December 19, 2014

Cleansing, Purging, and Opening up Space for New Things in 2015


2015 is right around the corner so it's a perfect time to start thinking about a new year and a new you.

What do you want for yourself in 2015?

I am busy thinking about what this new year will bring to me, Matthew, and our new family.  I have so many personal goals for 2015, some of which I have already started working on, for example, getting this blog back up and running because it means a lot to me and I want to see it grow.  Matthew and I also have a lot of specific photography-business related goals and objectives that we are currently working on for next year.  Running and traveling are also high on my list.

2014 was a wonderful year!  I got married, turned 30, ran my first half marathon, gained more confidence and skill behind the camera and found what it is I really want to focus on when it comes to photography, and I grew more Spiritually and confidently as a woman.  It was a big year for me.

In addition to building a stronger self, I deleted a lot of "crap" and "fluff" from my Facebook, Blogger, Twitter, Email and computer accounts.  I cannot even begin to tell you how much better I feel having a Facebook friend list of less than 100 people, email accounts with 5 emails in the inbox, and all of my photos neatly organized within specific folders. My physical office space is always neat and tidy so I felt like I needed to go into 2015 with an online atmosphere that was more clutter-free.  It's amazing how fast clutter can build up on your computer and in your social media outlets.  I just felt like it was all such a distraction.  It needed to be dealt with so I could focus on my goals in 2015.  Scrolling through a feed of hundreds and hundreds of people and pages is time consuming and I've had a lot of guilt about spending precious time invested on people and things that don't matter.  With all of those online distractions, I was not spending my time wisely, for instance, on my blog or helping Matthew out.  Downsizing in many different areas was needed for my personal growth, my happiness, and my sanity. 

I have also started gathering things around our home that we no longer need so I can donate them to Goodwill or sell them on Craigslist.  One awesome thing that has come about this purge is my realization that I want to start collecting vintage cameras!  Matthew and I have about 6 or 7 vintage cameras from the 70's and 80's that were given to us over the years.  They were sitting in our storage unit collecting dust.  I was going to sell them too but at the last minute I decided to take pictures of them with my DSLR camera for a cool photoshoot.  I am so glad I did because I have now decided to keep them and start collecting vintage cameras and vintage video cameras.  I am ecstatic about this new found hobby and can't wait to share more about it next week.

2015 is going to be a fabulous year!

Have you done anything to get ready for 2015 yet? 

Have a great weekend!

December 18, 2014

6 Beauty Products I Wish I Never Bought and Why

Hi everyone! Today I want to talk about products.  Nothing irks me more than a beauty product fail.  Ugh, that hard earned money wasted.  The disappointment.  The frustration.  We have all been there.  It's such a let down when products fail to meet expectations, especially after we have spent time reading countless reviews.

When it comes to my purchases (beauty supplies, food products, or anything I could potentially want to try out in the future) I want to know the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Negative reviews often help me more than positive ones because they save me money and time- two things we all need more of, right?

Today I'm sharing some beauty products I have bought, tried (sometimes multiple times), and ended up tossing in the garbage can!  Most of them are drug store products.  I hope that this post will help you with your purchase selections next time you go out shopping.  These are my beauty product regrets...

6 Beauty Products I Wish I Never Bought
1. MAC Beauty Blending Sponge
I have used the MAC Beauty Sponge one or two times since purchasing.  I do not like it one bit.  It doesn't get wet or retain moisture very well.  I also don't like how flat it is as it doesn't apply makeup very well due to its shape.  The texture is also very rough.  Ouch!  I'm spoiled with the Beauty Blender nowadays and this one just doesn't even compare.  Not sure how much I spent on it (knowing MAC it was probably too much) but it was definitely money wasted. 



2. Toni&Guy Curling Iron
I tried.  I really did.  But no matter what, I never liked this product.  This curling iron doesn't get hot enough for me.  It takes forever to curl a strand of hair, and in the end, there is still no curl to be seen.  The barrel is extremely smooth and slippery which makes it hard to hold the hair in place during the curling process.  I don't like it at all and I have been much happier since purchasing a more expensive and professional curling iron at Ulta for $70 (I will do a post on it in the future).  But it was completely worth every penny even after the first use.  The Toni&Guy curling iron was $20 at Target if I recall.  Either way, I believe curling irons are one of those beauty products where you really get what you pay for.  Spend the extra money on a professional grade curling iron.  You won't regret it.  Promise!
3.  CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion
A while back when it started to get really cold here in NC, my skin got really dry so I decided to look into purchasing a better moisturizer for my face.  I just wanted something over the counter and not high end.  I read a bunch of reviews on this product and felt like it was a good choice for me.  Wrong.  It made me break out within a matter of minutes.  Not even exaggerating.  A red rash plus acne! Nightmare.  It was extremely irritating and pore clogging.  It never felt like it soaked into my skin, but rather, just felt like an oil mask sitting on my face all day long.  Gross! Never again CeraVe, never again.




4.  Jordana Fabuliner
This was such a huge let down because I am OBSESSED with Jordana.  Their eye liners and lip liners are amazing.  This is a great drugstore line and normally I love all of their products but this particular product I did not care for.  I read so many raves on this felt tip pen eyeliner.  Let me say that I love the physical product: the packaging is great, I love the way the thick wand feels in my hand, and the felt tip is super soft and lovely against my skin.  However, I just can't get any product to show up.  It isn't pigminted enough and it comes out looking watery and splotchy.



5.  Maybelline Lash Stiletto
The only thing going for this product is the packaging.  There was so much advertising for this product so I had high hopes for it back in the day.  Hate is a strong word but I really hate this mascara.  It does nothing for me.  The wand is absolutely horrible and makes my lashes look extremely clumpy and dirty.  Nothing more to say here.



6. Almay Lip Gloss (Apple a Day)
I am SO picky when it comes to my lip products.  I don't like anything sticky, wet, or glittery.   This lip product was "Meh".  It's not as pigmented as it looks in the picture or in person so it doesn't really show up very well on my lips.  It's a little too glossy for me.  It basically gives you a light hint of red with a lot of clear gloss.  Basically, it's sheer.  If you are looking for a bright red glossy lips, this is not your product.  I would look into something from Bobby Brown.  Their lip glosses are the best.

What beauty products do you regret buying and why? I would love to hear what didn't work for you!

December 15, 2014

The All American Apple Pie Recipe


Hey everyone! After months of being gone from my blog, I am back!  Months ago our home computer crashed (aka died completely) during a random power outage and it was pretty much a nightmare.  Just really stressful and very time consuming.  But thanks to great friends, great family, and lots of computer specialists, we are back up and running. 

But I am so happy to be back to blogging.  Today I am sharing with you the most insanely delicious, flaky crusted Apple Pie you have ever had in your life.  It was a huuuuuge hit at my Thanksgiving table.  Not a flake remained.  I am so obsessed with this recipe that I have made this pie twice in the last month. 


I used to be so intimidated about baking but over the years I have really become so much more comfortable with it thanks to patience, practice, and my handy dandy Kitchen Aid mixer.  If it wasn't for these 3 things, I wouldn't be as confident as I am today when it comes to baking.  Years ago, the thought of making an apple pie would have been daunting.  I assumed it would take 8 hours, make the biggest mess (I hate messes!!), and come out mediocre if that.  Not at all.  This was so fun to make and if you have kids, they will love to help!


Apples are one of my favorite fruits so I like to use them as often as possible in my cooking.  There are so many kinds of apples but in my experience Granny Smith, Pink Lady, and Honeycrisp are the best apples to use for your pies because they have such an exquisite tartness and crispness to them which is ideal for baking.

I'm picky about my pies.  I don't like a lot of different kinds but I am such a sucker for Apple, Cherry, and Sweet Potato pie - yummy!  I didn't realize how many different types of apple pies there are out there.  Dutch, American, French, and the list goes on.  A lot.  American Apple Pie is my favorite because it offers a flaky crust, chunky apples in every bite, and loads of flavor.  An all around classic apple pie recipe.  It's heavenly and I think it is the perfect apple pie!

Enjoy!

The All American Apple Pie Recipe

Ingredients

Pie Dough (makes a fabulously flaky crust!)
2 ½ cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup cool unsalted butter, cut into pieces
¼ cup cool water
2 tsp white vinegar or lemon juice (I personally love the flavor the vinegar gives the crust.  I have used both of these before and I personally think the vinegar is better than the lemon juice)

Pie Filling
6 cups peeled and sliced mixed apples (I used 3 Granny Smith and 2 Pink Lady) - about 5 apples
1 Tbsp lemon juice
½ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
1 recipe Pie Dough (above)
2 Tbsp rolled oats (this is used to help soak up excess liquid in the pie dish)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 egg mixed with 2 Tbsp water, for brushing
sugar and cinnamon, for sprinkling

Directions

Pie Dough
1. Combine the flour, sugar and salt together. Add the oil and blend in using a pastry cutter or a mixer (I love my Kitchen Aid mixer) fitted with the paddle or dough hook attachment, until the flour looks evenly crumbly.
2. Add the butter and cut in until rough and crumbly but small pieces of butter are still visible. Stir the water and vinegar (or lemon juice) together and add to the flour mixture. Mix until the dough starts to take form.  Work dough into a big ball and half it down the center.  Shape dough halfs into 2 disks, wrap them, and chill until firm, for at least an hour.
3. The dough can be made up to 2 days ahead and stored chilled.  It can be frozen for up to 3 months.  Be sure to thaw the dough in the fridge before you use it.

Filling 
1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
2. Toss the sliced apples with the lemon juice. Place half of the apples in a sauté pan or saucepan and heat over medium heating, until some of the juices cook out and the apples soften, about 10 minutes. Remove the apples from the pan using a slotted spoon and stir with the remaining uncooked apples to cool.
3. In a separate bowl, stir the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg to blend, then stir this into the apples and set aside.
4. Pull out the dough from the fridge 15-30 minutes before rolling. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the first disk of dough into a circle just less than ¼-inch thick. Dust a 9-inch pie plate with flour and line the plate with the pastry. Sprinkle the bottom of the shell with the oats (this will help absorb any excess juices). Spoon the apple filling into the shell (DO NOT ADD THE LIQUID AT THE BOTTOM OF THE APPLES BOWL TO THE PIE!!) and dot with the butter. Roll out the remaining disk of dough to the same thickness and place over the apples. Trim any excess dough and pinch the edges of the crust together, created a fluted edge. Brush the pastry with the egg wash. Stir a little sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle generously overtop. Use scissors to snip opening in the top crust to allow steam to escape.
5. Place the pie on a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes at 400 F. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 F and continue to bake for another 40 to 50 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Cool the pie for at least 2 hours before slicing to serve.

September 23, 2014

Our Wedding Day: A Peach, Mint Green, & Ivory Spring Wedding at the Highgrove Estate (Part 2)

Today I am sharing Part 2 of my Spring Wedding at Highgrove.  These pictures are of our favorite moments from the ceremony and reception.  Last week I shared Part 1 so be sure to check that out in case you missed it as it has some bridal tips and most of the wedding day details. 

One of my favorite things about Highgrove was the ceremony location.  It was held outdoors in a beautiful garden overlooking a private lake.  The aisle was perfect- long, brick, a few stairs, and just pain elegant.

I never spent my childhood attending church so having an outdoor wedding in a beautiful place was a no-brainer for me.  Getting married in a church and having a religious ceremony was not something I ever considered for my wedding day.  It would have been so awkward for me.  Matthew had a similar upbringing as me so he felt the same way.  Plus when you think "Spring wedding", flowers and gardens are the first things that come to mind.  Highgrove was the perfect venue for us!

I walked down the aisle to, A Thousand Years by The Piano Guys -such a gorgeous song!

Mint green bridesmaids dresses

I cannot say enough great things about our pastor.  He was probably my favorite vendor we hired for our wedding- hands down!  He was a delight to work with and made us feel very comfortable. Because Matthew and I are not religious, it was important for us to have a beautiful and spiritual ceremony without any Bible referencing.  We wanted a pastor who accepted us and our wishes for a non-religious ceremony without being pushy and rude.  And in the end, we couldn't have been happier with our choice.  He helped us create an absolutely beautiful ceremony that reflected our love and devotion to one another.    

Our love cards and love box.  Matthew and I hand made these ourselves.

Mr. & Mrs. Williams




I am so glad we had a few moments to ourselves right after the ceremony for a quick hug, kiss, and "I Love You." This was a moment I will never forget as Matthew jerked me in for a big smooch! 

"Celebrate we will coz life is short but sweet for certain..."


Yummy!! Matthew and I were most excited about this Sarano Ham carving station for cocktail hour. We couldn't wait to eat it on the wedding day- we salivated over it for months! It rocked. 

Stunning floral centerpieces.   







Our beautiful wedding bands.

I love our pictures by the lake- they are some of my favorite of the day.

Our mint green and peach wedding cake was simple and timeless.  It was so delicious! The mint green color was a little bit lighter than I expected it to be on the wedding day but I still think it came out beautiful. 

I am really looking forward to our 1 year anniversary so we can get some more cake!  Most wedding cake companies include a small tier to enjoy on your 1 year anniversary.  I can't wait for this celebration.



The cutting of the cake kiss.  I love you!

Our wedding day was so special and I am thankful for these beautiful pictures that showcase the love that Matthew and I have for each other.  I hope you have enjoyed taking a peek into our big day!

September 19, 2014

A Fall Treat: Cinnamon Apple Rosettes


I am so glad it is Friday!  This was a long long week.  I mentally clocked out at 3:30 yesterday so I am thrilled the weekend is finally here.  I have some fun things lined up!

Today I'm sharing a delicious recipe for Cinnamon Apple Rosettes.  Apple season is on its way!!

I am so in love with anything with apples in it: a waldorf salad (omg!), a warm homemade apple pie, or apple slices dipped in peanut butter.  Either way, if it has apples in it, I want it!

Apples are one of the most versatile fruits available and the flavors and textures are endless.  I just tried a new type of apple just the other day- a Kuki apple.   Have you ever heard of that one? It reminds me so much of a Pink Lady (my favorite by the way) - sweet, crisp, and very juicy.

Here is a fall recipe for Cinnamon Apple Rosettes.  They are fun and really easy to make! Ready in no time.  Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 Puff Pastry Sheet (sit at room temperature for 45 minutes to soften)
3 Apples - I used a combination of Fuji and Pink Lady Apples
5 Tablespoons Sugar
2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1 pinch Nutmeg
1 teaspoon Lemon Zest
4 cups Water
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
Flour (optional)
Parchment Paper


Directions:

Wash, core, and cut all the apples until thinly sliced.

Put all of the sliced apples in a medium sized saucepan along with the 4 cups water, 3 tablespoons sugar, and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 2 minutes.  Check apples to make sure they are soft.  It's important that they are soft so that they can bend into the rose shapes.

Drain apples in a colander. 

Immediately lay them neatly arranged on a flat paper towel for 4-5 minutes to dry completely.  You don't want wet apples!


The puff pastry should be soft and at this point.  Love these things! So simple and easy to use!

Unwrap one puff pastry and lay it on a flat surface.  Sprinkle some flour on top if it is getting too sticky. Puff pastries work best when not completely thawed out!!

In a large mixing bowl, mix the 5 tablespoons of sugar with the cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon zest.  Wow, it smells so good!!

Using a pizza cutter, cut long strips approximately 1/2 inch wide.  Spread the cinnamon mixture over the dough.

Take a few slices and place them on the first strip of pastry dough, overlapping them so they do not fall out.  Slowly start rolling up the end of each strip until it makes a nice rose shape.  Make sure it is fairly tight so the apples will not fall out apart.  Continue until all strips are complete.  You may have a few left over apples to nibble on. 

Place all apple rosettes on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.

Bake at 425˚F for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

 
Serve immediately with a side of vanilla ice cream.  You can also top it with some confectioners sugar for extra flavor.  Such a delicious and fun recipe.  I hope you enjoy this wonderful fall treat!