Opening Dialogue of the 2014 Winter Games

2014 Olympic Winter Games

2014 Olympic Winter Games

I’ve always been fascinated and inspired by the Olympic Games. Summer or winter, every two years I become immersed in the sport and athlete at hand.

But the winter games have always been a relatable, even, achievable reality for me. As a child growing up at the base of a ski resort, where every day during the winter evolved around some winter sport, it was a time to make dreams a reality. The 22nd Olympic Winter Games hosts four of Aspen, CO athletes, making their dreams that reality. 

The opening ceremonies are something I love. It embraces the host countries history, artistry, and reminds the world why we are there. It’s the sport and the athlete. The achievement of that individual who gets the honor to represent their country. That they all come together for one thing. To compete in a sport we all share. It’s a time to set aside the politics of the world and embrace the passion of sport.

The opening dialogue to the opening ceremonies educates us with where Russia is, what it has to offer, and the amazing opportunity the games gives us:

‘It begins on the edge of the western world and expands deep into the far east. No other land consumes so much of the north, even as its terrain spreads to the sub tropics.

For centuries, as much as anything else, that emence, intimidating and incredible reality has stood at the heart of its identity. Russia overwhelms. Russia mystifies. Russia transcends.

Through every stage of its story it’s resisted any notion of limitation. Through every reinvention, only redoubling its desire to cast a powering presence.

The empire, that ascendant to affirm a colossal footprint. The revolution that birthed one of modern histories pivotal experiments. But if politics has long shaped the sense of who they are, it’s passion that endures as a more reliable rank to their collective heart.

What they build when aspiration is lifted by imagination. What they craft through the wonder of every last detail. How magical the fusion of sound and movement can be. How much a glass of distilled perfection and an overflowing table can matter. Discover the Russian people through these indelible signatures. Discover what we share with them through the games that open here tonight.

It almost seems like an oversight, that this nation that bares so much of winters burden has never before hosted the winter games. Now what’s finally arrived is a collection of athletes revolutionizing what the Olympics look like, what they sound like, what they feel like.

More than ever before, snow has become the realm of the young. A place where every tale is tinged with originality…

In this land that fuses west and east across so much if the north these games have come south to a most distinctive local. Where a sea filled with ancient myths crashes into mountains that sweep commandingly into the heavens. And where for these 18 days winter will not be a burden, but a theater with their curtain raised by their soaring spirit revealing, once again, to the world, what sport too, can be. Overwhelming, mystifying, transcendent. Welcome to Sochi. Welcome to the 22nd Olympic Winter Games.’

It is poetic, beautiful, and inspiring. Let all other worries leave as we embark together on the Olympic journey. Enjoy the ride and always remember the peace that comes with the Olympic competition! I’m so excited and look forward to sharing these games with you.

December Favorites

This monthly post is a little late, but with the holiday season winding down, I’ve got the time to finally sit down and make yet another favorites list! This time, for the month of December!

December is filled with childhood memories, family traditions, and coziness. Speaking of which, I’m writing this while sitting on my heated plush blanket I won during a white elephant party. It’s become a permanent throw on the couch making the chilly mornings and evening a little more comfortable (especially after the crazy arctic blast the Midwest and East Coast recently experienced). If you are consistently chilled like me, this is a must have and is the first favorite for me this month (not pictured).

So lets continue with the list of December Favorites:

DSC_1117

December 2013

Vanilla Bean Noel Shower Gel by Bath and Body Works: This stuff smells incredible and it’s super sudsy, making those extra long and hot showers that much more enjoyable after a cold day. It’s so sweet, it’s hard not to want to have a taste.

Vanilla Bean Noel Whipped Shimmer Body Cream by Bath and Body Works: The perfect counterpart to the shower gel. It’s incredibly light and comes out of the can just like whipped cream! So cool. A little goes a long way, making good bang for the buck. The moisturizer does the trick plus adds a little sparkle and glow to your skin.

Knit bow hat from World Market:  I admired this hat while shopping around World Market and was surprised by my boyfriend when he purchased it for me! How sweet. I call it my happy hat and it goes with EVERYTHING and is incredibly warm.

Bright hoodie by Windhorse: My mom gave this to me for Christmas. During some of the darkest days of the year, it’s a great way to add a lot of color to those dull days. It’s comfy and fun. What more do you need in a hoodie.

Wheat Thins Holiday Crackers: I have always been a fan of Wheat Thins. These are the perfect cracker for snacks throughout the day. The holiday edition features hexagonal shaped crackers with imprints of candy canes and snowflakes. While I munch on these by themselves all the time, topping them with some sliced cheese makes a fantastic hors d’oeuvres for one or many.

Sunset Magazine, article – Peak Experience: This travel, foodie, lifestyle magazine has always kept me inspired, but now it’s time for my bragging rights as an extra for one of their photo shoots. That’s right! Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro is a tasty restaurant on top of Highlands Mountain in Aspen, Colorado where a group of friends and I munched all day on some of specialty dishes and sipped on wines for the December issue. Note, the mulled wine is to die for! And you can try it as the article spills on some of the delicious recipes.

Gingerbread Spice Tea by Celestial Seasonings: Hot drinks (especially tea) are a must during the cold months and this tea flavor is probably one of my favorites to treat myself too. The only miss for me is that it’s caffeine free.

Chocolate Ibarra: I grew up sipping on this Mexican hot chocolate every Christmas morning. My dad would make this for us the moment we woke up to hold us over during our unwrapping of stockings before breakfast. It’s hunks of spiced dark chocolate that you melt in milk. Simple and so tasty. I like mine extra chocolate-y and hot.

Flipagram: This is a free app that takes your selection of photos and music and creates a slide show you can send out to your friends or post on your social media web page. I did this to commemorate the year 2013 on New Years Eve and everybody loved it! It’s easy to use, quick, and super effective. It’s a great idea to use for a little thoughtful birthday e-mail, anniversary gift, or a thoughtful hello to a friend.

That covers my December favorites. Can’t believe we’ve left that month AND that year! Happy 2014 to everyone! Here’s to a great year to come!

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Wildlights

One of the first things I heard about when I came to Columbus, Ohio was that there was an incredible zoo. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium was one of the first attractions I visited and can recall that experience like it was just yesterday. The second thing I heard about was the Wildlights show the zoo presents from November to January. Needless to say, The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is a source of pride for Columbus.

After missing last winter’s ‘zoo lights’ I made a point to visit the attraction this December and boy am I happy I did. This year marked the 25th anniversary of Wildlights. From the sounds of it, the attraction has expanded since the first year to monumental proportions.

The zoo features over 3 million LED lights. Strands of lights cover trees and shrubs along every pathway throughout the exhibits along with animal shaped light sculptures and nifty bobbles of bundled up lights hanging from tree branches like ornaments.

DSC_1092

Conservation Lake Annimated Light Show

Near the entrance of the zoo is the Conservation Lake and it is completely adorned with lights that reflect into the water. There is a floating stage that holds several lit Christmas trees too. In celebration of the 25th anniversary, the lights come to life every 30 minutes with an animated light show that is performed to a selection of holiday music. It is a truly spectacular sight to see, especially in how in sync the lights were to the music.

It was 17 degrees (F) the night we attended the Wildlights so we came prepared with layers under our jeans, and sported our hats, scarves, and winter coats. It also snowed the day before, coating the trees with fluff making it a truly magical winter wonderland.

We arrived around 7:00 pm starving, so we made our way to the Congo River Market Food Quart to satisfy our hungry stomachs. They have your basic mall-like food selections of pizza and subs, but it’s indoors and a good place to warm up and fill up before more exploring.

There were certain exhibits closed during the Wildlights such as the Congo and Polar Bear exhibit due to the late hours. Otherwise, everything was accessible between 5-10 pm. And instead of the traditional ice rink my friends and boyfriend remember from childhood, there is a live performance with Jack Hanna –  director emeritus of the zoo.

There were little kiosks throughout the zoo selling warm soft pretzels and hot chocolate in generously sized cups. Holding and sipping on hot coco made our trip pleasantly cozy and it was delicious!

There was a cute global village in the Asia Exhibit that featured 192 flags hanging under a bridge and ‘It’s a Small World After All’-like children singing Christmas carols in their traditional country’s garb.

DSC_1099

Scuba Santa

Of course, the highlight for me was seeing Santa Clause feed the fish in the aquarium! That’s right, even Santa loves the zoo and makes an appearance. There is a scheduled performance for the feeding and plenty of time to get your picture with Kris Kringle.

And there are even more activities we didn’t even get to. Cookie decorating and reindeer spotting to name a couple. Our visit to the zoo was awesome. With a couple of good friends along side and the Christmas spirit, it’s hard not to have a good time.

Check out the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium website for this year’s Wildlights schedule and events.

 

 

 

 

November Favorites

Throughout the month of November there have been some constants in my life. Whether it was trying something new, or going back to an old favorite, this is a list of those things that made the month of November a more little special…and bearable.

DSC_1089

My November Favorites

The Sweater Shirt: Mossimo Supply Co. makes amazing clothes. I can’t walk into Target without at least admiring their latest seasonal clothes. This cream colored sweater shirt caught my eye instantly. It’s cozy without the scratch and heaviness of your average winter sweater and it’s got a delicate lace detail across the back. I don’t own too many light colors, but this shirt makes me feel warm and rich, perfect for the cold temperatures without feeling too bulky.

Sweet Harvest Pumpkin Tea: Celestial Seasoning has some fantastic holiday teas. Anything limited addition feels like a treat. And when you get to sip on warm spiced pumpkin tea, you can’t help but feel in the Thanksgiving spirit. I’m down to my last tea bag. It takes a while to steep to my preferred strength, but it sure does hit the spot, especially after a long and chilly work day.

Colby-Jack Snack Sticks: Sargento has created one of my favorite snacks! They are like an elegant string cheese, but without the stringing or the mozzarella. They are great on the go and a perfect pick-me-up at any hour. It’s hard not to eat 3 or 4!

Lavender Hand Cream: L’Occitane is one of those luxury brands that you get as a gift and use sparingly to the very last drop. I’m a huge fan of the calming effects of lavender. I use this cream before I go to bed every night and feel like a queen. The stuff is good too! It’s light and creamy and a little goes a long way! This tube lives on my bedside table and once it’s gone, there will be another to replace it. It’s one of those staple items.

Foot Lotion: Bath and Body Works has come out with the True Blue Spa ‘series.’ I heard about the Cracked Heel Treatment and thought I would give it a try. I don’t have cracked heels, but my feet do tend to be on the dry side, plus I’ve got some calaces. The packaging states that it gets the “heel of approval” and I agree. I’ve used this stuff almost every day and see an obvious difference in how smooth my feet have become. The credit goes to the glycolic acid. You pay for that big word and smell the medical notes in it too, but the results are worth it!

Intensive Repair Shampoo and Conditioner: Dove Hair Therapy has come to the rescue. I now understand what people mean when they say their hair is straw-like. With the winter months approaching, it’s only going to get dryer and my hair can’t afford any more nonsense. Dove Shampoo rocks. The first day I used it I was hooked. I was able to use a lot less of it too. The special ingredients target the karetin in your hair to basically reconstruct it. It smells like product used at hair salons too so you can’t help but feel pampered.

Chubby Stick: Clinique’s Super Strawberry lip color is the ultimate everyday lipstick. It’s also a color that can go from summer to winter. It darkens up my lips just enough and it hydrates them. I’ve had plenty of lipsticks that dry out my puckers. I love it and use it all the time. But don’t expect it to smell like a strawberry.

The Crazy Ones: I look forward to tuning in to this show every single week (CBS Thursdays at 9)! It’s a 30 minute show with life morals thrown in there and a whole bunch of comedy. It’s also a series you can pick up and watch at any time because each episode pretty much stands alone. It’s refreshing nowadays when just about every show is an hour long drama with complicated character and plot twists. This one is simple, funny, easy, and bound to be a classic.

Sunset Magazine: It’s time for my bragging rights. My home town and ‘locals’ mountain is featured in the December 2013 issue highlighting the posh Cloud 9 Alpine Bistro. It’s a high end ski in/ski out mountainside restaurant atop Highlands ski resort. It’s a warm you up kind of place to get the tastes of great wine, cheese fondue, raclette, and now locally focused game and fish dishes thanks to Chef Michael Johnston. The article features several great recipes and some shots of familiar faces. A group of friends and I filled the place up to dine and be merry for the restaurant’s photo shoot. Looking through the article brings back all the fun memories and full stomachs we had that day.

Black Friday

black-friday-shopping-bag-vectorial-design-representing-some-discount-was-inspired-34331463

Shop ’till you drop…or don’t

Lets talk about the obvious elephant in the room today. Black Friday. It’s either something you fully get into, or you cringe about the thought of it. This is something of a tradition for some people. In fact, today, I met several people wearing their annual Black Friday garb. Both were sporting holiday themed sweaters and jewelry. Nothing like truly getting into the spirit of things.

I get the excitement. It’s fun to shop for friend and family and to have that same energy shared by fellow shoppers, there’s nothing quite like it. Plus, there are some pretty decent sales to indulge in and that’s a high in itself I suppose (note Coupon Craze).

My mom and I participated in Black Friday about 3 years ago. I can’t say it was up to the same craziness you hear about on the news, but we got to shop around at the wee hours of the morning. I can’t say we even bought anything of substance either. A few nick-nacks here and there. I still wear my $2.50 necklace I bought from American Eagle. It was fun. A sort of girls night out.

But, it did NOT interrupt our family Thanksgiving. We enjoyed the day together, prepared the meal, ate, drank, and chatted among each other. It seems this celebration is sometimes overshadowed, or even forgotten when sales start Thursday evening and people camp out at store fronts to be the first ones in. There is a feeling of having to rush, beat the crowds, and take advantage of these never again sales. That’s too much pressure for my taste.

I’m glad I experience Black Friday when and where I did. It was fun. But my commitment to it lags. Today, I worked in the retail world on the busiest shopping day of the year. Luckily, our customers are pretty tame (plus we didn’t have any outrageous sales). And while I got my fair share of e-mails, mailings, and sign sightings for deals today, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed and rushed to make the sale. And so, after work, I called it quits. Don’t get me wrong, I’m the first at a sale rack. But not today.

Thanksgiving Cheer

Happy Thanksgiving! I have celebrated several Thanksgivings apart from family. But in every place, I have been welcomed. This year has been no different. It’s been a wonderful day of new traditions and some old. I was, of course, able to FaceTime with my family too (what would we do without tech). The holiday spirit is high and that’s what it’s all about. I’m full and exhausted, but fantastic!

Mistak^es

This morning I decided to browse through some of my favorite pins on Pinterest. It’s a website with a plethora of recipes, art, quotes, crafts, products, and tons more and its contributors are the creative public. Although I have not contributed to Pinterest myself, I have certainly used it as a fun tool to find new things to try and do. My favorites list is overflowing and part of that is because I have not gotten around to trying many of them.

Some of it has to do with time, yes. But there is an even deeper reason for putting off the creative juices and trying new things. It’s the fear of possibly failing or making a mistake. This issue goes beyond just doing a craft. Some people may call it procrastination or stalling or just letting it slide. But I bet we have all found ourselves putting something off in our life because of the fear of messing up.

Among my favorites, was a quote:

If you’re making mistakes, it means you’re out there doing something – Neil Gaiman

61e4bed0e49883baad915cabfa1ccc5a

Quote of today

To make his point, he’s left the ‘e’ out in something and later added it with ‘^’. It’s simple, clever, and SO TRUE! Mistakes are how we learn and advance ourselves. They can be embarrassing, difficult to accept, stressful, and plain old awful. But, I think back on all the times where I sat back and stayed in the ‘clear’ and all lot of the time I had nothing to show for it.

Obviously you must be smart about what risks you take. There are things you can do to avoid unnecessary mistakes. But in the big scheme of things, putting yourself out there without thinking about whether or not you will succeed will allow you to achieve something.

So, why have I left all those crafts pending in my favorites box? Simply because I don’t want to make a mess of things? That’s silly, but I think it’s pretty true. Something so simple and harmless but it bleeds into ‘real life’ stuff too. Not taking the jump into a job opportunity or risking the comfort and support of a familiar home to try some place new.

I better start practicing making mistakes.

Daily Prompt: Simply Irresistible

Tell us about the favorite dish or food that you simply cannot turn down.

images

Thai Iced Tea

Thai Iced Tea. I guess it doesn’t really qualify as a food, but it is the tastiest beverage and when the craving occurs, there is no stopping my efforts to find the hot, or rather, chilled, commodity.

It’s a common drink in Southeast Asia and can often be found in Thai Restaurants around the United States. I was first introduced to the creamy drink in college. A friend and I walked down our university hill to try out a Thai restaurant we had passed by multiple times. She suggested I try Thai Iced Tea. Her description didn’t sound too appealing. It’s a strongly brewed black tea with spices similarly used in Chai Tea. But it gets its sweetness and creamy orange color from condensed milk.

Sure enough, the orangey drink was served over ice and I was weary about trying the concoction. One sip and I was sold. It had the most incredible and rich flavors. It was comforting and happy tasting. Indescribable really. I would make late night trips to this restaurant just to take a glass of the tea to go during finals week.

After graduation I would look forward to returning to visit my friends, but also make a pit stop at the emphasis Thai restaurant, of course, ordering the signature drink there. It wasn’t until two summers ago that a Thai restaurant was introduced to my hometown and my travels could rest for a while as they had Thai tea on the menu.

I’ve done my fair share of travel and most recently spent several months in Edinburgh, Scotland. They have a plethora of Asian cuisine that was incredibly satisfying, but with a high price tag. Down the street from where I was living, I stumbled upon an Asian market. It carried authentic anything from varying countries. The owner barely spoke a word of English, but sure knew everything about the shops Asian delicacies. I ended up coming across a powdered version of Thai Iced Tea by Nestle. Of course all the instructions on how to prepare the drink was in Thai, but I purchased the fixings and took it home. After some trial and error, I was able to make my favorite drink in my own home.

I have yet to find such a concoction in the United States and I haven’t tried making it from scratch myself, although I think I could as I have mastered my own version of Chai Tea at home. Plus, that craving is sure lingering, as a local Thai Restaurant hasn’t appeared on my radar as of yet. But the search will continue. Especially after writing this. I have officially awoken the craving. Cheers.

What is OSU

I have begun to immerse myself in the Ohio State livelihood. The mid-west state is clearly proud of their  University. The Ohio State University, or OSU, is the pride and joy of the sports world in Ohio, and being in Columbus, there is really no excuse for me not to attend games among the die hard fans.

osu_football

OSU Football

I attended my first Ohio State Football game last month and couldn’t help but get in the spirit. I looked the part sporting the school’s colors of scarlet and gray and waved pom poms around. But I was really excited for watching the halftime show with the infamous marching band and the incredible coordination of the group creating a walking cowboy and the classic Ohio script.

I’ve experienced my own university football games and loved the energy of the student section and of course I watched our states professional football team. But OSU is the one and only football team for Ohio and that makes its fan base huge! The proud Buckeye State makes it known at local shops and restaurants with team wear, Buckeye shaped candies, jewelry, a more.

Tonight, I’ll dip my toes into the OSU football scene and I’m psyched. Like any sports experience, I look the part in OSU colors. I can’t wait to munch the vendor foods and cheer among some of the most dedicated college sports fans. And I bet you anything, I will be spelling and yelling O-H…I-O by the end of the night among them.

The Hunger Games: Part 1

23984771_BG1

The Hunger Games

I spent the summer of 2011 reading The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins and was excited to watch the story unfold in the first film. Getting to see Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark was exciteing and I was completely satisfied with the movie. The hard part was having to wait so long for the 2nd to come out.

For those of you that are fans of the The Hunger Games  you know that it was opening weekend for the 2nd film The Hunger Games; Catching Fire. Showings were still sold out today! It sounds like people were pleased about this one too.

Today we made our best efforts to go to The Hunger Games; Catching Fire but struck out. So instead, we recapped on the first. It was a good refresher to get reaquanted with the characters. I have become even more excited for the new film. Hearing the famous whistle of the mocking jay and the three fingered kiss sparked the inner fan in me.

It rings slightly of Harry Potter when the films would come out. The energy of the fans and how committed they were to the characters and story. Hopefully when we are able to watch the new movie, the hype will not have died down. Until then of course, we will have to keep our eyes and ears shut to any spoilers of the most recent film. My take of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire will be soon to come. Until then, no comments please, unless it’s about the book trilogy or first film; then by all means, write away!

Here’s a recap for those of you unfamiliar or, like me, glossy, about The Hunger Games; Part 1: