Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Family Ski Trip {Breckenridge - Part 3}

If you missed part one and two of our ski trip recap you can find them here and here. 

By day three of skiing my kids were getting braver and braver.  Trying little jumps, going in and out of the trees, and following in their adventurous father's footsteps.  That also led to a few "epic" wipe outs and Boo-Boo likes to call them.



We spent most of the day near Peak 9, which is mine and the kids' favorite at Breckenridge. 


Each day we would have lunch on the mountain or just at the base of the mountain.  Some people with ski in/ski out condos choose to go back to their place for lunch, but since we were staying in a hotel we ate right on the mountain. 

I know for one if we had gone back it would have gotten hard to get motivated to go back out to ski more.  The food on the mountain is expensive, but it helps you to get back to skiing as quickly as possible and also sort of adds to the fun experience of being on the mountain. 


The morning was clear, but around lunchtime it started snowing again. 


We were determined to make the most of our last day though! 


The kids continued to amaze me with their skill and proved to us just how much they love skiing and how happy we are that we taught them at an early age. 

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This little guy was always the first down the mountain and he whispered his secrets to me.  "Mommy, you just have to not do big turns and go straight down instead.  Also, bend down low like this and  then you'll be the winner."  :-)


The kids each got trail maps that they had fun marking off during the week.  They highlighted the runs we had completed and it was fun to see just how much of the resort we covered in three short days!  


I think 3 days was the perfect amount of time to ski with the kids. I wished we had stayed an extra day or two to do some of the other things Breckenridge has to offer though.  They have an amazing Recreation Center complete with pool, water slides, rock climbing, basketball courts and more.  If we had been around an extra day we would have had time to visit there! 


Also they have a ton of art classes and activities for kids that we just couldn't squeeze in this trip, but hope to in the future! 

For dinner that night the kids had been begging to go to Downstairs at Eric's which is basically a pizza place with a ton of arcade games to play while you wait. The only problem is there is always a super long wait.  Like 2-3 hours sometimes.  We promised them we would stop in and see, but the wait was 1.5 hours and we were hungry!  So, we let them each play a quick video game and then we grabbed a bite somewhere faster. 



We got up early the next morning to head to the airport and come home. It was really such a great trip and honestly gets easier every year. There is a lot involved with a ski trip. A lot of clothing required, a lot of gear, and a lot of work, but it is so worth it to us and as at the kids get a little older it is becoming easier and easier.  It is also usually the one trip we take that is just the 5 of us, so that has been a fun tradition also! Now that we got that in, we're ready for spring and warm weather! 


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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Family Ski Trip {Breckenridge - Part 2}

If you missed part one of my ski trip recap, you can find it here.

We woke up for our second day of skiing to beautiful, clear and blue skies.  It was still cold (because, hello it is Colorado in the winter), but it was the kind of cold you expect and can deal with . And there is nothing better than feeling the sunshine, because it really felt SO much warmer than it was.


So the other big news for day 2 of skiing was that the girls got to use poles for the first time!  For those of you non-skiers, typically kids are taught to ski without using poles.  It is just one less thing for them to keep up with and have to worry about, so up until this point they had never used poles.  They wanted them last year because 1) They think they look fun and 2) when we get to a flat area near the bottom of the mountain it is much harder to move along without poles to push you along. We had promised them last year they could get poles this year if they could prove to us they had everything under control and could start to work on their parallel turns.



They both did fantastic on day 1 of skiing, so we thought they were ready for the poles.  I was thinking it might throw them a bit or we might end up with lost equipment by the end of the day, but they did great!  We only had one mishap when getting on the lift with a dropped pole just as we were sitting down, but they lift attendants handed the pole to the chair behind us and they brought it up to the top for us so it all worked out.


It turned out that the poles also provided a lot of entertainment as they were waiting for us to get down the hill to them or when we were deciding which direction to go.  From sword fighting to writing their names in the snow, it kept them happy!


 We told our little Buddy that he could have poles next year, but he made us pinky promise that he could snowboard next year, so he won't be needing them anyway.  


Since this was such a gorgeous day we made our way all over the mountain. There are multiple "peaks" at Breckenridge and we went several peaks over by taking different runs and different chairlifts.  I remember doing it last year and the kids were a little more intimidated by the steeper and more difficult runs, but this year it was a total breeze for them!


We were both so happy and impressed with how well our kids were skiing and how much fun everyone was having.  I've said it before, but I feel like this might be our best family vacation we take each year.  It's really the only thing we do that everyone is doing the same thing, together all day long, and enjoying being outside, being active, and having fun! 


After skiing as long as we possible could we did a quick trip to the hot tub and then got ready for dinner.  We ate at Blue Stag Saloon and it was our favorite spot of the week!  


It was a quaint little place with lots of character, tons of yummy food options and great service! 



Be sure to check back for our third and final day tomorrow! 


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Monday, February 26, 2018

Family Ski Trip {Breckenridge - Part 1}

Last week our kids were on winter break and we decided to continue our annual tradition of taking a family ski trip.  We almost didn't do this trip this year because we felt like we'd just taken a big trip over Thanksgiving, but we've invested in ski lessons for the kids each year and it is really important to us that they learn how to ski so we didn't want to skip a year.  We decided to head back to Breckenridge for our third year in a row! We loaded up and took off on Monday! 


Our flight was pretty uneventful and I got to read an awesome book (that I'll sure later this week during our Book Club post). 


We arrived in Denver to frigid temperatures and lots of snow!  We got our rental car and as we were loading up we saw two guys in a Mustang convertible (with the top down!!!) pulling out of the rental car place. I told them it was an interesting vehicle choice, but I'm sure they got a great deal on it! 


That night we drove to the mountains, stopped for a quick bite of dinner and then called it night because we knew we'd be up early to ski the next morning.  

We woke up to super cold temperatures and it made me wonder if we would even get to get any skiing in that day.  It felt like below zero all day and after our first run we had to go in and warm up with hot chocolate. It's hard to have fun when you can't feel your fingers.  


We had to just take it easy that day and take a lot of breaks to keep warming up, but the kids were troopers!  This was the first year we didn't put them in ski lessons and I was a little nervous how that would go, but they picked it back up, just like riding a bike, and did awesome! 


My kids are quite the adventurers and love to try to keep up with the Mr.  At one point they were going through the trees (off the beaten path) and Boo-Boo got stuck in waist deep powder. I had to go rescue him, but as I was doing that I got stuck.  We laughed and laughed because the Mr. came to rescue me and he got stuck and I had to pull him out with a ski pole.  

Lesson learned, don't go through the trees!


We had such a fun first day skiing together as a family!


When we got back to the hotel we dropped our skis at the ski valet and made our way inside to warm up! 


Day one was a success!


We all grabbed warm cookies (the best part about staying at The DoubleTree) and made our way to the hot tub and heated pool. 


We had dinner that night at Empire Burger and then walked around downtown to do a little souvenir shopping. 



One thing I love about Breckenridge is the town. You can walk or take the shuttle around town and there are so many fun restaurants, shops and lights everywhere! 




After taking all we could take of the cold and walking around we headed back to the hotel. We let the kids play a quick game of checkers by the giant fireplace back at the hotel and then called it night so we'd be well rested for day 2! 



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Thursday, February 22, 2018

How to Make an Easy & Delicious Twelve Layer Cake

Hey y'all! I'm so excited to be guest posting here today with the Magnolia Mamas. My name is Jena and I blog over at Our Southern Roots Blog.


I live in Kentucky with my husband Juston, daughter Caroline, son Carter and our dog and cat, Dixie and Lou.  Today, I wanted to share one of my all time favorite cake recipes to make, my Twelve Layer Cake, or as some call it, Stack Cake, so let's get to it. 

Okay, I admit it...the recipe name is a bit of a lie in my case. I was only able to get eleven layers in the cake that I'm about to share with you, but the original version of this cake is 12 layers, I just always come up a liiiitle bit short when I make mine.  I'll explain why in a bit. 

Every year for my husband's birthday, I love to make him this cake. I started making him this particular cake maybe four or five years ago for his birthday. We were first introduced to it when we were staying with some great friends (who are more like family) in Alabama, Mimi and PauPau as we call them, and Mimi had a friend of hers make the twelve layer cake. Did y'all follow that? A friend of a friend we think of as family made the cake haha It was life changing, I'm telling you! 

After Mimi sharing that cake with us, I took to the internet to try and find a recipe similar to it so that I could replicate and I was successful! Unfortunately, I can't find the original source for this recipe. I found it via Google years ago and wrote it down, but I never wrote down where I found it. If I come across it I will be sure and credit the original source. 


While the cake may look or sound intimidating, it really is a breeze, just a little bit time consuming on the front end, but not too much more than any other layer cake. The first thing I did before even starting on the cake batter was to roll out some parchment paper, then lay my cake pans on top and trace twelve separate circles, then cut all of those out. I also happened to have the cutest assistant in the kitchen working with me :)

HOW TO MAKE A DELICIOUS TWELVE LAYER CAKE

*Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees*

Ingredients:
  • 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 sticks softened unsalted butter 
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 cups milk (I used skim but any kind will work)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions

1: In either a stand mixer's bowl, or just any large bowl, cream the butter and granulated sugar together. Add the eggs in one at a time, mixing completely after each egg. Be sure and scrape down the sides of the bowl in between adding each egg as well.  

2: In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking soda and salt together. 


3: Starting and ending with the flour mixture, alternate adding in the flour mixture and the milk to the sugar mixture, combining completely after each addition. Once that's all incorporated, add in the vanilla and your batter is complete, so now it's time to bake the layers. 


Before adding the parchment paper to my round cake pans (I think they're 8" round pans), I greased them up generously with butter. Trust me, the last thing you want is your cake layer getting stuck in the pan. The layers are so thin that getting them un-stuck would be nearly impossible while still keeping them usable, so don't be stingy with the butter. After greasing the pan, lay the parchment paper on the bottom of each pan. For each layer, you'll use approximately 1 cup of batter. This is where I messed up; I always pour in the right amount to start with and get to looking and think I should add more, then before you know it, I have an eleven layer cake instead of a twelve layer cake. Oh well. I only have three cake pans so I just cooked three layers at a time. You'll bake each set of layers for twelve minutes, maybe a little less or a little more depending on your oven. Let the layers cool in the pan once you remove them from the oven, then remove from the pan and place on a cooling rack until it's time to frost them.

Frosting ingredients:
  • 1 softened package cream cheese
  • 2 sticks softened  unsalted butter
  • 1 one pound box confectioner's sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
1: Start by mixing the cream cheese and butter for a few minute until completely combined. Next, add in the cocoa powder and mix completely. Add in the confectioner's sugar in small batches mixing completely before adding more. Finally stir in the vanilla. If your batter is too thick, you can thin it out with milk, but I didn't need to use any. 

2: Next, it's time to start stacking and frosting.


3: At this point, before frosting the sides, it always reminds me of crepes or pancakes with chocolate icing. 

Now for the finished product...


You could add some sprinkles on top, or some pecans or walnuts...I wouldn't, but you can, haha. My husband doesn't like sprinkles and the kids don't like nuts in sweets, so I just kept it simple with no garnishes, but there you have it! 

Thanks so much to the sweet Magnolia Mamas, Carrie Beth and Jen for inviting me to share with y'all today, I hope if you have a special celebration coming up, you'll give this delicious cake a try! 


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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

How and Why You Should be Getting in the Frame

Have you noticed that as mamas, we’re often too busy being behind the camera to ever make it into photos with our kids?
It is so important for us to get in pictures with our kids. I don’t know about you, but I love looking at old pictures of my parents. It’s important that our kids have pictures of us to look back on. It’s also important for us to have pictures of ourselves with our kids. There is nothing more precious than time spent with my son. Pictures documenting those moments are priceless to me.

Overcoming Insecurities

Motherhood is not always super glamorous.
I know that.
You know that.

Don’t let the insecurities get in the way of taking pictures with your kids. If like me, you struggle with feeling self-conscious in photos, you might find THIS helpful. It’s a list of my favorite tips to taking a more flattering photo.

The more confident you feel, the more likely you’ll be willing to jump in front of the camera instead of hide behind it.
It may surprise you that the more often you get in pictures, the more confident you’ll become. You’ll start to see yourself differently – and you should. Mama, you are so beautiful. You are strong and you are loved. Your kids adore you. You deserve to have pictures that capture that. Don’t hide behind the camera. Get in there!



Don’t take the easy way out

The easiest way to get in pictures with your kids is to hand off the camera to someone else. My husband doesn’t necessarily love photography the way I do, but he is always willing to take the camera and snap pictures of my son and I. Don’t be afraid to ask someone else to take the camera for a few minutes. It may feel as if you are being an inconvenience, but I think most people enjoy getting a turn to take pictures.
Don’t just rely on someone else though. Be intentional and learn how to take self-portraits with your kids – and I don’t just mean selfies! It doesn’t matter if you have a big fancy camera or a smart-phone – you have the ability to take beautiful self-portraits with your kids.




How to set up for a self-portrait

Ok. Stick with me. I know this is the most intimidating part, but I promise it’s not as bad as it seems. It takes a little bit of practice to perfect, but once you get the hang of it, it will become second nature.
If you’re using your smartphone there are a few ways to set up for a self-portrait.
  1. Set the self-timer and prop your phone up
  2. Use a remote
There are super affordable (I’m talking $8.00) shutter remotes made for smartphones that make getting in the picture really easy! This is what I use.

Tip: Even if you are using a remote, you should still set the self-timer. This gives you a few seconds between when the button is clicked and when the camera takes the picture. This allows you to hide the remote out of sight. If you don’t get the remote hidden in time, don’t sweat it. Some of my favorite pictures have the remote in view. Moments ALWAYS win.  


Next, pick a location, set up your phone, and take a few practice shots to make sure everything is working and in the right place. Then, and only then, grab your kiddo ;)
Use a remote or the self-timer and snap away.
Don’t worry about fancy poses or getting your kid to do something specific. Just interact with them normally! The last thing you want to do is make picture taking a frustrating experience for them – just keep it simple.


10 Ideas for Self-portraits with your kids

1. Read a book together
2. Play with a favorite toy on their bedroom floor.
3. Look out a window and play “I Spy.”
4. Cuddle in your favorite chair.
5. Ask your kiddo to touch foreheads with you or give kisses!
6. Turn on music and dance in your kitchen together.
7. Jump on the bed together.
8. Think of special things you do together every day – an example of this might be helping them brush their teeth or get their shoes on. Documenting the mundane is my favorite.
9. Blow Bubbles!
10. Plain ol’ smile at the camera.

If you use your smartphone to take your pictures, I’ve made a PDF download for you of 12 tips for taking better phone photos! You can download it HERE.

If you ever get stuck editing your photos, come say hi over on Instagram! I have a few phone editing tutorials saved in my story highlights and I add to them often.



A Note on Using DSLR Cameras

If you’re using a DSLR camera, the same techniques apply. A tripod is helpful but not necessary. Same with a shutter remote (I use this tripod and this shutter remote). If you don’t have either, just use the self-timer).


The most challenging aspect of using a DSLR is nailing focus – it just takes practice. With a shutter remote you can click the button and wait for the camera to autofocus. You can also manually set your focus by placing an object in the frame in lieu of yourself, focus on the object, and then remove the object when you get back in the picture.  

Don’t let the technical aspect get in the way!


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