Being Thankful

As Thanksgiving came—and went—Jeff and I found ourselves reflecting upon how grateful we are to have lucked into a life in Utah.  Our move to Park City in 2001 was hardly premeditated. To be sure, it wasn’t altogether a well-thought-out decision. Honestly, being in Park City on vacation just felt right, and the idea of living here made sense to us in ways that we thought made sense. This was, of course in the B.K. Era—Before Kids—but we had a hunch it would be a great place to have a family.

That hunch paid off—and every year, as the ski season begins, I find myself reflecting on the ways I never realized my life would change for the better as a result of raising my family in Utah. Skiing with my family at Deer Valley is one of my very favorite things to be thankful for.

  1. From the moment my kids put on skis, they felt proud and impressed at their ability to engage in sport. As long as we made falling fun, they had a blast. As long as we let them eat cookies as big as their heads, they felt motivated to keep going. And when motivation flags, there is always a stash of sugar in my pocket to give it a boost.
  2. Watching them go from fearing a run to mastering it is a feeling that compares to watching them learn to walk.  Mind you, with every passing year, as their skills improve, I find myself trying to do the mental calculus about how long it will take before they are better than I am. And then I sign up for more lessons—for me. Which brings me to….
  3. Pushing myself is the best example. The only thing that made me happier than actually skiing X-Files last year was telling my kids that I did something that had previously scared me, and then….LOVED it.
  4. Deer Valley is serious about their family-friendly vibe. When my younger son was a baby, we’d come to the hill every weekend to watch big brother ski. Jeff and I often took turns hanging with the little guy playing sugar packet hockey, and working our way down Success with the big guy. But before we could do that, I had to run the gauntlet of logistics between the skier drop-off curb and the window seat in the Snow Park restaurant. There was a stroller, a giant diaper bag, containing supplies that would last other humans a full week, but will last a baby about an hour. There was the big guy’s gear. And, of course, the big guy himself, whose short, preschooler legs made the distance from curb to table seem insurmountable. Except that we had the good sense to arrive after the initial morning skier rush—and a team of ski valets and greeters would descend upon us to carry extra gear, push the stroller, open doors and joke with Lance to make the long walk fun.
  5. There are no strangers on the ski hill—my kids are comfortable chatting up other folks on the lift line, or on chair-lift rides. And I tell them it’s OK to gloat when they tell visitors we live here. After all, why shouldn’t they be aware that living here is nothing to take for granted.
  6. My life really is your vacation. My friend Miriam wrote about this last year, when I took my son skiing for my birthday . We don’t ski every day of the week—there is work, and the laundry monster must be fed, the refrigerator must be restocked. But the ability to drop everything and head to the hill at a moment’s notice—even if you don’t get to do it that often—is always there. It’s reassuring, even, to know that you could go take a run at any moment.
  7. Meeting up with friends almost always involves some sort of great winter activity—like skate skiing, snowshoeing  or five runs at Deer Valley before lunch. I layered up one recent morning and met a friend for snowshoeing—it was our workout in between dropping off our kids at school and getting rolling with our workdays. Seriously. And, no, I did not care that it was cold out. Back in my New York life, the only thing the snow ever did was ruin my shoes.

Skiing with my family is more fun that I ever could have dared to hope. I loved skiing as a kid—and I’m thrilled to see my kids enjoy it. I’m eager for this new season because my younger son is now 5, and that’s kind of a sweet-spot age for skiing. He’s been at it long enough that he knows the basics, is eager to conquer more terrain, and has enough stamina to explore the mountain a little.

Counting Blessings in Park City

I wasn’t sure if I could handle the winter here when my husband suggested we move from Northern California to Park City. But living here for the past year has been even better than I could have imagined. Granted, the locals tell me we had a very mild winter last year, but we did it. This year I am ready for the snowfall with some help from a kind local (who I nicknamed my “winter consultant”). She took my husband and me under her wing and shared her snow secrets. We now have smart wool socks and sweaters, studded tires on our all wheel drive vehicles and “yak trex” (which are like snow tires for your boots to put on when it’s icy.) Thanks to my friend, I can say, “bring it on Mother Nature.” I count her as one of my many blessings in the past year.
What blessings will you count this Thanksgiving? Here is a list of some other things I am thankful for living in Park City:

Winter: It isn’t difficult to figure out why they call Utah snow, “the greatest snow on earth.” You can actually hear it crunch when you walk on it – harder for making snow balls because it is so dry and flaky. I am past the snow ball throwing stage so I don’t really mind. The snow is wonderful to ski on since the skis seem to grab the snow on the edges when I turn, giving me more control and agility. Not to mention, the snowflakes brush right off helping me to stay dry and warm so I can ski a few more runs instead of running to the lodge for relief from my damp gloves and jacket.

The beauty: What I have been told by the locals is that even in winter the sky here is always a beautiful bright blue. So they never get the winter blues even when it’s a long one. With the Wasatch Mountain range as a back drop, it takes your breath away. I try to drink in the beauty every single day.

The people: This is a town of very active people who, at a moment’s notice, are ready to invite you to join them in whatever activities they find out you may like. Whether they were locals or part time residents, this spring and summer, there was a constant flow of invitations from people of all ages to join a golf game, a hike, or a bike ride. I count my blessings for not losing too many golf balls at Park City Municipal Course and for all the places I explored with my new friends.

The activities: There is almost too much to do. We planned on doing some home improvements last year but who wants to stay home? There is the Sundance Film Festival, the FIS Freestyle World Cup Ski events, international ski jumping competitions at the Olympic Park, and of course, the chairlifts at Deer Valley to take me to a new mountain to explore. The events here seem to always be calling my name. In fact, they called so many times that my home never got updated bathroom fixtures or touch up paint on the doors and moldings, but then again my life has been filled with adventure.

The shopping: Did I tell you that I live within walking distance of TJ Maxx? I know. Enough said. My favorite factory outlet stores include the Gap, Banana Republic, Lucky Brand Jeans, Polo, and Coach. Did I mention that those are also all just around the corner? And they just opened a Bare Minerals Outlet store! Park City has the most amazing boutiques on Main Street for that something special and although I haven’t yet been to the City Creek Center in Salt Lake City, I am certainly grateful it’s there! I can’t wait to go at Christmas time to visit Macy’s, Michael Kors, TUMI, Nordstrom and Tiffany.

The food: Is it ok to be grateful for food? I guess so. I love to eat at Deer Valley~Grocery Café for breakfast and bring my laptop and just spend a couple hours writing there in the mornings. I was blown away by Fireside Dining experience at the Empire Canyon Lodge. My favorite restaurants on Main Street are Wahso – very classy take on Asian Cuisine and Flying Sumo is my first stop for sushi. We’ve taken many a guest to a combination of the High West Distillery and Butchers for whiskey tasting and dinner. There are many wonderful places to enjoy a delicious meal in Park City.

You: I have to say I am really blessed to have started last year as a blogger for the Deer Valley Resort Blog and I want to give a big shout out of thanks to you – the readers – for your warm response to my posts. You guys continue to read, comment, share on Facebook and Tweet posts from the blog. You’ve laughed with me (hopefully not at me) at my first attempts at skiing last year and all my rookie mistakes as I moved from a beginner to an intermediate level skier.
I definitely have many blessings to count this year and I hope you do, too. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and I’ll see you on the runs at Deer Valley on opening day December 8th!

Thanksgiving Pies

Watch as Letty Flatt demonstrates how to make the perfect Pumpkin Pie.  Perfect for your  Thanksgiving dessert needs!  You can find Letty’s cookbook, Chocolate Snowball, at the resort’s Deer Valley~Grocery Cafe or our online Signatures store.

You still have time to order your Thanksgiving pies or additional sides, by ordering by Monday, November 19.  You can call 435-615-2400 for more information.

Bakery Thanksgiving Offerings
9” Pumpkin pie with butter pie crust $16
9” Pumpkin pie with gingersnap crust $17
9” Apple pie with cheddar cheese crust $22|
9” Sweet potato pecan pie $22
9” Chocolate silk pie $21
9” Pecan pie $21
Pumpkin pecan sweetbread $18
Cranberry orange sweetbread $18
Upside down apple gingerbread cake $21
Traditional apple pie $19
Traditional blueberry pie $19
Traditional cherry pie $19

Side Dishes made by the Deer Valley Grocery~Café
Lemon Thyme Sauce $10.50
turkey gravy, fresh thyme, lemon ~ 32oz; serves 4-6 people

Cranberry Chutney $9.75
cranberries, mango chutney ~ 16 oz; gluten free, vegan

Deer Valley Roasted Garlic Mashers $12.00
new red potatoes, roasted garlic ~ serves 4 people; gluten free, vegan

Steamed Green Beans $12.00
sautéed shiitake mushrooms, garlic-enhanced olive oil, toasted almonds
serves 4 people; gluten free, vegan

Roasted Acorn Squash $9.00

Jack Daniels, brown sugar, butter ~ serves 4 people, gluten free by request,
vegetarian

Homemade Struan Stuffing $9.50
fresh thyme, sage, garlic, wild mushroom, shallot

Add chicken and apple sausage ~ $12.00
serves 4 people; vegetarian by request

Please place your order by Monday, November 19, 2012, at 5 p.m.
Pick up is on Wednesday, November 21, by 6:30p.m. or November
22, by 11:30 a.m. at the Deer Valley Grocery~Café.

I Ski For Lunch- Part 1

This is not the last time you will read that particular line in my posts. I often say that the cookies at Deer Valley, consumed at lunch on my first ski trip to Park City, were a deciding factor in our plan to move here. Letty Flatt, Deer Valley’s inspired executive pastry chef, and her team have probably heard that particular gem before.

The Vermont day lodges my youth offered fare with little allure, aside from a candy counter with a seemingly unlimited supply of Charleston Chews, which my erstwhile ski buddy and best friend Nancy and I buried in the snow banks before “lunch” (read: hot dog of indeterminate fillings) and took great joy in literally cracking open on the armrest rail (we called it a safety bar, back then), on that first post-lunch run, for the true culinary delight.

So the variety of dining options at Deer Valley (each of which I’ll tell you about, extol the virtues of, rave over, and generally create raison-du-drool, in this space in the weeks to come) never cease to impress or delight me.

But here’s what I’m loving this week. We’re getting ready for Thanksgiving—which is a fabulous holiday, and also part of the most excruciating period of the ski season: The part called, WAITING FOR DEER VALLEY TO OPEN.

That’s not exactly the love part. Patience isn’t something I possess in abundance.

But this is: My husband is a great cook. And he, blessedly, works alone. Leaving me to take the kids hiking on Thanksgiving morning (along with my in-laws, who will be visiting this year) and then set the table. In theory, I’d handle dessert. He doesn’t really bake (though he could). I do—but not in an awesome way. Just well enough, you know? Which would be fine. But I’d have to reserve time in the kitchen. Which could be an issue. But then my husband mentioned, just this morning, that he saw an ad in the paper in which Deer Valley pies were advertised. Which kills several birds with one stone. He gets to keep the kitchen to himself, and we get awesome pies for dessert. Total crowd pleasers. And, thank you, it makes the seemingly interminable eight-day wait from Thanksgiving to opening day at Deer Valley, just that much easier to bear. After all, it only takes closing one’s eyes while taking a bite of pecan pie to imagine you’re après lunch at Snow Park Lodge.

More information about the Deer Valley Bakery can be found here: http://www.deervalley.com/dining_shopping/snow-park-bakery.html