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Jake Owen 

Last week I heard country star, Jake Owen, sing his current hit What We Ain’t Got during a concert in Phoenix. It’s not a holiday ballad, but the core message of the song certainly applies during this season of list-making and gift-giving.

We struggle to find the right gadget or gear for those on our list. And often spend a fortune mailing last minute gifts to faraway friends and relatives.

But what is it that they (and we) really want?

We ain't happy where we are,

There's greener grass in the neighbors yard.

A bigger house and a faster car.

Ask the elderly, the cancer patient or the returning vet what's on his or her wish list and most likely it won’t be more stuff. Perhaps their list includes good health, a roll back of the clock, and extra time with loved ones.

Our favorite doors are always locked.

On a higher hill with a taller top.

It’s hard to say why it’s such a struggle for most of us to askew the stuff and ask for what we might really want. If I knew….well, that’s a discussion for a different time!

But this year, right now, my holiday wish for all is for more sparkling laughter and meaningful experiences.

More fresh air, art, music and poetry. More time listening to snow fall (I know), children giggling, waves lapping on the beach and wind in the trees. More time sharing stories and quiet moments with those we love. 

And more time appreciating what we’ve got. 

(Photo: Courtesy CBS Radio - KMLE) - Jake Owen responds to a little girl's request to dance with him onstage.

Lake Placid Lodge
Two scenic winter resorts, Lake Placid Lodge and The Sagamore Resort, are offering a Ski For Free package this winter.  These Adirondack gems are perfect winter getaways and the ideal solution to avoiding crowded ski lodges.  

Ski & Stay for Free Package - Lake Placid Lodge 

Conquer Whiteface Mountain by day and relax in the comforts of a private fireplace on Lake Placid by night! The Ski for Free package includes:
  • Three nights accommodations
  • Two daily ski tickets per adult, per stay
  • Custom, made-to-order breakfast daily
  • Chef's choice of freshly prepared snack and wine in room per day
  • Nightly turndown service
  • Chef's choice of dessert delivered to room each day
  • Should you choose to extend your stay, receive the fourth night free along with two more complimentary ski tickets
  • Rates for this package start at $699 per night.

Offer based on double occupancy. Valid Sundays - Thursdays through March 28, 2015. Advance reservations for dining should be made directly with the proper outlet after confirming your room package reservation. All offers are based on availability. Restrictions apply. Excludes taxes, gratuities, resort fees, and alcohol. Cannot be combined with other offers.  Blackout dates apply.

Ski for Free Package - Sagamore Resort 

Hit the slopes at Gore Mountain by day and relax at The Sagamore on scenic and beautiful Lake George by night! The Ski for Free package includes:
  • Two-night accommodations
  • Breakfast daily for two adults
  • Two lift tickets to Gore Mountain per stay
  • Rates for this package start at $219 per night.

Offer valid on stays from December 24, 2014 through April 30, 2015, (weather permitting).  All offers are based on availability. Restrictions apply. Excludes taxes, gratuities, resort fees, and alcohol. Cannot be combined with other offers. Blackout dates apply. 
To book this special offer call (866) 258-7247 and mention code SKIFREE.

Will you be making fruit pies for your holiday parties?

Consider these tips for baking the perfect double crust from the pros at Magnolia Bakery

1.  Wait to add sugar until just before you are ready to add your fruit to the pie. Otherwise, your pie filling will be too watery.

2.  After you roll your bottom layer crust, brush a thin layer of egg white wash over the bottom and sides.

3.  When you add the fruit to the pie pan make sure to “mound” it – gently press together so you create a snug, generously portioned pile of fruit.

4.  When adding the top crust, once again, press your dough toward the center over the fruit. This allows the dough to “drop” during baking.

5.  Be sure to cut or prick the top dough to vent some of the steam. You can get creative here as well, just like we did for our Pi Day caramel apple hand pies!


6.  A nice egg wash and sugar/cinnamon sprinkle adds a nice sparkle and continues to a browned crisp top.

7.  Check your oven temperature with an oven thermometer. Conventional ovens are often off quite a few degrees, which means your pie could under or over bake easily. You don’t want to ruin all your hard work!


Street by 50

Street by 50 On-Ear Wired Sport Headphone.

Great sound. Great comfort. The music lover on your gift list will be in awe of the professional quality sound provided by leading edge technology. The IPX4 rating means they are resistant to water and sweat. Great for traveling ( they fold down and fit well in an included compact travel case.) Choose from a variety of fun colors.


Portable Wireless Speakers

SMS Audio SYNC by 50 Portable Bluetooth Speaker - Black 

If you are a music lover on the move, this portable speaker is for you. From your campsite to your hotel room to pool side, the omni-directional 3D stereo sound and professionally tuned 50mm drivers deliver dynamic, crystal clear audio. Light-weight and innovative, you won’t leave home without it.


NYNE Portable Bluetooth Speaker



NYNE Multimedia Inc TT Portable Bluetooth Speaker (White/Grey)

Designed for frequent flyers, this nifty tech gift can charge your phone, make it possible to conduct hands free calls with the integrated noise-canceling microphone, and tap into your play list for up to ten hours. International travelers will appreciate the multiple plugs that are included. 

At just two pounds, you can tuck it in your bag or use the shoulder strap and carrying case.

Latigo Ranch

Ranch life continues once the snow flies!

Located approximately 130 miles west of Denver, Colorado, Latigo Ranch is situated in one of the most beautiful places on earth and offers a panoramic view of the Continental Divide.

Guests can drink in the views, inhale the crisp mountain air, and gaze in awe at some of Colorado’s most spectacular scenery from the front porch of the ranch’s historic log lodge. Guests will experience warm hospitality and winter activities, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and tubing that keep Latigo Ranch guests coming back year after year.

The outdoor activities are as invigorating as the inside comforts are cozy. Winter rates and packages start just before Christmas and run through late March.


Looking for a great gift?

Consider a one-year pass to the nation's National Parks and other federally-managed recreation areas. You'll provide the recipient with magical memories.

Tip: Military families qualify for free. 

Annual pass, $80

winter lodge

Plan a snowy escape with your family. 

Here are five wintry lodges to consider: 

winter lodges

1) The National Park Inn; Mount Rainier National Park.

Leave your technology behind and immerse yourselves in the beauty of this majestic setting in the park’s Longmire Historic District. Check in to one of 25 rooms in the two-story lodge.

Relax in the lounge and sip hot cocoa near the massive stone fireplace while enjoying stories of the day and making plans for the next. Stop by the general store, a circa 1911 log cabin, for access to cross-country and snowshoeing rentals and other goodies.


winter lodge

2) Shore Lodge; McCall, Idaho.

Nature fans are quick to fall for this small, picturesque town 100 miles north of Boise. While Payette Lake may serve as the recreational centerpiece, there is plenty to keep the family busy indoors or out.

Check in to a guest room or spacious cottage before setting out to explore via snowshoes, cross-country skis or snowmobiles. Hop on the shuttle to enjoy a day at the nearby Brundage Mountain Resort or relax in the spa and heated saltwater pool.


winter lodges

3) Sundance Mountain Resort; Sundance, Utah.

You’ll find it difficult to leave the cozy lodge warmed by a roaring fire, or your cabin crafted from indigenous materials. But when you do, choose from cross-country and snowshoe trails that run deep into the woods, or sunlit downhill runs on the slopes of Mount Timpanogos.

The resort, founded by filmmaker and conservationist Robert Redford, offers family-friendly pottery, beading and printmaking classes in the Art Shack. There’s also winter fly-fishing and dining menus with an emphasis on organic and locally sourced ingredients.


bishops lodge

4) Bishop’s Lodge; Santa Fe, N.M.

Just 3 miles from the heart of Santa Fe, this 111-room lodge oozes old-school charm amid modern amenities. Thick adobe walls, dark beams and kiva fireplaces wafting the sweet smell of piñon provide an authentic backdrop for your winter getaway.

Hike, ski or ride horseback on 450 acres out the back door, or make your way to the nearby Santa Fe Ski Basin for downhill thrills. Stop in town for internationally renowned art, restaurants and museums.


winter lodge

5) Devil’s Thumb Ranch; Tabernash, Colo.

Stay in a cozy cabin or opt to sleep in the new 50,000-square-foot High Lonesome Lodge, where ranch guests take in expansive views of the Continental Divide and the Ranch Creek Valley below.

The centerpiece of the lodge is a reconstructed Civil War-era barn. Choose from 31 guest rooms and four suites, each with private outdoor patios and Adirondack-style rockers. Grab the binoculars to catch a glimpse of wildlife roaming on this 6,000-acre expanse of Colorado beauty, or set out on the Nordic trails for an up-close view of winter scenes.


 More winter lodge ideas.



world travel

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry,

and narrow-mindedness.

– Mark Twain

Ski Vail with Epic Pass

This year's ski season brings more epic options than ever.

 The Epic Pass, from Vail Resorts, is considered one of the best buys in ski country. The top level pass includes unlimited skiing at 12 resorts across the country. This year, access includes the Park City Mountain Resort. Take your ski passion and your pass around the globe and opt for five free ski days in Verbier, Switzerland, or Trois Vallees in France. You can also make fresh tracks in Japan. The international newcomer to the list is Niseko United, four resorts on one mountain, located an hour south of Sapporo.

Pass options also include discounts for teens and children.

The last day to purchase an Epic Pass for this season is Nov. 23.


cauliflower roasted

Spicy Whole Roasted Cauliflower

It's a taste treat we've seen on many restaurant and resort menus in recent months. Whether you add it to your Thanksgiving feast or sample the delectable vegetable tonight, let us know what you think! 


1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 head cauliflower
1½ cups plain Greek yogurt
1 lime, zested and juiced
2 tablespoons chile powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 400° and lightly grease a small baking sheet with vegetable oil. Set aside.

2. Trim the base of the cauliflower to remove any green leaves and the woody stem.

3. In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt with the lime zest and juice, chile powder, cumin, garlic powder, curry powder, salt and pepper.

4. Dunk the cauliflower into the bowl and use a brush or your hands to smear the marinade evenly over its surface. (Excess marinade can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to three days and used with meat, fish or other veggies.)

5. Place the cauliflower on the prepared baking sheet and roast until the surface is dry and lightly browned, 30 to 40 minutes. The marinade will make a crust on the surface of the cauliflower.

6. Let the cauliflower cool for 10 minutes before cutting it into wedges and serving alongside a big green salad.


(Recipe developed by Pure Wow.)

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