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!


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


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.

Hope you enjoyed the first batch of wedding pictures. There are lots more to come!

September 15, 2014

6 must have supplements for health and beauty

When it comes to health and especially beauty, I am a big believer in taking care of your body from the inside out.  That means a good nutritious diet full of fruits and vegetables, lots of water, frequent exercise, good hygiene, and using supplements.  I have been taking vitamin and mineral supplements for many years now and I believe they have helped me stay stronger and healthier.  These are the 6 supplements I take every single day in addition to well balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.  

      6 must have supplements for health and beauty

1. Probiotic: If you don't take any supplements, I recommend at least taking a good probiotic everyday.  I use KeyBiotics because I think they are the best as they contain 14 different healthy bacteria strains.  Pricy but totally worth it.  Probiotics are beneficial (especially for people with digestive issues such as lactose intolerance) because they help fight candida overgrowth and they promote a healthy digestive and immune system by putting good bacteria back into your gut. 

2. Multi-Vitamin: Centrum chewables have always been my go-to multivitamin.  It was the first supplement I ever started taking.  I like this particular multi-vitamin because it is chewable (I hate swallowing pills) and has a pretty decent flavor.  Even with a good diet, I think taking a multi-vitamin never hurts. 

3. Biotin: I love biotin because, in my opinion, it is a beauty vitamin as it assists in hair and nail growth.  I have been patiently growing my hair out for a couple years so taking this supplement regularly has helped my hair grow a lot faster and stronger.  Biotin is also great for people with brittle nails because it helps keep nails strong and healthy.  

4. Omega 3:  I take an Omega 3 fish oil supplement each day because it protects against heart disease.  It also promotes healthy skin, vision, joint, and brain functions.  It's found naturally in a lot of foods that I regularly eat but I still prefer to take this as a supplement as well just to give me that extra protection.  

5. Echinacea: The main reason why I take Echinacea every day is to help boost my immune system.  I have terrible allergies and sinus issues especially in the Spring and Fall seasons so I this really helps me fight these battles.  

6. Vitamin C:  Most people don't have a Vitamin C deficiency as it's really easy to get most of what you need from fruits and vegetables, however I swear by it because Vitamin C is extremely good for your skin.  I am always looking for new ways to keep my skin looking clear and youthful especially as I get older and taking a daily Vitamin C supplement is one of my biggest beauty secrets!  

(This post is a reflection of what works for me personally.  Always consult your doctor before taking any supplements.)

September 11, 2014

Living with a Spouse who has Lactose Intolerance

Hi everyone! Today I wanted to stop by and share some personal stuff with you because I want to educate and hopefully be a good resource for others going through a similar situation.

Being Diagnosed with Lactose Intolerance

My husband, Matthew, is lactose intolerant which means he can't eat any dairy products.  Matthew supports me doing this post and hopes that this information can help others who deal with lactose intolerance.

It wasn't a struggle that he has always had to deal with, but one that surfaced in his mid 20's while he was backpacking through Europe.  Matthew went through a difficult period of digestive issues which many doctors just threw lots of labels at and were only focused on the symptoms he was having, not trying to find the root cause of his illness.  There are many people out there who may have digestive issues and may not be aware that they may actually have a food sensitivity (not the same as an allergy such as peanuts) whether it be to wheat, dairy, or something else.

Some people are born with lactose intolerance but sometimes it can pop up later in life for various reasons.  It's actually pretty common for people to become more sensitive to dairy as they age because over time we loose enzyme lactase that help breakdown lactose.  Having lactose intolerance is a life changing event but one that can easily be managed.

Living with Lactose Intolerance

It's not hard at all to live with lactose intolerance.  It's pretty easy actually.  The only thing is that you must read food labels and you always have to be aware of hidden dairy

I will be honest, in the very early stages of our relationship it was a challenge remembering to read food labels for dairy (even though I am a big food label reader).  There were definitely times in our first year together where I made recipes that I always cooked back when I was single, only to be reminded by Matthew that he couldn't have any because I put cheese in it...or cream.  Ah!  It was such a learning process for me because it was something I just wasn't used to and never had to deal with before we met.  But it is a lifestyle that will always be present for us and one that has become so natural to me with time.

If you are having a hard time living with lactose intolerance, start cooking more at home instead of eating out.  Make big meals during the weekend so you have them for the busy work week.  You will be able to better control what goes into your food and what does not.

There are so many excellent dairy free products on the market now so that you can still enjoy your favorite foods like pizza and ice cream, worry free.   There are so many that Matthew and I love and buy on a regular basis (that is a post for another day!)  For example, almonds and coconuts are widely used as the dairy substitute in many of these products so not only are the foods dairy free but they are also healthy and full of good nutrition!

A Dairy Free Marriage

I still eat a good amount of dairy each day (yogurt, coffee creamer, cheese), but for the most part I have cut a lot of it out of my diet too.  Not because I don't like dairy, but because it's just easier that way.

I decided to modify my diet as well so that Matthew and I can create delicious meals that we can both eat together.  For example, if we want to make a sausage strata that traditionally calls for loads of cheese and milk, I will tweak the ingredients to make it dairy free for Matthew while never sacrificing taste and flavor.  It would be ridiculous, wasteful, and time consuming for me to make an entirely separate casserole just so that I can enjoy some cheese.  If we make a homemade pizza, we will make it dairy free and use a dairy free cheeses (Daiya or Go Veggie!) instead of real dairy rich cheese.  However if we make hamburgers, I will definitely throw a cheddar cheese slice on mine if I happen to have it on hand.  I have really become used to eating this way over the last 3 years and I never feel like I am missing out on anything.

Another thing, before we met I only drank soy milk and almond milk so this is one thing that never changed for either of us in our relationship.  I don't think we have ever bought cow's milk in our entire 3.5 years together. 

If I really have a craving for cheese, I will most often make myself a cheese and fruit tray and pair it with a delicious wine...or order some Domino's for myself. #ilovepizza

My Blogging Mission 

I want you to know all of this so you can better understand why there will be a lot of dairy free recipes (ex. Delicious Dairy Free Vegetable Lasagna) coming to my blog in the future.  And so that you could relate to our story if you or someone you know is going through a similar situation. 

Of course I will still bring you yummy dairy rich recipes too (I love cheese!) but since meeting Matthew and especially since blogging, I have realized that there are so many people who live with lactose intolerance and really need these good, healthy, dairy free recipes in their lives.  With my bachelor's degree food and nutrition and a passion for cooking, I am eager to share our favorite lactose free recipes and cooking tips on my blog.   I have a lot of great information and advice for you all and I am really excited to share.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comment section and I will be happy to respond!

September 9, 2014

Hanging out at the Cottage, Silly Dogs, and A Waterfall: Roan Mountain, Tennessee (Part 2)

Yesterday I shared with you Part 1 of our trip to see the Rhododendron Gardens in Tennessee and all of the beauty that is, Roan Mountain.  It's an amazing place.  One that holds a special place in my heart.

When we aren't at the very top of the mountain we are either spending time back at the cottage with our English bulldog, Mr. Truck, or driving around looking for cool waterfalls to visit.  This is Mr. Truck's favorite place on Earth next to the beach.  We have stayed at this little cottage three times already.  We love the owner who lives next door on the property.  She makes our stay so welcoming and loving and always gives us local treats to eat like fresh apples or pastries from the near by bakery.  Plus she has a precious dachshund named Patches whom Mr. Truck absolutely adores.  They are the true definition of BFF's.

I love the cottage.  It's right next to a huge, roaring stream which never quiets down.  It also has a great porch where we enjoy eating our lunches and a hammock to sleep in on warmer days.

Each morning we start the day off right with a big cup of coffee.  I always forget to bring my International Delight Creamer so I usually have to drink it black.  You'd think I would remember by now as I don't really like black coffee.  The cottage has a cheap coffee maker but boy it does the job! :)

I don't know why but I always get a little excited over a pretty picture of coffee!

Early morning kisses.

There are lots of cool photo opportunities right around the house: pretty flowers, critters and creatures, and even baby deer from time to time.

A blue, Brush Footed Butterfly.

Every morning Patches runs up the hill to see if Mr. Truck can come out and play.

And off they go! Is it me or does Trucky look like a rabbit here?

Matthew had been having some tire troubles on this particular trip so before we left to visit a few waterfalls, the boys got to work getting everything ready for the ride.  I don't know why, but I seriously love this picture! 

We spent one afternoon at this gorgeous waterfall called, Laurel Falls.  It is huge!  You can even go swimming in it during the warmer months.  The hike to this waterfall is extremely strenuous but worth it.

Can you see me!?! Hanging out on the bridge on our way back from Laurel Falls.  Beautiful.

Hope you enjoyed my little travelogue series on our trip to Roan Mountain, TN.  Can't wait to go back again soon.