Friday, December 31, 2010

French Fridays With Dorie - Beef Daube

A beef daube is a type of stew....a delicious, delicious stew. Seriously, it should be illegal for animals to taste this good. I have been looking forward to making this recipe since I saw it on the list, but I waited oh so patiently to see if I would get my cast iron dutch oven for Christmas. I did, and I squealed louder than my daughter did after she got her sleeping beauty barbie. But back to the stew. It is the definition of simplicity. Onions, shallots, bacon, carrots, a blade roast, a bouquet garni and an entire bottle of wine. That's it. The prep is a bit time consuming, but your hard work will pay off in the end. Especially when it comes to the browning. Be good, dry your meat and don't crowd the pan. I served mine over mashed potatoes. I swear, this is what angels eat. I liked it so much I took my head out of the pot just long enough to write this post. Those angels have great taste.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

On My Needles - Christmas Edition

For the past few months I have been hard at work making some gifts for a few people. It's only been a few because I knit very slowly and I didn't want stress myself out with too many projects. Now that I am becoming more confident in my abilities however, I find myself planning for next Christmas already. But enough of the future, here are some goodies I gave away this year.

 This scarf I made for my mom. Unfortunately it is too itchy for her to wear on bare skin. Must remember baby alpaca is a no no for next time.

 I found this purple malabrigo in the summer, and knew it would be perfect for my sister. It took me a long time to find the perfect pattern though, and I started knitting this baby 3 days before Christmas. This is the Kiwi hat and can be found on Ravelry.

 This cowl was made specially for my sister in law Tarra. I chose a simple pattern to show off the hand spun, hand painted beauty of this yarn. This "cowl'd and frosty morning" pattern is on ravelry as well.

Up next, knitting wise - mittens! January is National knit mittens month, and while I usually scoff at such things, I love knitting mittens and already have three pairs ready to go. Now I just have to dye that farmers market wool.....

Monday, December 27, 2010

Daring Bakers Challenge: Christmas Stollen

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book.........and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.

Stollen is a traditional German sweet bread. It contains a generous amount of butter, candied peel, glace cherries and almonds. When I saw this month's challenge, I have to admit, I wasn't thrilled. Especially when I read some of the ingredients. Candied peel? Glace cherries? Not only had I never baked with either of these, but I found them both incredibly unappealing. Still, my whole goal in joining this group was to be more adventurous with my baking, so shopping I went.

This challenge did not get on my good side when it took me 45 minutes to prep all the ingredients for the dough. I thought "good lord, if this is how long it takes for me to prep the ingredients....I'm hooped when it comes to the dough." Okay, back story. Yeast dough and I have a love hate relationship, I love to make it, it hates to make it easy. I make most of the bread products my family consumes, and it has been hit and miss with me. It's a good thing my children have grown up with my bread, so the occasional (frequent) dense loaf is a fact of life. Long story short, this stollen made me nervous. I shouldn't have been. This recipe is amazingly easy. It is time consuming, so if you decide to give it a shot make the dough 1-2 days in advance.  Just follow it step by step, and you will be fine.

The dough turned out to be smooth, supple, and really easy to work with. Here it is ready for a sleepover in the fridge.

The next day I let the dough warm up for two hours, and after that it was time to shape. One of my favourite things about this dough is that it was very forgiving when it came to my clumsy attempt at shaping. After many attempts I finally managed to join the ends, and the wreath began to take shape.

After the shaping ordeal I was a little worried about proofing it, but it rose beautifully. After 50 minutes in the oven, I had the makings of a German masterpiece.

The competed wreath was huge. I am so glad I decided to make this for a family gathering. I have a large extended family, so they have a shot at finishing this monster. I wanted a simple presentation, so I filled the centre with some lovely dried mangos, pineapple and strawberries. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

French Fridays With Dorie: Sweet and Spicy Cocktail Nuts

Since I have the humour of a fifteen year old boy, this recipe was perfect for my vast collection of "eating nuts" jokes. Pretty much all I did yesterday was joke about eating nuts. But, if you're going to make it a practice to eat vast quantities of nuts, eat these ones. They are the perfect balance of sweet and salty, plus I added in a bit of smoked paprika for another level of flavour. One thing I did learn was that if Dorie tells you to take the nuts out one at a time and place them carefully (one should ALWAYS be careful with one's nuts) on the baking pan, then do it. I ignored this step because I can be impatient/lazy, but I won't next time. My nuts looked a bit like brittle when they came out of the oven, but they were easy to break apart. I used a combination of almonds, cashews and pecans, and while I made a double recipe right off the hop, I will be making more before Christmas. I'll bet even Santa likes to eat a nice nut from time to time (okay...I'm done now).

Friday, December 10, 2010

French Fridays Part Deux - Potato Leek Soup

I love soup as much as I hate roll cookies, so I was excited by this recipe this month. When I read it I was concerned by three things: the number of potatoes (there was only one), The amount of onions (one onion and three leeks), and the amount of liquid (seven cups in total). I really shouldn't have been. This isn't Dorie's first rodeo, and she really knows what she's talking about with this one. The balance of onion, potato and herbs is perfect. She gives us some choices for serving. It can be served chunky or smooth, hot or cold. I opted for smooth, and since I live in Manitoba in the My husband gave it the ultimate compliment by not adding hot sauce and requesting it be made again. I have to agree with him. This is an easy, comforting week night meal.

French Fridays With Dorie - Speculoos

For those of you that are like me and have never heard of such things, speculoos are a type of roll cookie. I would say they are akin to gingersnaps, minus the molasses. Now I'm just going to put this out there.....I really dislike making roll cookies. I do it every Christmas because my kids and husband like to have a few seasonal shapes lying about, but if I could get away with it I would just ignore their existence entirly (the cookies....not my family). When us members of French Fridays were voting on this month's recipes some spiced carrots were neck and with the cookies, and I was cheering those carrots on until the bitter end. Alas, all that encouragement was for naught. I was going to skip this recipe entirely, but then I put on my big girl panties and gave it a shot.

Dorie warns us the dough for this recipe is very soft, and it is. They are not the easiest cookies to cut and get in the pan, but they are delicious. I am tempted to say I won't make these again, but I would probably be lying, we'll see how the spirit moves me.

 The perfect accompaniment to a sunny winter afternoon, vanilla steamed milk and cookies.

Monday, December 6, 2010


As many of you know I have been doing a 100 day challenge, where I am active for 30 minutes every day for 100 days. It's been fine, but in truth, I was getting a little bored. Okay, a lot bored. It turns out I'm more of a yoga couple days a week maybe girl than a yoga six days a week girl. I need to do something else. In truth I would love to bike, I really miss my bike, but I am not insane, nor do I have a death wish. After much thought I have decided to call upon the services of two old acquaintances:

That's right folks, I'm running again. Well, walogging really. This time I'm doing a couple things differently. One, I did some reading and am going to stretch properly. Two, no treadmill for me this time. I'm all outside all the time baby! I went for my first walk/jog yesterday and it was great. Jogging for that one minute does not feel as slow as it did on the treadmill, plus I don't get as sweaty now that my body is trying to prevent my extremities from freezing. Just out of curiosity, what do you runners out there wear to run in winter?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

On My Needles

I decided to be all adventurous this month and try a mystery knit with a couple of my friends. For those of you that are now going huh?, a mystery knit is, well, a mystery. You don't know what the pattern is, and you knit it up in different sections. When I saw the first part of the pattern I thought the crochet provisional cast on would be the hardest part, but I was wrong of course. I don't know what is wrong with me on this, I had to re-start this section six different times and failed miserably each time. After one evening with my knitting gurus, Erica and Odessa, I was on the right track and this section knit up pretty fast. I have now read through the instructions for the second part and COMPLETELY DO NOT UNDERSTAND THEM! Maybe I am too slow for mystery knits. Now I must hang my head in shame again and ask for help....sigh.  On the bright side, this is the yarn I'm using, it's yummy.

 A nice view of my crochet provisional cast on....I totally rocked that out!

The first section. I couldn't get a good picture of the texture, it's a wave pattern. I also think I'm going to dye this after it's done, I don't like the pink section and think it distracts from the pattern.

I started these when I was having so much trouble with my mystery knit. It's a super easy mitten pattern and the bright Noro yarn will cheer me up all winter. 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Daring Bakers Challenge: Crostata

The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

I learned two new things this month. One, crostata is Italian for tart. Two, pasta frolla is translated to "pain in the ass pastry that is very good but so finicky and delicate that I will never make it again". No, it is, look it up. This pastry reminded me of a teenager, it had to be coaxed, prodded, placated and bribed in order to do what it was supposed to do in the first place. I dropped so many expletives trying to get this stuff into the pan I am expecting an invitation to join a pirate ship any day now.

While there were many choices to fill the pain in the ass tart, I chose to make a pastry cream and top it with fresh raspberries. It was delicious. All that effort was worth it in the end. This does not mean I will be attempting this pastry again, I'm not a masochist you know....

Friday, November 26, 2010

French Fridays - Pumpkin Gorgonzola Flan

Well, it's now official, I have made my first flan. Dorie was gentle with me and this was a really easy recipe. It was also my first flop. My husband and I both liked them, but not enough to make them again. The texture was really nice though, smooth and creamy. Also, if blue cheese scares you, it really is mellow in this dish. I served them with sour cream and some maple syrup drizzled on top, if there is a next time I would advise against the sour cream, the dish is rich and creamy already. Don't let this one scare you, it's so quick and you never know, this may be a huge hit for your taste buds.

 Right out of the oven, the walnuts were perfectly toasted.

A nice simple dinner. I served the flans with a simple salad dressed with a white wine vinaigrette. It was a nice combination.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Gah! Pears!

I will soon be seeing pears in my nightmares. Let me explain. When I began getting our fruit and vegetables delivered, I was pumped. It offered us an opportunity to try (be forced to eat) a larger variety of fruits and veggies. Except we live in Manitoba and it is now winter, which means there is no variety in local produce. This means we've been getting a lot of pears, serious amounts of pears, which would be fabulous if any of us actually liked them. Not a single person in my family likes raw pears, including me. Raw it's a texture thing, but my husband and I will eat them cooked. I thought I had solved my problem last week with two batches of pear granola muffins. But alas, the pears kept coming and we are now up to six, so enough is enough. Tonight for dinner we had roast pork and salad. Not just any salad mind you, this one has roasted pears and onions, goat cheese, toasted walnuts and is served on butter lettuce with a basic vinaigrette. For dessert I whipped up saffron scented pear upside down cake. Everything was delicious. That does not mean I want to keep receiving pears in my basket each creativity/willingness to cook them only goes so far.

Friday, November 19, 2010

French Fridays With Dorie: Roast Chicken for Les Paresseux

Roast chicken is one of those dishes that I love to make. It makes the house feel warm and smell good, and this is a good recipe for roast chicken. Since I was unwilling to pay though the nose for a chicken, I took advantage of the post Canadian thanksgiving turkey nausea and purchased a young turkey. I rubbed the turkey with a combination of rosemary, sage, and thyme. I also stuffed the cavity with a lemon and served it with roasted local potatoes and carrots tossed with fresh rosemary and a bit of butter, salt and pepper. My only mistake was not doing the deep fried chicken bread. That's okay though, it just gives me an excuse to revisit this gem time and time again.

If you are interested in joining our not so little group, buy this book, then join here. Fun times with butter can also be yours!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Two weeks

It's been two weeks since I started my 100 day challenge, and so far so good. I have been doing mostly yoga and walking, and I have to say I have already noticed a change. Not so much in my waistline, although I have lost a bit, but mostly in my attitude. I have been more cheerful, calm, balanced and patient. It feels really good, now that my quads are getting used to the new routine.

The thing I found really funny about this challenge is that after the first five days I was way more sore then I was after biking for 160km. Seriously. After two days of grunting every time I sat down I decided to take an Aleve. The next morning I was fine, and have felt great since then. Aleve is magic, and my new best friend.

The plan is to keep on with the yoga, and as my strength and balance become better I think I will take a couple classes. As for the walking, as I get stronger, I may just have to start running, again, without all the injuries of course.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

French "Fridays" With Dorie: Potato Gratin

I'm just going to put it out there, I love potatoes. It does not matter how you prepare them, they are wonderful. When you prepare them this way however....I have no words. I took Dorie's suggestion in the book and added some bacon and onions between the layers, and you really can't go wrong with layers of bacon, potatoes and just can't.

 I tell you, this is heaven in a pie plate.

The people hosting the potluck I brought this to are lucky it arrived intact.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

On My Needles

A little over a year ago I learned how to knit, and since then I haven't looked back. I love knitting, and I love that I have at least one hobby that cannot be consumed. This is what I'm working on this week.

 This is a skirt my eldest will be getting for Christmas. The last row is taking forever. To give you an idea, it takes an entire 50g ball of yarn to do 1 inch. The last row has to be 4 inches.

 This is the very beginning of a tiny pair of mittens for my youngest. I am using a brand of yarn called Noro. I am in love with it because the colours are awesome, and you never know what they will do next. The mittens will probably look mis-matched even though they are from the same ball.

In order to keep the peace I am also knitting a skirt for my youngest for Christmas. For both skirts I am using the Comfy Worsted cotton yarn from Knit Picks. It's great to work with but is also machine washable, which is very important in this house!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


While the whole yoga thing was working, my friend Wendy decided to do another 100 day challenge, so I decided to join her. Instead of doing yoga everyday, I'm going to be active for 30 minutes every day until February 8th. So far I have walked Rowdy twice, and we are both happier for it. I have also recruited another friend of mine, so if you want to take part, the more the merrier!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Daring Bakers Challenge: Doughnuts

When I joined the Daring Kitchen it was with excitement and trepidation. I wanted to bake outside the box so to speak, but I did not want to go to a butcher requesting pig blood for some unholy concoction some random stranger thought would be fun.

So when Lori from Butter Me Up announced this months challenge would be doughnuts, I breathed a sigh of relief. This was something I could get behind. Plus, I could screw over Tim Hortons in my own modest way, and that made me happy.

There were many recipe options given, I chose to go with Alton Brown's yeast doughnuts. I made one type, my all time favourite, lemon filled. I used Martha Stewart's lemon curd for the filling. This combination caused me to create little pillows of heaven. Both the doughnut and the filling were simple, easy and delicious. I would suggest forgetting about Tim's and pulling out your deep fat fryer, your tastebuds will thank you.

Look at those little pillows of delight...

Friday, October 29, 2010

One Hundred

The MS bike tour made me realize something about myself...I need goals, big ones. So, inspired by my friend Wendy, I decided to do one hundred days straight of something. She walked, but it's getting cold out and I get really wussy when it comes to bad weather. I decided on yoga, it's something I can do at home or join a class if I feel so inclined. Plus it's something new, and I think I need something new. I have been doing a yoga dvd off and on, and I like the fact it's about respecting your body, appreciating it for the work it does, and I think I need more of that in my life. This body has got me to Gimli and back, but it has also helped create, birth and feed two children. This is no small feat, and it's time I give this bod of mine the props it deserves. So here I go....wish me luck!

French Fridays With Dorie: Marie-Helene's Apple Cake

This is my first post with French Fridays With Dorie. I was tempted to join Tuesdays With Dorie, but considering I am not much of a baker really I decided against it. This however, is right up my alley. Once a week I cook something from this book, post it, and voila, I am transported to Paris via my crappy kitchen.

This week's recipe was, for lack of a better word, amazing. The cake sounds so simple, yet the combination of the ingredients turn it into something magical. It is easy, delicious, and did I mention delicious? I will be making this again and again, which is high praise considering I rarely say that about baked goods. If you don't like cooked apples, this is not for you, but you really are losing out....and you are also insane.

 I served mine with caramel ice cream, next time I think I will just use whipped cream.

 I love that it came out looking like the picture in the book.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

But then there's this

After my depressing post in which I admit I'm a failure, I realized that there are some things I have accomplished in the last couple months that I'm proud of. So here they are, my non-athletic accomplishments, but accomplishments none the less.

This is the scarf I knit for Ken. It took me 9 months and it wonky and wonderful.

I made apple jelly for the first time. It set and everything and is the most beautiful colour.

 This is a hat I knit for myself. Off it looks like a gigantic condom. On, I love it.

Friday, October 22, 2010

...And then she crashed

I know, I know, I haven't posted in a while. The thing is, after the bike tour I was on a high, I was ready to do that century ride and kick it's ass. In truth however, I haven't been back on my bike. I had the best intentions, but life has a funny way of challenging you in different ways, and mine came in the form of a third kid. Not mine. I'm looking after another little one during the week and had this fantasy of taking her and my youngest on long wonderful rides while my eldest was in school. The reality of the situation was my new charge napped in the morning and afternoon. By the time her mom came to get her I was too tired to take the girls out, so my dream of a century ride this fall faded, slowly but surely. I didn't post any of this because, well, I'm embarrassed. I avoided this site like the plague wishing things were different, but alas, here we are.

My plan this winter was to take up swimming again, but the deadline for my husbands cheap gym membership came and went and he forgot to sign me up, and the drop in rates are crazy high. I've been doing a lot of walking, and I've been doing a yoga video a couple times a week but in reality I'm flailing around without a goal. So I need some help, how do you all stay motivated? What do you do to get over that feeling you've failed....again?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ride Grub

The thing about reaching one goal is that I've become thirsty for more, so my next goal first century ride. That would be 100km (I'm Canadian, we work in kilometers, deal with it). I want to do this on the Thanksgiving weekend, so that would be October 11th. I've thought this through, and I think riding 100km to my Grandparent house for dinner is perfect for one reason. There will be pie waiting for me....and plenty of it!

In order to succeed at this I need to keep training, and since my long rides will be that much longer I figured I would need a bad ass granola bar to get me though them. You can find the original recipe here, I have altered it a bit to look more like a Nigella Lawson recipe I have but cannot find.

Line a 9x13 pan with foil or parchment paper and spray liberally with your brand of Pam.
In a small saucepan slowly heat 1 can of sweetened condensed milk and 2 tablespoons of butter until the butter is almost melted, then take it off the heat.
In a large bowl combine 3 cups rolled oats, 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, 1/2 cup dried apricots (chopped), 1/2 cup dried cranberries, 1 cup shredded coconut and 1 cup peanuts (salted or unsalted...whatever floats your boat)
Pour the warm condensed milk into the oat mixture and stir until well coated.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and squoosh it down until the top is level and the mixture is compact. I put some plastic wrap on top so my hands don't get all sticky. (I'm a delicate flower, I know)

Pop those suckers into a 250 degree oven for about 45-50 minutes, until the tops are light brown and your house smells amazing. Let cool for about 15 minutes, lift the bars out of the pan, cut, then let cool completely. You will never look at the store bought ones quite the same again.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Ain't Nothing Gonna Break my Stride....

I have to admit that the week before the bike tour I was a little nervous. Okay, a lot nervous. I was shitting myself actually. I knew no matter how nervous I got I would be okay once I started to pedal. And I was. The only thing that really pissed me off was that I forgot my regular riding pants at home and had to ride in my pajama pants. Such is life I guess, I still got the job done.

The girls and I the morning I left

My time goal for the first day was four hours, that meant I had to keep an average speed of 20km/hr. The first 57km was actually pretty easy, it was after that that my butt started to hurt and my legs started to get tired. I don't think I ate enough for lunch either so I started to feel a little worn down. I was on my own for most of the ride, occasionally chatting with people I was passing, or those who were passing me. I saw a Hutterite couple riding together, she in a long dress and sandals, he in black pants and a short sleeved plaid shirt. I also saw a younger guy riding in jean shorts, a wife beater and flip flops, along with cyclists whose outfits matched their bike. I think that's why I had such a good time, there were riders of all levels and most were really nice and very supportive.

But back to the ride. Like I said, I felt good for the most part, even though it rained constantly. I drank lots of water and ate many bananas. While kilometers 58-75 were more difficult, it was the last 10 that were really tough. I was tired and hungry and my motivation was starting to wane. I was fighting the need to vomit and it was all around unpleasant. Luckily I got to Gimli just in time, got off my bike and got some food and water into me, which picked me up. I completed the first leg in 4 hours and 15 minutes with an average speed of 20.1 km. I was sore, so sore in fact that I wasn't sure if I would feel well enough to ride the next day.

One of the many lessons learned is that Tylenol is magic. I popped a couple, stretched and felt great after a good nights sleep. I was ready to go the next day, but this day was much harder on me. I had a dull headache so I mixed gatorade with my water and put some extra granola bars in my handy dandy jersey pouch. By kilometer 35 I was starting to get tired, and I knew the second half of the ride would be very challenging. I tried to combat this by taking a longer (and larger) lunch break. I sat with a couple women who had seen me say goodbye to the girls the day before. They made me feel better about my progress by calling me a machine and saying they were impressed by how consistent I was. This compliment gave me a bit of a second wind, and while I was in a lot more pain then the previous day, I was able to stay positive and fight though it. I also knew that those last 10 km were going to be hard again, so I spent most of this time talking myself up for them.

Self portrait.

The nice thing about the ride back is that most of the cyclists seem to want to chat, and when they passed me they would say something to pump me up, so I did the same when I passed people as well. I was still wet from the rain in the morning, so I was really uncomfortable and my butt really hurt. The only time I actually considered giving up and pulling over was in the last 4 km. I was just so tired and my legs, arms, shoulders and back were so sore I could not imagine going on. But I followed Lindsay's advice and told myself to do one more stroke, then another, then another until I was in Stonewall. There was a volunteer who said "Welcome to Stonewall!" and I said "I grew up here, and Stonewall has never been so beautiful." I then started to cry....again. I continued to cry up Main Street toward the finish line and through it. I was done in 4 hours and 20 minutes with an average speed of 19.8km/hr. I could not believe I had done it. I knew in theory I could probably do it, but the reality of what my body can do when asked has become apparent. I now need to figure out what to do with this new found knowledge.

Special thanks go out to Colleen and Jim, who housed and took care of me in Gimli, Jen P for all the advice and Lindsay Menard, a bike tour veteran who answered all my questions, was my inspiration to ride and is one of the strongest women I know. One day my Auntie DD gave me a hug and said "You've worked so hard Cara, go ride that bike." I did Auntie DD, I rode the hell out of that bike.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Scary in There

I know I have been remise in posting, but that is what spending a month and a half driving across the country and building sandcastles will get you. I have, however, still been riding. I have to, the bike tour is in a week and a half, but I would rather not think about that right now.

I was reading the handbook for the tour a while ago and I noticed riders are not allowed to listen to music on the ride. At first I was horrified, how would I be able to ride for hours with only the thoughts in my head!! I asked a couple people about it and they said they sneak their iPod along, because no one wants to be trapped for hours with only what's in their head to keep them company.

Then I started to train, and I have not worn any listening device on any of my outdoor rides, and, as it turns out, I like it. I use the hours on my bike to organize, encourage, write stupid poems, and dream. I spend most of my time dreaming, figuring out how I'm going to do all those things I want to. Folks, it can get scary up there in my head, but once you spend a few hours up there and get comfortable, it's not so bad. Plus, on the day of the tour I'll have my sore ass to distract me.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


I am on vacation, with my husband, away from my children. I thought I would have a harder time adjusting to this, but no. Being able to wander around in the afternoon and not worry about nap time agrees with me.

My hubby and I are on a second honeymoon of sorts. We are currently in Toronto, which is so big this Winnipeg gal's jaw dropped when we first drove through it. We are staying with a friend of ours, and when he and Ken went to the Jays game the next day, I was left to my own devices in Kensington Market. I first heard of this area through, no joke, CBC kids. Mamma Yamma has her shop there, so I wanted to check it out for myself. I went to Lettuce Knits where I purchased Cascade Yarn in colour lot 901 and two hanks of a baby Merino from malabrigo in Plena (616) and Sweet Grape (509). The baby Merino is seriously so soft I can use it as a pillow. I must become more observant though, because the shade tree I chose to read under just happened to be next to a large group of drunk people smoking pot. One of those brave souls came up to me and asked if I could replenish their stock, and when I said no he decided to sit down and chat with me awhile. Neither of us really held up the conversation, my side basically consisted of nods, and his mainly of apologies between calling me a "nice lady." After he left I was rewarded for my patience by witnessing his friend try to scale a metal fence. At first I thought he wouldn't make it, but he persevered and was ultimately successful.

I spent the rest of my time wandering though shops, salivating at the outdoor markets and just enjoying being away. This trip will be one of many firsts, but I have now ridden a subway and a street car, drank an entire pint of beer and liked it, and tonight I will see Niagara falls. I really can't say it enough, I love vacation!

Ken and our friend by a plant car.

I ordered the traditional grilled cheese because the rest were, as my father would say, melted cheese based sandwiches, NOT grilled cheese.

The purveyor of said sandwich.

Random house in the market, I just really liked it for some reason.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Hills? Those were Mountains my Friend

**Now updated with pictures.

My family is currently on a road trip, and with the MS bike tour looming up at the end of August my husband and I brought our bikes. We didn't have much of a chance to ride them on the way out to Ottawa, although there was this one time we decided to bike down a hiking trail. Ken would have been fine, but I had to walk my bike most of the way down. That was okay, after three days stuck on top of the van it was nice for her to get out. However, in order for us to get back to the van we had to go back up. Ken thought it would be better to take the road back because, although it was longer was made of actual asphalt. My friends, a prairie girl is not made to ride in the gargantuan hills of Ontario. I thought I would be okay, but my ability to recover after a hill is not great, and the breaks between hills were not long enough for me to recover and pick up speed so I ended up having to walk up most of the hills. Faced with this reality and the fact that I had already walked up three hills and we were not any where near the van, I did what any self respecting female would....I totally and completely fell apart at the seems. I cried, I hyperventilated and I had to be talked down several times by my husband. Finally, I resigned myself to my fate and walked uphill, humbled and a lot embarrassed.

Fast forward three days. The morning had come for my first ride in Ottawa. I felt some trepidation because I was afraid I would spend most of the time walking again, but my fears were unfounded. I picked a nice bike route that went along the river and my average speed was 26km/hr before I hit the construction and had to turn around. We are planning a family ride with the girls and a 50km round trip in Niagara, so I have some fun rides to look forward to on this trip.

My view at the beginning of the path

Going down beautiful paths makes the ride seem effortless. I hope the riders in Ottawa appreciate what they have here.

Booo! According to the local paper, this construction has been taking so long cyclists have been ripping down the fencing in order to use the paths. I can understand why, the detour went uphill through a bumpy open field.