Sunday, March 30, 2014


   This comes from www.theknottybride.com.  Alot of neat diy projects in one neat little package.  Take an afternoon to yourself and get into the zen of paper folding and cutting!

Happy holidays TKB readers! It’s Lauren from Lauren Elise Crafted again and today I am back to share a special holiday version DIY. {Note: each of these projects could be employed as décor elements for a lovely winter wedding! … Especially if it’s holiday-themed!}

Christmas is in just a few days! Are you ready?

As usual, I am running a bit behind and if you’re like me, you’ll be scrambling for a few days trying to get everything done. Every year I tell myself that things will be different, that I’ll be organized beforehand but it never seems to play out that way. As much as it plagues me to say this, I am contributing to that holiday rush.

I am here today to help ease the holiday madness and show you some quick décor options!

I have pulled together a small table scheme that you could recreate for Christmas dinner or for making your house look more festive! I pulled this look together in just a few hours and you could do the same since the supplies are fairly common. The idea is to have something cute and Christmasy ready to display quickly so that you can focus more of your energy on the rest of your to-do list.

What you’ll need:
  • x-acto knife & metal-edge ruler
  • scissors
  • thick white and/or grey posterboard and cardstock for the Christmas trees {1-ply or 2-ply will work – just remember that the thicker it is, the harder it is to cut through}
  • Christmas tree template {or draw a tree and create your own template}
  • tacky glue
  • paper ephemera for star garland & paper pinwheels {vintage or new – I used kraft paper, paper doilies, manila folders, corrugated paper, and the index pages of an old book
  • pencil
  • scotch tape
  • double-sided tape
  • white thread for garland
  • small square, white porcelain dish {I bought mine at Crate & Barrel}
  • sprigs of Christmas tree
  • washi tape with grid print
  • sparkle Christmas snow {I bought mine at Anthropologie}


To make the Christmas trees:

° Print out the Christmas tree template at the desired size or draw your own tree. Trace the template onto the posterboard and/or cardstock {image a}. Use an x-acto knife to cut out the trees {image b & c}. Then cut a narrow slit down the center of the trees, making the slit as wide as the paper’s thickness {image d}. Slide the two parts of the tree into each other. Glue the ends together for stability {image e}. The completed tree should stand freely {image f}.
To make the pine tree favors:
° Buy white porcelain square dishes. For added decoration, wrap the dishes with washi tape and stick to the edge {image g}. Cut sprigs of pine tree branches. Cut down to about the size of the porcelain dish {image k}. Place a handful of the pine sprigs into each dish. Adorn with paper stars if desired. Each favor acts as a mini Christmas tree. Hand them out to guests so that they can smell the great pine scent.

To make the star garland:
° Draw a star freehand on some thick cardstock and cut it out. This star will become your template {image h}. Trace and cut out the star from a bunch of types of paper ephemera (kraft paper, graph paper, manila folders, vintage book pages, etc) {image i}. The amount of stars will vary on the desired length of the garland. Use scotch tape to stick the thread to the stars {image j}. When hanging the garland, make sure to turn the tape side away from view. Hang your garland.
To make the book page pinwheels:
° Cut book pages down to about 5”x10” for a 5” diameter pinwheel {image l}. Create a ½” fold going the long way {image m}. Continue making these folds, accordion style {image n}. Fold the entire piece of paper {image o}. Fold the accordion strip in half {image p}. After folding, tape the two halves together {image q}. This will create 1/5 of your entire pinwheel {image r}. Fold another 5”x10” paper and follow all the same steps. Create four more of these {image s}. Put tape on the edges {image t} and stick the pinwheel pieces together {image u}. After taping all five pieces, you will have a complete pinwheel {image v}.

Create a wintry scene with all of these elements and sprinkle with some sparkle Christmas snow!


    The U.S. National Tobaggan Championships is the only organized wooden toboggan race in the country and possibly the world. The toboggan chute is located in Camden, Main at the Camden Snow Bowl, a community owned year round recreation area which has developed thousand of deicated skiers since 1936. All race revenue goes to off setting the Snow Bowl budget.


    The original chute was first built in 1936 by a dedicated group of volunteers who also built a ski lodge and ski hill, one of the earliest in America. The chute was again rebuilt in 1954 by local Coast Guardsmen and lasted until 1964 when it was brought to an end because of rot and neglect.
    In 1990 it was resurrected once again out of pressure treated wood by another enthusiastic group of volunteers and material donors and was to become known as the Jack Williams Toboggan Chute. The week before the race, many hours are spent during the dark of night, when it is the coldest, to coat the wooden chute with layer upon layer of ice. This is accomplished by a "Rube Goldberg" invention of David Dickeys, which pulleys a tub up the chute slowly dispensing water from holes in its back.

    The chute is 400 feet long, and with the 70 foot high hill, toboggans can reach speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. The run out is on to frozen Hosmers' pond. If there is clear ice on the pond, some sleds will go the entire way across the pond ( over 1/4 of a mile).
The Nationals are usually held the first weekend of February, but to avoid conflict with the Super Bowl, the event has been changed to the 2nd weekend in February starting in 2008.


   Maha Shivaratri is celebrated with great devotion and religious fervor by Hindus, in honor of Lord Shiva, one of the Hindu Gods forming the Trinity. The festival falls on the moonless, 14th night of the new moon in the Hindu month of Phalgun (in the month of February - March, according to English Calendar). On the festival of Maha Shivaratri, devotees observe day and night fast and worship Shiva Lingam, to appease Lord Shiva. Many interesting legends have been related to the festival of Maha Shivaratri, explaining the reason behind its celebrations as well as its significance.
   According to one of the most popular legends, Shivaratri is the wedding day of Lord Shiva and Parvati. It is also believed that Lord Shiva performed ‘Tandava’, the dance of the primal creation, preservation and destruction on this auspicious night of Shivaratri. According to another popular legend, described in Linga Purana, it was on Shivaratri that Lord Shiva manifested himself in the form of a Linga for the first time. Since then, the day is considered to be extremely auspicious by the devotees of Shiva and they celebrate it as Maha Shivaratri - the grand night of Shiva.
   Shiva devotees observe strict fast on Maha Shivaratri, with many people having only fruits and milk and some not even consuming a drop of water. Worshippers dutifully follow all the traditions and customs related to Shivaratri festival, as they strongly believe that sincere worship of Lord Shiva, on the auspicious day, releases a person of his sins and also liberates him from the cycle of birth and death. As Shiva is regarded as the ideal husband, unmarried women pray for a husband like Him, on Shivaratri. On the other hand, married women pray for the well being of their husbands, on this auspicious day.

   On Maha Shivratri, devotees wake up early in the morning and take a bath, if possible in river Ganga. After wearing fresh clothes, they visit the nearest Shiva temple, to give ritual bath to the Shiva Lingum (with milk, honey, water etc). The worship continues the whole day and whole night. Jaagran (nightlong vigil) might also be observed in Lord Shiva temples, where a large number of devotees sing hymns and devotional songs, in praise of Lord Shiva. In the morning,g devotees break their fast by partaking the prasad offered to Lord Shiva, after the aarti, the night before.
   Mahashivaratri is one of the important Hindu festivals celebrated with religious fervor across the length and breadth of India. Followers of Lord Shiva consider the festival very special, as it is the time to show their love and devotion to their favorite deity. It is significant in every devotee's life, as it also tests ones ability to abstain from food (because fast is observed on the day) and remain vigil in the night without sleeping (because one has to remain awake all through the night, on Mahashivratri). In addition to this, Maha Shivaratri bears significance in Hindu mythology. In the following lines, learn all about the significance of Mahashivaratri.

Significance Of Maha Shivratri
Importance In Hinduism
   According to the Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva declared that the rituals performed by his devotees on the 14th day of the dark fortnight in the month of Phalgun please him the most. Therefore, year by year, the day is observed as Mahashivratri, wherein devotees observe fast, sing songs and bhajans and offer prayers to the  Almighty to seek his blessings. Pujas conducted in Lord Shiva temples during the day have significance too. This is because the rituals are conducted strictly in accordance with the method that is prescribed in Shiva Purana, a Hindu epic. According to the Purana, poojas are conducted once in every three hours, on Maha Shivaratri.

Importance In Human Lives
   It is believed that the devotion of Lord Shiva on Mahashivaratri would freed the devotee from the past sins. Moreover, the devotee would reach the adobe of Lord Shiva and live there happily, because he/she is liberated from the cycle of birth and death, once he/she attains moksha or salvation. Therefore, all the devotees of Lord Shiva would flock the temples to offer their prayers. To serve the purpose, jujube fruits, stalks of Bilwa leaves, flowers and garlands are offered to the Shiva Linga by the devotees. If the devotee celebrates the festival at home, he/she would perform the Mahashivratri Puja by taking a holy bath (in warm water) early in the morning, wearing new clothes and then smearing bhasm (holy ash) on their forehead.

Importance For Women
   Maha Shivaratri is especially important for women. Ladies, both married and unmarried, would perform Shiva Puja and observe fast with great devotion and sincerity. This is predominantly done to appease Lord Shiva along with his consort Goddess Parvati, who is often called Ma Gauri. It is believed that Ma Gauri bestows marital bliss on unmarried women and blesses the married women with healthy and blissful married life. Since Lord Shiva is regarded as the ideal husband by the Hindu women, the unmarried women would not miss to observe the stringent fast on Shivaratri.

Maha Shivaratri Celebrations

   Mahashivaratri is celebrated with gusto by the Hindus all over India. It is an important day for the followers of Lord Shiva, as it honors their favorite deity. The celebrations are marked by fasting and the observance of a number of rituals. The festival is significant in many aspects. For instance, it bears mythological importance, because Lord Shiva is considered one of the deities of Hindu Trinity, the other two being Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu. On Maha Shivaratri, the devotees of Lord Shiva observe a stringent fast, which is broken only during the next morning, after prasad is offered to the deity. Know more about the celebrations of Mahashivratri, in the article.

Maha Shivratri Festival Celebrations

In the Morning
   The devotees of Lord Shiva wake up early in the morning to take a ceremonious bath, after which, they would wear new clothes, smear bhasm (holy ashes) on their forehead and head towards the nearest Lord Shiva temple to take part in the celebrations. On the other hand, if they are at home, they would conduct a puja in the morning, by offering Bilwa leaves, flowers and garlands to the deity and thereafter, observe a fast for the entire day. A certain diet is formulated especially for the day, which consists of fruits and beverages (including tea, milk and coffee) as the food for the day.

Celebrations At Temple
   Lord Shiva temples are decorated beautifully with festoons, on the wonderful occasion of Mahashivaratri. Apart from the usual pujas of the temple, special pujas are conducted to make the day different from the ordinary. On the festival, as many as six types of Abhisheks can be witnessed, each using milk, ghee, sugar, honey, water and sandalwood paste. The priest would chant mantras and conduct the pooja, while the devotees would queue up to have a glimpse of the rituals performed at the altar and offer prayers to the deity. The devotees would often offer incense sticks, dhoop, Bilwa leaves and garlands to the temple, which are offered to the Shiva Linga.

Celebrations In the Night
   The merrymaking reaches its peak in the night of Mahashivratri, when devotees of Lord Shiva would sing songs, bhajans, chant mantras and offer prayers to the Almighty. The devotees would continue to observe their fast. In fact, they would remain at the temple premises all through the night, to take part in the keertans or jaagrans that are arranged by the temple authorities, for the festival. The devotees are served tea occasionally, to keep them awake during the night. Either the devotees themselves would sing the bhajans or professional singers are called upon on the festival, to serve the purpose. The celebrations of Maha Shivaratri would culminate only in the dawn of the next day, when the devotees would break their fast by eating the prasad that was offered to the deity in the previous night.

Maha Shivaratri Legends
There are various legends related to the auspicious festival of Maha Shivratri. These legends are similar in one sense, as they all throw light on the greatness of Lord Shiva and his supremacy over all other Hindu Gods and Goddesses. They also explain the importance of fasting on Shivratri and chanting the name of Lord Shiva, while staying awake all night. The reasons behind worship may be many, but the motive is one, to make Lord Shiva happy. The day is considered to be extremely auspicious by the devotees of Lord Shiva and they celebrate it as Maha Shivratri - the grand night of Shiva.

Legends &  Stories Of Maha Shivratri
Marriage of Shiva and Shakti
   One of the most popular legends of Maha Shivratri is related to the marriage of Shiva and Shakti. The day Lord Shiva got married to Parvati is celebrated as Shivratri - the Night of Lord Shiva. It tells us how Lord Shiva got married a second time to Shakti, his divine consort. There is another version of the legend, according to which Goddess Parvati performed tapas and prayers on the auspicious moonless night of Shivratri, for the well being of her husband. Believing in this legend, married women began the custom of praying for the well being of their husbands and sons on Maha Shivratri, while, unmarried women pray for a husband like Shiva, who is considered to be the ideal partner.

Samudra Manthan
   There is another very popular Shivratri legend from Puranas, which explains why people stay awake all night on Shivratri and why Lord Shiva is also known as Neelakantha. According to the story, when the battle between devas and asuras took place, a pot of poison came out of the ocean and on the request of gods, Lord Shiva drank the poison. The poison was so potent that it changed the color of His neck to blue. For this reason, Lord Shiva is also called Neelkanth, where ‘Neela’ means blue and ‘Kantha’ means neck or throat. As part of the therapy, Lord Shiva was advised to awake during the night. Thus, to keep Shiva awake, the gods performed various dances and played music. Pleased with their devotion, He blessed them all, the next morning. Therefore, Shivratri is the celebration of this event in which Lord Shiva saved the world.

Legend of Shiva Linga
   The legend of Shiva Linga is also deeply related to Maha Shivratri. According to the story, Brahma and Vishnu searched hard to discover the Aadi (beginning) and the Antha (end) of Lord Shiva. It has been believed that on the 14th day in the dark fortnight of the month of Phalguna, Shiva first manifested himself in the form of a Linga. Since then, the day is considered to be extremely auspicious and is celebrated as Maha Shivratri - the grand night of Shiva. To celebrate this occasion, devotees of Lord Shiva keeps fast during the day and worship the Lord throughout the night. It is said that worshipping Lord Shiva on Shivratri bestows one with happiness and prosperity.

Legend of Ganga
   The legend of Ganga is another popular legend which is related to Shivratri. Ganga's descent from the heavens to the earth has been narrated in the Hindu mythological epic of Ramayana. This legend explains the popular custom of giving bath to Shiv Linga on Shivratri festival. According to this legend, Lord Shiva held out his thick matted hair to catch the river ganga, as she descended from heaven. The meandering through Shiva’s lock softened Ganga’s journey to the earth and the holy waters washed away the ashes of Bhagirath’s ancestors. The Ganga, thus, became an attribute of Shiva and therefore Shiva is also known as Gangadhara. Believing in this legend, Shiva is given a bath with gangajal and devotees take a dip in the holy water of river Ganga, on Shivratri.


Passion Fruit Truffle Cake

I had never tried to combine chocolate with any citrus, except for orange. The reason is I grew up with Orange Milano cookies from Pepperidge Farm–I thought orange and chocolate were the only possibility.
Then I took my first bite of a truffle infused with citrus. Hmm, was it lemon, grapefruit, or passion fruit? It didn’t matter. The combination triggered a sensory awakening.
I wanted to take cue from those pop-in-your-mouth confections to create my own dessert–one that mimics the richness of a truffle but packed with chocolate–blown up from bite size to cake size.
This dessert should resolve anyone’s chocolate cravings–a heart of truffle-textured chocolate surrounded by passion fruit curd and sandwiched between two classic chocolate cake layers, with everything enveloped in a ganache frosting done two ways. (More chocolate = additional antioxidant benefits if you want to play up the health angle for this decadence.) The curd lends a refreshing offset to the overall richness.
With more than 1-1/2 pounds of chocolate in this cake, I think its safe to say that it’s a chocoholic’s dream. If you are a purist, you can omit the passion curd and spread some ganache frosting in between the layers; but I highly recommend that you give this citrus-chocolate a try.

Passion Fruit Truffle Cake

Passion Fruit Curd


1/2 cup passion fruit purée
1/2 teaspoon powdered gelatin
3/4 cup granulated sugar (5-1/4 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch cubes and frozen
1. Measure 1 tablespoon passion fruit purée into small bowl; sprinkle gelatin over top. Heat remaining passion fruit purée, sugar, and salt in medium nonreactive saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves and mixture is hot but not boiling. Whisk eggs and yolks in large nonreactive bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly pour hot passion fruit-sugar mixture into eggs, then return mixture to saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with heatproof spatula, until mixture registers 170 degrees on instant-read thermometer and is thick enough to leave trail when spatula is scraped along pan bottom, 4 to 6 minutes.
2. Remove pan from heat and stir in gelatin mixture until dissolved. Stir in frozen butter until incorporated. Pour filling through fine-mesh strainer into nonreactive bowl (you should have 3 cups). Cover surface directly with plastic wrap; refrigerate until firm enough to spread, at least 4 hours.

Orange-Chocolate Cake Layer


2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa, sifted
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/4 cup boiling water
1 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (5 ounces), plus additional for dusting cake pan
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (3-1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (about 2-1/4 ounces) packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoons orange zest, freshly grated
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 tablespoons sour cream, room temperature

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350℉. Combine chocolate, cocoa and espresso in small bowl; pour boiling water over and let stand to melt chocolate, about 2 minutes. Whisk until smooth; set aside until cooled to room temperature.
2. Spray one 9-inch-round by 2-inch-high straight-sided cake pan with nonstick cooking spray; line bottom with parchment round. Spray paper round, dust pan with flour, and knock out excess. Set aside.
3. Sift flour and baking soda into medium bowl.
4. In bowl of standing mixer, beat sugars, orange zest and salt at medium-low speed until sugar is moistened, about 30 seconds. Add butter, Increase speed to medium-high and beat until mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula if necessary. Reduce speed to medium, add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down bowl halfway through. Beat in vanilla; increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 30 seconds.
5. Add chocolate and beat until combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down bowl. With mixer running at low speed, add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with sour cream, ending with dry ingredients. Beat in each addition until barely combined. Finish mixing by hand with rubber spatula, scraping bottom and sides of bowl, to ensure that batter is homogenous. Pour batter into prepared cake pan; spread batter to edges of pans with rubber spatula and smooth surface.
6. Bake cakes until toothpick inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes, then invert cakes onto greased wire rack; peel off and discard paper rounds. Cool cakes to room temperature, about 1 hour. (Cooled cakes can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 1 day.)

Chocolate Truffle Cake Layer


8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup (5-1/4 ounces), plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
16 tablespoons (8 ounces/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 16 pieces
4 large eggs, room temperature and lightly beaten

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350℉. Spray one 9-inch-round by 2-inch-high straight-sided cake pan with nonstick cooking spray; line bottom with parchment round and spray parchment. Set prepared pan in large roasting pan lined with towel. Bring kettle of ayer to a boil.
2. Place chocolate in food processor fitted with metal blade. Bring water, sugar, espresso and salt to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve sugar. (Make sure syrup does not come to a boil.) With food processor running, slowly pour hot syrup through the feed tube into the chocolate. Process until mixture is smooth, about 1 minute. Stop machine scrape side of bowl and add vanilla extract.
3. With machine running, add butter one piece at a time, process until smooth and no butter chunks remain, about 1 minute, scraping down bowl as needed. Pour eggs in slow stream through the feed tube into the chocolate mixture, pulse just enough to incorporate without blending in too much air. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
4. Set roasting pan on oven rack and pour enough boiling water to come about halfway up the side of cake pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes until set. Remove cake pan from water bath and set on wire rack, cool to room temperature.
5. Cover the top of the cake with plastic wrap and top with cardboard round. Invert cake, give it a gentle downward shake if necessary. Lift cake pan and peel off the parchment. Assemble immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

Salty Ganache Frosting


2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
6 ounces milk or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1-1/2 teaspoons Maldon salt, flaked sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Bring heavy cream and espresso to a full boil in a saucepan over medium heat, turn off heat. Add chocolate, and swirl pan to completely cover with cream. Slowly whisk mixture until smooth. Add corn syrup, salt and vanilla; stir until combined. Transfer to a medium-size glass bowl and let stand at cool room temperature until tick and spreadable, about 30-40 minutes.


1.  Cut orange-chocolate cake layer in half horizontally. Place one cake layer on the bottom of cake stand or serving platter. Spread 1 cup passion fruit curd over cake layer; top with chocolate truffle layer. Top chocolate truffle cake with another cup  of passion fruit curd follow by the the remaining orange-chocolate cake layer. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to set.
2. Gently spread about half of the ganache frosting (you might use less) over top and side of cake, smooth with off-set spatula,
3. Beat the remaining frosting with a hand mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Spread whipped frosting on the side with off-set spatula. Refrigerate cake for 30 min before serving.
1. You can use ganache frosting without Step 3 or omit Step 2 and use only whipped ganache frosting, as described in Step 3.

Friday, March 28, 2014


Spiced Apple Snack Cakes

I’m particularly drawn to apples this autumn–the incredible heirloom apples from our favorite upstate farm stand may be the reason.  Ashmead’s Kernel, Newtown Pippin, Kid’s Orange Red, and Pink Pearl—even the names are delicious at Montgomery Place Orchard.
Right now, half of the refrigerator is filled with apples ready to be baked, caramelized, sauced, and more. I have been experimenting with several recipes, but here’s the first, a simple snack cake. Not too sweet, apple essence in every bite, and paired with classic spices, these individual treats are excellent for anytime of the day.


Spiced Apple Snack Cakes

makes 18-20 cakes

Sautéed Apples


1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 Granny Smith, Honey Crisp or your favorite apples, medium-large, peeled and cored, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 tablespoons granulated sugar


1. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a 10-inch non-stick skillet over high heat until golden. Add apples, cover for 30 seconds. Remove lid and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until they are dry and very tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, sprinkle apples with 2 tablespoons sugar, and lightly toss until glazed. Cool to room temperature.



2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (5-1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
10 tablespoons (5 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup unsweetened canned coconut milk
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup (about 3 ounces) walnuts, finely chopped


1. Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 350℉. Line two standard muffin tins with paper liner and set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, add flour, sugars, i teaspoon cinnamon, cardamom and salt; beat on low speed until combined. Add butter, increase speed to medium and beat until mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about 30-40 seconds. Remove 1 cup of mixture (crumb topping) to a separate bowl
3. Whisk remaining 1 teaspoon cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda into mixture, beat on medium speed for 30 sec to combine.  Add coconut milk, egg, and vanilla; beat until mixture is smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Remove mixing bowl and fold in apples by hand with a rubber spatula, fill cupcake liners to 3/4 full.
4. Add walnuts to reserved crumb topping; toss to combine. Sprinkle crumb topping over batter, pressing lightly so that mixture adheres. Bake until center is firm and cake tester comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Transfer muffin tins to rack; and cool for 30 minutes before serving.



This diy comes from www.mommyisacoocoo.blogspot.com .  Something to do with those extra ornament left over from Christmas.  Enjoy!


How to make a Valentine Ornament Wreath

Did you go out and buy a bunch of ornaments at 50% off after Christmas? I hope so because there is no need to wait until next Christmas to have some ornament loveliness in your home!

~ My Valentine Ornament Wreath ~

Here is what you need:

  1. a glass of wine (if you are anal and will worry about bulb placement)
  2. a plastifoam wreath (DON'T buy floral foam) shaped like a heart
  3. glue sticks and a glue gun
  4. spray paint (to color the foam wreath). I used red. Use whatever color you like best.
  5. about a million ornaments (different {Valentine} colors and sizes work best).
  6. spray on glitter (usually $5.99 at craft stores or $1.00 if you buy body glitter left over from Halloween
  7. a small piece of ribbon to hang your wreath

Spray paint your foam wreath. You can use whatever color you like but keep in mind some paint will show between your bulbs.

~ my large bulbs ~

~ my smaller bulbs ~

* small bulbs are essential to fill in the gaps

Now, it is pretty similar to the Christmas Ornament Wreath Tutorial. Place your bulbs on the inside of the heart wreath. (Don't use your favorite bulbs on this part a lot of these bulbs will be covered up.) After you have placed your bulbs, use your glue gun to secure them in place. You will glue each bulb to the wreath AND, to the next bulb in place.

Repeat this process for the outside of the wreath. Use the same size bulbs all the way around the outside of the wreathUse sturdier (not vintage-they break really easily) bulbs on the outside. (Again, don't use your favorite bulbs here).

Now you are ready to start placing your favorite bulbs (I find it is best to do this in the evening while you have {at least} a glass of wine. If you are anal {me} and tend to over think things {also me} you will have a hard time figuring out where the bulbs should go). Don't over think it! Place a few bulbs (not worrying about small gaps) and then glue them in place. You can fill in gaps with smaller bulbs at the end. When you finish placing all your bulbs weave your ribbon through, take two Tylenol and go to bed.

Finally, spray your wreath glitter. This will really make it shine!

*Store your wreath at room temperature! Otherwise your glue will expand/contract and the bulbs will fall off and (possibly) break.

~ Happy Valentines Day! ~


   Lahti Ski Games is a yearly international winter sport event. The games last for three days, during which participants compete in cross-country skiing, ski jumping and Nordic combined. In the nearly 90-year history of the Lahti Ski Games the fireworks seen on Saturday night have become one of the highlights of the event. The goal of establishing the games was to get a competition similar to the Holmenkollen Ski Festival in Finland.
   The idea for the games came from a Finnish legend, Lauri Pihkala in 1922. He wrote an article about a competition equal to the Holmenkollen Ski Festival after the double win of Anton Collin and Tapani Niku at Holmenkollen the same year. In the article Pihkala suggested Lahti as the location for the competition because of the city’s location and grounds.

First Competition Ever Held
   The first Lahti Ski Games was held 3–4 February 1923. From the very beginning volunteers have played a big part in arranging the games. At the first Lahti Ski Games only Finnish competitors attended the event, but it was still a success. From then on the citizens were encouraged to flag during the competition weekend so that the city would look its best.


   Competitors from other countries took part in the games for the first time in 1926. The games were FIS congress competition, which attracted competitors from 15 different countries. The Sport center where the games are held was now improved. The local schools were turned into accommodation as the students were on holiday.
   The games lived through a quieter time period between the late 1960s and the early 1970s. It was time to develop marketing for the event and as a result additions to the program of the games were made in order create more entertainment value.
   When the new millennium was approaching it was becoming clear that the games were not as visible in the city profile as before. According to speculations one of the reasons might be that the popularity of televised sport events kept the fans at home. The Saturday night ski jumping competition as well as the fireworks seen on the same night, have nonetheless remained popular among the public.

 Salpausselkä Station

   For many years the public came to the games from far, oftentimes by skiing. The crowds were also transported by a special train that came directly into a station at the Sport center. The Salpausselkä station was built in 1938 and it later relocated in 1957. Nowadays the station is replaced merely by a halt, which no longer has regular train traffic. The tracks are still partially in place.

Games Cancellations
   The games have only been cancelled three times: first in 1930 because of the lack of snow and in 1940 due to the Winter War. In 1942 there were no normal Lahti Ski Games held.

 Radio and television

   The first time the Lahti Ski Games was ever broadcasted was in 1932. It made the games national. In 1959 the games were televised live. However, it wasn’t until 1971 that the live televising was extended to cover footage also straight from the skiing tracks.


   Today participants compete in cross-country skiing, ski jumping and Nordic combined. The sports in which athletes compete at Lahti Ski Games have gone through many changes throughout the games’ history. In the early years participants competed in the original 50 kilometer skiing. It was arranged for the last time in 1986. There have also been men’s 30 and 10 km, as well as the women’s 5 km. The seniors and youngsters had their own tour. In the 1938 Championships also slalom was competed in. In 1970 the evening’s ski-jumping competition became the official team competition. In 2000 sprint was introduced.

 Sport Center

   Many changes have taken place at the Sport center over the years. Jumps over 50 meters became possible when the hill was raised in 1931. Several years later a new hill was constructed. It was raised again for the 25th anniversary Lahti Ski Games in 1947. Lahti city constructed the current hill during 1971–1972, and it was improved again later in 1998.

Lahti Folk Celebration

   The fireworks have gained a lot of popularity since the first time they were seen in 1934. Before the people got to see the fireworks a torch parade went through the city from the city hall all the way to the pit of the hill, i.e. the out-run at the Sport center. A million Finnish marks were charged for the 15 minutes long fireworks show. During 1942–1945 the fireworks were not organized.


1. I always use a kitchen scale to weigh my ingredients. They’re small, light, and don’t have to be fancy or expensive; here is what I use: Salter 1020 Aquatronic Electronic Kitchen Scale. It’s just a great habit to get into. You wouldn’t believe the difference in what one person may scoop as a cup of flour, versus another, and weighing it to the exact gram/oz is your safest bet. Having too much flour can sure dry out a cake in a hurry, just as too little will throw it off kilter. I really believe that using a scale is one of the habits that made me a much better baker, and definitely more consistent. Trust me! I even use mine to weigh my coffee grinds for a perfect pot, my serving portions (when I’m eating clean), homemade burgers, and when dividing batches of pizza dough, etc.

2. You may notice that I bake “layer by layer,” so rather than baking a higher cake and slicing layers for a standard 3-layer cake, I bake 3 more shallow layers in 2″ high pans. This way, the cakes seem to come out more moist, with no “doming,” and ready to be frosted. It may seem an inconvenience at first, because you have to buy 3 cake pans in each diameter, but you get used to it quickly, and it’s so worth it. You also save the time trying to slice even layers, unless of course you are turning 3 layers into 6. But, then again, that’s worth it too!

3. Never open the oven before 20 minutes, or you could disrupt the baking process. Always wait 20 minutes, and then, if you’re baking 3 cake layers at a time, rotate the pans and then continue baking.

4. There are a few tools that I mention in almost every post, and since I’ve been receiving many emails asking more about the cake baking/decorating essentials, I thought I would take this chance to create a list of some of my favourite things in the kitchen, and things that I believe really make a difference:

  • When torting, filling, frosting, and/or decorating cakes, I always use a cake turntable. They definitely range in price, but I think as long as you have one that is sturdy and turns, it should do the trick. I use something similar to this: 
  • When filling and frosting cakes, I use several sizes of offset and straight spatulas–I couldn’t live without them. Rule of thumb: offset for the top of cakes, straight for the sides. Here’s an example: 
  • When I want to achieve a perfectly smooth finish to buttercream, such as in this cake, or before applying fondant, I always use a bench scraper.