V-Neck Dress with Pink Bow Heels



Hey y'all!  I hope you are having a great week so far.  If you follow me on Instagram, I am sure you have seen that I am at the beach this week. I took a trip with my Mom's friend to Marco Island, Florida.  We have had a great time and I cannot wait to share my travel guide and tell you about our trip next week here on the blog.

Today I wanted to share about this gorgeous floral dress from Chicwish.  I just knew when I saw it online that it would be perfect for my style.  I love pretty feminine florals, lace and ruffles; and I love a dress.  I just sometimes think they are more comfortable than pants.  I am not sure why, but I just always gravitate to them.

The sleeves have lace details and if anything can make me happy it is lace.  When you pair the lace with the floral, the look is breathtaking.  The only thing I wish was a little different on this dress would be the neckline.  It is cut a little too deep for me, so I paired a white cami underneath.  I just wish i could have worn it without because I think it would feature the lace details better.  That being said, I have a really small bust, so it may fit some others perfectly fine.  In my opinion, the shoes really pop with the dress.  Again those bow details are to die for!  I have these same shoes in a green color and I love them so much I will probably indulge in some other colors too.  Ha!

As always, I really appreciate each and every one of you that stops by the blog and takes the time to read my posts.  It means so much to me!  Your support is amazing.  I hope you all have a great week!

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5.29.2019

Simple Dessert That Is Sure To Impress: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes


I absolutely love to bake.  It is a bit like therapy for me to me to create something that tastes amazing that people love to eat.  And sweets are my favorite thing, especially cupcakes.  Once upon a time, many years ago, I wanted to open a cupcake bakery.  I had the name picked out and the menu designed but never found the courage to actually pull the trigger on the business.  In addition, I was worried that something I love would turn into something I hate; so I have just tried to share goodies with people when I get the chance.

Hands down the most raved about cupcake I make is this chocolate chip cookie dough one.  I have been making it for years!  My youngest daughter has asked them almost every year for her birthday for as long as I can remember.  If I take them to an event, the container is always empty when I leave.  This past weekend I took them to the lake, they were devoured in less than 8 hours.  Just trust me when I tell you, they are nothing short of amazing.  And the best part?  They aren't even that hard to make!

I wish I could tell you that I created this recipe, but I didn't.  LOL!  My best friend bought me a cookbook many years ago, and I have used it so much the binding is coming apart.  If you don't own Cupcakes from the Cake Mix Doctor or The Cake Mix Doctor cookbooks already, I highly recommend that you buy them now!  They are fabulous.  Every single recipe I have ever made from them turns out and even better?  They start with a cake mix....but no one else will ever know!  Let them think you spent hours in the kitchen!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes (by Anne Byrn from Cupcakes from the Cake Mix Doctor)

1 Yellow Cake Mix (15.25 oz)
1 Vanilla Instant Pudding (3.4 oz box)
1 Cup Whole Milk
1 Cup Vegetable Oil
4 Large Eggs
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Package Frozen Cookie Dough (24 pre-measured cookies)

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Line 24 muffin tins with paper liners.  (I like these because the colors stay vibrant after baking.)

Place cake mix, pudding, milk, oil, eggs and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and blend with an electric mixer for 3 minutes or until well mixed.  Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula periodically to ensure it is mixed well.  (I use my KitchenAid stand mixer and I probably let it mix 5 minutes, I just really like it mixed really well, it is a thick batter.)

Using a 1/4 measuring cup, scoop the batter into the 24 paper liners.  Take the frozen cookie dough and cut or break apart into the 24 cookies.  Place the frozen cookie dough in the center of each liner filled with batter and push down until the edges are in the batter, but the top is not covered.  Place the pans in the oven and bake for 23-25 minutes.  Do not overcook.  Remove from oven and cool completely.

Chocolate Buttercream Icing  

2 Stick of Butter
1/2 Cup of Cocoa Powder
6 Cups of Powdered Sugar
2/3 Cup of Milk
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract

Melt butter, add cocoa powder and mix well.  Alternate adding powdered sugar and milk and mix well with an electric mixer.  Add vanilla extract and blend well.  Place icing in a piping bag and decorate cupcakes as desired.

A word of warning, these cupcakes will disappear as fast as you make them.  The center of the cupcake is cooked cookie dough, but since it is frozen, it has that slightly gooey center that is fabulous.  If you really want to kick them up, warm them in the microwave for a few seconds.  They are perfection.  I would love to know if you try these and if you love them as much as my friends and family!  Enjoy!

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