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New Year's Resolutions

My Word for 2017: Open

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My Word for 2017: Open

My Word for 2017: Open // jenniferesnyder.com

It feels a bit surreal to be scooting right past middle of January already, but over the holiday break I set some time aside to focus on the year ahead and I'm so glad I did. Just as I've done over the last two years, I'm choosing a word for the year instead of making a bunch of personal and business resolutions. 

My word for 2017 is OPEN.

I have a lot of hopes about how this word will manifest in my life. I hope it will inspire me to continue trying new things and to be open to new adventures. I also hope it will remind me that in order to open the door to something wonderful, oftentimes other doors need to close.

My biggest hope, however, is to simply be more open with how I carry myself, how I communicate, and how I approach the world around me. It may not always be easy, but I know committing to the word "open" this year will be worthwhile.

Tell me friends: have you picked your word for the year?

p.s. Here's a little inspiration from the gal who got this whole "one little word" thing started.



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Featured: Clementine Daily + Making Resolutions that Stick

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Who's into making resolutions? (Raises hand.) And who here is tired of breaking resolutions by February 1st? (Looks around the room and points to self, "who me?").

Just before the holidays, I shared some simple ways to make resolutions that actually make sense. It's really easy to tell ourselves that giving up chocolate is a good idea, but let's be real – we've got bigger fish to fry.

Head on over and read the full article on Clementine Daily.

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So how do you make resolutions that stick? I'm sure we can all benefit from one another's tips and suggestions, so feel free to share them in the comment section of the story!


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Go Outside: 5 Places to Take a Walk in Sacramento, California

We all know that exercise is important. Yet, as a nation we've become pretty darn unhealthy. Just take a look at the number of us who have already ditched our health-related New Year's resolutions! I have the hardest time sticking to my goals because I often try to do too much right out of the gate.Enter: walking.

It's a simple activity that doesn't require much gear and, as studies have shown, walking has numerous physical and psychological benefits. While I don't always get in as much exercise as I'd like, I often trick myself into working out by exploring different places throughout the greater Sacramento region. Hey... whatever works, right?

Here are a few of my favorite places to get my walk on in the Sacramento area:

1.) Effie Yeaw Nature Center - Ancil Hoffman Park {map it}

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The Effie Yeaw Nature Center has been a fantastic place to explore and learn about the natural environment for decades. The 77-arce preserve located in Ancil Hoffman Park consists of interpretive trails, a nature center with educational activities and more. I love walking the trails (pictured), but I also remember taking school field trips to the center when I was young. It's a fun place for people of all ages.

2.) American River Trail {map it}

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While this trail is often referred to as a bike trail, it is full of walkers, joggers and long-distance runners. My favorite access point is William B. Pond Park (pictured). In all, there are over 50 access points along the 30 or so miles of trail stretching from Sacramento to Folsom. The Sacramento Bee published a great interactive map of the trail a few years ago. You can also download a map of the trail right here (pdf).

3.) UC Davis Arboretum {map it}

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I know, it's not actually in Sacramento, but the UC Davis Arboretum is an old favorite and is only a short drive away. My husband and I lived in Davis during college and used to take walks there all the time. The arboretum offers nature lovers beautiful gardens to stroll through, ducks to watch and some very fearless squirrels to fend off. The best part? It's open year-round and it doesn't cost a dime!

4.) Capitol Park {map it}

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As California's capital city, Sacramento has a lot going for it. I love walking around Downtown and Midtown Sacramento (as you'll see below), but when I need a little nature fix in the midst of highrise buildings and bustling streets, I duck into Capitol Park. The park surrounds our stunning State Capitol Building and is meticulously maintained. Also on the grounds, you'll find numerous monuments and memorials and a beautiful rose garden, which is where my husband and I got engaged!

5.) Sacramento's Central City {map it}

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Shops, restaurants, fantastic displays of architecture and public art... who wouldn't want to take a walk in a place with all of that? Look no further than Sacramento's Central City, my friends. The area includes Old Sacramento, Downtown and Midtown (pictured) and is one of the more interesting places to walk in the region. There's so much to see and do! All of you nature lovers out there will also be happy to hear that Sacramento recently garnered attention as one of the "10 best U.S. cities for urban forests." There's nothing better than the shade of a lovely tree canopy on a 100° day. Am I right?

Your turn! Where is your favorite place to walk in your city or town?

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Dine Downtown: Dawson's at The Hyatt

So, I've got to come clean: I've had a long-running love affair with a promotion in Sacramento called Dine Downtown. The restaurant week and I have been seeing each other for seven years now and, quite frankly, there's no end in sight. It's cool...my husband knows. He's pretty okay with it. In fact, he often accompanies me on annual Dine Downtown dates.You see, I used to work for the Downtown Sacramento Partnership (DSP), which puts together this food lover's paradise every year. I helped manage the promotion for four years and have a deep knowledge of what it takes to bring dozens of restaurants together to offer 10 days of three-course menus for $30. It's not easy. It actually takes a ton of hard work. So, my first order of business is to say thank you to the staff over there for making this event thrive year after year. You all rock.

Now, on to the food!

My husband and I were lucky enough to preview the Dine Downtown menu at Dawson's at The Hyatt. To be perfectly honest, it had been a while. I've always enjoyed the food at Dawson's, but I often forget about the many, many restaurants tucked away in Sacramento's beautiful hotels. Thus, most of Sacramento's hotel restaurants get left off the "where are we going to dinner tonight?" response list. No more! The food and service at Dawson's were both incredible and we will definitely be back.

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{You can download the full menu here.}

Here's the scoop on Dawson's Dine Downtown menu: they offer options for each course, which I always appreciate. We had trouble deciding what to get, but as I jokingly explained to our server, Ardy (who was hilarious and did an impeccable job), my husband and I had already agreed to choose different options so that we could taste more from the menu -- even if my husband and I wanted the same dish. Seems harsh, but this strategy has always served me well during restaurant week.

Starter:

Dawson's offers up a starter of deliciously fresh bread, butter and the most incredible olive tapenade. It's made in-house and Ardy warned us of its addictive powers. True to form, we had a second serving. {Have I mentioned that we never, ever make food-related new year's resolutions because of Dine Downtown? Truth bomb. Food wins every time.}

First Course:

All of the options for the first course sounded amazing, but we decided on the espresso cured tenderloin carpaccio for him and the baby beet and burrata salad for me.

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{Guess who was too excited about the food to adjust her camera for a low-light situation? This girl. The result? Sad face city upon download and some seriously over-edited photos. Here's to embracing the learning curve, my friends! Now back to our regularly scheduled programming...}

I'm a big fan of beets and have trouble passing up menu items containing them. They're just so good and I hate preparing them at home. This salad was the perfect first course for me and my husband loved the carpaccio.

Second Course:

The entrée is always where the magic happens for me. There's something so beautiful about artfully plated food and the chef at Dawson's did not disappoint. My husband reluctantly (yes, he was going to order the salmon, but stuck to our agreement) ordered the braised beef short rib and I opted for the charred pacific salmon.

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If I could adequately describe the look on my husband's face when he took his first bite of short ribs, I would. His eyes got really big, he mumbled something resembling "oh man...that's good," and kept eating. Needless to say, he was happy with his choice. I tried a bite of his entrée and I have to say, the combination of incredibly tender beef, perfectly prepared polenta and braised greens was nothing short of amazing. My salmon was also pretty incredible. It was perfectly cooked with a really interesting brussels sprout Caesar perched on top. I love when chefs try something out of the ordinary and that "twist on a Caesar," as Ardy described it, was delicious. The anchovy and garlic puree added the perfect amount of flavor to the dish.

Third Course:

With the third course, we again tested our pact to order different dishes. I opted for the California triple cream camembert because, even though I'm a sucker for a root beer float, my husband had already called dibs on the sweet crab apple fritters.

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The float was made with Dad's Root Beer and vanilla bean gelato. Don't worry, my friends. I definitely got to try it and the float suited the fritters quite nicely. On the cheese dish, the kitchen wisely paired the wonderful camembert with a side of walnut brittle and gooseberry jam. It was the perfect sweet and savory dessert.

Final grade: A+++

We left full and happy. You can't really beat that.

As I mentioned, I'm pretty partial to Dine Downtown. It's just such a great deal. And the food? Well, the food is always top-notch. The promotion is great for participating businesses, it gives food-lovers a chance to live it up without breaking the bank and it's really, really good for the downtown economy. That's a win, win, win. A trifecta of winning, if you will.

So what have we learned here?

  1. Always thank the people who work tirelessly to bring us amazing events and promotions.
  2. Don't forget to try hotel restaurants. They might surprise you!
  3. Always remember to adjust your camera properly for indoor, low-light situations.
  4. Eat at Dawson's often. TRUST me on this.
  5. Go with someone who is up for ordering different options for each course (if the restaurant offers options). That way everyone gets to try more of the menu!

The Scoop:

Dine Downtown Restaurant Week January 9 - 18, 2013 More info: downtownsac.org/dinedowntown Reservations are highly recommended.

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Disclaimer: While our meal was on the house, all opinions are my own. If we were in the same room right now, you'd know that I'm telling the truth. I've been writing through lunchtime and my tummy is growling just thinking about the food! Time to eat!

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