Just plain fun at the playschool


Smaranda drives the Playschool attendees from activity to activity in this cute red wagon. If you see them, wave!

As any mother will know, family-vacations tailored to the under 5s are few and far between. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve tried to sign up Little Sun (4) for some sort of activity only to discover he was born a couple years too late.

While by definition a family-vacation involves lots of family-time, as many mothers will agree it’s also essential to get some time away from the little tykes.

It turns out there’s something pretty special in Sun Valley Resort that helps out with both these things: The Sun Valley Playschool. I know, sticking the kids in daycare while I go off to have fun in the sun is not going to win me any “mother of the year” awards, but this is not just a run-of-the-mill daycare. This is a bona-fide summer camp for ages 3 months to 5 years. On the day I took Little Sun and Baby Sun (18 months) along to try it out, I was so jealous of all the fun they had that I actually tagged along with them for most of it.

Smaranda, the playschool manager, welcomed us with open arms, quickly settling us down to some arts and crafts time in the newly remodeled building, just behind the Sun Valley Post Office. Little Sun was very proud of the paper sword Smaranda helped him create, while Baby Sun and I spent a good 10 minutes playing chase-the-baby-with-the-marker-before-she-destroys-the-brand-new-walls (not a highly recommended activity).

When all the day’s participants were assembled we were given our schedule: ice-skating lessons at 10am, tennis lessons at 11:30am, lunch and nap time, followed by swimming at the Olympic pool from 2:30pm. And this was just a Tuesday. On Monday throw in a gondola ride and a picnic on top of the mountain, Wednesday it’s horses and paddle boating, Thursday golf and hiking is on the menu, and Friday take a Hay Ride out for a BBQ at Trail Creek Cabin.

While Little Sun is a budding Andy Murray, ice-skating has not featured in his skill-set so far, but he was game – positively bursting with excitement as Smaranda and her crew buckled the class into the specially modified golf-cart/wagon playschool-mobile and whisked them off to the rink.

Here’s a sampling of his newly-learned skills on ice and some styling on the tennis court from his day with the playschool:

After a morning of lessons and a well-earned nap, it was out to the Olympic swimming pool, where a newly-installed splash park provides the perfect entertainment for those not quite ready for the Olympics.

Baby Sun inspects the Splash Pool

As I buckled Little Sun and Baby Sun into their car seats at the end of the day, the heavy eyelids and broad smiles on both their faces was testament to the fun they’d had. Next time Mr. Sun and I decide a hard days mountain biking is needed, we won’t have to feel guilty about taking the tots to playschool – as they’ll probably be having more fun than we are.

Happy Trails!

Mrs. Sun

Smaranda and her crew look forward to welcoming kids for a summer of fun in Sun Valley

The PlaySchool is open 7 days a week during the summer, 9am to 4pm. Call 208.622.2288. A full day of activities, including lunch, is $95. Or drop in for 2 hours ($38) or 4 hours ($73). A Young Summer Camp is on offer for ages 6 and older. Details are here. Both camps are open to the public.

Recipe from the Resort: Sun Valley Club’s Chicken Lettuce Wrap

Welcome to The Valley Sun’s series of Recipes from the Resort, where I scour Sun Valley’s restaurants for some of the best dishes to pinch for your personal cooking pleasure. This week I visited the resort’s newest dining establishment, The Sun Valley Club, and caught up with chef Art Wallace to get the skinny on a staple of the club.

Chef Art Wallace's versatile chicken lettuce wrap, a great option for wheat- and gluten- free diets

Check out this video for a quick, step-by-step guide to the simple but scrumptious Chicken Lettuce Wrap:

Chicken Lettuce Wrap
Serves 2

Internal Garnish
1/2 red bell pepper, 1/2 green bell pepper, 1 green onion, 1/4 cup water chestnut, 1 teaspoon chopped garlic, 1 teaspoon ginger, 2 cups cooked chicken, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 6 whole lettuce leaves (Butterleaf or Iceberg)
Chop all the ingredients into bite-sized pieces. Combine bell peppers, onion, water chestnut, garlic and ginger. Heat 1 tablespoon of sesame oil over a high heat, saute the vegetable mix, add the chicken, saute for 2- 3 minutes more. Serve with whole lettuce leaves for wrapping and sweet chile and curry sauces.

Coconut Curry Sauce
Makes one cup
1 cup coconut milk, 1 tablespoon curry paste, 1 tablespoon brown sugar
Bring coconut milk and curry paste to a boil, reduce heat, simmer and add brown sugar. Continue to simmer until sauce reaches desired consistency.

Don’t want to cook? Head along to The Sun Valley Club and let Art and his crew whip these up for you.

Happy Trails!

Mrs. Sun

Trey McIntyre Project Returns to the Sun Valley Pavilion

Trey McIntyre Project

August 24, 2012

7pm at the Sun Valley Pavilion

For tickets visit seats.sunvalley.com or call 208-622-2135

San Francisco Ballet wows Sun Valley

Crowds arriving at the Sun Valley Pavilion to see the San Francisco Ballet perform

It’s pretty hard to impress the people of Sun Valley. When you live in a town that is regularly entertained by world class symphony musicians, lectured to by Pulitzer-prize winning authors and wowed by Oscar-winning actresses, even the Bolshoi can seem blasé. Well, that was not the case last night, when the San Francisco Ballet rolled into town for a one-night only performance.

The Sun Valley Pavilion was buzzing as the crowds arrived on Ketchum-time (meaning 20 minutes late), and although they delayed the dancers, the attendees made up for it by turning out in their finery (remarkable considering I’ve seen people wear bike shorts to a wedding).

It was, as I overheard one lady say, “The official start to the Sun Valley social season.” There was a lot of air-kissing and exclaiming over how wonderful your dress is, and what a fabulous summer it will be. But once everyone settled and the music began, a reverent hush took hold replaced promptly by gasps of wonder as the beautiful ballerinas finally claimed the stage.

I am not a ballet aficionado, and so won’t attempt a review of the performance (my limited experience with this art form includes sleeping through Sleeping Beauty at Sadler’s Wells – I was 12, and the Sun Valley Ballet’s annual performance of The Nutcracker, which is not quite in the same league). But watching arguably the best ballerinas in the country perform in an intimate yet spectacular (if a little windy and wet at times) setting, was an enchanting experience. The delicate dancers magically filled the empty stage, gliding and whirling in perfect synchronicity. With footsteps barely registering on the special springy stage, pliés and relevés won the hearts of the Sun Valley audience.

The physiques were as mesmerizing as the moves. Toned and tiny ladies appeared to be as light as feathers, while the sculpted muscles of the male dancers looked like David had come to life. In Solo, one of the seven dances the company performed, the three male performers provoked enchanting giggles from the young girls sitting next to me, one actually fell off her chair at the sight of such clearly visible muscular beauty.

After a resounding standing ovation, the audience left elated. Comments bouncing around the auditorium included “That was fantastic,” “What a delight,” and “Awesome.” While the dancers can leave Sun Valley knowing they have a legion of new fans, Sun Valley can wave goodbye to the ballet with the knowledge that it too has gained new admirers, who expressed a wish to return.

Unsurprisingly for a ballet headquartered in the tech hub of the country, the San Francisco Ballet is well-represented on social media, and the dancers broadcast highlights of their six days in the valley on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

A quick scroll through the public social media feeds of a handful of the dancers provides a glimpse of the activities the ballet indulged in during its free time. I’ve collected some of their posts on this Storify , but here’s a quick run-down of their time in the valley from their public feeds:


Spotted: Tired ballerinas finally arriving in Sun Valley after their bus broke down in the middle of rural Idaho.

  • Despite their bus from Boise breaking down on Wednesday, leaving a company of ballerinas stranded on the side of Highway 20, the dancers appear to have made the most of their Sun Valley sojourn. Principal dancer Joan Boada posted a snap of the tasty filet mignon and Idaho spud he enjoyed at the Pioneer Saloon, as well as a frosty beer with a view of Baldy at the Sun Valley Wine Company.
  • Garen Scribner  (@garen) took in a round of golf, and was highly amused by the makeshift practice room set up for them in Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge, practising in a ski school was apparently a new experience for the soloist.
  • Edward King, British filmmaker and husband of principal dancer Maria Kochetkova (@balletrusse), snapped some shots of the Fourth of July fireworks over the Lodge, and ventured out to Trail Creek Cabin with his wife, joking that she was “scaring away all the wildlife with her [bright red] shorts.”
  • Maria was the most prolific in her posting, showing followers images of her visiting Hemingway Memorial, enjoying a game at the Sun Valley bowling alley, feeding the swans at the Lodge pond, and posing with her “mini me” –  the promotional cut-out of the ballerina that has been touring town in anticipation of the ballet’s arrival.

Sunday night, an hour after they left the stage to thunderous applause, Maria tweeted “@SunValleyResort we loved it here and the audience was amazing! I hope to come back next year!”

We hope they do too.

Happy Trails!

Mrs. Sun

Rolling back the years at Sun Valley


The Lodge and its surrounds in 1937. This image was found in Averell Harriman's papers at the Library of Congress - you can see the handwritten notes on it detailing plans for the grounds.

When Joe Burgy first laid eyes on Sun Valley Lodge in 1937 he thought to himself, “This is the most horrible looking thing – a dingy brown cement building stuck out in a hayfield surrounded by sagebrush.” The future sports director for the resort just couldn’t imagine what in the world they intended to do with this luxury hotel in the middle of the Idaho wilderness.

The transformation that occurred when Averell Harriman hauled in hundreds of trees from the surrounding mountains to spruce up the sagebrush flats around his million dollar gamble, is a testament to the power of landscaping.

The same view of the Lodge taken in 2012

Fast-forward to 2012 and the old lady was in need of a bit of a facelift. “That first landscaping went in 75 years ago and most of the trees then were collected off the mountain and Trail Creek,” said Mike Turzian, owner of Sun Valley Garden Center and the man in charge of the resort’s horticultural design for more than 35 years. “A lot of those trees have lived their life cycle and are at a point where they can no longer fight off disease. All the trees we removed this year were heavily infected with scale.”

So it’s a case of out with the old and in with the new as the diseased trees make way for approximately 350 young spruce trees, 500 new aspen, 2,000 sprightly shrubs, as well as hundreds of flats of flowers. The resulting look has opened up new views of the Lodge and let light back into the historic building, stripping decades off the grande dame of American skiing.

“It’s definitely brought the architecture of Lodge back as a focal point and not the trees,” said Turzian. The change is quite remarkable. I remember when I first saw Sun Valley Lodge almost a decade ago, I was surprised at how difficult it was to see the wooden facade for the trees. Today the sight is not dissimilar to that Burgy saw all those years ago, but instead of being surrounded by dusty sagebrush, the Lodge now stands tall amidst healthy young trees and the largest planting of flowers ever seen in the valley.

“The impetus for the change was both the age of the existing landscape as well as the  goal of bringing it back to the standards Mr. Holding so enjoyed, when he first took charge of the resort.”

According to Turzian, in his younger years Mr. Earl Holding loved tending to the landscaping, sometimes working side-by-side with the gardeners. “It was definitely his recreation,” Turzian said. “Holding used to insist we wait until he arrived to start and would stay until the end of the day.”

Mike Turzian and his landscaping crew hard at work around the resort. More than 75 people are working on the project, which is estimated to be completed in 2014

However horticultural historians need not despair, some of the oldest trees still remain. “The big trees on each side of the Lodge, and on the north side of the Inn were probably moved here by Harriman when they were 10 feet at the most. Now they are approaching 120 feet,” Turzian said. That could make them over 100 years old.

Going forward, the biggest challenge for Turzian and his crew is trying to create some diversity in the landscape using the minimal amount of northern hardy nursery stock available to them. It’s a tough job in a climate that routinely drops to -20. But the fresh look has also presented an opportunity to modernize. The new landscaping has been designed to minimize water use through installing more efficient sprinkler heads and a drip system, as well as selecting more drought tolerant plants, all while still maintaining the setting worthy of this special place.

Here are some images I snapped around the Lodge since the transformation began this spring. But don’t take my word for it, come up and see for yourself.

Happy trails!

Mrs. Sun

Christina Healy Sneak Peak Trunk Show

Christina Healy Sneak Peak Trunk Show

See Christina’s new work BEFORE The Ketchum Arts Festival!

Wednesday, July 11


Sun Valley Lodge Gift Shop


Collared Greens Trunk Show

Collared Greens Trunk Show

A Classic American Eco-Friendly Clothing Brand

Saturday, July 14


Brass Ranch Village



Sun Valley Pro Bull Riding Classic

Sun Valley Pro Bull Riding Classic

Saturday, August 11


Hailey Rodeo Park

Tickets available at Hailey Chamber and Atkinson Markets

A signature Sun Valley evening

Mrs. Sun on ice. These vintage posters, scattered around the resort, make the perfect photo opp.

By now, regular readers of this blog will be familiar with my occasional adverb abuse. But honestly there’s a lot of truly, spectacularly amazing things to do in Sun Valley. Despite, or probably because of this, us locals occasionally fall victim to viewing the extraordinary as simply ordinary. Olympic ice-skaters? Hollywood movie stars? Pulitzer-Prize winning authors? Yep, they were all here last year too, and the year before that. Sometimes we take for granted that we live in many people’s dream vacation spot.

Such was the case for me with the Sun Valley ice shows. While I bundle the kids up for the (free) Christmas ice show every year, jostling for a good viewing spot alongside the literal hordes of people descending on the resort Christmas Eve, I had never made it to a performance of Sun Valley on Ice.

After happening across a blog post from a visitor that said “The Sun Valley Ice Show is an extraordinary thing to do. You should go. And I’ll just leave it at that,” I suddenly felt very silly for not having made the effort to attend something in my back yard that people travel across the country to see. So last night the Sun family opted to celebrate Independence Day at the first show of the season.

Well, it was an absolutely, truly, spectacularly amazing experience. The whole family had a wonderful time (helped immensely by actually having somewhere to sit). Little Sun gasped when Darlin Baker took to the ice as the first soloist, whispering in awe “Mummy, she looks beautiful.” Baby Sun could barely contain her delight, clapping and bouncing on daddy’s lap as Craig Heath performed his comedic routine. When Craig screamed in shock as a “shark” skated between his legs, she perfectly mimicked his cry, earning her a loud laugh from our bleacher (a reaction she then proceeded to try and elicit again and again until she eventually fell asleep).

Little Sun quickly followed his sister into slumber land, allowing Mr. Sun and I to fully appreciate the awesome athleticism on display. Headliner Ryan Bradley thrilled with his back flips (despite a few stumbles), but it was Nathan Chen who stole the show from the 2011 U.S. Champion. The eighth-grader is the 2012 Junior Men’s Champion and is the most exciting thing on ice right now. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything spin that fast – let alone a 13 year-old-boy on ice-skates. If you missed it, fear not, Chen returns to Sun Valley on August 18, where he’ll try not to upstage 2010 Olympic Gold Medalist Evan Lysacek.

Here’s a snippet I shot of Bradley’s brilliant back flip:

We almost woke the kids when the newest member of the ice show ensemble, Canadian Jason Graetz, started literally rolling around the rink during his solo (get a sneak peak of Graetz in action here). The hilarious stylings of the bendiest man on ice were only rivalled by the breathtaking skills of Jozef “Jumpin’ Joe” Sabovcik.

I’m a sucker for pairs though, and two-time World Professional Champions Elena Leonova and Andrei Khvalko were my personal favorites. The grace, beauty and incredible skill of their synchronized movements – and the terror-inducing sight of Elena’s blond hair millimeters from the surface of the ice as her husband swirled her around and around – had me leaping to my feet with enthusiasm.

From the patriotic displays by both skaters and pyrotechnics to the presence of resort owners Mr. and Mrs. Holding themselves, it was a signature Sun Valley evening. Mr. Sun hit the nail on the head as we drove home, saying “I’m so glad we finally got to cross that off our Sun Valley bucket list.”

Happy Trails!

Mrs. Sun

Sun Valley On Ice continues every Saturday night throughout the summer, beginning at dusk (current and 2x US Gold Medalist Jeremy Abbott headlines this Saturday.) Tickets range from $39 to $99 (bleachers to buffet). Call 622.2135 or visit seats.sunvalley.com. Child care is available during the ice show by reservation, 622.2288.

Ketchum Arts Festival

Ketchum Arts Festival

The 13th annual Ketchum Arts Festival will take place from July 13th -15th, 2012  from 10am to 6 pm every day.  Come enjoy the performances, taste some great food and beer, sign the kids in at the kids’ activity tent, and shop the wares of 125 local artists and craft makers.  Admission and parking are free (so is the kids’ tent).  The Festival is located at Festival Meadow on Sun Valley Road, close enough to walk from either Ketchum or Sun Valley.  Come for the day or stay and play for the weekend!

For more information visit www.ketchumartsfestival.comKetchum Arts Festival