Tag Archives: Bright Side

My Winter Playground in the Mountains

(I apologize. It has been a rough week the Universe has thrown at me recently and has prevented me from writing. On a happier note:  )

The winter air hugs my red cheeks and snow is gently falling all around. The sun is trying to shine but has been blocked with the pure white clouds full of snow in the sky. My body sways up in the

Happo One
Hakuba Ski, Japan

air…back and forth…back and forth…my left foot growing heavier than my right. I look across the world around me, as I feel that I am on top of it. The evergreen trees are decorated with white puffs and look almost jolly in the winter wonderland. I can faintly hear people laughing and yelling out to one another. The cold is not so bitter, and I want to feel it even more. I take off my glove and allow my free fingers to catch the big snowflakes out of the air. The cold air feels refreshing on my skin and there is hardly any wind.

I look around again and take a deep breath and relax. There is not much else you can do while riding a ski lift up a mountain. You are pretty much stuck in that spot for the entirety of the summit. As the end approaches a big ol’ butterfly starts to flutter around inside my torso. Just one…but one too many. I have never been known to be a

Happo One
Hakuba, Japan

coordinated person. The chair comes to a slower pace a we must hop off of it before we get stuck or it knocks us over. I plant my right foot on the middle of the board and start to slide down. I catch my balance and skid to a stop by the rest of the people.  Success.

The wind is whistling and all the people go shooting off down the mountain. Some at a faster speed than others. I strap myself in. This will be an interesting run. I start down and the snow feels smooth and soft under the board. I make it to just at the point where I cannot see the top anymore and fall on my face.  I get up and keep going. I am basically doing what boarders call “plowing” because I can go straight down with the snowboard or I lean on my back heels

Copper Mountain, Colorado
Rocky Mountains, Colorado

to stop and go down on the back that way. I fall three more times. On the third time, I stop to catch my breath and take  in the world around me. It is so peaceful. I listen to the snow gliding under the ski’s of people as they go past. The world has never seem so much more at peace and beautiful than in the white snow on top of a mountain.

74 days until Le Flaine!

Traveling Vegan in Ireland

My mother has never particularly enjoyed meat. Chicken yes. Fish….definitely yes. Other than that, she has never really had a desire to eat meat. So it should not have been a surprise to me that she decided to become a vegan around her 50th birthday. Although, we had just booked our tickets to do our road trip through Ireland around the same time. It was a large concern for me to make sure she still was eating delicious and authentic Irish cuisine, and also to not restrict our plans around finding her food all the time. I wanted it to be as easy as possible for her (and us) while traveling. photo 5

I work with an Irish restaurant group in Chicago. The owners are Irish. They hire Irish management. We take in J1 visa students every year, and some of the staff is Irish. When asking my colleagues about vegan-ism advice in Ireland, I was mostly responded to with a hearty laugh or huge grin. “Vegan-ism is basically non-exisitent” they would tell me. I was prepared to use some creativity. I researched the restaurants in the cities we were aiming for, for a couple of months. I found several places (mostly ethnic) that already had designated vegan dishes. I tried not to include so many Indian and Asian places, since those were the ones with the most vegan dishes, but the least authentic to Ireland. Surprisingly (especially after the reaction I got), I found a lot of authentic Irish places with vegan options. There were only one or two, but that is comparable to what you might find in the U.S.

I wrote an itinerary for our 11 days of travel and after the facts about the city and each site we might visit, I wrote out a number of restaurants with vegan dishes as an option for us to check out.photo 1 photo 2





photo 1



In Dublin, we found Cornucopia which was all fresh vegan or vegetarian foods in a cafeteria style adorable vintage building.

In Kilkenny, we branched out with a tapas cuisine styled Wine Bar called Lautrecs. They had a beautiful arrangement of options for vegans with photo 2hummus, sweet potato wedges, and Mediterranean olives.

In Galway, we stopped at The Quay Street Kitchen and they had an amazing vegan burger with vegan cheese and roasted red pepper and arugula….and I had the best meat burger I have ever had! photo 4

Ireland’s cuisine is not as closed minded as I thought they might be. In fact, Ireland is extremely up on the scene of fresh produce, complex flavors, and quality of food. I am glad I was prepared for nothing, because when I found the surplus amount of vegan options as we did….it was like finding a pot of gold!

Bummed up Day

Yesterday I was injured. I was mad all day about not being good enough and I went on to a really easy hill and was just stopping to look at Wayne when I fell and tore my right knee. It was stupid and I had a bad attitude the entire day about my frustration and that ended my entire ski trip altogether. imageMy beautiful trip to Alps has been completely ruined. All the preparation over the past year…gone.
I thought that I could use my time today to take a day trip out to see snow monkeys and a Buddhist temple but they weren’t available and going on my own would require a lot of walking. So I am relaxing today and trying my best to get better. I iced and soaked. I went to visit the hotel onsen and it was closed, I got hungry and went to venture out to find some food but everything was closed. So I filled our deep hotel bathtub with hot water and

Getting ready for what I think is time in the hotel onsen...
Getting ready for what I think is time in the hotel onsen…

climbed in and ate two of the granola bars I had packed from the States.

Of course I am really frustrated that none of this is working out, but perhaps everything is for a reason. A great lesson I’ve learned from my travels is that you have to roll with what you are given and ALWAYS pack snacks. It doesn’t matter if you don’t eat them, just bring them anyway. Who knows what may happen? Like a bum knee in a mountain town where everything shuts down mid day…
That, and I’ve also learned that no matter what, it will help you more to take the time to fix your ailments. When I went to Amsterdam with Elise, I was very sick. Like pasty white peaked skin, circles under eyes, and dizzier than you could imagine. This is how I was when I arrived to Amsterdam. We tried to do something fun that night when we got there but the next morning I thought I might die and stayed in bed all day while Elise went out. It sucked but by the end of the day I had ridden it out. You will only ruin another day and harm yourself more if you do not take care of yourself when you can. Safe travels!