The Easiest Cupcakes You’ll Ever Bake

Due to my newfound passion for food photography, I have found myself scouring the Internet for affordable cupcake recipes. Dessert photography isn’t cheap…

…That is, unless you do plenty of research. These chocolate cupcakes are scrumptious and nearly impossible to ruin; even the most amateur baker will find success. Plus, these delights only require three ingredients, one being water. Scroll down for the complete recipe.

All you need to purchase is one box of devil’s food cake mix and one 15 oz. can of pumpkin. Frosting, chocolate chips and cocoa powder are optional.

Combine ingredients in one large bowl, including 2/3 cup of water (use 1/2 cup for thicker cupcakes).

For an extra chocolatey batter I mixed in 1 tbsp. of Dutch-process cocoa powder and folded in a handful of Ghiradelli Milk Chocolate Chips. For my next batch I will double the amount of each.

Mix until smooth. Remember to fold in any chocolate chips once the initial mixture is smooth.

Pop in the oven at 350 degrees. Bake for 20 minutes (mine took 30). Allow cupcakes to cool before frosting. Top with frosting and a couple chocolate chips for fun.


And don’t forget to enjoy!

Recipe: Easy Chocolate Cupcakes (yields 24)

  • 18 oz. devil’s food cake mix
  • 1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
  • 2/3 cup water
  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Mix ingredients; batter will be stiff.
  • Disperse equally among liners.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, or until top springs back.

To Further Boycott Victoria’s Secret…

Prepared for an unglamorous post?

Like many women, I do not wear pretty undergarments all the time. For normal days I have looked to Victoria’s Secret’s array of basic cotton underwear. For some time their panties were priced 5/$20. In fact, in junior high, with our limited allowances, my best friend and I would buy five pieces and split them rather than pay $7.50 a piece. Years later the price rose to 5/$25 and I didn’t mind.

But now I look elsewhere for the basics. For the first time in years I purchased packaged underwear from a mass retailer. Unglamorous, maybe, but 25/$25 sounds much better than 5/$25.

Be frugal with the basics,



E.L.F. Blush Brush

One thing I’ve learned from Allure magazine is that nice (read: expensive) cosmetic brushes are a makeup must. But apparently it’s time to reeducate myself.

For $1 at Target I scooped up e.l.f.’s Blushing, Bronzing and Blending Brush. It works many more miracles than the Cover Girl complete face brush I’ve been using for years. The bristles are soft and the coverage is very good. I also recently purchased e.l.f.’s $1 Eyeshadow Brush, which is a massive improvement over the applicators that are packaged with some eyeshadows. If you’re in the market for brushes, I recommend trying e.l.f.’s line (and they’d make great gifts, too).

Tip: Remember to clean your brushes! Shampoo and water does the trick.

Strive for inexpensive quality!



Tucker for Target Trench

I was underwhelmed by previews of Tucker for Target’s collection. However, on a recent trip to Target I stumbled upon this trench. The color turned me off at first, but I couldn’t part with the jacket. I had a gift card burning a hole in my pocket, and the jacket was $41.98 after 30% off, so I made a rare over-$40 purchase.

I am loving this trench, as I’ve been wearing it every day. It suits the fall weather incredibly well, and the lining delights me. Plus, it’s a modern day piece with much-loved retro flare.

Splurge when a splurge is worth it,

Flowers Chic and Cheap

I’m not one to splurge on flowers, but stylist Carlos Mota’s book Flowers Chic and Cheap convinced me that having fresh flowers around the apartment does not have to break the bank. His book emphasizes treasure hunting, using minimal stems to create maximum effect, and combining ordinary things like books and teapots to make extraordinary arrangements.

Giddy from inspiration, I made a rare floral purchase at a recent farmers market. I brought home a $5 bouquet of mixed flowers to see what I could create. Its contents were deceiving! With minimal investment and effort I was able to add color and volume to nearly every area of our apartment. The results? See for yourself! Everything pictured below came from the above $5 bouquet.

Don’t be afraid to create!

Double Chocolate Covered Raspberries

Half pints of raspberries were on sale for $0.99 a couple of weeks ago. I stocked up and decided to get creative. Since I had white and milk chocolate remaining from my strawberries, I gave these double chocolate covered raspberries a try.

A batch of about twenty of these little goodies came in at around $3.50 (accounting for only chocolate used). They require a little bit of patience, but the reward is oh so good!

Hint: for a delicious ooey-gooey center, freeze the raspberries before preparing; too, the chocolate will stick more easily when dipping.

This goes to show that decadence does not have to be expensive!



Double Chocolate Covered Raspberries (makes approx. 20)


  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 pint fresh raspberries – washed, dried and frozen

1. Fill a medium saucepan with a couple inches of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low or a simmer.

2. Set the white chocolate chips, placed either in a heatproof bowl or a small nonstick pan, above the simmering water. Allow the chocolate to melt (about 5 minutes).

3. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

4. Dip a raspberry, top first, into the white chocolate until the top half is covered. Set on paper/pan. Repeat with remaining raspberries. Set for 30 minutes. (Hint: have a spoon handy, as white chocolate can be tricky.)

5. Melt the milk chocolate. Holding the top of the white chocolate covered raspberry, dip into the milk chocolate. Set each on its side.

6. Allow 30 minutes for the milk chocolate set. Place in the refrigerator.

In with Gilligan & O’Malley, out with Victoria’s Secret

I have long been a Victoria’s Secret devotee. But as the retail price of a functional bra at the mega retailer approaches $50, I find myself searching elsewhere for intimate apparel.

Days ago I purchased three bras, all on clearance, by the Target brand Gilligan & O’Malley. I am so thrilled by the fit of all three and am especially delighted by the leopard print bra pictured below (see a push-up in a similar print here for under $13). So due to my newfound appreciation of budget-worthy bras, I’m very close to swearing off Victoria’s Secret and their overpriced products for good.

Where do you purchase your more functional undergarments?

Affordable Comfort is Possible!

Gilligan & O’Malley Leopard Print Strapless Bra, $6.48.