Monday, June 30, 2014

Staycation: Nederland

Last summer my husband and I began taking "staycations" regularly. We would plot out a day trip during the week, and on Saturday we'd pack up our sunglasses and a camera and have ourselves a fun adventure. Those trips came to a screeching halt mid September when Colorado experienced an epic flood with after affects that lasted for several months. I'm happy to report that we're back to planning some close-to-home outings. Saturday we took a trip that ended in a little town in the mountains in southwest Boulder County {Colorado, USA}.

There are some trips where it's all about the destination and others where the journey is just as important. For this outing is was definitely the latter. Nederland is not really a tourist attraction like other mountain towns along the front range {Estes Park, Central City, Black Hawk, etc.}. I'm certain the approximately 1,500 residents would like to keep it that way. There are a few attractions in town that you could stop at on your way through town, but one doesn't generally vacation there like they might in other mountain towns.

We started our trip heading out of Longmont toward Boulder. I'll never tire of views like this...

Once in Boulder we headed up Boulder Canyon on State Highway 119 toward Nederland. This highway travels along Boulder Creek for much of the drive.

Boulder Creek regularly flows at 150-200 cubic feet per second. During the flood it was reported to have exceeded 5,000 cubic feet of water per second, which caused serious damage to buildings along the creek and the creek path. We were surprised to see, however, that there isn't much evidence of that destruction as we traveled up to Nederland.

Important Tip:
You would think after living in Colorado and taking advantage of mountain settings I would know this important piece of information, but I forgot this lesson Saturday. The temperature dropped 30 degrees between Boulder and our destination {25 minutes away} in Nederland. It was 60 degrees in Nederland at 1pm. Wear long pants, shoes, and bring a sweater/jacket {dress in layers} when traveling in the mountains in Colorado -- even in the summer! 

Once in Nederland we stopped at the few attractions, including a small mining museum...

... the 14th annual "High Peaks Art Festival" that boasted approximately 20 vendors...

...and the Carousel of Happiness where rides are only $1!

Originally the carousel was housed at Saltair near Salt Lake City, Utah.

After 50 years in 1986 the wooden animals were sold and the frame was transported to Nederland. Over the next 26 years the new owner carved new animals to bring the carousel back to life. It's a beautiful, wooden carousel that is the pride of Nederland.

Dining options are limited in Nederland. Fortunately, the Sundance Cafe had been recommended before we left home. It's located south of Nederland on Peak to Peak Highway {119} about five minutes outside Nederland.

What it lacks in ambiance, it makes up for in this view from the tables on their outdoor patio...

The cafe serves lunch till 2:30pm every day. I would recommend the fresh strawberry french toast and bacon {to die for}.

We stopped again on our way back home for a few photos of Boulder Creek.

Outdoor enthusiasts love the bike and hiking trails along Boulder Creek's lush banks, but you can also see people of all ages picnicking, tubing, rock climbing, fishing, and sunbathing next to the icy cold water.

Next staycation destination:
Mt. Evans


Friday, June 27, 2014

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Small S'mores Dessert Bar -- Edition 2...

I imagine all of us have memories of a gathering of friends or family, a warm summer night, a blazing fire, and the delicious taste of roasted marshmallows or s'mores! Mark and I were able to have one of those evenings last weekend, and it was heavenly.

Tuesday I posted the "S'mores Dessert Bar -- Edition 1." I illustrated how we made a long 6' x 18" roasting table for s'mores that is perfect for a large gathering of friends or family. In this blog post I'll show a smaller alternative which is ideal for smaller groups, but first I'll list some advantages I've noted for roasting marshmallows over sterno cans instead of a large fire pit.
  • Sterno cans don't create smoke; fire pits do.
  • Sterno cans light immediately; lighting and keeping a larger fire lit can be a battle.
  • Marshmallows catch fire and burn more easily over a fire -- light golden brown over sterno cans.
  • Sterno cans are a little safer for little ones than a raging fire.

And now for the alternative to the s'mores table that I've come up with for a smaller group or gathering...

This s'mores roasting bar is put together in minutes and you can use virtually any container you might have around the house. I think ceramic pots or terracotta containers would work beautifully. I bought these metal buckets at Hobby Lobby. The large one is 8" in diameter at the top, the middle 6", and the little one is 4" in diameter. I bought them for a total of $7.50 @ 50% off...

I then purchased some sand at Home Depot for $3.15 (50 pound bag) and lugged it home the best I could. Who knew sand was sooo heavy!?! I filled the buckets with sand and placed a sterno can in each level with the top of the bucket...

Foil was placed on top of the sand. This isn't particularly necessary, but it will make it easier to take the decorative rocks out and replace the sterno can when needed.

Some polished river rocks were purchased at Hobby Lobby and placed on top of the foil and sand.

This S'mores Dessert Bar is perfect for smaller crowds and smaller people. It can be placed on a lower outdoor side table so that little ones can participate more easily.

I made this one for three of my grandchildren that will be visiting in a few weeks. I can't wait to roast some marshmallows and make s'mores with them!

Once again, I'll use this recipe menu to gather the supplies for the goodie table...

I love having the option of making a classic s'more or a s'more with a little more variety...

There you have it! 
A S'mores Dessert Bar idea for a large gathering or this idea for a smaller group. 
Two great alternatives for summer fun! 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Large S'mores Dessert Bar -- Edition 1...

With the celebration of Independence Day in the USA only a week away, I thought I'd share a fabulous idea that I came upon at the wedding reception for our son and his bride a couple of months ago. Below is the beautiful s'mores bar that my daughter-in-law's father made for their reception. I loved the stained wood and rocky base for the sterno cans.

A s'mores bar would be the perfect addition to a backyard BBQ on the 4th of July. With very little effort and money you can have a delicious and fun gathering place and dessert bar. 

Several weeks ago we decided to make our own version for an "after party" for some young adults that were going to participate in a church service project. Ours was a lot more rustic than the version at the wedding reception, but it did the trick and worked out perfectly.

Most of the materials were purchased at Home Depot. We bought two 2" x 4" x 8' ($2.75 each) lengths of pine for the frame. Make sure the wood isn't warped and is in good condition. The length of your s'mores bar will be determined by the length of your table. We have an 8' table, so we decided that the finished frame would be approximately  6' long x 18" wide. {Tip: Home Depot has some nice sharp power saws and they cut the wood for you, so make sure you have the length of wood cut before you pay!}

I stained the wood a light walnut brown and then put some mending brackets on each corner to hold the wood together. Since then I've put a satin sealer on the wood, which makes it look more finished. When we were ready to set the table up, I put some brown packaging paper down on the table and centered the wood frame on the table.

Then I placed some cookie cooling racks in the center of the frame and placed the sterno on top of those racks. {I wasn't sure if the heat of the sterno would damage the top of the table.} Two bags of river rocks {$3.77 each) filled in the center of the frame.

All that was left to do was enjoy it! This s'mores bar was a huge hit. Twelve people can crowd around the table at the same time. People came back over and over again to create their favorite s'more or try a new version, which brings me to the goodies table...

I chose to have the s'mores ingredients on a separate table. I found this adorable printable on Pinterest, printed it off and had it laminated.

The ingredients listed in these recipes were the ones I had on our "goodies" table, so guests could create any one of those recipes that night. {Tip: "The Nutty Buddy" and "The Samoa" were favorites so you might want to get plenty of those ingredients!}

A s'mores bar like this is perfect for a big crowd of 30 people or more. 
Thursday, I will post "S'mores Bar -- Edition 2" with a fabulous idea 
for smaller crowds and gatherings!

Update: Go here for a fabulous idea for a S'mores Bar for a smaller gathering!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Chevron & Floral Two-Toned Tote...

Last week I gave a sneak peek of a tote that I was making. I loved the way the more contemporary chevron fabric played off the traditional floral fabric on this tote...

I followed a "Two-Tone Fabric Tote" tutorial found on the blog "Make It & Love It" to make this bag. I originally made this tote about a year ago, and at that time made a few changes in the pattern, so you might want to go here for my version of the bag and a few tips on how to sew a sturdy, well-crafted tote.

After making the bag, I was going to make a fabric flower to put on it, but them I remembered some ready-made fabric flowers that I'd bought at Hobby Lobby for another project. I thought they would work well on this tote, so I hurried off to Hobby Lobby and snatched up a package!

I love how the linen flowers pick up the same color as the more tan burlap ribbon on the tote. Often I get stuck in the rut of "matchy-matchy". My first impulse was to make a yellow flower with a gray center, but I find when I go outside the box a bit, I like the results even more. 

The turquoise and bling centers of those flowers add a little punch of color to the bag that is unexpected and striking.

This tote is going to find its way to someone I love later this week.

I find great pleasure in treating my loved ones to unexpected surprises!

The fabrics used to make this tote are found at Hobby Lobby, as are the burlap ribbon (found in the fabric department) and the accent flowers (found in the scrapbooking department).

Friday, June 20, 2014

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Chevron & Floral Tote...

Yesterday I was busy creating a tote. All I have left is to build a little fabric flower to adorn it, but I thought I'd show you a sneak peek...

I love mixing traditional fabrics with more modern ones -- like this classic yellow and gray floral with the more current chevron fabric below. You'll see the finished product soon!

Wishing you a nice day,