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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.