Winter Break Snapshots

What a winter break we’ve had! We have one more day left tomorrow, and we’re going to do what we’ve been doing the past couple of weeks – spend it outside. It seems like we’ve really hit our stride this year when it comes to embracing the winter. Of course, it’s all about good clothes, a good spirit, and just doing it, but I’ll talk about that in another post. Today, I’m sharing just a glimpse of what we’ve been up to these past few weeks.

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We started our break in Steamboat Springs, CO (one of our favorite ski towns in the state!). We arrived at the start of a snowstorm that lasted well into the next day and maybe the day after? I can’t remember. But we still had a great time skiing and snowshoeing all over the mountain.

On our third, and final, day in town, we visited Strawberry Park Hot Springs before driving home. We had been here once last winter, and it was just as magical as I remembered.

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We arrived home the same day that Sarah and our family flew into town, and then every pitched in and helped us prepare to host a big party for C’s office. There was definitely a moment of “what are we doing?!” the night before, but in the end, the party was awesome, the food delicious, the company amazing, and the music pumping.
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The party was followed by a day of rest and then it was off to the mountains to ride the Georgetown Loop Railroad with Santa! We did this last year and I was really excited to do it again. When you arrive at the station, there’s hot chocolate and roasted chestnuts to munch on. Then you board the train and start riding with the excitement of knowing that Santa’s going to come and sit with you to say hi. It’s such a nice way to visit Santa, because there are no lines – you just wait in your seat on the train until Santa gets to you, meanwhile, the train’s moving through the beautiful Colorado mountains.
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Back in Boulder, we did more hiking. christmas_break2016_12

And snowball throwing. christmas_break2016_13 christmas_break2016_14

And then it was off to the mountains again for more skiing and snowshoeing!
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Home for more hiking…christmas_break2016_24 christmas_break2016_25

And here we are, relaxing, making our list of resolutions, and preparing for one more day on the slopes before we’re back to a regularly scheduled week.

I hope your break was full of warmth, family, food, and all of that holiday magic. xo

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Winter Photography Tips

Sarah is a professional freelance photographer – she’s always sharing tutorials. Learn how to find flattering natural light for selfies and portraits or catch tips on photographing kids and pets. See what camera Katie shoots with or check out my favorite lenses.

Live Seasoned Spring 16 Photographing Winter Landscapes08Live Seasoned Spring 16 Photographing Winter Landscapes14 We agree, it’s a little bit strange to talk about Winter Photography Tips in mid-April, but did you see all the snow that fell in Boulder this past weekend? It wouldn’t stop! With a house full of food and relatives and the fire on full blast, we enjoyed every second of the snow.  We even made it outside for a hike up the mountainside.  If you’re still enjoying wintery snowscapes, here are a few practice pieces of advice for photographing in the snow. Continue reading

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Welcome January

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A new year! Ugg/yay. I’m feeling so many feelings about the flipping the calendar from 2015 to 2016. Excitement about all to come while wanting to slow down time because I don’t want to miss a moment and there’s so much to do, but I’m sure many of you feel the same way. I’m assuming that this is a sign of old age? blah.

Continue reading

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Seasoned View: Vol. 21

Each month we share our Seasoned View.  Snapshots of nature and daily life taken by the Seasoned sisters. Find our archive of past months’ views here.

Happy New Year everyone!  We have a nice mix of sunny and frosty for your January edition of Seasoned View. All of these images were taken my Katie or myself in Colorado over the past two weeks.  As you can see, we went on our fair share of wintery hikes and we’re suggesting you do the same- you won’t regret it.  Bundle up and get out there!

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You can upload one or all of these photos to use as your desktop background or even as phone and tablet wallpapers.  Simply click on the download link below each photo and save the image.  Enjoy!

Continue reading

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Best of the Season

At the end of each season, we take a look back and highlight our favorite posts. See previous Seasonal Bests here.

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Even though it doesn’t feel like spring, we’re happy to turn our sights towards longer days, warmer weather, and a variety of new topics starting with the introduction of our ingredient of the season next week! In the meantime, we hope you enjoy clicking back through our favorite posts of winter. If you had a fave we didn’t mention, we would love to hear in the comments!

Best of Soups & Sides

  • Sarah’s pick: I’ve been eating this crab chowder recipe for the past twenty years, but it is still one of my favorite soups of all time.
  • Katie’s pick: I never thought of myself as a creamy chicken soup fan, but we were introduced to an amazing version this winter!

Best of Desserts

Best of Drinks

Best of Crafts

  • Sarah’s pick: I have no idea how to knit, but I still love reading Kate’s Project Sweater Updates.
  • Katie’s pick: I loved everything about our new Christmas stockings, that they were so easy and fast to make, and that I know they’ll be hanging on our mantel for years to come!… now to think up a forth design for next year.

Best of Potions

  • Sarah’s pick: I know this Natural Orange Cleaner isn’t for your skin, but this potion is so cheap and helpful around here!
  • Katie’s pick: Lotion bars, as they’ve now become a staple in our dry Colorado climate!

Best of Nature

  • Sarah’s pick: I say this with painful pangs of jealousy in my heart: I love reading about Katie’s snowshoeing adventures in the Rocky Mountains.
  • Katie’s pick: I (finally) got one of the ENO hammocks for Christmas that the rest of my siblings have been raving about, so Sarah’s tips for winter hammocking really struck a cord.

Best of Travel

  • Sarah’s pick: I had so much fun writing this post about How To: Save for Travel and creating a budget and savings plan for my trip to Nepal later this year.
  • Katie’s pick: The German Christmas Markets post was such a fun read for me because it took me right back to our trip, and made me wish that I could steal away a week to visit the markets every December!
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Seasoned View: Vol. 11

Each month we share our Seasoned View.  Snapshots of nature taken by the Seasoned sisters. Find last month’s here and past months’ here.

It’s February! One-twelfth of 2015 is over. That is totally cool with me.  One more month closer to summer says the bitter winter-hater in me 😉  Each month I post a screenshot of my desktop with one of the new seasoned view backgrounds.  Did you notice that it always looks so clean and tidy?  Well, I wanted to let you know that it’s a total illusion.  Each month My desk top really looks like this:

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Then I simply make a folder entitled everything or entire desktop or all of it and select all the crap on my desktop and throw it in there.  I wish housework was that easy!  See? All clean:

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You can upload one or all of these photos to use as your desktop background or even as phone and tablet wallpapers.  Simply click on the download link below each photo and save the image.  Enjoy!

liveseasoned_winter14_seasonedview11-1Click here for You’re Perfect.

liveseasoned_winter14_seasonedview11-1-3Click here for White Birch.

liveseasoned_winter14_seasonedview11-1-2Click here for Iced Tea.

liveseasoned_winter14_seasonedview11-1-6Click here for Chesapeake Sunset.

liveseasoned_winter14_seasonedview11-1-4Click here for Snowfall.

Hope you dig ’em and download ’em.  Happy Monday!

Oh and a reminder that I’m challenging myself to meditate a little bit.  Join in!

 

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5 Tips For Winter Hammocking

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If you’re in the northern hemisphere and it is cold, cold, cold right now, but if you still want to enjoy nature, we have a remedy for you.  Curl up, cozy up, comfy right on up in your hammock!  We’re not talking about your grandma’s macrame hammock, although those are cool too. If you’ve haven’t seen them yet, we’re talking about a more heavy-duty yet light-weight camping hammock. It’s a great way to get outside while still kind of hibernating. Let me explain.

Once you stick to these tips and jump up into your hammock, you’ll feel as cozy as a caterpillar in a cocoon.  The most important thing about having fun outside in the winter is, you guessed it, staying warm!  If you’re uncomfortable freezing your butt off you will have no fun, none! So follow these quick tips and take a trip outside, it’s time for some winter hammocking.

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Seek out the sun and hide from the wind.

  • The sun is your bestie.  We all know that, especially when winter comes and we’re begging, calling, and singing to the sun.  Find a spot where the sun is shining on you, but keep in mind that you also want to find a bit of natural shelter from the wind.  See how I’m snuggled right up against those tall grasses?  They are the perfect wind buffer.  The field of high grass extended at least a mile in the distance that the wind was blowing from, which means the wind had to travel through all that way just to get to me.  You could also venture into the woods where you’re surrounded by a barrier of trees or you could find an enormous rock or wall of some type that will offer some protection.

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Pack a pillow and a sleeping bag.

  • I can guarantee you will have the most miserable time if you don’t pack a sleeping bag.  I wouldn’t wish that hammocking experience on anyone.  Cold winter air is swirling above and below the hammock, but if you’re snuggled into a sleeping bag and your head is on a bed of down you’ll be comfy as a clam. That’s a saying, right?  There are hammock-compatible sleeping bags, but I usually just hang out for an hour or two so I don’t think one is necessary for this purpose.  There are also handy insulation pads.  You also can make your own with a space blanket.

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Bundle up!

  • Are you sensing a theme here? Stay warm! Definitely wear some warm, wool socks and a knit hat.  You’ll be taking off your boots when you climb into your sleeping bag (obviously) so you really want to make sure you have a great pair of socks on.  Throw in a scarf and some gloves and you are all set.

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Bring a warm drink.

  • You should always take water with you when you go out exploring, but in this case I like to bring a jar of tea.  I choose to pack a jar instead of a thermos or drink bottle because you can screw the lid on tight and stick it down in your sleeping bag.  If you’ve ever used a mason jar as a tea mug you know the glass gets hot, which is great in this case!  It’s just one more way to keep those toes toasty.

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Grab a good book.

  • Bring along a book or really anything to keep you entertained.  After ten minutes, I promise you’ll be warm and cozy and totally lost in whatever you’re reading or thinking about.

If you’re at all curious about what gear I’m using, here you go: hammock, seriously awesome straps, sleeping bag, and pillow.

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In the Snow with Little A

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We waited until late in the afternoon to venture out into yesterday’s snow. I admit that I had to build up my courage to face the cold temps, but after a big bowl of soup and a few layers of wool, I was ready. Alex’s mission was simple : eat as much snow as possible, and my mission even simpler : quietly follow behind the little guy as he explored.

I think we’d both declare the mission a success.

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Welcome January!

Typically, on the first Wednesday of each month we like to pause and take a look at what’s going on in the world around us, with a particular focus on animal activity, celestial events, and our farmers’ fields, but our January’s off to the most fantastic slow and lazy start, so excuse us for this delayed post!

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Baby it’s cold outside. so. so. cold. At least that’s the case on the East Coast where we’re being hit with an Arctic cold front that’s bringing the coldest temperatures of the winter so far and setting records. We’re considering ourselves lucky that we woke up to single digit positive and not negative temps the past few days. Bundling up to go outside got us thinking about all the non-migratory animals and their strategies for surviving the long, cold winter. So, we’ll be exploring that today along with this month’s celestial events and a touch of what’s planned for our kitchens this month.

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Earth and Sky

There are a number of different strategies that non-migratory animals use to survive the winter. In addition to the freezing temperatures, these animals are also faced with low food supplies and little to no water. Some mammals will hibernate, finding or creating a safe space where they will hunker down, reduce their metabolic activity, thereby lowering their body temperature, and wait out the winter. Some reptiles will bruminate, going into their own form of dormancy that’s similar to hibernation. Other animals will remain relatively active, living off of the food supplies they stored the previous winter.

Black Bears

Growing up in the woods of central PA, we are well aware of the local bears’ annual cycle. Catching glimpses of them in the fields and woods during the summer, knowing that they were gorging on food in the fall to build up their fat supplies, thinking of them “sleeping” the winter away, and then seeing that they raided the bird feeders in early spring when they are starving for food and in need of an easy meal. The bears typically hibernate for 3-5 months, and during this time they don’t eat, drink, urinate, or defecate.

The black bear’s method of hibernation is atypical in that they do not lower their body temperature as far as many other mammals, but they are still able to lower their metabolic rate by up to 75%. Their heart rate can fall from an average of 40-50 beats per minute down to 8! Because their body temperature doesn’t fall, the bears are able to remain relatively alert and may take advantage of relatively mild winters by leaving their den to forage. The bears may lose 25-40% of their body weight over the winter, using their stored fat to meet their nutrient and water needs, but surprisingly, they do not lose much muscle over this period. Since the bears are not urinating or defecating over the winter, they are able to process the nitrogen in their waste and use it to build lean muscle mass.

During this month or next, pregnant females will give birth to their young. The baby bears weigh less than a pound when born. They won’t open their eyes or begin walking for over another month, and even then they will weigh less than two pounds!

Beavers

Beavers are an example of a mammal that doesn’t migrate or hibernate, instead it remains relatively active and relies on food it stockpiles for the season.

Every fall with the return of frost, beavers begin preparing their dens for winter. They add a fresh coating of mud to their dens. The mud freezes with the colder temperatures, creating a solid barrier against predators. While preparing their dens, they are also gathering sticks and logs for their winter food supply. Beavers are herbivores, feeding off the tender underbark of Aspens, Willow, Birch, and Maple along with other aquatic plants. The beavers are able to leave their dens through underwater openings, giving them access to their food supply even when their pond is frozen.

Gray Tree Frog

Unlike the bears and beavers we’ve mentioned, many frogs have a very unique method for surviving the winter. The gray tree frog bruminates, which is often called hibernation, but involves different metabolic processes. As cold weather approaches, the frogs burrow under roots and leaves. As the temperatures drop below freezing, ice crystals will form under the frog’s skin, and in their bladder and body cavity, but not in their vital organs! A high concentration of glucose in their organs acts as an antifreeze protecting them until spring. When frozen, the frogs will also stop breathing and their heart will stop beating. Once the warmer temperatures of spring arrive, their bodies will thaw and their organs will begin functioning again. {amaze.balls.}

Sky

The January skies are quiet! We’re posting this so late in the month that we’ve already missed the Quadrantids Meteor Shower on the 3rd and 4th as well as the full moon on the 5th. But hey, there’s a new moon coming up on January 20th, and the dark skies will be a great time to bundle up and do some winter stargazing.

Fun Fact : many moons ago (heehee), we talked about the names given to the full moons. While researching today’s post, we learned about another name for the January full moon ~ the Bear Moon, because this is often the month when the hibernating bears give birth.

Fields and Festivals

While many farmers’ fields may be For us it’s going to be a month of eating like the beavers; digging into the potatoes, squash, and other hardy winter veggies that we’ve stockpiled from our farmshare. I’m sure there will be many soups, but Sarah just gave me the cookbook Plenty for Christmas, so I’m excited to do some experimenting with our vegetable dishes. I’m also armed with a new pressure cooker and our pantry full of dried beans, because, you know, they’re good for your heart. On the fruit front, we’ll still be eating piles of oranges and indulging in the final weeks of pomegranate season!

It seems like the whole world slows down in January. We didn’t see any amazing festivals or holidays on the horizon, but maybe we’re missing something? Do you know of any?

We’re planning on indulging in the quiet darkness of this month. Spending plenty of evenings in front of the fire, catching up on our reading, and planning for the coming year. We hope this month affords you the same mellow moments.

Black bear in grass found here. Black bear and cub found here.
Beaver lodge found here. Adult beaver found here.
Frozen tree frog image found here.
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Snowshoeing in the Rockies II

This is Alex’s second winter and the second year that we took the little guy out on a snowshoeing adventure during our Christmas break. If you like to get outside for exercise and have a little one that’s too small for many winter sports but is happy to be bundled up and spend a bit of time out in the cold, then this is a great family winter activity!

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In our case, Alex is still too little to ski and pregnancy is limiting my options this year, but snowshoeing is the one outdoor activity that we can all do (other than our many, many walks around the neighborhood pulling the little guy in his sled!).

Planning for an afternoon snowshoeing adventure is relatively simple:

  • Special equipment. You’ll obviously need a pair of snowshoes. A good pair can be a bit expensive, but will provide years of entertainment if you like going out. On the other hand, there are only a few sizes of snowshoe, based upon the wearer’s weight, so why not borrow or rent a pair before buying your own?
  • Got your gators? If the snow’s particularly deep and fluffy, then you may want to wear a pair of gators. On this trip, Calder’s wearing gators, while I have a pair of tall boots; both work well.
  • We suggest dressing in layers ~ it may be cold outside, but it’s likely that you’ll quickly build up some body heat with each step, so you’ll want to be prepared to unzip and possibly take off your outer layer.
  • Plan on carrying little ones. As you can see, last year we were a bit more prepared for the adventure, using a proper baby carrier. This year, we forgot all carriers in our packing frenzy (rushing to get on the road before a Christmas day winter storm). BUT we had this regular old backpack, and, much to my surprise, Alex was more than happy to sit in it for the whole trip.
  • Don’t forget your sunscreen.
  • Tell someone where you’re going.

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It was a cold day, so we only stayed out for about 20-30 minutes, but that was plenty of time for a good walk. *** Quick note ~ this is where we should mention that if you’re pregnant you may want to proceed at your own risk (or, talk to your favorite doc first). While Calder and Alex went on a larger loop, I realized that at such a high altitude it was better for me to take it slow and walk with them at the beginning and end of their loop rather than push my limits. If you exercise regularly, a vigorous snowshoe at lower altitudes while pregnant is much less of an issue.

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This turned out to be one of those perfectly planned days where we were able to meet everyone’s fun quota.  We rode the gondola to the top of the mountain, which makes the whole adventure even more fun for little ones! Calder carried along his skis and was able to put in a few runs after our walk while Alex and I warmed up by the lodge’s fir. Then we all had lunch before Alex and I rode the Gondola down and Calder took another run to the bottom of the mountain.

At that was it ~ our simple but fun snowshoeing adventure for the whole, growing family… we’re hoping to fit in a few more trips this winter, and I’m already imagining next year’s adventure when we’ll have two little ones in packs! 
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