Saturday, January 28, 2012

Saturday


I haven't got much to say.
We're busy playing and riding and making pancakes and inventing new cookie recipes and getting muddy and being lazy (yes, busy being lazy).
We're fighting colds and fighting battles and fighting boredom and fighting the winter blues (even though it's been mild one...so far).

Saturday, January 21, 2012

outnumbered




Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have a little girl...
I sure love my boys, though!

Nockamixon...yes, please.

My dad and I ventured out to Lake Nockamixon yesterday morning to explore the 10(ish) miles of mountain bike trails.
When we weren't gingerly picking our way through the icy spots, we rolled swiftly through thick hemlocks and tight, twisty trails.
Perfect trails for a frosty little adventure on the SS...while I sometimes covet a geared 29er, I really do love my Raleigh. Although the trails around Nockamixon are relatively flat, there are plenty of other interesting features to keep you engaged (swoopy turns, tight corners, fun stream crossings, and truly beautiful scenery).

It's been a tough week.
As always, I'm reminded that time on the bike, particularly in the woods, is the best remedy for stress.

By the way...looks like a few inches of snow fell here overnight.
Yay!
 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

winter warmers (some practical & unsolicited advice from a girl who likes the cold)


What works for me on windy days like this:
  • Toko gloves  The best...if you've stuck with this blog for a while, you've heard me extoll the virtues of these amazing gloves year after year. And I am still on the same pair...they're that durable and completely wind-proof. Not only do they keep my hands toasty on the road and the trails, they allow my fingers to remain nimble enough to wrangle GUs and Honey Stingers out of my jersey pockets.
  • Smartwool base layer (midweight) Worth every penny...breathable, warm, soft. Mine has tiny holes from brambles and several seasons of wear and tear, but it's still functional and I'm far from retiring this glorious staple.
  • Defeet Woolie Boolie socks (charcoal gray) My go-to sock for spring, winter, and fall...and they freaking last and last and last. Made in the good ol USA, these are the toastiest socks I've tried. I don't own winter mountain bike shoes, but my feet rarely get cold when I wear these. In extremely cold temps, I'll use chemical warmers in my shoes, but it has to be ridiculously frigid for me to resort to those. I also use Endura shoe covers on the trail occasionally (like in the dead of winter when there is snow on the ground and the temps are negative Billion degrees below Zero) or Craft shoe covers on the road.
  • Craft windproof beanie Another staple I've stuck with for years...a very comfortable fit under the helmet and keeps my little dome piece warm and not sweaty.
  • Sports Balm Medium embrocation...again, tried & true. I've dabbled with other warming balms, but Mad Alchemy leaves me crying for mercy in the shower and Greyhound Juice smells like...Greyhound Juice. A generous slather of Sports balm on the legs pre-ride gets the blood flowing and keeps that initial chill at bay, but the best part is after the ride. Following a nice hot shower and a swig of Nestle's Quik, you can't beat that lingering embro-warmth under some cozy flannel PJs and a cuddly down blanket. Makes for a damn fine well-deserved post-ride nap.  
  • Lastly, I must mention this little trick imparted by my wise former teammate...to prevent my bottles from freezing, I like to add a shot of Bombay Sapphire to my HEED (which, certainly has its own warming merits, too). 
With warm hands and feet, and something comfy covering my head, I find the rest is easy.

I like winter.
I don't like the shorter days and I don't like icy roads.
I do, however, like cold rides on frozen trails and snowshoeing and ice climbing and being snowed in and shoveling my ridiculous driveway and warming up with a hard-earned recovery Delirium and nights in with friends and a cozy fire and massive cups of hot tea and flannel sheets and bundling up and playing outside.
Happy Mid-January!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

another Sunday at French Creek...

Sadly, Red & White is a mess...uprooted trees everywhere, limbs snapped and hanging precariously at seemingly every turn.
Fifty-fifty ride as far as on the bike/off the bike.
Oddly, the first (and most fun) descent was totally clear, as was the last climb out (mercifully).
Can't beat the sound of knobby tires on frozen trails...makes a hard & cold day on the bike somehow better.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

the big boardwalk in the sky...

Last night I dreamed that my grandmom was selling french fries on the boardwalk...she was laughing and enjoying herself.
Hmmmm...she did work the french fry booth at the St.Denis fair every year. Maybe it's her part-time gig up there in Heaven.

Anyway.
I ate the one of the best meals of my life last night at Alba.
Maybe the best.
No exaggeration.

Perfect spot for a date or to share a table with a few friends...the ambiance was bustling, yet intimate. Lively, yet kinda romantic (though, that may have been the company...just sayin). 
For dinner, I chose the Spagetti alla Chittarra with peas and pork belly...so simple and perfect.
If you are in the area, just go.
And don't skip dessert because you'll miss out on the best, most simple cake you've ever eaten (vanilla ricotta pound cake...so light and moist and subtly sweet...I want it for our wedding cake and I want it for breakfast right now and every morning for the rest of my life).

What else?
I ran yesterday.
To switch things up.
After fifteen million billion hours on the bike last week, it felt good to run.
Actually, no...nothing about it felt good.
Because running sucks.
Unless it takes place in the woods.
Running is stupid.
Looking forward to a long, cold balaclava ride tomorrow.
Bring it, old man winter...I ain't scurred.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

this week (thursday is my friday)

Highs:
  • Exchanging an ill-fitting Christmas gift for a super-cute steel gray Michael Stars wrap & sparkly bracelet
  • trying mat pilates with Janice...holy sh*t, what a kickass class...can't wait for the next one!
  • beginning to map out the fast-approaching race season ahead of me (another journey to Stewart State Forest on the horizon...word)  
  • coaxing Max to eat something new (in return, I had to try ketchup for him...ewwww, gross gross gross...I knew there was a reason I've gone thirty-six years not knowing what I was "missing") 
  • listening to my kid read and watching his confidence grow (BOB books, you plain old rule
  • taking part in Tuesday's impromptu dance party
  • sitting down to a relaxing noisy, laughter-filled dinner night after night with BSW and Max
Lows:
  • believing the beady-eyed "meteorologist" when he promised sunny skies and sixty degrees today

Monday, January 9, 2012

"homemades"



You can start this at 3:30/4:00 and easily have homemade pasta by 6.
(with plenty of time for a glass of wine, Lego shenanigans, and Sunday relaxation in between)

For my way (via Erma Perna and Lidia Bastianich), gather these supplies:
Food Processor (though you certainly can mix it by hand, but lately I'm not a fan of blowing up my entire kitchen with my usual mess-making chaotic ways)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 C Olive Oil
3(ish) T water
2 large eggs
yields 1 lb pasta (I always make two batches separately, rather than double the recipe and it yields enough pasta to generously feed four hungry adults and one picky kid)

How to:
Aerate your flour quickly in food processor (use regular blade attachment...it's only one small batch, so the dough attachment is excessive and unnecessary)
Whisk together eggs and olive oil in a spouted measuring cup
Add tepid water to measuring cup (you should have about 8 fluid ounces of egg/oil/water total)
Turn on processor and quickly pour liquid mixture into the flour
Within seconds, you should have a ball of sticky pasta dough wildly churning in the processor...
Don't process more than half a minute. If the dough is crumbly or doesn't form into a ball, add some water and a touch of oil.
Remove dough from processor & briefly knead it with generously floured hands on a clean, floured surface (don't go crazy kneading...just form it into a nice elastic mound and place in a covered mixing  bowl to rest).
Dough should be at room temp when you roll it out for the pasta (and only needs to rest for about twenty minutes...it's not rising or anything)
I haven't used a pasta "machine" to roll my dough, so I can't tell you how to do that.
This is my way with a rolling pin and floured counter-top:
Divide dough into 4 pieces
Roll into thin sheets (almost translucent...this takes a little patience and a tiny bit of practice)
Fold your flat sheet inward into thirds, cut pasta with sharp knife into desired width of pasta.
*Note: it helps to lightly flour both sides of your sheet of pasta before folding and cutting* 
I arrange mine on clean clothes hangers to dry until ready for use (which is pretty much immediately)

Cooking your "homemades"
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, add about 3 T kosher salt
Cook pasta to desired doneness (about 5 minutes does the trick, but try it and cook a bit longer if you wish)

The rest is up to you, but I like to make a quick pan sauce with tomato puree, tomato paste (the tube kind), fresh basil, a few spoons of your pasta water, and a few cloves of garlic...so easy and awesome.

It's only recently that I've delved into homemade pasta territory, but the results have been great. This particular recipe and method was adapted from the aforementioned Lidia, but there are so many ways to modify and personalize it.
Although my grandmom used a machine to sometimes roll out her dough, I find it to be so meditative and relaxing to stretch and roll it myself.
Especially with Diego Garcia crooning in the background a glass of red wine.
Just sayin. 

   

Saturday, January 7, 2012

sixty degrees...oh, and Facebook


Insane weather today.
In-sane.
January 7th and we're noodling around in the woods with shorts and bare arms...what the?
In three short months, we are getting married and the excitement is brimming.
Wedding stuff is creeping into my dreams and I guess I should be stressed, but I'm giddy instead.

With roughly ninety days to go, I am stepping off the Facebook grid.
It's positively embarrassing how much time I spend lurking/creeping/zoning out...guys, I'm not social-networking. I am straight-up creepin...I am procrastinating and getting lost looking at photos of people and places that don't exist in my real life. So freaking weird.
Isn't it so awkward when you see a FB "friend" in real life & you don't even acknowledge each other?
Or has this only happened to me?
I love keeping in touch with my far-flung friends and relatives...I love seeing pictures of their new babies and honeymoons and holidays and all that good stuff, but I've got sh*t to do.
They'll find me, I'll find them...it's all good.

So, yeah.
Sixty degrees.
Fun day on the bikes with BSW...
Winter is going to hurt so much when it finally arrives.
Or are we skipping it?

Friday, January 6, 2012

2012


photo courtesy of BSW NYE Champagne Ride
 Here's to:
Getting hitched in the woods
Racing bikes
Adventuring
Lazing on a pretty beach somewhere
Keeping in touch
Sticking to the plan
Being present
Staying healthy

In other words, the important stuff.
Six days in and all is well...
Cheers.