Monday, January 30, 2012

mountain bike monday - the gravel grinder

January 28 Ride 2012_0034

On Saturday we set out with MBM to take a practice ride on the Monster Cross route. The Monster Cross is a 50 mile race at Poco on February 26. Dynamo is riding in the mountain bike singlespeed category.

January 28 Ride 2012_0014

First, I'd like to note that the 15 year old hand-me-down bike shoes finally busted. Yes, they were Dynamo's shoes that I've been wearing for 2.5 years. They were Dynamo's first bike shoes. They are a little big, but work perfectly in the winter with two pairs of socks.

The pic is not that great, but you can see the slight crack beneath the clip...Well, it's a BIG crack when the shoes bends...

January 28 Ride 2012_0001_edited-1

But...they are now done. They can go no farther. R.I.P. Nikes! They were great shoes!

January 28 Ride 2012_0005

So, for now I'm wearing Dynamo's Shimanos that are now his warm weather shoes. Again, they are too big, but I make do. I guess this spring I'll have to go out and get myself some bikes shoes because Dynamo will need them back. I guess I'm now on the hunt. If you have any recommendations, I'd like to hear them!

And...I'd also like to note that I have discovered two must haves for the ride. My Profile Design pouch for snacks, maps, and camera...

January 28 Ride 2012_0007

...and my Six Six One gloves. They rock!

January 28 Ride 2012_0011

They are super lite, have great gripping power, and even have a little terry cloth section for wiping sweat!

January 28 Ride 2012_0012

Me, being the navigator for our rides, I had the responsibility of overlaying the Garmin map with the Poco map to make sure we had the route correct.

So, we got going...

January 28 Ride 2012_0017

Yes, this is a hill...

January 28 Ride 2012_0018

There were lots of them on this course! look..another one...

January 28 Ride 2012_0022

And, it was only the beginning of the ride!

Our adventure began at the nature center. We headed up to the front of the park and over to what we call the horse side of the park.

January 28 Ride 2012_0025

We encountered a few riders of a different type....

January 28 Ride 2012_0026

Then we came back over to the main park and headed down Fendley Station to the dam where we stopped to photo a father son duo. Notice anything unique about this picture?

January 28 Ride 2012_0027

Yes, it's a mountain unicycle. WOW! is all I have to say.

January 28 Ride 2012_0030

We traveled up the park road for a short ways...yes, more hills..

January 28 Ride 2012_0033

January 28 Ride 2012_0037

The last 5 or so miles was on Forest Exploration...

January 28 Ride 2012_0039

January 28 Ride 2012_0043

There are some big climbs at the start of Forest Exploration...

January 28 Ride 2012_0042_edited-1

January 28 Ride 2012_0046

January 28 Ride 2012_0045

There was a lot of pedaling...

January 28 Ride 2012_0047

January 28 Ride 2012_0051

January 28 Ride 2012_0050

Then, we passed through the boat ramp and up the hill back to the car.

It was a fantastic ride. I felt pretty good. I was pleased with my ride time and speed. Each time I'm getting stronger and faster. I think I was spot on with the route! The first lap is supposed to be 27.5 miles. We finished the first lap with 27.7 miles on the cyclometer. Pretty close I would say.

January 28 Ride 2012_0058

Friday, January 27, 2012

"new" food

Shortly before the holidays, I decided that I was taking a new approach to food. Even though Dynamo and I exercise a lot and eat right (except for a few sweets here and there), my cholesterol was still high. My doctor simply wants to medicate me, which is an unacceptable solution in my opinion! But, I am confident that changing the foods I eat can and will reduce my cholesterol.

So, with Dynamo's support, we set out on this adventure to eat lots of plants. Lots of plants, fewer animals, and limited-to-no dairy. I do feel better and am very happy with the way things are going.

Cook without a book

Part of a new eating plan is to find and try new recipes. The book, Cook Without a Book by Pam Anderson is fantastic. It is mainly a vegetarian cookbook that gives you a basic recipe with suggestions based on the seasons and tastebuds how to alter the recipe. It is easy to use and so far the recipes have been good!

Dynamo suggested that each week we try one new recipe. He's such a good sport! So, the recipe this week was minestrone soup.

minestrone soup

It was yummy! Lots of veggies and quinoa pasta!

So, in this quest for lower cholesterol I've learned a few things, watched a few movies, and opened my eyes up to new foods. It's been a fun experience so far!

I've learned so much from movies, listening to others, and just reading. I'm not going to give up everything I love, but I can honestly say that I don't crave things like I used to. I feel better overall! I am taking responsibility for my own health and believe that everyone should. Medications aren't the answer. Eating the right foods is. Sometimes it's just little changes that will make a difference.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

colorful crochet

Madison's Afghan (1)

Did I tell you that I love making colorful things? Working with these colors made me smile every time I picked up the afghan to work on it.

I apologize for the coloring in the pic below. It was a little dark when I took the pic.
Madison's Afghan (4)

Our niece, Madison, has a birthday coming up. I hadn't crocheted her anything yet, so I sat down and tried to figure out a pattern from another afghan a lady at church had made me. I think I figured it out for the most part. It's kinda my own personalized design. I used any colors I had on hand. I wanted it bright and bold! And...I added the crocheted flower on one corner to make it really girly!

I'm so honored that Madison enjoys anything handmade by Aunt Rachel! She is always so excited and appreciative. I wanted to make her a special kid-sized afghan in her colors! So many kids don't appreciate this kind of stuff. They think it's old-lady-ish I guess!

I hope she likes it! We'll find out in February at her party!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

more lavender goodness

Lavender Soap

No matter what scents I make, there's none better than the classic lavender.

Lavender Soap

It's just a lovely scent that many people just love, including me. You just can't beat that great scent.

Lavender Soap

I just took this batch out of the mold and Dynamo cut them up! They are curing right now!

Lavender Soap

Thanks to all the wonderful support from you, my customers, I've had to replenish my supply. Thank you so much!

Lavender Soap

All of my current batches are made using a slightly different recipe. I think you'll find it even more moisturizing! Can't wait for you to try it!

Monday, January 23, 2012

mountain bike monday - a rainy weekend

bike trainer

It was a rainy weekend here! So rainy that we didn't even get to go riding outside. When it rains we have to hit the bikes inside. That means that Dynamo gets on the trainer and I hit the rollers. It's definitely more fun to be outside, trust me. The rollers are so loud that I can't really hear the television. So, I have to try to read lips and get little bits of sound here and there!

Indoor training has its benefits. Trainers can help you to maintain a smooth pedal stroke, maintain stamina and fitness levels, and increase your leg strength.  We got the rollers a while back, especially for me. I wanted to improve my balance and overall stability. They also help to improve my pedal efficiency. Read here for more. I think I've gotten the hang of them pretty well now. You really can't take your concentration off of the task at hand when pedaling. I'm getting much better, but when we first got them I couldn't really look anywhere except straight ahead or else I'd become off balance and topple into the doorway. Yes, we took the advice of many and set it up in the doorway to the spare bedroom upstairs. It really is necessary because it is an unpredictable tool! Wait...maybe I meant to say that I'm unpredictable!

Nonetheless, I really do find that using rollers keeps you focused and really helps with balance. It's all about time on the bike in the end...whether inside or out it all counts!

I'm sorry that we don't have a video or pic of me on the rollers. Maybe next time!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

ramblings about my creative space

craft cabinet

The one place that I allow myself to be a little cluttered and all over the place is in my craft room. I am not a person that can create with a crystal clean desk. I have to have things out and in front of me in order to be able to make art, whatever that may be. I love my room. Kids love to come in the room, pull up a chair and just grab stuff and start coloring and cutting. My cousin, neighbor, and adopted nieces enjoy the room. I always get, "can we make a card?" The answer is always sure! I don't get nervous or afraid that they might break something or color on something. They can't hurt anything. It's just stuff! Fun stuff! Glitter, glue, colored pencils, pens, etc. Kids need to feel free to express and not be restricted. I think they like being there because it's eclectic and colorful. Everything they create is beautiful. Parents always tell their kids to be careful when they come in the craft room. So silly! They can't hurt anything! I know they are being respectful, but how can you be careful when you're creating? Sometime paint gets away from you! No big deal! That's what a rag is for!

Dynamo made me the beautiful cabinet above a while back! It's so lovely! Sturdy too! We painted it with red milk paint, then black milk paint, and distressed it to make it look antique. Then, we found these fabulous knobs at Anthropologie in a teal blue! Oh, it's so gorgeous! I'm sorry it's not a full shot, but the part you can't see is one long drawer and two doors below where all of my stamp sets are. My one rule there is that if they don't fit, something has to go. So, I do keep a limit on my stamp sets. The cabinet, as you can see, is completely filled up. Dynamo and I have had dicussions about how to organize my craft goodies, which would involve him building me more cabinets and shelves in the room. That project is on the list at some point.

I'm so grateful to have an entire room to work in. Many only have small corners or their dining room tables. I started out sewing downstairs on the table, but that's not very conducive if you want to eat too! So, I migrated the machine upstairs. I'll show pics of that another time!


I know that if your creative process is not like mine, then a scene like the one above might make you a little nervous. But, to me it's heaven. A few years ago Dynamo refinished this fabulous pub table that I bought one day at an antique shop in Charlottesville. He put this heavy duty tabletop finish on it for protection from me of course, and then it got covered up completely with other containers, an ink carousel, and the great dye cabinet you see above.

My theory is build higher with cabinets and drawers on top of others to make the most of my table space. And...I love using antique glasses to hold my pens, pencils, markers, scissors, etc. It makes things colorful and pretty. If supplies are within reach and I see them, then I will be sure to use them and less likely to forget about them. If it's tucked away in a drawer, who knows!

I didn't take pics of the rest of the room, but I promise to do that. Right now, it also doubles as a spare bedroom, so there are two twin beds in there as well. They are special because they are my great grandparents' beds from years ago. The ultimate plan is to take one down to get me a little more room.

I just thought I'd share with you a little about my workspace. I know that I enjoy seeing how other people work and organize items. I'm not sure my room is organized, but it is my space. Now, I just have to stay in my space and stop spilling out!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

mountain bike monday - chilly ridin'

First, I'd like to apologize as I didn't get any pics of us riding over the weekend. Dynamo and I were so busy just riding that I completely forgot, plus I didn't make as many stops as usual. I'm trying very hard to keep my legs going and turning as much as possible. I think this strategy will help me increase my time as well as keep my joints lubricated (I'm sure there's a technical term for this, but you know what I mean).

We ventured out on a cold Sunday about mid-day to explore the park. The temperature was around 34 degrees when we started. We have the proper gear, so cold isn't usually a factor. I was a little cold for some reason. It got straightened out and I was ok for the most part.

We started out at the boat ramp and meandered up to the front of the park, ventured over to what we call the horse side of the park for about 7 miles, then rode along Fendley Station down to the damn and back, and then around the outer Fendley Station loop towards the green and blue trails, ultimately ending up back at the boat ramp for 25 miles of riding.

It was a good ride. My pace was consistent. Not fast, not slow. Around 9 mph on average. I'll take that. When we finished I was proud of my ride time and knew that my time keeps improving because I'm pushing myself to utilize the downhills and not stop very much. I keep telling myself to keep the legs turning! Pedal! Pedal! We had a great time together!

On another note, when we stopped by the bike shop yesterday I talked with the guys there about hydration. They were so kind to answer my questions and make suggestions. Dynamo had suggested that I try some different mixes in my camelbak, so we bought three new things to try. I'll report in on how that works!

I also drooled over some bikes while there! It's easy to get distracted by all the shiny new stuff! More on choosing a good bike shop in another post!

Friday, January 13, 2012

island flower soap

Island Flower Soap_0012

I was so excited to create this new soap because the fragrance reminds me of our honeymoon in St. Thomas!

Island Flower Soap_0003

It smells just like being on a tropical island.

Island Flower Soap_0010

Not too strong and not too soft...just perfect.

Island Flower Soap_0006

The soap sticks and curls were added to make the soap pretty of course! The color reminds me of the flowers on the islands!

Island Flower Soap_0014

I may even change the color of this soap from time to time because the beautiful flowers are many different colors.

Island Flower Soap_0002

This is a lovely soap! It will be ready just in time for Valentine's Day too!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

baby afghan for a friend

Baby Afghan_0001_edited-1

One of my friends (we went to school together from middle school through high school) is having a baby soon! Momma and I got invited to her baby shower that was last Saturday.

Baby Afghan_0005_edited-1

I wanted to make her something very special. Something handmade from the heart. So, over the Christmas holiday I crocheted my fingers off to make this very soft green baby afghan! It turned out just beautiful in my opinion.
And, I was lucky enough to have consultation from my sister-in-law, Amy, on the edging. We discussed and tried a few different styles only to decide on this lovely border!
Baby Afghan_0008_edited-1

My friend was so pleased when she opened her present. She really appreciated the handmade special gift. I'm so glad I was able to make her something from the heart!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

back to makin' soap


So, it's a new year and it was time for a new scent with a slightly different recipe. I love the way this soap turned out. Just look at the swirls on the top of the log...


This recipe is a little more moisturizing...great for the winter.


And...check out the swirls! I'm so pleased with the result of my swirling technique.


Oh, so yummy!


The only problem is that I can't decide what to name it. It has a lovely smell! I'm going to wait a few days and keep smelling it until the name comes to me.


If anyone has a suggestion let me know. I wanted to call it something with the word "love" or "lovely" in the name.