Oh Hai There, 28.

The first few days of 28 have been pretty great. (Poet and I know it!)

Birthday // lgsmash.com

I did spend my birthday working – but working from home so it didn’t feel as MUCH like work. I guess growing up means sometimes work has to happen regardless if it’s your birthday or not.

I did take a break from to get my haircut. (!!!) I’ve been planning this chop for many, many months. Since July, in fact. I have thick, naturally blonde hair and as my hair got longer, I was wavering between CUT IT RIGHT NOW and sticking it out a few more months to I could donate it. About the same time, a woman at my work was diagnosed with breast cancer and started chemo and radiation soon after. I took that as my sign to grow my hair a few more inches so I could donate to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths program.

Birthday // lgsmash.com

9+ inches later! Adjusting to the shorter length has been interesting (I keep reaching for phantom hair, brushing longer than my hair is, and using way too much shampoo) but I love it. After almost 4 years of long hair, it’s a refreshing change!

Birthday // lgsmash.com

And yes, that’s a cold sore. On my birthday. The nerve!

My hopes of night skiing Friday night were squashed when Alex had to work late. A late departure combined with snowy highway conditions turned our less than 1.5 hour drive into a 4ish hour drive and we arrived in Keystone close to midnight. This didn’t stop us from making whisky-gingers (complete with a fresh snowball instead of ice) and catching up with our friends.

Saturday morning was a stunningly bluebird day and we were on the lifts soon right after 9:30 a.m. With cupcakes in hand, our group of 6 headed up the lift for an EpixMix photo and a full day of skiing in fluffy, powdery snow.

Birthday // lgsmash.com

We spent Saturday evening in Denver with our friends who were visitng en route from Utah to Ohio and enjoyed a delicious meal at Euclid Hall. So. Good.

Our friends left on Sunday after brunch and Alex and I spent a quiet afternoon preparing for our mountaineering class, straighening up and cooking dinner. (Well, to be fair, Alex cooked.)

Someone asked (as ‘they’ always do on a birthday) if 28 feels older. And this year, it decidely does. Not necessarily from Thursday to Friday (*poof* instantly older!) but in general, I feel much more ‘adult’ these days. Maybe it’s recent happenings at work, maybe it’s moving further away from ‘newlyweds’ status, maybe it’s having a new-to-us car loan, maybe it’s how awful even tiny hangovers now feel, maybe it’s knowing I’m closer to 30 and 25. I can’t put my finger on exactly the reason – I think it’s all of these and more – but this year, 28 does feel older in a really good way.

Even MOAR Birthday Posting! (or: Today I’m A Year Older!)

I get it – either you like birthdays or you don’t. Some people go all out to celebrate while others choose to ignore it and call as little attention to their birthday as possible.

Well folks, today is my birthday and I am definitely a birthday person. I like to remember and celebrate other people’s birthdays and I most definitely celebrate my own. Not in a ‘HEY EVERYONE! IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!’ way but in a, ‘Dammit, it’s my birthday and I’m spending it doing exactly what I want to do.’ And I spend a lot of time thinking about exactly how I want to spend my day.

2 things are certain: I don’t work on my birthday and I eat a Jersey Mike’s cheesesteak sandwich on my birthday. This year, I’ve also planned to get my haircut – and not just a trim! We’re talking major inches! – and do some night skiing at Keystone with my handsome husband. Tomorrow, we’ll meet some friends to spend the day skiing and – if you can believe it, because I certainly can’t, we’ll have friends in town for a THIRD weekend in a row – living it up in Denver the rest of the weekend.

As I was driving to work yesterday, I was listening to music of year’s past and realized these were songs I love 10 years ago as an 18 year old troublemaker. Which made me think about how much changes in a 10 year span – an eternity that passes in the blink of an eye. Thinking back to 18 Year Old Lynne, we are so different but so similar – it’s comical to think about the life I thought I’d be living then. Kids just don’t ever know what’s ahead, do they? But then, I’m sure 38 Year Old Lynne will be saying the same thing about Present Lynne.

For my amusement, I thought I’d share a song 18 Year Old Lynne loved (and 28 Year Old Lynne still enjoys):

(Taking Back Sunday – Cute Without the E (Cut From The Team))

and one 28 Year Old Lynne loves right now:

(Lord Huron – Lonesome Dreams; I love that their music videos are little movies.)

And with that, I’m off to kick off my 28th year with a super fun long weekend!

Cheers!

I Wish I Had An Interesting Title For This Post (or: What’s Been Going On In lgsmashland)

*tap tap*

Testing! Testing! Is this thing still on?

Whew! It’s been quite some time since I’ve sat down to collect and share my thoughts. Between weekend visitors, a BUSY work trip to San Antonio followed by another weekend visitor (Sarah!), it’s been quite the couple of weeks over here!

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still trying to understand the appeal of the san antonio riverwalk.

ski day!

Spaulding Bowl, Copper Mountain

Florida shreddin’ the gnar, brah.

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brown palace bday tea //lgsmash.com

birthday cupcakes!

After spending a week cooped up inside, under incandescent hotel lighting, I jumped at the opportunity to ski with Sarah and Kristen (and Heidi and Chris and Tom and Laura!) on Friday. Fresh air, blue skies and great friends makes for an awesome recovering-from-work-travel day. And I rode my first t-bar lift (and knocked Kristen off in the process – sorry kk!) so that was cool! Just trying to sometimes do something everyday that scares me.

While Sarah was in town, we caught up over dinner at True Food Kitchen, tea and birthday cupcakes at the Brown Palace and over margaritas (and so many laughs!) at the Rio. The weekend flew by too quickly, as time spent with long distance friends and family always does, and I’m so happy to have been able to spend so much time with one of my oldest friends. 

And if 2 Fridays spent away from work and on the slopes weren’t enough, I’m taking this Friday off, too, to spend my birthday doing exactly that.

If it ain’t broke, right?

 

Chris’ Birthday Weekend in Colorado

Chris Birthday // lgsmash.com
Chris Birthday // lgsmash.com
Chris Birthday // lgsmash.com

Chris Birthday // lgsmash.com
Chris Birthday // lgsmash.com
Chris Birthday // lgsmash.comChris Birthday // lgsmash.com
For two weeks each year, my brother, Chris, and I are the same age. Irish twins, as it were. Chris has always been my dude – being so close in age meant an automatic buddy, someone who was experiencing (almost) the same things at the same times. We shared similar hobbies growing up and even played on the same T-Ball team. Our friends included many of the same people. We even lived together in college, sharing a house with a friend.

Mostof the time, our family birthday celebrations were shared, too. It’s been more than a few years since we’ve been able to celebrate together but this year, Chris made it happen and booked a ticket for him and his girlfriend, Jenna, to come visit for his birthday.

We skied (6 hours! Their first day on a real mountain, second day skiing ever!) at Keystone and stayed the night at the Keystone Lodge. I took advantage of Keystone Lodge’s yoga class Saturday morning before we headed back to Denver for birthday dinner celebrations. No photos but Alex and I brought Chris and Jenna to one of our favorite restaurants in Denver, FreshCraft. On Sunday, we lazily made brunch, hung out and the boys cut their hairz.

When I learned I had to be in Texas today, I decided to book my flight for Sunday night, as close to their flight as possible – mission accomplished. We weren’t able to eat the ‘pudding dessert’ I’d made him at home but we each brought some on our trips. I ate mine on the plane; Chris and Jenna held out for today’s breakfast.

I loved having my brother in town – as my siblings are growing up and moving away from Cincinnati, the ‘face time’ I get with each of them has become even more limited so getting to spend 4 whole days with my two favorite Chicagoians is a fantastic treat.

Happy birthday, Chris.

Currently {February}

currently february // lgsmash.com

…wishing happy birthday to my Irish twin (my brother and I are the same age right now!).

…enjoying spending a long weekend with my brother and his girlfriend.

…loving (still) weekday skiing vs. weekend skiing.

…learning a lot about ice skating and working on a big name musician’s tour (but not at the same time).

…gearing up for a crazy couple of weeks and months.

Gear Review: Brooks Range 240+ Carbon Pro Avalanche Probe

Ahead of our winter camping trip, Sierra Trading Post had asked if there was a piece of gear we could help field test and review for their YouTube channel.

I selected the Brooks Range 240+ Carbon Pro Avalanche Probe – not only is a probe essential when traveling in avalanche terrain, it’s also super helpful for winter camping – avy terrain or not.

I selected this probe because the carbon fiber makes it significantly lighter than similar probes on the market. When winter camping (well, all backpacking!) every tiny ounce counts.

This probe is not only super lightweight but super easy to use. As you see in the video, it pulls together in seconds – incredibly important if you’re trying to find someone buried under snow.

Edited to add: given the high avalanche danger and recent deaths in the west, it’s imperrative that backcountry adventurers check avalanche conditions before leaving and have the necessary avalanche safety gear (avalanche beacon/transmitter, probe and shovel.)

If you’re not traveling in avalanche terrain, a probe is especially helpful for measuring snow depth and obstructions before setting up camp in the snow. If you’ve selected a campsite and started stomping and leveling off snow to set up your tent, the last thing you want is to discover a giant rock or shallow snow under you.

If you’re in need of a probe, I highly recommend this one. Alex and I each carry this Brooks Range probe. Through the end of February, Sierra Trading Post is offering an additional 30% off probes (and snowsport clothing and gear!) so this probe is less than $50!! And avalanche beacons are also on a rare sale – you can snag a beacon for less than $200 through the links below.

Probe with discount is here.

All snowsport gear with discount is here.

#findingwinter with Mountain Hardwear

Until a couple of years ago, winter was not one of my favorite seasons.

I didn’t hate it, by any means, but when asked what my favorite season was, I usually picked summer and fall because there was ‘so much more to do than ski’ here in Colorado. And I didn’t know how to ski.

#findingwinter // lgsmash.com

And then, I learned how to downhill ski. And camp in the snow. And snowshoe. And about backcountry skiing. And ice climbing. And remembered most of the animals are sleeping in winter. Pandora’s winter box cracked opened and expanded my narrow vision of what winter can be.

Quickly, winter jumped from last place to tied for first.

#findingwinter // lgsmash.com

Earlier this winter as I was popping around on Facebook, I found that Mountain Hardwear was asking for applicants to join their #findingwinter campaign. I immediately applied. I had fun winter plans already on my schedule and was excited at the opportunity to share those stories with one of my favorite outdoor brands while gear testing one of their not-yet-released jackets.

#findingwinter // lgsmash.com

Weeks later, I got the email. When the #findingwinter team asked me if I’d be able to participate for 2 weeks in January, I was so excited that let out an excited yelp as I read it at work. I quickly responded to ‘Count me in!’ A week later, this package arrived at my apartment.

#findingwinter // lgsmash.com

For two weeks, I was asked to wear Mountain Hardwear’s Torsun jacket and document my #findingwinter adventures online and in the little booklet they included. The stars had aligned, too, because the two weeks I had the jacket, I’d already planned to go winter camping in Wyoming and a ski trip to Whitefish, Montana – excellent #findingwinter adventures in 2 states I’d never visited.

#findingwinter // lgsmash.com

I spent my two weeks living in this jacket. I wore it to work, to run, to snowshoe and to ski. One jacket that covered all my bases? Yes please!

When the time came to send my jacket back to Mountain Hardwear so someone else could start their #findingwinter adventures, I was so sad to be saying goodbye to my new buddy but happy for someone else to love it as much as I did.

This jacket seriously rocked my world – it fit me perfectly (hard to say for a long-torso’d gal!), it was so pretty and functioned excellently on my trips. The jacket is made with DryQ Elite which means it’s waterproof and breathable – so much so this jacket doesn’t have ‘pit zips’ but I never once felt like I needed them. Not snowshoeing into camp in Wyoming, not running in chilly temps in Denver.

#findingwinter // lgsmash.com

To minimize my separation sadness, I’ve been following the #findingwinter feed on Twitter and Instagram to watch the other #findingwinter participants share their adventures and winter stories. Seeing others love their jackets and doing really neat trips (and sharing beautiful photos!) is incredibly inspiring! If you hit up the FindingWinter website, you’ll find all photos/videos from the project there.

Wanna participate? The #findingwinter campaign is still accepting applicants here. It’s a super short application form and I’ve heard you need to have a Facebook account to apply.

Whether you apply or not, share your winter adventures with the #findingwinter hashtag on Twitter and Instagram and join in the celebration of all things snowy, cold and beautiful.

#findingwinter // lgsmash.com

Still Wearing Vanity Pounds

Well, the DietBet I’d participated in is over and I did not make my money back or ‘meet my goal.’

The good news is that it did inspire healthier actions and was a great motivator. I did eat better foods, drank more water and moved my body more. I came back from vacation in Montana and was happy to see the scale read the same as when I left. The Dietbet was a great jumpstart after Christmas cookies and New Year’s Eve champagne and helped me get/stay focused on health and fitness.

The bad news is that now I can absolutely see how easy it is for disordered eating to sneak into a person’s life. Being within 2 pounds of ‘my goal’ with just a week left in the game made my head spin – I wanted to win to earn my money back. I started thinking crazy math thoughts, figuring out how many calories I’d burn doing this activity and how many calories would be in my lunches and dinners. I was extremely startled to find these thoughts passing through my brain – I’d never thought like this before. I decided in that moment that my DietBet was over. There was no way I would ‘lose’ 2 pounds in 3 days and I didn’t need to be inviting these crazy thoughts and actions into my life.

So I’m still wearing my vanity pounds but have less of them than before. And I’m okay with for now.

While we’re on the topic of weight and motivation, I wanted to share that Jillian Michaels, the trainer from the Biggest Loser, will be here in Denver on March 11. I don’t watch the show (but have seen the recent controversy) and I don’t know too much about Jillian Michaels except that many, many people find her story incredibly inspiring. If you’re planning to go to Jillian Michaels live tour (nationwide – not just in Denver) and haven’t bought your ticket, you can use discount code JMLIVE for $5 off. Tickets in Denver are regularly $25 so you’re saving 20%!

Preparing for Winter Camping: What Do I Wear?! Edition

This is the second of a 3 part series covering winter camping basics – gear, clothing and food!

After having the right gear for camping in the snow, it’s important to carefully consider your clothing for the trip. As with all snowsports, it’s important to dress warm but not so warm that you’re sweating too much. Camping or not, the goal should be to eliminate sweating as much as possible – and to remove that moisture as quickly as possible. Wet skin or clothes + cold air = bad news.

There are a couple of keys to keeping warm while winter camping: layering up and choosing the right fabrics.

LAYERING UP

Before committing to your first overnight camping trip, I’d recommend spending some time in the snow and cold (skiing, snowshoeing, etc) to figure out a layering system that works best for you. While the principles of layering are the same, each person’s body requires a different configuration of layers at different time. So figure out what works for you before you’re a couple miles (or more) out in the back country.

winter camping clothing layers // lgsmash.com

Base Layers

Winter Camping Clothing Layers // lgsmash.com

First up, baselayers! These are ‘long underwear’ type pieces that fit close to the body. You’ll wear baselayers the entire time. My handsome model is wearing a tech t-shirt, long sleeve shirt (Columbia Extreme Fleece Half Zip pictured) and hiking pants (no name provided, per Alex). Alex doesn’t usually trek in with running tights on but changes into them to sleep. I usually wear Lole running tights (pictured), a fitted tech t-shirt and a synthetic long sleeve shirt (YMX by Yellowman pictured). 

Midweight Layers

winter camping clothing layers // lgsmash.com

This will be a lighter-weight jacket and pants, like a fleece or thinner insulated jacket. Depending on the weather, you may wear only this layer while snowshoeing or skiing to your campsite. For pants, these could be winter hiking pants. I usually bring my REI Revelcloud Jacket as it offers nice warmth and packs down into a small little bundle. I wear the Columbia Just Right Boot Cut pants on days when it’s too chilly to snowshoe in just running tights. (And, these pants are a very flattering cut – can’t hurt to look cute while you’re tromping around!) Alex wears Outdoor Research Centrifuge Jacket.  

Shell Layer

winter camping clothing layers // lgsmash.com

Next, you’ll want to have a ‘shell’ or wind/water resistant – but still breathable – layer to help protect from the elements. I bring the shell half of my Columbia Bugaboo coat (similar) and Boulder Gear Kodiak Ski Pants. Alex wears Columbia Lezoosh coat (shell only) and Outdoor Research Mentor Pants.

Insulation Layer

winter camping clothing layers // lgsmash.com

Insulation. This is where the magic happens! As the sun sets and you stop moving for the night, it’s crucial to have a great insulating layer to keep you warm when it’s cold out! I wear the Mountain Hardwear Hunker Down coat and it definitely keeps me toasty. While I love the coat, I would highly suggest finding a coat with a hood (this one does not).

Alex wears the Outdoor Research Transcendent Hoody and Mountain Hardwear Compressor pants. And as soon as those pants are back in stock on Sierra Trading Post, I’m buying myself a pair in my size – they are so incredibly warm!

But these are the layers and systems that work for each of us and are meant to serve as an example. As mentioned, it’s imperative you find layers and a system that works best for YOU.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT FABRICS

Lastly, when selecting your layers, it’s important to keep fabrics in mind. As with all sports, you want to avoid cotton as your fabric of choice but this is especially true when winter camping. Cotton will retain all moisture (sweat) and leave you shivering and susceptible to hypothermia. Instead, choose synthetic fabrics closest to your body, like polyester or spandex.

Heather’s guide to selecting a winter coat offers great tips to keep in mind when searching for a coat (or pants, really!).

*Footnote: despite appearances, no husbands were harmed in the making of this blog post. In fact, said husband was a willing participant. I know. I couldn’t tell either.