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Jan 31, 2012

Austrian Ski Weekend-Part 2

Following a night of beer fueled karaoke was our first day skiing the snowy Austrian Alps! Seriously, someone pinch me. I had lots of moments like that during this trip. One of them being waking up to this:

 This sleepy ski town was eerily quiet in the mornings. You could only hear the crunching of snow under snow boots in the far distance. Although mysterious, it was also refreshing and peaceful. This was our view from the breakfast room. You can even see whispy clouds rolling through, proof that we'd reached some pretty high elevations on our drive up the mountain. 
P.S-if you've never tried an authentic Austrian roll called "Kaisersemmel", add that to your bucket list. Insanely good.

After our traditional Austrian breakfast of Kaisersemmel, meats, cheeses, hard boiled eggs, and homemade muesli, we got all geared up and headed to Alpendorf Ski Resort to begin our skiing adventure!

On the gondola heading up to the top of the mountain. Check out that view!!! The Alps are breathtaking. Pictures don't do them justice.

Halfway though day 1 of skiing, we stopped at one of the many lodges where you could relax and refuel. D and I ordered hot chocolate, pommes, and Austrian Berner Würstels (sausages stuffed with cheese and wrapped in bacon). I know, awesome, right? They were TO DIE FOR. That's saying a lot coming from me. I'm not the biggest fan of sausages (I feel a "That's what she said!" comment coming on!). Anywho, we scarfed down our food and gave our tootsies a chance to thaw out, but it wasn't long before we were back out tearing up the slopes! It was too beautiful of a day to stay inside. We were truly blessed with some awesome weather!

Here are a few tips to remember when skiing in Austria:
1) A "blue" run is the equivalent to a "red" run in the states. A "black diamond" run is the equivalent to DEATH in the states. I don't care who disagrees. From my experience, this is truth. Terrifying truth.

2) Assessing ski slope steepness from a chairlift or, let say, the lodge, is NOT an accurate way to determine if you're able to ski that slope. Looks are definitely deceiving. You don't want to learn that the hard way.

3) Never look up the mountain while skiing down the mountain at high speed. YOU WILL FALL. I may or may not have taken my own advice.

4) Remember to move your skis OFF of the safety bar before trying to pull it up in an attempt to exit a ski lift. No one wants a ski to the eye or worse, to pop a ski off and watch it slide down the mountain without you.

5) Avoid button lifts and "T-bar" lifts like the plague. Seriously, they look as though you are a part of a weird skiing assembly line. Basically, you put this thing between your legs or behind the small of your back and a bungee-like cord pulls you up the mountain while your skis are planted on the ground. These lifts are abnormal and make you feel all kinds of awkward. Not to mention if you try to lean back too far or sit, your cord will give way and you'll fall off the lift. Insanely nerve wracking, right? And they require just as much leg strength as you would use if you were actually skiing down the mountain. So not fun. If you MUST take one of these lifts, keep your knees slightly bent and let the thing pull/push you up the mountain. Don't fight it and definitely don't let go

6) And finally, under no circumstances should you drink the "Jagertee." I don't care if the cutest Austrian Après-skier comes up to you and offers you a free one, don't drink it! It's literally Jägermeister and tea. If you like drinking steaming hot jet fuel, by all means, do so. I, however, do not. The photo below was taken pre-taste of the Jagertee. Happy and not yet phased by the disgustingness. I don't know how the putrid smell didn't give it away. We'll never make that same mistake twice.

By the way, if you've never heard of the term Après-ski, allow me to enlighten you. Après-skiing can be as simple and innocent as enjoying an alcoholic beverage with friends at a bar right on the mountain after an epic day of shredding the slopes. You can also rent folding beach chairs and "sunbathe" right on the mountain. Nice, right? 

Well, Après-skiing could also mean this:

Loud techno music, dancing, bikini's (yes, I said bikini's), lots of drinking and partying right on the mountain, in your ski gear. Well, except for the girls who end up in bikini's. Thankfully, we didn't encounter any of this kind of Après-skiing. We saved up all our partying for post-skiing bar time at the Rustica each night.

Proof I also sang my fair share of karaoke. Courtesy of the Siegi Tours Facebook Page. No one was smart enough to record my awfulness, though. Suckas!

Goodnight, sweet Austria. 

Stay tuned for the third and final part of our Austrian ski weekend recap! Ever wonder what Austrian Ice Curling looks like and how the heck my hubby won a trophy playing it? Seriously. I promise to tell you allll about it.

Until tomorrow...

Jan 30, 2012

Austrian Ski Weekend-Part 1

(Breaking these vaycay posts down into parts for your own enjoyment and for my blogging sanity)

We've been back from our ski weekend in Austria for about 2 weeks and I am just now recovering from the soreness brought on by tearing up the slopes! Can you say, shin splints? Yeahhh, they're getting better as time goes on and I keep forcing myself to work them out. Skiing in the Alps is NO JOKE, but I'd recommend that everyone in the entire world do it, at least once. So worth the searing shin and quad pain! 

We had an AH-MAZING time. I'll never forget the feeling I got when we finally started to see the snow covered mountains appear (along with snow flurries!) on our drive into Austria. You would've basically had to scoop my jaw up off the floor with a shovel. Awestruck is an understatement. I'll let the photos speak for themselves.

Sankt Veit im Pongau. A quaint ski town.

The Rustica. Our lovely accommodations for the weekend.

{View from our balcony. Stunning, right?}

We arrived to Sankt Veit around 3:30pm, checked into our room, got our skis from the rental shop, and met up with our group for dinner. After dinner, we made our way to the Rustica Bar, which was part of our Siegi Tours Austrian ski experience. This bar was located a mere 2 floors below our room...which proved to be pretty awesome, despite what you might think.

So, this is the point in my story where the majority of my photos turn into iPhone photos. I was not about to bring my nice DSLR camera into the chaos that was every night at the Rustica Bar or out on slopes where it could be smashed to smithereens in one epic ski crash. Please forgive the totally subpar photo quality. This is just more evidence of the good time had by all.

-Night 1 at the Rustica Bar-

For those of you who know me in "real life," you know that I am not a huge fan of beer. Wine on the other hand, LOVE IT. How I ended up winning 4th place in a half liter beer chugging competition? I'll never know. What I do know is that I felt like I had drank a loaf of bread. Never doing that again. Then...it was D's turn...only he had to drink an entire liter instead of the girly half liter.

I think he got most of it on his shirt. Even though he didn't drink the girly half liter, he did pull a girly move and went to change his shirt so he'd be...and I quote, "So fresh and so clean, clean" for his karaoke duet. Yep, he said that. Folks, I kid you not, I've never seen my husband sing karaoke in front of this many people in my LIFE. It must be true what the hotel owner said about the Austrian water...it's energized!!

For the record, D requested that I put this video on my blog. He wanted you all to see that he is awesome (given the circumstances of the night) and that I am a karaoke heckler. On this particular evening, it was true, but, I promise, I very much love and support my husband...just not his "mad karaoke skills." He's very good at many things in life. Karaoke is not one of them.

Needless to say, night 1 at the Rustica Bar was epic, setting the stage for and equally epic ski adventure the next morning. Stay tuned!

Jan 27, 2012

Raspberry Breakfast Bars

I had myself a mini bake-a-thon yesterday. It. Was. Magnificent. From sun up till sun down, I had the oven a goin' and the treats a bakin'. The house smelled other worldly and the kitchen was a disaster. Both signs of a successful baking endeavor. I'm not a great baker by any stretch of the imagination. I've had my fair share of baking missteps...like the time I coated Snickerdoodles with cinnamon salt instead of cinnamon sugar. Yeahhh, that happened. Or the first time I attempted to make a cheesecake and the second I took it out of the oven, the springform pan decided to unload itself onto my freshly mopped kitchen floor. I mean, c'mon. Proof that you should never bake in a clean kitchen. It's like some form of Murphy's Law...the second you clean it, a splatter catastrophe happens and you're back to mopping for the 3rd time that week. I speak the truth, ladies. Don't do it! Sigh. Though I'm not the savviest baker, I did learn a few good things from watching my Momma and I like to test them out from time to time. Even if it means scraping quiche fillings off the bottom of the oven every once in a while. Yeah, that happened too.

When I get this urge to bake, I'm always super cautious and over analyzing every step in the recipe just so I won't ruin a thing. This is probably why I spent all day baking and only have two treats to show for it. Well, that and the fact I have a ridiculously tiny German oven that only fits one (small) cookie sheet at a time. Bollocks.

With the help of Pinterest, I found the recipe for Raspberry Breakfast Bars. By the way, Pinterest=crack...if you didn't already know. If pinning is wrong, then I don't wanna be right! That's all I say on that. Just so you know, these bars are deceiving. When I first saw them I thought, "Oh, these look like a nice, healthy, breakfast bar that would be perfect pre-workout fuel." Then, I read the ingredients. Butter, dark brown sugar, more butter. DOH! Not so healthy. Did that stop me from making them? Not a chance in Hades. But, I did make some healthy subsitutions and additions (highlighted in orange). The nutritionist in me just had to.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Originally from the book- Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

Ingredients for the crust & crumb:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups rolled oats (I added an extra 1/4 cup to bulk up the crust a bit)
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon (what can I say, I love cinnamon!)
1 stick of light, unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces (substituted part of the full fat butter for light butter)
1/4 stick of regular, unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoon milled flax seed (adds Omega-3 fatty acids, Lignans, and Fiber!)

Ingredients for raspberry filling:
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon grated lemon zest (decreased amount for fear it would be too lemony)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pound raspberries, fresh or frozen (I used frozen)
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons light, unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray bottom and sides of a 9" x 13" glass or light colored baking pan with cooking spray. Line with a sheet of parchment paper and let the paper extend up the 2 short sides and hang over the edge for easy removal. Spray the parchment paper with cooking spray.

Make the crust and crumb by putting the flour, brown sugar, oats, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, flax seed, and salt in a food processor. Pulse in short bursts until ingredients are combined. Add the butter pieces and continue to pulse until loose crumbs form.

Reserve 1 1/4 cup of the crumb mixture and set aside. Pour the rest of the mixture into the prepared pan and press the crust into an even layer at the bottom of the pan. The crust should cover the entire bottom of the pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown. After baking, transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool. Keep the oven on while you make the raspberry filling...you'll need it shortly.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon, and flour. Then pour in the raspberries, lemon juice, and melted butter. Toss gently to fully coat the raspberries.

Spread filling evenly on top of the cooled crust, then sprinkle the reserved crumble over the top of the filling. Try to cover as much of the raspberry filling as possible.

Bake for 30-45 minutes, rotating the pan every 15 minutes for even baking. The top should be golden brown and the filling will start to bubble around the edges. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before cutting into bars or squares. The bars can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days...if they last that long!

These are outta this world good. Tart, yet sweet...and I'm positive warming one of these babies up and topping it with a scoop of vanilla fro-yo (or ice cream if your not trying to watch your figure that much) would be ultra sinful. Just sayin'. They remind me a lot of a summer-time cobbler, but in a less gooey form. Only wish they'd bring the summer sunshine with them. Seriously, is it spring yet? Anywho, D loves them, and if my boy loves 'em, they're keepers! You'd be wise to give them a whirl too. ;) 

By the way, this was also my first run at photographing food with my new DSLR! Not too shabby, if I do say so myself. I've still got LOTS to learn, but it's fun experimenting, especially when the subject doesn't move. Until I bring it to my mouth, that is! As for yummy treat number 2 of the day...I'm saving that for a post next week. If you've got a soft spot for carbs and Mediterranean flavors, you'll want to keep your eyes peeled for that one. Till then, I'm off to deep clean my kitchen. I found a few rogue Cheerios in my spice rack. Wonder what other treasures await me?

Happy Friday, loves!

Jan 23, 2012

My Week in Photos-Instagram Edition

I'm obsessed...OBSESSED with Instagram. Easily my most favorite app on the iPhone. Well, that at the FaceInHole app. Have y'all seen that one? FaceInHole? HILARIOUS. I've been putting my face in peoples holes all week.

Umm. Rewind. That totally didn't sound right. THIS is what I mean.

Yes, my hubby is 100 times more handsome than Prince William...I just needed more proof that I am, in fact, Kate's hair twin.

There are no words for this one. I'm so afraid for D's hairline. 
And my super white face.

I have NO idea who's kissing my cheeks. None what so ever.

Rawrr. Move over Elena!

I do, Edward! I do! 
{Ok, so this one is also super bad.}

Insane, right?! Unfortunately, only one photo (out of like a bagillon) on my phone would work for my face. All other photos of me were either blurry-ish or way off color. Not that these are perfect knock-offs, obviously, but I seriously had to do a double take at the first and forth photos. Bananas. If you've ever wanted to see what you'd look like up against a celebrity, download FaceInHole. I promise, it makes for hours of fun. Either that, or I have absolutely nothing productive to do with my life. Eh. Let's go with the former.

Now, where was I?

Instagram, the new love of my life. Why do I enjoy it so much? It's SO easy to just snap a pic, doll it up in one of their fancy shmancy filters, add some clever wording, and voilà! Art and storytelling via the iPhone. App technology at it's finest, in my opinion. Obviously, I'm easy to please. So, when Jenni at my new favorite blog, Story of my Life (I may or may not have a tiny blog crush...she's like the way cooler version of myself...totally not creepy or anything) mentioned she was going to start hosting a Week in Instagram link-up, I knew I'd fallen in love with her forever. Ok...now it might be a little creepy.

Anywho, I was supposed to post this last night, but for some reason, blogging on the weekend isn't something I like to do. So, it's happening today. I'll try harder for a Sunday night post next week. Promise. Now, without further adieu, here's my week in photos courtesy of Instagram!

1. Hittin' the road. Next stop, Austria!
2. Guten Morgen. View from our ski chalet @ 7am.
3. Austrian Alps, ready to be explored.
4. First run of the weekend! We "pizza-ed" our way down.
5. Day 2. Got our ski legs back. Carved out some reds today!
6. Surely this is heaven. Pure snowy bliss.
7. D won a trophy...for doing #8.
8. Austrian ice curling.
9. Too much Glühwein? No such thing.
10. New snow boots. These would have been nice a few days ago.
11. Saturday morning yummies-Egg Sammies & Mimosas.
12. Saturday evening yummies-Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta {hella-good}
13. How we spent our Saturday night (and basically every other night of the week). In bed, both entranced by our phones. Old farts.
14. Sourdough Egg Boats. Maiden Voyage.

Wanna keep up with my 
weekly photo stream via Instagram?
Seriously, you should. 
Just click the button below!
Or search for my Instagram username @caseycote

Jan 19, 2012


Eleven years ago today, I said "yes" to a boy.
He wanted to take me out on a date.
I smiled as I walked away from the computer.
Because, you know, he asked me out over an AIM conversation.
 As most 14 year old boys would do.
I immediately ran and told my Mom.
 "Mom, I'm going on a date with David, from school!"
To which she replied, 
"Honey, that's great! But isn't he that dorky boy from 5th grade?"
I said, "Yeah Mom that's him, but he's not so dorky anymore."

Two days later, we went out on our first real date.
We met at the movie theatre. Our Mom's drove us there.
He told me I was beautiful and gave me a hug.
We walked inside the theatre and he bought our tickets.
He held my hand through the entire movie.
Gently rubbing his thumb across the top of my hand.
I have no idea what Save the Last Dance was about.
All I could think about was his hand, touching mine.
We barely spoke that night, but...
I can still remember the way he smelled.
I can still remember what he wore.
I can still remember the sweet conversation he had with a little girl.
He's going to make a great father one day.
When the movie ended, we said our goodbyes.
 I floated home on Cloud 9.
Although it wasn't evident to me that night, 
He was going to be my husband.

The weeks went by and the seasons changed, 
But our love for one another only grew.
We shared family vacations, proms and graduations, 
Friends, college, and quiet moments alone.
Then one day that boy who had stood by my side for 7 long years,
 Decided he wanted me forever.
And on July 28th, 2007, he made me his wife.

Eleven memory filled years later and he still gives me butterflies.
I wake up and fall asleep in his arms.
He's the reason I breathe. 
He was Created just for me.
I love him with every fiber of my being.
Until my forever ends.

Happy 11 years of togetherness, my love!
It just keeps getting better.

You can read more of our story here.

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