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!

September 18, 2014

Our Wedding Day: A Peach, Mint Green, & Ivory Spring Wedding at the Highgrove Estate (Part 1)

Today is an exciting day on the blog.  I am thrilled to finally begin to share my wedding pictures with you.  I hope you enjoy taking a peek into our big day!

Because there are so many pictures that I love so much, I will be breaking this post up into a few different parts, over several days.  We have so many pictures so I will only be sharing our top favorites and the ones that I want to pin on Pinterest for other brides to use for their Spring wedding inspiration.  (You can hover over any picture with your mouse for the "pin" button for easy pinning access).

And in case you missed it, I posted my bridals a few months back so you can also view those too.


A little about our wedding

Our small intimate Spring wedding was on May 4th, 2014 in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina at this little house called Highgrove.  It was once a family home owned by a local dentist but was later sold a few years back to a chef who turned it into a modern day wedding venue.  It has become one of the hottest places to get married in the Triangle area of North Carolina and I am so happy to say that I got married at Highgrove. 

My color palette was peach, mint green, and ivory to compliment the beautiful hues of Spring.  I think light pastels are the way to go if you get married in Spring.  We had about 90 people attend, all family and close friends.  The day was warm, sunny, and lovely.  I was extremely nervous but excited.  All I wanted to do all day was talk to Matthew!  It was so hard to wait until the ceremony.  

For today's post I am sharing pictures of me and Matthew and the special little moments from before the ceremony...





The ceremony was held at this beautiful outdoor garden area overlooking Laurel Lake. 

My gown: an ivory, silk dupioni, mermaid gown with a sweetheart neckline.  Complimented with handmade rosettes and swarovski crystals at the waist and hip.  Designed by Martina Liana (Style #345)

I had no Earthly idea what shoes to wear on my wedding day but I absolutely knew I did NOT want anything blue- that trend is SO overdone!  I didn't stress about my wedding shoes as it wasn't something I wanted to put a lot of time and effort into finding and purchasing.  

I'm a stiletto's kind of girl and I like really tall pumps, but I knew on my wedding day that I wanted something with less heel and more comfort.  These shoes from Belk's did the trick.  Simple and very bridal in my opinion.  I ended up loving them!


My elegant Peach Peony wedding invitations and stationary were designed by Paperless Post.  I don't think it could have been any more perfect.  So in love with how they turned out!


I knew without a doubt that I wanted peonies and garden roses for my wedding.  They are the prettiest flowers ever and are always in season during the Spring time.  These beautiful bouquets were perfect and they look so beautiful with the mint green bridesmaids dresses.

My handsome groom in a traditional black and ivory suit to match me. 


 
Putting on my dress!

Side note: My zipper broke right after my bridal portrait session (my seamstress was so awesome and sewed a brand new one for me afterwards for free) so you can only imagine how scared to death I was when my maid of honor was zipping me up.  It was all I could think about the week leading up to my wedding.  "Is my zipper going to zip!? What if it doesn't!? What will I do if it breaks again!?"  Oh, the nightmares I had.  Because truth be told, if my zipper broke, there would be nothing anyone could do.  Luckily it fit like a glove and the wedding went on as planned. #phew

I wanted to share this little story so you will always remember when looking at real wedding photos online or in magazines that no wedding is ever 100% perfect and that stressful things like this really do happen- leading up to the wedding and sadly even on the wedding day for some brides.  



Putting on my wedding jewelry. I'm a bride!




My something old.

 Father of the bride moment.


Our wedding guestbook tree.  We purchased it from Etsy and were overjoyed with how it turned out.  It was so fun designing it with Matthew before the wedding.  We love it so much and it looks perfect in our home.  A great modern twist on a classic wedding guestbook.