Sun Basket Delivery!

At the end of the day, isn’t your time much more valuable than you may consider? There are so many things in today’s world that can cut your time in half. From our smartphones to the washer and dryer, our country is awesome, is it not? One of the greatest inventions are meals being delivered to your door. You don’t have to spend minutes or hours thinking of ingredients for meals and then going to the grocery store to purchase those ingredients. Sun Basket is truly the best and if you follow me on Instagram (@checkoutamanda), you’d know that Sun Basket is a regular in the Vanderpool residence. I LOVE to cook. Delivered meals are taking off, with a lot of people diving into all the different food services out there. I have blogged on it before and will keep investing in Sun Basket. Follow the link I attached and check it out if nothing else. Want to give it a try? Go here to get $40 off your first order. Sometimes, they offer deals with more money off. I dare you to give it a try!

So, I have to share my cooking experience tonight. I take all of the food and prep them. I like to have everything measured and prepped before I begin cooking. While I’m cooking, I love using Alexa. Is anyone else out there an Alexa fan? She helps me set the time. I can have three different timers set at the same time. It’s so convenient. While everything is cooking away, I’ll wash any dish that needs washing. Of course while I’m cooking, I love to pour a glass of wine and listen to some music. It makes it more fun!

Chipotle Turkey Chili with Cucumber Sumac SaladThis is heavenly. I had fun prepping and cooking this.

  1. Prep the chili ingredients
  • Cut a small corner from the ground turkey packaging and drain off any excess liquid.
  • Transfer to a plate; pat dry with a paper towel.
  • Peel and finely chop enough shallots to measure ¼ cup (½ cup).
  • Scrub or peel the sweet potato. Cut the potato into ½-inch pieces.

   2. Cook the chili

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, warm 1 to 2 tablespoons oil until hot but not smoking. Add the turkey, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring to break up the meat, until lightly browned but not yet cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, smoky chili spice blend, and as much chipotle chile powder as you like and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the sweet potato, tomatoes, and 2 cups (3 cups) water and season with salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sweet potato is tender, the turkey is cooked through, and the chili has thickened, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.

When the chili is almost done, prepare the salad.

   3. Make the salad

  • Peel the cucumber, if desired; cut the cucumber into enough ½-inch pieces to measure 3 cups (6 cups).
  • Coarsely chop the cilantro; set aside half for garnish.

In a large bowl, toss together the cucumber, 1 tablespoon (2 TBL) oil, half the cilantro, and as much sumac as you like. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
What’s really neat about Sun Basket is that they are so healthy. I love to cook, and while Sun Basket delivers the ingredients and recipe to my door, they allow me the pleasure of still doing what I love!

2019

It’s a new year. A brand new one! It’s a time for love; a time for adventure; a time for you! I am ready to encounter whatever comes next and can’t wait for this year and what it has in store for JR and me. What is it about the new year that makes us take a deep breath and think to start over? I’ve reflected on 2018 and now am ready to conquer 2019!

  • Love the people who surround you and love you. Those should be people that will unconditionally have your back. Those are the people that would drop anything in order to help you out or be there for you in the really tough times. I know who my people are. Have you thought about that? Love your family hard. Love your spouses, your girlfriends, your boyfriends, your friends hard. Spread love ultimately trumps any hate.
  • Adventure is just waiting for you to dive in. I’ve been diving in and want that to stay for my new year. I want to keep exploring, little and big. It doesn’t have to be Japan, but maybe for you, it’s hiking or stepping out of your comfort zone to be a little more social. Maybe it’s trying out new meals on a restaurant menu, or staying overnight in a new city just to explore what they have to offer. If you’re shooting for big, maybe it’s travelling around the country in your car or going to a different country. If that’s your dream, sit down and write it down. Write down your budget and how you plan on getting there. Make it happen!
  • You are important. Focusing on you is not a selfish thing. Yes, we can act selfishly out of being human, but bettering yourself will make you better for others. I truly believe this and have blogged about it once before! Self-reflect, meditate, be quiet. Do what centers you. Maybe that’s getting your body healthy on the outside or inside. Maybe that’s centering yourself spiritually and rejuvenating your beliefs. What are you passionate about? Whatever life is throwing at you, just remember, this year and years after, not to lose who you are and what you’re passionate about.

It was an awesome beginning with JR racing in Ajax Cup on New Year’s Eve! For his birthday on the third, we went to hiked to Highlands Peak for the Highlands Bowl. It was beautiful, and some even claim it to be life changing. After this new experience, I’d have to agree. The energy on the ridged edge is what drives me to keep hiking through these mini adventures on the Aspen mountains. It isn’t just the walls of white surrounding me, but the thrill of the descent, and the majesty of the Earth. The only way to the top is putting one foot in front of the other. I want to personally thank the Highland Ski Patrol for making it safe for all the skiers to participate in the Bowl! What a dream.

So, what are your aspirations or resolutions for this new year?

Christmas and Fun!

I am anxious to hear how everyone’s Christmas has been? Between the mountains of Aspen, the food, friends, and family, I am so full of happiness! For Christmas, my dad sent over all of my old cheerleading uniforms. It was the sweetest thing! I didn’t realize how many there were until I opened a box full of them, from junior high past college. Let the memory flood commence! I posted a video of all of my uniforms in the box sent over so you could get an idea of just how many there were and how many years I cheered! I was left reminiscing on all of the good. If I could make a wink-face emoji on this blog site, I would. Christmas morning, we had french toast and everyone opened gifts, including my sweet fur baby, Chanel. Who ever said dogs can’t open gifts? On Christmas day, we went skiing. I had such a sweet and genuine time with friends, Johnryan, and my Snow Bunnies! So so thankful for them!

We had our Christmas party with friends and hung out at Aspen 7908. I’ve talked about this place before, but it’s so good not to brag a little more on. I love how the owner prioritizes the importance of the restaurant’s employees and customers. He states that employees have the highest priority because in order to have an extraordinary experience, his employees should be very happy to work there. I completely agree! I would said it’s definitely one of my go-to places to eat and hang out with friends. If you’ve ever ventured on to my social media accounts, you may have seen a story or two with all of us there!

2018 has been a year of adventure and good changes. I hope to continue to do more travelling in this next year as well! Japan with my dear friend, Crystal Hefner, was a dream. It was probably one of the most eye-opening and learning experiences in terms of culture in my lifetime thus far.

Even my home state of Colorado has amazing places to visit and stay a while. If you’re unable to go out of the country, or even out of state, look around your city. Every state or city has something they’re known for. Have you conquered all of the sights and tourist spots? That may be something to look into with the new year!

Tell me how your Christmas was this year. Did you travel someplace different? Just hang out at home and relax? Did you try something new? Or relish in all of the tradition?

Christmas 2018

It’s that time of year! That’s right, time to see Santa Claus. If you haven’t yet, there’s still time. In fact, it’s probably the best time now…right before he has to travel the world and deliver gifts to every boy and girl. We got one in! Our little family snuck a visit in right before Christmas. Chanel was so sweet with him and vice versa! What do you think she asked Santa for Christmas? Hint: adopt, don’t shop! Rescue the dogs! Check with your local animal shelter to see if you could either volunteer or adopt a pet. It’s so important that these dogs and cats feel loved. Not just during the animal season, but year round.

Our local animal shelter is the Aspen Animal Shelter. It is, “a privatized, for-profit, self-sustaining, no-kill shelter which is primarily supported by income created via The Aspen Boarding Kennel. The shelter provides sanctuary for the homeless dogs and cats of Aspen. This Christmas, think about adopting a pet, whether a cat or dog. There are so many out there looking for a home. Even if you aren’t ready to adopt, they are always looking for volunteers. It’s worth thinking about!

Our Aspen Animal Shelter has different programs as well. One of them is the dog walking program. We are recognized by the Humane Society as one of the top 100 animal shelters in the United States. There are volunteers that come by each day to walk and hike with dogs! Maybe you want to run, walk, or hike around your neighborhood. Maybe you need that companionship for your exercise, or maybe you just want to help the sweet puppies out and give them some exercise. This programs would suit you!

If you’re on vacation or forced to leave your pet at home and feel lonely, the Aspen Animal Shelter offers to let you rent-a-pet. Check with your local Animal Shelter to see if there are similar programs. In order to educate children and young adults on how to take care of a pet, the Aspen Animal Shelter offers a mentorship programs with Aspen Middle School, Aspen Community School, and Aspen County Day School.

I’m dying at all of these pictures of the dogs and cats available for adoption. They just melt my heart! If you don’t see pet that interests you, keep checking, because the website is updated all the time. I did a little research and found a list shelters in each state. Now, there are no excuses! You should at the very least check it out, for Chanel’s sake! The holidays are about giving, whether it’s your money or time.

From JR, Chanel, and me, we truly wish all of you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you around the world!

Let’s Talk Ski Products

So much out there. What do you buy? If you’re a skiier like me, here’s some of what I have. Check out my Instagram account for some actual footage of products and brands that I love. One of those would be K2 Alliance. One of the main reasons I love them so much is because of their beautiful promotion of women. Right away, you feel that connection when you go to their website. I got my skis from there, and I have to admit they’re the best I’ve had. But K2 Alliance doesn’t just sell skis and equipment. They sell snow fashion, accessories, boots, parts, and much more. I’m really loving the new LUV Collection. They aren’t afraid to be feminine while being practical. I would love to hear what others have to say! What are your favorite ski suits or products?

“If you are a one ski quiver sort of gal, then these are for you! They are very versatile – provide great flotation in powder and are responsive in the bumps. An all mountain ski for all conditions…”

Review from Amy

Another product I’m very quickly falling in love with is the Travel Pillow. It is a lot easier to sleep and get comfortable on a plane than what I’m use to. It may be a bit pricey for some, but I love how it makes me feel. It is so incredibly soft! That’s worth so many things right there. Do you know how much I travel? I am a major world conqueror. Johnryan better hurry up and plan our next trip! I’ve already going to LA and back with it. What are some things you’ve found handy when making a trip out of your hometown?

“I never intended for this to become part of my regular travel routine, but when I left it behind on my next trip, I totally regretted it…”

Review from Lady

Sorel Footwear is where JR got my new boots. I recommend them, so if anyone is in the market for some new winter footwear, Sorel Footwear is a place I very much refer people to when I’ve bought anything shoe wise for Aspen Mountain. They are a pair of calf high boots that you can tighten with a sort of draw string. The best!

“I love Sorels, and had a pair for the past 2 years that was way more fashion than function. So I got these for this winter and I am loving them. I am an 8/8.5, but got them in a 9. I recommend sizing up to fit plenty of warm socks for winter. Are they heavy? A little. Shoe weight has never really bothered me though. I feel protected…”

Review from Labre

Lastly, Blenders Eyewear. I got these new goggles not too long ago. Not only do they look perfect for skiing, But.They.Work. The case is super cute. Get on my Instagram and look under my product highlight to see these shiny new babes.

“Love the way they look, super comfortable, great quality and amazing vision for when I’m boardin.”

Review from Bethany

I’d really like to know what else is out there and open to try something new. What do you think? Is there something I’m missing out on? Have any affirmations? Let me know in the comments!

Journalling

Have you ever journaled? I’m talking about journaling anything. I like to journal about my life and feelings. When I was younger, I didn’t have a way to let any of emotions out, so my parents got me a journal. I didn’t realize how many emotions I had bottled up inside until I let them out on paper. It gave me a sort of freedom. The journal was all mine, and I was the only one allowed to read it. No one could take that away from me. Once my emotions were transferred from my head to a book, I could burn it or keep it stored. I still have my first journal from so long ago. One of my favorite journals to write in is a line by Erin Condren. All of her items are extremely affordable and she has so much to offer. From her planners, to customizable stickers and journals, these necessities have become treasures to me. Especially with Christmas nearby, check out her materials and see what you think! As a heads up, they are girly and pretty. So, if you don’t prefer this, use a leather bound journal. Those are absolutely my favorite. When you’re holding that leatherbound book, it feels alive and concrete.

One of my favorite things to do among the many is to travel. I feel as if I do quite a bit of travelling. Journalling and tracking my adventures allows me to look back on them one day and relive all of those memories. It is the same basic concept with any journal. You are able to look back on your life or your tracks and have those memories with you always. Once I put them on my shelf, I can get them back out and read them whenever I feel the need.

I took it upon myself to write a letter to my much younger self:

Amanda,

You are beautiful. You are smart. You are independent and don’t need anyone to be your crutch. You will have people in your life that have the potential to hurt you. Love and let them in. The good always outweighs the bad in any risk. Let people help you who genuinely want to. There will be crooked people in your life and you’ll learn to stay away from them. I won’t tell you who they are, because life is about the lessons and who you are through them. Love hard and don’t regret it. Believe in yourself, and it will breed confidence. Be intentional and be yourself. If you aren’t yourself, you will be fake and that fassad can’t be seen forever. You end up doing fantastic things for the world and for yourself, so don’t worry about the future. I can tell you, it’s a little piece of heaven. The love of your life is someone you’ve waited for your whole life, and  has proven to be worth your wait. Your words will reflect your heart, so keep it pure.

Love, a refined Amanda

Chef Skills

I love my food. I love to cook, and I love my Sun Basket. Here is some of what I’ve been cooking lately. It’s really endless, and I know I’ll be posting more with other posts in the future.

Quick Poached Cod with Broccoli, White Beans, and Olives

Ingredients:

  • Broccoli
  • Garlic
  • White Beans
  • Chopped Olives
  • Lemon Zest and juice
  • 1 lb. Halibut, Cod, Rainbow Trout
  • Marash Chile
  • Mirepoix (celery, carrots, etc)

Recipe: In a large frying pan, stir in the mirepoix and season with salt and pepper if you want. Stir in the broccoli and garlic. Once they are softened, add the beans, white wine, and add a cup of water, bringing it to a boil. Reducing it to a simmer, add the olives and fish. Once cooked through, stir in lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. You can garnish it with the chile and any other seasonings you desire. Once it’s all together, you can only imagine the taste unless you make it!

Quinoa and Chickpea Pilaf with Tahini Goddess Dressing

Ingredients:

  • Chopped Onion
  • Quinoa
  • Chickpeas
  • Cherry Tomatoes cut in half
  • Olives cut
  • Kale
  • Feta
  • Apple Cider Vinegar

Recipe: Marinade onion in apple cider vinegar and salt and pepper. Meanwhile, cook the quinoa. Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, olives, and kale. Once warmed and mixed well, serve in separate bowls. Top with onion and marinade (optional), feta, anything else you prefer. I loved the clean taste of it.

These recipes were super easy and both are linked to Sun Basket. If you follow me on Instagram at @checkoutamanda or Facebook, be on the lookout for when I post $40 off your first Sun Basket messages! I do this every so often. The 20 minute meals are definitely worth it because your time is worth everything, and you deserve more time than prepping and cleaning. I highly recommend Sun Basket. I use them every day to help me in the meal department.

Here are my rules for clean eating:

  1. No processed foods! Anything coming in a package is not fresh or clean.
  2. Avoid sugar. As much as you can, to an extent. If you really have to sweeten, use raw honey or pure maple syrup.
  3. One Ingredient-this is key. If it has one ingredient, like meat, broccoli, or quinoa, then it’s probably clean.
  4. Cook. Stay home and cook! Most restaurants have highly processed foods.
  5. If you can’t pronounce the name, it’s probably not clean.
  6. Enjoy what you eat. Don’t torture yourself with awful tasting food. There are recipes out there that actually taste good and are clean. Do some research! (Or try Sun Basket)

Thankful

It is the time to be grateful. I relish in time with family. Family and friends are everything. My grateful list is overflowing, but here are a few things I am thankful for:

  1. Health: There is so much sickness around us, and I am completely thankful for our good health. Even if it wasn’t great, it could be much much worse. It is so important to take care of your body! I try to eat healthy and exercise. I’m not perfect at it because no one is, but I try! I have a friend who’s gone through some difficult news with her health and taking care of her body has helped with symptoms. It’s also helped her mentally. When you exercise, you’re giving your brain oxygen and strengthening its memory. Keep in mind, it isn’t just the physical activity! You have to feed your body what it needs to be healthy. I try to stay healthy using Sun Basket. If you’ve never tried it, it’s worth it. I’ve been using it for a few years now. Every now and then I’ll offer $40 off if you join! I’ll be posting some recipes soon!
  2. Family: I am extra thankful that JR was able to meet my dad and brothers for the first time. Long Beach was a perfect town with the perfectly imperfect family. I loved watching everyone interact with each other and love each other this holiday season.
  3. JR: He is my rock, and been there for me through so much. He’s been there for me through the ups and downs, as cheesy as that sounds. I think a big key in our relationship is communication and knowing our love language. Each person has their own love language (how the feel the love). We’ve figured that part out!
  4. Chanel: My sweet little fur baby is so very precious to me. I absolutely love to dote on her. If you follow my social media accounts, you would know this. I love taking her to the beach with me, run errands with me, and be treated like a queen. By the way, follow me at @checkoutamanda to keep up with my life events!
  5. Aspen: Speaking of, once Aspen Mountain opened this year, it was celebration time! I love skiing and being active. Such a beautiful city. Being with friends during the opening was a blast! We had to celebrate with wine. I mean, what else? My sore hip is the only thing keeping me from those mountains.
  6. Mulah: I have been fortunate enough to have some great connections in life. It has definitely gotten me far, along with my education. Life and business are all about networking and connections. You have to know people and know the right people. I am incredibly blessed to know the right people. Upwardly Social is at the best it’s ever been.

What or who are you thankful for during this holiday season? Listing these things out can let your brain reflect and focus on positivity!

Long Beach, CA

Let’s talk about Long Beach for a minute. John Ryan and I recently got back from there and enjoyed a mini vacation at the Seal Beach Yacht Club in California. California is a beautiful state with its beaches and ski mountains. One of those beaches is Long Beach and if you ever visit there, don’t forget about the Seal Beach Yacht Club. Living in California, you’ll notice a large array of different cultures that reside there. Expand your minds and be open to change and new things. You could learn how to surf or visit Yosemite National Park. There are other breathtaking parks there to hike around if you’re interested. There are iconic highways and legendary dining on your drive. Stop in San Diego or San Francisco. Check out Ghirardelli Square and Alcatraz Island or wine country in San Ynez Valley. Really, the tourist spots are endless.

This time around, and until next time, we tried out the Seal Beach Yacht Club. It did not disappoint. It’s easy to become a member or just be a visitor. They hold parties and dances throughout the year. If you live close, it’s worth it. Being apart of your community is worth it. We totally relished in its beauty and the club’s amenities. They have cruises and races. Watching a Yacht race in real time should be on your bucket list if it isn’t already. If becoming a yachtsman is something you’re interested in, get ready for a ride. I’ve heard they are very welcoming in that department and competitive at the same time. The camaraderie is always what interests me. I am a socialite and love to be involved. They are currently accepting new members, but have a cap of 500. Don’t think you have to own a boat in order to be a member. However, if you plan on racing, you will need your own. By the way, if you have a boat to race, this club has your name written all over it. They race at different times throughout the year, even on the coldest of days. Don’t forget, this is Southern California. It’ll be nice out. If this is interesting to you, I encourage it and would love to hear if any of you will be joining or trying it out for fun!

While in Long Beach, visit Naples Island. They have boat parades this time of year and Christmas lighting. It is rather peaceful and less touristy than you’d think! Belmont Shore is another fun and exciting place to be especially at night. I haven’t spoken with anyone who came back from visiting there and wasn’t impressed.

I love vacations, especially when they’re with my guy. As we travel and learn, I’d love to share my experiences with you and hopefully give you some insight on where to travel to as well as some of my reviews. As I share, send me your feedback too! I may have missed a spot or want to know a “hole-in-the-wall” type of place. I love quiet, and I love loud. There isn’t anything I won’t try.

A Reflection

As we approach Aspen Mountain opening, I’ve been reflecting on some real things in my life. I feel as if I’m still debriefing from Japan. I could really go on and on about it. Some people have been asking me for a good place to check out everything Japan has to offer. Here is a national tourism website. Here is a basic guide in case you’re interested in taking a trip there some day (highly encouraged).

Japanese people have found a way in my heart. They are the kindest, most helpful, genuine, happy, and loving souls who made my trip better than I could have ever hoped for. I want to give a very special shoutout to Tomoko Kasai, Nobuko Kang, and Aki Weng for making my last night in Japan so special. Japan is possibly a once in a lifetime trip, but I’m hoping that isn’t the case for me! My time in Japan has given my inspiration and rejuvenated my soul.

I am a traveller, a go-getter, and an ambitious woman always seeking to learn. My experience in Japan has left me breathless. I feel truly cultured and touched. Everyone I met opened their hearts to Crystal and I. I met some bucket-list worthy people and travelled to some bucket-list worthy places. I laughed, I cried, and I soaked up every minute I was there to experience the wonderful country. I have a completely different perspective on life.

I am so grateful for a the love and light that surrounds me these days. My wonderful friends and family have been so tremendously supportive in my endeavors. Johnryan has been there to support all of my ambitions, and it gives me an overwhelming amount of love and joy to be by his side. Let’s take this month and not leave anything for granted. Don’t forget to say, ‘I love you,’ and hug your people goodbye.

Harboring anger and hate only leads to more of that. When you don’t self-reflect, how can you learn from any past mistakes? Think about it. Every workplace has an AAR (After Action Review) or an evaluation. Think of any survey or evaluation you’ve been asked to fill out after an event or conference. Maybe you’ve given these out, maybe you’ve received these. They have a purpose and we should do the same for ourselves. It will ultimately hurt you to be in denial. Wallowing in self-pity never did anyone good. Reflecting on your life and what you’ve accomplished so far may be something to dig into. Doesn’t this sound like a New Year’s post? Why not start early though? Life is so incredibly short.