Out with Mommy

Sundance Mountain Resort offers year-round family friendly activities

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When most of us think of Sundance, we think of the film festival founded by Robert Redford in the 1980s. The indie filmmaker event moved many years ago to nearby Park City, Utah, but still today Sundance Mountain Resort remains a beacon for creatives and independent spirits, and it has become known as a wonderland for families, where they can spend quality time together and make lifelong memories.

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Purposefully kept small, true to Redford’s vision when he took over the former Timp Haven in 1968 and developed it to create this idyllic resort, Sundance prides itself as a sanctuary committed to the balance of art, nature and community.

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Many families we met at Sundance say they vacation year after year at the resort because of its smallness and the appeal of its family friendly offerings, such as a top-notch children’s snow sports school, art and pottery classes, wooded paths and mountain streams for exploring, and activities such as evening snowshoe hikes with owl spotters.

The wild, wild best

The resort sits on 5,000 acres of beauteous mountain land just outside of Provo, Utah, on the slopes of Mount Timpanogos in Utah’s Wasatch Range. Locals and those who return year after year to this best-kept secret in Utah ski country refer to it as Shangri-La.

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A true testament to an enterprise that is well-managed from the top down, the staff, from the hotel check-in clerks to the ski instructors, are impressively professional and enthusiastic about their work. And like a dedicated CEO and true believer in his mission, Redford himself skis at the resort at least a few times a season, ensuring the resort runs at peak level.

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Accommodations are limited to approximately 400 guests at the privately owned or leased 115 cabins and a dozen mountain homes at the resort. Our ski party of two adults and two kids stayed at one of the resort’s chalets nestled in the wooded property, which felt like a private retreat. Paths from the villas lead to the restaurants and other resort buildings, or guests can utilize the resort’s fleet of SUVs to shuttle around the resort.

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The chalets on the property speckle the woods of the hillsides, and in a heavy snow they are barely visible except for their rooftops and chimneys. After one snowy night we awoke to a fresh foot of powder on our doorstep, perfect for snow man making and a snowball fight in our front yard.

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Inside, the cabins are luxurious yet designer-rustic.  Each feature breathtaking views of the mountains, a private deck, expansive floor-to-ceiling windows, wood-paneled and slate stone walls, an open floor plan with a climb-up loft – a favorite with the kids, a kitchen, large fireplace, and rooms outfitted with alpine chic pine and leather furniture and hand braided rugs.

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Our cabin was also stocked with board games, which we played by the fire, until the tired kids passed out before 8 pm, after a day on the slopes.

Mountains of food

When it comes to dining, you can’t go wrong with any of the resort’s restaurants, which all have stellar reputations for their culinary excellence. The romantic candlelit Tree Room Restaurant is the most formal offering, yet the ambiance is comfortable and inviting. Décor includes Native American art from Redford’s personal collection.

For more casual and family friendly dining, the frontier-themed Foundry Grill features fresh hearty fare and pizza from its open kitchen. Après ski and into the night, the late crowd can enjoy drinks and live music at the Owl Bar, the site of the original Redwood Bar where Butch Cassidy’s Hole in the Wall Gang hung out. For quick pick-me-ups, the Creekside Café offers sandwiches and soups at the base of the mountain, and for the adventurous, the Bearclaw Café is a treat at the top of the back mountain, for skiers skilled enough to get there.

Snow, snow on the range

While the dining is superb, it’s the mountains that are the main attraction of Sundance.  For those old enough to remember the Redford classic “Jerimiah Johnson,” these are the mountains that provided the stunning backdrop for the film. Though quaint in size compared to other local resorts, such as Park City Mountain and Deer Valley, Sundance holds its own when it comes to the quality and variety of terrain for all levels of skiers and boarders, and the resort boasts four chair lifts and a beginner tow lift, with the newest quad lift, Reds, carrying 500 people uphill per hour.

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During our visit near the holidays, which is peak ski season, the staff remarked that the “crowds” were large, but not once did any of our party wait more than five minutes for a chair lift; and even during the busiest hours for renting and returning skis, we did not experience any long waits more than 20 minutes.

Heading for the hills

Sundance is easily accessible, about an hour’s drive from Salt Lake City airport. Rather than brave the mountain roads after dark when we flew in at night, we opted to stay overnight at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City. If we had not been so eager to get to the mountains, we would have certainly stayed longer at this gorgeous hotel, which offers the only five-star luxury accommodations in Salt Lake City and features one of the most beautiful displays of holiday lights and Christmas trees in the world during the holidays.

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Sundance’s proximity to the airport makes it an easy ski-in, ski-out resort, but its location lower on the mountain range, at about 12,000 feet, means the resort has a shorter snow season than its neighbors at higher elevations.

The compact season is a boon to the resort, as the resort hosts more guests after the snow melts. When other area resorts are winding down with dwindling crowds for spring skiing, Sundance is gearing up for its busiest time of year, when spring and summer vacationers come for horseback riding, mountain biking, zip tours, and, of course – for fans of Redford’s “A River Runs Through it” — fly fishing.

Like the plot of that film, the great outdoors and the notion of family is treated as sacred at Sundance. The resort’s fame may be born of its celebrity owner and the Hollywood-once-removed SWAG-circus festival that bears its name, but otherwise this serene retreat is an escape from city life, and a place where visitors can reconnect with nature, and their families.

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There’s plenty of surveys on the possible winners of the Oscars, but Pollfish conducted a survey of another kind, to find out opinions about politics and diversity at the Oscars.  Of course there’s different views on why those polled feel the way they do, but in my view, it’s not because we think actors and others in Hollywood don’t have valuable things to say, but the event is supposed to be a celebration of talent, and hearing about the state of our Country at this time and the horrible divide among our population following the election.

Here’s what the survey said.

Most Americans don’t want to hear Hollywood’s political opinions

45% of Americans think celebrities should be allowed to voice their opinions at the Oscars. Another 25% say Hollywood shouldn’t use its platform to talk politics, 21% think celebrities should completely stay out of politics, and 10% say Hollywood is too liberal.

One in four Americans Don’t want to hear Trump’s name at the Oscars

Asked which issues they don’t want to hear about at the Oscars, 19% of Americans said they hope celebrities don’t talk about Donald Trump. Other topics Americans don’t want to hear about are immigration (14%), the refugee situation (12%), and racial inequality (12%). Only 12% of Americans wouldn’t mind hearing about political topics during the Oscars.

Half of Americans think this year’s nominees are more diverse than usual

Asked whether they think this year’s Oscar-nominated films are more diverse than in previous years, 49% of Americans said yes. Another 18% said no, and 13% think the Oscars have always been diverse. 1 in 5 Americans aren’t sure.

Men and women don’t see eye-to-eye on Oscar diversity

54% of men and 47% of women think this year’s Oscar-nominated movies are more diverse than in years past—a 7% difference.

2017-02-22-2For anyone considering a move out of state, here’s a ranking of 2017’s Best & Worst States to Raise a Family by WalletHub, a personal finance site.

In order to determine the best states in which to put down family roots, WalletHub’s analysts compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia based on 40 key indicators of family-friendliness. Our data set ranges from “median family salary” to “housing affordability” to “unemployment rate.”

Best States for Families Worst States for Families
1 North Dakota 42 Alabama
2 New Hampshire 43 West Virginia
3 Vermont 44 Georgia
4 Minnesota 45 Arizona
5 Nebraska 46 Alaska
6 Massachusetts 47 Nevada
7 New Jersey 48 Louisiana
8 Iowa 49 District of Columbia
9 Connecticut 50 Mississippi
10 South Dakota 51 New Mexico

Best vs. Worst

  • Wyoming has the highest median family annual income (adjusted for cost of living), $79,732, which is 1.7 times higher than in Hawaii, where it is lowest at $48,111.
  • Utah has the lowest divorce rate, 16.22 percent, which is 1.8 times lower than in the District of Columbia, where it is highest at 29.81 percent.
  • Wyoming has the lowest share of families receiving food stamps, 6.17 percent, which is 3.6 times lower than in the District of Columbia, where it is highest at 22.01 percent.
  • New Hampshire has the lowest share of families living below poverty level, 5.6 percent, which is 3.1 times lower than in Mississippi, where it is highest at 17.6 percent.
  • Mississippi has the lowest child-care costs (adjusted for median family income), 6.16 percent, which is 2.8 times lower than in the District of Columbia, where they are highest at 17.41 percent.
  • California has the lowest infant-mortality rate, 4.30 percent, which is two times lower than in Alabama, where it is highest at 8.68 percent.
  • Vermont has the lowest violent-crime rate per 1,000 residents, 1.18, which is 10.8 times lower than in the District of Columbia, where it is highest at 12.69.

To view the full report and your state or the District’s rank, please visit:
https://wallethub.com/edu/best-states-to-raise-a-family/31065/

cheero
If you or your kids’ phones run out of juice at the end of the day, this little fella will come to the rescue in style.  The Cheero FLOWERS Power Plus portable battery almost makes a low battery fun.

The brightly colored 10050 mAh mobile battery has a unique design of a cartoon face, with two round circles for eyes, and a triangle nose. Available in seven flower inspired colors, Cheero is ready to charge Apple and Android phones and tablets. The battery features two ports so it can charge more than one device at a time, and it is equipped with an AUTO-IC function, allowing the external battery to automatically recognize if a device is connected. The external battery optimizes the supplied power best suited for each device.

The most obvious appeal of this battery is its cute design is attractive to children and those who like cutesy things. It may encourage children to take a long their battery packs, so there’s no excuse for their phone dying when mom and dad are trying to call them coordinate a pick up at school.

Another advantage of its different look is that you won’t get it confused with everyone else’s black square of a battery pack, unless of course they also have Cheero.

The battery comes with a cute canvas carry bag, so you can keep the little fellow from getting scratched. It also comes with a short micro-USB to USB cable. Cheero is available at select Nordstrom and at Amazon Prime for $39.99 at Amazon.com.

 

Recently I pulled up the metal stopper in my sink, and it came out in my hand. After fiddling with it for about an hour I gave up. A plumber told me the entire assembly needed to be replaced, at a cost of $135.

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I decided to live with an open drain, but after a few close calls with Contacts and earrings falling into the sink and almost going into the drain, I decided I needed another option. I found out about A sink strainer and hair catcher called Sink Shroom. It gets it’s moniker from its mushroom shape, with a system that fits down into the drain with a top that rests outside the drain. It has two tabs that keep it from going to flush against the drain.

This little device is designed to catch hair before it goes down the drain, and it can be easily removed and cleaned with a tissue or paper towel. It’s a great option if you don’t want to make an expensive repair, as in my case, or if you have a problem with clogs from hair going into the drain.

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My situation being a case in point, plumbers can cost a lot of money, and clogs can cause other problems besides inconvenience, such as requiring the use of dangerous acid-based liquid solutions to dissolve clogs. These chemicals are harmful to your pipes and also a hazard for humans, not just because they can cause skin irritation if they come in contact, but also because they can splash up and some have even been known to blind people.

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So far the SinkvShroom has been an easy fix, with no special installation required. I’m not looking forward to cleaning it regularly, but it’s a better option than clogs, and it beats losing my jewelry other items down the drain. One warning though, there is a gap of about a half an inch that allows water flow, so small jewelry can still fall down the drain, but you may get an extra second or two to retrieve it if it bounces off the Sinks Shroom.

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The Sink Shroom fits a typical utility sink drain, which is about 1.25 inches in diameter. It’s made of high-grade material that is resistant to corrosion and discoloration. Find out where you can get it at www.tubshroom.com.

Need a weekend away from the kids?  How about a stay-cation where you can feel a world away but you’re close enough to bolt home if the babysitter needs you?  The Shade Hotel in Redondo Beach is just the escape.

shade-redondo-beach-exterior-41 The chic and modern hotel is so waterfront that peering out of the sliding glass doors of the guest rooms you would swear you are floating on a ship.  For a true feeling of communing with the sea, guests can enjoy the bird’s-eye view of the sail boats bouncing in the harbor below while soaking in their private outdoor tub, discreetly situated off the boudoir, on the balcony.

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Dining is conveniently at Sea Level restaurant, located at the hotel’s culinary building across a breezeway adjacent the lobby.  The restaurant serves a chef-driven menu of California coastal cuisine, including a raw bar of fresh oysters and craft cocktails to be enjoyed in the LA-lively bar inside or outside, under the stars, by the patio fire pits, along the spectacular seascape boasting views from Palos Verdes to Malibu.

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During the day, enjoy the quiet roof top pool, or grab a complementary cruiser bike and head to the beach path just a couple hundred feet from the hotel’s entrance.  Other hotel perks include day passes to the Bay Club fitness facility, a short walk across the neighboring parking lot of Bluewater Grill Seafood, and a partnership with Trilogy Day Spa for special treatment packages.

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The Redondo Beach locale is up-and-coming, and though the immediate neighborhood has a number of warehouses and visible smoke stacks across the skyline, the area continues to evolve into a hip and happening destination, with more restaurants and trendy shopping popping up, such as Riviera Village, featuring more than 300 boutiques, restaurants and galleries.

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While the term “boutique” generally connotes small, the rooms of this three-story, 54-room property are spacious, and each is fully equipped with mini-fridge, coffee maker, and other comfort amenities, and there are plenty of USB plug-ins and Wi-Fi to keep all manner of tech connected.  The rooms feature chromatherapy, whereby guests can tune the color of the neon accent lights in the room to set a particular mood.

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The hotel’s efficient service is on par with that of a grand hotel, yet the Shade delivers cool luxury with a laid-back feeling, beginning with check-in, when guest are guests are greeted with a glass of champagne.  Rooms start around $249 per night.

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cozy by the fireHome is where the Hearth is

A fire in the fireplace warms a room and casts a beautiful amber glow that creates a cozy, inviting and romantic atmosphere. But many homeowners avoid using their fireplace because of worries about safety or the hassle of starting a fire and cleaning up the mess. Jason Cameron, DIY Network star and home expert for Pine Mountain, offers these tips and ideas for getting your fireplace started and enjoying this hearth-warming feature of your home,

What are factors to consider deciding between a traditional or a gas fireplace?

In order to have a traditional, wood burning fireplace you must have a working chimney for ventilation. A chimney sweep can easily inspect this for you at a reasonable cost with prices averaging between $125 and $250. Other factors to consider are cleanliness, safety and relative cost per use.

How can I inexpensively update an old fireplace?

Fireplaces have come a long way since the traditional red brick and concrete. To achieve a sleek look, replacing dated brick with a metal surround to make your fireplace more contemporary. To achieve an expensive-looking marble look on a budget, use marble-look adhesive paper helps. Simply cut the adhesive paper into squares and cover the existing fireplace tile to transform your space. Applying the paper can bring a new focal point to your room and look like you’ve made a major upgrade. Updating the mantle is another easy option. Dress up your mantle each, like a wreath during the holidays or nautical decorations in the summertime. 

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How do I safety and easily start a fire?

Before starting a fire, make sure your fireplace is clean to use. The National Fire Protection Association recommends sweeping and inspecting chimneys at least annually, usually taking place before your first fire of the season. This helps prevent the potential for a chimney fire.

Once your chimney is clean, starting a fire is easy. If you already have a stack of seasoned firewood to use, try a mess-free Firestarter like the new Pine Mountain® ExtremeStart™ Firestarter. Simply place the firestarter below your seasoned firewood, light it at the indicated arrows, and your fire will spark up into flames within minutes, with no need to add kindling.

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If you do not have firewood readily available, try an American Home™ by Yankee Candle® Balsam Fir Firelog. The wrapped log, which gives off a fresh scent fresh, is easy to light and requires no maintenance, so you can enjoy the ambience of the fire without having to collect or buy firewood.

 

What are some tricks to make a fire last longer?

The kind of wood you’re working with is important. Damp or green wood cause creosote buildup and do not light easily. Stack up with dry, seasoned firewood which burns cleaner and longer. Also, keep the display simple. Place larger pieces of wood on the bottom, then place additional pieces of wood in the opposite direction.  Place smaller pieces above this in the opposite direction. This simple patter will keep a fire roaring for hours.

Is there a “wrong” way to use a fireplace?

Manu users overlook safety measures for proper fireplace use. Even if you hire a professional chimney sweep once a year, it’s important to also self-clean your fireplace and chimney. This extra can remove dangerous creosote buildup in your chimney. Creosote is the chemical mass of carbon formed when wood is burned that needs to be periodically removed.

One easy way to remove creosote is with a Pine Mountain® Creosote Buster® Firelog.  Simply add the log to an existing fire at the start of the season and after every 40 fires. When heated, the powder in the firelog changes to an active gas and attacks the creosote in the chimney.

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If you opt to start a fire with wood instead of a firelog, choose hard woods like oak and maple that  produce an intense, sustained fire, so you to burn less wood. Minimize soft woods like pine. Pine starts easily but burns quickly and gives off less heat than hardwoods. Pine also contains sap which can cause increased creosote build-up in your chimney.

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