Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tazer's 13th Birthday

On Tazer's 13th birthday we went to see the 109th Annual Norge Winter Ski Jumping Tournament.  Having only seen the sport on television, it was cool to see it in person.  An extra little surprise - Tazer, Gaigai and Munchkin along with a handful of other children were asked to carry in the flags for the opening ceremony.  The team jumps year round, so Tazer, Munchkin, Kovas and possibly Gaigai will try it this summer - super adventurous, but a little scary for me. :)

109 Annual Ski Jumping Tournament
Norge Winter Ski Jumping Tournament

After ski jumping we baked and cooked a birthday feast.  Tazer's order - savory pizza with potatoes and chicken and kale mango salad.  It used to be a tradition to come up with a crazy dessert for birthday dinners, but this time Tazer chose straight up lemon meringue - which, luckily was easier to make than I thought it would be. :)  Love you to the moon and back - happy 13!!

Tazer's 13th bday
Tazer's bday dinner
What's your ultimate birthday feast?

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

DIY Thursday - Washing Wool Garments

'Tis the season for wool.  During the winter I wear a lot of wool and used to bring them all to the dry cleaners, but that was expensive and not healthy due to all the chemical.  Awhile back I started washing my wool sweaters by hand at home (I still dry clean other items especially pants).  It's a great way to save money and yourself and family from exposure to the harmful chemicals.  The extra "spinning" helps cut drying time - and is fun for little helpers.  Here's an easy step by step guide to washing wool sweaters by hand.

Warning:  Double check care instruction before hand washing wool garments.

1.  Fill a bucket or sink with tepid water and a few drops of mild detergent, such as dishwashing liquid or conditioner free shampoo. You can also add 3/4 cup of white vinegar to remove odors. Immerse sweater, and swish gently, be careful not to stretch it.  Let soak 5-10 minutes.

2.  Rinse by gently balling up the sweater and squeeze out the water.  Avoid wringing or stretching.  Repeat with fresh water until water runs clear.

3.  Next place sweater in salad spinner and spin to remove excess water.  This cuts drying time considerably.

4.  After spinning, roll sweater in a towel to remove excess moisture.

5.  On flat surface, preferably mesh, reshape sweater and allow to air dry.

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sun Cups - Nut Free, Gluten Free, Non-GMO

Sun Cups bite
Nut free, gluten free, Non-GMO Sun Cups
Even though we have no peanut allergies in our family, we rarely eat or have peanuts in our house.  With so many peanut allergies at school and amongst friends, we switched to sunflower butter in lieu of peanut butter for PB&J and other favorite recipes many years ago.   As a child, however,  I loved chocolate peanut butter cups, so I was excited to try Sun Cups -- and so were the kids!

What did we think?

Sun Cups
Ooey Gooey Goodness Caramel, Terrifically Tingly Mint, Yummy in the Tummy Milk Chocolate, and Delightfully Delicious Dark Chocolate Sunflower Butter Cups

Delicious!  We tried all 4 flavors - Yummy in the Tummy Milk Chocolate, Delightfully Delicious Dark Chocolate, Ooey Gooey Goodness Caramel and Terrifically Tingly Mint.  Not a crumb was left.  Our favorites were caramel and the milk chocolate (most reminiscent of the cups we had as kids).

Not only did we love the taste, I love that they are nut free, gluten free, Non-GMO, and that they get cacao from Rainforest Alliance Certified growers.

Sun Cups

Disclaimer:  I was sent a sample pack for review purposes.   

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tuesday Training - Hitting the Slopes

winter running essentials
Winter running essentials

I've only run a handful of times since the new year, but with my work schedule easing up, hopefully I can become more consistent.  I'm also planning to add some core and other strength training to help my running and to get in better shape for skiing.  This past weekend the kiddos and I skied for a couple hours at our local hill and even after so little time, I know I need to get stronger before heading out west for spring break.  So in addition to plank, here are a couple more exercises I will incorporate into my routine…no gym or skis required, just a ball and chair.
  • Ski Lunge: "Stand on one leg in a ski-boot stance (leaning forward slightly), and place the opposite foot onto a chair or bench behind you. Squat down to 90 degrees without letting the standing knee sway. Do three sets of 12 reps on each side. To increase difficulty, hold a dumbbell or free-weight plate."
  • Downhill Lunge: "In a ski or board stance, step laterally while bending the lead knee to 90 degrees. Immediately push back to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side, staying low as if you were skiing. Do three sets of six reps on each side."
  • Hamstring Curl: "Lie on your back and place both heels on top of a physio ball, keeping your arms at your sides for balance. Lift your hips off the ground and roll the ball toward you until the bottoms of your feet are flat on the ball's surface. Roll back to the starting position. Do three sets of 15 to 25 reps."
  • Leg Recovery: "Get into a ski or board stance, hands on hips. Lift your right foot off the ground, straightening your leg to the side. Lower your leg, bring your foot back to the raised position, and repeat. Do three sets of 10 to 25 reps on each side."
Check out the moves at National Geographic Adventure.

What are your favorite exercises to prep for the slopes?

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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Mt. Brighton - Where Epic Begins

Mt. Brighton
Mt. Brighton - Brighton, MI

Last weekend we packed up and headed to Detroit to visit my brother and to ski Mt. Brighton.  Less than an hour from Detroit, Mt. Brighton offers 26 trails and 5 lifts covering 130 acres.  Since 1960, Mt. Brighton Ski Area has been one of the legendary family winter destinations on the Midwest snowsports scene.  New owner Vail Resorts recently pumped in $10 million worth of improvements including new chairlifts, enhanced learning terrain, new base area facilities and children’s ski and ride school center, Michigan’s most innovative terrain parks, and a new powerful state-of-the-art snowmaking system.  These upgrades help give Mt. Brighton the look and feel of a western ski resort.

mt brighton ticket windows
Mt. Brighton ticket windows

Offering trails for all levels, from beginner to expert this a place the whole family can enjoy.  For beginners, the "magic carpet" (similar to people movers at the airport) makes getting up the newly re-graded beginners slope easier and improves the learning experience.  This would have been ideal for our 3 year old, but unfortunately he decided he was not going to ski. :(  The rest of the family enjoyed the trails and Tazer (12) also spent time in the newly completed terrain parks (5 parks geared for every age and skill level) which are the most innovative in Michigan.  No racing for us this time, but if you're local and like racing, Mt. Brighton has race teams for all ages, plus Nastar and improved race terrain and state of the art racing equipment.  From beginner to advanced - Mt. Brighton has terrain for everyone.

mt brighton food options
Mt. Brighton food options

For meals, skiers have 3 options at Mt. Brighton - pack a lunch, get grill food at Ski Hill Grill or full service at Ore Creek Mountain restaurant.  If you  choose to brown bag it, there is a separate cafeteria with picnic tables and ample room.  The Ski Hill Grill offers a choice of pizza, burgers, fries and the like.  There is also the new Bruhn Bar where you can grab a drink and watch some TV.  For a sit down restaurant experience, head down the hall to Ore Creek Mountain restaurant.  During our visit we decided to try out the grill.  Our two older kids wanted pizza which was already prepared, but the rest of us wanted burgers and grilled cheese.  Unfortunately we had to wait a long time in line for the grilled food. The burgers and grilled cheese were good - hopefully they can speed up the service.

mt brighton - where epic begins
Mt. Brighton - where epic begins

Mt. Brighton is easily accessible to skiers and riders from Detroit, Ann Arbor, Lansing, Northwest Ohio - and even Chicago (just over 4 hours, in good weather and no traffic).  Another nice perk - if you buy an Epic Local Pass which allows you to ski Mt. Brighton for the season (and avoid the ticket lines), you also have the opportunity to use the pass at Vail Resorts’ western mountains which include Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, A Basin, Canyons, Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood.

YouTube video courtesy of Kovas - Midwest Multisport Life

Mt. Brighton - where Epic begins.

Disclaimer:  We received media lift passes as part of our visit.

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014


What a way to end the holiday break -- another 2 days off from school.  Usually this would mean a fun day in the snow, but not this time!  We were couped up inside due to -30 wind chill (polar vortex anyone?).  After many hours of legos, chess, building forts and running wild, what else can 4 kids (and their parents) come up with?

Other fun ideas - leaving a raw egg, shell intact outside to freeze and blowing bubbles...

What's your favorite thing to do on a super chilly day?

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