#Attribution1 {display: none;} .header-inner h1, .header-inner p.description { display:none; }

Friday, May 8, 2015

Manitou Springs Incline.

Went to Denver last week for one of my best friend's wedding.

I was surprised at how similar it was to my hometown, Plano, TX.
I was expecting a lot more mountains... 
You can see mountains from Denver but you have to drive a ways to get to them.
I must be spoiled from living in Provo and Spokane.
The wedding was on Friday so we had Saturday to kill before flights on Sunday.

We wanted to go on a hike but weren't super familiar with the area.
Julia suggested the Manitou Springs Incline...

The Manitou Incline used to be a cable car trail that carried materials to build pipelines on 
Pikes Peak.

 The incline gains over 2,000 feet in a section in less than a mile.

  Parts of the trail are extremely broken and steep and will require even the fittest of hikers or trail runners to scramble over the broken rocks and steep trail.

Needless to say, we were so glad to get to the top.
Took us about an hour and 20 minutes to get to the top.
Then it is a 4 mile hike down a different pathway.
And we parked at least a mile away from the entrance...
which I wouldn't recommend.

If you're in Colorado Springs and feel so "inclined"... DO IT!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


We bought this desk last summer, at a thrift store, for $15. 
It is solid oak and still in really good condition.
(A new, very basic oak desk like this runs from about $150-$500)
Dan needed a desk to study at but we didn't want to spend very much on it.
This was the perfect fit for us.

While it worked out great that we got a quality desk for a small price, it wasn't very pretty.
My mother in law matched the paint to some samples from pottery barn so we could copy a desk 
that they sell that is beautiful.
(See below)

While my desk isn't at all similar to this one, 
I knew that matching the stain and white paint would make a world of a difference.
Here is a picture of my desk after the re-do.

It doesn't have the pegs or handles, but it turned out pretty dang cute.

How to:
Clean then power sand the whole desk.
Clean and tape. Stain the top. (best if desk is oak or pine)
Let the stain dry overnight.
Re-tape and paint the white.
I did two coats of the white paint. 
Paint 2-3 coats of clear seal on top of the stained top.

We found that the trick was buying the expensive white paint.
That is the only way it will look similar to the pottery barn style desk. 
Still the paint only costs about $20 max, and you don't need much.

It's amazing what a little sanding and paint can do to a piece of furniture.

Below is the desk that my mother in law re-did.
Her's turned out to be a lot more similar because of the style of the desk and drawers.
Also, her desk was pine so it absorbed the stain differently and turned out darker.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Cereal Cake

So there seems to be a trend to my recent posts...
I like to think that I am pretty health.
By healthy I mean I eat mainly fruits, vegetable, lean protein and whole grains. 
But... i love my treats.
I eat healthy so that I can eat treats. 
This doesn't have much logic behind it but I have justified it for myself.

The other day I was introduced to a friends mom as Chandler, the baker.
I was kind of embarrassed but.. if the shoe fits?
While I am definitely not a baker. nor would I prefer to be referred to as one,
I do enjoy baking and experimenting with new recipes.
It is a fun and yummy way to kill a couple of hours on a Saturday or Sunday 
while surprising family/friends with some sugary yumminess.

My husband is a health freak.
He mainly just hates sugar. 
He hates cookies, cake, candy, etc.
(basically all the good stuff)
However, he has a weak spot: Cereal.
He loves cereal and eats it for a meal/snack at least once a day.

While I know he actually loves treats 
and he is only trying to convince himself and others that he doesn't...
I still chose to support him on "treat-hatred" on his birthday.
It was a perfect compromise.
I made him a cereal cake!
Basically a couple layers of rice krispies; 
with some frosting in between to keep it all together and add some color.

Top Layer: Chocolate Lucky Charms
Middle Layer: French Toast Crunch (his favorite)
Bottom Layer: Cocoa Krispies

I stayed chocolate themed since those are his cereal go-to's.
Needless to say, it was a success and his whole family loved it.
Instead of a side of ice cream we opted for a side of milk for dipping.

I will definitely be making a cereal cake again.
Next time I will include my favorites:
Fruity Pebbles
Special K with Strawberries 

(Isn't Washington gorgeous?)

Recipe (per layer):
1/2 stick of butter
1 bag of mini marshmallows 
5 cups cereal

1 stick butter
3/4 bag powdered sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla
dash salt

1. Melt butter on low heat
2. Add marshmallows and melt until combined with butter
3. Take mixture off heat and add cereal
4. Stir until well mixed
5. Press into cake tin
6. Let cool then stack in preferred order with icing in between layers

I made up the recipe and ingredients as I went so feel free to edit/add wherever!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Baked with Love.

Valentine's Inspired "Healthy-ish" Berry Pie.

If it weren't for my birthday, I would probably hate Valentines Day.
But... Since they both happen to fall on the same day, I embrace it!

Since my valentine doesn't like chocolate, or cookies, or anything unhealthy (aka all the fun stuff),
I decided to make him a "healthy" pie.
It is made with fresh berries
I used blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries.

This was my first time baking a pie on my own so I cheated a little by buying the pre-made dough.
The trick to using pre-made dough is to make sure you let it thaw to room temperature after removing from the fridge or freezer. 
This helps the dough stay in one smooth piece as you unroll it. 
Then to spruce it up a bit, I sprinkled some sugar and a rubbed a little melted butter along the bottom. 

For the filling I used:
- 4 cups of berries (fresh or frozen)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
you don't have to add the cinnamon but I think it's necessary

To make the filling all you do is combine the ingredients and let it sit for a half hour. This allows the corn starch and sugar to properly blend with the fruit. I also spread melted butter on the top of the crust because lets be honest, butter makes everything taste better.

Finally, you can top the pie with any shape, size, sprinkle assortment you'd like! 
This is where it gets fun!

Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.

If the pie will last more than 30 minutes (which mine did not), then you will want to store it in the refrigerator to make sure the fruit stays fresh.

In the future I would add tapioca balls to the filling
to help it thicken. 
I brought the pie to my in-laws within minutes of taking it out of the oven. I planned on letting it cool but made the mistake of leaving the room to return to the pie minus two slices. So... it wasn't allowed proper time to cool before being devoured. 
This caused the filling to become kind of soupy. 
I used frozen berries instead of fresh which also probably played a part in the soupiness (because they hold more water than fresh).

Either way.. it was DELISH!
Even my sugar-phobic husband went back for seconds.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Surprise Inside Cake.

This summer, Dan and I had the opportunity to live next door to my grandparents. 
We saw them almost every day, had lots of dinner dates, went to lots of movies, and of course did lots of shopping. 
One of my favorites things I did all summer was spend a weekend baking this cake with my grandma.  

We knew it would be a challenge but we are pro-skill bakers, or so we thought. 
We were a little disappointed with the result but it still looked pretty dang cool.

We nit-picked and figured out everything we would change next time we bake it.
Sometimes you have to put your perfectionism aside and just enjoy the experience. 
It was so colorful, and creative, and DELICIOUS.

Seriously.. the best white cake & frosting recipe I have ever made.
So if you don't want to spend hours and hours baking this masterpiece, then at least follow the recipe and bake a simple white cake.

You end up baking 3 white cakes and 2 batches of frosting.
I mean... what recipe that calls for 3 entire cakes could be anything but amazing?!
My grandma and I couldn't stop eating the colored scraps and dunking them in the frosting.
Speaking of dunking.. remember dunkaroos?!
Best. snack. ever.

How amazing would it be to own a bakery with your family and do stuff like this everyday?!
I have always dreamt of that.
But then I think about
1. My crazy family
2. Owning a business
3. Getting fat
And my dream becomes more of a distant thought.

We used the book "Surprise-Inside Cakes" by Amanda Rettke
But you can...

What you need:
  • 3 recipes white cake
  • 2 recipes basic buttercream
  • Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple food coloring
  • 1/4 cup simple syrup
Special equipment:
  • 4 8-inch cake pans
  • Offset spatula
  • 6 6-inch cake pans
  • Ruler
  • 3-inch round cookie cutter
  • Thin paring knife
  • Skewer
  • Glazing brush
  • Disposable plastic pastry bags
  • 1M decorating tip

Sunday, October 19, 2014

California Kind Bed. (air mattress)

After a series of interesting circumstances, Dan and I were finally all settled in to our $800,000 condo in the heart of Newport Beach. We are thinking about becoming professional house sitters and traveling the globe. Let me know if you know anyone looking to hire. 

You would think that we would have a nice bed in such a nice home but we were bed-less. Luckily we found a really nice, double layer blow up mattress that ended up really helping Dan's back problems. Whoda thought?! 
Soon enough we both found really fun summer jobs and we spent our off-time body surfing, eating at The Crab Cooker, going on motorcycle rides, and hanging out with family. 
The entire summer was a dream.

Dan was a valet attendant at Pelican Hill Resort.
Talk about lavish.
He is convinced that he has driven every single type of car on the market.
I also worked at the Pelican Hill Resort as a pool attendant for short time before realizing that working two jobs while living in Newport for the summer is idiotic. 

 View at the pool. I mean COME ON!
My sexy outfit

I ended up doing marketing/ social media/ waitressing for a Mediterranean restaurant in 
Corona Del Mar.
The hardest part about the job was learning how to professionally open a bottle of wine. 
Now I could do it in my sleep.
Try me.
We had live music every night out on the patio.
 Fundraising Event. How cute are my grandparents?
 I took all the food pictures to update the website and create a new takeout menu.
Favorite part of the job because after I take the pictures I get to eat the food!

This July was really special to us because we were able to be sealed in the temple in San Diego. It was a day we will never forget and we felt so lucky to be surrounded by family.

Now ill let the pictures do the story telling.
Isn't it always better that way?

1 year anniversary

Best donuts in Newport
 Dan's dream diet. 4th of July dinner at the Balboa Yacht Club.
 San Diego Zoo
 Love my mom
Dolphin 20 feet away from them

 Persian "gma" tried to cook for us every night. 
She included French Fries because she thinks Americans have them with every meal.

Met baby Sawyer!!!
 Baby looks good on him.
Dan's bullet bike. Honda CBR 1000. Way too fast but so fun and perfect for beach parking.
 Mom sold our house in Plano and moved to Dallas.
These are our height measurements in the pantry from over the years.
We had lived there since 1993