Easy Apple Cake

This is my go to dessert to bake because it’s tasty, simple and healthy (because apples are healthy, right?). Give it a try!

IMG_0694

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups diced apple (approx. one large apple)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup canola oil (you can swap 1/2 of this for applesauce)
  • 1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup powdered sugar (for the icing)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice (for the icing)

Apple Cake MixDirections:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl: sugar, brown sugar, flour, baking soda & cinnamon.
  3. Dice apple(s). Mix in with dry ingredients.
  4. Stir in oil and egg until well mixed.
  5. Put in a greased pan (I used a round 8 x 8 pan) & bake for 35 minutes.
  6. In a small bowl, mix the powdered sugar and lemon juice to make icing. It should have a squishy, not runny consistency.
  7. Using a spatula, scoop the icing into a plastic sandwich bag. Make a small cut in the corner of the bag & drizzle the icing on the cake.

Enjoy!


My Valentine: A Secret Message Scavenger Hunt

Two Valentine’s ago, I was states away from my other half and wanted to do something memorable and sweet, without spending a lot. Here’s what I did: a non-traditional word search (think scavenger hunt) that spelled out a message leading him to his V-day present. If you are stuck on what to do for Valentine’s, whether he or she is near or far, I hope this gives you some inspiration!

Valetine, Word Search, Answer Key, DIY

Answer Sheet: Where he wrote the secret message he solved.

How to pull off a Secret Message Scavenger Hunt for your Valentine:

1) You’ll need to come up with a message. He’ll solve it word by word, so keep it short and sweet (think a sentence or two). My message led to a gift, but the message could just be a sweet love note, too.

2) Create an Answer Sheet for him to write on as he solves your message on. Number and underline where each word of your message will be written.

3) Now, you’ll create a Clue Page with numbered clues that correspond to the numbers on the Answer Sheet. Clues will direct him to things that hold meaning for you and him, and within each of those he’ll discover a word for your secret message. My ideas and examples below will make this easy! Here are some clues you can use:

  • Have him find a word from Facebook. My clue: “What does my Facebook status say? This is your first word!” Another example:  “On February 2nd, I wrote on your wall, “… and that you have a ______ ____ tomorrow!” Fill in the blanks for your number 2!”
  • Have his closest friends and family (or yours) help out. Give them a word ahead of time and have them share it with your beau when he asks for it on Valentine’s Day. My clue: “Your mom has word #3!”
  • Plan out a Valentine’s text to him that includes a word that will be part of your secret message. My clue: I text him Happy Valentine’s that morning. On his Clue Page I ask, “What is the first word I text you this morning?”
  • Use a word from a title of a movie that he’ll remember. My clue: “Remember that movie we almost finished about the lady who marries an Irish guy who dies at the beginning, then sends her letters while he’s dead? What is the first word (which is an abbreviation) in that title?”
  • Use lyrics or the title of a song he knows and loves. My clue: “Your next word is one of my favorites! If you listen to the Death Cab song, Unobstructed Views, you’ll hear it at these times during the song: 3:13, 3:26, 3:28.”
  • Hide a secret word in the packaging (be it an envelope, bag or box) containing the word search. My clue: “Look underneath the tissue paper in the little box this came in. What phrase is written there? This is your number 7!”
  • Do you speak another language together? As a clue, include a foreign word he has to translate (be it by memory or Google). My clue: “You’ll need to use your Spanish skills to get these next couple word. What is “dar” in English? This is your 9.”
  • Give him specific instructions to find a word in something he reads (could be from a book in your house or an online blog). My clue: “Go to biblegateway.com. Type 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 in the search box up top. Choose “New International Version” from the drop down menu. Click search. What is the second word in verse 4? This will be your number 10.”
  • Give him a picture of you two and ask him a question resulting in a one-word answer. Or, give him multiple pictures with questions that help him make a short word. My Example: “I attached images of fun dates we had in two different cities. The first photo is at ZooLights, which is in a city called _______. The second photo, was taken at the theater in a city called ________. The first letter of city one and the first letter of city two spell word number 11.”
  • Use a word from another digital communication you share (Skype, Email, etc.). My clue: “Check the subject line of the email I sent you yesterday, this is your number 12.”

Get creative with it! Reuse the same theme of clue ideas, or fill in a couple “freebie” words for him here and there if you get stuck. Check out my other blog post, “Picture Perfect Valentine’s Gift” for some inspiration for a Valentine gift.


Picture Perfect Valentine’s Gift

In my opinion, the guy has it kind of easy come Valentine’s Day. He can buy flowers, candy and stuffed animals for his lady love. But, it doesn’t have the same effect if the girl buys flowers, candy and stuffed animals for him… and it can be hard to come up with the right, sweet and thoughtful gift. So, let me share with you a fun idea that I’ve tried and he’s liked – a Picture Puzzle Valentine.

White Pass, Valentine's Gift, Picture, Puzzle

I made his puzzle out of a picture of us having a fun day at White Pass.

Full Disclosure: this one is only partially DIY. But, it’s awesome enough to make the cut, since it makes a thoughtful, inexpensive gift for your significant other come Valentine’s Day! Here’s the easy how to:

1) Find a cute (digital) picture of you two. If photo editing is your thing, personalize it by doctoring it up a bit .

2) There are several sites that will make this picture into a puzzle. Jigsaw Puzzle is an inexpensive one that gives you lots of options. I recommend one with fewer pieces (30 – 50) so that it’s easier to do the next step. There is also Wal-Mart Photos, but they don’t offer as much selection.

Puzzle Picture

Be sure to give a visual of the finished puzzle to make it easier to complete!

3) When the puzzle arrives you’ll want to have it assembled, minus one piece (you’ll see why soon). Next, you’ll need to flip it over to write on the back. The best way to do this is to assemble it on a piece of cardboard. When finished, put another piece of cardboard on top. Squeeze together, like a puzzle sandwich and flip over.

4) Now it’s ready to have your Valentine written on the back! I recommend using a fine point Sharpie. And, remember that piece of the puzzle you removed? Keep that piece, so his puzzle is one short from completion. Then, write how you have found your missing piece & that he needs you to complete his puzzle, too.

5) Break the puzzle back into pieces; he’ll need to reassemble it to read your Valentine.

You can even go a step beyond what I did, and dress up a mason jar to use as a cute container for his Picture Puzzle Valentine. Have fun!


Healthy, Easy Breakfast

Bell Pepper Fried with Egg

Tasty, tasty breakfast.

My cousin Rachael is the Betty Crocker of the family. She always has simple & delicious recipes! This is one of her gems that I got to try with eggs fresh from her farm. It’s soo easy & soo yummy! Thanks for introducing it to me Rach.bell pepper

Ingredients:

  • Egg
  • Bell Pepper (any color)
  • S & P
  • Olive Oil

The pictures pretty much give the instructions! pepper

  1. Heat up a little olive oil in a frying pan.
  2. Slice into the bell pepper horizontally to cut a ring.
  3. Heat the bell pepper in the pan with the olive oil for a couple minutes.
  4. Crack the egg inside, add salt and pepper.
  5. Cook, flip & cook.
  6. Now, eat your breakfast.


4 Ingredient Beer Bread

Tasty Beer BreadI’m a fan of cooking — if it’s easy. And, it doesn’t get much easier than 4 ingredient beer bread! This will only take you about 5 minutes to whip up. Plus, it’s super tasty! My Aunt Robin gets the credit for this, she gave me the recipe at my Bridal Shower (my mom had all the guests bring recipe cards for me and it was a total win!). So, without further ado, here you go.

Ingredients:IMG_0630

  1. 3 cups of flour
  2. 1 tsp baking powder
  3. 2 Tbs sugar
  4. 12 oz beer

Directions: Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Once mixed, put in a greased bread pan and bake for 50 minutes.

It’s so good warm with butter! And, the cool thing is, the taste varies with different beers.


Handmade Cross Decor

This simple piece makes the perfect gift or ideal piece of home decor. My husband and I made it for my sister in law, who recently went on a mission trip to Africa. There are only a few necessary supplies (most of which you probably have, and all of which are cheap!):

Declare His glory among the nations.

We chose to do a mission themed cross.

  • Wooden Cross (we found one at Wal-Mart for less than $2)
  • Mod Podge
  • Sponge Brush
  • Scrapbook Paper (we chose a vintage map design)
  • Sharpie
  • Scissors

Instructions

  1. To begin, trace around the wooden cross to create an outline on the scrapbook paper. When cutting this out, leave an extra inch or so gap around the outline so you have plenty of overhang to wrap around the edges and adhere to the back of the cross.
  2. Apply Mod Podge to the front of the wooden cross using your sponge brush. Then, line up the outline of the cut out paper cross to the wood and press securely.
  3. Flip the cross over to the back side and Mod podge the excess paper in place (we cut slits in some areas to help the paper fold to the shape of the cross better). Let dry.
  4. Pick a verse and Sharpie it on. Voila, you’re done!