Let’s get you caught up on another triad of random happenings this winter.

The new Provo City Center Temple had it’s open house and I had the immense please of going twice! First I went with Braden and my mind was blown! It is absolutely gorgeous inside! I mean really classy and well done.
The second time I took my gal pal Katie (same one from the Ice Castles and half my other posts) and again had a splendid time. We capped that visit off with breaskfast at Kneaders so I could give her the full Utah morning routine while she’s out here… she needed to experience it at least once.

And for me.. I need to experience skiing in Utah… at least once. Well gear up friends for yet another. traumatizing. tale.

I got Snow bird lift tickets for Braden and I for extraordinary good behavior at work and we were both so excited!

Even though I’ve been working graves, I woke up early, Braden took a half day at work, and we headed up the mountain by noon. We stopped in and had to buy goggles and get my rental gear (luckily Braden had skiis already) but other than that it was smooth sailing. We dropped the car off with valet (another work perk) and headed down to the lockers where we have a specific IM Flash locker with the lift tickets inside.
Found the locker,
checked my e-mail,
no effing combination. AH! Soo….. we couldn’t get our lift tickets. No worries, I’ll just call the flash HR and talk to the person and get the tickets.

The ONE person who knew.. wasn’t at her desk at all but no one knew when she’d be back so boy we held out hope. (It was noon afterall she was prob just at lunch)
3 hours we waited.
3 hours I spent despairing about having paid so much money on rentals and skii goggles and wouldn’t even get to ski!

We tried to stay positive though. We had a nice lunch at the cafe while we waited. And I strapped the skis to my feet briefly and waddled around the outdoor area just trying to get used to them and get that part over with for when she called back.

No call, so at 3 (when we would’ve only had like an hour and half to ski, we gave up and packed up to go)

But the drama doesn’t end there does it? NOOO as Im getting the car from valet, someone straight up walks off with me skis! So there I am, an exhausted, emotionally distressed girl dreading having to BUY skis that I didn’t even get to use. Complete break down.
So anyways horrible day trying to ski even though conditions were just about perfect! I mean the place was empty, we would’ve had no lines!

On to a happier topic,
This year on Valentine’s Day was Braden’s and my 2nd official anniversary. (of exclusively dating not of friendship.. already posted about that one)
I usually like to do something special so for breakfast I tried out this AHmazing recipe for Orange, Cranberry rolls. I’m seriously not even kidding they were as delicious as orange roll can possibly be and I made them! My first rolled rolls ever! 😀 Just look at them, they turned out fantastic!
(If you want the recipe, which trust me… you do, go to visit smitten kitchen at http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2013/11/cranberry-orange-breakfast-buns/ )

I also got this oh so sweet potted plants from Braden. We’ve started the tradition of plants instead of flowers since succulents are just as pretty, live a million times longer, and I just love having a little collection on my kitchen window sill to remind me of how much my man loves me while I wash his bloody dishes. lol
Ohh and check out that stunning engagement ring I couldn’t resist putting in the photo to show off!

And I capped off the day by making one of my favorite desserts: Chocolate bombs. It’s chocolate cake, with chocolate pudding, chocolate pudding whipped with whipped cream into a kind of mouse, and then homemade whipped cream for the top layer. Then I just melted some chocolate chips in a zip lock and made hearts and X’s and O’s. Awww just a fancy baker am I!

So all in all, I’ve survived winter but HELLLLOOOOO Spring!
Also for those of you wondering… The ski shop gave me a week for the skis to turn up which they did 3 days later when the bloke who walked off with them tried to return them at a different ski shop. Hellooo They have my name on it! (whatever they all look the same) so drama concluded and it only cost me about 60 bucks, 5 hours of stress (which induced at least an hour of tears), and a wish to probably never ski again.

Next post: ICE CASTLES!!! Dun dun dun…

So ya I’ve been wanting to go to the Ice Castles pretty much since I moved to Utah, but like most Winter things… I just never got around to it until it was like Spring… not not possible anymore.
So when my girl friend asked me if Braden and I wanted to join her on a week night (less busy and MUCH cheaper) I jumped right on the band wagon!

They had a couple really cool running fountains (the one at the top and the one to the right) All in all I’d say the castle felt more like an ice canyon and the fountain to the right reminded me of a picturesque water fall, but castle works too! It started off not too cold but as the sun set and things started to chill, we helped ourselves to some hot chocolate at the cute little stand inside the ice castle. They had cinnamon rolls and other snacks and the prices were really actually decent which made the hot chocolate all the more sweet!

Then it was off to explore! We circled the place.. probably more than once or twice and one of the coolest parts was “the ice slot canyons” it wasn’t too tight of a squeeze but it was tight enough that there were some pretty massive icicles hanging above you.. I didn’t stay too long in there. lol

Braden doomed to hold 2 cups of hot chocolate every 2 seconds while I took pictures… I mean I drank it pretty fast… so it wasn’t that long of torture. He made a great model!

This is kind of the main “courtyard” with the fountain and to the right is where you can go through the smaller “canyons”

The absolute BEST part to me was the slide. You went up this slight ramp, through a tunnel, and the line had you standing ON TOP of the ice castles. (photo below was taken from the top) It wasn’t terribly high but it did give you a cool view of the area. I didn’t even know I was in line for the slide.. lol I just wanted to go up on top but the slide was way fast and wicked fun! Such a cool addition to the ice castles!

Well inevitably after walking around in what is

chunks of ice (not snow.. ice) our feet were FREEZING, so we did the slide and headed out.
And this my friends is where, after 23.5 years or life and about 8 years of driving… I hit my very first deer.
It. Was. Traumatizing friends. I mean there Braden and I were in my little Nissan Versa headed down Provo Canyon, both actually wondering what it would be like to hit a deer (some weird premonition we both most have had) and all of the sudden there he is! This big deer in the middle of the freeway. Now I had been definitely going the speed limit (again.. premonition) so I had a line of cars backed up behind me and even though I saw him, all I could do is slow and hope he’d stay in the median area or make it to the other side… He ALMOST made it. Luckily I’d slowed enough I only clipped his back legs and he bounced right off and kept on going I’m guessing. (Hoping)(telling myself) and little damage was done to my car besides the bumper slightly dented and a few little deer hairs in the grill (but no guts… so I was relieved)

I can’t believe it finally happened to me but we were ok, deer was probably ok, and hey the ice castles were cool! That’s the take away I guess.

Ok so this post is kind of just a hodge podge of my life on grave shifts.
Above photo is the what I claimed as my 1st hike of the 52 and I went with my good friend Mya and her dogs! It was actively snowing and the best part was, since we both wore snow pants, we actually slid down most of the trail on our bottoms! It was a blast!
To the left: Ollie passed out after the adventure. He sure loves cuddling with (on) Braden.

To the right: Just about every night that I’m home on my night’s off, I usually stay up till around 4 in the morning so I’m in between shifts and Monty cuddles like this with me on the couch. I sit on my computer with the tv on, and he climbs in between me and the couch! What a snuggle bug!

Below: How Ollie copes with the grave shifts… he sleeps in “his” chair. Such sweet kids!

And because how could I not post photos of the progress at Battle Creek Falls, here is a photo from probably a month later (hike 2) with another gal pal! The mound was even bigger and this cool cave was carved out of the front!

Although you can’t see me in the picture above, I’m actually standing behind Ollie. There was runing water through there, so luckily I had my water proof snow boots on but it was a really neat snow cave!

And of course we climbed up on the glaciel mound and Ollie came running to join us!

Quick little New Year’s Eve post. I actually had to work New Years Eve and New Years day so I didn’t quite make it to midnight but we still had a great night! We had a relaxing dinner and dessert, watched some movies, and for a brief couple of minutes, we ran out on my back deck to play with sparklers!

And by play, of course I mean pretend I’m a wizard casting spells with my wand.

We also wrote out our New Years Resolutions which of course I’ve already failed a nice chunk of them. Some of mine included:
1. Hike or run at least 15 miles per week. Considering I’ve been on graves, it’s cold outside, and my knee was hurting too much to actually run, this turned more into using the elliptical machine and doing more like 12 miles per week. But Hey maybe I’ll get there now that the weather is warming up!
2. Eat healthier (especially concerning fruits and vegetables) again a failure as the majority of the time I had an apple a day and sometimes through carrots or a banana into the mix. But hey maybe I’ll start this again now that I’m back on day shift?! … Probably won’t get much better though.
3. Started the 52 hike challenge which I am actually pretty excited about! So far I’m only at like 9 (which I think I forgot to record a couple to be honest) but again as the weather warms up, the days are longer, and I have a normal schedule again, I think this goal is definitely achievable! Read about the challenge here: http://www.52hikechallenge.com/

Recognize this spot?! Yep I posted about it like 2 days ago with the beautiful Fall leaves and now… covered in snow!

I bought snow boots and when I saw how beautiful the mountains looked from my house, I knew it was finally my time to go explore the Winter Wonderland!
(Sorry, this post actually precedes Christmas and snowshoeing chronologically…)

Sorry, photo over load, but the best part of going hiking on this go around was seeing how much the boys loved it! We had the trail completely to ourselves and all in all, it wasn’t too cold of a day! I loved seeing them both run around and Monty had the snow sticking to him which just made him the cutest snow bunny in my book!

We hiked around the little park area and headed up to Battle Creek Falls to check out how frozen they were! We weren’t disappointed by one bit of this trail!

The base of the waterfall had started to grow into a little bowl but it’s not nearly the size of what it would become in the the following months of January and February!

By now, I’ve probably done this hike in the winter at least 5 times with different friends and the mound at the bottom of the water fall got bigger and bigger each time! I absolutely love this hike every season of the year! Such a blessing to live so close to it 🙂

Moving right along with my next post! For Christmas, Braden and I gifted each other (along with a couple other things) snowshoes! I’ve just always felt that winter was so long and dreary and I never could enjoy it since I’d just be waiting all season for Summer so I can hike again! Solution? Hike in winter… with snowshoes!

For our first adventure, we headed up to Stewart Falls with some friends and our puppy dogs!

The snow was crazy deep but luckily some of the trail had been packed down! (The trail was deeper than Ollie is tall!) and if you went off trail, even with snowshoes we were up to our waist! Crazy! It was gorgeous and actually not too cold since you’re working hard to move around!

The frozen falls were beautiful! We didn’t make it quite all the way since our puppies kept licking their paws and seemed uncomfortable so we snapped some photos from afar and turned back! All in all we barely saw anyone else on the trail and the beautiful white solitude was just magnificent!

With the other winter hikes we went on, I never noticed Ollie’s paws bothering him but I guess with how high up we were it was a little colder. He still did great though! (We did leave Monty at home since I didn’t know there was a packed trail for him to be on and I knew the snow would be much too deep for him!)

It was so fun being out with our friends exploring and trying something new!
Just check out some of those gorgeous evergreens frosted with snow!

Just a quick post about Christmas! Because pretty sure I promised to show off some of my decorations. I went pretty far out since… I love decorating and Christmas! lol A lot is actually the same from our previous apartment, but some is new!
The tree and stuff hanging on the wall is all old but I love how easily I could swap out the beach gallery art for my christmas wreaths! Plus I topped off my formal living room with some new throw pillows and the glorious wreath that I wound up my front stairs!

To the right: the glorious wreath I did myself! ( picture doesn’t really give it true justice) I ended up buying just a normal green plain wreath and added the poinsettias, berries, ornaments, pine cones, etc… lot’s of things to spice it up and I love how it turned out! (1 hour in Hobby Lobby WELL spent)

Also changed out my table setting. The antler was actually there for the fall decor but I decided to keep it on for Christmas along with my new Reindeer burlap table runner and red reindeer!

Also how could I NOT give my boys their very own Christmas tree?! This little tree was actually left in the garage from the previous owner and wasn’t in amazing shape… It’s probably a 3.5 foot tree and is missing on of the support feet (Kinda leaning on the corner wall there) but it worked perfectly for hanging some of my boys ornaments! Plus it added some Christmas lights to my other living room!

I also aquired this adorable Good wishes sign and the Santa statue (he has a baby reindeer standing next to him that isn’t visible but super cute!) The other little reindeer statue I had before.

Above is the general view of my “shelf” of decor. I’ve got a little “Noel” sign next to my statue of Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus (which is my tribute to a nativity since I have yet to find one I really like and can afford) Then next to that is my poinsettas and Christmas countdown blocks. I already talked about the corner, but under the other window is my snowman music box (plays we wish you a Merry Christmas) my Ho,Ho,Ho jingle sign, and some Christmas words in the shape of a tree on the tile) Then I’ve got my “remote holder box” which was actually a gift box for Kneaders but has Christmas lingo all over it and I loved it!

To the left: is my new fireplace entertainment center which I LOVE! It’s also a space heater which I so needed in this chilly basement. Then I’ve got our family stockings hung in front of course!

And to top off this Christmas post, here’s a picture of a picture.  We decided to torture my dogs by taking them to meet Santa. I actually thought it would be a lot of fun but they were pretty wary of him.. Hence Braden and I ended up in the picture (weren’t really planning on it lol) to hold Ollie in it… That’s seriously as close as I could get him to Santa and just look at Monty’s face… so concerned lol. Anyways I still love the picture and framed it for the Dog’s Christmas corner. It was a perfect way to support the Humane Society (only $25 and you get the 8X10 print included!) Next year we may try a Christmas card picture without Santa… lol

And here’s another post about pre-winter days when it was still warm and glorious Fall/Winter. I recently discovered the series of mountain biking trails/ dirt road that connects Battle Creek to Grove Creek Canyon and its now one of my FAV walks!

It’s probably around 2 miles both ways with a couple hills to keep things interesting. The best part for me is that most of the time I’ve gone, it’s been empty so I could let the dogs run free (like a normal walk) without actually have to do a “kill yourself” steep hike like everything else near my house. lol It’s nice when you just need a rest day and hey, the views from up there are still pretty spectacular!

The boys just love it! and I love how close and easy it is to do. 😀 It does get quite muddy though so be forewarned about that if you ever have a hankering to try it.

(this is actually at the base of Grove Creek Canyon but I discovered it while exploring this trail so it gets included in this post. I loveee streams!)

Well… I failed again at keeping this thing updated,but never fear I’m about to embark on numerous blog posts to get you all caught up.
Where did I leave off? Sometime in November/ December I believe?

Picture to the left: my sweet heart Braden hanging Christmas lights up on the house!! I was soooo stoked to get them up there and we had to do it early before it started to snow 🙂

Also while enjoying the early warm winter days, my good friend katie and I hiked up Grove Creek Canyon near my house in Pleasant Grove. It’s a steep hike and winds up a cliff face which I LOVE! Excellent work out, even better views, oh and hey one day I’ll do the full loop and hike a little extra to come down battle creek! That will be an adventure! We only hiked until we hit the snow which was about the top of the waterfall. In the pic just above you can see our adorable dogs posing on the trail. I just love Ollie’s little head tilt here!