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A whole lot of Bike MS training is still going on…

I’ve not had time to post my latest training weekend updates, but that’s actually a good thing because many of my rides have been on the same roads, and I end up with the same photos. Seriously, who wants to look at the same photos week after week?

So, you’re spared because I put 3 weeks of photo into this one post! For this favor I must ask – will you be the first person (other than me) to donate to the MS Society in honor of my 160 mile, 2 day bike ride? Bike MS: The Road Divided is just over a month away! This is my 9th year riding in a Bike MS event and I’ve raised over $15K during the last 8 years for the National MS Society, thanks to many generous friends and family. I fundraise because I believe that MS can be cured in my lifetime and I’ve known too many people affected by this disease.

What training have I been doing you ask? Well, let me share some stats.

During the last weekend of July (3031) I rode a combined 105 miles. On Sunday I even did some hill training! The first weekend of August (67) I rode another combined 105 miles, and it was unbearably hot for the longer ride on Saturday. I then took a weekend off of riding while visiting family in Ohio and Pennsylvania. This past weekend August 2021 I increased my mileage and rode 110 miles. The weather this weekend was rainy which kept our temperatures WAY down – it was such a pleasant change!

Now, for my download of photos:

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Early morning, July 30

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This farm sometimes has horses hooked up to a pole that they walk circles around – you can see two if you look closely.

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Two more horses

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Theme of the day: horses!

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Countryside pond

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Country graveyard

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Falling apart shack

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What did I say about horses?

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Smiley faced water tower

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Big sky country

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“Lakeview Christian Center Church. All is Welcome”

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“Rev’s Resale Shop”

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Pretty day – can you tell how hot it was??

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Cows this time

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Presbyterian Church in Elgin

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This house always fascinates me

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A little park in Manor

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Sunday, July 31 I rode some hills on Loop 360 and saw the ever present peaches and tomatoes tent

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A sign for me

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Multi-colored cliffs

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View from the Pennybacker bridge

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Early morning Saturday August 6th – house with a patio above the carport

 

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Dog agility course

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Quiet country road

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Little pond and some cows

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Donkeys!

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Cow – in the same field as the donkeys

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Serpent

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oh hey, a horse

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Fancy ranch entry

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Old rail station in Elgin

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Sunday, August 7th – some new to me roads

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Little road, not so far from home

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Sad, closed Kiddie Acres on Howard Lane

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Early morning Saturday August 20 – is it going to rain? Also, cows.

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Cows enjoying the not so hot, damp weather

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Um, horses!

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Freshly paved 95

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Clouds appear more ominous than they really are

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Horses lay down!

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Small country road

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Pretty Elgin house

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Popular Elgin Post Office

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Another pretty yard at an Elgin house

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The sign says Elgin Cemetery, but it’s black and fades into the trees

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Sheep

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This big ranch is for sale!

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Lots of tags on the railroad cars along Littig Road

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Lots of hay

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Sunday, August 21 – a very flooded Brushy Creek

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Small country road

 

 

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Two fresh fig recipes: fig blueberry crisp and fig cookie bars!

It finally happened… the figs on our monster fig tree started to ripen! I tried two new recipes this year with figs that both turned out fantastic.

Fig and Blueberry Crisp

I basically followed this Food Network recipe with some slight modifications:

  • I used 3 cups blueberries and 3 cups figs and added a bit of lemon zest to the fruit mixture
  • I did not add nutmeg or pecans
  • I did add some ground ginger, probably about 1/2 teaspoon

Fruit mixture and topping:

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Fig Cookie Bars

While the crisp was super easy to throw together, fig cookies bars (also called fig newtons) required more work, spread across two days for me. For the cookie part, I mostly followed this Fresh Fig Newtons recipe from Sugar Dish Me. For the jam in the middle, I looked around at a number of recipes and ended up using:

  • 2 lbs fresh figs, chopped
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • Juice from 1 lemon

Put all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. After the boil starts, reduce to a simmer and continue to stir / mash from time to time. After 45 min or so, the jam should be thickened.

Note: this jam did turn out quite sweet, so next time I’d reduce the sugar to 3/4 cup probably.

For the cookie part, I changed the Sugar Dish Me recipe by:

  • Reducing the butter – I used 1/2 cup butter and 1/4 cup applesauce
  • Omitting the orange zest – I didn’t have an orange and wasn’t sold on this anyhow.

The bars were a huge hit. If only they weren’t so much work!

Making jam:

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Finished jam:

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Finished cookie bar sheet:

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Mmmm… delicious!

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Bike MS Training: July 23 – 24

This weekend, it was hot. Again. So on Saturday I made sure to get out by 7:30 am on my long ride to make it home around noon. I rode north to Cele and then east towards Elgin for a total of 66 miles. You can see my route on Strava.

On Sunday I rode a shorter 41 mile route. One mile after leaving home, I got a flat in my rear tire. The same tire that was just replaced two months ago and then immediately got a flat the day after replacing it… makes me nervous for future rides.

This is my 9th year riding in Bike MS and this year I will 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?

On my way north on Cameron road towards Cele, I passed one of the many rural Texas churches:

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The Cele Store – still actually open at times:

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The expansive countryside:

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Good morning, cows:

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Big fields, big sky:

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Fields and fields…

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There’s a historical marker on the corner of this road – marking the tiny community of Carlson:

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Country roads:

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Barn and flowering tree:

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These hay bales are for sale, if you’re interested:

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Old bridge:

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I paused at this community park in Manor and filled my second water bottle with water from a lion shaped water fountain:

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One of the old stately houses in Manor:

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The last few miles of my ride include the Northern Walnut Creek Trail:

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Another old stately house from my Sunday ride:

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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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