Saturday Adventure Day

Way back in May, Tiffany and I started looking at calendars to pick a date for our planned “Adventure Day.”  With 2014 being the busiest summer ever, the first weekend where we both had a free day open wasn’t until August 2.  That seemed so incredibly far away, but we wanted to make sure we got it on the calendar.

Within a blink of an eye (because that’s how fast this year has been flying by), August 2nd arrived and we jetted off!

First Stop:  A Quick Brain Damage

You’ve probably seen me post on Instagram about the infamous Brain Damage coffee drink at Dazbog Coffee.  Well, during our Adventure Day, I wanted to make sure I introduced Tiffany to its deliciousness.

Dazbog Brain Damage | No Thanks to Cake

What is this amazing drink??  It is pretty much the best frozen coffee drink on the planet… and you can only find it in Northern Colorado.  They use mocha, shots of espresso, and the BEST part… chocolate-covered espresso beans.  All blended to perfection!  I also love that they make it fresh – no mix! – and you can customize it to make it “your way” – for me, that’s sugar-free, non-fat.  Delish!

The verdict:  My Colorado BFF loved this drink as much as I do!  What a great way to caffeinate for a long car-ride!

Next Stop:  The Shambhala Mountain Center

Our travels took us further north… not to Wyoming, but to Red Feather Lakes, CO to the beautiful Shambhala Mountain Center.  It had been about 10 years since I had travelled to this area, so I was excited to get back.  The Shambhala center hosts spiritual retreats, meditation classes, and getaways.  People travel from all over to see this beautiful place… and soon you’ll know why.

It’s tucked away from the main path, and I always think it’s a sign that I’ve left civilization when the roads are no longer paved.

Shambhala Mountain Center | No Thanks to Cake

About 2 1/2 hours from Denver, we arrived at our destination parked our car and started our trek into the property.  On our way to a very sacred spot in the mountains, the 20 minute walk/hike was totally worth it… even in flip flops!

The Great Stupa | No Thanks to Cake

The main attraction here is The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya Which Liberates Upon Seeing.  And, it is a breathtaking site.  

The Great Stupa | No Thanks to Cake

It’s hard to believe this shrine is tucked away in the middle of the mountains.  What stands out most when you see it in person is the brightly colored features and the gold accents.  So unusual to see in this natural backdrop.

As you approach the stupa, you first see an alter of sorts where many have left items behinds.  Offerings, gifts… and the most random of items.  We got close enough to see the items, but you don’t dare touch any of them… they were all placed there with purpose.  Who am I to alter them?

The Great Stupa | No Thanks to Cake

 

The Great Stupa | No Thanks to Cake

As we approached the stupa, I got really excited.  From my previous trip, I remember the energy inside being amazing and I was excited to get inside – - to spend a little time in silence.  But, a few pics before we walked inside…

The Great Stupa | No Thanks to Cake

From the Shambhala Mountain Center Website:  Stupas are said to promote harmony, prosperity, longevity, good health and peace. They bring blessings to the environment in which they are built, to those who build them, and to those who visit and venerate them. In this way, stupas ensure that the living quality of the Buddhist teachings will always be available.

The Great Stupa | No Thanks to Cake

Taking off our shoes and leaving them outside, we entered the stupa to find two others seated inside and a few others exiting.  It was quiet and perfect inside, and keep in mind… this is the first thing you see when you walk in the door.

The Great Stupa | No Thanks to Cake

So majestic, yet so peaceful.

I found a seat and settled in to meditate for a few minutes.  I’m not a master meditator, by any means; however, my yoga practice has taught me how incredibly powerful breath can be… and I love to practice.

The Great Stupa | No Thanks to Cake

After about 10-15 minutes in silence, my eyes opened up, feeling refreshed and just happy.  There is something about this place, I tell ya… the energy is fantastic.  Before leaving the room, I spent some time looking around… noticing all the ornate details… and just soaking in that beautiful energy.

We left shortly after, stopping to watch a video along the way… and then deciding to simply take a selfie instead of sitting through the video.

The Great Stupa | No Thanks to Cake

The Great Stupa | No Thanks to Cake

The walk back was gorgeous… with lots of wildflowers and beauty along the way.

Colorado Wildflowers | No Thanks to Cake

The Great Stupa| No Thanks to Cake

Third Stop:  Refueling in Fort Collins

When we arrived at the car, we were officially STARVING.  We raced back to Ft. Collins to have lunch at Coopersmiths.  Ready to refuel, we each enjoyed the Coopers Pub burger with a side of cucumbers.  I love that you can get a side of veggies and ranch, instead of fatty fries or onion rings.  Genius!

The Great Stupa | No Thanks to Cake

After lunch, we headed over to O’Dells Brewery.  They have a beautiful tasting room, and this was officially my first experience “beer tasting” in Colorado.  I know… I live in a beer state, but I’d never been!

O'Dells | No Thanks to Cake

And… while the tap room was cute and the beer was cold, I think I’ll stick to wine tasting.  Just not a huge fan of beer, but I was glad to have experienced O’Dells just the same!

O'Dells | No Thanks to Cake

After our stop at O’Dells, we made our way back to Denver convinced that we need to schedule another fun adventure day like this again soon!

 

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The Del, A Massage, and Wine

I feel like I have been writing about this trip to California forever, recapping all the fun I’ve had along the way. In its own fabulous way, NTTC is sort of my very own scrapbook.  A great way to recap trips, outings, and recipes for my friends and family!

So, I’ve got one more day to share about this awesome week.  And, then, I will get back to my normal blogging schedule… whatever normal is… :)

The day after the concert, I woke up and had to get my things packed to head out.  Notice, I didn’t say HOME, I said out.  Whenever I get a chance to travel to California, I usually try to extend my trip a little to visit friends that I don’t get to see nearly enough!

Now, when I visited my friend Crystal in early June, we agreed that if I had a chance to travel to Rockstar again… that I should come back to visit her family!  You don’t have to ask me twice… the plan came together so nicely!

Hotel Del Coronado | No Thanks to Cake

Before I met up with her, I decided to spend a little time unwinding on Coronado Island.  And, my favorite way to unwind… I scheduled a massage at a nearby hotel.  Not just any hotel, however… I scheduled it at the Hotel Del Coronado.

Hotel Del Coronado | No Thanks to Cake

My goodness… what a beautiful place.

Hotel Del Coronado | No Thanks to Cake

The hotel is an institution on the island…. and so incredibly gorgeous.  I can’t even believe I got to spend the day here.  I checked my luggage at the bell stand and headed off to the spa.  To get there, I had the option of walking through the hotel or walking outdoors on the property… I choose the outside path and had a chance to experience the beauty that is the Del.

Hotel Del Coronado | No Thanks to Cake

From the white buildings with red roofs to the lovely outdoor cafes to the exquisite view of the Pacific… the Del is perfection.  The guy at the bell stand told me to walk until I saw the herb garden and the spa would be on the right.  I absolutely love that the property has such a delightful herb garden.  Just made it all that more perfect… 

Herb Garden Hotel Del Coronado | No Thanks to Cake

Spa at the Del | No Thanks to Cake

Inside the Spa at the Del, I quickly got changed into a robe and slippers and waited for my massage.  I had scheduled myself a Hot Shell Massage and was so excited to see how this would work.  I’d had hot STONE massages before, but never hot SHELL!  How perfect for this trip!

Spa at the Del | No Thanks to Cake

Spa at the Del | No Thanks to Cake

When I got called back into the spa for my service, I found that the shells weren’t REAL shells, but instead ceramic shells created specifically for this purpose.

Hot Shell Massage Spa at the Del | No Thanks to Cake

The massage was WONDERFUL.  Relaxing.  Perfect.  After all the excitement of Rockstar, my feet were incredibly sore… so my masseuse spent some extra time on my toes.  HEAVEN!

After the service was completed, I ordered some lunch and found a spot at the spa pool to relax.  I had intended upon reading a book, but it felt better to just relax and soak in the atmosphere.  There was beautiful people watching to be had… families vacationing, couples walking by hand in hand, and that gorgeous ocean in the distance.  I soaked it all in… and a little sun.

Lunch at the Hotel Del Coronado | No Thanks to Cake

The Spa at the Del | No Thanks to Cake

Spa at the Del | No Thanks to Cake

At the end of the day, my friend Crystal picked me up to whisk me away to Temecula.  One of my favorite people, I am so thankful that I had a chance to visit with her again this trip!

We spent our time catching up, cooking, and tasting local wines… you can only imagine how much I loved that!  We also spent some of her favorite wineries.  First stop:  Miramonte… Such a beautiful patio for tasting the most delicious wines!

Miramonte | No Thanks to Cake

I’ve always thought of Napa or Sonoma when I’ve thought of California wine country; however, I have to say… Temecula should be listed right there in that list.  I’ve loved so many of the wines I’ve tasted here… and the tasting rooms are so lovely.  Highly recommend touring this area if you are ever close.

Miramonte Winery | No Thanks to Cake

The next day, after a lovely lazy morning, we headed out to Robert Renzoni for the most amazing round of wine tasting!  His Concerto was my favorite… and I was able to get a signed bottle to take home!

Robert Renzoni | No Thanks to Cake

 

Robert Renzoni | No Thanks to Cake

After our first stop, we set off for some lunch (and more wine!) at Ponte Family Estates.  SUCH a beautiful place!

Ponte | No Thanks to Cake

Ponte Grapes | No Thanks to Cake

The magic happened at lunch…. Crystal and I ordered a Watermelon Tomato Caprese that just knocked our socks off.  Expect to see a version of this on NTTC soon.  It was that good!  Doesn’t it look gorgeous??

Watermelon Tomato Caprese Ponte | No Thanks to Cake

While the massage, the wine, and the food were amazing, the best part of the weekend was getting to spend it with this girl…

Ponte | No Thanks to Cake

We’re in the early stages of planning another adventure early next year… I absolutely can’t wait!  Thanks, Crystal and Adam, for a wonderful end to a wonderful trip!

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Fitbloggin 14: The People

Fitbloggin is 150% about the people you meet at this jam-packed three days of fitness and wellness event.  As a result, I think it’s only appropriate to include a post about the fabulous people I’ve met!

Fitbloggin People | No Thanks to Cake

Now, I couldn’t possibly share with you guys every single person that I met while in Savannah.  There’s just not enough room in the blogosphere for me to gush that much.  Instead, I’m sharing a brief list of people with you that I’d recommend you check out.  People that inspire me, people that bring amazing energy into my space, and people who radiate joy.  Yep, those are my people.  Without further ado… here’s a few of them.

Ashley – Fierce Forward

I met this amazing woman last year at Fitsocial and through the magic of the internet, we’ve become friends.  Her Facebook community and blog is called Fierce Forward, and it’s all about moving FIERCELY in the direction of your dreams…

Fierce Forward | No Thanks to Cake

I absolutely loved having a chance to visit with Ashley, to get to know her better, and to observe the impact she had upon others she met.   She’s one of my soul sisters… follow her here.

Fierce Forward | No Thanks to Cake

Oh, and PS… she’s the creator of those fabulous intention bracelets I’m always wearing.  GORGEOUS products.  Check them out here.

Fierce Forward Bracelets | No Thanks to Cake

Alyssa – Double Chin Diary

Alyssa and I met last year at Fitbloggin during a session where I totally burst into ugly tears… and we’ve been bonded since!

Double Chin Diary | No Thanks to Cake

She also was the grand prize winner of the California Avocado Commission’s Recipe contest at Fitbloggin and the other half of what we called “The Avocado Room!”  After spending the three nights as roomies, I totally adore her even more!  Follow her story at the Double Chin Diary.

Monica – Run Bang Run

And, then… there’s Monica.  Oh, how I love this lady.

Run Bang Run | No Thanks to CakePhoto Credit: Carrie D. Photography

Monica and I refer to each other as “life twins” because, seriously, we have a ridiculously similar and parallel journey.  We’ve both lost about the same amount of weight and have been working to navigate the “after” life.

Run Bang Run | No Thanks to Cake

While it wasn’t NEARLY enough time, it was SO great to have a chance to spend time with her “in real life” and to get photobombed by so many of our Fitbloggin friends… smooches, y’all!

Run Bang Run | No Thanks to Cake

Dawn – Fit Dawn

And, then… there’s Dawn.

Her journey to lose weight is one that inspires me incredibly, because it’s so much more complicated than mine.  Dawn has two gorgeous baby girls that are constantly craving momma time… and she still makes time for workouts and to take care of herself.  If Dawn can do it, I totally can.

Fit Dawn | No Thanks to Cake

True story:  Dawn lives two blocks from my brother in Virginia.  So, I know I’ll be seeing her pretty face again in December…

Jessica – Racing to Zen

Jessica came up to me at the badge making session to say hello and introduce herself.  And, to talk about my yellow dress… she had seen me post it on Instagram the week before.  One of the first people at met at Fitbloggin, it reminded me of how connected we all are before we even walk in the door… the power of social media. :)

Racing to Zen | No Thanks to Cake

I seriously can’t say enough awesome things about this lady.  We had an opportunity to have dinner twice during Fitbloggin, and she’s from Ohio not too far from where my family lives… so, lots in common.   She writes her story over at Racing to Zen.  Check her out, folks!!  Love this one….

 Lynne – The First Pancake

And then there’s Lynne.  I met Lynne through Dawn… another Virginia lady that I hope to see over the holidays.

Lynne | No Thanks to Cake

Lynne is a new yoga instructor working on gaining her first job as an instructor.  I cannot WAIT to hear all about her journey to inspire others through my favorite practice.  We talked our way through the Fitbloggin 5K on Sunday!  So glad to have had a chance to get to know her!

Lynne… I wasn’t kidding, I’m totally taking one of your classes over the holidays… xoxo

Alan – Sweating it Off

I finally had a chance to get a selfie with Alan this year… three years later!  Alan has been mentioned as the “Justin Beiber” of Fitbloggin in another recap I read this week, but I’m not sure that’s a solid nickname for this powerhouse.  He’s incredibly inspiring, driven, and he’s a freakin’ triathlete.  Beibs couldn’t handle all that… So great to see you, Alan!

Sweating it Off | No Thanks to Cake

Lauren – Breathe Deeply and Smile

Lauren and I also got to spend quite a bit of time together during evenings at Fitbloggin, including our ghost tour! Her story and passion for fitness is incredibly moving.  I am so glad we had a chance to meet, lady!!

Breathe Deeply and Smile | No Thanks to Cake

There really were SO MANY OTHERS…  Here’s a collage of many other lovely people I got to meet.  And, I am so sad that I didn’t get more pics of the rest of you guys!

Fitbloggin People | No Thanks to Cake

Legitimately, Fitbloggin is a lifechanger… and as mentioned above all about the people.  Thanks to each and every one for taking the time to chat it up with NTTC this weekend…

Thank you for making this experience so incredible, folks!!! xoxo

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7 Things I Loved About Fitbloggin ‘14

While there are really about 500 things I loved about Fitbloggin 2014, I did my best to condense the list to just 7 highlights… If you’ve spent time out in the healthy blogiverse over the past week, I’m certain my other blogger friends have filled in the gaps with their recaps.

Fitbloggin 14  7 Things I Loved About This Conference | No Thanks to Cake(Photo Credit:  Carrie D. Photography)

7.  Thought-Provoking Sessions

Fitbloggin 14, as in years past, came with a full list of sessions that I could attend to grow my blog in new and exciting ways.  I attended a little bit of everything, and walked out with notes from just about every session.

As someone who takes way too many notes everywhere I go, I decided to spend time in the moment this year rather than attempting to capture every word spoken.  Instead, I walked out with a simple notepad speckled with a few notes and a quote or two.  These “nuggets” of information are all I need to upgrade NTTC in the next year… no transcription needed.

Fitbloggin Small Groups | No Thanks to Cake

The small group sessions are always the most moving for me.  I love hearing my peers talk about their experience and sharing my story as well.  I attended two in particular that I loved:  Maintaining the Mojo and Life After Goal.   I’ll tell you more this week about how I was inspired by Roni Noone herself in one of the sessions….

6. That 80’s Dance Party

Every single year, it’s my favorite class.  The energy is fantastic.  The smiles are abundant.  And this year, it was 80’s themed!??  Totally tubular….

80s Zumba | No Thanks to Cake

This Zumba-inspired class was incredible with Sue, Sam, and Nellie making sure that I shook my money maker and laughed all the way through.  I got to dance with Monica, Aliyah, Dawn,  and Nathan and 100 of my closest friends. What’s not to love??

80s Zumba | No Thanks to Cake

PS… This outfit made an appearance.  Thanks, Amazon…

80s Zumba | No Thanks to Cake

Lastly, if I could have squished Sam and Sue (and Thing 2) into a carry-on, I would have brought them back to Denver with me… so that they could make me sweat and dance it out on the regular.  The fact that we’ll be dancing in Denver next year makes me SOOOOOOOO happy.  Thank you for inspiring me… every single year!

5.  Ignite Fitness

In past years, I’ll admit I haven’t loved Ignite… but this year, the presenters REALLY outdid themselves and made it an incredibly interesting, motivating, and entertaining session!

We listened to Dre rap (thanks for the shoutout!), heard Allie’s tremendous story of competing on behalf of the US, watched Alan take the stage, and even learned how to make a proper cuppa tea!

Ignite Fitness | No Thanks to CakePhoto Credit:  Carrie D. Photography

I love the personality and preparation that the team brought to the table.  It’s not easy to rock a mike like they did… and they crushed it!  Can’t wait to see what Fitbloggin 15 brings… 

4.  Savannah Shopping

Oh my, Savannah was so hot… this girl was super sweaty throughout the weekend.  Thank goodness there were a bunch of cute shops to pop into to cool down!

I found two unique culinary stores to stop into that I’m so glad I found.

The Savannah Bee Company:  How often do you walk into a store that offers honey tastings??  It was so awesome!  I ended up with a few flavors for myself (Savannah and whipped honey!) and a few jars for gifts.

Savannah Bee Company | No Thanks to Cake

I was heading to the airport when I stumbled upon The Salt Table, and couldn’t pass it by!  The Foodette sent me to this awesome store, and wow… she made an amazing recommendation!

The Salt Table Savannah | No Thanks to Cake

The shop was full of flavored salts and sugars…. Popcorn seasonings, dips.  I was in heaven!  I ended up walking out with some mesquite flavored salt, maple salt, coconut sugar, and some Ghost Pepper salt for my bro for Christmas!  It was probably better that we were in a hurry.  Had I more time, I would have bought the entire store… and had to figure out a way to get it home in my carry on (along with Sue and Sam)…

3. The Avocados

Prior to the conference beginning, I entered a recipe into the California Avocado Commission’s Culinary Cutting Edge Contest.  And, as luck would have it, I was named to the finals with the lovely Alyssa and Kia, for this recipe!

Grilled Avocado Caprese | No Thanks to Cake

The session on Avocados was amongst my favorite because I got to learn all about one of my favorite fruits… and they announced the big winner:  My roomie Alyssa!!!  While my caprese salad took second place, it was Alyssa’s yummy tarts that brought home the grand prize!!

California Avocados Contest Fitbloggin | No Thanks to Cake Photo Credit:  Double Chin Diary

The chef even did a live demo of her recipe and they let us try the winning recipe!  So delish!!!

Avocado Cream Tarts Double Chin Diary | No Thanks to CakePhoto Credit:  Double Chin Diary

I loved this contest for many reasons… my love of avocado being one of them, but also I love the art of creating deliciously healthy dishes.  I put some time into coming up with just the right dish to present… and I’m incredibly proud of what I entered.  I also am bursting with ideas for more avocado dishes.  So get ready, readers, there’s more avocado recipes on the way!

Lastly, it also made me really consider the types of brands that I want to work with in the future.  These guys completely align with my vision for NTTC… so, expect more like it in the future!

2.  Reflecting on the Year that Passed

2013 was a rough year for this girl.  So much going on… and frankly, not a lot of happy.  I battled with myself trying to figure out what my next steps were going to be… and felt a little lost at Fitbloggin 2013, as a result.

There were multiple sessions where I just cried.  (Yep)  I cried because the topics touched a little too close to home… and I felt sort of lonely in a crowd of people.  It’s not something I’ve spoken of until now, but it was a tough time… mostly, I was just trying to Pollyana my way through, hoping that it would pass.

Thank goodness it did!!!!!

AND THIS YEAR… so different.  For the past few months, I’ve been so genuinely happy.  To be at Fitbloggin and to be able to share that “happy” was awesome.  Nice to have my head held high again.  It’s so nice to be back…

1.  The People

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.  The people are what make Fitbloggin for me.  This picture below is from my favorite moment of the conference…

Fitbloggin | No Thanks to Cake

You’ll notice that we aren’t even at the conference.  We didn’t even find a swanky restaurant to dine at.  We’re at a cheesy Mexican joint across from the hotel that could seat 8 with no wait, and later add a table to grow our group even more.

This is the night I got to meet Beth, hear about Jessica’s job transformation, understand how Sarah’s world is changing, sit next to my girl Monica and unknowingly order the same dinner (life twins!), visit with Dawn and meet her friend Lynne and plan yoga time for my December visit, hear about Sam’s tattoo plans, visit with Emily and gush about how I adore Harper, and spend more time with my girl Ash fiercely getting to know these women.  Awesome night.  Beautiful people.  

It’s moments like this that keep me coming back for more.  It’s people like this that make me want to be a better person.

Roni, I can’t thank you enough for another wonderful conference year.  I can’t wait to see you all in Denver for Fitbloggin 15.

xoxo

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