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!

 

 

 

7 Lessons Learned Post Surgery

It has been 10 days since my ACL/Meniscus surgery and I’ve learned quite a few things. Not only about myself, but my relationship with my husband, the patience that comes with a personal setback, and the mental strength game. Here are a few lessons that have surfaced over the past week post ACL surgery – I hope anyone going through a similar situation, whether it’s a surgery or a personal setback, can take something from this.

  1. Set your mind on the next step, not the next mile. Much of the recovery road boils down to mental fatigue; getting so focused on the huge obstacles you still have to overcome, the long road you still have to travel. This is a waste of time and will not help speed things up in any way. What I’ve tried to focus on is where I want to be in the very near future, what the next few days will look like, what I should expect and prepare for. I’ve done lots of research on outcomes of ACL/Meniscus surgery, have asked a LOT of questions of my surgeon and Physical Therapist, and put the work in at home. Skipping the needed steps won’t speed things along and could possibly set you back. So, be where you are and know it’s where you need to be.
  2. The work you have to do will be painful. You just need to prepare for that. It hurts. A lot. But the work I’ve done over the past few days has gotten me to where I am now. I’m at 90 degrees and can straighten my leg almost completely. There’s definitely more work to do and my knee feels like there’s old wood hinging it together. But, I’m not even close to being done. So I will put in the work, no matter how painful.
  3. Ask for help. My husband and I have a great rhythm down when it comes to home duties. He takes care of outside and I take care of inside. Which can seem lopsided at times – let’s be honest, a lot more work needs to go on inside the house than outside on a per day basis. BUT he really stepped up over the past week, filling ice buckets, moving my CPM machine, cooking dinner & lunch (that I pre-made/ordered, but still!) being patient as I hobbled around the house, feeding the dogs, doing dishes, grocery shopping.  I’m really thankful to have someone who’s willing to pick up the slack when I’m unable. My mom also offered to come and help, clean, do whatever I needed….and I took her up on it! When your mom offers to help in a time when you could really use it, no matter how old you are, you should take her up on it!
  4. Keep your problems in perspective. Thinking only in terms of your tragedy can leave you feeling quite pitiful. Believe me, what happened is awful and it is ok to feel down. But wallowing in your own misfortune will mentally drag you down to a place you should not visit often. Think about how fortunate you are to have what you do. In my case, I thought how lucky I was to not have broken my leg, to still have my limbs, to have insurance to be able to get healthy. There are always worse cases and the sooner you lead your thoughts with a grateful perspective, your outlook changes.
  5. Be patient with yourself and grateful for where you are. You can’t compare yourself to anyone else on this recovery journey. Do your research, get informed, follow people on social media who are in similar situations, but know everyone heals differently and gets to certain points at different times. I asked my Surgeons’ PA (who’s had ACL surgery) if he could bend his knee to 90 degrees 3 days after his surgery. I asked my PT what he thought about being on crutches still 6 days after surgery. I asked one of my best girlfriends when I could/should start doing hamstring exercises, cause I saw a girl on instagram who was doing them. They all told me to stop comparing my healing and progression to anyone else. Be patient in the process and don’t push yourself to reach someone’s milestones.  The human body is amazing and if you’re working everyday at pushing the needle (without pain), you are right where you need to be.
  6. Celebrate the small milestones. From taking out my drain, to not needing to take painkillers, to taking steps without crutches, I have been very vocal and excited about the milestones I’ve reached. Allowing yourself to feel proud of your accomplishment, you set yourself up for success over the next hurdle. Sounds silly, but these little milestones get in bedded in your sub-conscious, giving you confidence when you need it most.
  7. It gets better everyday. Recovery is a marathon, not a sprint, so I’ve really needed to pace myself mentally and physically. You can not compare yourself to where someone else was at this time. You should know if you are working on it, tomorrow you will wake up stronger.

Be Grateful

Gratitude

“Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till its gone. They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”

-Joni Mitchell

Day 2 of the Minful 21 challenge and my gratitude cup runneth over. Seriously. Stop to think about all that is good in your life. All of the wonderful things you have going on. The gorgeous place you live. The home you can call your own. Your loving friends and family that surround you. The life ebbing through your veins, pulsating in your chest. The mere fact you woke up and were able to take a breathe.

Ok, this wonderful Norman Rockwell painting of life may not be an everyday occurrence. Life can be messy, and stressful, and chaotic, and we don’t get all of things accomplished we wanted to, and that shouldn’t be what we focus on, yet sometimes can be the only thing glaring us in the face. But try to put it aside, whatever is getting in the way of you seeing all you have. Be grateful. For everything on your plate.

I wanted to start the Mindful 21 challenge to bring awareness to how I am living, how I’m spending my time and energy. Being mindful starts with being present so once we can be in the now, out attention can be tuned in to all we have, right now.

Today, I challenge you to sit quietly in meditation for at least 5 minutes and focus on what you are grateful for. Sit somewhere you feel grounded and calm. Come to a comfortable seated position, perhaps taking your hands to your heart, pulling the loving energy in. Be still with your breathe, without distraction, and be grateful for the air filling your body.

With the holidays fast approaching, the timing couldn’t be more fitting, although this act of being grateful should be a daily practice. We are all given 24 hours. What we choose to do with them, how we choose to focus our energy, our thoughts, our behavior, is up to us.

Go into this day, or perhaps you are ending it, with a full, grateful heart. Cultivating abundance within will lead to good things. And being grateful will allow your heart to go out to others.

What are you grateful for?

Happy gratitude!