2019: One Hell of a Year!

With little less than three weeks to go in 2019, I’ve finally carved out some time to sit and reflect on the year. Now, I’ve started the below account of each month’s comings and goings several months ago, while on planes, recounting the past 11 months. It goes by quickly, doesn’t it?

My financial group, Money Minded Mavens, just met, as we do on a monthly basis, to reflect back on the year, recall how and if we accomplished our goals, or missed the mark, what trends we saw throughout the year, and to prepare for a new set of goals for a new year. It’s a beautiful exercise for anyone: What did I accomplish this past year? Did I hit my goals? What trends did I notice…..and so on. I’ll dive into all of that in my 2020 Goals blog. But for this one, well, it’s been one hell of a year, full of adventures in foreign lands, ski trips, business lessons, work travel, mindset adjustments, mountain towns and mountain bike trails and lots of adventures in the outdoors!

January

The New Year was brought in the most spectacular way…in a mountain town, after a day of skiing the backcountry, with great friends. Mike, Dusty, Holly and I headed to Steamboat for some backcountry and resort fun, mixed in with mountain town shenanigans.

Rang in the New Year in Steamboat!

It was awesome and a great way to start the year. Money Minded Mavens had our first outing in Denver, where of course we went to happy hour. Our investment property, Chase, still hadn’t sold, so we were going back and forth between our house and that property, short term renting it.to cover holding costs. I traveled to Horsham, PA at the end of the month to meet yet another new boss, won an award for going above and beyond for the team. While in my old home state, I got the sad news my Aunt Chrisy had passed away. It was devastating news, but I had so many beautiful memories. Then I headed to Jackson Hole for an epic ski trip.

February

A new month, a new adventure! I flew into Jackson hole February 1 for a long weekend with my ski crew in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Twelve of our closest friends crammed into a ski condo in Wilson, where we apres’ed at the Mangy Moose, skied deep deep powder, and had a grand old time.

Jackson Hole Crew

A few days after J-Hole, I headed to Orlando for a healthcare conference, and cut my time there short to head to Miami for my Aunt Chrissy’s life celebration, where my aunts, sister, mom and uncles gathered for several days to bask in the memories she left us.

Remembering Aunt Chrisy

Later in February me and my girls’ headed to Eldora for a fun-filled day of downhill & bloodies and we closed the month out by jumping on a plane and heading to France.

 

 

March

March came roaring in with us jumping on a plane and heading to Lyons France for the most epic 10 day European vacation of my life!

Wine Tasting, Lyons France

Mike, Dusty, Holly and I jet-set on a plane, train and got picked up in a van to spend a few days in the French countryside eating cheese and going to wine tasting, then shot to Chamonix for an amazing ski adventure.

Chamonix France

Our friend Kieran turned 40 and we were all there to pop the huge vats of champagne.

Chamonix France Crew

Plus, while we were there, our investment property, Chase, got under contract! We returned to beautiful Colorado and dad visited for some Eldora skiing then I shot to California for a Marketing meeting.

Taos Crew

The end of March, our ski crew shot to Taos, where we climbed Kachina peak, drank big steins, and danced the night away in the St. Bernard. Another great ski trip to close out the month. And the most exciting part of the trip was going under contract on our 6th investment property. March sure went in like a lion and out like a lamb.

 

 

 

April

April brought mild weather and the close on our Chase property. Whoo Hoo! Comedy night at breweries, hikes and beers, dinner with friends and a trip to Fort Wayne, Indiana to party with my high school girls. Pottsy had moved to the mid-west and when we all started chatting about a girls trip, we thought what better way to hang with each other, plus see Pottsy’s new digs.

My GIrls in Fort Wayne!

We did the town up, dinning at the finest Fort Wayne restaurants, booging down at the towns’ hot spots, and laughed our butts off. Directly after our reunion, I flew to Arizona for a Sales Meeting, then headed home to finish the month with family dinners, hikes with Winnie, ballet recitals….and ended the month at Loveland, ski resort for a pretty fun day of powder skiing and hiking to the steeps.

 

 

 

 

 

May

Garden season arrived and Mike planted lots of green goodies. I climbed on my mountain bike for a huge ride in Buff Creek, which would jump start a great mountain biking season. I spent a ton of time in the kitchen this month and was able to be the care taker for mom during her eye surgery (cataracts). She was a great patient!

Happy Mother’s Day!

The rest of the month included more hikes with beers, niece’s chorus concert, mother’s day with my momma. And on May 20 I headed out with Mike for some off-season spring uphill skiing at Loveland, where we skinned up the mountain.

This is why I love Colorado! Lots of hikes (Mt. Falcon), Frisbee Golf, and biking to Joyride Brewery for happy hour. The end of the month brought biking with our bike gang in Littleton, harvesting our Arugula and kale, and a Brewery Concert with Mary and The Weber Brothers.

June

Summer arrived, but I wasn’t ready to put my skis away. On June 2, Mike and I headed up to Mt. Bierstadt for the latest ski day and earliest 14’er climb I’ve ever done. A grueling uphill climb, with some boot pack up near the summit. The steep sections, with icy spring slush was really challenging and at one point I even had to take my skis to maneuver up.

Mt Bierstadt Views

It was a magnificent day and I was incredibly proud of myself. That same day, Mike and I headed to meet our cousin’s new baby, Harper. A big day!

Our 6th Investment Property!!!

On June 6th, we purchased our 6th investment property.  The layout, awful. The bathrooms had carpet. The attic was full to the brim of the past owner’s stuff. We couldn’t wait to dig in! Two days later, Mike headed to a bachelor party and I started demo….ripping carpet, filling dumpsters, clearing out cabinets….then headed to a street festival with the crew to listen to some live music and drink some craft beers.

Demo!!

Mid-June really brought the nice weather, so hiking and early morning mountain bike rides at Green mountain abound. Mike, Hayden and I decided to take a last minute road trip to Fruita, one of the Mountain Biking meccas.

Fruita Hills

We ended up camping at Road 18, right near amazing trails. Although it was extremely warm by mid-afternoon, the early morning rides were epic! Super flowy flows, a few steep climbs, and huge downhills (some I actually had to walk down). It was such a fun weekend, filled with great trails, beer, and Coloradical goodness. Back home, we dug deep into demoing the new investment, kept our early morning mountain bike rides up, pedaling by 6am, and I headed to Crestone with my girls, for a camping weekend full of river baths, hiking, and beautiful mountain backdrops.

Crestone Camping Gals!

Amelia, Stacia, Amy, Amy, and Aurora headed to the heady town of Crestone to camp at the base of N. Crestone Trail, a campsite right along the river. The weekend was full of lady love, champagne chilled in the river, puppy shenanigans (yes, Winnie came!) and campsite games. We even headed out into the small town of Crestone for some post-hike beers and grub at the Crestone Brewery. Stacia and I headed hiking on the way back to Denver, a beautiful trail near Salida.

Wyoming Camping Crew

End of the month, we headed to Wyoming for some Mountain Biking and camping with the crew.  We had a huge gang staying at Vedauwoo campground, which had a great trail for hiking or biking right from our camp ground.

 

 

 

 

July

July came and so did the heat. Record temperatures hit Colorado, but we kept on keeping on. Our investment property was in full swing and we worked most of the July 4th holiday weekend.

July 4th Demo!

What a way to celebrate our freedom by working on our Happy Homes business. Bike gang headed up to Granby for a weekend in July, to beat the heat and get some pedaling in. The kitchen layout was selected for our investment property and it was exciting to see the project taking shape. July’s big happening brought our South Carolina family out to the mountains, where we headed to Breckenridge for a week long family vacation.

Uncle Mike & Nora!

We swam, hiked to trolls, watched movies, rode gondolas, swam and slid down water slides, mountain biked, drank delicious beer, and rode chair lifts up to climb up Peak 8.

 

Troll Hikes!

It was a wonderful family vacation with our South Carolina family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August

August came and the investment progress continued….new windows, new drains in the backyard which lead to new landscaping and a whole lot of money! A work trip took me east, to Lewes Deleware, where I got to spend time with one of my oldest and dearest friends and her mini. I hadn’t swam in the actual ocean for quite some time, so it was a wonderful trip! Came back to work more on our Happy Homes investment property and also cooked a ton.

Next stop Lower Goose Island!
Maine Sunsets

The end of the month took us to my beloved Maine, where we’d spend a whole week enjoying Lower Goose Island. Kayaking around Casco Bay, having lobster, closing up camp for the winter, and enjoying time with family. Maine is truly the way life should be!

 

September

We celebrated our anniversary, September 4th, 3 years married, at our investment property, painting and working together. I truly have seen the way we work best and that’s when we’re both contributing to goals that move us forward.

Dudley coming together

Our investment property started coming together in big ways this month, with finishes happening, landscaping being complete and trim abound.

Dudley Investment comin’ along!

Paint, tile, more paint and lots of cleanup for me! Unfortunately, we had some vandalism happen to a window – a surface puncture and no other damage – and had to replace it. Mike headed to Wisconsin with a friend for a week long football extravaganza (horrible timing with our investment property not being done) so I hiked with friends (aimed for James’ Peak but it was uber windy, so only made it around St Mary’s Glacier) and looked after the investment, buying lighting fixtures, watering the grass, checking in on the tradesmen.

Dudley Painted!

I headed to Longmont to celebrate my mom’s birthday with some fun hiking and homemade ravioli. Mike got back and wrapped up the house (after lots of stressful moments moving in staging furniture and frantically trying to finish to get it on Dudley St. on the market!)

 

October

With our investment property finally listed, we could breathe a bit…and so we did, heavily, on bikes! A few rides in Lyons and Golden had our lungs burning this month!

Heil Bike Gang!

Our bike gang was out in full force and we hit up North Table, Heil Ranch, and Buff Creek. Quite a bit on the saddle! For an early birthday present, my mom got me a guitar, so I signed up for lessons, walked to them, and practiced quite a bit. Mike’s mom and our niece Nora came out to visit in October, right before my sister-in-law had her third baby.

Uncle Mike & Nora

Boy did we have fun exploring Arvada, having an adventure at the Children’s museum and walking miss Winnie. I had to head to Atlanta for work at the end of October, interrupting the last day with family.  A few days, a few presentations, and back home for my annual  plant-based soup swap! A fun beer tasting, then on to Moab for a gorgeous weekend to celebrate Halloween, ring in my 39th birthday, and celebrate two close friends’ 40th birthdays. And do some bad ass mountain biking!

 

 

 

 

November

I turned 39 in the beautiful dessert, surrounded by great friends. Really couldn’t have asked for a better birthday!

Moab Bike Gang!

Mike even rented me a bad ass bike, in which I felt truly invincible and was able to do some of the most confident riding of my life. We hit up the Sovereign Trails,Horse Thief, and a few of us ran Arches National Park on the last day, which was the coolest trail run I have ever done in my life!

Trail run in Arches

An amazing birthday indeed. A niece’s chorus concert, an offer on our investment property, and a trip to Orlando for my company’s user group meeting. Back home for Friendsgiving, selling a house, buying a house (on the same day!!!) and lots of demo!! Even got to ski before thanksgiving with the crew at Eldora, an adventure of a day.

Friendsgiving!

Thanksgiving brought my dad out to visit and spend the holiday, a really beautiful visit with snowy lake walks, great food, glow in the dark gulf, and lots of family time.

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

December

The last month of the year has been a sad one. My Grandma passed away, a blessing really, as she had been in hospice for the past two years, and our old bulldog Haley’s health is going downhill quickly. Mike and I have made the really hard decision to schedule her time to pass on. On a fun note, we celebrated our friend’s 30th birthday by heading to Winter Park. I spent the morning today at our investment property, cleaning up debris. I love working hard on our business, putting in hours working towards goals that will eventually allow us to have passive income. It truly is a privilege to spend my weekends on these efforts.

 

With only a few weeks left, I’m continuing to reflect on the amazing, hard, adventurous year I’ve had and to prep myself for big things I have planned for 2020. I hope you’ve had an amazing year, full of meaningful things, friend and family. Cheers to next year’s bounty!

Adventures in France: Planes, Trains & Vans

Several months ago, our friends Kieran and Kristie threw out an invite to celebrate Kieran turning 40 in France. Being able to ski the French Alps and drink wine? Yes please! So, we invited our good Colorado friends, Dusty and Holly to join and the trip was planned.

The day finally came and after getting Dusty’s partner to drive us to the airport, we paid an arm and a leg for our baggage ($287 for our skis!) flew through security, had a bite and a beer to wish ourselves a Bon voyage and we were off!

This would be Dusty’s first international adventure & longest flight….needless to say I was excited for him!

Lufthansa is an amazing airline (minus the oversized baggage fees) so we settled into our seats, watched some movies, slept a bit, had some pasta….and woke in Munich. The nine hour flight left us a bit groggy, but strolling through customs, back through security and then to our gate got us in the European spirit. Our second flight to Geneva was only 45 minutes, although it got delayed a bit, so a quick cat nap and we landed!

Crossing our fingers for the bags and skis arriving safely, we navigated our way to baggage claim. THEY MADE IT!!!!

All bags in tow, we grabbed our free train fare into the city center (I had researched this prior to the trip and it was pretty nice that they provided free tickets!) had a nice Frenchmen tell us where to catch the train, and hopped on.

The public transportation in France is tres magnifice – clean and quiet! Arriving in town center after only 6 minutes, we grabbed our extremely heavy baggage and unloaded to catch our next train. We had about 40 minutes, so instead of lugging our baggage up and down stairs, Dusty and Mike went down into the station to see about tickets for Lyon. The track area was lovely, a bit chilly, but surprisingly clean. A drunken French bum came by as Holly and I sat waiting, explaining he had a sick baby at home while concealing a beer behind his back. We didn’t give him any Euros.

Fifteen minutes later, the boys came back to fetch us and we headed to track seven, where we’d go to Bellegaurd, then transfer to Lyon. The boys had taken so long picking out six beers at one of the train shops, a variety of Belgian and pilsners, even a double IPA! Having bought first class tickets (they didn’t have any other seats left!) we felt extremely fancy drinking our European beers on a beautiful train bound for France. The transfer was smooth enough, although the train was delayed about 30 minutes. So, I laid down on our ski bag and took a rest. The station was very French, with quaint buildings lining the tracks and old steel beams. When the train finally came, we climbed on eagerly and settled in for a two and a half hour ride.

We chatted and had snacks (Wisconsin cheese and rice crackers Holly brought) and sipped on delicious beer while watching the French countryside whiz by. Marveling at how quiet and efficient the train was, we all wished for a train as such to whisk us to our Colorado mountains!

When we finally arrived, we gathered our belongings and went searching for Kieran and Kristie. They had arrived an hour or so prior and rented a van. Mike had to use the toilet, so went searching for one in the busy train station, only to find one that he had to give a Euro for. I had brought a bag of what I thought to be Euro…only to discover they were actually Turkish Lira. Whoops! Mike wasn’t happy about it, so grabbed his wallet, where he had actual Euros (he had picked them up at the train station back in Geneva). A European public restroom experience!

Dusty had gotten an international plan and we were able to let Kier & Kristie know we had landed and they let us know where they had parked the van. We headed away from the main entrance and found them, shoved our stuff into the van and were off to Malleval, where a gorgeous bed and breakfast awaited. Kieran and Kristie had gotten the recommendation from Pierre Gaillard, the vintner Kieran had interned for in 2005. After about an hour of driving in the dark, we arrived at the gorgeous house, Le Grand Noe.

The owners weren’t there, but we were welcomed in by another guest so came in and picked our bedrooms. The three rooms were in different areas of the house, Mike and I choose the basement room, which was rather chilly, but lovelywith it’s very own bathroom. After dropping our bags, we decided to head into Pelussin to grab a bite to eat before the restaurants closed, as they do in small towns. Oh, too late!

The pizza shop had served its last customers of the evening, so we headed to the market across the street, in the small town center, to grab some wine, frozen pizzas, baguettes, cheese, and chocolate. Back at the house, we fixed a very French spread, with decadent cheeses and enjoyed our first night in France.

Our Portugal Adventure: Day 6 Lagos

On our last morning in Odeceixe, we woke after a somewhat late night at the Odeceixe Cafe, packed up our belongings and hit the road to Lagos. Our hosts met us after breakfast (we went to Cafe Luna for coffee & Brie, honey and walnut toasts – amazing!) we bid them Obrigado, and left the sleepy beach town for the southern coast.

Our plans for the day were loose, as the drive to Lagos wasn’t very far from Odeceixe, about 40 minutes. We put in Ponta da Piedade as our destination, a lighthouse overlooking the beautiful golden cliffs of the Alagarve. Oh, the descriptions do not give it the proper justice!

Parking, with little problem even though it was relatively crowded, we hopped out and spent the next two hours hiking around, taking a private boat tour that we just stumbled upon, following a staircase with a sign that said ‘tour the caves and grottos of the Algarve.

Without any restrictions, guards or railings, you could hike and climb on the jagged rocks at your own free will. Most of the paths were navigatable, with stunning views of the turquoise waters and jaggy rocks below. Of course Mike had to climb up a particular section that had a zero fall zone….and almost gave me a heart attack.

Although there seemed to be quite a number of tourists about, the place wasn’t unbearable, and following a steep staircase down to the water, we found ourselves next in line for a private boat tour. Two men stood on the rocks, while the captain motored up to the Rock and passengers would jump in and out. No talk of money or cost occurred until we were on the boat….and we were told, as we were motoring away, to pay the captain 20 Euro each. Dang, they get ya!

The small motor boat took us in and out of the crevices, explaining the local names for the rock formations (elephant, iceberg & titanic, Arc de Triomphe) and we even pulled into some of the grottos and caves, watching the waves roll in and out of the cavernous walls.

Totally worth the money – the views were spectacular and to be able to look up, to see where the water had worn a perfect holes rom years of waves, well, it was one of the most unique things I’ve ever seen.

The boat tour had satisfied our water craving for the moment (I had literally said prior to finding the hidden dock, ‘we need to get on a boat!’ Which se ms to be my luck – I put it out in the Universe and the Universe responds!) so we set off to find the secret beach – Praia da Balanca – our captain had pointed out. Mike quickly changed into his swimming suite and we were off. Not 300 hundred feet from where we parked, we found the path leading down the credits that spit you out onto the secret beach. The hike had been described as difficult, so I had changed into my hiking shoes and we shimmied down. In all honesty, it wasn’t that difficult, although Colorado may have dulled my senses to such things.

Stunning blues pierced our eyes and we emerged onto the small beach. What an amazing place Lagos was proving to be already – and we had just arrived! We shed our clothes and dove straight out into the Atlantic (much different than what our view of the Atlantic is back East!). It was mid-October, way off season, and yet here we were, splashing about as if it was the high summer months. Absolutely amazing!

For not having had any of this planned, we sure felt lucky to have landed in an amazing experience! The swim got our appetites yearning for Portuguese food, so we headed to our Airbnb, which we found extremely easily, parked right in front of the house, knocked (it wasn’t ready yet) then headed to grab lunch at a local spot, Calhou, Lagos,  right around the corner. I was able to connect to our Airbnbs WiFi, even though we hadn’t checked in yet – score! Before heading to lunch, we popped into a windmill cafe to join the locals who were sitting around smoking, talking and drinking Sagres or cafe. We felt very European.

We were staying in the middle of town, close to the city center, as well as the marina, which we’d be heading to later that evening and tomorrow for a kayaking tour.

Lunch:  Sea Bass, Potatoes, carrots & broccoli, with Portugal wine (verde) to go with the meal. Delicious!

After lunch, we hit up the grocery store, grabbed some beer and wine, cheese and bread, and headed to check in. The apartment studio was perfect – it had been converted a few years ago our owner said, so had modern upgrades and a beautiful balcony (which we would enjoy many a glass of wine on over the next three nights!). We poured some wine, unpacked a bit then headed out to explore the area and water.

The Marina was beautiful, and we watched the sunset, enjoying some Sagres, and cheersed to our first night in Lagos. Deciding to stay in, we headed back to the flat and poured more wine and ate olives and bread!