DIY Wreath Making

DIY Wreath Making

Today is a very special Pinterest-inspired episode of Living Dayton and I will be on the show sharing a segment revolving around one of my very favorite crafts, wreath making.

DIY - How to Make an Easy, Rustic WreathI came across this pin and used it as inspiration for creating a super simple and rustic wreath that can be displayed just about any time of the year.

DIY - How to Make an Easy, Rustic WreathI kept the budget low by using a small wreath, which in return required less foliage for decorating. I am not sure how familiar you may be with craft stores, but quality fake foliage can be very expensive. In my opinion though, the extra cost is worth it every single time.

DIY - How to Make an Easy, Rustic WreathIf you want a wreath that looks classy and chic enough to hang in your home, then I suggest splurging and getting more bang-for-your-buck by utilizing every part of the stem including the flowers and the leaves. Also, most craft stores have circulating specials; so if possible, try and wait to buy until the foliage, wreaths and ribbon goes on sale.

DIY - How to Make an Easy, Rustic Wreath

What you need:

  • Wire Cutters
  • Craft Wire
  • Grapevine Wreath
  • 3 large floral stems (I used hydrangeas)
  • Optional: 3 inch width wire ribbon for bow making, or a pre-made bow of your choosing

DIY - How to Make an Easy, Rustic Wreath

Steps:

  • Lay wreath flat and use wire cutters to trim the stems. I like to cut wire stems a few inches from the leaves or flowers so I can weave the stem into the wreath.
  • Arrange as you would like. I think three flowers on the bottom corner looks great with or without a bow tied to the opposite upper corner.
  • Weave the wired leaf and flower stems through the grapevine to secure, and use craft wire for extra support where needed. Tie bow onto wreath with craft wire.

DIY - How to Make an Easy, Rustic Wreath

Conversation Time.

  • What is the best Pinterest project you’ve ever done?
  • Share the link to your Pinterest page in the comments section, I would love to follow! You can find my Pinterest page here!
Lightened-Up Classic Apple Pie

Lightened-Up Classic Apple Pie

Although yesterday’s snowfall makes it feel more like Christmas time than mid-November, I am sure I’m not the only one who is looking forward to celebrating Thanksgiving next week.  As much as I love Christmas, I am not a fan of skipping holidays and although I may plan on putting up a few Christmas decorations this weekend, it doesn’t mean I am wishing for the next month to go by quickly!

Lightened-Up Classic Apple Pie - Thanksgiving DessertThanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays and I am looking forward to celebrating with my family, running the annual turkey trot, eating yummy food, and simply being thankful for all the blessings in my life. When it comes to the Thanksgiving meal, my family likes to try and keep it as traditional as possible, but it’s always fun to add a few new recipes to the usual holiday menu.

Lightened-Up Classic Apple Pie - Thanksgiving DessertPlus, some of those fresh recipe ideas have even become a staple on our Thanksgiving menu, like this Pecan Chocolate Chip Pie that has now been a sweet ending to our meal two years in a row. Another recipe that will be making an appearance this Thanksgiving is my Classic Autumn Snack Mix, which will be perfect for munching while watching football and flipping through those Black Friday Ads.

Classic Autumn Snack MixA traditional apple pie can be found on many Thanksgiving dinner tables, and the recipe I’m sharing today would be perfect for putting a lighter twist on an expected treat. My apple pie is made fresh with a smaller amount of ingredients and less butter, sugar and crust than most apple pies.

Lightened-Up Classic Apple Pie - Thanksgiving DessertThink of this pie as a lighter version of a classic. Feel free to have a slice all on its own served heated and a la mode, or pair a slice with a small sliver of the Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie.

Lightened-Up Classic Apple Pie - Thanksgiving Dessert

Lightened-Up Classic Apple Pie

Lightened-Up Classic Apple Pie - Thanksgiving Dessert

Ingredients

  • 1 pie crust, thawed and placed into a pie pan (I use a refrigerated crust, but feel free to use a homemade version if you prefer)
  • 3 large or 6 small apples, cored, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon all spice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar or sugar in the raw

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, add sliced apples and lemon juice. Stir to combine and add in flour, stirring once again. Stir in brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice and salt.

Pour apple filling into the pie crust.

Lightened-Up Classic Apple Pie - Thanksgiving DessertCut the butter into thin slices and place on top of the apples. Feel free to add additional uncooked pie crust such as the shapes I made using a knife or cookie cutter on top of the pie.

Lightened-Up Classic Apple Pie - Thanksgiving DessertBake for 15 minutes.

Pour melted butter on top of pie and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake an additional 2-3 more minutes or until sugar is lightly caramelized. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

Lightened-Up Classic Apple Pie - Thanksgiving Dessert

Conversation Time.

  • What are your favorite Thanksgiving desserts? This year, we will be enjoying birthday cake as one of the desserts at our holiday dinner!
  • What is the best new recipe you’ve added to your holiday meal? Do you tend to stick to a traditional menu or do you enjoy trying new recipes?
The Icing on the Cake

The Icing on the Cake

If you read Monday’s post, then you know I just celebrated my 26th birthday! Sure, gifts are always fun no matter the age, but as the years go by the whole ‘getting older’ part can become a little less exciting and a little more intimidating. However, in my opinion, a birthday is also a perfect time for reflecting on the past year, and making plans and setting goals for the upcoming year.

Another beautiful thing about birthdays is of course, the birthday cake. Full of sugar, frosted in rich buttercream, decorated with even more sugar and frosting, then topped with lit candles. The traditional birthday dessert is absolutely the ‘icing on the cake’ … literally!

Ele Cake Co.Monday night, Tim and I met my parents for dinner at Longhorn Steakhouse. It is tradition for me to choose Cheesecake Factory for my birthday dinner, where I then proceed to order two slices of cheesecake just because you know, it’s my birthday and it’s hard to choose just one! Anyway, my brother wasn’t able to be in town this year so I requested to postpone our usual destination until the holidays, so a new location it was.

Since we were meeting both my parents right after work, we decided to only take one car north of town. It turns out that Tim was surprising me with a birthday cake from my favorite bakery where we also ordered our wedding cake, Ele Cake Co. Tim called my mom and asked if she could possibly swing by and pick up the already paid for cake before dinner since he was driving me and wanted it to be a surprise.

Ele Cake Co.Well, wouldn’t you know that my mom immediately started laughing; she couldn’t believe what was happening. She too had ordered me a birthday cake and both cakes were iced in rich buttercream, both were decorated with a fall theme, and both were ordered from my favorite cakery, Ele Cake Co. So funny! She arrived at dinner with not just one cake, but two. There were only four of us attending dinner, but we had enough cake to feed almost 35 people!

As it turns out, I may not have ordered two slices of cheesecake for my birthday, but I instead received two amazing, delicious, thoughtful and beautiful birthday cakes from two of my very favorite people. We decided to cut into the smaller round cake that my mom brought and save the ¼ sheet cake that Tim picked for Thanksgiving dessert. The cake was decorated in beautiful fall leaves and muted autumn colors, so with a little press-and-seal wrap and foil wrapped tightly around the box, the cake will be placed in the freezer and served for the holiday.

Ele Cake Co.So yes, the cake was absolutely delicious of course, but the thought put behind the orders and surprises by my family was just the sweetest thing … Even sweeter than the buttercream frosted cakes! Relationships in life, with The Lord, my family and my friends, are truly the most important things and I felt so blessed Monday to be reminded of how blessed I am to be surrounded by such loving and amazing people every day.

Ele Cake Co.Conversation Time.

  • What are the birthday traditions in your family?  Is there a certain way you celebrate, or a certain restaurant you visit each year?
  • Do you have a favorite bakery for ordering cakes? Or, do you prefer a homemade version instead?
  • What is your favorite flavor of cake?
26

26

Today is my 26th birthday!  This time last year I was celebrating turning 25 in Boston with my family.  I can’t believe it’s already been a year since we took that trip!

25th Birthday - Boston, MALast year I wrote a post reflecting on turning 25, complete with a list of goals for the next 25 years to come.  As I read back through my list today, it became evident that I did not accomplish all of my goals in the past year and there are still many areas I would like to improve.  However, I do believe I’ve made strides in becoming a better version of myself.

I have been striving for perfection since the day I was born, which can be both a curse and a blessing for so many of us.  Each year though I am learning to become kinder, gentler and more accepting of who I am and what makes me… me!  Flaws, accomplishments, mistakes, achievements and all.  Good or bad, all my life experiences so far have shaped me into the person I am today and I am so incredibly grateful for the opportunity to have personal growth each and every day.

26th BirthdayIsn’t that what life is all about though, really?  The journey truly does far outweigh the end result.  We all are on different paths, but I think most of us are searching for the same essential goals in life: hope, faith, joy, peace, love and pure, unadulterated happiness.

26th BirthdayFor my 26th year, I would like to see myself continue to grow in all areas of my life.  I want my faith to shine through my every action and word.  I want to love God, my family, my friends and myself more than I ever thought possible.  I want to laugh more, relax more, forgive more, practice grace and humility more, and truly be a servant to The Lord and others.  Most of all though, I just want to enjoy every day and try to take each moment at a time. I want to make a choice to live today with as much joy and strength and hope as I can.  I am so incredibly thankful to have been given another year ahead to grow and learn and love and pray.

26th Birthday

Here’s to year 26, and this crazy, scary, exciting and beautiful road called life!

Living Dayton: Lightened-Up Crockpot Lasagna

Living Dayton: Lightened-Up Crockpot Lasagna

Today I will be on Living Dayton whipping up a recipe for crockpot week! If you’re a regular reader, then you know I am obsessed with the crockpot and all slow cooker meals. For a busy working girl, I think it is just about the most perfect gift to give yourself after a long day; a dinner that is done, ready to be served, and waiting on you when you get home; not the other way around! It’s almost like having your own personal chef that stays at home and cooks for you all day. Seriously, does it get much better than that?

Lightened-Up Crockpot Lasagna

Lasagna is a classic dish that is made a lot more often for a fancy weekend dinner than on a busy weeknight. There is a lot of prep work and baking time that goes along with making lasagna, but the crockpot helps alleviate some of those stresses. There is still a little prep time such as browning the meat and building the layers, but there is no need to pre-boil the noodles and you don’t have to wait an hour for the lasagna to bake when all you really want to do is eat!

Lightened-Up Crockpot Lasagna

My favorite trick for putting together crockpot meals in a flash is to brown big batches of ground beef, ground turkey or ground chicken with chopped onions and minced garlic. Separate the meat into 1 pound batches and freeze in large freezer-safe Ziploc bags. That way when you need meat for your crockpot meal, you can just unthaw a bag of meat in the refrigerator overnight and include it in your recipe.

Lightened-Up Crockpot LasagnaEasy-peasy and most meals will need little-to-no prep when immediately putting those recipes together once the meat is already cooked. You can also put together your crockpot meal the night before like I do and just keep the dish in the fridge. This way your morning becomes a little less hectic and can be reserved for sipping a cup of coffee and reading devotions as opposed to layering a lasagna!

Lightened-Up Crockpot Lasagna

Lightened-Up Crockpot Lasagna

Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 7.15.30 PMIngredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ medium onion, finely diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 8 oz. sliced mushrooms
  • 24 oz. jar marinara sauce, reserve 8 oz.
  • 1 15 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
  • 8 oz. part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz. 2% cottage cheese
  • ½ cup asiago cheese, grated
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • ½ tablespoon dried basil
  • ½ tablespoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 9 uncooked whole wheat lasagna noodles
  • 8 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced thin

Directions

Over medium heat, add olive oil to a large pan and add onions, cooking for about 3 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook for an additional minute. Place the ground beef into the pan and cook until fully browned, breaking apart the meat as you go and draining any fat.  Add in the mushrooms and cook for a minute before pouring in 16 oz. of the marinara sauce and adding the diced tomatoes. Set pan aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, asiago cheese, whisked egg, basil, oregano and salt and pepper with a spoon.

Now it’s time to layer!

Add 1/3 of the sauce to the bottom of the crockpot. Layer three lasagna noodles (breaking to fit), and then add 1/2 of the cheese mixture and spread on top of the noodles along with another 1/3 of the remaining meat mixture on top of the cheese. Repeat building layers two more times and then top the final layer of noodles with the remaining 8 oz. of marinara sauce followed by fresh mozzarella slices. Cover and cook on low 3 ½ – 4 hours until noodles are fully cooked.  Set lasagna aside to cool before digging in.  This will help the layers to hold together better for serving.

Conversation Time.

  • What is the most unusual recipe you have made in your crockpot?
  • What is the best layer of lasagna in your opinion: the meat, cheese or noodle layer?
  • Have you ever made lasagna in your crockpot?