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.

Japan

I have been dying to let you in on all my adventures from Japan. This country has a part of my soul. I truly appreciate culture and love to learn. Tokyo made it easy for me to love and learn. The people there are so incredibly welcoming and colorful! New York City vs. Tokyo=Tokyo wins for the busiest and nicest of people all in one. Where do I even begin?

Crystal and I stayed at the Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo. The 45th floor is where rooms and suites begin. Everything else is all about their amenities and restaurants. They have seven by the way (Azure 45, Towers, La Boutique, Hinokizaka, the Lobby Lounge, the Bar, and the Ritz-Carlton Cafe and Deli)! Of course we did the spa. The views just about anywhere are absolutely breathtaking. Whether you’re visiting the spa or dining, it is speechless day or night. Just look at the colorful city. I could stare for hours. Check out my Instagram to stay up to date on where I’ve been. I promise it won’t be boring. The Ritz-Carlton actually offers tours from their hotel. Some of them include the Sumo tour, the Whiskey tour, the Shrines and Gardens tour, and many others.

We used Yampu Tours to help us along the way. I can’t say enough about them. They were very accommodating. I will be using them again. Yampu Tours even met us when we landed. They went out of their way to make sure our stay was worth it.

TOKYO DISNEYLAND. It was magical. It was beautiful. It was surreal. It’s intriguing to me to see and compare the two theme parks (Tokyo and US). How many people in their lifetime will get to do this? There are a few differences. While Disneyland in Anaheim has California Adventure Park, Tokyo Disneyland offers Tokyo DisneySea. It is a bit smaller than the 500 acre park in the states, but has more of a theme park feel because the Disneyland in California is in the middle of a city while Tokyo Disneyland is perfectly tucked away. Everything is pretty much the same except songs are sung in Japanese. For a second, you can forget you’re even in Tokyo! I can’t forget to tell you about the food. There is a place dedicated to Mickey’s waffle. Everywhere I went in Disneyland, it did not disappoint. I’m so glad we stopped there.

Please look at this picture and tell me how adorable this is? One of the things I loved was being cultured. Immersed in a different world almost, I held on to places like this. So different than what I was used to, yet so unique and intricate in all it had to offer. From the food to the people, to the fashion, I could really go on and on. A place dear to my heart was Sukiyabashi Jiro. If you’ve never seen the documentary, Jiro Ono Dreams of Sushi, you must, and then eat at his restaurant. It gave me a new perspective, and I’ll never forget this experience.

Snow Snow Snow

Snow came early here in Aspen. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is! Does this mean the skiing is going to be epic? An early snow season means more bundling and coziness. It’s currently 36 degrees outside, and I’m not mad about it. Our deck has been covered in snow for the past couple of days. I’ve never been so happy to get out and ski the snow mass!

The Aspen Ski Resort is a place not to forget when you need a good reference. The lodging is reasonable and the views are absolutely breathtaking. If you need to find a good place to stay that fits in your budget, look at Aspen Snow Mass. I say that the views are breathtaking very generally because there isn’t a bad seat in the city. The mountains are truly amazing.

If you’ve never been here before. There are so many places to visit and things to do besides skiing. With your family, you could visit the Treehouse Kids’ Adventure Center.

“The Treehouse Kids’ Adventure Center — a multilevel, 2,300-square-meter childcare facility in Snowmass Village — brings the great outdoors inside with Colorado-themed play rooms and supervised activities for children ages 8 weeks to 4 years old.”

Don’t miss out on the SnowCat Dinner rides. The SnowCat will take you up to the Alpine Cloud Nine Bistro. I love how creative it is and different from the scenery of New York  or LA. Also, visit the Lynn Britt Cabin.

So much nightlife in the mix. Click the link here to see more details. We have the Ajax Tavern, Chair 9, the Limelight Lounge, 39 Degrees, Nest Public House, Escobar, the J-Bar, and many others. We’re all about recycling here, so prepare yourself for compostable and paper. Catch a local and ask them for some fun hole-in-the-wall places. They’ll be sure to let you know!

How many of you have heard of the Alpine Coaster? You can ride it during the night…scary! It’ll open November 22, so stop by around Thanksgiving. If you come down on a Friday, join the party at the Elk Lodge to celebrate the season. They normally have bonfires, food, music, and skiing under the lights.

As far as our mountains are concerned, scout out which one you’d rather visit: SnowMass, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, and Buttermilk. Each one has its own personality, and there is no wrong one to ski on.