Clarity in 2021

It’s that time of the year to reflect on the past year, and make plans and goals for the new one. I did the same thing in 2020, and 2019 . As odd as this year was, with COVID still being a big factor in the world, we had a robust year, one with trips, friends, goals met and big, big change. Here’s our year in review!


Kicked off the New Year with some of our best friends & a fancy pizza party! It was the quintessential night in and a beautiful group to spend it with! The rest of the month was spent in the mountains of Fraser, with Mike working on a mountain property, where we skied winter park (both up the mountain & down). On the personal growth front, I made headway on an ultra learning project I set forth to do: learn how to edit videos to post on our Happy Homes Youtube channel.  I kicked off a Master Mind with my mentor who was a fellow investor-agent, where we would record and stream a monthly real estate-investor educational session. I alsoofficially joined eXp Realty LLC. By the end of the month, we were packing our bags to spend 25 days in Sedona for the winter with a few other best friends & dogs. On the way to Sedona, we hung out in Taos and fortunately got hit with a big storm – it was a pretty epic pit stop.  Winnie even enjoyed the snow and came out in the backcountry with us, chasing us all the way down the hill. By January 28th we were in Sedona, with a fresh dusting of snow on the red hills.


What an amazing month we had in Sedona – we biked 62 miles, hiked 42 miles, worked on our taxes, did yoga almost everyday, worked our remote jobs while the boys biked, shared the meals so we all shared cooking and cleaning responsibilities, went to vortex’s and celebrated our buddies 50th birthday. It was a super sabbatical that I will always remember! While there, my real estate Master Mind continued and we filmed a session. It was the most productive, athletic, outdoor centric focused trip we’ve ever taken. On the way home from this magical place, we headed to Angel Fire to surprise a girlfriend on her birthday & ski the mountain. It was small, but really fun and we hiked to the steep chutes a few times to really earn our turns. The last weekend of the month was spent skiing Winter Park and I wrapped up my ultra learning experiment, where I made 4 videos for our Happy Home channel.


March came in hot & we attended a concert at Zuni’s with Mary & the Weber brothers, one of the first bigger get togethers since COVID. It was lovely to see all of our friends! The second week of March brought us to South Carolina to visit our favorite ginger babies! We headed to the beach for an afternoon, made homemade pizzas, and enjoyed some south Carolina parks. We ended up looking at an investment property as well, on the hunt for our next rental, but decided to pass on this one. On a nice afternoon in late March, we headed to our friends’ farm for a picnic in the pastor, then the next day headed to Winter Park with dad, my niece & nephew, and sister for a ski adventure! We rented a house with a hot tub and it was a blast!

When we got back home, I created a direct mail campaign for Happy Homes, writing letters to locals who may want to sell their house off-market. It had worked for us years back, so I got organized, pulled lists, and created two pieces to send. We also started gardening & turning over our beds and planting massive amounts of seeds for what would be massive gardens. And just as March came to a close, we purchased a turn-key rental in Arvada through Happy Homes, where I acted as the agent and put my commission towards the purchase price!


Going in like a lamb, literally, we spent some time at our friends’ farm at the beginning of the month, playing with her little lamb. An Easter dinner with family, my first direct mail campaign launched, and multiple showings on our new rental….spring had sprung!  The trails were calling, and we did Hall Ranch, Lyons, Green Mountain & headed down to Canon City for multiple miles. Our good friends bought a greenhouse that we helped erect on a gorgeous day in mid-April. I also started ramping up my real estate learning, checking out MLS alerts, creating a listing presentation and updating my real estate goals. This month’s Mastermind brought on guests, talking all about lending and funding real estate deals and we also found a tenant for the new rental, so were pumped about that! It was a productive, active month, full of real estate and mountain biking!


Seeing family is always a lovely way to start the month – and dinner with my sister & cousins at my moms hit the spot. Our farm friends also had their first farm pop, where we all sold starter plants, baked goods and had a wonderful day out in the sunshine with the farm animals. We went to tour another potential investment property in Arvada – it would be a great fixer-upper, but was a bit steep in price, so we passed.  Zia ride weekend came up fast – and we all headed down to Canon City for the race. There were three teams of 4 people each, all having to ride two, nine mile laps. I lucked out and only had to ride 1 lap though! Later in May, I looked at yet another investment property, which we passed on as well, as there were hoarders living there, with a dilapidated back porch. Late May, headed to our cousins’ toddler’s birthday party, where we got to visit with out of state family. Memorial Day weekend had us heading down to Canon City again, where we rode bikes, antiqued and drank some good beer. We had started to rent our house out via Airbnb, because we were supposed to have had bought a truck camper, which fell through. So, we headed down sans camper and still had a blast. And just like that, summer was upon us!


June was a whirlwind of fun, small weekend trips, and displacement due to having the house rented out and having a truck camp purchase fall through. Thank goodness we have good friends who let us crash with them a few nights – and we finally did get a truck camper the second weekend in June! It may have been the top of the market, but it was all ours & we were stoked on the possibilities. We headed up to Fraser for a portion of a week before picking up our camper though, as we had our house rented out. The truck camper was huge – with a queen bed, stand up shower, and three burner stove/oven combo. Road trips here we come! We headed back up to Fraser with the camper and spent a weekend boating on Lake Grandby. Nothing feels like summer more than being on a lake! While up in Fraser, Mike worked on the mountain apartment and built a custom shelf in the bathroom, made out of the reclaimed wood from the fence. It looks so cool! Mid-June, the Colorado girls headed to what was supposed to be Crestone, but ended up being the Sans Isabel National Forest due to bug infestation. The ladies camped, hiked to waterfalls, frolicked with puppies and enjoyed some much-needed girl time. When we headed into Salida for dinner, we realized it was the FIBArk whitewater rafting festival in, so we watched some crazy river folk storm down the shuts! It was a glorious weekend! Mike spent time in Tennessee and Arkansas going to 3 Phish shows as well – a true wookie junkie! Since we had officially become camper folk, we planned our first maiden voyage in the camper – aiming to hit Park City Utah, McCall & Boise Idaho for mountain biking and lake adventures. Long story short, we ended up changing our plans due to weather, but still had an absolute blast!


July came with us still on the road, in Swan Valley Idaho. We enjoyed Palisades Reservoir where we paddle boarded with little Winnie, went to Melvin brewing to enjoy some amazing beer, and eventually made our way back home. We enjoyed our gardens for a quick few days and then turned right around to head to the east coast….to my beloved Maine. Trying to fly right into Portland and getting caught in a horrible storm, we made the best of it and headed to Bissell Brothers to drink the storm away, then headed to Maine Beer co, where our cousin Mike rescued us for the night, so we didn’t have to row to the island in the terrible storm. The rest of the week on the island was amazing, as always. The crew did a huge porch project, jacking up the corner of the kitchen and poured pilings to reinforce the corner – a team effort that took a ton of muscle. Along with the work, we had amazing lobster dinners on the porch, beautiful sunsets, trips to LL Bean & we even tried a new brewery, Mast Landing Brewing, headed to Eagle Island to visit Admiral Perry’s summer home. The good times on the island ended and back home I put on my eXp real estate agent hat to help a friend find a mountain home. Towards the end of the month, my uncle and aunt headed out to Colorado on a big road trip, so we exchanged camper stories over a delicious meal at 1914. At the tail-end of the month, our real estate adventures were in full swing – we looked at an off-market investment and I showed my client multiple homes in the mountain. Mike went to a Phish show & I rented our house via Airbnb – so I moved in with our friends for almost a week! Big things closed out the month: I gave my long-time employer my notice! I had been planning this change for two years – and it was one of the biggest changes I’ve made in my life for years!


Summer stretched on and I continued to show mountain properties to my client. The first weekend in August landed me at the airport, headed to Austin for one of my best girlfriends bachelorette party. We drank, partied by the lake and blew our whistles to loud grinding music. It was a blast! While away, on August 6, Mike and I – aka Happy Homes Ltd – closed on our new investment property (although only Mike signed, as I was partying in Austin!). When I headed back east, our house was again rented, so Mike and I headed up to Fraser to work on the mountain property a bit & stayed in the neighboring campsite in St Louis Creek campground – so we biked and camped and were camper folk once more. Once our Airbnb guests left, we headed back home to roll up our sleeves on our investment property – a house we would rehab and rent. We took a break from rehabbing to visit with my cousin and aunt – love when family visits! In the middle of the month we were ready to travel yet again – we packed our bags and headed to the US Virgin Islands, Water Island, to surprise my sister-in-law for her birthday.

Mike and I headed to the island a few days early to enjoy the sun and explore the island treasures and secrete fish taco truck hot spots. Our family showed up, thoroughly surprised, and we had a great vacation full of snorkeling, beach days and delicious island food. With the beach days behind us, we headed back home to dig back in to our investment property, where Mike had hired a sub he had used in the past to act as the GC. Throughout the next few weeks, Mike worked on a kitchen job in Golden and the investment property moved slowly. The guys he hired ended up demoing a lot more than we wanted, not showing up for days on end, and messing up in a number of ways. On the bright side, we did find free river rock on FaceBook Marketplace that we went to pick up for the landscaping and closer to the end of the month I got to see my Tennessee cousin and her kids.


Oh, September! Our anniversary (Backyard Wedding was September 4) weekend came and it swept us away to Breckenridge for a weeklong family vacation with our ginger baby nieces (and their parents and grandma too!) The week was full of swimming, troll hikes, mountain bike rides up mountains for Mike and I, grilling out and drives to the Boreas pass. A great mountain adventure. I wrapped up my final days of work, having my official last day September 15th – and boy it felt good to be all-in on our real estate! September 18th I had the pleasure of officiating my two dear friends’ wedding ceremony, a true honor to have been asked to be apart of their special day! And what a fun wedding! Later in the month, I was on a podcast, Ask an Investor, a truly great conversation with someone I’ve been following in the real estate space for quite a long time! I spent the last weekend in September celebrating my moms’ birthday, heading out to dinner with her and my sister, then hiking a trail near Estes Park. It was a great weekend of nature and celebration.


Fall was coming, although the days still felt like summer! We had our nephew sleepover the first weekend in October, and we played some touch-football & Mike took him to a Broncos game (my mom had bought them tickets for their birthdays). I continued my agent duties by showing my client mountain properties, spanning from Evergreen to Coal Creek Canyon to Conifer. On the second weekend in October, we headed south to Canon City in our truck camper to celebrate our dear friends Janine and Steve, who magically eloped, then invited their friends to celebrate on their newly purchased 6 acres. We mountain biked, hiked, and celebrated their love and dedication. I even wrote them a song!

Dig our Way Home

Come along babe, let’s go down to the trail

Suns settin’ in the East but what do we care

Got mountains in the distance & dessert in our soul,

Hell I could ride with ya till I’m 100 years old

Hike up to the canyon to see out yonder

Don’t matter how we get there, we can just wonder

You’re like a spoke to my wheel holding me together

We’re a little bit a lace and a whole lot of leather

But how bout’ how bout’ how bout’ we just dig our way home 

Said how bout we dig our way home

Woke up this morning with the sunrise in my heart 

Couldn’t wait to get with you have our whole life start

You’re my quiet and I’m your spark

The coffee in my morning & my pillow in the dark

How bout we just dig our way home

I said why don’t we just dig our way home

Babe it’s you and me now, with the future stretched ahead 

You better ride with me till we both fall dead

Through the seasons and the berms 

Ashes to ashes and terra firma

Think we must have dug our way home

Yeah, we have dug our way home

After the beautiful weekend with friends, Mike continued to work on the Golden Kitchen job until it was time to pack up our trailer and head out (the house was rented via Airbnb again!). It was our first time camping in Nederland, at the West Magnolia trails and it was fabulous! Although it was rather chilly (dropping down to 14 degrees one night!) we thoroughly loved being up in the mountains for the weekend, where we biked the trails, hikes around with Winnie and enjoyed the serene views. Mixed in with the camping were several mountain property showings for a client, and both weekend days had multiple properties on the docket. When the weekend was over, we headed back down to Arvada and really dug into the new investment. By this time, we’d owned it for 90 days, and Mike had fired the GC for not cutting it, so took over completely. With his kitchen job wrapped up, Mike was fully focused on getting it in a good spot! We finished the month out with most days at the investment, landscaping, replacing siding, reinforcing the floor (Mike discovered a horrible problem when removing the layers of sub-floor). My client got under contract on a mountain house, so there was lots of transactional duties involved, and I also was fortunate enough to get a listing, so had my agents hat on once again! A truly prosperous month!


Happy Birthday to me! I celebrated my 41st birthday working on our new investment, going to a great lunch spot and being incredibly grateful for another year around the sun. This month, I started a Happy Homes Newsletter (let me know if you’d like to receive it – drop your email in the comments!) and wrote about our project, real estate tips and included some podcasts I had found really interesting. II had my first open house on my own listing – where we got an interested buyer who submit an offer! Our property was moving along at a great pace – kitchen went in, framing, back patio stairs where built and the huge yard continued to be landscaped. We had been planning a long road trip east for the holidays, but needed to cut it back due to our project not being where we needed it to be. But the week before thanksgiving, we headed out! First stop was Des Moines, where dear friends got married (and put on a concert!), we camped at Walnut Woods State Park and drank amazing beer at Lua. From there we headed east still, stopping over in Nebraska to camp for the night, then continuing on to our final destination: Bentonville Arkansas, where we were meeting our awesome biking friends for trails, truck camping and thanksgiving extravaganza! First campground was Horseshoe Bend campground, right on the water. Getting into town late on November 21, we stopped first at Ozark Brewing to pick up some amazing libations. We had arrived! The next few days were full of amazing mountain biking, exploring downtown Bentonville and their insanely awesome trail systems. On Wednesday we headed to another campground, Blowing Springs, right in the middle of another amazing trail system, The Back 40. The campground itself was lovely, with shower facilities and an off-grid section where we set up our truck campers. The trails were the most fun I had ever had on a mountain bike – flowy, not too step, and packed dirt without the loose rocks. The day before Thanksgiving, we headed into town to nosh on local bagels, shop the local bike shops (I actually bought bike shoes) and then biked around the trails, ending at Crystal Bridges which was Bentonville’s beautiful art museum. On Thanksgiving, we woke to a chilly morning, so took Winnie for a long walk around Bella Vista, then biked part of Bella Vista before heading back to the campers to fix our Thanksgiving feast! We had stuffing, homemade cranberry sauce, maple baked sweet potatoes and a cauliflower bake with a coconut, sage & pumpkin sauce. All in our truck camper oven! It was one of the coziest, tastiest, most adventurous Thanksgivings we’ve ever had.

The next day, we jumped on our bikes and hit about 8 miles of the Back 40 – a chilly morning, but perfect weather for a long ride. We didn’t want our time in Bentonville to end, but we all swore we’d be back. We broke up the long trip back by stopping at Wilson State Park, in Kansas, and had a blast zipping around the Epic rated trails there. But, everything must come to an end, so we waived goodbye to our lakefront camping spot, where the sherbet colored sunsets capped off one of the best road trips we’ve had.


The last month of the year had arrived and with it, the finishing of our new investment property (meaning lots of long days for Mike, the finishing of the landscaping for me) with appliances getting hooked up, flooring getting installed, tile complete, vanities being carried and put in, and carpet getting installed. It was a big push to get it on the rental market before we left for the holidays. In the beginning of the month, we headed to Fraser to cut down our own tree, a two year in a row tradition with our dear friends. Tromping into the forest, with our boots and chainsaws, then drinking hot cider & whiskey in the parking lot, with a side of fish tacos. By far the best tailgate I had been to in a long time! Days before leaving for our Christmas in Carolina, we had a fun Thai cooking lesson with my mom, where we cooked, opened presents and sang Christmas carols. The last 48 hours before departing were spent at the investment property cleaning, finishing the landscaping and taking pictures for the listing. It was finally finished! And we were off to spend the holidays with our North Carolina family….

It’s been a huge year….one of big, audacious goals being hit, huge changes to how I’d be making income a year full of adventure and exploration and family love. This year, everything changed for me when I decided to take my career in my own hands and go all-in on Happy Homes and the ceiling blew off the amount of income that was possible.

One thought on “Clarity in 2021

  1. Catie and Mike,
    What a bright and busy year you had-
    Reinventing, reinvesting
    Refinishing, restoring
    Biking, hiking
    Skiing, trekking
    Truck camping, landscape planting
    Home selling, trees felling
    AirBnB’s, agents fees
    Travel near, wander far
    Friends and family, arrive by car
    Happy Holidays & ALL THE BEST in 2022
    Peace and love we wish for you!
    Patty and Denny McFadden

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s