Fred’s Trip to Seattle

For several years now, Alex and I have been trying to convince my dad to come out and ski with us. We really wanted to show him around Crystal Mountain, where we do most of our skiing, and prove that it stacks up quite well against his favorite place, Jackson Hole. So finally my dad found a killer deal on airfare and came out for a weekend of powder, feasting, spring sunshine and family time.

I picked my dad up from the airport on Thursday morning, skis in tow, and we headed down to ski some powder! The conditions were great and we managed to get quite a few powder runs in.

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Thursday evening we treated ourselves to dinner at Restaurant Bea, one of Alex’s and my absolute favorite Seattle restaurants, conveniently located in our neighborhood. We celebrated my birthday a week early and realized that the owner of Bea’s birthday is the same day as mine! I think we’ll go back and have a glass of champagne with her on Sunday.

Friday started off surprisingly sunny, so we got some great views on the drive and the gondola ride up the mountain. Just before lunchtime, another small storm came in and brought us a bit more snow.

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We introduced my dad to the world-famous Snorting Elk, voted one of the best apres ski bars in the country! It was so busy inside from all the powder fiends that we sat outside beneath the falling snow.

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The evening was spent at our neighborhood haunt, Bottlehouse, where we enjoyed a bottle of Lemburger, a wine we had never tried before. The wine was paired with a divine charcuterie plate. Everything was wonderful, as always.

After our trip to BH, we headed home to make homemade mac & cheese and watch one of our favorite ski movies, The Game of Gnar. Safe to say my father thoroughly enjoyed it!

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After two full days of skiing we decided we could use a day off, so Saturday was spent in Seattle. We grabbed breakfast at another neighborhood favorite, the Hi Spot, before Fred set off for an afternoon adventure with my aunt Cathy and cousin Chris and his wife Heidi. They enjoyed spending some time together in the sun while Alex and I got a few things done around the house. Saturday night we gave my dad a taste of Capitol Hill and had a drink at Poquitos, followed by dinner at Quinn’s. Alex had a wild boar sloppy joe, I had a Scotch egg and pretzel with rarebit sauce, and Fred had a Painted Hills burger. Quinn’s is a favorite of ours and is a good introduction to Seattle fare.

By Sunday our legs were feeling rested, so we got in the car and headed straight east to Alpental. We got several runs in on the groomers, in addition to a very icy run in Eidelweiss Bowl and a bumped out run in International. I called it quits a little early because my knee was bothering me {three days of skiing + starting to run again = an angry, overused knee} and got in some good people watching while sitting in front of the fire at the base.

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The Summit at Snoqualmie was celebrating its 75th anniversary the day we were out there and in order to commemorate the occasion, they hosted a pond skimming event. It was an absolute hoot to watch! There were about 50 competitors, ages 5-old, and most of them actually made it across the make-shift pond that was created for the competition. The best skimmers were in full-costume and did some type of trick once they made it across. We are hoping this will become an annual event because Alex wants to enter next year!

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Once we got cleaned up from our ski day, we grabbed a quick drink at Bottlehouse before meeting Cathy, Chris and Heidi for a family dinner at Naam Thai, our neighborhood Thai restaurant. We enjoyed our meal and had enjoyed sharing some memories of my late grandmother – we hadn’t all been together since her funeral service in January.

Monday was my dad’s last day in Seattle, and true to form, he spent it working on our house.

As a recap, I’ve put together a list of things Fred learned skiing the Cascades:

  • A “Death Cookie” looks like it will just be a soft poof of snow, when in reality it is a hard chunk of ice. Death Cookies the size of boulders should be avoided!
  • “Thin Cover” means there’s rocks under there.
  • “Cascade Concrete” is the snow we get here in the Cascades. It’s warm and there’s a lot of moisture, so our snow is heavy. Basically the opposite of Utah. BUT it means that it sticks to steeper surfaces, so our terrain is much gnarlier.

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March {Powder} Madness

March is notorious for being the month with the highest chances of skiing powder. At least that’s the case here in the Cascade Mountains. We were starting to think that it wouldn’t happen, but March 2013 sure has lived up to our expectations.

St. Patrick's Powder!
St. Patrick’s Powder and frosty hair!

St. Patrick’s day brought us an unexpected powder day – the best of the season, in fact. We skied deep, light powder all day long. Since we weren’t expecting powder, neither Alex or I brought our powder skis out for the occasion. For the last several winters I watched Alex continuously having so much fun on his S7 powder skis, so I couldn’t resist and got some for myself. St. Patty’s Day would have been the perfect opportunity to try them out for the first time, but my everyday skis {Line Celebrity 90s} rocked the conditions just as well.

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…And I got another opportunity to bring out the big girls!

 

Rocking the Rossi's
Rocking the Rossi’s

Thursday morning I swung through SeaTac Airport to get my dad, then we headed out to Crystal for Powder Day Numero Dos… complete with my S7s.

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Thursday and Friday were both great days on the mountain, delivering soft, fresh turns and free refills wherever we skied. Everything got tracked out really quickly, but we found some deep, un-touched snow hiding out in Northway.

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Sunday was not a powder or a bluebird day – just typical conditions for the Cascades. We got up to Alpental expecting the sun to be shining in full force and were disappointed that it came out only as we left. It was a great day on the groomers and we even had some soft snow {and a whole lot of bumps} on International.

IMG_5251I ended up having to call it quits earlier than I had hoped, due to a sore knee, but I was just as happy to sit by the fire and watch all of the gapers {people who don’t know what they’re doing but try to pretend they do} and little rippers come down the mountain. Afterwards, we drove over to Summit West to watch their first-ever pond skimming event. We are hoping that they’ll bring this event back next year so Alex can participate.

Pond Skimming @ Summit West
Pond Skimming @ Summit West

 

Happy 2nd Birthday Henry & Oliver!

Today our little monkeys cats turn two! With their high levels of spunk and energy, it’s hard to believe that they aren’t “kittens” anymore. They have provided us with an unbelievable amount of love and joy, as well as a whole lot of annoyance {mostly in the form of 5 a.m. wake up meows}. We have so enjoyed having these two sprite little balls of energy in our family.

Baby kittens right after we got them
Baby kittens right after we got them

Alex & I got Oliver & Henry when they were 8 weeks old. They were 2 pound fur balls with absurd amounts of energy back then. Now they are 8 and 10 pound fur balls with absurd amounts of energy.

Ready to pounce! The boys love to wrestle.
Ready to pounce! The boys love to wrestle.

Henry is our laid-back “I don’t give a damn” cat. He minds his own business and loves to be an observer. It’s a special day when Henry lets us hold him for more than 2 seconds.

Cool as a Henry cat
Cool as a Henry cat

Henry can often be found scaling the telephone pole in our front yard, climbing trees or sneaking up on the neighbor’s roof. Henry is an adventurer at heart. He loves chasing birds and is friendly with other cats in the neighborhood, yet very protective of our house.

Henry on the prowl
Henry on the prowl
No big deal - Henry can climb trees
No big deal – Henry can climb trees

Oliver is our wild, spastic, madman cat. He is always getting into trouble and chasing something.

Oliver found a new bed: the crock pot!
Oliver found a new bed: the crock pot!

He loves to be right where we least want him to be!

Sneaking into Alex's underwear drawer while I do laundry.
Sneaking into Alex’s underwear drawer while I do laundry.

Wild as this little guy is, he is the biggest ball of love I’ve ever met. Oliver is happiest when someone is holding him and giving him really nice pets and cuddles. He loves to come under the covers and sleep in my arms in the middle of the night. Such a lover.

Always a cuddle bug!
Always a cuddle bug!

Most of all, the boys love each other. They are usually roaming the ‘hood side by side, or hanging out in the chairs on our front patio just chilling. It melts our hearts to see them cuddle together or when they clean each other’s ears. They are such good brothers!

Cuddle bugs!
Cuddle bugs!
They love hanging out in the bathroom.
They love hanging out in the bathroom.

We love our little kits and are so happy that they’re in our lives!

Alex and the kittens
Alex and the kittens
Me and the baby boys
Me and the baby boys

 

Brotherly love
Brotherly love

 

 

 

Bluebird Days, Cirque & Chocolate Cookies

We have been loving the spring-like weather that mother nature has thrown at us here in Seattle. The perennials are starting to sprout up, trees are starting to bud, and by golly, we’ve even seen sunshine! I’m not sure what that’s all about, but I am always in favor of seeing the sun.

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Last week I got out on a few mid-week walks and Alex had a couple of great bike rides. It’s so nice to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather while it’s here. We just decided to cancel our gym membership for a number of reasons. We just got some home workout equipment, so we’ve been doing weights and strength-training at home. Alex is training for his 202 mile bike ride from Seattle to Portland that takes place mid-July, so he has been riding his bike a lot more anyway, and I have commissioned myself to start running again. We’ll see how that goes. When we get our new puppy (late spring??) we know that will wreak havoc on our schedule, plus when the pup starts going for longer walks and eventually runs we are anticipating walking or running at least 3-5 miles daily, as was the case with Aspen. We never went to the gym when we had Aspen because we went on three walks with her each day.

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Last week we had a lot going on. Wednesday evening we enjoyed a wonderful dinner with our friends Ali and Tyler and their sweet baby, Vivian. I made some crazy chocolate brownie cookies with salted caramel filling, as well as white chocolate macadamia nut cookies. We have loved spending more time with the Furtwanglers and it’s been so fun watching Vivi grow and develop into such a darling 12 week old bundle of adorableness. Alex spent the evening at Quinn’s in Capitol Hill on Thursday to celebrate his friend Jamie’s new job.

Friday night Alex and I had our weekly date night. We went to dinner at Redmond’s Bar & Grill then saw Cirque du Soleil.

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The show was incredible. Neither of us had ever seen a Cirque du Soleil performance, but had a good understanding of what the show would entail. It was really fun to watch the acrobatics.

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Alex and I enjoyed yet another beautiful day on the mountain yesterday. The conditions weren’t great, but the crowds were few and far between now that the ski lesson programs have wrapped up for the year, so we got an unbelievable number of runs in before we called it a day after lunch. This ski season has blessed us with more sunny days than I can ever remember getting in seasons past! While we love the bluebird days, it would be okay if we got a powder day or two before spring comes…

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It had been nearly a month since we’d been up to Crystal Mountain with our trips to Whistler and Portland and last weekend’s visitor, so we were itching to get up into the mountains again. For Alex and me, being in the mountains is rejuvenating and almost detoxifying. No matter what the ski conditions are like we thrive so much on the fresh mountain air, the spirit and mood of everyone around us and simply being in nature with no cell service. We are so lucky to live so close to the mountains!

Sarah’s Visit to Seattle

My lovely friend from high school, Sarah, just made her annual pilgrimage to visit us in Seattle. As with most Minnesotans, Sarah needed an escape from the bitter cold and snowy winter. Generally Sarah’s visits consist of clouds, fog and/or torrential downpours, but this time we dodged a bullet and got some sunshine and near 60-degree temperatures topped off with magnificent mountain views.

Sarah arrived on Friday evening and we headed straight to the Bottlehouse, our friendly neighborhood wine bar. We shared a bottle of vino and each got our own dinner. Afterwards, we went back to our house and had more wine, then hit the hay earlyish to get ready for a busy weekend.

Saturday was one of the weekend’s highlights. Sarah and I started the day off by getting pedicures at the wonderful Pro Sports Club. This was quite possibly the best pedicure experience either one of us had ever had. After changing into our robes and slippers, we headed down into the lounge which was fully-stocked with fruity water, tea, coffee, and spa snacks. Once our technicians were ready, they brought us back into our own private room with big leather chairs and whirlpool foot baths. The pedicure itself was relaxing and very luxurious. I would definitely go back when I need some pampering.

After enjoying another cup of tea, Sarah and I continued on our girls’ day and drove out to Woodinville to do some wine tasting. The first winery we stopped into was Patterson Cellars. We really enjoyed their wine! Both of us ended up buying a bottle of Forbidden White and I brought home a bottle of Cab Franc to enjoy with Alex. Then we had lunch at Purple and did another tasting at Sparkman, which we didn’t love, then Alex came to pick us up after taking a 40-mile bike ride in the pouring rain.

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After a quick refresh, Sarah and I walked up to Restaurant Bea for dinner. We finished off our meal with a salted caramel/chocolate ice cream sundae from the famous Molly Moon’s ice cream shop. Alex’s friend Jamie came over to hang out on Saturday evening, so after we got home we all chatted together.

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We knew that Sunday would be more relaxing, so we took it easy on Sunday morning and made a breakfast skillet before heading into Fremont and Ballard to check out what was going on. Unknown to us, Fremont hosts a Sunday Market year-round, so we enjoyed walking through the market and perusing some local craft vendors’ merchandise while sipping on lattes from Fremont Coffee Co. Our visit to Ballard ended up being quite quick – we parked at Golden Gardens and took a quick stroll along the sidewalk at the beach before it started to rain. The rain continued throughout the afternoon, making it a perfect movie day. We watched Silver Linings before making dinner at home for our last evening with Sarah.

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Sarah’s last day in Seattle was spent in downtown Bellevue doing some eating and bridesmaid dress shopping for Sarah’s September wedding. Who goes to Top Pot Doughnuts before trying on dresses?!! We stopped at a bridal shop and Nordstrom and tried on several dresses together. Sarah is going shopping again this weekend with the rest of her bridesmaids, so I’m anxious to see what gets chosen!

Party Weekend in Whistler

Whistler is one of Alex and my favorite places to vacation, so we were more than happy to attend our good friends’ Carrie and Patrick’s combined bachelor/bachelorette party in Whistler this past weekend. Their wedding isn’t until September but they share a love of skiing and actually got engaged just over a year ago at Whistler, so a bachelor/ette party up there was a perfect idea for them. The weekend was mostly spent as one big group of around 25 people, but Saturday night after dinner the girls split off and did their own thing while the guys gave Patrick a bachelor night on the town. Patrick had strict instructions that all of the guys should arrive with a mustache and that the game of gnar would be played on the mountain. We all knew it would be a fun weekend with those prerequisites!

The boys sporting their 'staches
The boys sporting their ‘staches

We made awesome time on our drive up to Whistler (4 hours!!), checked into our hotel and somehow managed to score a free upgrade to a one bedroom suite. Alex credits “the power of the ‘stache” for our win. There were five couples that were able to arrive on Thursday and make it a long weekend, so we met up with the other four couples in Carrie and Patrick’s hotel room for some drinks before going out to Black’s Pub for dinner.

Friday morning we woke up to a beautiful blanket of fresh snow. We knew that the Cascade mountains were expecting a massive snowstorm, but Whistler was only expecting a couple inches. We were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves with around 8 inches of light and fresh powder when we got off the gondola.

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The upper mountain never opened on Friday, due to high winds, so Saturday was epic. Our first run of the day was off of Spanky’s Ladder on Blackcomb Mountain and it was one of the best lines I have ever skied. It was worth the gnarly hike up the ladder to get there! We continued to lap the Glacier Chair all morning before taking the Peak 2 Peak gondola from Blackcomb to Whistler Mountain to join the rest of the group for lunch. After lunch, the fog rolled in and my legs called it quits pretty quickly so Alex and I headed down to our hotel room for a quick dip in the hot tub and a power nap before the bachelor/ette festivities began.

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Saturday was the big party night. We started our evening as a co-ed group at 21 Steps, a restaurant that Alex and I enjoyed with his parents during our Christmas trip to Whistler. I think everyone agreed it was as awesome as we had originally thought. From there, the boys split off and went to smoke some cigars and drink whiskey, or whatever it is boys do at a bachelor party. The girls went back to Carrie’s room and had junk food, Skittles shots and played some girlie bachelorette games together. It wouldn’t have been a bachelorette party without going dancing, though, so we hit up some live music at Dubh Linn Gate before meeting up with the boys around midnight.

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The bachelorette!

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Before heading back to reality, the group got together for one final event on Sunday morning. We met at the Fairmont for their world-class brunch. We were seated in their private dining room and feasted on an incredible assortment of everything you could imagine. The prime rib and Yorkshire pudding were my favorite “lunch” items and surprisingly, the pork sausage was my favorite “breakfast” item, along with roasted tomatoes and sauteed mushrooms. Who knew.

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Alex and I are always sad to leave Whistler. It is truly one of our favorite places we have ever been. It feels like home to us. We hope to someday be able to live somewhere comparable, but for now, Whistler is only a 4-5 hour drive away….

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The Search for Our Next Puppy

Last Monday I opened a letter we received in the mail from the breeder who we got Aspen from, who is also the same breeder that Alex’s parents have used. She informed us that she will not be breeding any Goldens this spring, as originally planned. We are still uncertain of the reason for this change of plans. We were basically stunned at this, since we had been expecting to hear from her any day that her dam was pregnant and that we were going to be puppy parents all over again. Back to the drawing board we went.

I spent the rest of the day on Monday doing extensive research into other breeders in Western Washington and Northwest Oregon and ended up finding a handful of breeders who will be expecting puppies this spring or summer. In an ideal world, we’d prefer to get the puppy in May or June. This would give us ample time during the summer with the new puppy. It’s much easier to have a puppy when the days are longer and it’s not raining every day, not to mention, the pup would be older when ski season starts next fall.

Presently, we are on two waiting lists and may possibly add ourselves to a third just to play it safe and make sure we’ve got a backup plan. The first waiting list we are on is from a breeder in Salem, Oregon, called Shyan Goldens, who will have puppies available mid-May from her dam Macy and sire Kolby. Macy is 22.5″ tall and weighs 65 pounds and is a darker/redish color Golden Retriever. Kolby is the breeder’s Champion dog and is 23″ tall and weighs 70 pounds and is also a darker color Golden Retriever. This litter is our preference and we expect the pups to be born late March. There are pictures of Kolby on the breeder’s website. If you want to see pictures of Macy, I can email some to you.

The other breeders are Abelard Goldens and Klasique Goldens. Abelard’s “Fresh Litter” is our preference, but you have to put a hefty deposit on a pup before they have even started the breeding process and the next available puppies won’t go home until July, which is later than we had hoped. Klasique (see dogs: Doc and Gerry Lee who are the parents) is the same timeline as Shyan, where the pups are expected to be born late March and go home mid-May.

As for names of our pup, we haven’t decided on a girl name just yet. We do have a boy name picked out, which was the same boy name we had in mind with our first dog. Either way, we would like to use the name of our second puppy as a way to remember and honor our sweet Aspen. We’re trying to come up with something that either relates to her personality, her name or something she enjoyed.

Here are some names we have considered – we do have two favorites among the list (no particular order):

  • Snowball
  • Snowflake
  • Snow
  • Powder
  • Winter (Winny)
  • Sunshine (Sunny)
  • Chamonix (Shammy)
  • Alpine

Please feel free to leave a comment with your favorite name or any new suggestions!

Valentine’s Weekend in Portland

Having never spent any time in Portland before, I thought it would be fun to take an impromptu weekend trip to celebrate Valentine’s Day. We had plans to spend Valentine’s Day with six of our friends already and still wanted to have some time to enjoy the holiday together, not to mention Alex had been to Portland before and has long since tried to get me to Seattle’s twin city.

Valentine’s Day was spent at our friends, Mary and Ryan’s, house enjoying a five-course dinner, with Carrie, Patrick, Sara and Carsten also in attendance. I made the first course, which was a carrot ginger soup, Sara made a beet and citrus salad for the second course, then the third course was a special lemon/herb fish, followed by risotto and steak, which were made by Mary and Ryan. Carrie whipped up some flourless chocolate cake and chocolate cherry ice cream, accompanied by an assortment of chocolate covered strawberries. We sipped on a number of delicious wines and had some champagne and enjoyed the always wonderful conversation.

After recovering from our Valentine’s dinner food coma, we headed up to Crystal Mountain with Patrick to bask in the sunshine on Friday, before driving down to Portland on Saturday.

We had a wonderful weekend shopping, eating and enjoying each other’s company. Portland is a great city and has a lot in common with Seattle. Both cities are very small and walkable, though Portland has Seattle beat because it’s flat, both Portland and Seattle are a bit eclectic and overrun with homeless people, but again, Seattle seemed to have Portland beat on the homeless population, and both cities are full of incredible food, specializing in local seafood and organic/local produce.

Here’s where we ate:

*Food Carts – Alex had BBQ, I had the Grilled Cheese Grill. Portland has several “pods” all over the city where food carts set up shop together. There were several pods that took up an entire city block!

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*PF Changs – we dropped in here for a drink and some chicken lettuce wraps. I know it’s a chain, but I do love PF Changs!

*Irving Street Kitchen – dinner here was a highlight. We shared a bottle of Scott Paul Pinot Noir, a local Willamette Valley wine, and had the bibb lettuce wedge to start. For our entrees, Alex had their specialty, fried chicken, and I had truffled stuffed breast of guinea ham. Then for dessert, we had salted caramel butterscotch pudding. It was as divine as it sounds.

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*Voodoo Doughnuts – a “must” if you go to Portland! We waited in line for only 45 minutes (yes, only) to get our pick of doughnuts to sample. Alex got a Capt’n Crunch doughnut, a maple bacon doughnut and a “Voodoo doll” doughnut, while I opted for more traditional vanilla with sprinkles, old fashioned glazed and raspberry filled doughnuts. My favorite was the maple bacon and Alex’s was the chocolate Voodoo doughnut. It was definitely worth the wait just for the experience. And heavens, no, we did not eat all six doughnuts.

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*Mother’s Bistro & Bar – this morning we dined at Mother’s for brunch. It was wonderful! Alex had a scramble and I had a frittata that was bigger than my face. We would absolutely recommend this for brunch, but be prepared to wait for a table.

Aside from eating, we didn’t do much else other than shop. Alex’s wardrobe was screaming for a makeover, so we did what any Washingtonian would do and took advantage of the automatic 10% discount since Oregon doesn’t have sales tax. I’d say that Alex did pretty well with some new tops, jeans, shoes and a nicer coat. I even got a couple things too.

All in all, we had a great time exploring Portlandia and hope to make another trip back soon!

Our Home

Alex and I are still in the process of getting our home into a more “completed” state. Something tells me that may never happen. We have lived in our home now for two and a half years and have done quite a bit to it in that amount of time. It’s been several months since some of our friends and family have come to visit, so I thought I’d share some “before” and “after” pictures so you can see what we’ve been up to!

Living Room “Before”

On moving day... not much going on in this room quite yet!
On moving day… not much going on in this room quite yet!

Living Room “After”

We love our cozy living room!
We love our cozy living room!
One of our favorite parts of the house is the fireplace.
One of our favorite parts of the house is the fireplace.

Media Room “Before”

This was just a hodge podge of random furniture that happened upon this room
This was just a hodge podge of random furniture that happened upon this room

Media Room “After”

This room is the one we put the most time and energy into and are so pleased with how it came together!
This room is the one we put the most time and energy into and are so pleased with how it came together!

Dining Room “Before”

We had no idea what to do in here... this one took quite a while to figure out.
We had no idea what to do in here… this one took quite a while to figure out.

Dining Room “After”

Excuse the hearts... it's Valentine's Day week :)
Excuse the hearts… it’s Valentine’s Day week 🙂

Laundry Room “Before”

displaying our new washer & dryer
displaying our new washer & dryer

Laundry Room “After”

The laundry room is my pride and joy - I did everything myself with minimal help from Alex.
The laundry room is my pride and joy – I did everything myself with minimal help from Alex.

Guest Bedroom “Before”

The guest room is a very long and narrow room that has been hard to complete.
The guest room is a very long and narrow room that has been hard to complete.

Guest Bedroom “After”

We haven't done much in here other than get new bedding, but I think our guests will agree, that is the most important upgrade!
We haven’t done much in here other than get new bedding, but I think our guests will agree, that is the most important upgrade!

Steep and Deep

After much talk about taking some kind of a ski lesson or camp, Alex and I finally took the plunge and signed up for a “Steep and Deep Ski Clinic” at our home resort, Crystal Mountain. We took the clinic last week and came away with some great tips to work on to improve our skiing technique.

Our instructor, Doug, has over 30 years of ski instructing experience under his belt and let me tell you, he is a phenomenal skier. It was so helpful to have someone with that experience be able to critique our style and tell us what we need to work on to accomplish some of the goals we have to take our skiing ability to the next level. Both of us had similar goals going into the clinic; we mainly wanted to be more fluid skiers on steeper terrain.

Doug’s suggestions for us included changing our hand position and pole plants, keeping our body position not so perpendicular to the fall line and to change our stance/weight placement and to do more carving instead of sliding. It’s a lot to work on and a lot of new styles and techniques to put together all at once, so we set out to practice putting the pieces together yesterday. We lapped one of our favorite steepish runs, Bear Pits, several times, and skied the bumpy blue bowl and a few runs in Green Valley to test our skills. We’re both to the point now that we can tell when we are reverting back into our old ways, so I’m hopeful that these new techniques will soon feel more natural.