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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Sunshine Filled Lemon Poppyseed Cupcakes!

My mom was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease about 8 years ago now and was one of the biggest reasons I moved back to Wisconsin from California.

This last January - very suddenly - we almost lost her. It was truly one of the hardest things I've ever been through.  I think what made it even harder is that I am pregnant with my first baby girl. And maybe in my own fairy tale mind, I've always dreamed of sharing this moment intimately with my mom. I just didn't know that I would need to share my baby bump with her to give her motivation to live.

Long story short, my mom was transferred to Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee-they discovered the problem was that she had been retaining carbon dioxide, so her brain was starting to shut down. The doctors made the decision to hook her up to life support. I drove back and forth from Appleton to Milwaukee to visit and talk to her, just to be there for her. 

My mom and me on my wedding day ♥

There were times at the Froedtert ICU when I'd succumb to weakness, lay my head on her chest and we'd cry together, I'd try so hard not to leave her shoulder wet with my tears. She needed me to be strong for her. So I'd explain to her that this wasn't going to be forever. That this situation was temporary and that all these tubes she was hooked up to were a way to help her recover from all she had been through. I stepped away from our hug to show her my baby bump and told her that she had a granddaughter to meet soon, and to use this as one of her big motivations to fight her way to recovery. Even though my mom couldn't respond through all the tubes, my pep talk about the baby moved her to tears so I  ran back to hug her and hold her again. This was one of those crazy life altering moments when I realized that between being a future mother myself, and caring for my mother, I was gaining enough strength to be the person I needed when I was younger ♥, For both my mom and my baby, and honestly...for myself too in the midst of all this.

(picture credit:

When my dad, my brother and I made the difficult decision to take her off life support, we didn't know what was going to happen so we circled around her and prayed ♥. Miraculously, after the tubes were removed, she immediately started talking! The first thing she said to all of us is, "I just want you all to know how much I love you."

She had to have felt the love in that room, and that we were praying for a miracle. My mom is back. And she gets to meet my daughter in a few months. I have a lot to be thankful for. We still have some things to figure out, Parkinson's is a difficult disease and I hate it more than ever now!!! It can affect many people through many different random symptoms. And I still believe the issue with her breathing has something to do with it.

It's officially spring now, and we have a lot to look forward to. A June baby is coming! The summer, the SUNSHINE! 

So........I am dedicating this recipe to all who have had some dark moments this past winter, and desperately need some sunshine! Baking these brightened MY world!!!!! (and made baby dance in my belly when I ate them!)

Lemon Poppyseed SUNSHINE cupcakes!
I tell people that I pureed the sunshine and poured it into the center of each cupcake! The pureed sunshine filling and the lemon buttercream frosting are my favorite parts to eat!

Ingredients for a warm sunshine filled tummy:
(like a Care Bear?)
2 2/3 Cups Flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
dash salt
3/4 cup softened butter
1 1/3 cups fine baking sugar
4 eggs
2 tablespoons lemon zest
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup chobani greek yogurt
2 tsp lemon extract
1-2 tablespoons poppyseeds (or more if you like poppyseeds!)

Instructions: Preheat oven to 325. Line cupcake pan with 24 wrappers. In a stand mixer, cream butter until creamy & fluffy. Gradually beat in sugar for even more fluffiness! On a lower speed, beat in eggs. In a separate bowl, whisk dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a liquid measuring cup, measure out the greek yogurt and set aside. In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, lemon zest and lemon extract. Gradually begin to alternately add dry ingredients, yogurt, and liquid lemon to the creamed mixture in the stand mixture until all is blended. Once batter is evenly blended, fold poppyseeds in with a spatula. Using a scoop, fill cupcake liners about 3/4 full and bake for 22-24 minutes.  (It is ok to fill the cupcake liners up pretty full! They will puff up very nicely if you are generous with the batter).

Optional: While baking, whisk sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl on the side (6 tablespoons sugar, 6 tablespoons lemon juice). When the cupcakes come out of the oven, use a small spoon to pour the lemon juice/sugar over the top of each cupcake to saturate with lemon flavor!

Ingredients for "pureed sunshine" filling:
1 box instant lemon pudding
2 cups cold milk
Follow the instructions on the box!

To fill cupcakes: Wait for cupcakes to cool. Core out the center of each cupcake with a spoon or a cupcake corer. Set the "cores" of the cupcakes to the side. Fill each cupcake with "pureed sunshine" filling. Put the "cores" back on top of the filling of each cupcake for a wonderful (and delicious) surprise!

Ingredients for Marshmallow Cloud Lemon Buttercream Frosting:
(the stuff dreams are made of!)
13-14 oz Marshmallow Fluff or Cream
1 lb softened butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2-3 teaspoons lemon extract
Dash salt 
8-10 cups powdered sugar (depending on how thick or creamy you want your frosting clouds. Use less for creamy frosting or more for thicker swirls)

For decor: Sixlet pearls!

Use a spatula to scrape the fluff and the butter out into your stand mixer. Mix well until fluffy and well blended. Gradually add a pinch of salt, vanilla extract, and lemon extract. Now add your powdered sugar, slowly until the frosting reaches desired consistency. The more powdered sugar you add-the more stiff the frosting will be for decorating!

Use a large open star tip to swirl dreamy frosting on top of each cupcake. Sprinkle edible sixlet pearls on top.

Take a moment to smile, enjoy this beautiful moment, let the sun warm your tummy as you eat your cupcake(s)...because life is short ♥.


  1. So happy for you, your mom and your beautiful little girl. God has blessed you with more time to share with each other.Many precious moments await all of you. Always live and love like there's no tomorrow. Share lots of stories, take lots of pictures, capture everything and anything. Those things become your family legacy and you want your daughter to know how special her family is and was as she grows older because no one is promised tomorrow. Thank you for adding a little sunshine to our lives with your baking and thoughtfulness. You are special.

  2. Congratulations on your soon to be daughter! It comes as a shock to hear how gravely I'll your mom has been. We have had such fun in painting classes together, along with your father. Today is the reception for our class show at the local gallery. If I don't see her there, please tell her we are all thinking of her.