Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Biking in the Black and the Red

Eugenia Polina graphic
As mentioned, I got some new cycling gear for Christmas, much of it to help me schlep stuff (or my bike) to and fro.  The ladyfriend bought me the Southwest Waxed Canvas Bike Suit Bag from Two Wheel Gear, which I had waxed (yes, a pun) poetic about both on this blog and in person.  I'm a little bummed that I won't be able to put it into action immediately as my teaching schedule this coming term has eliminated my overnight stay (sigh).  Nevertheless, I'm ready to go when I need to!

My parents (okay, my dad for the most part) took over the other cycling desires like this merino wool jersey (in red) as well as a saddle/handlebar bag and the aforementioned frame handle.  Yes, I'm psyched about riding again and ready for my commute (will still be riding to and from the train station once a week).

But while I'm looking forward to more cycling, Iva Jean, makers of everyday/wearable cycling clothes for women, are closing their doors after five years.  I'd initially found them through a Kickstarter campaign to fund some new designs - I'd really liked the merino wool racer back tunic with zippered pockets -
but it never went into production.  It's too bad when small, independent companies can't make it.  Clearly one person can't save a company (unless they're fabulously wealthy, I guess), but it brings home the need to support these kinds of makers (all the clothes had been manufactured in Seattle) in whatever way we can.

In the meantime, we can just keep cycling.

Monday, December 29, 2014

On My Mind Mondays: In the Midst of the Holidays

Our Christmas celebrations were great.  There seemed to be a dearth of anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed/underprepared.  Our cats have even decided (after a few discouraging sprays with the water bottle) to leave the tree alone although Mulberry has been after all and any baked goods:  German gingerbread cookies, fruitcake, fortune cookies, etc.  I think he's doing me a small service by requiring that I dispense of the mauled carbohydrates. 
  1. Food and fermentation:  I got Sandor Katz's The Art of Fermentation for Christmas, and I'm reading Dan Barber's The Third Plate.  Yesterday (a glorious day for so many reasons), I started some kefir (some of which I drank today) and some kombucha.  Yep!  I'm getting cultured!  I find that these two books really work with the whole wabi-sabi philosophy (also got Leonard Koren's Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets, & Philosophers for Christmas).  It's good reading for a new year.
  2. The new year and a plan:  Despite my desire to continue the bliss of yesterday (reading, cooking, crafting, sigh), I did some schoolwork today, which just reminds me that the luxury of time that I'm experiencing right now is about to come to an end.  But I'm looking for balance (again...always) and am going to work on a new framework/schedule for the coming year.  This time, however, I plan to have both a weekly guide as well as a yearly guide.  I want to think about some of the ways I can spread my work out throughout the year, and when I say "work" in this context, I mean both writing and creating.  I have a lot of ideas, and I think that with a more global view of the year, I might be able to find the time to engage in more of my activities.  
  3. Crafting:  I managed to do quite a bit over the last year, thanks to my PiC and our year-long challenge (which I hope to give a year-end review of here soon), and just the other day, I went to the studio and whipped up a wrap-around skirt from Chic and Simple Sewing.  I also received this excellent pattern with money for fabric for my birthday from my mother-in-common-law, and I hope to make that soon.  But wait, there's more!  I've also joined the 15 in 2015 hat challenge from Stash and Burn. I made two hats in December (allowable for the challenge) and am ready for another one.  All this is to say,  I'm hoping to continue my hardcore crafting over the year.  There's lots to make!
  4. Cycling:  Of course!  I'm back on my bike now - yay!  My knee is much improved, and I'm going to test it out at shinny (pick-up hockey for my American friends) on Friday.  It hasn't been very cold, but it's supposed to drop down tonight, and I have the feeling that'll be the end of our mild spell.  As soon as the snow comes, I'm putting the studded tires on.  I also got some great cycling gear for the holidays (which I'll save for another post).  Whoo-hoo!
  5. Blogging:  Sure, I haven't kept up with my Friday posts on what I've read, eaten, seen, and what-not on the internet, but the intention is still there.  I hope to continue with regular posts throughout the week and will, yes, schedule them in my weekly framework.
  6.  The finessing:  My newly renovated office is giving me such pleasure (yes, another post with lots of images) that my curating and organizing impulses are bleeding into other areas - even my computer desktop.  One area that I've started to work on is the fridge.  I'm dumping items that we don't use (or didn't buy in some cases) as well as engaging in my personal project of using the last inch of jam in numerous jam jar.  There's just enough to top a few jars of homemade yogurt.

Monday, December 22, 2014

On My Mind Mondays: A New Kind of Holiday Season

Ah, the Monday before Christmas, the day after solstice.  We're looking forward to things settling down a bit before we get back to it in January.  In the meantime, there are things occupying the frontal lobe (whether that's anatomically correct or not).
  1. New holiday traditions:  I have probably mentioned that our family decided during our last get-together for the holidays to not require anyone to travel anywhere for Christmas.  I'd been looking forward to starting some of our own traditions although it's hard for us not to have the boy here with us.  Last night we had a Solstice party, which was a lot of fun.  I'd had ideas about how I wanted the party to go, but in the end, I just decided to let it be, and let my friends celebrate the season in whatever way they saw fit.  With the few remaining guests, we lit sparklers at midnight in our backyard.  I think I'll keep that "ritual."
  2. Longstanding traditions:  My parents sent us a package with gifts and lots of great German chocolate.  I do not have a Bunte Teller here - a festive plate where my goodies go (my parents have one for me at their house), so I'm looking at our collection of vintage serving platters to see if there's a smaller one I can use.  Who knew I'd miss having my own Bunte Teller?  The other major tradition I have is that we eat potato salad and wursts on Christmas Eve* and then open our presents.  The ladyfriend may have complicated that plan by making plans with another friend, but I think we've gotten it back on track.  I did say that I'd consider moving the potato salad meal to Boxing Day, but I'm hoping that's not necessary.
  3. Too many "sale" emails:  I've found myself unsubscribing from email lists almost daily because I'm tired of the appeals to buy, buy, buy, and more, more, more.  Sure, some of them I read and consider (Alabama Chanin is having a sale after Christmas...hmmmm), but for the most part I resent what feels like a desperate cry to shop and consume.  I just sent off the boy's holiday gift, which means I'm essentially done!  Yay!  I'd just like a little reprieve from the solicitations.
  4. My newly organized and cleaned office:  It's been a long time coming, but I finally managed to make my tiny office on the main floor (I have two "half" offices - spaces that are shared with other objects or purposes) work.  I got a shelf from Ikea, and now I have places to put things.  We moved a chair from the living room into it (ostensibly to make room for the Christmas tree), and I love sitting in it and just looking at my books or knitting.  I'm hoping that I can find a chair to replace this one after the holidays.  It's amazing how a fresh and organized space can do so much for you.
  5. A gift for the reader:  Here's the recipe for the punch I made last night.  I love that the printout has my writing, in blue highlighter, saying "Yummy."  It is, but let me warn you - it can sneak up on you.

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Love Between a Girl and Her Bike Shop

A number of weeks ago I went to my local bike shop, Downtown Bike Hounds, to pick up some studded tires for winter.  Unfortunately they didn't have my size (700x35) and said they'd order them for me.  I came back the next week, but the order hadn't shipped.  The next week I got a call that said they still weren't in.  I stopped in again the following week, and then I decided I'd wait for them to call me.  Frankly, it was fine.  I'd injured my MCL and there really hadn't been much snow, so I could wait.

Today they called.  Apparently everyone's buying studded tires, which is great and also explained the difficulty they had in getting them in.   The tires were in, but they were a notch up from the ones I'd planned to buy.  Nonetheless, because I'd been so patient, they sold me the tires for the price they would've sold the others to me.  The price difference was not insignificant.  I was so excited that I raced over there and picked them up!
My MCL sprain is getting better; I've been riding the recumbent bike at physio and am thinking about taking Topaz (you remember my bike's name, right?) out for a spin next week before I put the new tires on.  I'm so grateful to Downtown Bike Hounds for taking care of me.  I'll think of them every time I ride through the snow.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Feel Me, Eat Me, Watch Me, Read Me

Absence makes the heart grow fonder?  Hope so because I've been pretty absent this week.  The good news is that I'm done grading and will have a little space to breathe, think, craft, and blog. 

I like to listen to podcasts, when I remember they exist, and one of my current favourites is Stash and Burn.  There are many reasons to like it - from the cool name to the Sleater-Kinney intro song to the feeling of just hanging out with your knitting buddies.  I always get pattern suggestions from them, and I'm seriously considering joining their 15 Hats in 2015 knit-a-long/challenge (check out their group on Ravelry).  Check out their latest podcast here.

I've had a serious lack of imagination when it has come to dinner this week, but I'm feeling my cooking mojo coming back.  On the menu for next week is Crock Pot Green Enchilada Soup.  I'm going to use a combination of corn (non-GMO corn that I froze from the summer) and hominy instead of all corn.

Here's a shout-out to my father's biking friends who really like this blog best when it deals with bikes. Hey, I can't blame them.  I'm missing my bike right now because I'm still recovering from the MCL sprain although I did ride the recumbent at physio for five minutes today.  It felt like a small victory!

The Online Bicycle Museum has lots of great vintage images as well as information on vintage bikes.

The LA Times did an article in September (but I just found out about it) on a mobile library called the Feminist Library on Wheels (F.L.O.W.).  Bicycles, feminism, and books?  What an awesome idea.

Finally, back to the crafting zone.  In my Pinterest gazing, I came along this handy tip for adjusting the tension on your sewing machine.  I've got some plans to sew some fussy fabrics soon, and this will probably help me.

So, that's about the size of it for this week.  Enjoy your weekend!  I hope you have lots of crafting, eating, and merry-making ahead of you.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Feel Me, Eat Me, Read Me, See Me - Weekend (aka late) Edition

It's been a busy week, so perhaps the offerings today are a bit meager.  But nonetheless, I persist and have a few things to share.

Starting with food, I think that peppermint pretzel marshmallow fudge from Joy the Baker has a rather festive ring to it.

Lovely Bicycle had an interesting post on how people often assume things about the character of a cyclist based on the type of bike they ride.  If you're feeling creative, you might want to try your hand at a poem to win an owl on a bicycle print.

Clearly the Two Wheel Gear's Bike Suit bag is making the rounds; Momentum Mag posted a profile of it here.

Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Share the Ride?

While I really wish there were a comma between "ride" and "and," I think this card hits the mark.  You can see (and email) this and other clever cards here.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

(Insert Adjective) + (Name of a Day of the Week)

Yes, we've had Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and now it's Giving Tuesday.  Well, at least one day gets designated for generosity and non-product-based support (let's coin it as NPB-support).  I generally try to ignore all these, but I've recently been enthralled by the videos and message of the I Am What's Underneath project and plan to support their Kickstarter campaign.

This could be a gift that keeps giving.

Monday, December 1, 2014

On My Mind Mondays: There's Always Something

Sure, Monday is winding down, but I've still got a little over six hours left.  Frankly, I'm just tired today, but of course, there are some things occupying the grey matter.
  1. Injury:  First and foremost, I'm hoping that the MCL sprain I sustained in my hockey game yesterday heals quickly.  I've never had a knee injury before, and I don't need to start having issues now.  I've been working on upping my activity, and I'm not the most patient person when it comes to injuries; however, I also know that I'll only make it worse by rushing it.  Nonetheless, my physiotherapist didn't rule out me playing hockey on Sunday.
  2. Why people do or don't read my blog:  Sure, I was going to say "Why people do or don't read blogs" to make it less personal, but who do we think I'm talking about?  This came up when the ladyfriend's mother, whom she recently visited, chastised her for not following my blog.  After reading a number of my posts (going all the way back to September...really?), she said, "You learn a lot more about you from your blog than you might in person" (says the woman I've been with for over 20 years).  I suppose I (kind of) understand why the ladyfriend doesn't keep up with my posts, but it is interesting to ponder what makes people, and my friends, stop by and either continue to read or not, and what they might be missing by not reading (sometimes pointed remarks directed at them - hah!).  I'm thinking about writing a piece called, "Why You Should Read Your Friend's Blog."
  3. The ongoing refinement of my wardrobe:  I pulled one of my favourite books, Cheap Chic, off the shelf this weekend and fell in love with it again.  I had listened to Marketplace before that and they'd had a brief interview with Sarah Lazarovic whose recent book A Bunch of Pretty Things I Didn't Buy has just come out.  She was talking about what it meant to take a break from shopping even if one wasn't a classic shopaholic.  There were things that rang true for me, such as trawling eBay or Shopgoodwill for funky necklaces or vintage hats or whatever (definitely something I'm guilty of - ask my parents, where all my packages go).  But what I realized in both listening to her interview and reviewing Cheap Chic is that I'm not necessarily interested in whittling down my wardrobe to the bare essentials but in making the things I own work together happily and idiosyncratically.  I will probably always have a lot of shoes.  That's just the way it is.  I like shoes.  I like clothes, but what I don't like is mindless buying because it's a new season or I'm bored or I have money burning a hole in my pocket.  I'm into refinement, and the refinement continues.