Bringing in 2018: Reflections, Goals & Commitments

On the eve of the New Year, I sit here in my cozy kitchen, after a day in the backcoutry, a morning of yoga & dog-walking, and realize how full and intentional my life truly is. Every choice previously made has brought me to this beautiful point. And though this year has been full of lows, as well as mountains of highs, there isn’t anything I would alter. Looking back at my 2017 goals puts the year into perspective and allows me to reflect, readjust and re-charge. Here’s a look at the highlights (as well as the low-lights!)

  • 2017 was wrung in in the best possible way – In the mountains. We had a backcountry day with friends, followed by a ski house party. Our ski house crew killed it this past year, and amazing friendships were formed, stories were made, and good times were had. Despite a small hiccup in last years’ season (which I’ll write about next), I skied 28 times, including several days in the backcountry, a gorgeous trip to Jackson Hole (one of the coolest mountains I’ve ever skied and a blast of a town!) and I even brought my love of plants up to the mountain by food-prepping mountain fuel & ski bum bowls. The skiing sure was great this last year!

  • I had my first major surgery, which knocked me down for several months, tested my patience, willpower, and mental strength. In my beloved mountains, in the beautiful Sky Chutes, I fell and tore my ACL & meniscus. This backcountry injury ended my season and put forth a long recovery journey.  Despite the reality of the situation (surgery, no more skiing, physical therapy, weakening of my leg strength) I kept positive on the sidelines (Sunday Funday’s included cooking more instead of skiing & I even did a pre-surgery veggie challenge) and I documented leading up to the surgery,  the day of and after surgery, my progress, my challenges, and what I learned from the experience.  This really defined a large chunk of 2017, as it held me back from doing a number of things I had my mind set on (climbing 14’ers was out of the question) but really did open doors to new activities and allowed me to know my own strength and realize my own limitations. Only a month after surgery, I was well on my way to a speedy recovering, only to get the news from my surgeon I needed to slow down. The whole experience taught me a lot, about what I was capable of, what I needed to put energy into, how important consistency is with healing and recovery, and most of all, it taught me to be patient with myself.

  • Camping, biking and exploring reached new heights this year! Outdoor adventures and the exploration of this beautiful state of Colorado really kicked into high gear. Starting with a Memorial Day camping trip with friends near Leadville and trip to Salida (where Mike did a ton of biking), followed by a trip to Breckenridge for our first full stay at our Peak 7 Time-Share during Breck Bike week where I actually did a women’s bike clinic, followed by some low-key mountain biking.

The momentum continued, into July where dad came to visit for Lake Dillon boat shenanigans & biking (over 18 miles with dad over swan mountain!) then we headed with friends to Steamboat later in July for hiking and hot springs. August, we kept it going….we biked in the Butte,  mom and I hit up Leadville (exploring the old mining town from top to bottom, mining to museums, restaurants to railroads, to white water rafting!) and we wrapped up the month in Poudre Canyon, seeing my first Mishawaka show. October found us in the Royal Gorge, mountain biking the heck out of the area with a ton of friends. A classic Colorado summer (early fall) for sure!

  • Mike and I hit the 1-year wedding anniversary! The blog I wrote recaps the year since marriage beautifully and although I never finished writing our anniversary trip blog (we headed to Grand Junction for biking, brewery and National Monument fun!) we celebrated the year in the perfect fashion; taking our two fur babies on a Colorado adventure. It was so incredibly us.

 

 

  • My dear grandma and poppa died, both in their 90’s. My mom’s southern family gathered in Tennessee in late May to put my loving grandma to rest, while my dad’s side of the family gathered together in mid-September in Connecticut to celebrate the great life he lead. Both true family bonding experiences that I was grateful to be present for.

 

  • Our company, Happy Homes LTD sold a property and purchased another investment (May 2017), of which we are still underway with. The current property will be the biggest investment to date, where we’re doubling the existing footprint, popping the top, and heading into unknown territory. Both exciting and extremely frustrating….but a true learning experience!
  • I launched a Plant-Based Supper Club (Happy Kitchen Supper Club) in October, hosting the inaugural event where friends and family gathered to try 4 courses of plant-based goodness.
  • My 3rd annual plant-based soup swap was a HUGE hit, and my biggest event to date! Eight girls gathered, eight soups swapped. Lots of plant-based goodness going around!

  • We were grateful enough to spend both major holidays with family….Thanksgiving was spent with Mike’s Family in Asheville, where we explored the beautiful town, trails, and breweries. An ugly sweater party and nutcracker ballet kicked of the Christmas season, followed by a wonderful weekend filled with family gatherings (we hosted Christmas Eve!), Denver outings (we headed to union station and Boulder’s Celestial Seasonings), and tons of presents.
  • I traveled quite a bit for work, heading to Orlando for HIMSS17, Downtown Denver for our VAR conference,  San Diego for our national sales meeting, Chicago for our Large User Group Conference, SHIEC (an HIE tradeshow) in Indianapolis, San Francisco for Dream Force, and back to the corporate office in Horsham, PA in March, June and December. Wow, that’s a lot of travel!

 

Now I’m headed into 2018 with open arms, an ambitious list of goals, and a grateful heart.

Here are a few things I’m committing to and in pursuit of this year:

  • Spend more time doing and less time intending. I find myself cultivating ideas that could generate a wave of good, but seem to let the ideas hatch and fizzle before acting or truly developing them. I am committing to a monthly project or idea I actually act on, no matter how small. One person can truly make a difference, so I too must commit to doing so.

“Vision without action is just a dream, action without vision just passes the time, and vision with action can change the world.”Nelson Mandela

  • Buy a mountain house. Yup, this didn’t happen this year (due to our current investment taking a lot longer than we thought thanks to the city of Denver) but we will be poised and ready this year. Oh yes, we will be poised and ready.
  • Host Five plant-based Happy Kitchen Supper Club dinners. I’m trying to be realistic with the amount of planning, recipe testing, time spent prepping it takes to make these successful, factoring in my work schedule and planned travels. Committing to five over the next 12 months is completely doable.
  • Take a trip to Portugal! 2017 was all about exploring Colorado, a bit of the US even, and 2018 has opened the door to international exploration. I can’t wait!
  • Sell our investment property. It’s been a labor of love thus far, but mostly a labor of waiting. For permits. From Denver. For the past few months. We are ready to see the awesomeness it will become.
  • Train for Long’s Peak. I have taken a forced hiatus from hiking fourteener’s due to my surgery recovery, so this will be quite an endeavor.  I’m going to start as if I’m going to run a half a marathon….because the Long’s Route is 14 1/2 miles. Actually longer than a half a marathon.

There are many other things I want to do, want to accomplish, want to commit to this year. But, to go back to my first point of doing rather than saying….I need to put these things into action, focus on my priorities first and foremost, then can add to the list Cheers to 2018 and the many adventures that lay before me. Have a healthy, happy and adventurous New Year!

 

 

Tofurkey in Asheville

Thanksgiving spent with family is a truly wonderful thing….especially if much of your family lives in different states and can find time to come together. And if you can explore a new city on top of that, well that’s something to be thankful for!

Several months ago, Mike and I thought Asheville sounded like a perfect city to spend time in with family during Thanksgiving. With his sister, niece, brother-in law in South Carolina and his dad in north Carolina, it was the perfect meeting spot! WE flew into Charlotte a few days before the holiday to spend time with his dad and stepmom. That evening we headed to an eclectic, funky restaurant called Soul Gastrolounge. Sashimi tacos, a diverse cheese plate, spicy tuna roll….it was phenomenal! The vibe, the food, the music, the company really hit the spot, kicking off our holiday!

In the morning, we headed towards Asheville, stopping along the Blueridge Parkway to hike and stretch our legs. The thick forests were blanketed with leaves and we decided mountain biking would be a great idea in these conditions, although we had heard great things about the trails in the area. A reason to come back!

The 4 mile hike left us feeling refreshed (after a night of wine, the fresh air was needed!) so we headed into the heart of Asheville to Wicked Weed Brewing for some libation and nourishment. Boy did that spot hit it! A beautiful veggie spread, including a beer burger with pickled okra & pimento cheese, crispy brussel sprouts and a walnut, Gorgonzola & grape salad, all paired with beautiful brew. I had a Napoleon Complex and it definitely lived up to the hype.  What a great intro to Asheville!

Next stop was our Airbnb, a beautiful 3 bedroom house outside of town that had a beautiful kitchen, plenty of space for our party of six (including our red-headed 2-year old niece, Nora!). Luckily, the place was also dog-friendly, so Mike’s sister brought their fur baby, Kali. The ultimate spot that included amenities. We unpacked, napped and awaited the arrival of the Charleston crew, who arrived around 7 with loads of groceries & baby supplies. While the gang settled, plant-based tacos were cooked and we all sat down to catch up. Baby Nora, all smiles and giggles, couldn’t have been more adorable. It was going to be a good week!

The next morning, we awoke early to head to The Biltmore. This was the only officially planned activity, and I was extremely excited! Built by the Vanderbilt’s, it remains the largest privately owned estate in North America. The home took several years to build and was an architectural marvel. Dripping with Christmas trees, lights and decorations the home sparkled. The self-guided tour took us up and down three floors, into the basement (which included an indoor swimming pool and bowling alley!), up into his and her master suites, a two story library and throughout the servants quarters.

Even little Nora loved it, walking up and down the stairs and hallways, pointing at all of the wonders. Spectacular! The grounds were also expansive and even though it was quite windy, we waltzed throughout, heading into the large arboretum, bursting with tropical plants. Mike loved this in particular. The hours spent wandering left us famished, so we headed to Cedric’s Tavern for some wonderful lunch (they even had veggie options!)

The estate had a winery on it’s property, so after lunch, Mike and I mozied over to the winery for a complimentary tasting….the wine was surprisingly delightful and the women who was pouring was extremely knowledgeable. What a wonderful first day!

Happy Thanksgiving! We woke Thursday knowing we would spend the day cooking and relaxing, so Mike and I started it with a 3 mile hike near the French Broad river. Kali (our furry niece) came with us and we all had a grand time before heading back to cook up a frenzy. The gang had brought a turkey, so threw that in, turned the football on and had some holiday beverages while making my fabulous plant-based feast. I made a veggie pot-pie for Mike and I with melting sweet potatoes.

That evening, we all went around to say what we were thankful for, digging in to the meal we had prepared with a grateful heart. A beautiful holiday, spent with family.

Friday came and we all went out to breakfast at The Moose Cafe for a hearty country breakfast. Grits and the best dang homemade biscuits you ever tasted, served with honey. Holy cannoli is was delicious! A breakfast that would propel Mike and I into the Pisgah National Forrest to hike to the John Rock hike. 

The plan was to meet the gang after for lunch and a brewery tour, so we were going for the long route. The views from the John Rock were wonderful and the hike was just strenuous enough to work up our appetite. Next stop: Sierra Nevada

The tap room was packed, so we just grabbed a beer (they had so many to choose from!) played a game of corn hole and headed to the next stop: Blue Ghost Brewery. This local brewery was actually a recommendation from someone at breakfast and it did not disappoint. They had a mango IPA that was phenomenal!

They had a food truck as well, so we grabbed some flatbread and enjoyed.  Green Man Brewery was the next stop – where Mike had a fabulous sour, I took a break and just had a sip. By this time, baby Nora, Sara & Lynn were ready to call it a night.

Allen, Mike and I thought one more stop was needed, so we headed to Burial Brewery for one more – I had a delightful sour to cap out the night.

Saturday morning we had a leisurely breakfast, then headed into the cute town of Asheville to do some shopping. Allen stayed home with baby Nora to watch the Ohio game and was going to meet us later.  The town was bustling, so we visited the cute little galleries and shops. The shopping gave us quite the appetite, so we headed to Curate, a beautiful Spanish tapas restaurant. Wow, what a meal! The best tapas I have had in the states!

We headed back to the house to relax for a bit – then we headed to Sweeten Creek Brewery for a per-dinner drink. Another great brewery! Dinner was at the White Duck Taco shop where delicious tacos were ordered: Banh Mi tofu, Bangkok Shrimp and a Mushroom Potato. Delicious!!! It was the perfect last night all together!

In the morning, we packed up the house, with tearful goodbyes, and Mike and I headed for one last hike. This one was a short one, but was extremely steep with multiple areas that had ropes to help hoist us up.

The hike was a wonderful ending to our Asheville family vacation. Our last night was spent at his dad’s house, where we made homemade cannelloni. How grateful I am that we had this amazing time together in Asheville, North Carolina!