28 February 2013

February #everydayonabike Review

Riding in February has been quite a trip! I have experienced beautiful days (wearing shorts, no less!), snow, ice, wind and just about everything in between. About a week ago, I thought I was only going to miss two days of riding due to weather and out-of-town trips. Then one snow storm hit. And then another hit two days later. It was warm enough to ride today, but the streets are still a bit treacherous.

I broke a few rules this month. To document two of my rides, I didn't post a picture of my bike. Rather, I posted photos of the destination (a fundraiser and a Valentine's Day party). But since I rode to those events, I figured it was OK. And, with the snow on the ground, I have improvised on the days when I couldn't ride. On Monday and Wednesday Lila and I couldn't ride to school to pick Benny up, so we opted to walk instead. And it was really nice. And it's not a bad thing to walk, so I figured I'd include one photo of our walk-instead-of-ride picture.

Despite the challenges of the weather, February was a great month to ride! Here's the review:

45 photos posted // 20 photos tagged by others // 25 photos tagged by me // 7 contributors

Thanks to everyone who contributed this month! Between January and February, 97 photos have been tagged, so I'm well on my way to collecting 365 photos in two short months. 

@runbobbierun // @shaggybrownie // @cathope // @familyride 
@emfritz // @simplybike // @ashleynicoleaddison

Congratulations to @runbobbierun for winning the $10 gift card to Whole Foods. Email me your address and I'll put the gift card in the mail for you!

In the next few days, I'll be profiling a committed #everydayonabike poster. And, I'll introduce the unofficial theme and drawing for March, so stay tuned.

24 February 2013

Snowday Schmoday

I have a feeling that my #everdayonabike posts for the remainder of February are going to be pretty sparse. After experiencing a very mild winter so far, we were hit with a snowstorm on Thursday and another one today. We were able to take a family bike ride to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science on Saturday afternoon and enjoyed a gorgeous sunset before heading home.

Side note: Thanks so much to Casey at Life with Roozle for featuring #everdayonabike on her site this weekend! I've been "meeting" so many cool people through this challenge and I'm not even through the second month. Once the weather is more bike friendly, I hope to meet many more.

The snow started on Saturday evening and hasn't let up yet. It's the closest we've experienced to blizzard conditions all winter, but we still attempted some sledding. Lila made it down the hill three times and was ready to call it quits. Benny would have stayed much longer, but we bribed him with hot cocoa. No kid can resist hot cocoa.

After some much needed naps, Benny and I ventured out on his new snowshoes. He only made it to the end of the block, but seemed to catch onto the process pretty quickly. I walked back home with him and then set off on my own hike. The city was so peaceful this afternoon and it was a rare treat to be out by myself, save for a few people shoveling their sidewalks.

We finished the weekend with butternut squash (from the garden!) pizza. I'm a pizza purest (tomatoes, basil, mozzarella), so it was a little out of my comfort zone, but everyone else seemed to love it. Thanks to {never} homemaker for the recipe! Benny and Lila helped me make homemade brownies for dessert.

Typically we don't spend the entire weekend together as a family, but this weekend was a nice change of pace. Although I've been busy with work, I was able to clean the house and make a few decent meals. I was also motivated to finish preparing two lectures, which is something I typically can't get completed over the weekend.

It seems that a snowday was just what we all needed to slow down and recharge.

20 February 2013

New Goals, New Bike?

Let me start with a caveat: I like my bike. It's a good bike and perfect for my biking habits. I ride anywhere from 2-10 miles daily - often pulling a trailer. My Cannondale road hybrid is comfortable and fast. Nate gave me that bike for my birthday nearly five years ago and couldn't have picked out a better fit.

However, as I'm biking more and farther (specifically farther), I'm starting to wonder if a new/used, faster bike would be more suitable to my needs. I'm clueless when it comes to bikes and their strengths/weaknesses. Obviously I know that I don't want a mountain bike, but I don't necessarily need a super fast road bike either.

I can schedule most of my meetings within a five-mile radius of my house. When that works out, I'm lucky. But, there's the matter of one of my long-term clients having an office about seven (hilly) miles away. Within the next few months, I'd like to incorporate a bike ride to our monthly meetings. Additionally, although this is only relevant for the next three weeks, the University of Denver is eight miles away. I would still like to ride to class at least once, but riding to and from a night class in rush hour in the dark doesn't sound appealing. So, I'm a bit stalled until I'm assigned a new class in the fall (hopefully).

That's where you come in: For those of you who ride, what would you recommend for slightly longer commutes? I'm hoping to find something used - either at our neighborhood bike shop or on Craigslist. But recommendations are certainly welcome!

17 February 2013

February by Bike

Capturing the long shadows of winter // Riding Benny and Lila home from school with Bingo the Bear
Enjoying a new coffee shop away from home // Incorporating a bike ride with a date night

By and large, February has been a fantastic month to ride. So far, I've ridden every day but two (one day was too cold to ride and the other I was out of town). I've discovered that riding in 20-degree weather isn't so bad and riding at night isn't so bad either.

Don't forget, if you want to participate in #everydayonabike, just take a picture of yourself before, during or after a bike ride and post it on Instagram with the tag of #everydayonabike. Do it in February and you'll be entered to win a $10 gift card to Whole Foods.

13 February 2013


Every year, at around this time, I come down with something. It makes me tired and grouchy. I feel busy all of the time and under-prepared for everything. It's a classic case of overcommitter-itis. Every year I swear that I'll cut back on activities in the late winter/early spring. And every year I find myself committing to more, volunteering for more and just generally doing more. You'd think I'd learn, right? Nope - it's back again this year.

In the course of a week I find myself volunteering in Benny's classroom, attending meetings for work, going to class, helping organize a fundraiser for Benny and Lila's daycare... Plus, I only have Lila in daycare twice a week. Pile on self-imposed Valentine's tasks and I'm running on fumes this week. Meanwhile, laundry (clean and dirty) is piling up. Dinners are growing increasingly simplistic. My attention is mediocre at best.

In addition to time management skills, I fear I need to learn how to say "no" more often. Instead of volunteering to do something because I feel compelled, let someone else take on the responsibility (and not get too caught up in the details).

With that said, I'm pretty proud of a save-the-date I designed for said fundraiser. Don't know if it's the one we'll use and it's not the best example of my design skills, but I'm still pretty proud of it!

Watcha think?

11 February 2013

(Reluctant) Homemade Love

I am not crafty or arty or in any way good with my hands. Yet, for some reason, I find myself making homemade stuff for my kids for every single holiday. I chalk it up to sheer stubbornness with a dash of frugality thrown in. Whether it's Halloween costumes...

Or gifts for the kids' teachers...

... I find myself with big plans and little talent. Sure, things always work out OK and I don't waste much, which is the whole point. The last thing I want to do is acquire more plastic and synthetic stuff or, even worse, send someone else home with it. The real reason I do this to myself is because I feel like all of the holidays we celebrate have become too commercialized. It's so easy to get caught up with buying things and I want my kids to experience holidays in a way that emphasizes more than just buying things. They're about sharing something with a community - whether that's an extended family or a classroom or a neighborhood. And putting in a little effort guarantees that the gift or costume or note will be unique and special. I can't tell you how many compliments we received regarding the holiday jam!

So, when it came time to think about the valentines that Benny and Lila would share with their friends, there was no debate about making them at home. The idea of melting crayons appealed to my cheap factor (we have an overabundance of them around here) as well as my don't-send-them-home-with-something-that-they-can't-use-up factor. Granted, the melted crayons will likely get thrown away, but we are re-using them, so at least we won't have to throw them away. Then I remembered that when I was making the holiday jam lids for Christmas presents, I bought a bunch of nice colored card stock for under $5. There was plenty left for over 40 (yikes!) valentines. Cha-ching.

The really great thing about this idea? Benny was totally invested and helped peel the crayons, helped arrange them in the muffin pans and signed his name. When we finished today, he declared, "These turned out pretty well!" 

Here's how I did it:
  • Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees
  • Peel the paper off (a lot) of crayons and break them into small pieces
  • Arrange a variety of pieces in a nonstick or silicon muffin pan (there are all sorts of cool shapes out there, but I couldn't find anything on short notice)
  • Bake for 10 minutes
  • Let sit for about 20 minutes - or until completely cooled.
  • Pop out with a knife.

We'll see how Benny's classmates receive the love notes. I figure this is the last year I can make the same valentines cards for both Benny and Lila without receiving some serious flak from them, so I'm taking complete advantage of the situation.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Hike Dates

For the past two years and change, Nate and I have been bad about going on dates and focusing on our relationship. I'll blame it on the two-kid syndrome. We didn't always feel comfortable leaving a young baby/toddler with a sitter. Compound that with little energy and a "dating" rut, and we haven't made many romantic overtures over the past two years.

Beginning this year, we are committed to going on a date at least once a month (more if possible). In January, we took a hike date. This month, we were planning a night out and then got a last-minute offer for a sitter during the day yesterday. We grabbed that offer and we drove up to the mountains and snowshoed damn near close to the Continental Divide. It reminded me of the days pre-kid when we hiked and went out to dinner and played cards and generally spent quality time together.

On Friday we're taking advantage of a parents' night out event at Benny's daycare to celebrate Valentine's Day at one of our favorite restaurants in Denver. I'm already salivating!

10 February 2013

Sunday Scones

After a long run of pancakes on Sunday mornings, we're starting to try some new dishes. A few weeks ago, I experimented with French toast. Today, I made Oatmeal and Cranberry Scones. When we were in Iowa a few weeks ago, a friend made us this recipe for breakfast. The kids and Nate and I fell head over heels for these scones. Thanks to some major modifications by Matty J. (said friend), the scones are dynamite!

Oatmeal and Cranberry Scones
(adapted significantly from Epicurious)


1/2 cup craisins
2 tbsp. Triple Sec or Citronage

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cups oatmeal
1/4 cup cane sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1/5 tsp. salt

1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup applesauce
1/3 cup milk
1 egg, whipped


The night before, cut the craisins in half and soak them in the liquor. Drain the excess liquor before adding to the scones.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix all of the dry ingredients. Mix the wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and then fold in the craisins. Shape dough into a ball and place on a small piece of waxed paper. Pat into a large circle. Cut into 12 pieces with a sharp knife and sprinkle top with sugar. Transfer to a cookie sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes.

We paired the scones with freshly juiced apples, oranges, carrots, grapefruit and ginger, locally made sausages and fried eggs. Benny has declared himself the scone monster and insists that he will eat any scone that crosses his path. He's not kidding either.

07 February 2013

Cloth Diapering // The FINAL Review

I have been engaged in some sort of cloth diapering for roughly five years. That's a lot of years of hauling dirty diapers downstairs to wash. A lot of years of soaking stinky poopy diapers in the toilet. A lot of years of leaky diapers and wet clothes.

BUT, despite my negative attitude lately, I loved cloth diapering my kids. They looked adorable in cloth diapers. We saved money. We threw away less trash. And for all of those things, I am thankful. I wrote a series of posts about cloth diapering awhile ago focusing on the benefits and the drawbacks.

Although I know cloth diapering isn't for everyone, I'm glad the re-usable diapers have made a come back in recent years. Five and a half years ago, a handful of companies made cloth diapering systems - the most popular of which was Fuzi Bunz. We bought 18 medium-sized diapers and a pale. For the first three months after Benny was born, we used a diapering service since the diapers we bought didn't fit (we didn't want to invest in small diapers since he would only be in them for a few months). We followed the same plan for Lila.

Now there are hundreds of cloth diapering systems - all of which are probably better than the diapers we used.

With Benny, we noticed that he leaked a lot when he slept in the cloth diapers, so we used disposable at night. We also used disposable while traveling. Since our night-time and travelling system worked well for us, we did the same thing with Lila. It's not that we're completely opposed to disposables, but we used far less than we would have otherwise.

I would recommend cloth diapers to any new parents. I used them when I stayed at home with the kids and when I worked full-time. Other than the whole "handling human waste" issue, the positives outweigh the negatives!

The Potty Chronicles // Slow and Steady

Hot diggity dog. I think we've had a major breakthrough with Lila and potty training. The difference: She has fully embraced wearing underwear and being a big girl. She wakes up in the morning and requests underwear. She has been wearing underwear full-time (minus nap and night time) for a week and a half now. We've had a handful of accidents, but those seem to be decreasing. One of the biggest breakthroughs is Lila's willingness to sit on a big toilet rather than her potty training toilet. We couldn't really let her wear underwear out and about before since she refused to sit on anything but the potty training toilet. This week, Lila is wearing underwear to daycare, which is a big step. So far, so good.

After five and a half years of washing and folding and dealing with cloth underwear, I've packed up the diapers and the pale and all of the other accessories to give away. Just as soon as I buy some book shelves, I'll sell the changing table on Craigslist. This slow and steady means my baby girl is transitioning into a big girl. Bittersweet feelings from this mama (although, don't get me wrong, it feels very good to be finished with diapers!).

05 February 2013

Bike Nut

Have you noticed that I'm a little obsessed with biking lately? And that might be an understatement. Since starting the #everydayonabike challenge, I'm typically preoccupied in the morning with how I can get on my bike at least once a day (some days I'm able to squeeze in two or three rides). Today I rode to the post office. I didn't have to ride to the post office, but I'm glad that I knocked that errand out of the way. Then Nate and the kids got home at dusk. The temps still hovered around 55 degrees (in February!), so we went for a quick 2-mile ride before dinner.

You can't see my bare legs (you're welcome),
but I'm riding in shorts.  In February.

Having an obsession with bikes has also made me take notice of  stories and other bike-friendly things, like these two articles in The Atlantic Cities:

It's nice to have validation other than my own personal smugness about this adventure. And that it can benefit my kids too, well, all the better.

More exciting news about #everydayonabike soon. Until then, don't forget to post your pictures on Instagram and tag them for a chance to win a $10 Whole Foods gift card! Show me your bike love this month.

03 February 2013

Supper Bowl III

We don't get too excited about football around here. Up until Thursday, I didn't even know which teams made it to the Super Bowl - although I did know that the Broncos did not qualify after a disappointing (or so I heard) playoff game. For the third year in a row, we had dinner at a great vegetarian restaurant in Denver. I love Supper Bowl Sunday because the restaurant is DEAD. We spent over an hour and a half there (a record for us) and didn't worry too much when Benny started yelling "Weiner dog!" and laughing maniacally. It's a long story. And we exited the restaurant shortly after that.

For reference, here are pictures of the kids from last year.

Benny did seem a little upset that we weren't watching the Super Bowl this year - because kids at school were talking about it. He decided to root for the 49ers because he's been to California. I'm not sure which team won and I'm guessing he'll forget about it tomorrow. His disappointment was cured by a homemade ho ho cupcake. It's rare that we get dessert at dinner, so the Supper Bowl has it's own benefits.

I'm struck by how much has changed in one short year. Benny is now a kindergartner. He can read. He's made all sorts of new friends. Lila is talking and carrying on conversations. She can skillfully drink from straws. She's making significant progress with potty training (no wet pants today!). Nate has a new job. I'm halfway through my second year of teaching. I've started working with four new clients.

I think this is a tradition worth continuing!

01 February 2013

Share Your Bike Love

Happy February! Share your bike love this month by posting a picture of your bike on Instagram by tagging it with #everydayonabike.

This month, if you post a photo for the challenge, you'll be entered to win a $10 gift card to Whole Foods. The more photos you post, the more times you're entered into the drawing! Happy, happy riding!