Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tea Filter for Travel

This cute little tea filter, in addition to being a great color, is very handy for travel. It's silicone. It comes with a saucer that also doubles as a lid so your tea stays hot.

And it compresses down nicely for storage and travel.

Mine came from New Mexico as a gift, but you can find one online

Monday, July 27, 2009

An Indy Getaway

View of the capital in downtown Indianapolis, from near our hotel

The DH and I spent a very fun weekend in downtown Indianapolis. Did you know that within the heart of downtown, Indy has both a state park and a canal district, connected and easily walkable? The White River State Park is home to several museums and the zoo and botanical gardens.

We started the morning at the zoo. It was cold and rainy. I was grateful for my jacket and umbrella, and even added a pair of leggings under my skirt! The zoo, though small, has done a nice job of allowing a view of the sea animals both above and below the waterline.

For lunch, we walked downtown to the Tea Cozy and enjoyed the Saturday brunch menu. I had a delicious chocolate chip pancake and some of the best-ever fried potatoes (clearly homemade - not the frozen kind). We then returned to the zoo via the canal walk and spent the afternoon in the botanical garden. This included a butterfly garden, conservatory and lovely outdoor gardens. It was a place where I could return to often.

Brilliant blue butterfly in the corner


View of the White River and downtown, from botanical garden

We caught a movie that evening (the Alps) at the IMAX in the Indiana State Museum, and finished off with a tasty dinner at the Creation Cafe, at the start of the canal near the Clarian health complex.

We spent Sunday morning going for a run through the streets of downtown, taking a good look at the Soldiers' & Sailors' monument. Then we hit Einstein Bagels and the Chocolate Cafe.

I highly recommend a weekend getaway to downtown Indianapolis! There is much to see and do. If you go, I suggest spending the extra cash to stay within walking distance of the White River and canal district. You wouldn't even need to pay for any other entertainment! Just enjoy the walk and views. We stayed at the Marriott Courtyard Capital and appreciated its location, just steps from the canal, a few blocks from the capital building, and about a 25-minute walk from the White River state park.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

As Easy as Peaches-N-Cream

I bought a big box of peaches at the Farmer's Market last week. It hasn't taken long to gobble them up. A few as snacks, one cobbler, and a few in this recipe. OK, so my version of peaches-n-cream uses Greek yogurt. But it's good!

You need: peaches, raisins, rum*, walnuts (optional), honey or sugar
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  • Soak raisins in rum for at least 30 min.
  • Cut peaches in half and remove pit.
  • Place the peaches, cut side up, in a rimmed baking dish. Cover tops with honey (or sprinkle with sugar). Spoon raisins and walnuts on top.
  • Roast until peach is soft, about 15 minutes.
  • Serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt.

*A note about the rum - it's not something I keep around, so I bought a few of those little shot-sized mini bottles (like you see on airplanes). One mini bottle held the perfect amount of rum for soaking raisins for two peaches.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What I'm Not Doing

Work has been really busy lately. I'm trying to launch a brand new ship for the company, one that flies in the virtual world instead of in real space. Lots of unknowns, lots to do. That's why I've not been blogging much. Fortunately, I like my job. Tonight I'm NOT working late and I'm trying really hard to NOT feel guilty about not blogging. So, to assuage my guilt, I'll simply give you a few pretty photos. These are some of my favorites from my recent writing retreat at St. Mary of the Woods, both a women's college and a community for the Sisters of Providence.

In the Shell Chapel, statue of St. Anne surrounded by shells from the Wabash River

Baby alpacas (cria) raised by staff from the White Violet Center for eco-justice

A sea of sisters

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Vintage Tea Towels

Summertime, sunshine and towels fluttering on the line. Simple things like this make me happy.

These great tea towels came as a surprise to me from AZ Tea Lover. They are not only beautiful, but also lovely to touch. I love the feel of the linen cloth. Thank you!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Kale Chips

Kale - easy to grow, tolerant, long-living, strong flavored and good for us. I love it in salads, in quiche, in soup. And yet we have so much of it growing (and get it from the CSA), we can hardly eat it all. I've just discovered a way to gobble up every last leaf. Kale chips! This recipe for kale chips is so yummy, the first time I made it, I ate two sheets of it myself! (It bakes up to nearly nothing.) Try these soon, and make sure you have enough for two batches!



Here's the recipe I used. I didn't have apple cider vinegar, so I used white vinegar and it worked out fine. I think balsamic would add interest, too. I'm also thinking of sprinkling the leaves with chili powder, curry or other spices. Also, the more you can keep the leaves to a single layer, the more evenly they will cook. Use a couple of baking sheets, if necessary.

Wouldn't these make a great fall party food? When they come out of the oven, they look like dried leaves.

I was inspired to try this when I saw it mentioned on someone's blog. I can't recall which one, so apologies if it was yours. Let me know!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Penny Farthings and Such

I spent last weekend in the company of 12 other women at a writing retreat. It was wonderful for my writing and for me personally, too. We shared the grounds of St. Mary of the Woods with the Wheelmen, a group that collects and rides vintage bicycles. Being a fan of cycling, this was a delight for me!

This was the earliest bike represented. It doesn't have pedals. You lean forward and push with your feet.

An ordinary as they were called in the day. The name penny farthing didn't come into use until after the height of this bike's popularity.

Getting on and off is a daring feat!

One of the first pneumatics - air in the tires.
I loved her outfit, tho I'd hate to have to wear it on a muggy July day (like it was!).

A very interesting tricycle

I ride a leather saddle, not too different from this one

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Busy Day Cake

Here's a cake that goes really well with tea! It's a whole wheat/flax seed cake with blueberry topping. It's very delicious and so pretty! I don't have the recipe. The DH made alterations to a recipe for a "busy day" cake, but didn't write it down. Next time!

Isn't that a great name? Busy day cake - love it!

Enjoy a virtual slice.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Kiss the Flowers!

Have you ever kissed a flower? I highly recommend it, especially ones with soft petals. It's particularly nice when the dew is fresh. Some flowers, like the one above, are made to be kissed!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Summertime Pleasures

The pleasures of summer. Some things, like making blueberry jam from berries picked with friends, make me smile even when I don't feel like it.
Blueberry jam

A fragrant and cheery day lily

Rainbow chard

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Bicycle Adventure: Hermann and Augusta

This is the last bike trip post (for this trip, at least!).

We pulled into Hermann, MO after a beautiful early-morning, 50-mile ride. The view coming into Hermann was one of my favorites. White church steeples peek out of the hillside of green. (I don't have a photo of that.)

Here's a typical campsite, minus the other tents around us. In Hermann, we managed to find a campsite to ourselves. The rest of the time, we were setting up camp snugly with the neighbors nearby. The semi in the background is the shower truck. It traveled along with us, providing hot showers to the 300-plus cyclists.

We had lunch at the Stone Hill Winery restaurant. A yummy German-style onion tart, salad with German hot dressing and a side of spatzle. Here's the view from the winery. Hermann was founded as a German community, and still holds onto that culture. After lunch, we toured the winery, including the amazing limestone cellars that took 22 years to carve, by hand! There is a very active wine scene going on here. The Stone Hill Winery, if I recall correctly, was once the 2nd-largest in the US. Prohibition came and knocked it flat. They grew mushrooms in the cellars to get by.

The next day, we camped in Augusta, MO. Augusta is a town of 200. The Katy Trail is flat getting to it, but you have to ride up a very steep hill to get into town. (That was fun! I was missing the hills by this time in the ride.) We ate supper at this church.
And here's the sunrise as we ride the final day, back into St. Charles, MO. It was definitely a trip of sunrises (and hot tents!). Lots of good memories. In another week, I'll minimize the hot tent part and be ready to do it again.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Brewing Tea on the Bike

I made a wonderful discovery on the Katy Trail bike ride. I can cold-brew a thermos of tea while I'm riding, and it's a wonderfully refreshing treat. Plus, caffeine provides a boost to my athletic performance. :-) I chose Mighty Leaf sachets because they are biodegradable. When I'm ready to depart, I pop in a tea sachet, screw on the lid, and take off. A few hours later, I have a wonderful drink. And the water stays cool, compliments of the thermos.

Thanks to a fellow bicycling family, I am set up with stainless steel bike water bottles. (I prefer them over plastic.) The front one is from Greenfeet and has a bike-friendly top. The second is a Lance Armstrong-branded thermos. (I don't care about the branding, but it is designed for use on the bike.) I use it as a holder for extra water. And, in this case, to brew my tea!

To my cycling friends, note the photo below. We've discovered that plastic water bottle cages work much better with the metal water bottles. They slide in and out without metal-on-metal resistance. The Girl Power sock helps keep the thermos from rattling. Plus, I think it's cute.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Bicycle Adventure: Around Rocheport

Happy Independence Day! I frequently had thoughts, while on the bike, about how simple life can be. To me, that means less dependence on the trappings of our modern world and more time for simple things. It means more time for long bike rides on quiet lanes. More time for sitting on the porch with friends. More time for making crafts. More simplicity. That's independence to me.

Most of the Katy Trail is surrounded with lovely scenery. Farmlands, swamplands, tree-tunnels, and river/bluff views. Many of the striking river and bluff views are around Rocheport.

Limestone bluffs near Rocheport

MKT (Missouri-Kansas-Texas, aka the Katy railroad) carved into the limestone bluff.

A bend in the Missouri River

For those of you longing for a post about tea, one is up next...along with a few more bike adventure posts. Thanks for your indulgence!
It's raining here today. (It rained last year, too! I remember well, because I was marching in the parade. Somehow, it was even more fun with the rain.) We're off to an afternoon wedding (with swing dancing!), and then home. Since it's wet, the fireworks will probably be postponed. I think I'll make a blueberry pie. I went picking on Thursday and came home with 11 pounds of the good stuff. I've eaten my share and then some, made a batch of jam, frozen a bunch, and now on to the pie. Yumm!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Bike Adventure: Days One and Two - Long and Hot!

The old KATY track, along with the surface that we rode for a week

The Katy Trail (now a state park) was the former Missouri-Kansas-Texas railroad. The last train ran the tracks in 1986. Thanks to forward thinkers, a very generous Edward Jones (the man behind the company), and the concept of railbanking, this land was turned into a multi-use trail. It runs approximately 225 miles from Clinton, MO on the western side to St. Charles, MO on the eastern side. The Katy Trail is the longest rails-to-trails conversion in the US. Last week, the DH (dear hubby) and I rode those 225 miles, with some additional miles into and out of communities for a grand total of about 250 miles. We'd been training since April, and I'm grateful for it!

Day One: Clinton to Pilot Grove, ~61 miles
On the first morning of the bike ride, we rose early. We were up at 4:45. There's really no getting around it. We started to hear "zip-zip" from neighboring tents before the birds were even out. At that point, you might as well get with the program. The tent must come down, the bags packed and loaded on the truck, sunscreen to slather and breakfast to eat. I'm glad we rose early because I was anxious (I always am on the first day). We had 61 miles to pedal and a hot day looming. We skipped the breakfast of biscuits and gravy, and made do with a banana and small box of Raisin Bran. We headed out right at 6 am, to watch the sunrise as we rode east.

Before 6 am, ready to roll!

We traveled through farmlands and areas of prairie restoration. We reached the peak of the trail, at 955 feet. Day one was the hardest for me. The last 12 miles were a long, slow climb. It was getting very hot. When my knee began to hurt, my mind filled with doubt. I wasn't used to pushing the big gears and pedaling without coasting. This trail riding is quite different from what I experience in the hills of my home. Fortunately, the DH diagnosed the issue. Some ice that evening and a lowered seat fixed the knee problem, not to be seen again for the rest of the ride!

En route, we passed the Sedalia depot. It's been lovingly restored and now houses a museum and gift shop. It was a treat to see the old depots along the way! What a treasure given to a community when one is rescued from demolition or decay.

Sedalia depot (scanned postcard)

The trail is packed earth, topped with a finely crushed limestone. It's easy to ride on, though it slows one down a bit. There is a mild rolling resistance to be considered. I was pleased with the pace we kept. We were always among the first few in camp. Partly because we had a good pace and partly because we left so dang early, before breakfast most days! Our motto was, "It's about the ride, not the food!"
Katy crud on my trunk bag - it gets on everything!

Even though our focus wasn't on food, I got pretty darn hungry around lunch time. On day one, we enjoyed onion rings with lots of grease and ketchup at Betty's Burgers in Pilot Grove.

Day Two: Pilot Grove to Jefferson City, ~67 miles
Day two was longer and equally as hot and humid, but not as challenging for me. The route was flat (no 12 miles of painfully slow climbing) and my brain began to relax. We were on the trail at two minutes before 5 am. We rode in the dark for a good, long while. Thankfully, the limestone is white! At about an hour into the ride, we came to Boonville. Another lovely depot.

Boonville depot

Leaving Boonville, we crossed the Missouri river. Beautiful views, if you are brave enough to look. I was barely so. I'm not fond of heights mixed with open views, so I was a bit (well, perhaps more than that) unsettled as I pedaled across.

That's me, staying as far to the right as possible.

Here's the view as we looked east, crossing the Missouri. You can see the humidity hanging in the air.There is more to say about day two and the river/bluff views, but I'll save it for the next post.