DIY 101: Salted Caramel Apples11.06.12

Salted Caramel Apples

My goal this week was to pre-blog, but Election Day kind of got in the way of today’s early post. I had only voted two times before today and each time I waltzed into my polling location, grabbed a ballot, voted, and waltzed out. Today, not so much. There were lines. LONG lines. But I’m happy to report that my civic duty is complete! At least for today. :)

So, let’s talk about gooey caramel and crispy apples. I love them both separate and together, and because I’ve been eyeing these salted caramel apples for awhile now, I decided it was time to try making my own. I feel like I owe everyone a warning though … my apples didn’t look anything like that link. I know, I know, you’re probably shocked. It’s mostly because I was scared my caramel was burning, so I slapped it onto the apples before it was ready. They do, however, taste delicious, so I give myself one point for that.

Salted Caramel Apples

You will need:
Apples
Caramels (If you’re really ambitious, you can make your own caramel. I am not, so I bought my caramel pre-made. :) )
Vanilla Extract
Milk
Sea Salt
Branches (to hold onto while you’re eating!)

1. Melt the caramels in a double boiler (or if you’re like me, in a bowl sitting over a pan of hot water. We’re not fancy at the Baldwin house). As the caramel is melting, add a teaspoon of vanilla extract and a couple tablespoons of milk (I learned this from The Pioneer Woman). Stir well and keep stirring until the caramel is runny in texture.

2. Insert the branches into the apple cores. Make sure they’re firm so you don’t loose your apples when dipping.

3. Dip half of the apple into the caramel. Smooth the caramel with a rubber spatula if it globs too much.

4. While the caramel is still hot, sprinkle sea salt on the apple. (I decided not the roll the apple in the salt because I was afraid it’d get too salty, but I’m sure you can do that too.)

Voila! How awesome would these be at a fall wedding??

Salted Caramel Apples

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My Logo by SaraINKS12.03.11

I think in another life I could have been a graphic designer. I love the creativity and art that goes into magazine, web, and logo design. But alas, I have way too many interests and that one’s going to have to go on the back burner.

When I needed a logo designed for Lane Baldwin Photography I had absolutely no idea where to start, but I knew someone who did: Sara of SaraINKS. This girl is insanely talented. She studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. Yeah. She’s totally gonna be famous one day. (And little known fact: I coached Sara in gymnastics way back when. :) )

Check out Sara’s portfolio at www.sarainks.com

I basically gave Sara five words that I think (or want to) describe my photography. From that she made this:

It’s perfect. When people look at my logo, I want them to see that my style is DIY/handmade/vintage and I think the logo depicts that 100%. Hopefully you think so, too! :)

Sara’s first love is obviously fashion, but she is interested in taking on other graphic design projects. Here’s another plug for this talented girl: She designed our wedding invitations and programs.

Photo credit goes to Amanda Donaho Photography

“My favorite projects to work on are hardly ever assignments,” Sara said. “I like to sit down with a pen and paper when an idea comes to mind after seeing something inspirational, like a movie or editorial spread. If I try and force out a project, it doesn’t feel the same.”

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101 in 1001: #23 Make s’mores cake in a jar.11.17.11

White cake with chocolate icing. That’s the only birthday cake Nathan ever wants, despite seven years of me trying to convince him to “get creative.” This year, even though he still wanted his white cake with chocolate icing, I decided I was going to make him a second cake whether he liked it or not (let’s be real, who wouldn’t want two cakes?!).

Enter s’mores cake in a jar. Yeah, I know. The name alone makes you want to do a happy dance, right? Well, it’s just as good as it sounds. If you like s’mores, cake and mason jars, you have to make this right now. Even if you already have one dessert in the oven.

S’mores Cake in a Jar (from How Sweet it Is)
Makes 4 16-ounce mason jar cakes

Crust (I have a huge sweet tooth and this crust wasn’t sweet enough for me. If I make it again, I would make the crust from the back of the graham cracker crumb box):

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 stick butter
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter and mix in graham crumbs and salt. Mix until moistened. Spray 4 mason jars with non-stick spray and press graham crust into jars. I began by adding a tablespoon to each, and repeating until graham crumbs were gone. They don’t need to look perfect. I pressed the crumbs down firmly with the flat bottom of a clean screwdriver.

Cake:

1 1/8 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup dark cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons sour cream

Topping:

1 bag of large marshmallows

In a bowl, whisk egg and sugar until smooth and no lumps remain. Add milk, cream, butter and vanilla, and mix until combined. Stir in sour cream. Sift dry ingredients together and add to wet mixture. Mix until batter is smooth. Using a 1/4 cup measure, add batter to mason jars one scoop at a time. You only want to fill them up about half way, and the batter should work evenly for four jars. Again, don’t worry if it is perfect. Place mason jars in a baking dish and add about 1 1/2 cups of water to the bottom. Bake for 30 minutes, or until cake is set.

Remove cake from the oven and press large marshmallows down on top, being careful not to burn yourself. There is no set number of marshmallows to use; I pressed down as many as I could, about 4-5 each. Heat the broiler on your oven and watching carefully, brown marshmallows for about 1-2 minutes, or until golden brown. Do not take your eyes off them! Serve immediately.

One word: DELISH! :)

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Reusing Wedding Decor11.15.11

By this time, you probably know I’m a huge proponent of using DIY and handmade creations for wedding decor (if not, see here and here). Both are unique and can afford you a one-of-a-kind, personalized wedding at a fraction of what some weddings cost.

Now, I want to take it one step farther and talk about reusing wedding decor. Yep, you heard me. Why not put those creations you spent so much time on before the wedding, to use AFTER the wedding? Or if you’re planning a wedding now, think about how you might be able to use those details post wedding.

Take it from me, I spent so many hours thinking through and even creating some of my details, there was no way I was going to stick them in a closet afterwards. So, I decided I would give some of my stuff a second life at home and in other weddings.

At Home
Because Nathan and I are kinda in limbo with the housing situation (Hint: We may be moving to something more permanent soon. !!! More on THAT later), a lot of our wedding stuff is still in boxes, but I did manage to decorate a little:

We used SO many vases for our centerpieces, I had to use some of them for fresh flowers in our house. And I spiced up the display with our program box. Once we move and get things sorted out, I’m going to donate the unwanted vases to a thrift store. Win win for me and the people that get my vases next. :)

And I’m displaying our custom paper pinwheels in our apothecary jars. I’ve got a project up my sleeve for these pinwheels in the not too distant future. Stay tuned!

In other Weddings
Oh, the Internet is a wonderful thing isn’t it? There are some great websites that allow you to connect with other couples and buy or sell wedding stuff. And that “stuff” includes EVERYTHING, from linens to dresses to bow ties to shoes. If you’re not going to look at your wedding dress again, why not let someone else look beautiful in it?? Or if you’re looking for a great collection of vases for centerpieces, why not buy them from another bride who doesn’t need them anymore? That is working together folks!

Check out some fab sites that I had bookmarked for our wedding:
Once Wed
Recycled Bride
Ruffled
BravoBride
SmartBride Boutique

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Etsy Finds: Pennant Wreaths11.03.11

A little inspiration for you on this lovely Thursday: pennants! And if you don’t mind, I’m going to use our wedding as the subject again. :)

Just like the custom paper pinwheels, I went to Etsy when I decided to use pennants as one of our details. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The best thing about Etsy is that you can support independent artists and their handmade creations with just a click of your mouse.

We were going for a rustic, garden theme, so pennants worked perfectly! Here’s my Pinterest pennant inspiration board (follow me on Pinterest to see these original pictures):

I knew I wanted to hang some wreaths at our wedding (and get something that I could re-use AFTER the wedding), and when I found Dianna’s pennant wreaths in her April421 Etsy shop, I knew they would fit perfectly with my details.

Dianna makes handmade grapevine and yarn wreaths customized for special occasions and everyday life. She also makes handmade earrings, necklaces and hair accessories. I seriously wish I had that much talent!

She finds inspiration from decor photos, magazines, blogs and … Pinterest! :) Plus, she works with clients to create custom pieces if they’re looking for something specific.

I found the wreath I wanted in Dianna’s shop and then she customized it with our wedding colors:

At our wedding, we used the wreath as a backdrop to our place card table (these photos were taken by our lovely wedding photographer, Amanda Donaho):

And here are some of our other pennant details:

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101 in 1001: #10 Get Married!10.14.11

Well, it’s about time I showed you our wedding pictures! 9.3.11 was such a great day (and so beautiful in Oxford, Ohio, where we got married!), and I’m so thankful to have such beautiful images to remember it by! To be completely honest, that whole day was a blur. Everyone says your wedding day will go by in the blink of an eye, and it’s true.

The most important thing though is that I got to marry my best friend and now we get to start a life together. I can tell you one thing, living an hour apart for four years makes you really appreciate being in the same house. I know this is the “honeymoon phase,” but even washing dishes together is a novelty (and I HATE washing dishes … by hand … because we don’t have a dishwasher!)

I’m so, so thankful for all the support of our family and friends, too. Our wedding day reminded me how blessed we are to have each and every one of you in our lives. It means so much to the both of us that you were there sharing in our vows, our first dance, our cake cutting. :) We love you all.

And without further ado, I present to you … OUR WEDDING! Thank you, thank you, thank you Amanda Donaho for capturing the day so beautifully. You’re the best. :)

(This is a looooooong post! I just couldn’t narrow down the images because I love them all! If you get through the whole thing, you get a cookie!)

My dress was handmade by one of my mom’s friends, Kathy Guidone. After looking at dresses in the stores, I just couldn’t find anything that went with the picture I had in my mind. I didn’t want fluff and beading and sequins, so getting my dress made was the BEST thing for me.

A big thank you to Nancy of BRIDEface for doing a fabulous job on my makeup and Amanda Smith for my hair. :)

This was right about the time I thought my dress wasn’t going to zip. Haha!

First look! :)

This is totally going to be a big canvas. Amanda, you did an outstanding job on our portraits!

I absolutely LOVED our flowers. I wanted a wildflower, garden look, and Kim Peterka did an unbelievable job. Wait till you see the centerpieces she did!

Oh boys. :)

Love my bridesmaids. :)

I was absolutely blown away by how good the centerpieces looked. I had the idea in my head forever, but when other people are bringing it together, you get a little nervous! I didn’t even set these up and they look better than I could have done! Also, huge thanks to Sara Rabin for designing all our paper products. I should probably mention here too that our reception was held at the Oxford Community Arts Center. Such a cool, old building that used to be part of Miami University when it was a women’s college!

Most of my details were handmade or came from Etsy.

Our lovely families. Definitely couldn’t have done this without them! We got married in Oxford Presbyterian Church, where I went to church when I was in college!

One of Nathan’s requirements of our reception was that we have a lot of dessert. If you know him, you know he has the biggest sweet tooth ever! So, we did a dessert table with sweets from The Cakery. And Funky’s did our amazing food. We wanted a brunch that was fairly healthy and not too heavy. It.was.delicious. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

This was probably right around the time Mark Zuckerberg was mentioned.

The Paul Otten Band provided the music. They’re awesome! Check them out!

We had such a blast with the photobooth, provided by SPROUT Squared Photography.

Hahahaha. And I will leave you with this image. If you made it through this entire thing, I’m impressed. And I owe you a cookie. :)

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Etsy Finds: Custom Paper Pinwheels10.11.11

Etsy is a fabulous thing. When I was planning our wedding, I found about 80% of my details and inspiration on that site.

Our theme was green, local, rustic and vintage-y, which included lots and lots of reusing and recycling. The best thing about Etsy for me is that you can support lots of independent artists from your living room. And most of the stuff I got was given a second life in some way shape or form.

The other 20% of my inspiration came from Pinterest, a huge time waster and also a fabulous thing. When I decided I wanted to incorporate paper pinwheels into our rustic theme, I went to Pinterest to figure out how I could use them:

Vintage Pinwheels

THEN, I went to Etsy to find an artist who could make exactly what I had in mind. Meet Emily of ThePaperedElephant. She designs really, really cute custom pinwheels and banners, and her inspiration came when SHE was a bride and wanted a vintage, DIY wedding.

Emily did an unbelievable job on our pinwheels. In fact, I’m reusing them right now as part of our living room decor. Check it out, and check out ThePaperedElephant on Etsy!

The pinwheels at our wedding (Amanda Donaho Photography gets the photo credit):

And the pinwheels as our current decor:

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My Bridal Shower!06.10.11

I have THE best family and friends in the world. No really. I do. Let me prove it …

Last weekend, my Miami U friends hosted a bridal shower for me (yes, I’m getting married Sept. 3! Eeeek! ). The best part of course was that everyone I love was gathered in one place, but the icing on the cake was the amount of personalization they put into that party. Seriously, my friends just get me.

For me, the details make a huge difference, and they can be the smallest things! A bracelet to complete an outfit, a personalized towel in the bathroom, a small vase of flowers in the kitchen. These kinds of things show that you took just a little more time to pull everything together, and I think the little things are the most special.

When I walked into Nicole’s house, I was so overwhelmed by how much thought they put into each detail. There were flowers floating in teacups, handwritten tags that described each hors d’oeuvre, ribbons around the potted plants, and green and pink galore! I love handmade, DIY projects, and I’m getting better at them, especially with this wedding coming up!

Without further ado, here are a couple of the details from the day. THANK YOU friends for making this day super memorable for me. I love you all!

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