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Bike MS Training: Rapha Women’s 100 Ride

For the third year running Rapha invited women the world over to join the challenge of riding 100km on the same day. Last year over 8,000 cyclists participated in the Rapha Women’s 100 either by joining Rapha or ambassador-led rides, organizing or participating in one of over 350 Women’s 100 rides run locally, or riding solo to complete the distance. This past weekend, Mellow Johnny’s hosted a 68 mile ride in Austin on Sunday that hundreds of women turned out for. I’ve never seen so many women cyclists at once before!

The ride started out in a giant group which was a little tricky and felt somewhat dangerous to ride in. At the first rest stop, I broke away with a small group of other women who felt the same way that I did. After about 10 miles we got sucked up in the larger group again, but then at the second rest stop we again broke away and stayed out in front for the rest of the ride.

The route was on many roads that I’ve been on before so I didn’t get as many photos, but I did make some new friends!

On Saturday I road 4o miles as part of my training plan.

If you missed my first post about Bike MS Training, this is my 9th year riding in Bike MS and this year I’ve chosen to ride Bike MS: The Road Divided. The ride takes place in Oklahoma on September 24 – 25, 2016 and goes from Norman to Guthrie to Stillwater. Can you support my participation in Bike MS by donating to the National MS Society?

The Rapha  100 started from Mellow Johnny’s:

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Lots of women had “Team Snacks” kits on, which I now know is a local cycling club.

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We rode on many of the roads that I often ride on weekends, so I didn’t actually take that many photos, especially when part of the large group.

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My breakaway group after the first rest stop:

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Pausing at the second rest stop:

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Another Independent Fabrication bike!

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After the third rest stop, we got on the Southern Walnut Creek Trail to make our way downtown. Thank goodness for the shady parts, because it was HOT by then.

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Bike MS 2016: Let the training begin!

Well, it’s that time of year again. Time to overload you with photos taken while riding my bike, because I’ve started my annual Bike MS training! This is my 9th year riding in Bike MS and this year I’ve chosen to ride Bike MS: The Road Divided. The ride takes place in Oklahoma on September 24 – 25, 2016 and goes from Norman to Guthrie to Stillwater. In case you don’t get the name, the ride starts at Oklahoma University and ends at Oklahoma State University… and they are Big 12 rivals.

I hope to have a great fundraising year – can you help get me started? I’ve kicked off my training and my fundraising page by making a donation. For training, my husband and I took a trip to his family’s farm in Iowa over the 4th of July and I was able to get in many miles of lovely bike riding! 170 miles over 3 days in fact. The Iowa riding was relatively flat, much cooler than Texas, and quite windy at times. Because all roads in Iowa are basically a giant grid, I was able to plan my routes to take advantage of a tailwind on the second half of each ride. My routes: day 1, day 2, day 3

The first day started off cool enough that I *almost* put on my arm warmers! The sky was a gorgeous blue. The Northwood fire department had a giant flag out for the holiday.

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Flat road evidence:

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Many windmills are found in this area:

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Quite a few cemeteries too:

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Mini waterfall:

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Quaint little towns:

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More cemeteries:

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Tractors all lined up in a row:

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Another town. St. Ansgar I think:

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Best slip’n slide ever!

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Little playground in Bolan:

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Welcome to Bolan!

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Wildflowers and windmills:

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Returning back into Northwood:

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Government building in Northwood:

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Day 2 was cloudier than day 1 so the photos aren’t as pretty. But look at those wildflowers!

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I took a swing through Grafton:

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Stopped at a park in Plymouth:

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Downtown Plymouth:

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Can you see the yard art? Hint: a giraffe and a killer whale…

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The round building in the middle caught my attention:

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A herd of horses hanging out:

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Iowa barns often have quilt patterns on them:

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Elk Creek Cemetery:

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Day 3 was sunny again and the weather a bit warmer.

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Elk Creek Churg has a little mini church next to it…

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Crossing I-35. Yes, the same I-35 that runs just a few miles from my house in Austin.

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Rode through Joice:

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Found a Norwegian immigrants memorial (unsurprising really):

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A church in Lake Mills:

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Pretty golf course:

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Rice lake looked more like a marsh than a lake:

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And that’s it! I’m very thankful to my in-laws for letting me move an old bike up to the farm so that I can experience this great riding on all of my visits:) Stay tuned for more bike photos throughout this summer!

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Baking soft pretzels, not as hard as you might think!

After a recent trip to Philadelphia, the land of soft pretzels, I came across the recipe for Alton Brown’s soft pretzels and figured it was a sign that I should make them. The technique is fairly straightforward, make the dough, let it rise, divide and roll it out, form pretzels, dunk in pretzel bath, apply egg wash, and bake.
The only change I recommend is to divide the dough into 12 or 16, instead of 8 if you don’t want enormous pretzels. I found it was easiest to hold the dough in the air and roll between my hands rather than try to roll on the counter.
The result was delicious and I will definitely make them again!
I also whipped up a batch of roasted poblano queso for a dip and highly recommend it.

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Kale and caramelized onion stuffing

Two thanksgivings ago, I made a bread pudding as our stuffing for thanksgiving. It was delicious, rich, cheesy, bready… but it wasn’t exactly stuffing. So this year, I went the opposite direction and found a stuffing without any cheese, yet it was still moist and flavorful. Kale and caramelized onion stuffing from the Smitten Kitchen. In the version I cooked up, I used slightly less olive oil, added a bag of sliced cremini mushrooms, and went the vegetable broth route. It was awesome and the caramelized onions were so so good.

First, I shaved off the crust of the sourdough loaf and cut it up to toast. It was a few days old and quite hard to get the crust off actually, but in the end you couldn’t tell at all.

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I actually caramelized the onions the day before I put together the stuffing since they take so long to cook down.

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On thanksgiving I finished assembling the stuffing and baked it. So much delicious kale, mushrooms and onions!

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A Cornucopia Thanksgiving Feast

The cover of this year’s Thanksgiving issue of Vegetarian Times had the loveliest food I’ve ever seen: a bread cornucopia stuffed with colorful roasted vegetables. I knew I had to have it, so I made one for Thanksgiving! I mean, vegetables and bread are my two favorite things to eat, so there was really no way I wasn’t going to try it.

I started off following the dough recipe for the cornucopia. The dough rises overnight in the fridge into a massive amount so make sure you use a large bowl.

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To create the cone of the cornucopia, you have to form a cone out of poster board and then cover it in foil and cooking spray.

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I then used sections of the dough to roll it out into rectangular sheets, cutting 20″ x 1.5″ strips and then wrapping them around the cone while it was standing up, starting the bottom. The last bit of dough was used to create 3 additional strips and braid them. I laid the cornucopia on its side and then added the braided strip, so it did not go all the way around.

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The cone then went into the oven. About half way, I had to remove the foil / posterboard cone from the dough, which was not the easiest thing to do.

In the meantime, we prepped many colorful veggies to prepare using the recipe Fork and Knife Roasted Vegetables. We used mushrooms, acorn squash, butternut squash, purple sweet potato, onion, and cauliflower. We also made the recommended Essence of Thanksgiving Gravy.

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We very carefully transported the cooled cornucopia to our friend’s house, and kept the veggies in a separate container until it was time to put everything together on the table. Thanksgiving-16

I was soooo pleased with the final result. And it was good too, not just pretty! Everyone ate a bit of the cornucopia bread, and we even took home the leftovers and continued to eat the bread with our thanksgiving leftovers until it was gone.Thanksgiving-17Thanksgiving-18

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A most delicious fresh fig tart

 

 

Back when we had figs ripening like mad, I came across a recipe from Vegetarian Times for a Lavender and Fig Tart with Goat Cheese Cream, and oh man was it worth the effort. It was a super big hit at a party, the first food to completely disappear.

The only change I made was to use thyme instead of lavender, since we had that in abundance in our garden.

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The hardest part of the recipe was dealing with the puff pastry, something I had no experience with.

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After you bake it, you have to cut along the edges to create the crust and then press down the middle. It wasn’t too bad, but of course mine wasn’t as pretty as the magazine picture.

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We had on over-abundance of figs at the time, so I really loaded up the tart.

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The final step was drizzling with a sweetened balsamic and thyme mixture. I can’t wait to make this recipe again next year!FigTart-6

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The cutest ornaments: Almond shell birds

My handmade holiday ornaments for last year were these little almond shell birds, and they were a big hit. I followed the instructions pretty much line by line, but instead of shellac to seal my almond shells, I used a matte Delta Ceramcoat sealant that I had left over from a wood painting project. I made at least 10 of these little guys and am happy to have a few left over to hang on my tree this year.

We even held a little photoshoot for a few of them:

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During the outside portion of the photo shoot, we were photo bombed by my favorite photo bomber. Do you see her?

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Acorn jingle bell ornaments

Simple hand-embroidered ornaments

Hand-painted wooden ornaments

Beer cap ornaments