What a day!

I woke up this morning instantly thankful for three things.

1. We once again have a substantial layer of snow on ground and it looks beautiful.
2. I get to spend the day cooking at my parent’s house.
3. Yesterday.

I had a really fun, really full day yesterday. If I spent every day in a similar fashion I would be extremely happy but also extremely tired. My brother is currently home from Colorado so I am spending as much time as I can with the family, I have been here since Monday night.

I woke up in the morning on a mission. My mission? Homemade ravioli. I love making ravioli but it is very time consuming, so I only make it a couple times a year. Please excuse my horribly subpar photography skills, I simply had to share these pictures because ravioli makes me so giddy and happy and bubbly and smiley and I will stop embarrassing myself now.

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Flour, salt, egg yolks and water about to be turned in a sticky mess.

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Sticky mess of dough.

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Ten minutes of intense kneading produces silky smooth dough.

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Rolled that dough until my arms were aching, does anyone want to buy me a pasta machine? You will receive instant best friend status.

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64 sausage and spinach stuffed raviolis

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The end result after boiling in salt water and dumping in marinara sauce.

To round out the meal I made two loaves of savory monkeybread and a marinated Italian salad.

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I invited my grandparents to come up and eat with us and as soon as they arrived and my brothers came back from basketball practice we all sat down together to eat. I love making food for anyone and everyone but there is a special joy that only comes from spending all day in the kitchen to create food for the people you love most.

Right after we ate, my brother (the one home from Colorado) and I headed out to do some babysitting. He had no idea what he was getting himself into. My three little friends jumped on him, poked him in the eye, begged him to do games over and over again and were their adorable, high-energy selves.

Putting three children to bed is always a challenge especially when two little boys share a room and do everything in their power to keep each other awake. I ended up sitting on the floor between their beds telling them a long story until they couldn’t keep their eyes open anymore. Telling stories to children until they fall asleep is one of the best things ever.

Then my brother and I hung out, laughing at stupid TV shows until their parents came home. It was great. I finally fell asleep at 12:30, super tired but super happy.

Well I have another day of cooking ahead of me, I better get a move on it! Have a great last day of 2014!

Here are the recipes I used.

Savory Bubble Bread
I doubled the amount of cheese and spice mixture, my family loves extra flavor. I don’t have a bread machine so I used my normal technique for making rolls.

Spicy Italian Salad
I used red wine vinegar because who keeps tarragon vinegar in their house? No one. I also threw everything except the romaine lettuce in the dressing early on in the day so it could get some nice tangy flavor throughout.

Ravioli
I always end up using more eggs yolks then this recipe calls for but it explains the process very well.

Upper Body Update (week 4)

Wow, it has been a month already! I haven’t made much progress and the number of pushups I can do in one set is still embarrassingly low but I can feel a slight difference in my core already. I am also really working on my form and making sure every pushup is slow and controlled from start to finish.

You can see I didn’t do as well this week, I blame Christmas.20141230024057 20141230023606 20141230023921

Monday Commute

We got a little snowfall overnight and the temperature has started dropping again so it almost feels like we are back to winter.

There are many health benefits to winter biking but I have discovered a health hazard as well. The main road I bike on gets salted to death and on dry days like this afternoon every time a car passed me a chalky, salty dust came into my nose and mouth. I am guessing that is not super healthy. Oh well, I suppose toxins are just a part of life….or I could buy a gas mask.

To work (10 miles)
3:50 am to 4:45 am

Weather 29F, 8 mph West wind

I wore
Head: balaclava, rain jacket hood
Torso: thermal undershirt, rain jacket
Hands: two pairs knit gloves
Legs: yoga pants, rain pants
Feet: two pair of socks, sneakers

Comments:  I couldn’t find my boots this morning (I think I left them at my parent’s house) so I just put on a thick pair of pink socks over my knee highs.

From work (10 miles)
4:00pm to 4:55pm

Weather 23F, 7 mph Northwest wind

I wore
Head: balaclava,  rain jacket hood
Torso: thermal undershirt, rain jacket
Hands: two pairs of knit gloves
Legs: yoga pants, rain pants
Feet: two pair of socks, sneakers

Comments: My torso overheated a bit so I unzipped my jacket partway.

Saturday Commute

I saw a little cottontail rabbit while walking out to the shed this morning, what a cutie! A perfect way to start my day.

On the way home from work I saw a lot of people out and about, enjoying the beautiful weather. I also noticed tons of caterpillars crawling on the road. They all had the same coloring, off-white with black spines and underbelly. I must have seen fifty of them in total. One little guy was crawling across the white line into car territory so I picked him up, put him in the pocket of my panniers, took a few pictures so I can figure out what kind of caterpillars would randomly start appearing in the middle of winter and then “using mainly spoons I dug a tunnel under the city and released him into the wild”.

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Little fuzzy next to a dime

 

To work (10 miles)
3:50 am to 4:45 am

Weather
39F, 5 mph West wind

I wore
Head: ear muffs
Torso: t-shirt
Hands: knit gloves
Legs: yoga pants
Feet: socks, sneakers

Comments: Good.

From work (10 miles)
3:10 pm to 4:10 pm

Weather
48F, 10 mph South wind

I wore
Head: ear muffs
Torso: t-shirt
Legs: yoga pants
Feet: socks, sneakers

Comments: Loved it!

Friday Commute

My first thought this morning upon opening the shed doors where I keep my bike was, “What is that smell?” Nothing wakes up your nose in the morning like the strong scent of rotting flesh.  Using my bike headlight I searched for the source of the stench. Seconds later my beam fell on the skull and  antlers of a deer. The skull was covered with the remains of muscles and tendons, bingo, culprit found.

I suppose it would be somewhat understandable if I was upset at finding a rotting skull a foot away from my bike at 3:55 in the morning. But getting upset was the furthest thing from my mind. You see, my neighbors gave me venison. I don’t care if I find blood on the ground, on the shed door, find dead deer or parts of dead deer in the shed or hanging up on trees outside because I got free meat. I win.

Now last week I proved that I can leave horses in the dust and today I again proved my bicycling chops. As I was biking home, I saw a black cow walking alongside of the road. She was walking with a swagger, obviously confident that I had no chance against her. But I showed her. I wish you could have seen me whiz past her like she was standing still. I won, no sweat. Bike 2, Livestock 0.

The weather we are having is insane, is winter just getting skipped this year? Almost all the snow is gone.

To work (10 miles)
3:55 am to 4:50 am

Weather
38F, 12 mph West wind

I wore
Head: ear muffs
Torso: long-sleeve t-shirt
Hands: knit gloves
Legs: yoga pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, sneakers

Comments: The rain pants were overkill but I wore them since the road was a little wet.

From work (10 miles)
3:05 pm to 3:55 pm

Weather
40F, 13 mph Southwest wind

I wore
Head: ear muffs
Torso: short- sleeved t-shirt
Legs: yoga pants
Feet: socks, sneakers

Comments: My lower arms and hands were slightly cold but I was loving the feel of the air too much to care.

Upper Body Update (week 3)

I am at my parent’s house for the next few days, cooking and baking up a storm and hanging out with my amazing family. Another perk of being up here is high-speed internet, hooray! No ten minute waiting sessions to load webpages! Super cool. So I decided to try my hand at making some graphs…they came out okay, at least you can get a visual representation of my progress. The third graph is the number of pushups I can do in one set without falling flat on my face.

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Monday Commute

I stayed an hour late at work today because we got rather busy in the afternoon. I didn’t realize what a wonderful blessing this was until I took to the road and noticed the sun setting in the horizon. I have never experienced sunset during my homebound commute before so it was a nice change of pace. While biking past a graveyard, I saw all the tombstones suddenly struck with a deep orange glow from the disappearing sun. It was tremendously beautiful. Is there some symbolic meaning behind that? A setting sun setting tombstones ablaze? I feel like there should be if there isn’t.

Because I had a long, busy day at work I countered that with a gentle bike ride home.

Until.

I was biking up a hill when I suddenly heard the sound of horseshoes on pavement. Turning to look behind me, I caught a glance of an Amish horse and buggy climbing up the hill behind me. Immediately my heart started to beat a little faster. You need to understand one thing. I own this road. This road is mine.

Belong

Since this is my road I have a sworn duty to not let any moving thing slower than a car pass me. As soon I heard the horse behind me my calm commute transformed into a race. Bike against buggy. My dignity, pride, honor and lots of other important things were at stake.

I was off like a rocket, daring the horse to try to overtake me. Poor equine, he didn’t have a chance, duh, this is my road. I pulled into my driveway, heart pounding, chest heaving, but proud of having asserted myself as master of my road.

To work (10 miles)
3:55 am to 4:55 am

Weather
20F, 9 mph Southeast wind

I wore
Head: rain jacket hood, balaclava
Torso: thin thermal undershirt, rain jacket
Hands: winter gloves
Legs: yoga pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots

Comments: Warmness

From work (10 miles)
4:10 pm to 5:05 pm

Weather
34F, 6 mph Southeast wind

I wore
Head: rain jacket hood, ear muffs
Torso: t-shirt, rain jacket
Hands: winter gloves
Legs: yoga pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots

Comments: I was quite overheated so I unzipped my jacket which helped a lot. I forgot to bring knit gloves with me, so I had to wear my winter gloves which made my hands sweat like crazy.

Saturday Commute

Last night I checked the weather forecast before heading to bed and saw that the temp was supposed to be about 20F. But this morning when I went outside to walk my dogs I really thought it felt colder than that. It was. At 11F, today’s commute clocks in at the second coldest of the season, hooray! I stayed warm though until I got to work and had to change into my frozen work clothes in the freezing cold bathroom.

My commute home was perfect. It was your classic winter afternoon, cold, clear, no wind and sunny with sparkling snow everywhere. I spotted 17 turkeys out enjoying the sunshine.

To work (10 miles)
3:40 am to 4:40 am

Weather
11F, 5 mph East wind

I wore
Head: rain jacket hood, balaclava
Torso: thin thermal undershirt, rain jacket
Hands: winter gloves, knit gloves
Legs: yoga pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots

Comments: I should have worn one more pair of pants as my legs got slightly cold.

From work (10 miles)
3:00 pm to 3:55 pm

Weather
22F, no wind

I wore
Head: rain jacket hood, balaclava
Torso: thin thermal undershirt, rain jacket
Hands: winter gloves
Legs: yoga pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots

Comments: Everything was awesome

Friday Commute

I am rather exhausted. I left my house yesterday at 6:30 am to bike up to my brother and sister-in-law’s house to babysit their three, two and one year olds. We had a great time together except for a slight mishap during story time.

The two year old came up to me and asked, “Read me a story?”

“What story should we read?” I asked.

He said, “Mother Goosey!”

So all four of us sat down together to read Mother Goose nursery rhymes. Because I am an awesome auntie I decided to switch the rhymes up a little to give them a bit of flavor. I might have changed “Five little monkeys jumping on the bed” to “Five green alligators jumping on the bed”.

“No, auntie, monkeys. Alligators don’t jump on the bed.” The three year old interrupted.

“Oh, I guess auntie was just being silly.” I said.

Two year old pipes up, “Yeah, that made me a little bit sad”. I suddenly notice he is almost to the point of tears.

Oops, auntie fail.

“Should I read it the right way?” I gently asked him.

“Yeah!” They both replied.

Aunties

My brother gave me a lift home because by the time I could leave it was already past my normal before work bedtime. So I had a full yet extremely fun day.

Then work today was really busy, which is good because it makes the day go by super fast but it also means I am feeling slightly drained. I think I will grab and shower, set out my gear for tomorrow and head to bed.

To work (10 miles)
3:45 am to 4:45 am

Weather
22F, 5 mph Northwest wind, freezing rain

I wore
Head: rain jacket hood, balaclava
Torso: thin thermal undershirt, rain jacket
Hands: winter gloves
Legs: yoga pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots

Comments: I felt warm even though my jacket turned into a sheet of ice.

From work (10 miles)
3:30 pm to 4:30 pm

Weather
22F, 5 mph West wind

I wore
Head: rain jacket hood, balaclava
Torso: thin thermal undershirt, rain jacket
Hands: winter gloves
Legs: yoga pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots

Comments: My hands sweated a lot.