Recipe for a Rainy Monday…

We are having a rainy Monday (which, by the way, is that not the WORST way to Monday?!?) here in Alabama. My family flies back to New England tomorrow, and while it is a bummer of a weather day, I have to say we have been so fortunate to have had mostly gorgeous and warm weather during our visit!

We have spent as much time as possible outdoors and even enjoyed wearing flip flops and shorts on a few really warm days. I hear the temps have been mild-ish (for the time of year) back home so I’m hoping our transition back will be manageable.

It’s honestly been a very different visit than we expected, obviously with the unexpected passing of my grandmother. And we also, unfortunately, have picked up a number of illness along the way (stomach bug, flu-like cold, fevers…) But we have really enjoyed our time home and one of the highlights has been food!

I always fly home with my pants a little more snug after a lengthy visit home and this trip is no different! In addition to the regular favorites we always have to hit up, there have been ridiculous amounts of delicious meals and desserts brought from church, neighbor and other family friends. We have been spoiled!

My grandmother was sort of famous for her chocolate chip cake and if you ever need to bring a meal to a family friend, let me just say that this cake will be gone before anything else! It is so deliciously moist (sorry, hate that word!) thanks to the sour cream and pudding and the icing is crazy good. So here you go, friends!

Meme’s Chocolate Chip Cake

Ingredients for Cake:

  • Yellow Cake Mix (use one that says “with butter”)
  • 1 6oz package milk chocolate chips
  • 1 3oz package of instant chocolate flavored pudding
  • 1 cup oil
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 T vanilla

 

Mix cake mix and instant pudding. Alternate eggs, oil and water, Add vanilla. Add sour cream and chocolate chips last. Bake at 325 in bundt or large loaf pan for 1 hr. Cool cake completely before Icing.

Ingredients for Icing:

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 5 T butter
  • 1/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 6 oz milk chocolate chips

Bring the first 3 ingredients above to a rolling boil for 1 minute, remove from heat and add 6 oz of milk chocolate chips. Beat ingredients until smooth.

Don’t be daunted by the ingredient list. This cake comes together quickly and deliciously every time. Also note that this icing is a great one to keep in mind for a variety of recipes. Top brownies or other store bought treats to give them a delicious homemade touch.

This cake is ALWAYS a hit. Let me know if you try it!

 

A Tribute to my Meme

 

Frances Elizabeth Goodwin – there are so many things to be said about the life and lady we all knew and loved as Meme. But there are certain qualities that wanted to share.  These are the things that were most impactful for me and I will hold on to and treasure forever.

I can’t help but start with one of my favorites – Meme loved to shop. I feel like a kindred spirit to her for that! I never met another grandmother more stylish or more put together. Having worked in a shoe store for many years, she knew the value of a great shoe. When function became as important as form in recent years, she was still so stylish,  wearing Tom’s and Birkenstocks right along with the rest of us. But she had her fair share of Ferragamos over the years – if only we wore the same shoe size! No doubt, she was always dressed for the occasion, wherever she went. And she cared about how she presented herself, whether it was for meeting friends to play cards or going to church.

And speaking of church. Oh she loved Jesus. She was asking for study Bibles to help grow  her faith as late as last year – always wanting to learn more about her savior and know more about his love for her. I so admire how her faith led her and held her up over the years as she bid farewell to so many loved ones who went before her. I know she was so thrilled to see those faces at the gates of heaven. Her beloved husband and son who went before her. Parents, siblings, friends. She said goodbye to all of them over the years and I’m thankful she is with them again.

She loved her family fiercely. She had a big family but my best memories were of her two sisters, Marie and Gertrude. There were so cute together – like three peas in a pod. I used to giggle at how they all liked to shop and buy the same things together. That is, until I started to do the same with my sisters. It’s funny how that works. They all had unique struggles in their lives and I so admire how they held each other up and supported each other through tragedy and triumph. I hope I can be as loyal to my sisters in the years we have ahead.

I cannot forget to mention how spirited she was and one way she showed that was in her love of games. Some of my earliest memories were playing cards with her – no cheating allowed! And she was competitive, I think I might have gotten a little of that from her. I know great relationships were formed and grew over many years of playing rook with her friends. She even picked up bridge in her 90’s. And she loved to watch a good game. She was an athlete in her youth and enjoyed watching basketball or football on game days with the rest of us.

I admire what a true southern lady she was. My dear friend referred to her as a Steel Magnolia and he was so right. When we were young and visited for weekends or holidays, she was always in the kitchen, making homemade biscuits, fried pies or her famous chocolate cake. I loved sitting at the counter watching her roll out the dough and sip on her coffee – breakfast was always her favorite meal of the day. And she was the perfect host. I know my mom, my sisters and I are all grateful for what we learned watching her tend to others in her home. I remember that she always had a wedge of cheese on the table  and doublemint gum (only 1/2 a stick please) in her purse. She always was thinking of others.

I know we are the luckiest, to have had so many beautiful years with her. And I am so grateful I was able to name one of my daughters after her. Abigail Frances, you should feel so blessed to share her name and also to have had 8 sweet years with her here on earth. And while we shed tears of sadness for ourselves today, truly it is also of joy for her, to have finally met her maker and join those who have gone before her. I look forward to the day when we are together again.

The Coziest PJs

Ok y’all – I have to confess I am really into PJs right now. I have been slowly upgrading and updating my lingerie drawer, as I wrote about recently when I declared my love for Aerie (especially their Sunnie undies) but I’ve also been picking up both fun and flirty new PJ and lingerie sets. I’m a total bargain shopper when it comes to PJs so I wanted to share a quick deal that I found!

I’ve bought a few things from Abercrombie this year (definitely the first time I shopped in that store in nearly 20 years) based on the recommendations of others and so I occasionally look to see what’s on sale that might be age appropriate and worth trying on.

Last week I stumbled across these and Fell.In.Love. Y’all! They are the softest, coziest material, and yet, the top is totally appropriate to wear in public. You can definitely dress it up with a cute necklace and wear out with jeans. I bought the blue/grey color and will most definitely be wearing the top with white jeans this spring but I really wanted to get the top in black too. It was a toss up, but I loved the cream bow on the blue shorts and refrained from getting multiples. Someone, please go get that top in black for me! The best part is that they are 40% off and still available in almost all sizes!

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Retailers are really upping their game in the PJ department. I’ve also found some cute sets at Forever 21 that were super cozy, held up great and were very affordable. I love pants to lounge around in but when it comes to sleep, I prefer shorts and these are the comfiest I’ve found in a long time. Let me know if you give them a try!

*A little PSA – – If you haven’t tried wearing thong underwear in recent years, I HIGHLY recommend the Sunnie ones. I had to wear thongs for dance in high school and college and I hated them because I thought they were so uncomfortable. For years I thought thong undies were just not for me and to be honest,  I almost didn’t write about this because  I feel like this will totally embarrass my mom (sorry mom!) But y’all, there is nothing more unattractive than picking at your panties (amiright?) and these undies are so perfectly comfortable I swear you cannot feel them. Total game changer for me – I’ll never go back. Best undies ever!

Valentine’s Day Dessert

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! I hate to admit that my husband and I don’t do much to celebrate this holiday. It seems that we dote on the kids a bit more on these types of holidays and they, of course, adore any event that celebrates with candies or a small happy.

But, I do love to make a sweet treat. So I thought I’d pop in today in with a quick recipe that would be perfect for Valentine’s Day. Flourless Chocolate Cake – my guy’s favorite! It feels so fancy and tastes decadent but it really is such an easy dessert. With only 6 ingredients, how hard can it be? But really, the simplest recipes with the best ingredients always make the best desserts.

When Mark and I lived in New York City there was a bakery on the corner of 72nd and Broadway that made his favorite flourless chocolate cake. I think he missed that cake as much as I missed the shopping when we moved away. So I made it my goal to find a recipe that would come as close as possible to that delicious dessert he loved so much. And thankfully, Martha Stewart had a winner! Of course, I’m not sure you can go wrong with a Martha Stewart recipe. I’ve been making this one for years and it is always good.

INGREDIENTS:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for pan
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (if serving children, go with semisweet!)
6 large eggs, separating yolks and egg whites
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Sweetened whipped cream, for serving

DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat the oven to 275 degrees with the rack in the center. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.
  • Place butter and chocolate in a large heatproof bowl and microwave in 30-second increments, stirring each time, until completely melted. Let cool slightly. Whisk in egg yolks.
  • In a large bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add granulated sugar, and continue beating until glossy stiff peaks form. Whisk 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture; then gently fold in remaining egg whites.
  • Pour batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan and is set in the center, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack; remove sides of pan. Serve at room temperature, dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.

If you or your loved one is a chocolate lover you are going to adore this fudgey cake. I always make the whipped cream from scratch and serve with fresh berries and a dusting of powdered sugar. It makes for a perfect presentation. Prepare to impress everyone at the table if you serve this up tonight or your next dinner party.

Have a LOVEly day everyone!

A little update…

In case any of you were wondering, we are full-on wintering here in Maine! February has blown in with crazy snow storms so far and we aren’t even halfway through the month.  We are forecasted to get one-two feet of snow from Sunday into Monday (yes I live in that red zone in the image above!) We have a snow day today and blizzard conditions are expected to be in effect for most of Monday. That is on top of the 6″ of snow from last Tuesday, another 12″ from Thursday and several inches on Saturday. And I heard another storm is expected Wednesday which could also be a big one. Annnnnd, my washer and dryer are currently broken – good times!

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Any other winter and I think this would have just about broken me. But somehow, I’m doing so well with my spirits this year. The one thing that really changed is adding light therapy. And because people told me for years to do it and I never did, I just want to write here that if you struggle at all seasonally with depression, low energy, lack of motivation (whatever those gray days do to you) I really cannot recommend enough trying a light therapy box.

I have been using this exact one – NatureBright SunTouch Plus Light and Ion Therapy Lamp (package may vary) and it just really feels like it’s a total game changer for me. It’s a low cost investment. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

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*I am not sure I’ll ever love winter like this little guy…

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