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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5.23.2019

The Struggle With Finding Balance + Chicwish White Eyelet Dress with Red Block Heel Sandals

 

Hi friends!  I hope you all are having a great week so far.   The good news is that it is almost Friday and it is a long weekend!  I have so many things to catch up on, sometimes I feel like there is not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything.  I know that most moms probably feel this way too, so it is not just me.  I have several friends that experience this same struggle.  If you struggle with balance, know that you are not alone.  I try to take long baths a couple of times a week if possible.  And I love to read a good book to try and decompress.  I wish that I was better at making time for myself.  Do you make it a priority for you?  If so, tell me your secrets. LOL!  ;-)

Chicwish sent me this adorable white eyelet dress.  It is so flattering!  And for me, there is not much that beats a fitted eyelet dress with some feminine ruffles.  I really love the details on this dress particularly the small cut-outs around the waist.  It is a beautiful touch that just adds something fun and flirty to it.  I paired it with red block heel sandals and red and gold jewelry, but the great thing about white is you can make it whatever you want!  I think this would look great with most any color of shoe and could be dressed up or down depending on your mood. 

I also added this straw and white handbag.  Straw handbags are super on trend right now and this one is a great bargain for under $25!  White dresses and accessories just scream Summer to me!  If you are looking for a graduation dress, bridal shower dress or are just partial to white eyelet, you can't go wrong.  This dress is a classic that I know I will wear for years to come.

*A special thanks to Chicwish for sponsoring this post.

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5.20.2019

Grief Reflections and Aunt Frankie's Chocolate Brownies Recipe


 Laura Mintz of Illuminate Blog Reflects on Losing Her Mom and Makes Homemade Brownies with her daughter
Laura Mintz of Illuminate Blog Reflects on Losing Her Mom and Makes Homemade Brownies with her daughter
Laura Mintz of Illuminate Blog Reflects on Losing Her Mom and Makes Homemade Brownies with her daughter
Laura Mintz of Illuminate Blog Reflects on Losing Her Mom and Makes Homemade Brownies with her daughter
Laura Mintz of Illuminate Blog Reflects on Losing Her Mom and Makes Homemade Brownies with her daughter
Laura Mintz of Illuminate Blog Reflects on Losing Her Mom and Makes Homemade Brownies with her daughter
Laura Mintz of Illuminate Blog Reflects on Losing Her Mom and Makes Homemade Brownies with her daughter
Laura Mintz of Illuminate Blog Reflects on Losing Her Mom and Makes Homemade Brownies with her daughter
Laura Mintz of Illuminate Blog Reflects on Losing Her Mom and Makes Homemade Brownies with her daughter


Grief:  (Noun)  Deep sorrow, especially that is caused by someone's death

Synonyms:  sorrow, misery, sadness, anquish, pain, distress, agony, torment, affliction, suffering, heartache, heartbreak, woe, despair

I have sat and tried to find the words to explain all my feelings lately and it is a struggle, but the synonyms and definition above are pretty accurate representations for how I feel a lot of the time.  I know that everyone deals and manages their grief and pain differently.  The first few weeks after my Mama passed away, feel a bit like a blur to me.  Even now, two months later, it feels like a terrible nightmare.  I can be okay one moment and hear something or see something that makes me think of my Mama or makes me want to call her or tell her something and the tears start to flow.  I cannot even control them.  It hits at the most random times and out of the blue; hearing "You're So Vain" by Carly Simon, wanting to call and tell her about something at work or get advice about a problem, even walking into Belk.

The Saturday before Mother's Day, when I would normally go and pick out a hanging basket for my Mama, I picked up some small begonia plants instead.  I decided to honor her by trying to spread goodness and I gave one and a card to some of her best friends.  I think she would approve, especially since they were one of her favorite flowers.  Mother's Day was especially difficult. Even though I am a Mom to two fantastic girls and I know I should enjoy it as a Mom, my heart was broken for my own Mama.  It was bittersweet to say the least.  I got up really early on Sunday and made muffins and coffee and just reflected on how lucky I was to have such a great Mama for 37 years.  And I cried a lot, just because it was a hard day.  A friend of mine gave me some good advice that I am trying to follow:  "Smile a lot.  Laugh at times.  Cry when needed. And always remember the good times."  Some days I feel like I need to cry all day, other days I laugh several times and breath a little easier; but not a single day goes by that I don't think of all the great memories that I have with her.

Mama was kind to everyone she met and would constantly try to help and do nice things for people to brighten their day.  I can't tell you the number of times she has made meals for people that were sick, sent cakes to people that needed a pick me up or just stopped and got something to make someone feel better.  My Mamaw (her mom), is at an assisted living facility and my Mama would try to talk and make the residents there feel special too.  She would tell me "Some of those poor people never have a soul come and visit them," and it bothered her, so she would try to do something to make them feel loved.  Mama visited or made sure my Mamaw had a visitor everyday, and I know she battled guilt because she had to move her into the facility; even though she knew she was unable to take care of her like she had done in previous years before she got sick.  When we were going through her jewelry box there were 3 or 4 of the exact same watch bracelet.  My sister told me that some of the ladies at the facility loved the one that Mama had on so she went and bought a bunch more to give those sweet ladies just to make them smile.  I hope I can leave this same legacy of kindness and generosity to my children!

I mentioned earlier that Mama cooked a lot.  She had so many recipes that I associate with her and were her "signature" dishes and desserts.  I am going to try to share at least one recipe a month, maybe more, if you guys enjoy recipes.  The first is some decadent homemade chocolate brownies with chocolate icing.  One day a couple of weeks after Mama passed, my daughter Hope and I were missing her a lot and we decided to make these brownies because they reminded us of her.  My Mama had a special Aunt that passed away at a young age and she loved her dearly.  Her Aunt Frankie used to make these brownies a lot, so my Mama always called them Frankie's Brownies.  I don't think she ever really used a boxed brownie mix because these were so much better and are just as easy to make.  People love them and every time I make them, they get rave reviews.  I am confident that my Mama and Frankie are sitting together in Heaven, maybe even making a pan right now.

Aunt Frankies Brownies
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 2 oz semi sweet chocolate squares
  • 2 oz unsweetened chocolate squares
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 3/4 cup self rising flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of chopped pecans (optional)
Melt butter and chocolate squares in microwave bowl in 30 second increments until melted, set aside to cool.  Beat eggs and sugar in a large bowl.  Pour butter and chocolate into eggs and sugar and mix well.  Add flour and vanilla.  Fold in nuts if desired.  Pour batter into a greased 9x12 pan and back at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.  Do not overcook, may be slightly softer than cake.  

Chocolate Icing
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1/3 c of unsweetened cocoa
  • 3 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup of milk
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
Melt butter and add cocoa, mix well.  Alternate powdered sugar and milk and continue mixing.  Add vanilla when mixed.  Ice cooled brownies and serve.  

I really hope that you all enjoy these brownies as much as we do at our house.  I would love to know if you try them!  Is there a recipe that you associate with people you love? If you knew my Mama personally, is there a certain recipe of my hers you would love me to post?

*I have linked some specific brands I personally like to use in this recipe, if you want to shop the post.  You can use other brands as well, I just prefer these particular items.

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5.09.2019

Classic Black and White Lace and Pleated Midi Dress


Laura Mintz of Illuminate Blog Styles a Classic Black and White Lace and Pleated Midi Dress from Chicwish
Laura Mintz of Illuminate Blog Styles a Classic Black and White Lace and Pleated Midi Dress from Chicwish
Laura Mintz of Illuminate Blog Styles a Classic Black and White Lace and Pleated Midi Dress from Chicwish
Laura Mintz of Illuminate Blog Styles a Classic Black and White Lace and Pleated Midi Dress from Chicwish
Laura Mintz of Illuminate Blog Styles a Classic Black and White Lace and Pleated Midi Dress from Chicwish
Laura Mintz of Illuminate Blog Styles a Classic Black and White Lace and Pleated Midi Dress from Chicwish

Well, we have almost made it to the weekend, friends!  I am sure that many of you have Mother's Day plans and I hope that you take the time to spoil your mom and treat her to an amazing meal, quality time and shower her with gifts and attention!  She deserves it after all.  Most of you know that I lost my Mama in March,  so this weekend is one that I have been dreading something fierce.  I want so much to be able to speak to my Mama again and just talk about random things, like when I have a bad day or when something exciting happens to me.  It is so easy to take for granted the simple things and I would encourage each of you today to call or hug your Mama.  You can never tell her you love her enough.

One of the things I always did with my Mama was talk shopping and clothes.  We loved to spend hours trying on clothes at the mall and trying to find the perfect outfit or dress for that special occasion, whether it was a gala, work, church or vacation, she always helped me find the right look.  When I got this dress in the mail from Chicwish, I thought she would really like it, but would worry about all that lace covering everything enough. HAHA!

If you are in the market for a gorgeous midi dress, this one is for you!  The flower lace details on top are stunning and make quiet the statement!  I love the fun ruffle that adds some dimension and also covers all the right places too.  I wear this with a strapless and backless sticky bra, but I think it would look okay with a black bra too, just channel your inner celebrity and rock it!  The skirt part of this dress is so unique to me.  It is pleated, which I think adds so much class, but it also has a fun black speckled design on the white/cream skirt portion.  It is absolutely breathtaking!  I paired this dress with some fun Jessica Simpson Strappy Satin Heels and jewelry to finish off the look.  I personally think this dress would be perfect for a wedding, event, the derby, or a cruise look.  It is so classy and elegant!

As a side note, I took most of these photos at my parent's house.  My Daddy came outside and told me to take some in front of his wild honeysuckle (the orange flowers).  He is so proud of it.  And it is even more beautiful in person!  I hope you all have a great rest of your week.  Whew, it is almost Friday!  Remember to love on your Mama; drop me a comment and tell me something you the best piece of advice your Mama ever gave you!

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5.07.2019

Magical Blue Floral Chiffon Maxi Dress: Perfect For A Wedding, Shower or Event

Blue Chiffon Floral Maxi Dress
Blue Chiffon Floral Maxi Dress
Blue Chiffon Floral Maxi Dress from Chicwish
Blue Chiffon Floral Maxi Dress from Chicwish
Blue Chiffon Floral Maxi Dress from Chicwish
Blue Chiffon Floral Maxi Dress from Chicwish
Laura Mintz with Illuminate Blog Styles Blue Chiffon Floral Maxi Dress from Chicwish
Laura Mintz with Illuminate Blog Styles Blue Chiffon Floral Maxi Dress from Chicwish
Laura Mintz with Illuminate Blog Styles Blue Chiffon Floral Maxi Dress from Chicwish
Laura Mintz with Illuminate Blog Styles Blue Chiffon Floral Maxi Dress from Chicwish
Laura Mintz with Illuminate Blog Styles Blue Chiffon Floral Maxi Dress from Chicwish

Hi friends!  I hope you are having a good start to your week.  I have been trying to catch up on so many things, and it can be hard to find balance at times.  I am actually debating and trying to plan a getaway weekend for this coming Thursday-Sunday for just me.  Part of me thinks it is selfish to want to be away by myself, but honestly, I am not sure I can do much of anything but cry this Mother's Day.  The other part of me feels guilty for feeling that way and guilty for spending money to go away, but ultimately, I think I have to have some time to recharge and organize my thoughts and process.  Do you have recommendations of places I could visit?  I was thinking the coast of SC, a lake in SC or Georgia or hopping on a quick flight to Florida.  Hit me with your best recommendations either in the comments or by DM!

Now, let's discuss THIS DRESS!  I should probably go ahead and apologize for posting SO MANY pictures of it.  But I just have to be honest, I could not limit this dress to just 5 or 6 photos, it is just too gorgeous!  I got this "Endearment Chiffon Maxi" from Chicwish and it is my current obsession.  It is so well made and flattering!  The blue color with the floral print is pretty and feminine.  I love the way it cinches at the waist with a tie belt.  You can tie it in the front or back.  Or you could dress it up even more with a white or silver belt if you wanted.  I paired this dress with my knock off studded Valentino heels and think it makes the perfect accent.  It also comes with another tie you can use as a tie around your neck, but I really love the wrap, v-neck line so I left it off.

The best part about this dress is that it is so comfortable.  It is classy and could be worn to a formal event, wedding or a baby shower!  My friend has a baby shower in June and I am totally wearing this to celebrate her and her new baby boy.  It also comes in pink and I am seriously considering picking it up too!  I also love that it can be worn in the Spring, but transition through Summer and Fall.  Do you love it as much as me?  Thanks so much for stopping by today.  I hope you have a great week!

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