WHO IS ASHLEY?
Ashley Klaja is a culinary artist and expert hostess that you may have seen on KSL over the last year or popping up at blogger conferences and events in the Salt Lake area. Ashley has spent nearly her whole life fine-tuning her craft. She got her start as a little girl helping in her grandmother’s kitchen, continued as a budding entrepreneur selling cakes and pies in high-school, and finally attend culinary school. After culinary school, she helped launch and run multiple bakeries and restaurants in Texas before moving to Utah two years ago and launching the Instagram and blog “Livingbeautahfully” where she shares her masterpieces along with tips, tricks, and helpful hints that inspire people everywhere to get in the kitchen.
TO ASHLEY, WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT FOOD?
Ashley says that the best thing about food and baking is that there’s always an opportunity to create a memory! Instead of showing off her love for food and talent for baking, Ashley says it’s more about who you’re doing it for. Before COVID, Ashley and her family had been planning a trip to Disney and unfortunately had to cancel it. Her kids were absolutely devastated. However, since Disney reopened, Ashley planned a surprise trip to Disney for her kids for Halloween this year! To surprise them, Ashley combined Disney and the whimsical vibes of Halloween to create a huge surprise party reveal! Her kids were so shocked – Ashley said it was worth every single hour of work. Creating memories and magic for your loved ones comes with the joy of cooking and baking.
WHAT DOES ASHLEY DO AS A CULINARY ARTIST?
Ashley is an avid cake maker whether it’s for a party, a holiday, or her family and friends! She loves baking cakes and showing others how to do the same. Before COVID, she hosted lots of cake making classes. She also hosted an event in her own home called CHICK CHAT where she would design a tablescape and have lots of desserts. This event was really centered around connecting women, so one woman each month would share her personal story and life’s hardships. Women crave connections and can identify with each woman’s story. It’s been one of the most rewarding things she’s ever done – she’s been doing this for over 10 years! Ashley also does cake orders for parties and other events! If she’s not hosting an event or baking for a party, Ashley is posting on her social media account as a cake artist. She loves inspiring others.
WHERE DOES ASHLEY FIND HER INSPIRATION ON WHAT TO BAKE?
Ashley says her inspiration is pretty random and comes from a variety of things she sees whether it’s an ornament at Hobby Lobby or something she sees outside in nature on her runs. She does say that Pinterest is an amazing inspiration platform for her as well! Ashley says she tries not to copy anything she sees to a tee, and will really try to make it her own with her own spin. Sometimes it’s really difficult and challenging depending on the theme, but once she starts having one idea, it snowballs from there.
WHAT IS ASHLEY’S ADVICE ON STARTING AN ACCOUNT LIKE HERS?
Ashley says that something she’s learned recently is to share who you are! There are so many amazing accounts out there that really inspire, so it’s easy to fall into the comparison trap. “I want to be just like them” or “I want to have photos like theirs.” However, it’s important to remember who God made you to be. Share who you are and what your specific talents are! Ashley says it can be hard sometimes because comparing is such a trap, but you should never have to make excuses or apologies for who you are.
Also, if you’re going to start any instagram account, know that it’s going to be hard and challenging! When Ashley started, she said it was extremely hard and time consuming because she was starting from the ground up (like any new account does). She says in the beginning, it can be very frustrating and discouraging. Ashley really encourages and advises to be intentional with your time – don’t lose track of what really matters. What are the things that matter most? Typically, that is going to be your family, your job, and things that should be prioritized in life. Social media can suck you in and before you know it, you’ve lost so many other things that matter more. Make sure you really hold onto the things that really matter and don’t let social media overtake your entire life and the things that are most important.
WHAT DO HOLIDAYS LOOK LIKE FOR ASHLEY AND HER FAMILY?
Ashley and her family stay in Utah for Thanksgiving each year so it’s normally just the four of them. She says her daughter has started taking a serious interest in baking and entertaining, so Thanksgiving is her time to shine! Ashley’s daughter will make the tablescape, the place settings, and write bible verses on cards. This has become almost a tradition for them! It’s something that she will always remember, so Ashley gives this holiday to her. She also tries to teach her kids how to show and express what they are thankful for each year when Thanksgiving rolls around.
Another easy thing to do for the holidays is to jazz up a store-bought pie. If baking is too time consuming or just not your thing, a store-bought pie is perfectly acceptable and there are simple ways to dress it up a bit! Cut out little leaves or pumpkins with a store-bought pie crust, and then line the edge of the crust of the pie to jazz it up. This way it looks homemade and you can even say it’s homemade since you did all the decorating at home (right?).
For Christmas, there are so many fun things you can do! Ashley and her family love to decorate gingerbread houses and have competitions. Cookie decorating is always a fun family tradition as well. Ashley and her family also love to do a happy birthday Jesus cake at Christmastime! Ashley lets her kids do the whole thing with a box cake mix and store-bought icing. This also reinforces the true meaning of Christmas.