Apple Pie Cupcakes

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A good friend of mine made me just over a dozen of apple pie cupcakes with a cinnamon/buttercream frosting as a “thank-you” for photographing her wedding day.

When she first told me that she was making apple pie cupcakes I was intrigued.  I had never heard of these type of cupcakes, but hey, I like apple pie and I like cupcakes so why not throw them together?

So a few hours she dropped them off I finally tried one (since I had just eaten when she brought them over) and…

OH. MY. GOSH.

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I’ve had good vanilla cupcakes before, like really good ones, but never in my life as good as these.

The secret?

… … …

She cut off the top of each cupcake and a stuffed the cupcakes with fried apples.

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Yeah, it’s a sticky mess to eat, but they are totally worth it!

I’m dreading the day I eat the last one because then I won’t have any more.  Then I’ll be a sad owl.

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No Set Standard

I find it funny how we tend to set standards for certain points in our lives.

  • Sixteen year olds have to get their license right away.
  • When you graduate high school you go straight to college for four years;
    if not, you have to get a full-time job and move out of your parents’ house.
  • Women should get married by the time they’re thirty years old, if not younger.
  • College students are expected to graduate in four years and find a job right away.

The list goes on.

What I find interesting about these standards is that, more often than not, these standards are “broken.”

Take myself for example…

  • I only got my permit when I was sixteen and I did not get my license until I was eighteen; no problems there.
  • Okay, I did go straight to college for two and a half years for my Associate’s Degree, but then I took a semester & summer off before going back to get my Bachelor’s.
  • Twenty-three years old and I’m not in a relationship let alone married.
  • It has been five and half years since I graduated high school and I’m still in college due to my time off and the mess that comes with transferring schools… twice.

So does this mean I’m going to a less functional adult when I graduate just because I’m not married and haven’t graduated college yet?  No.

Does this mean I’m abnormal?  No.

Quite frankly, I think the way I’ve experienced life in these aspects is just fine.  Sure, I would’ve liked to have graduated college and started my career a year and a half ago, but then again a year and a half ago I had just figured out what I really want to do with my life.  So if I had graduated in four years I would’ve gotten a degree that means nothing to me.

Through my years of being single I’ve had more time to figure out who I am as a person and when I find the right man for me, I will.  Heck, I might’ve met him already, but the good Lord above is saying we’re not ready yet or I might meet him on my way to my next class or at the coffee shop.  I don’t know and quite frankly, I’m not really worried about it.  And don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying anything bad about getting married at a young age.  That just wasn’t the path for me.  Plus, some people know what they want in life earlier than others.

Though I do think people should get their licenses by at least the time they’re eighteen, it really depends on the person.  Someone may not be worried about transportation because they live close to the store or their job, or they may not mind walking a distance.  Yeah, it might be a pain to ask for rides when you do need them (and it might be a pain for others to give rides all the time) but some people get through their entire lives without a driver’s license, like my grandma for instance.

(But is really is a useful thing to have, just in case.)

I think having set standards for different points in our lives is downright ignorant.  Yeah, there are certain things in life we need to learn and experience, but every person’s life is different.  We experience things differently and at different times, but that doesn’t give others the right to say that those of us who take an extra year or two to finish college aren’t normal or aren’t going to be fully functional adults.  The fact is, you don’t always know why that person took so long to graduate (in my case, you do) or whatever the “standard” experience is.

Standards for the human experience, even if they are not written in stone, need to disappear.

“You can’t compare an apple to an orange. It will cause a lot of self-esteem issues.”

– Craig Sheffer

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A Promise Kept

… but aren’t promises meant to be broken?

No.  No they are not.  Promises should be kept, but sadly, many are broken.

Weddings vows are promises, but divorce still happens.

You say you’ll visit your friend/family member next week, no, you promise to see them; something else comes up.

See? It happens all the time.

But there are those times when promises are kept, we just fail to recognize that these promises were kept and so we fail to acknowledge them.

Up until earlier this year I thought a promise that was once made to me was broken, which left a piece of my heart broken.

Years ago I had a guy best friend who eventually become my boyfriend.  A point came into our relationship where he gave me a promise ring that came with an actual promise: that no matter what happened between us, even if we broke up, we’d always stay friends.

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We eventually broke up… and didn’t talk for six years.

Promise broken.

A few months ago, we became friends again and it just hit me that the promise wasn’t broken.  Sure, we had a six-year period of not talking to each other, but he came back into my life like a boomerang and it has been one of the best things that’s happened in the last few years.

I’m so thankful that God answered my prayer that we would at least talk again, and He gave more than that.

He gave me my friend back.

Matthew 7:7 – “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

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7 Reasons Why I Love Fall

We’re right in the peak of autumn here in New England and even though it means the temperatures are soon to drop, I can’t help but think of the reasons I love this season.

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1. The colors.

Living in Connecticut my entire life means that I’ve been exposed to the beautiful foliage that comes in the months of September and October.  I can’t help but be amazed at the beauty God created for us to enjoy in this part of the country.

2. Apples, apples & more apples!

Fall is the season of the apple.  Sure, apples are around all year long, but fall is the prime time for apple picking and as a result we see the rise of apple-flavored treats such as apple pie, apple crunch muffins, caramel & candy apples, and who doesn’t love enjoying a nice hot cup of apple cider on a crisp autumn afternoon?

3. The smells.

There’s nothing like going for a walk and enjoying the smell of the fallen, crisp leaves and the wood stoves burning in the neighborhood.

4. Hot chocolate.

Yeah, you don’t need a specific time of year to enjoy hot chocolate, but no one can deny that getting a nice hot cup of hot chocolate after being out in the chilly-to-cold autumn temperatures is the best (other than after shoveling in the winter, of course).

5. Kickoff time!

Fall means it’s time for football.  Not just the NFL either.  My cousins and their pals get together on Saturdays during this time of year to get out and play flag football and I’ve been making videos of them playing for the past 3 years.  I do still enjoy watching Sunday football though, especially with my dad. Go Giants!

6. Perfect cuddle weather.

Whether you have a person to cuddle with or not it’s just as nice to get buried under a blanket, or five, with the hot beverage of your choice and a movie.

7. Bugs be gone.

Though I really hate the cold that comes as autumn turns into winter, I love that this is the season where the bugs begin to go away and I only have to deal with the occasional spider here and there until April.

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Apples to (Caramel) Apples!

One of my favorite things about fall is that it’s the season of the apple!  The season we see many delicious apple treats hit the stores and bakeries in a larger quantity.

Apple pies, apple tarts, apple cider, apple crunch muffins, and most importantly…

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Caramel Apples!

I had my first ever caramel apple last year when one of my mom’s co-workers made them so my mom got one for me too (since I never had one before) and when I tried it… Oh. My. Gosh.

Now that it’s October I see the caramel apple kits just about everywhere, though I still haven’t actually bought one to do it myself.  I’m sort of afraid I’d actually eat too many caramel apples in one sitting and eventually get sick… and I don’t want that to happen.

Thankfully my mom’s co-worker once again made caramel apples and this year she even brought an extra one right over to my mom’s desk especially for me!  Needless to say I was one very happy (and grateful) girl after a long day of class and work.

 I’m already looking forward to my caramel apple next year!

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Pre-Halloween Treat

Sometimes you have to give in to your sweet tooth, especially with Halloween right around the corner.

Now I’m not a big Halloween person in general, but with all the candy in the stores, it’s hard to ignore that sweet tooth.  Only I wasn’t craving candy this past week; I was craving a chocolate cupcake.

And luckily for me the bakery at the grocery store had some Halloween themed cupcakes.

It was so cute looking I had to take a picture of it before I devoured it.

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And for the record, it was really good!

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Week of Weddings

Within a week two of my longtime friends got married and not only was I invited to each of the weddings, but I was asked to be the videographer of one and the photographer of the other.  Mind you, this was the first time I would be either at a wedding, so I was nervous for both. IMG_0069 polaroid copy

Thankfully, both went very smoothly.  The one I was the videographer for was a nice quick ceremony that lasted about 10-20 minutes and then I just had to worry about the reception.  The second one that I photographed was even shorter; literally about a 5 minute ceremony and I only needed to focus on the bride and groom as it was a private ceremony, but they still wanted photos to remember the day.

As each wedding came and went I was left with that same feeling I mentioned in my Realization post… where did the time go?  I have known both the brides for a very long time now (one of them since I was five) so it was surreal to witness both of their marriages.  It’s a bit more of a powerful feeling than when someone I just knew in passing in high school gets married.

Way, way different.

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Despite the feels I get from seeing my two friends get married, I am very happy for both of them.  I am also very grateful that they both entrusted me with the job of documenting their special days because for me that was a huge deal.  I hope they realize that.  Even more so, I’m grateful that God gave me this ability to do this type of job because seeing their reactions (via Facebook) to their finished products was just amazing, and the response I’ve received from their family and friends has been amazing too.

I have also blogged about each experience on my Natural Chance Productions website, so you can check out the video and photos there if you so wish to.

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7 Things I Would Do With A Million Dollars

I was inspired by Young & Twenty’s post 10 things I would do with a million dollars and decided to answer the question:

What would you do with a million dollars?

I have given some thought to this question and have come up with what I would do if I suddenly came into having one million dollars at my disposal.  Since I am an adult now, I have different priorities when it comes to money than I did about six years ago at the age of seventeen.

 To change this up a bit though, I am only going to list seven things I’d do if I had a million dollars, since I prefer odd numbers over even (don’t ask).

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1. Donate a large chunk to various ministries such as Joyce Meyer, Billy Graham, Ed Young for teaching me so much about the Bible and to support their missions in leading others to Christ.

2. Pay off both mine and my mom’s student loans.

3. Buy a nice car for myself, my mom and my dad (because Lord knows he needs one!).

4. Travel to California, Arizona and Washington state to finally meet my west coast friends in person.

5. Buy some nice clothes for casual and “fancy” wear (I might even buy a skirt!)

6. Put a good chunk away in savings for emergencies.

7. Use the rest of the money to live off of while I kick-off my freelance career in videography, photography and possibly writing.

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Reading Books vs. eBooks

As someone who grew up with the rise of technology, I find myself right in the middle of the debate of…

Books vs. eBooks

… and which one do you prefer to read?

That’s actually a tough decision.  Well, it is for me anyway.  Personally, I like both seeing as both have their pros and cons, but when it comes down to it, I’ll always books reading the print version of books over ebooks any day.

readbook_so_retro2I grew up reading the book in its physical form; flipping the pages, marking my spot, etc.  My most fond memory of reading books is getting the new Harry Potter books on their release dates and actually holding them in my hands, not downloading them.

The only disadvantage is that books get heavy, especially the Harry Potter books.

So this is where I do prefer having a tablet such as a Kindle or Nook (I happen to have the new Samsung Galaxy Nook) because I can carry a multitude of books within my tablet.  I don’t have to worry about my bag getting weighed down from all the books I want to read when I go places.  Having a tablet for ebooks also makes nighttime reading a little easier because I don’t have to adjust my reading position to where the light is.

My only problem with reading from my Nook is that my eyes tend to hurt after a while, just as they would if I stayed on the computer for too long.  Otherwise, reading ebooks has a lot more advantages than reading a book in its natural form.

Despite those advantages, nothing can replace the cozy feeling I get from opening a crisp, or worn, book and drinking a relaxing cup of tea.

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Realization

Growing up is an odd process.

When you think about it, sometimes we do not realize the process as it’s happening.  Sure, we notice our own growing as people, both physically and mentally, since it is happening to us directly, but sometimes it just hits you that:

“Oh my gosh, I’m an adult.”

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This has been happening a lot more to me lately as I observe the world around me.  It’s not that I notice my own growing process as a functional adult, but as I notice the people around me going through this process.  To be honest, I blame all of my younger cousins for this realization.  I blame a few of my high school classmates as well.

Each birthday that passes for my younger cousins, I’m always floored at how old they now are, whether they’re a year old or sixteen, because I’m just like, “When did this happen?”  The same goes for when one of my high school classmates moves on to an important milestone in our adult lives, most of which included them getting married.

And once again, someone I know got married this past weekend, but not just anyone though.  This girl I literally grew up with and I basically consider her my younger sister.  Although I attended the wedding, and filmed it, it still seems very surreal that my “little sister” is now married and about to buy a house with her husband.

It’s the events that hit close to home that once again pull me into the realization that I’m an adult.

But my brain still refuses to comprehend this entirely.

Maybe after I finally graduate college it will?

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Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans

I shouldn’t have to explain what these are, but if you are unfamiliar with the Harry Potter universe, then I guess I have to.

They are pretty much what they say they are: jelly beans that come in a multitude of flavors.  There are tasty flavors like Cinnamon, Marshmallow, Blueberry, Tutti Frutti, Apple and Watermelon, but since these are not your ordinary jelly beans there are also flavors such as Dirt, Grass, Earwax, Rotten Egg and the worse one of all, Vomit.

You want to be careful with these. When they say every flavor, they mean every flavor – you know you get all the ordinary ones like chocolate and peppermint and marmalade, but then you can get spinach and liver and tripe. George reckons he had a bogey-flavored one once.—Ron Weasley (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone)

I can guess that probably many people would wonder why these are still on the market or at least feel that those rotten flavors would just get thrown away and at least half the box would be a waste of money, which is sometimes how I feel.  If you’re going to get jelly beans, why not just get regular jelly beans with all good flavors?

Sometimes, I see the more fun side of these oddly flavored jelly beans.  After all, as a kid growing up in the Harry Potter generation, my friends and I would get these jelly beans and play a game where you had to pick a bean at random with our eyes closed and eat whatever one we took.  It could be torture, but it’s also fun to see your friends’ reactions to getting one of the nasty flavors.

In honor of having some fun with my best friend before school started, we decided to take on this challenge… and make a video of it.

Now that I have done this challenge once again, I can safely say this will most likely be the last time I ever eat Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans.

Unless another one of my friends wants to make a video of the challenge.  Then, I’m game.

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I Entered a Photo Contest

I recently entered the Amazon Student Study Style Photo Contest after seeing their announcement of it on Instagram.  The contest description was to enter a photo of how you (or a friend) study and there had to be at least 1 textbook or ebook in the picture.  I was intrigued right away and planned on entering the contest.  After two weeks of coming up with various ideas for my “how I study” photo, I finally came up with one that hadn’t already been done by the other contestants and entered at 9pm on the last day of entry.

So that was it, my entry was in and I had to wait about a week to see if I’d go into the next round of the contest.

And I did.

I got an email on Monday, September 22nd, saying that my photo was one of the 20 finalists picked by the judges

My contest entry - a top 20 finalist.

“Is it crammed in there yet?”

at Amazon Student and the Facebook voting would start that Friday.  Once the voting began, I lagged for the first half of Friday until my cousin rallied up her Facebook friends to vote for me and I got up to nearly 100 votes in the first 24 hours, and was in the lead.  I kept the lead for another day and half, until one person passed me out and ended up winning the contest.

The winner had 276 votes and I placed 2nd with 229 votes.

If this had been a year ago, I probably would’ve been upset or angry about losing.  However, I am super grateful that I even placed in the top 20 in the entire nation for this contest, especially since that was the part that included actual judges.

I’d say that’s a pretty darn good achievement for my first ever photo contest!

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Accidental Weight Loss

This might sound weird to you, but when I lost weight I lost it by accident.  When I say ‘by accident’ I really just mean that I wasn’t even trying to lose weight… it just happened.

scaleDid I need to lose weight?  Yes.  Am I glad I lost it?  Of course!

So how did I lose it?

Well, again, I wasn’t trying to.  I’ve noticed something when it comes to trying to lose weight, it gets harder for some, if not most, people.  I am one of those people.  For years I tried to lose weight by exercising and trying to eat better, and yeah, I lost two or three pounds, but nothing that put me into a healthy weight range.

A few years ago I started to take control of my health by changing my eating habits to try and help the stomach issues I had been dealing with since I was a kid.  I started to cut down my portions, eat slower and not snack as much.  Just those three things not only aided the healing of my stomach, but I also lost about 10-15lbs!  So not only was my stomach feeling better and I wasn’t getting sick as often, but I was feeling better because I had lost some excess weight.  However, I still needed to drop a bit more considering my height.

Very recently I started to become more aware of keeping my heart healthy and preventing myself from getting diabetes, as heart diseases and diabetes both run in my family.  I knew I had to start doing something now to prevent either of these from onsetting in my body.  So, the easiest way to prevent these… eat right, drink a lot of water and exercise.

Exercising was the easy part.  I started walking at least 1 mile 5-7 days a week depending on weather and how busy my days are.  However, considering I can walk a mile in 20-22 minutes, it’s not that hard to do this.  Plus, when I started exercising I started drinking more water regularly and drink at least 4 bottles of water a day now. no-fast-food-300x300 Eating right… well, I’m working on that (I’ve always had issues with vegetables), but for the most part I don’t eat terribly.  I mean, I cut out a lot of fast food; pretty much all but Dunkin’.

America runs on Dunkin’ after all.

I started this new routine in May and since then I am feeling even better about my health.  In fact, I just had my physical at the doctor’s earlier this week and he said my blood test results were perfect, and mind you it wasn’t a fasting blood test.  As a bonus to feeling better and actually being healthier, I have lost another 9-10lbs and am now within a normal BMI (Body Mass Index) for my age, gender and height.

My point here is that because of other health concerns I started to change my eating habits and became more active and for this reason I was not focused on losing weight to feel better about myself.  The weight loss just came with it and boosted my health because I am now at a healthier weight than I was 2-3 years ago.

Maybe we need to start trying to lose weight for the right reasons, such as prevention of certain diseases, instead of losing weight just so we can look like models and boost our egos.

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