January 31, 2013

2013 Treasure Hunt - A Loser's Recap

The hunt is officially over.  I'm sad to say that I am not the winner of $10,000.  It was a good run, but again - I end up a loser.  The winners are a married couple that have been on this hunt for years.  They are going to use the winnings to purchase a bed for their son, pay for medicine that their insurance doesn't cover and pick up some records they've been looking at for a while.  If I won, I would've had an even more awesome trip to Disneyworld, paid off a credit card and bought my dogs some new toys (it always sounds better when you get something for your children.)

The last night out there was long and exhausting.  Don't worry, we found a few seconds for photo opps.  Headlamps are awesome.



Here is the link for the video to show where they hid the medallion (aka treasure.)  Video

It usually takes me about 24 hours to get over it and decide that next year is my year.  This time was a little different.  I needed to physically recover this year on top of the emotional recoup time.  My wrists are extremely sore from chopping ice.  My nose was running non stop and I was sneezing every five minutes - probably because I was outdoors in the winter for 7 hours with no warm up time.  My head was aching from smashing my head into a tree numerous times while crawling on the ground in the woods.

All that said, I am feeling much better today and I'm extremely happy for the lucky winners.  Plus, I really feel that 2014 is my year.

Photo Credit

Here is this year's recap:
11 clues in 11 days
4 parks (2 were brand new)
Approximately 10 hours of noodling and researching
18 hours of actual physical digging and searching over 7 days
1 new friend - Tom with the GPS that convinced me to walk 441 steps from everything we saw...
$0.00 richer

Source
LAST MINUTE ADDITION:

My sister in law sent me an email after I posted this with this video... man, did I need this.  Thanks Holly!


January 30, 2013

Insta-Gratitude Week 5

Day 29:  A night watching TV in bed with the dogs, my husband and the fire. I should probably tell you that we rarely use the fireplace upstairs, so this was a pretty awesome night.
Day 30:  Exploring St. Paul in the cold - just searching for some treasure. 
Day 31:  The Winter Carnival Buttons - they are so awesome.  Plus, the winter carnival in general.  
Day 32:  Finishing my first 5k of the year and celebrating with outdoor MN activites including the Summit Beer ice bar and Red Bull Crashed Ice.
Day 33:  Big, fat snowflakes with 30 degree weather.
Day 34:  Ridiculous text messages all day long about this Friday's ladies night. So excited!  
Day 35:  Night time treasure hunting with a great view.

January 28, 2013

Currently...

Reading:  Steve Jobs biography is my next book up.  I haven't started it yet, but I've been looking at it on my Kindle for a while.  Also, I want to get the book read before I hear too much more about the movie they are making with Ashton Kutcher.  I'm also reading The Fault in Our Stars by John Green with a Goodreads book club and I'm only about 10% in, but I feel like it's going to be sad...

photo credit
Eating: Lots of soup.  Winter = soup.  I also received a Vegetarian Slow Cooker recipe book for Christmas and I've been trying to find one thing each week that we could try.  In the sugar department, I have rediscovered Caramellos.  If you missed my rant on that last year, there was a point in time that I couldn't find my favorite caramel filled candy bar anywhere in the Twin Cities.  I no longer have that problem.  I have also fallen prisoner to dark chocolate covered sea salt caramels... holy crap they are good.  My house will forever have a container with those in it... seriously - FOREVER.

Listening to:  Again, here is my random ipod playlist currently.  Elias played for a full 6 minutes during my 5k this weekend and anything with that kind of drum beat is a blast to run to... although I probably look like a mad person that is half dancing, half playing the air drums - all while running in a group of at least 100 people.


This song has been in my head all weekend... and I'm OK with that.


This is the local band that we saw last week and I thought they were a blast.


Last, but not least - I have to throw in a guilty pleasure of mine... yes you are Britney, Bitch.


Watching:  Real Housewives of Beverly Hills - so much mystery right now, which keeps me intrigued, but I also find it annoying that they keep talking about this "secret" that we aren't allowed to know about.  Dumb.  How I Met Your Mother is awesome - but I'm starting to feel really bad for Ted.  I would like to just meet the mother and then let them have a long courtship so the show can go on.  Thanks to Netflix, I also watched the entire Mighty Ducks trilogy recently.  It's still amazing.

Missing:  My favorite red head and her children.  It's been a while since I've seen them and I can't wait to plan a trip to Wisconsin to see them all.  I also miss having a daily desk calendar - random, I know, but having to wait a whole month before I can turn the page on my calendar.

Anticipating:  DISNEYWORLD and pretending I am 4 years old and just letting myself totally geek out.  Can't wait to knock two more things off my 30 before 30 list as well.

photo credit
photo credit
Wishing for:  The Medallion.  I just want to find the Winter Carnival medallion and ride in the float and get my picture in the paper.  It's the same thing I've wanted for 20 years... I just hope someday it comes true.  Justin & I are heading out again this afternoon to dig like crazy.

Drinking:  My beer of the moment is...


finnegans irish amber

FINNEGANS Irish Amber is distributed year-round and is available in 6-packs,
12-packs, 1/6 barrels and 1/2 barrels.
FINNEGANS Irish Amber is available in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota.
TASTE: Full-Flavored, Medium-Bodied ale with a creamy, malty finish
INGREDIENTS: Made from 4 pure ingredients: water, yeast, hops and malted barley
ALCOHOL: 4.75% by Volume; 3.58% by weight
BITTERNESS: 20
CALORIES: 144 per 12 ounces
FRESHNESS: 120 days
Info found here.
Laughing at:  There has been a lot of PBR consumption in my circle of friends recently.  It made this video even funnier when my friend, Katie, showed it to me...

Loving:  Being outside this winter.  I haven't been ice skating yet, but I've done all other winter outdoor activities that I love.  Good news is my 4 year old niece asked me yesterday if I would take her ice skating and help her learn how.  Looks like I have a date.  
Beginning:  My quest to clean up our finances and make sure we are getting the best deals.  I've recently discovered some places that we are spending money we don't need to, so I'm now positive that there is more of that happening.  We work hard to make money and I have a million things I would love to spend money on, so starting now, I'm refusing to spend money on things that I shouldn't have to... take that.

January 27, 2013

Winter Weekend

What a fantastic weekend!  This was the first weekend of the 2013 St. Paul Winter Carnival.  There were quite a few things that happened.

The treasure hunt is always the center of my Winter Carnival experience each year.  Clues 6-8 came out over the weekend and we did quite a bit of digging.  I just got back from a 3 hour stint in the middle of the snowstorm.  It is the most beautiful evening here in Minnesota.  The snowflakes are fat and huge and the weather is warm (well, 30 degrees is warm in January here.)  After a few hours, we had a great sign.  It's customary to chat with fellow diggers when you are out and about and after 15 minutes chatting with the guy next to us, we find out that he has found the medallion in the past.  To be specific, he found it in Highland Park in 1994 inside of a little wooden box and he showed us the wooden box.  It was pretty cool to actually chat with him and knowing that we were thinking the same things he was about the location of the treasure gave me good feelings.

Saturday morning, I had a brief moment of insanity and signed myself up for the Securian Winter Run - 5k.  I haven't really run all winter, so I was in no way, shape or form prepared to run 3 miles.  The weather report all week showed that it would be about 17 degrees... until Saturday morning.  It was 3 degrees when Annika and I arrived downtown for the run.  I was dressed pretty well.  I ended up slowing to a walk twice (my pace isn't much faster than a walk) - once to adjust my head wear and once because we were going super uphill and my legs were a little numb.  All in all, I was pleased that I pulled my butt out of bed and made it happen.  Plus, I have a starting point for the rest of the year.  I can't wait to see how many pictures I made it in.  Every time I saw a camera, I did a dramatic jump and posed in the air... that might have made me a little more tired than I should have been.



That's us with the Securian man.  The slogan of the race was "frostbite is underrated."  I obviously got myself a new shirt with that logo plus the mug we received for running.  I'm happy I did it and I'm glad Annika did it with me.


Saturday evening was the Crashed Ice event.  We didn't actually make it to the Cathedral to watch the races live this year.  I had some serious knee pain after the run, so walking blocks to get there and then standing in the cold wasn't in the cards for me.  We got together with some friends instead and went to one of the tents about 1/2 mile from the event and watched it on the big screens.  They had an awesome DJ that played tons of 90's music and I had a Crispin or two.  It was a fantastic evening.



Dancing in snow pants is more fun than any other kind of dancing.  I was home and in bed by 11:00 which was awesome after my busy day.

Today was my niece's 2nd birthday party.  We had cake & ice cream and caught up with the family.  The snow was starting to fall on our way home, but I was mentally preparing myself to hunt for the treasure.  I'm home relaxing now, but I'm secretly watching the clock.  Clue 9 will be released in 2 hours and I might just set an alarm to read it right away when they post it.  I'll be heading back out right after work tomorrow if it hasn't been found.

Hope you had a great weekend and were able to do something outside.  Cheers St. Paul!  Thanks for a great weekend!

January 25, 2013

Winter Carnival Treasure Hunt 2013

Yes, I'm literally on day 6 of my favorite treasure hunt in the WHOLE WORLD... and also, the only one I participate in.  I have done this at least half of the years that I've been alive and have yet to find treasure, but I've know added it to my 30 before 30 list, so I have to step up my game.

For those of you that don't live in the wonderful state of Minnesota, I'll explain.  Many moons ago, people thought that Minnesota was a winter wasteland that no one should ever go to because people just lock themselves inside their houses all winter long and eat things that they gather in the warm months.  Well, Minnesotans fought back and decided to throw a huge party right in the dead middle of winter.  The St. Paul Winter Carnival has officially been the best carnival ever since 1886... in my opinion.





Image credits here, here, here, and here.

There are parades, snow sculptures, ice sculptures, ice skating, an ice bar, dog sled races, a beer dabbler, the newly added Red Bull Crashed Ice competition, the Securian winter run and my favorite - the treasure hunt.

12 clues are released over 12 days leading thousands of people, old and young, through the parks and public areas in Ramsey County searching for a small "puck" that is worth $10000.  It is my mission to find this treasure and then buy myself something wonderful to celebrate (and probably pay off some debt), but most importantly, the lucky winner gets to ride on a float in the Torchlight Parade.  This, my dear friends, is something I've wanted since I was a small girl sitting on my dad's shoulders.  You can find last year's posts here, here, here, here, and the overall summary.  Yes, this is clearly one of the biggest events of my year.

We were out last night searching and scoping out a few parks.  I don't have a good feeling yet on exactly what park the treasure is hid in.  We will most likely spend the majority of our weekend looking for the treasure, however I am running a race tomorrow morning that is part of the carnival and we will absolutely stop in at the Ice Bar.

I encourage anyone in the Twin Cities to check out something as part of this festival, especially since the weather will be in the thirties on Sunday.  The website is http://www.winter-carnival.com/ and all the events are listed.  There is something for everyone.

Wish me luck on my hunt.  I've got my headlamp, good mittens, hand warmers, a small shovel and a 6 pack of beer.  It's about to get real.

January 24, 2013

Skiing in Montana - Backyard Style

When we planned our trip to Montana, we planned to have a few days off to explore Bozeman and hang out around the house.  We all agreed to call one of those days "drunk day."  We loaded up on PBR and some local brews and geared up for a day to play in the snow.  We got lucky because it snowed almost the entire night before and continued to snow all day, so we had plenty of activities we could participate in outside.

Annika snowboarded for her first and second time and did way better than my first attempts a few years ago:



Kelsey took a run or two after her & I jammed on the sled.  The sled didn't do so well in the ten inches of fresh snow, but Kelsey did fine once she dumped me and the sled and picked up her board.


The boys took a few turns down the hill.  It got even more bad ass when they built a jump.  As you will notice, I did not find it necessary to participate in climbing up the hill and then sliding back down on any skis or snowboards.  I would have been injured.


If you made it to the bottom successfully, we would reward you with champagne... obviously, that's normal.  I know that snowboarding on mountains is cooler than snowboarding in backyards, but at least in backyards, you can have your camera... a real one that isn't on a phone.  When you have pictures, you can create things like these (because my husband is awesome):




The boys also decided to clear off the fire pit and start an outdoor fire, which was awesome.  The girls decided to make a snowman (or something inappropriate with the snow).



Yep, that happened.  A regular snowman is only cool when you have accessories to dress him in, we didn't have any, so we went to our next best option which was inappropriate shock value.  The boys were not so amused.  We weren't going to leave it in the yard for the next group to see, so Justin decided to do this on our last day:


Sadly, this is the final post about our ski trip in Montana.  The good news is... I'm going to Florida in less than two weeks to experience Disneyworld for my first time (check one off the 30 before 30 list). So until next time Montana...


January 23, 2013

Insta-Gratitude Week 4

Day 22:  This is how my husband left his gloves on his desk.  Silly, I know, but it totally cracked me up. 
Day 23:  Picked up the dogs after getting their teeth cleaned (they are always a little messed up from the medicine) and MIGHTY DUCKS - I love this movie.  EMILIO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Day 24:  Celebrating this guy (he's now 28) and his wife to be at their engagement party. If you think you've seen this face before, see this post.
Day 25:  Local music.  Our friend, Mark, is in a band called The Brilliant Beast and they played with a band called Ruben.  We enjoyed their show after a big dinner at Boca Chica.  Amazing! 
Day 26:  Stuffed Peppers with Yogurt Sauce - from the Indian section of our vegetarian slow cooker book. Look at me - I'm becoming more "worldly" in my crockpot cooking.
Day 27:  On the coldest day of the year, I was enjoying Hot Chocolate (with Butterscotch Schapps - obviously), super fattening Mac & Cheese and the sunset (from inside.)  I also turned the heat up in my house to 72 degrees - bad ass, I know, but it was seriously NEGATIVE THIRTEEN OUTSIDE!!!
Day 28:  My temporary tattoo.  I hosted girl's night with my nieces, my sisters and some of our girlfriends and it involved Pizza, Taylor Swift dance parties and butterfly tattoos.  I had sooo much fun with them (like always.)

January 22, 2013

The Facts of Me

Most of you know, I'm on a mission to become a little bit more classy... well, and more of an adult really.  I decided to share some other random facts about me that make up my existence, plus I'm trying this link-up thing for my first time - you know, trying to move forward on my blogging journey.

Warning, I'm just writing whatever comes to mind and trying not to duplicate the "about me" section.

Facts:
  • I love coffee and wine... but I spill everything.  Those are two very bad things to love.
  • I have two dogs, Quincy & Lola, that if you overheard me talking about, you would think they were my human children.  I'm a tad bit obsessed.
  • I love "smut" (that's my husband's name for it) TV - which includes anything on Bravo and a few other random reality shows.
  • I was the longest baby my doctor had ever delivered at 24.5 inches... and now I'm 5'3" - apparently those things don't last.
  • I love all musicals, but people don't like to watch them with me because I usually sing the whole time.
  • I have never been to Disneyworld... which won't be true in a few weeks :)
  • I have no tattoos or piercings - that's the fact that I always win with in Never Have I Ever
  • I have an amazing husband.
  • I have a little brother that left the big city to become a tractor boy in South Dakota.
  • My dad and his siblings all have names that start with J - Jeff, Jay, Jim, John, Joe, Jerry, Jennifer and Jason.  Sorry, totally random, but I'm just proud of myself that after 27 years of life, I could name them all SUPER fast.
  • I love four seasons.  Not the fancy pants hotel, but the fact that living in Minnesota gives me winter, spring, summer and fall.  Each has its pros and cons, but I never get bored.
  • I have a sick obsession with Cream Cheese Wontons and once they are in my head, I can't get them out... so I'll probably be braving the -10 degree weather to get some for lunch today now that I mentioned them.
  • I am also starting to love vegetables, which is a good thing, because I became a vegetarian 10 months ago for that reason.  I should say I since then have changed from a vegetarian to a pescatarian (I eat fish.)
  • I can't leave the house without my old school planner, my high tech phone, burt's bees chapstick and sunglasses.  I'm the kind of girl that thinks she looks better with sunglasses on, no matter what time of day.  Sorry, it is what it is.
  • My 2013 resolutions are: becoming more worldly (it's past of my adventure to be more classy), remember gratitude each day, keep eating vegetables and trying to get Call Me Maybe out of my head.


Image credits here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.


January 21, 2013

Skiing in Montana - Big Sky Resort


The video above is from Brady's camera when he was getting ready to head from the peak all the way down.  As scary as the ride up there is, I'm glad we were able to see what he saw.

Big Sky Resort is the main ski resort located in the Gallatin National Forest.  It's bigger than Moonlight and a little busier, but has a wide variety of runs to choose from.  The views are incredible.  We decided to ski Big Sky on Wednesday last week.  Kinzie joined our little family Tuesday night when she flew into Bozeman, so we decided it was a great place for all seven of us to get out together.

The skiing here was incredible.  The views were amazing and there were so many different options.

Image Credit
Andesite Mountain was my home for most of the day.  I know the map is kind of hard to read, but there is a run called "Pacifier" that is a windy cat track that moves a little slow, but goes right to the mountain village and connects with a ton of other runs.  I also loved the Southern Comfort lift and all the nice, easy, open green runs on that side of the mountain.  We got a little adventurous on those by dipping into the trees and going off little jumps on the sides of the runs.

I made one adventurous trek up the Swift Current lift that heads towards the peak.  That was my absolute favorite run of the day... for a few reasons.
  1. At the top of the lift, we got to take a little jay walk that went right underneath the peak and I was able to look up and watch the crazy people (like Brady) get on the tram to the top and then I even got to see two of them come down the chutes - or rocky death tunnels as I like to call them.
  2. The run we took down was over 3 miles long - amazing.  Lifts get a little boring, so I like the high speed lifts and the super long runs.
  3. The different things to do at the top of this lift.  You can use the mountaintop restroom, grab a burrito and say a quick prayer at the chapel before you hit the slopes.
  4. And finally, the naked skiers/boarders.  That's right.  Justin and I stopped about halfway down to take a break and take in the awesome views.  We had the run pretty much to ourselves for the first half.  All of a sudden, we look up and we see a few people coming down.  It took a few looks to realize that they were NAKED.  Two guys were at the beginning, one covering himself and the other one waving his hands above his head wearing only his snowboard boots and mittens.  It was insane.  There ended up being a parade of about 20 naked people and a few that were carrying other's clothes.  They redressed about halfway between us and the bottom - probably so they wouldn't get in trouble.  To top it off, a lady skied by us afterwards and informed us in a rude voice that the show was over - I think she thought we were part of their group.  Sorry, I have no pictures of naked people on the mountain because I was in such shock that I couldn't grab my phone - they did all have cameras on so I'm sure the proof is out there somewhere.  
Here are some of my favorite photos from our day at Big Sky... 











I can't decide which of the two resorts there I like better... they are very different.  I had a blast at both and would go back in a heartbeat.  Until next time Lone Mountain.