Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Tasty cornbread!

Quick recipe alert!  Spicy cornbread for dinner!  (sorry all, no pics of this, as it did not survive dinner!)  It's not gourmet, but it is GOOD!

2 boxes Jiffy cornbread mix
2/3C milk
2 eggs
1 small can chopped green chilis
1/2-2/3C shredded PepperJack cheese
2/3-1C shredded cheddar cheese

Dump it all into the pan and mix it well, then pour into a greased 9x13 pan and bake at 400F for about 15min.  Then turn off the oven, and let it sit for another 15-20min (but don't let it burn, just brown nicely).  Cut into slabs, serve warm with butter.

Goes well with chili, smoked pork country ribs, grilled corn on the cob, and other tasty items!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Only in Texas...

While out riding through the county on my bike, I have seen lots of interesting things, pretty flowers, clouds, flattened fauna, etc.  Most of the time I don't stop, and whip out the camera for a picture.  This is a failing on my part.  The only camera I usually take is what comes with my cellphone, and it rides in the bag on the back of the bike, making it somewhat inconvenient to stop and take a picture.

Still, once in a while something just begs to be photographed, like yesterday.  I was riding down a familiar road, but ended up seeing something unexpected.

No, not the burros.  They're everywhere in Texas for some reason.  They're like pets, or something here.  Every hobby-rancher-farmer seems to have a couple.  I thought at first they were being used to guard other livestock, but no.  Usually the burros are alone in fields, often in numbers large enough to be small herds of them.  Oh they're cute enough, but I never see anyone doing anything with them--they're not hitched up to carts, they're not being ridden, no one plows with them....I guess they really are just BIG pets!

And then there are the exotics...folks who ranch unusual species of deer (Fallow, Stag, etc).  Those are also along one of my routes, but they are often hiding in the trees and behind high fencing.  And one place has zebras and I think a giraffe!  I tell ya, it's a Zoo down here!

But yesterday, I saw this...and in a field with burros no less!  It's on a road I have ridden a lot, and never seen this creature there before yesterday.  I don't know if it is new to the land, or if I just never had the good fortune to see it until now, but here it is!
 Yes, that is a camel.  In Texas.  Grazing.  Go figure...  
(It's a Dromedary, not Bactrian.)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Unexpected pleasure

DH loves wasabi peas. I think they are ok, but the wasabi lacks a fullness of flavor I seek.  Still they make a nice snack.

Our friend and Saturday evening dinner guest showed up this past weekend with something different.  Spicy Sriracha Peas.  He got them for DH...lucky for me, they didn't suit DH, and I snagged 'em! 

Sriracha sauce is to Asia, what ketchup is to America.  It is spicy, but has flavor, and is actually rather nice.  Not as hot as some sauces, but with a tomato-flavor that enhances foods. 

I think I will be buying more of these!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Gunning for 500k

So I am a bike geek...I confess.  I use Strava to track my rides and as a convenient way to check on my improvements (meager though they are).  Each month, Strava posts a new challenge, usually to ride a certain distance in the month, or during the TDF, etc.

They give electronic 'badges' (think like a patch) marking certain distance milestones each month.  So far, the best I have done, is to earn the 250k badges, never having made it to 500k in a month.  It honestly doesn't "mean" anything important, but I'd like to get at least to 500k this month.

I am SOOOOO close!  I have 47K I need to ride between now and the 31st.  I should be able to do it...barring illness (which is currently cycling through the Monkeys...).  Time is usually what kills my efforts.  I can DO distance, I know that.  I just generally don't have TIME to ride that much.  So this month, being so close to 500k, it's somehow important to me that I hit that milestone.  Especially since I apparently am not fast enough to ride with the local cycle clubs on their slow rides. (Hint:  add 4mph to the published ride speed average, and that's about where they really ride at.)

Here's a look at my ride today.

Friday, July 26, 2013

R5F 07/26/13

Today's random thoughts...

1.  I really hate sinus headaches!  This is day #2 where I have awoken to one.

2.  Today is proof again that God loves Texas, or maybe that the .Gov weather machine is broken.... it is raining out there again!  A lovely moderate rainfall, in late Texas!  It has rained several times in this July, which is unusual.  It has also been a significantly cooler summer than normal, despite a couple hot days of 100deg on record.

3.  I got my hair cut again yesterday.  It had grown too fast after the initial cut and was constantly in my eyes driving me bugnuts.  I think it looks much better this time, and is pretty well just what I was looking for.  DH said he liked it too, so I guess I am golden!

4.  I took a couple pics of myself yesterday, so I could remind the stylist how it looked, next time I go in, in a couple months.  Upon looking at them, I thought I looked OLD for the first time...It kind of shocked me--I don't FEEL old (mentally anyway--sometimes I do feel the mileage in the bones).  I guess that's what I get for a life in the sun, losing weight (makes for looser skin) and refusing to wear makeup to hide it all.

5.  I have errands to run today and bike parts to order.  I'm going to order the new bar set up for the Giro, and have a set of Avid BB7 brakes, which should be nicer than the BB5's I am currently running for disc brakes on the bike.  I also need to order a box of inner tubes, as we seem to be out...and that could be a problem, with one of us possibly riding the Cleburne Goathead ride tomorrow.  There's a reason it's called the Goathead ride...the route is known for having THIS along the roads.

Friday, July 19, 2013

R5F 7/19/13

Random 5 Friday for this week.
1. I've been a day behind this week mentally. I keep thinking it is Thursday today.
2.  Shiloh has a new nickname after this week's counter surfing incident ;  Porkchop!
3.  I still enjoy watching the Tour de France.  This is the 100th Tour.
4.  This summer has been cooler than usual.  That means the Monkeys have not been in the pool as much as before.
5.  It has been a wet week here, with more rain forecast for tomorrow. Our Silverado Sage Bush is blooming like mad!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Ever have one of "those" days? An afternoon where everything seems to go wrong? Today was one of those days.
It started out innocuous enough, with me, running a load of laundry.  After running errands, it was time to start dinner plans. I had planned some grilled pork steaks, seasoned with Angelo's and some Penzey's Arizona Dreaming spice, and wrapped in bacon.
Those were left in the kitchen on plates on the stovetop, until I got the charcoal ready.  no big deal, right?  It didn't really occur to me that someone was watching.  Plotting, even, her nefarious deed.  

So I went out to turn over the laundry and start the dryer.
I opened the washer door after having to unlock it...(major clue here..).  The unlocked door opened and promptly dumped about half a drum full of water on the floor.  Crap!  After closing the door and cleaning up the mess, I figured the washer was out of balance and put it into the drain and spin cycle.  Except that it refused to drain and spin.  Arrgh!   I try several fixes to no avail.  I text DH, and keep trying, and set Monkey1 to wringing out the laundry...having forgotten about dinner, sitting there on the stovetop.  But somebody didn't forget...

DH gets home, and during that time of unloading gear, and explaining about the washer, I suddenly hear Monkey2 yelling "Bad girl! Bad girl! "  And now I can guess what has transpired.  I hustle out to where the dog is, lying under the living room table, with one hefty pork steak, formerly wrapped in bacon, on the rug beside her.  I grab it, and rush to the kitchen, hoping beyond hope that the remaining 4 pork steaks are unmolested.
It was not to be...the remaining two steaks has been de-bacon'd, and one had been well chewed.  Two were missing entirely!
As Shiloh had been busted, red-pawed so to speak, she was summarily exiled to her crate without any more dinner!  As if 2 pork steaks and bacon wasn't dinner enough!

Well, I cobbled together some other dinner and fed the family.  But that left the problem of a dead washer unresolved and me, rather bent out of shape over the whole thing.  Pricing repair parts ran from$100-$500, depending on exactly what was dead.  Pricing a new washer was $599, and they'd haul the dead one away.  Sort of a wash, eh?  Yeah bad pun I know.

But being the erstwhile plumber off the family I suggested to DH, that I take the thing apart and drain the water, and see what the cleanout trap had in it.  With his help I drained things and got a whopping 37 cents out of the trap.  While he went to scrub the trap out, I decided to shine my light in the drain port.  Hhmmm...what is the little hot pink string I espy?  After pulling on it with a pair of pliers, I successfully extracted this!  

Yes, that is a 6" piece of 1/4" rope, that was jammed in the pump impeller!  We put the washer back together, and I decided to run a cleaning cycle to test if it was going to work. 

YAY! IT WORKS!  It was such a relief to fix that washer.  I sure would rather fix it than spend $600 to replace it!  And free repairs are the BEST!
She doesn't even look remorseful, does she?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Summer piñata fun!

This past weekend saw the Monkeys engaged in their annual summer piñata bashing fun.  Ever since they were big enough to swing a stick, we have had a summer piñata for them. Usually it falls between birthdays, but not always.  It's a summer event, not tied to a specific Monkey-day, so as to not disappoint the winter-born one.

They always seem to enjoy it, and not just for the goodies inside!  I think they just enjoy bashing something with a stick, and not getting in trouble for doing it!

(Yes, that is Mule-tape you see tied to the tree.  It is holding up one run of the fence until we get the time to coordinate with our neighbor, to replace all the poles and panels on that side.  Another of the many little joys of home ownership...)

Do you have any special fun events planned for this summer?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Random 5 Friday 07/12/13

Sorry if today's R5F participation has been a bit delayed.

1.  Today some friends from church and scouting, came over to make homemade fishing poles for a scouting requirement.  The boys made poles and then we went fishing at the local pond.  Pink artificial bait worked well for the girls, but the boys did not fare so well.
Girls: 13 bluegill, 1 red eared slider turtle. (all on homemade poles with pink bait)
Boys: 1 bluegill on artificial bait but on a regular fishing pole.  Zero catches on the home made poles.

2.  Yours truly caught a pair of bluegill on artificial bait, but using my regular pole.

3.  It's a pretty typical hot dry Texas summer so far.  Not as hot as the last couple years though, so I am not complaining.  It also almost rained here last night...almost!  That did cool things off enough to make for a pleasant 25 miles on the bike last night though.

4.  If Zimmerman is acquitted, I hope that  the social unrest is kept under control.  But somehow I doubt it will be, even though law enforcement will do its best to keep a lid on things.  I'm not too worried here in NTX, but I'm also not going to take any unnecessary risks either.

5.  I find it interesting that the compromise in Colorado about the magazine ban, apparently has rendered the new law utterly irrelevant.  Mag compromise.  (next to last paragraph is the relevant bit.)
I can't think of any pistol or rifle magazines with a fixed base plate, that carry more than 7-8 rounds (1911) anyway...can you? 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Olde Tyme Switchel

Dave ran across an old recipe the other day for something called Switchel, or Haymakers Punch.  Apparently it was the Gatorade of its day, back in the late 1800's and early 20th century.  I asked my mom, who grew up on a working midwestern farm in the 30's-40's and while she thought she had heard of it, she had never given it out to the workers in their fields.  Her job as a kid during harvest, was to ride her horse out to the fields with ice water for the men.  They kept a lemon in a pocket if they liked lemon-water, and bit it before each drink.

I decided to make some Switchel today.  Here it the recipe I used, garnered from the net.  It sounds awful, but it actually tastes pretty good!  I expect after it ages in the fridge a bit, it will be better.

6 C water
3/4 C cider apple vinegar
1 1/2 t powdered ginger (Penzeys)
1/3-1/2 C honey
1/8 C Brer Rabbit Molasses

Mix it all up in a large pitcher until all the honey is dissolved. Store in the fridge for at least 2 hrs before drinking.  Add more sweetener if needed.  Serve over ice.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Random 5 Friday July 5th

More fun with random things this week.

1. It appears the Egyptian people, and their military had enough of the Muslim Brotherhood and its form of government. I wish them luck and peace.

2.  News reports here are saying the Secretary of State, John Kerry, was on his yacht during the second revolution in Egypt (see above).  For all our sakes, I hope the news report is wrong.

3.  The weather here has been nice all week, though we could use rain. At least it did not disrupt the 4th of July celebration.

4.  We took the Monkeys for their first ever real road ride on their bikes. Sometimes it is hard for me to remember they haven't been riding bikes for 40+ years, but instead are just now developing those skills.  All their other rides have been on the relative safety of the local bike paths.

5.  It's times like tonight, watching my kids' sheer joy at a fireworks display, that makes me wish I could recapture some of that childlike wonder and enthusiasm.

Happy Birthday, my little firecracker!

Happy Birthday my not-so-little one!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The joys of a bike

Fellow blogger Brigid recently posted about her love of cycling as a kid, and the freedom it allowed.  I too remember much about cycling as a kid--skidouts out on the corner by the house, skinned knees and scars.  Flying along the roads and sidewalks fast and furious, riding to school, or just riding for the joy of movement.

I remember the time I was almost home, and hit a bump wearing my open-topped backpack.  I distinctly recall looking back over my shoulder as I came down McKenzie's driveway, looking to see if I'd lost a book...and never seeing the rear of the car parked out front of Coker's house until it was too late to avoid.  I ended up sprawled over the rear window, bike flipped up top of me.  I was appalled and terrified to see I had dented the trunk of the car slightly with a brake lever.  I never did tell my folks about that...

That wreck also busted my faithful steed, a Raleigh 3-speed, black in color, with that old internal geared rear hub.  DH hates IGH, as they are a pain to service (he used to be a bike wrench), but I remember it fondly, adding sewing machine oil to the oil port.  My bike had the front fork /steer tube bent back badly in that wreck.  While Dad could have bought me a new bike, his Scots/Irish thriftiness would not permit that, and so he and Bob (family friend) disassembled the bike, and beat the fork back true with a mallet and 3# hammer.  It did change the handling slightly, but not so much that I couldn't ride no-hands.  I just had to shift my weight to one side slightly.

Eventually I wanted a real 10speed.  I had saved my money and finally had enough to get one.  Dad took me down to the local bike shop (heaven!) to get a REAL bike, not some mis-assembled big-box bike.  I don't recall if Dad helped cover the cost or not (probably) but I got a maroon 10 speed.  I was in heaven, and no longer jealous of my much older sister's real French white 10-speed (ManuFrance).  That bike saw me through Jr High, High School and college.  It finally bit the dust when I was hit by a motorcyclist from behind.  His insurance got me my first upgrade in decades, a low end Bianchi.  I did RAGBRAI in '95 on that Binki, and managed to tweak it well with parts from one of the local shops to better suit the area hills and my riding style.

One day, riding the Bianchi around town I stopped at the back door of Terraplane Bikes.  Paul the lead wrench must've been psychic or something, as it was he that offered me the chance to spend that $400 that was burning a hole in my bank account, torn as I was between a new bike frame and an Enfield L39A1 at Navy Arms.  It was a hard decision at the time, and one I still think about, for never again have I seen an L39A1 available at that price.  But what I got was a joy I had for many years after, and many miles under its wheels, a Masi Gran Corsa, circa 1980's.  Gorgeous blue metallic, chromes front fork, and Reynolds 531...a real Italian road bike.  I worked part time (second job) at Terraplane after buying it.  I needed to, in order to get all the parts to build it up right!  It was a case of working for parts!  But it was mostly Campy, with a great set of hand built (by me) Mavic SUP wheels.  This was the bike I did CANDISC on, twice...It was light, it was fast, it was comfortable for hours...and I still miss it!

Sadly, after my third child was born, stopped riding for 7 years.  The Masi sat, loved but unridden in the garage, as our mutual (DH & I) waistlines grew and DH got T2 diabetes.  He sold off his beloved carbon road bike as he didn't think he could ride comfortably, and I soon followed suit.  Arthritis in my hands had made riding it painful, and so had my weight.  So I sold it--for way less than it was worth, but for what I could get for it at the time.  So it goes...

Fast forward a couple years and a health goal later, and we had converted over to recumbents.  My main ride now is a Bacchetta Giro running 700c wheels.  I have dumped the weight and kept it off so far (2yrs now) and feel great.  I love riding again! 
My ride now sees me through long rides with no pain.  That alone makes it worth the expense (they are not cheap bikes for a family on a budget).  It is not light.  The engine suffers on hills.  But it gets me out on the road like I love, and I don't hurt.  I don't mind the funny looks I get from the hardcore roadies.  I get to laugh at the end of the ride, seeing them trying to shake out the kinks and knots, massaging their necks.

Our Monkeys are old enough to ride now, and are getting big enough to have real bikes, with gears even!  Still being on a budget, we have to shop for used bikes for them.  As they have outgrown various other kid bikes, we have passed them off to a family at our church, who have several kids of their own.  That way we figure we are helping instill a love of riding in another family. 

This week has been somewhat special in our family.  The other night, we took a whole-family ride.  Monkey1 was on her Trek MTB, Monkey2 was suffering on his Fisher BMX Team bike (fixed gear with a large chain ring and a not-so-good brake), and Monkey3 was finally upgraded from her 20" pink girly bike to a real MTB of her own, donated to us by our neighbor.  My Mini-Cadel, she rode that big bike like she was born to it!  No crashes, not problems, just set that jaw of hers and away she went.  11.4 miles later we were back home.  That is the longest ride the Monkeys have done, and is a precursor to our eventual vacation plans of riding Bike Across Kansas, and CANDISC

Last night we scored a new ride for Monkey1.  Her Trek will now belong to Monkey2.  This is the first roadbike we have gotten for the kids.  It took a month or more of searching, and dealing with inconsiderate sellers on craigslist until we found a nice woman selling her old bike.  We got it for a good price, and now our biggest Monkey has a whole new style of riding to learn.
I am looking forward to taking longer and longer family rides with the kids.  I want them to get comfortable with 40-60mi at a shot.  That will get them ready for those week long tours we want to do.  I want them to know the freedom that cycling brings to life.