Friday, June 28, 2013

Top 10 Denver Outdoor Summer Activities

Since moving to Denver last September, I have felt like a kid in a candy store! There are endless amounts of incredible restaurants, swanky coffee shops, gorgeous lush parks, and fun things to do.

A list of the Top 10 Outdoor Summer Activities to experience in 

The Mile High City:

  1. Watch a Movie in the Park: Many parks around Denver show free movies one night a week. A few of the parks are Infinity Park, Skyline Park or Red Rocks Ampitheare. Grab some snacks, a drink, and your your fav friends and enjoy a movie in the park. 

  2. Get Wet N' Wild at Water World: The best water park I've been to yet! Some of the best rides, in my opinion are; The Revolution--> think ginormous toilet bowl, Voyage to the Center of the Earth--> dinosaurs around every corner, & Tandemonium--> an enclosed slide where you can switch places with your raft partner while zooming down the slide. 

  3. Attend a Concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater: If you check out the website you will find a list of summer concerts, pick one and listen on. 

  4. Listen to Jazz at City Park: Free jazz concerts are held every sunday at 6pm in City Park. Relax, take in the cityscape, and enjoy smooth melodies.  

  5. Go to Hudson Gardens for a concert: Hudson Gardens is acres of beautiful lush greenery and flowers. During the summer they hold a concert series where you can walk the grounds, listen to great music, indulge in gourmet food vendors, and sip on beer and wine.  

  6. Visit Balistreri Vineyards: A family owned and operated full functioning vineyard. You can set-up a wine testing for a group of friends, learn how to properly cook with wine, relax at a wine N' movie night, or attend their annual Harvest Party! 

  7. Spend a Night in LoHi: LoHi is the Lower Highlands and an awesome spot for porch sitting, wine or beer sippin', walking, food truck eating, and rooftop viewing. The places I would recommend to go for a night are; Denver Beer Co., The Ale House, Lola, Linger, and Little Man Ice Cream. 

  8. Cheer on Denver Teams: Go to a Rockies baseball game or a Rapids Soccer game! I am more of a soccer girl cause of husband but either are paired perfectly with a beer in hand, friends, and loud cheering voices. 

  9. Walk the Farmers Markets: There are a plethora of local farmers markets in the summer in Denver. Some of the best are; South Pearl, City Park Esplanade, Highlands Ranch, & Southwest Plaza. 

  10. Play all day at Wash Park: For this all you'll want is your best friends and family, volleyballs, soccer balls, footballs, frisbees, lawn games, drinks, plenty of food, and good tunes. Just play, all day.  

    <3 Gabrielle 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Forever Kind Of Friday Night...

I woke up on Friday morning and shuffled out of bed for my usual morning workout. I ran a couple laps around Wash park and headed home. My phone buzzed with the normal group text from Lauren and Erin as we exchanged post workout selfies. Work took me to the zoo that day so I dressed comfortably, ready to sit in the sand with Brady and quite prepared for peanut butter smears at lunch.  Lee's sister and her family were flying in on Saturday so our weekend plan was to head up to Fort Collins that night to pick up their transportation.  Since we were already going to be in Fort Collins, Lee was going to go to dinner with a friend while I had planned on a  patio date with Erin. After work I speedily ran home to grab a couple of things, but didn't have any time to change or freshen up. I figured Erin would understand my babyfied look that Friday. The car ride to Fort Collins was nothing out of the ordinary, Lee and I caught up on the day's activities as I sat completely unaware of what was about to happen. The plan was to stop off at Highland Meadows Golf Course in Windsor on the way up. I was told Aaron, one of Lee's friends was there finishing up a round of golf, but had driven the car we were picking up to the course so it would be convenient for us to grab it before meeting up with our friends. Once we pulled up to the golf course, Lee hopped out and said he would just run and grab the keys really quick. 20 minutes later I was still sitting in the car….still oblivious. Lee was apologetic when he returned. He said Aaron was finishing his round, but wanted to say hi so I hopped out and followed Lee to a cart parked outside the clubhouse. Good thing I know little about golf.  Hopping in a random cart and heading out onto the course seemed normal. It was beautiful out. It was around 6:45 on the first day of summer, hot and sunny and competleley breathing taking. Lee pulled over to a spot on the first hole right by water and a great big tree. He got out and started pulling something off the back of the cart. Still oblivious, I asked if we were just planning on waiting for Aaron there. As Lee set up a chair that had been strapped to the cart he said "I need to apologize for a string of lies I have been feeding you." Thats when I knew what was happening. My heart started racing and things were dawning on me by the second, I was standing on the first hole of the golf course Lee and I met at three years ago, Aaron was no where to be seen, and I think Lee is going to propose right now….

This is the spot! 
He sat me down and asked me to read a passage from John. As I read he began to wash my feet. 

 John: 13: 5-7, 12, 14, 15 
"Then Jesus poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, Lord do you wash my feet? Jesus answered him, what I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand. When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, Do you understand what I have done to you? If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have give you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you." 

The next passage was read by Lee. 

Ephesians 5:25-33 
"Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. 

Lee shared his heart and plans for our future and marriage. He talked about his journey and he said all kinds of really wonderful and thoughtful things about me and our relationship and just like that he was down on one knee ring box in hand asking me to be his wife. 

From the start, Lee has been clear about his intentions with our realtionship. He has made sure the Lord is the center of our relationship. He has made it obvious over and over again that his desire is to serve me and honor me in a way that glorifies the Lord and love me the way Christ loved the church. This same heart and intention in our relationship was so beautifully reflected that night in his proposal. It was far beyond anything I could ever think up or dream of. I can't wait to marry Lee. I can't wait to be his wife. I can't wait to come alongside other couples together for accountability, community, and fellowship. I can't wait be a part of his incredible family and I can't wait for him to be a part of mine. I can't wait to serve together and to learn and re- learn ways in which to love each other and serve one another better each day. 


Surprise engagement party after the proposal!

Some of our dearest friends! 

Lee custom made my ring through a jeweler in Arizona. He did SUCH a great job. I love it so much!

~ Mekenzie 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Ch-Ch-Change It Up

Its so very vital to change up your workouts. I get sad when I see people doing the exact same routine for days on end and expecting new results. You gotta change, people!

I admit, I have totally been there. Either training for a race or simply being unmotivated to try something new and get out my comfort zone.We like what we know and we get stuck. Run everyday for 20 minutes. Or the elliptical 5 days a week. Or spin class and nothing else. While all these things are fine and dandy, it is better if you mix them all together!

Here are my favorite ways to change things up:

-Adding in a strength routine! Girls, DON'T be afraid to lift, and lift HEAVY! It will not make your arms bigger. It drives me crazy when people say this. The type of food you eat is what makes your arms bigger. Especially if you stick to sets with 15+ reps, you'll be lean and toned in no time.If you need help with movements and ideas, check out, (don't be afraid, they have TONS of plans for toning and for women, not just bodybuilders), or

Workin' on my guns!
 -Try HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)
This basically means changing up the speed of your workouts. It can be done on most any equipment (treadmill, elliptical, bike, stairmaster). Try 30 seconds of regular/easy speed, then crank it up for 30 seconds as fast as you can! Repeat as many times as you can. By ramping up your heart rate and then bringing it back down, you give your metabolism a nice surge and will continue to burn calories faster once you are done than if you did steady-state cardio. Here's one that doesn't need any equipment:

My heart rate monite after some HIIT!

-Try a new class!
I tried out TurboKick at my local gym, and fell in LOVE. I try to do it every Monday night, or every other.But not 5 times a week. Group fitness classes are great supplements to your workout week. When you find a class and instructor you love, it keeps you motivated and before you know it you've worked for an hour and burned 500 cals!

-Try a program/workout DVD
These are nice because they are specifically designed to help you change your routine on a daily basis and work your whole body in different ways.
    Jamie Eason's Livefit Trainer
  • Insanity/P90X
  • TurboFire

What new thing are YOU going to try this week?


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

How to: Hike a 14er

 Ever wish you had a manual when you started something new? A guidebook of sorts to walk you through the steps on how to be successful at your new adventure? Mekenzie and I hiked a 14er this weekend for the very first time and we definitely could have used a “how to climb a 14 thousand foot mountain, to the top, without dying, peeing you pants, or hitting your ankles on rocks” sort of handbook. Here are some helpful “how to’s” for climbing 14ers. We are by no means experts- armatures for sure- but we are here to share what we learned and encourage you to make your own climb this summer. It was incredible; a hike to remember for a lifetime. 

How to: Climb a 14er

Start early:
Erin: In preparation for our summit, I picked every ones brains about when is the best time to start. Repeatedly, the answer I got was “VERY early.” Meaning like 5am, early. You do not want to be caught at the top of a 14,000 foot mountain when the afternoon storms start rolling in, so you need to start your decent from the top mid-morning. We were so thankful that we followed this advice because it did get super windy towards the end of the hike and I cannot imagine how those gusts felt at the top. 

 Mekenzie: Oh yeah…early for sure. Weather is definitely not something you want to                  take take a chance on especially when you are  3 hours of hiking away from your car, but as an added bonus for our early start time, we just really loved hiking alone. By the time we had summited and were heading back down the mountain the trails were PACKED. Leaving early really helped us beat  fellow adventurers.  
GOOOHOOOD MORNING (up since 3:00 a.m)! 
 Bring good company:
ErinMaybe I should rank this as the number 1 priority. You are going to spend about 7 hours secluded on a hike with these people so they better be your favorites. I couldn’t have picked a better crew to hike with. These girls are my heart friends- my home team and we could chat about anything and everything for hours upon hours and still not run out of things to say. Plus, they might be the funniest blonde's I know and multiple times we found ourselves doubled over in hysteria, trying our hardest not to pee. Which brings me to my next point

MekenzieOh yeah. Holly and Erin are some of my most adventurous friends. There's no turning back with these two. If things get scary or rough, we just back track and find a new way. Like that one time we got caught scaling icy/ snowy ridges for days… We just turned around and found another path. Go with people that are up for a fun and challenging adventure. 

Bring toilet paper (ladies):

ErinWhen your at 14,000 feet, above timberline, there is not a tree in sight. This becomes very problematic when you have drank you entire camel back of water, there are other hikers all around and your girl friends are telling jokes like they are the next stand up comedian. There came a point where we just had to find a good valley, hidden from the trail, leave Holly as a look out and get ‘er done. You don’t want to be caught in this situation without our first world blessing of t-p, so bring it with you!

MekenzieNot only was she our  "look out companion" but she also documented...

Wear lots of layers:
ErinWe were pleasantly surprised that we did a good job dressing for the weather. We were a little unsure of what to expect but we were comfortable the entire hike. A pair of running tights to cover the legs and then layering a tank, long sleeve and zip up was perfect. There were points during the climb that we were just in our tank tops and then 30 minutes later when the mountain winds ripped through the peaks we were in all our gear. I wouldn’t have wanted anymore clothes to lug around, however any fewer layers I would have been chilly. 

Mekenzie: Layering is so key to being prepared for a long hike. I wore running tights, a tank, a long sleeve, and a wind breaker, but I was constantly taking on and off various layers throughout the day. One thing I would suggest is wearing hiking boots. I'm kind of a diva when it comes to hiking and I decided my Nike's would do the trick. After about 5 boulders to the ankle I decided being a diva was a bad choice. 

Snacking is key:
 Erin: Food and cooking is something that Kenz and I are so passionate about. So, it was no surprise that planning out our meals for the hike was our favorite part. We knew that climbing a mountain for almost 7 hours was going to require a lot of fuel- so we packed the most energy rich, protein snacks we could find. It wouldn't be a girls morning without coffee so Kenz made us some delicious pour-over cups that we sipped as we curved around the mountain roads on the way to the trail head. Before we started our ascent, we ate my famous home made protein bars (recipe at the end of the post). The rest of the hike consisted of continual snacking on trail mix, whole foods bars and smoothie drinks. 

Mekenzie: Erin and I did more planning for snacking on the hike than the actual hike it seems. We like to call ourselves birds as our diet is made up of seeds and grains and nuts and granola and various other foods that look like they could be found in a bird feeder. Since we were in our "natural habitat" we had to do it right. We also love eating so it was fun to surprise our birthday girl with all sorts of goodies we would pull out along the way like little Mary Poppins wanna- bes. The morning started with Erin's home made breakfast bars. She makes the best bars so I usually try to act really busy so she will make them. It worked, Erin made the bars and I brought the coffee. We candled that bar and sang to our Holly babe. Other snacks along the way included Bolthouse juices, two different kinds of trail mixes from the Sprouts bins, bananas, and Honey Stinger Bars from Whole Foods. We stopped and snacked all along the way. 

Breakfast time

Birthday girl!
Hiking a 14er with this group of girls is something we will remember forever. We encourage you to have an adventure of your own this summer and hopefully some of our "how to's" will make it a fun, exciting, successful trip!

Kenz and Er

Erin's Famous Protein Bars:

The Base:
2 cups Old Fashioned Oats
3/4 cup All Natural Peanut Butter (I use Whole Foods Fresh Ground)
1/2 cup Agave (or Honey)
2 Tablespoons Chia Seed
2 Table spoons Ground Flax Seed

Add ins:
1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate covered walnuts
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 chopped almonds
1/4 pumpkins seeds (you can chop these as well, but I prefer mine to be very dense and crunchy)
(the above ingredients are my faves, but you can use any sort of chocolate add ins or seeds that you prefer)

Mix base ingredients first. Chop and prepare your add-ins. You may want to add extra pb or agave at this point if your mixture seems too dry. Press bars into 9x9 pan and place in refrigerator or freezer. Once cooled and hardened cut into 9 square bars and ENJOY!