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Bike training season is here!

It’s official, I’ve decided to fundraise for the Bike MS: Rock’n Hot Ride in Arkansas which takes place September 12th and 13th. The ride goes from Little Rock to Hot Springs and back. I’ve always wanted to spend some time in Hot Springs, so hopefully we’ll get to do that in September.

I’ve been riding a good deal, weather permitting (and sometimes not permitting), this spring to start getting ready for training season which I officially kicked off last weekend. I’ve done three event rides: the Easter Hill Country Tour in Kerrville, the Red Poppy Ride, and the Real Ale Ride, all of which I highly recommend.

The Easter Hill Country Tour is a 3 day ride with a variety of lengths that takes place every Easter weekend. This year, we talked some friends into accompanying us out to Kerrville and we had some great riding.

Our first day riding was Friday and it started out quite gloomy.

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Jo

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Sheep

But after awhile, the sun came out and treated us to some gorgeous hill country riding. And that was the last time we saw the sun that weekend, but at least it never rained on us!

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Randy

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Ranch road

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Goofballs

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Jo and a Texas ranch

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Carl

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Jo and Randy coming up a big hill

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Randy

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Carl

On Saturday, it was even gloomier and kind of cold. I rode by myself since I planned to ride 60+ miles.

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Small dam in a river

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Oh yeah, it was windy!

We took a short drive over to a replica stone henge, complete with Easter Island head replicas in Ingram TX.

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Sunday was quite gloomy as well. Carl and I rode the short loop together and then stopped for lunch in Fredericksburg with Randy and Jo.

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Carl

I also rode the Red Poppy Ride again this year. Much nicer weather this time around, if a bit windy of course.

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Yellow wildflowers

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Fields of Indian Paintbrushes and Bluebonnets

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The orange flowers are Indian Paintbrushes

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So much yellow

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Roadside pink winecups

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Small Texas road lined by wildflowers

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Big white prickly flowers

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Purple and yellow

On a nice weekend in May, we took a ride up to a winery in Comanche. I rode my bike straight north, shadowing 183, to Briggs Texas where my husband picked me up. It was a great day to ride north, with a 20 mph tailwind. Apparently I just missed a good little rainstorm in Austin. I saw the dark clouds as I was headed north west.

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Way out on Ronald Reagan Blvd

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I love the white flower stalks (a type of yucca) – they have bell shaped flowers on them.

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Very large red yucca

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Old, falling down stone house near Florence

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White and yellow flowers

My GoPro unfortunately ran out of batteries for the Real Ale Ride, but I did get one important shot to prove I was there. Carl and I both got flats on that ride, and then I went ahead and followed that up with another flat the very next day. Hopefully flat season is behind us!

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Unboxing my new Public Bikes cruiser and a bike training update 

Well, I finally added a new bike to my fleet. The right number of bikes is always N+1, where N is the number you currently own, right? I’ve wanted a more laid back bike for slow, short rides that I can just wear normal clothes to ride. Somehow I came across a Public Bikes sale online and knew that I found my next bike. I plan to outfit it with an electric assist wheel along the lines of the Copenhagen Wheel.

The experience of getting a mostly assembled bike straight to your doorstep is pretty great, so I wanted to share it.  

While I’m on the subject of bikes, I decided to postpone this year’s Bike MS ride until September because I’ve had a lot of trouble scheduling my training rides. So that’s why there haven’t been any bike training updates. But don’t worry, I’ll be back at it soon!

The first part I noticed was the awesome box covered in biking quotes.

  

      

Then I pulled the mostly assembled bike out of the box. There was a second box that held the fancy bike basket.

  The basket is handmade and came with a hand written number on it.

The bike came with a nice pedal wrench and bike sized Allen wrenches to help with the few assembly tasks.

The only assembly required was to put the handlebars in the stem, adjust the angle of the handlebars, and screw on the pedals. Oh, and put the fancy basket on. What a beauty!

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Ginger fig cake recipe

I recently made quite the birthday meal for my husband, making two of our favorite recipes, and trying out two new ones. I made Food & Wine’s Roasted beets with pistachios, herbs, and orange, Smitten Kitchen’s Swiss chard and sweet potato gratin and Mushroom Bourguinon and this Ginger fig cake, adapted from Kitchen Konfidence. I made the recipe healthier and also added figs and we loved it, so here it is for others to love!

Birthday foods-5 Continue reading

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Bike MS 2015 training is in full swing!

Well, it’s official. I’ve signed up for my 8th annual Bike MS ride and started training 3 weeks ago! For the second year in a row, I’m doing the Sam’s Club Round Up Ride in DFW on the first weekend in May. I had originally planned to choose a different ride, but our schedules this year just didn’t allow it. Plus, they’ve changed up the Sam’s Club Round Up Ride so that it ends in downtown Fort Worth’s Sundance Square on Sunday, rather than ending at the Texas Motor Speedway both days. Thanks to you, I achieved top fundraiser status last year, so that should make this a good year. I haven’t yet set up my fundraising page, but I did have an interesting training ride last weekend that I wanted to share. We were in Dallas to tour some breweries and I took my bike and explored the paved hike and bike trails in the area. There are many miles of bike trails in Dallas, but almost no bike lanes. We stayed right downtown at the Magnolia Hotel and I took off from there Saturday morning. You can see my 41 mile route on Garmin Connect.

I rode along bike routes, which were sharrows, not dedicated bike lanes, down past the American Airlines Center to pick up the Katy Bike Trail.

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The Katy Trail was a popular place to be on a Saturday morning. Luckily, it had two paved sections for most of its length, half of which was for pedestrians only.

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After coming to the end of the Katy Trail, I rode on the streets for a while and passed through Southern Methodist University (SMU).

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Next I came to White Rock Lake, a nice lake with hiking and biking all around it just north of downtown, with some very nice houses over looking the lake.DCIM100GOPRO

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At the north part of the lake, I exited onto the White Rock Creek Trail. It was nice and new in some sections and quite old in other sections. It was fairly flat and not that crowded.DCIM100GOPRO

Saw the Dallas train a few times – the DART.DCIM100GOPRO

After a while I split off on to the Cottonwood Trail, which was a new trail.

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The Cottonwood trail took me under intersection of interstates 635 and 75.

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At the top of the Cottonwood trail, I cut over on some streets to Valley View Park to pick up the north end of the White Rock Creek Trail. I saw a Mini Convertible that had a bike rack just like the one I used to have – including bike and beer stickers on the bike rack!

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The While Rock Creek Trail returned me to White Rock Lake right where I left. The trails along the lake switched between open and closed road and paved trail.DCIM100GOPRO

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It’s small in this photo, but I could see downtown Dallas from a number of places along the lake.DCIM100GOPRO

I left the lake for the Santa Fe Trail by the White Rock Lake Dam. It was a long sloping dam. DCIM100GOPRO

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The trails often had these happy little bike signs reminding people of proper etiquette when sharing the trails.DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO

The Santa Fe Trail took me to Deep Ellum, a neighborhood just outside of Dallas that totally reminded me of East Austin. The trail obviously used to be train tracks at one point.

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After the trail ended I had just a mile or two left to get back to our hotel. I found a bike lane on one road, but mostly sharrows. Luckily there aren’t many cars out in downtown Dallas on a Saturday late morning.

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2014 Gifting: Leaf imprinted bowls

Every Christmas, I try to make one or two handmade gifts for my favorite people. One of those gifts is typically an ornament, which I will share with you in time to make your own during the next holiday season :)

However, I did make a gift that isn’t an ornament, and it is this polymer clay dish by Crafts Unleashed. It’s a small, decorative dish that could be used to hold some earrings or something similarly small. I basically followed the method in the post, but used a few different supplies. I bought white Sculpey clay III, which from the review seems to be a bit easier to work with than Premo by Sculpey. I also picked up a really cheap Sculpey clay tool set at Joann Fabrics for the cutting tools, but found that the little white roller worked better than a cheap rolling pin I bought at HomeGoods. The main thing I used the actual rolling pin for was to press the fresh leaf into the clay after it was flattened. The leaves came from a tree in our yard, and I used the ring from a glass jar as a circular cutout. I had a gloss clear coat from previous projects, and a bowl in our cupboard that I could use for this project and then dedicate for future craft projects. I’ve read that kitchen dishes should not be used for polymer clay projects. I made 10 dishes in total.

My supplies:

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Close-ups:

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A simple baby bib

A friend recently had a baby boy, and to commemorate the occasion I wanted to make her a simple gift so I settled on a baby bib. This free pattern from Delia Creates was the perfect solution. I love the simple way it fastens – with a little knot that is pulled through a button hole. My friend’s baby shower was Nascar themed, and the baby’s namesake has to do with her alma mater, so I decided on a football theme for the bib in her university’s colors. I was lucky to find the helmet pattern and then used a solid red for the back of the bib. The pattern was easy to follow and went together quickly.

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Hand stamped infinity scarf

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Acorn jingle bell christmas ornaments

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I whipped up these simple Christmas ornaments as gifts for my friends and family. I had the grand idea that we would harvest local acorn caps to use, but they ended up being too small for the bells I found at Joann.

 

They were pretty simple to make. It went something like this:

  1. Find acorn caps to order on ebay since our local caps were too small.
  2. Paint the acorn caps with gold, green, and red glitter paint.
  3. After they dry, glue the bells into the acorn caps. I found hot glue to be the easiest to work with, but reinforced it with some Elmer’s in the gap around the bell, if it existed.
  4. After that round of glue dries, attach matching embroidery thread to the stem by tying it and then add a bit of glue for security.
  5. Once that dries, tie the thread onto a loop of ribbon. I varied the length of thread so that the bells would hang at different lengths.
  6. Optional – add a small coordinating bow to the ribbon loop.

And done!

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