A Brief Intro to Our New Lives

We have been in our new home for two weeks now – seems like forever yet we still aren’t 100% unpacked. The Mechanic started a new job right before we moved and his been working crazy long hours, so we haven’t gotten as much done as we’d like. Consequently, I don’t have many photos to share – hence the brief into. (Note: I am writing this on the bus so apologies for weirdness.)

This is one of the highlights so far:   

We have hardwood floors, yay!, and picking out rugs is so fun. This is in our dining room, from which we have lovely views of trees. 

I did unpack the sewing machine and put notions in drawers for an important psychological step forward. (The box clutter is beginning to stress me out.) No time to sew yet but hopefully soon! 

I have a new bike commute but I don’t have any photos of that yet. It’s about a mile longer, at least the route I am taking is, and ever so slightly uphill in the morning. I know I need the exercise….

The biggest change in our new lives is now being parents to three bunnies. English angora siblings Sullivan (the boy) and Quinn (the girl) came home with Gaston right after we moved in. Twice his weight and three times the fluff, we find ourselves in a scramble to have enough hay, litter and greens. Yes, I did just order a 50lb box of hay. 

They all get along very well in a sort of love triangle way – sometimes I see Gaston snuggling with Quinn, sometimes with Sully, and sometimes it’s Sully and Quinn together. Last night I opened the pen up to see what they would do and give them a taste of things to come. Sully and Quinn happily nosed around the living room and I even saw a few tiny binkies! Follow all three on Instagram : @fluff_and_ears 

Hopefully I’ll be back on track soon! 

My DIY Reflective Shoes Experiement

Wednesday, April 6, was National Walking Day, an event promoted by the American Heart Association, and a day that my office promoted to our communities. It was also a good day to wear my new sneakers* – my DIY reflective sneakers!

Reflective Shoes 3I ordered a small (2.3oz net weight) can of Albedo 100 Reflective Spray, after the company liked one of my (many) reflective posts on Instagram. A Swedish product, made in the USA, “designed with nordic conditions in mind” – the possibilities seemed endless with reflective spray paint!!! Oh the things I was planning in my head.

But first I wanted to test it out on something I didn’t really care about, just in case. I hunted around for a pair of fun yet cheap sneakers that I’d want to actually wear – as I’m not a fan of sports shoes, I wasn’t interested in an investment. I found a cute pair at Payless Shoe Source that fit the bill, but of course, not only did they not have my size in the store, they were not available anywhere anymore! Gah! Then I found this really great Addidas pair on clearance in Macy’s – see, the Ballston Mall does have some good finds! (Sidenote: the Ballston Common Mall is generally known around town as a miserable, sad excuse for a mall, and we are all eager for Ballston Quarter, coming in the far future.)

The iridescent stripes on the side closed the deal on these shoes!

The iridescent stripes on the side closed the deal on these shoes!

I took them outside to spray them. The directions on the can Said to shake vigorously for “at least 1 minute” and to repeat during the application. As it is a clear product, it was hard to see what I’d sprayed, except for the white rubber part on the right shoe where I started. I was surprised when I ran out of spray paint shortly after starting the left shoe! I don’t know if I over-sprayed the left shoe, or if this small can is just not enough for two shoes.

Spraying the shoes - see the gray spray on the white rubber? oops. Got carried away there.

Spraying the shoes – see the gray spray on the white rubber? oops. Got carried away there.

So here are the results:

Can you tell how the first shoe I sprayed, the right shoe, is nicely covered, but the left shoe is not? Bummer! Especially since I prefer the majority of my reflectivity to be on my left side, aka, the car side. I feel a bit lopsided, too, but I guess no one can really tell. Also, since this spray paint is intended for fabrics, it clearly doesn’t work well on the rubber, as it is scratching and peeling off. The product apparently washes away, and I tried to wear them in the rain recently, but I can’t tell that it washed off. I guess if I sprayed a jacket and then washed it, I would notice. However, given how little I purchased and covered one shoe with, I can’t imagine trying to re-reflective something all the time.

I’m not as happy with this experiment as I’d hoped I be, but that’s partially user error, I think. I doubt I’ll try this again, but you never know. Maybe it would be fun on spectator shoes, where I wouldn’t try to cover the entire shoe.

Naturally, I love these shoes because I love anything reflective, and I really love the shoes anyway. I know I’ll wear them regardless! But then I found these gorgeous Nike cherry blossom shoes and now I really, really, really love these more… They could be reflective, right? Like the Capital Bikeshare #BikeinBloom!

Nike Cherry Blossom Shoes

Serious lust…

 

*Seriously, what is the appropriate current term for these shoes? I grew up calling them tennis shoes, and I refuse to call them “runners,” but what *are* they?!

Hold Please!

Oops. Somehow the week went by too fast and I never got my blog post written for Thursday! And here it is, Friday morning, and I am writing from a Vamoose bus en route to New York City. I have a busy schedule of friends and theater and fabric shopping, plus getting my hair cut at my favorite place, the Aveda Institute (the students practice on willing guinea pigs!). When I lived in Manhattan I only went there – the price is right and it appealed to my constant desire for something new while having a consistent place to go. And in all the years I went, I can only think of one haircut I really didn’t like. 

I also hope to have an opportunity at lady to try out CitiBikes. I confess a degree of nervousness about biking in NYC but I know it’s improved slit since I lived there, so I need to get over my worries. Nonetheless, New York does not have a good track record for biking and pedestrian protections.

So please excuse the lack of a bike-themed post for this week, and I’ll get back to you soon! 

Enjoy your long Memorial Day weekend!  

 

Books for Girls, Not Necessarily Bike-Related

One of the fun perks of being married is that now I have a niece. I’ve known her for several years already, of course, and watching her change to the very grown-up age of eight has been fun. Of course, having always wanted to be an aunt, I get very excited around Christmas, because I can think of all kinds of fun things to get her, and it gives me an excuse to buy stuff at the American Girl Doll store (I can’t really justify buying clothes for my American Girl Doll, so this is a good substitute). However, I want to make sure she gets some smart, thinking-girl gifts as well.

Conveniently, my boss recently recommended A Mighty Girl, a website billed as “The world’s largest collection of books, toys and movies for smart, confident and courageous girls.” What a wonderful find! I love all the stuff, and not only does it makes me want some of the fun science kits, my reading wish list has just grown out of control. I continually strive to be a smart, confident and courageous girl, so even I find their recommendations inspiring.

A Mighty Girl, one of my new favorite websites! (Image from the website)

A Mighty Girl, one of my new favorite websites! (Image from the website)

My favorite books span my decades, and I still return to them when I’m feeling stressed. Their challenges and triumphs remind me that even though they and their challenges are fictional, they overcome their challenges with strength and humor and grace. Frances Hodgson Burnett’s book A Little Princess was my childhood comfort story, and no, I have not seen any movie adaption, because I don’t to ruin my mental images of the story (I also remain terribly loyal to the illustrations of my 1975 copy). Sara Crewe’s story is definitely one that few of us can directly relate to (diamond mines – I wish!), but the fact remains that she stayed gracious and positive and creative throughout her personal struggles. I think we can all learn lessons from that. Robin McKinley’s book The Blue Sword captured my early adulthood fantasies the way that no other book had, not even The Lord of the Rings. Harry Crewe, the woman warrior destined to wield the Blue Sword, was tall, blonde and independent, and the story of her birthright inspired me to be strong and athletic and powerful. And discovered maybe a decade ago by my mother, Elizabeth Peters’ character Amelia Peabody was not only a Victorian Egyptologist and lived part of the year in Egypt, but also over the course of several books and several decades, she solved murder mysteries, was thrown into at least one dire circumstance per book, was married to an eminent Egyptologist, raised a mysterious (yet sexy!) son, and strong-armed everyone she met into doing what she wished them to do. And in the best possible humor, whether intended or not!

These books may not seem very “grown up” to some people, but I love creative, well-written stories with strong female characters. I’m also looking forward to reading a new book, The Number 7, by new author Jessica Lidh. Written for teen readers, the book’s mystery, Holocaust past, and Swedish history during World War II make it of interest to me. It also helps that Jessica Lidh is my friend April’s sister! April has told me in the past about the book, and I’ve been awaiting its publication – this month! I haven’t read it yet, but it was on my list to Santa, so hopefully that will be next month’s reading. I can’t wait! The Number 7I don’t know if my niece will end up with the same love of books that I have, but I will do my best to make sure she at least gets exposure to strong girl stories. There are so many out there, all collected onto one website, that there is no way she should be at a loss for good role models as she gets older. One of her Christmas presents is a book listed on A Mighty Girl’s website. It isn’t Bicycle Madness, but if anyone wants a gift hint, well, here’s the link!

Do any of you have favorite “mighty girl” books or stories? Where did you get your inspiration from when you were young? Or did you find your might later in life? And what tips would you offer to an aunt of a young girl?

Only one of several packed bookcases - I can't help it, I love books!

Only one of several packed bookcases – I can’t help it, I love books!

Thanksgiving in Mendocino

Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s been a whirlwind Northern CA week (plus), culminating here in the small Victorian village of Mendocino. This is my most favorite place in the world; my parents and brother and I have vacationed here since I was in 9th grade. Renting a house for a week every summer, and the week of Thanksgiving, we began to feel like locals.

It’s been many years since I was here for more than one night, and it feels so luxurious to wake up to views of the ocean. Today, Thanksgiving, the ocean is rough and stormy, despite the clear blue sky- just the way I like it!

I am thankful this year for so many things – The Mechanic, my job, my blog supporters, and having the opportunity to spend time with my parents (who live in CA), my aunt and cousin (who live in IL), and The Mechanic.

I hope your Thanksgiving is peaceful and full of family!

20131128-101015.jpg

20131128-101049.jpg

20131128-101103.jpg

Bike Racks

I’d had a lovely walk home this evening (<gasp!> a WALK?! Yes, it happens) and was thinking about blogging about all the lovely things I saw on my walk home that I would normally miss whilst zooming past them on a bike, but then I read this blog post and felt a need to share it.

http://bikinginheels-cycler.blogspot.com/2012/04/whole-foods-bike-rack-fail.html

Biking in Heels Cycler was venting about the fact that Whole Foods (or at least the one in Cambridge, MA), which prides itself, markets itself, on sustainability and doing good for the earth, etc., fails at something as simple as bicycle transportation support with bike racks that are too close together and an inconvenient (dare I say outdated?) style. Some of the comments point out that the Trader Joe’s in the area is similar. And of all places, these are the stores that we expect to “get it”!

A while back, BikeArlington did a review of Arlington grocery stores and ranked them based on the guidelines issued by The Association of Pedestrian and Bicyclists Professionals. The 16 stores chosen for the project all earned a wide range of scores, with several failing altogether and some doing fairly well.  Accessibility to the racks seems to be the biggest problem. Asking cyclists to go down parking garage ramps and lock up next to dumpsters is barely complying.

Transportation Secretary LaHood, in his blog post today, talks about National Bike Month (of course!) and how DOT is working with many different agencies to support biking as a transportation option. And he’s right – the statistics that the pilot programs and special efforts produce show that supporting transportation biking positively changes communities. So it’s even more mind-boggling that retail giants like Trader Joe’s* and Whole Foods don’t seem to get it.

Hopefully this will start a conversation about national standards for bike parking. If you notice inadequate bike parking, even if you don’t bike yourself, please contact the store to complain.  Encouraging cyclists will only improve your way of life too.

*The new Trader Joe’s near me has some decent bike racks but not enough – it’s Trader Joe’s for crying out loud! Of course people are going to bike there to shop! And it’s in Arlington! Again, of course people are going to bike there to shop! They could have easily doubled the amount of bike racks in front of the store. The space is there.

I love this – a marching band on bikes! She’s right – that is SO Dutch.

The Penny Farthing

Sometimes I feel like the weather is the single most influential thing on my mood. Yesterday morning it was pouring rain and I felt completely unmotivated. Then it stopped and the sun did it’s best to peek out from the clouds all afternoon. And guess what? I felt so much happier! I hate admitting that something I have no control over can affect me so much.

At least all this rain is giving good fodder to the flowers in the city. We’re planning a visit to the famed Keukenhof Gardens in a few weeks to see the tulips, but until then I’ve been spying plenty of blooms in the corners of the city.

On Saturday night we went to Haarlem and caught the tail end of the Bloemencorso–the Flower Parade! Night fell before we saw it (which means my pictures aren’t so great) but each float was highly impressive and…

View original post 64 more words