The Ins and Outs of an Ordinary Life

Friday, November 28, 2008

Pay it Forward

I posted a ride on the club ride board for today, the "After the Pumpkin Pie, Pay it Forward" ride. The "after the pumpkin pie" part is obvious, you know, burn off all the extra calories consumed yesterday in the name of being thankful. But I also made a unilateral decision that any miles ridden between Thanksgiving and December 31 can be logged as 2009 miles. That's the "pay it forward" part. I looked at this as an opportunity to get a head start on putting in the mileage to be a better cyclist in 2009. I actually had 4 people come out to join me on what turned out to be a really beautiful day. The temp was already 42 degrees when we headed out, and the sun was shining. Our group of 5 rode 28 miles, along the shores of the reservoirs and past the horse farms in the northern county. With a headband under my helmet, and fuzzy gloves and socks, I was very comfortable. You have to be more motivated to get out there, but once you get moving, its fine! I really enjoy riding through the seasons. I have learned to appreciate the beauty of the subdued landscape, the shades of brown against the blue water, and the softer light of a sun that never rises very high in the sky. It was great day to be on a bike and I am thankful that a few other hearty riders came out to share the day with me. This is the winter pre-season at its best!

Family Time

Yesterday I spent Thanksgiving with my family-- DH and our 2 sons, my brother, sister-in-law and 2 nieces, and my mom (she came up from Florida). My sister-in-law is a fantastic cook and baker and prepares a Thanksgiving extravaganza. We ate in 3 "sittings"-- soup and salad -- then rest -- main meal -- then rest -- and dessert. And we all spent the rest time playing cards and board games. My brother and I both have memories of playing Michigan Rummy with our family, so we taught the kids how to play. It was hilarious. Son #2 is so much a member of the video generation, that he did not know how to shuffle a deck of cards or fan out the cards in his hand so he could see all of them. It's amazing how excited every one got when they played a money card and got a little pile of plastic poker chips! Then after dinner we played Cranium. DH and I were a team, and we got stuck on Creative Cat for most of the game! Do you have any idea how hard it is to draw an angel with your eyes closed! or draw a flying buttress. It was pretty funny listening to my brother hum Like a Virgin (Madonna). It was just so much fun to all be sharing this time together. I hope the 4 cousins will always have this memory and build on it for many years to come.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Return of WPS

WPS -- Winter Pre-Season.
Rather than wait for the new year to make resolutions and set goals, I prefer to start this process on the winter solstice. After all, the solstice marks a natural turning point, as daylight hours begin to increase. And having a plan in place on December 21 makes it a little easier to get through the feeding frenzy between Christmas and New Years Day.
And so I am announcing the beginning of WPS -- the Winter Pre-Season. I feel like I have let my good habits fall away and I am having difficulty being consistent about anything other than being inconsistent. Instead of focusing on eliminating my bad habits, I am going to spend the next 4 weeks focusing on building in the good habits. Clean eating. Food prep. Exercise diversity. Masters Swim Team. Time with people I love. Drinking water. Reading. Flossing!
Building on good habits forces out the bad habits, without really trying! With a solid foundation, I can put a realistic plan in place to achieve my goals for the coming year. I'm already thinking about those goals, too, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Right now I have to fill my water bottle!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Winter Ride -- Short and Sweet

Today is my friend Katie's birthday. To celebrate, she organized a bunch of bike rides starting and ending at her house. To get people motivated, she promised cake and beer after the ride. She talked me into leading the C ride. When I agreed to do this, I assumed it would get warmer as the weekend approached. Bad assumption. There were only 23 degrees out there today when I got out of the car. About 15 riders came out for a ride and a birthday party, but (not surprisingly) only 1 other person showed up for my ride. We came close to riding 1 mile to the local coffee joint, but we didn't want to be total wimps so we set out on our cycling adventure. And I am so glad we did! We only rode 14 miles, so maybe I would feel differently if we were out there for a longer ride. But I was dressed right and I was not at all unhappy being out there. It made me realize that riding through the winter is totally doable. I probably need to make a few tweaks to my gear (better gloves and maybe neoprene booties), but I can do this!

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I figured out how to be the superstar during Masters Swim workouts-- wear flippers.

Friday, November 21, 2008

If the Shoe Fits.....

Buy it in every color! That is one of the defining principles of my adult life. I have a tough time finding shoes that fit. After 2 babies, I wear a size 5 shoe (maybe its a myth, but I know many women who agree that their feet got bigger after having a baby). And in a perfect world, it's a 5 Wide! Yes, I have short fat feet, which is exaggerated by the bone spur on my right big toe which makes right shoes feel even tighter in the width. Since Americans seem to be getting bigger (and by that I mean taller), shoe companies have shifted shoe production away from the smaller sizes toward the opposite end of the spectrum. Most shoes are no longer available in a size smaller than a 6. If they are available, then each store will usually stock one size 5 in each style. I have learned a few strategies to maximize my ability to find shoes in my size:
  1. Make friends with the salesperson at your favorite shoe store. I have had salespeople call me to tell me they just received their shipment, and actually put aside a few pair in my size. This works well if you happen to like a certain brand of shoes. It also depends on putting a trip to the mall into your schedule when they call, and being open to buying shoes because they fit and not because you need them. It is also dependent upon that salesperson keeping their job for a while-- and that's where this principle often fails.
  2. Nordstroms-- they seem to carry lots of shoes in size 5. The problem here is that I don't like 85% of the shoes they carry. Most of them are "dressy" and not very practical for 95% of the time that I wear shoes, and half of them are ridiculously expensive (the other 50% are just plain expensive)! But if I need a dressier shoe, I can often find it at Nordstroms.
  3. Giordano's-- a store in Manhattan specifically for women with "petite feet." They carry only sizes 4-5.5. They are pricey, but they do seem to stock more shoes with sane heels.
  4. Call mom. My mother and I wear the same size shoe (actually, my mother and I wear the same size everything--I have gone shopping in her closet). This has its limitations because my mother usually wants to keep her shoes, especially since she also spends considerable energy finding shoes in her size.
  5. If the shoe fits, buy it in every color! This is where online shopping has shown me the way! Last weekend I bought a pair of shoes at Easy Spirit. They are brown. I am wearing them today and they feel great. A few minutes on their website, and I will soon be in possession of the same shoe in black. And they are on sale. And free shipping.
Aren't you jealous?
Don't you wish you had these shoes in multiple colors?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I Found My Pressure Cooker

Leslie has been raving about her new pressure cooker, so I decided to give it a try. I have a pressure cooker that my sister-in-law gave me, but I haven't used it in a long time. I had an electric stove and after burning just about everything I attempted to cook in it, I gave up. But I am now cooking with gas so I decided to try again. First I had to find it, which wasn't as easy as it should have been, but I found it and washed it out. Then I looked through my recipe files for something that sounded good. I made "Split Pea Sup with Sweet Potatoes and Mint." It totally rocks! This soup is delicious and perfect for this time of year. I put 3 lunch sized portions in the freezer and the rest is in the frig. And when I got to the bottom of the pressure cooker, there wasn't even one tiny morsel of burned food. It really was easy. Hmmm, I can see cooking soup once a week in the PC!
Here's the recipe. I have no idea where it came from, so I cannot give credit where credit is due. Oh well.

Split Peas Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Mint
2 Tb butter or oil
1 onion, chopped
3 stalks celery chopped
2 cups split peas rinsed
4 cups water
2 cups chicken stock
2 med sweet potatoes peeled and chunked
2 large apples, peeled cored and cut into eighths
1 bay leaf
2-3 Tb dried mint
1 tsp salt

Heat oil in cooker. Saute onion until soft. Add celery and split peas, stirring to coat with the oil. Add the water and stock. Scrape up any bits of onion that might be sticking to the bottom of the cooker. Add all the other ingredients.
Lock the lid in place and bring up to pressure. Cook for 10 minutes.
Let the pressure drop naturally (or run under cold water).

Monday, November 10, 2008

Raising the Dead: Dark Star Orchestra

"Using entire shows from the Grateful Dead's 30 years of extensive touring as a launching pad, Dark Star Orchestra recreates the original song for song performance set list for an entirely new generation of, as well as old school, Deadheads."

What a rockin' party! As soon as the music started, the dancing and spinning started. Sugar Magnolia brought down the house! It was quite a scene. Deadheads are the friendliest, happiest fans, it really was all about sharing the music and good times. These guys delivered a great experience. And, when it was all done, I was 5 minutes from home!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Uh Oh

I did a serious upper body workout today. My shoulders and back are already feeling sore. Its gonna be interesting getting in the pool tomorrow morning!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Swimming and Spinning

When I came home from California, I gave myself a week to get my act together. Then I got back in the pool. Even though I have lost the edge on my "conditioning," my stroke seems to have remained largely intact. I only swam 25 yards when the coach told me I was looking surprisingly good. After 3 swim workouts with the Masters Team, I am starting to feel like I have something in the tank. I only have 2 speeds in the pool-- "slow" and "really slow"-- but in another week or two I should be able to add a third speed-- "slightly faster than slow." I have been feeling it-- my shoulders and back are usually a little sore the next morning. So I guess I am doing something right!

Today I took my first spin class in months. I do hope to stay on my bike during the "off-season," but that's not going to happen on weekdays. Today's class was endurance, 75 minutes! We did hill repeats, 8 minutes seated climb, 2 minute recovery, then 4 minute climbing out of the saddle, 2 min recovery. Four sets. I didn't have difficulty getting through this but I noticed that my recovery is not as fast. It was taking a little longer for my heart rate to come down during recovery. So there is plenty of work to be done. It sure feels good to be working at it.