See you later Chiberia – Call me when temps get above freezing

ski feet

As a lover of all things Chicago, it kills me a little to write this post. I feel that every winter I have to go on the defensive every time I meet someone who doesn’t live here, and usually I don’t mind but this year, I am little more on edge. Conversations usually go like this:

Non Chicagoan: “Oh you’re from Chicago, wow how do you last in the winters? It’s so cold and that wind no thanks, but those three months in the summer sure are awesome.”

Me: “Yeah it’s not that bad, February and March aren’t great but you get use to it.”

However, this year after the seriously insane weather we have been having I have a hard time faking it and pretending that this weather somehow makes us tougher than the rest of you. Now my conversations go like this:

Non Chicagoan: “Wow crazy weather you guys have been having – we had one snow in (insert southern state) and our whole city shut down for a week. I don’t know how you do it year after year.”

Me: “ONE SNOW, ONE SNOW! IF YOU COMPLAIN ONE MORE TIME ABOUT THE INCH OF SNOW THAT SHUT YOU DOWN I SWEAR TO GOD I AM GOING TO LOSE IT. WE HAVE NOT GONE ONE DAY WITHOUT SNOW AND I HAVEN’T SEEN SUNLIGHT AFTER 4PM SINCE NOVEMBER. Also do you have a spare bedroom, perhaps a timeshare I could use?

So yes folks this winter I think I reached my breaking point and that is why the month of March I decided to high tail it out of Chicago for a few weeks.

I have a jam-packed March in hopes that when April rolls around it will consistently be above the -10 temps that we have unfortunately become accustomed to this winter.  My travel schedule looks a little something like this Vegas – Denver – Phoenix – Raleigh and Chili looks like this every time he sees me pull out the old suitcase.

chili

My month of travel started the last week of February when I headed to Las Vegas for a work trip. I was able to tack on my yearly ski trip to Denver to visit my friends Krissy and Anne and this year Chris decided to tag along.

Some may ask, “But Katie you just complained about the snow for the better part of this blog why head to Denver?” Funny thing about Colorado is it’s always sunny, that 300 days of sunshine a year is 100% true, and while it’s snowing in the mountains, it’s 50 in the city. Overall, it is a vast improvement to my current living conditions, just look at some of the hiking pics, beautiful 55 and sunny in Golden, Colorado.

krissy2

For those of you looking to get a last minute ski trip in I highly recommend it, because March is still great skiing weather out in CO. I also have a few tips from my trip to Keystone so if you are thinking about heading to the mountains have a look!

Where to Stay

I think a common misconception about skiing in Colorado is that it’s way too expensive. But here is a trick, it’s all about traveling on the off days. For those of us who aren’t beholden to kid’s spring break schedules, we can really score some deals.  When you schedule a trip lets say Sun. – Wed. you not only avoid the weekend crowds, you can also get a place to stay in Keystone during the week for anywhere from $125 – $175 a night and that could include a kitchen and living room (meaning more people, thus more people to split the room with).

You can also try sites like Air BnB for some cheaper deals, but you won’t get the perks you get when you stay at a resort owned property. For example, free storage for your skis every night (no need to lug them back and forth from the mountain they are waiting for you at the gondola) and you can skip to the front of the ski lift line before 10am on your first run (saving you 30 – 45 minute of waiting in the long line for the first run and of course the benefit of fresh powder). Well worth the few extra bucks.

The staff at Keystone was nice enough to provide us a hotel room at Keystone Lodge and Spa during our two-day stay and complimentary lift tickets. Now if you are in the mood to be pampered you should stay here, they have a spa, fitness classes, indoor/outdoor hot tub, balcony with view of the mountain, pure high-class all the way. It costs around $300 a night, but well worth the extra money if you want to get the full vacation experience.

I mentioned earlier that this was an annual trip, and last year we headed to the mountains as well, but we didn’t stay in such lux conditions. My friend Krissy told me she “knew a guy” who could get us a “sweet deal” on a room “on the mountain” for $50 total a night and it sleeps 3.  This my friends was a lesson in if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.  It’s actually where staff stays on this unnamed mountain and it was basically the equivalent to athlete village in Sochi. Honestly though for $50 a night what did I expect, I blame myself.

I just want to show a quick comparison:

Sochi

Last Year’s Room

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Keystone Spa and Lodge

room

Favorite Run

So this is a hard one because every run was fun and challenging in it’s own way. But if I had to pick it would have to be Spring Dipper. We hit the mountain early on Sunday and because we got a ton of snow that night there was fresh powder everywhere, but the Spring Dipper run in particular was like skiing in a cloud. As someone who is use to the icy hills of the Midwest, I couldn’t get over how amazing it was to literally be the first person skiing through an area of a mountain that day. Also since it’s a blue that turns into a green, most skill levels can handle. 

k c mountain

Favorite Apres Spot

Oh Apres, one of my new favorite words. It literally means “after” in French and is basically a fancy way to say happy hour. Two good spots right off the mountain are Kickapoo and 9280′ Tap House. Apres starts at 3pm and ends at 6pm every day, if you are looking for cheap drinks and want to save some cash on meals don’t miss this daily deal.

Where to Eat

Now if you are looking for a more of a hearty meal after a long day of skiing or just need to take a mid-day break I have two fantastic spots to try out.

Apenglobe Stube: So let me start with they take of your ski boots and give you shearling slippers to wear around the restaurant. I mean you had me at slippers, feed me whatever.

slippers

The best time to try out this place is for a Sunday brunch for $32  dollars you get to try the buffet that has an outstanding seafood selection, great salads and meats/cheese galore. It also comes with a soup du jour and of course big dessert selection. You can also up your game and get a entrée with a mimosa for $49. All of this and an amazing view because it sits on top of the mountain. A few things worth noting, this is not a big place so you must make reservations well in advance and you need to take two gondolas to get there so budget some time for travel.

shrimp

Luigi’s: As you know I love Italian food and can be a harsh critic at times when someone’s sauce comes out of a jar (this recipe literally takes 20 minutes, and tastes way better, please put that Prego jar down and buy some tomatoes), so I am always a little hesitant to eat out for Italian. But I will say Luigi’s did not let us down, I had the chicken Parmesan, so good and everyone else at the table raved about their meals as well. Also pretty reasonably priced, if you missed that Apres deal this won’t break the bank.

Budget Friendly Options

katie krissy anne

While lift tickets can be expensive (at Keystone they were $129 a day) there are season passes that you can get for so cheap.  They have a Keystone and A-Basin pass that you can get early in the season (before Thanksgiving) for $299, that is unlimited skiing all season. That means if you ski for three days you already get your money’s worth. Granted it has a few blackout days (like pres day, holiday breaks, etc), but you aren’t going to be going then anyways because I already told you its way cheaper to do a weekday trip.

Also I forgot to mention the best part, night skiing! Yes it’s one of the few mountains that have lights for you to ski at night, so even if you get in late on a Sunday you can still hit up the mountain till 8 pm.

When Chris and I headed back home, we couldn’t help but imagine what it would be like to live out west. Beautiful weather, great friends, and skiing two hours away, what’s not to like! What it really boils down to is that if we lived out west we would literally have nothing to talk to strangers about, without bad weather to start convos what would we say?  Conversations would go like this:

Non-Coloradan (is that a word??): Wow Denver I love it there, so beautiful and so much to do. Great place to live!

Me: Yeah it’s great…(crickets)

Now onto the next trip – this week I am Phoenix bound to visit some family and to spring break it up with my sister Shannon. Yes I am almost 30 and sure I have to work when I am there, but when you get an invite to relive Spring Break with your 20-year-old sister you don’t say no.

katie chris 2

goundala 2

Shoe clips

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Lately I’ve seen some retailers selling shoe clips– a funky clip that you attach to the top of your shoe for some added pizazz. At first I dismissed the concept as a little ridiculous, but after seeing these clips from J. Crew, I’ve changed my tune a bit. I like the idea of snapping these onto a pair of plain black or nude pumps to completely change the look. It’s almost like having two different pairs of shoes (and some of these cost as much as a pair, unfortunately). But, for the right price, I think these would be fun to add to an otherwise basic outfit or dressy ensemble– and no one would be the wiser that it’s not part of your shoe. What do you think?

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Aztec Shift Dress

Aztec dress

For what seems like a year, I’d had my eye out for a cute shift dress. You’d think that would be easy to come by, but finding one that didn’t make me look like a potato sack was almost impossible. In my opinion, the key to making a loose shift dress work is the length– too long, and the look will be dowdy since the dress doesn’t have a shape. I came across this aztec-inspired dress at Forever21, and was really surprised with the quality feel of the fabric- it looks and feels a lot nicer than a cheap find. It was way too long on me, but I loved it so bought it anyway, thinking I’d shorten it. I convinced my mom (hi, Mom!) to hem it for me while home over the holidays, which was just what the dress needed.

photo 1Aztec dressAztec dress

Shift dress: Forever21; tights: Hue; booties: Old Navy (old, these are similar)

Hoosier Housing at the Red Rabbit Inn

red rabbit inn1

As some of you may know both Ashley and I are Indiana University Alumnae, so Bloomington Indiana holds a very special place in our hearts. I met my husband there, some of my best friends and of course learned a lot too. So it’s no surprise that I love heading back to IU any chance I can get, and now that my brother is a freshman there we have even more reason to visit.

Shortly after I graduated the RedEye published an article about a B&B in Bloomington called the Red Rabbit Inn, so when Chris and I made our way back to campus I booked a room there. And since that trip we have yet to stay anywhere else when we visit. The owners Mike and Joyce are wonderful and as a former sorority girl I always appreciate a well done theme, so the fact that everything in the B&B is red and includes rabbits, I was in cuteness overload.

red rabbit details

The inn is nestled back in the country roads of Unionville, Indiana just 15 minute from campus. The two cabins each sleep 4 people with a lofted bedroom and a pull out couch.

living room

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kitchen

The back of the cabins face a wooded area and pond, and also includes a hot tub and fire pit for late night adventures.

porch

outside

And did I mention the food! Joyce make excellent breakfast, provides supplies for s’mores, everything you could possibly need for grilling and you are always welcome with a sweet treat like these Indiana cookies.

The price is also very reasonable at $139-$179 per night (pending dates, how many people and time of year). If you end up staying there on your next visit let Joyce and Mike know I sent you and say hello.

indiana cookie

Homemade Pasta Noodles

final pasta

Last weekend my family headed to my grandmother’s house and made homemade pasta noodles. My grandmother hadn’t made noodles by hand in years, so it was a learning process for all of us. The one key thing we figured out is that the noodles taste much better if you use half of the semolina flour and half unbleached white flour. The texture is much richer and less grainy than the batch we made with all semolina flour. Also shocked my grandma still had the original box the pasta maker came in, the box may look rough but the machine still worked great!

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Now onto the recipe!

Ingredients

Recipe

  • Combine both flours and salt

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  • Mix the eggs, water and olive oil and combine with dry mixture
  • Knead or use a fancy KitchenAid mixer for 10 minutes

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  • Wrap dough in paper towel and place in plastic bag, let sit for 20 minutes
  • After 20 minutes roll out until it’s 1/2 inch or thinner if you prefer. It really just needs to be thin enough to go through the noodle machine (a very technical term)

rolling

  • Once we rolled out we placed through the portion of the pasta maker that flattened it more, my cousin Gabrielle did that around three times

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noodle maker

 

  • Then run through the preferred noodle size, we liked the fettuccine noodles best. We then set them out until we were ready to cook and added them to a delicious pasta sauce.  We repeated this recipe around 4 times and had plenty of noodles to feed 7 people.

making noodles

noodles

 

 

 

 

 

The Bachelor Workout

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Source: ABC.go.com

While I’ll totally admit – I am a lover of bad reality TV (my guiltiest pleasure: Dance Moms); The Bachelor is something I was never interested in.  It’s a big commitment (2 hours every week) and the general proposition of the show is so cheesy and desperate.  But this year, after seasons of missing out on the water cooler talk at my office, I decided to join the gang and try it out.  I must say – while it is just as cheesy as I thought it would be, I am also totally reeled in.  The Bachelor has officially been added to my DVR rotation.

While watching the Super Bowl yesterday I saw a fun workout posted by FitBit – a workout to be done during the game (think – every time a team scores: 10 pushups, etc).  While that idea was brilliant, now that the game is over I’m left without an opportunity to try it out. So I realized, The Bachelor is the perfect opportunity to make my own TV-centric workout!

The instructions are pretty straight forward, and what’s great is you can modify this as you’d like – the possibilities are endless.  Now – we don’t have to feel so guilty for parking in front of the TV for 2 hours every Monday night.  Anyone else willing to join me for A Bachelor Challenge?

The Bachelor Workout

Recipe Illustrations

GazpachoWhile in a Pinning trance last weekend, I stumbled across Felicita Sala’s adorable recipe illustrations. They immediately caught my eye so I clicked through to find out more, and saw that prints of Felicita’s recipe illustrations are available on Society 6. The illustrations are so colorful and whimsical; how perfect would they be framed in your kitchen or dining room? They’d make great gifts, too! I just love these.

caciopepebananabreadtzatziki{All images courtesy Felicita Sala}

Chocolate Chip Cookies

cookies

Everyone has their favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, perhaps it’s their family recipe that has been passed down or something they just whipped up themselves. Mine is a bit less cool.

My go to recipe use to be the Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate chip cookie recipe you find on the back of the bag. It worked, it tasted great and I saw no reason to change it up. Until I accidentally grabbed Ghirardelli’s chocolate chips last time I was at the grocery store. Boy am I glad I did, these chocolate chips were amazing, the cookies turned out softer and the chocolate was so much richer. The only major difference in the recipes was one more teaspoon of vanilla and of course the different brand of chocolate chips.  Check out the recipe below:

Ingredients

  • 11 1/2 ounces Ghirardelli’s Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups unsifted flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Recipe

  • Heat oven to 375ºF and combine flour with baking soda and salt
  • In mixer beat butter with sugar and brown sugar at medium speed until creamy
  • Add eggs and vanilla and mix on low speed

vanilla

  • Blend dry mixture into mixer and store in chocolate chips
  • Use ice cream scoop to drop cookies onto cookie sheet and back for 9 – 11 minutes

scoop cookie

Patterned Pants

patterned pants

I love browsing Anthropologie’s sale section, but rarely find anything that is worth buying. These pants are the exception. I got them at an awesome price and was totally shocked when they fit perfectly. The pattern is so unique; since the pants are busy I typically wear them only with a fitted black shirt. But I really liked the way a navy boyfriend sweater changed up the look a bit! Plus, it’s freezing so the extra bulk of the sweater is definitely needed

patterned pantspatterned pantspatterned pantspatterned pantspatterned pantsSweater: Gap (sold out); Pants: Anthropologie (sold out in this pattern, other styles); Heels: J. Crew Factory (patent leather version); Bag: Rebecca Minkoff via Nordstrom Rack (very similar)

Apple Turnovers

apple cIf you remember correctly I was an utter failure at baking an apple pie, and since Chris is allergic to unbaked apples (was news to me until I took him to an apple orchard, also still not convinced that is a real allergy) I was on the hunt for an easier apple pie like recipe.

Chris’ cousin made a version of these apple turnovers for Thanksgiving, and like all recipes these days she found it on Pinterest. I combined a few different recipes I found and came up with this delicious apple treat.

Ingredients

  • 1 apple
  • 1 package of Pillsbury frozen crescent roll
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup of powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup of water

Recipe

  • Heat oven to 375
  • Chop apple into 1 inch pieces (or you can do slices if you prefer bigger apple pieces)
  • Mix brown sugar,cinnamon, nutmeg and apples in bowl till coated
  • Unroll crescent rolls and place apple mixture inside, fold back up

apple croisant

  • Place in oven and bake 9 – 12 minutes, take out and let cool
  • Mix powdered sugar and water in bowl, dip apple turnover into bowl for a light frosting

dipping