Friday, April 29, 2011

how to road cycle on a mountain bike

You just do it.

I've had this bike for a number of years. There's a good story behind it. It was my brother's bike back in college. It was stolen, and he bought a new bike. Some months later, he biked to the local mall, and discovered his stolen bike there, locked up on the rack. The tag from registering it with his university proved it was his, so it was released to him. He gave it to me as a christmas present. Woot!

Anyway, this is the bike I've been cycling on since then; a lot more regularly in the last two years. It's heavy. And has huge heavy knobby tires. It is a Brute.

But it's what I've gotten used to. Luckily, the fork (the sproingy bit on the front wheel) is stuck in place, so I don't have to work about overcoming a soft & sproingy ride (no, I don't know cycling lingo; so shoot me). I can ride it in high winds, without actually falling off the road. I can ride it uphill and down and on the flattest, most strenuous flats. My calves are the size of tree trunks and I can ride harder and further than Able-Bodied Boy. I have mastered this bike.

So for the love of god, STOP ASKING HOW I COULD POSSIBLY RIDE THIS BIKE FOR ROAD CYCLING!  Ok, these questions are mostly asked light-heartedly by other riders in my cycling club. Riders that have spent hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on very expensive, lightweight bikes riding on narrow, smooth tires. They tell me amusing stories about naive college girls trying to join their club with a hand-me-down bike from their brother and how they really want to ride with the big boys but they get left behind because they just can't handle the bike up hills.

Wonderful. That's not me. I have trained on the Brute. I keep up with ease.

Now, all that being said... I have fancy new narrow smooth road tires that I plan to put on later in the summer. I figure I'll do a bunch of training on these big ones before giving myself a break (according to, well, everyone) and put on tires that will apparently launch me to the moon or something.  My goal is to get up to the 50 mile mark (what I can handle for one day's ride, with small breaks; I'm currently at 20 miles) before switching out the tires. After that, 75 miles should be a breeeeeeeze, right??

And after I reach my goal of riding in Bike to the Bay, Able-Bodied Boy is gonna get me a big-girl road cycle :-D Yippeee!!!

Do you ever get questions about something people think can't be done, while you're doing it? If so, please tell me your amusing story about telling them to go shove...

Much Love,
Able-Bodied Girl


Thursday, April 28, 2011

the state of the body, and the balance of positivity

Last night, I had this whole morning rose-colored and sunshine-y, anticipating the scale-surfing.

I feel great these days. I feel smaller, more flexible, stronger, more energetic, more capable. I have been cycling regularly, getting into a new routine of ab workouts, keeping myself organized and away from the chaos that I seem to wrap around myself at times. I have been positive, toward others and myself. I haven't been perfect, but I embrace myself and treat myself with the gentleness I deserve. I have sprung from the frost of late winter.

There was no way I could not have lost weight. Granted, I haven't been perfect; I've been so positive that I talk myself out of feeling bad about poor choices. But I've been moving steadily toward goals and good choices and trying to keep everything in balance, a delicate balance. And I feel great, so I must have lost weight.

When I stepped on the scale this morning for the first time in 5 weeks, the one pound gain really stung.

Am I being too positive? Too kind to myself? Have I allowed myself too much leniency, not enough tough love? Am I doing something wrong?

Being positive, my answer to all that is no. Being positive has not become a problem.

But, I do want to narrow my focus, now that I can see so much else is under control. I can manage to be better about choices. I can toughen up. I just need to make sure my motivation/tough love does so without tipping the scales so far that I start to resent my own self. Just move slightly away from the coddling of every misbehavior and strengthen my resolve, but still love and support my sometimes-fragile psyche.

I've been listening to My Soothing Mix station on Pandora today (Able-Bodied Sister-in-Law will remember their evening arrival before Thanksgiving, when our family lounged to this station for a drowsy and happy night as we caught up with one another). At times it's inspirational, sometimes sad. But it is music, and uplifts me and calms me.

I'm going to stay on this path of positive. But maybe just walk a little more firmly when necessary. My net loss is still at 7lbs - slightly off track for a 30lb goal, but not insurmountable considering all that I am capable of  :)

How do you make adjustments to your path, without veering off in a new direction?

Much Love,
Able-Bodied Girl

ps. all of this reminds me how much I miss the two girls who shall not be named. the two sweetest girls in the world, who treat themselves and everyone around them with care and respect and humility and grace and an ultimate balance of love for both the good and the not-so-good in the world. girls, i miss you more than ever and crave your inspiration often. love.

Monday, April 25, 2011

nesting, in photos

I hear pregnant moms "nest", getting their homes ready for the baby.

Expectant chicken-owners do too, I think...

the BIG box
lots of pieces, but easy to figure out

a broken part, but they quickly shipped a replacement!
looking down inside the coop

the nearly-finished coop!

still waiting on the roof piece

all so we can enjoy that big orange yolk on the left, not the runny yellow one on the right

It'll totally be worth being called a dirty hippy. Go Chickens!

What's the big project in your life right now?

Much Love,
Able-Bodied Girl


Wednesday, April 20, 2011


I love wintertime. I miss wintertime. There is so much less go-go-go that makes my head spin and my arms ache from all the ball juggling.

In no particular order...

Ball #1: eating habits
Ball #2: workout habits
Ball #3: cycling training
Ball #4: blogging
Ball #5: chicken anticipation
Ball #6: dog anticipation
Ball #7: CSA anticipation
Ball #8: misc doctor's appointments
Ball #9: dishes (I feel guilty if Able-Bodied Boy does mine)
Ball #10: crap I don't have time to run to the next state to buy
Ball #11: family time
Ball #12: personal time
Ball #13: Able-Bodied Boy time
Ball #14: family reunion anticipation
Ball #15: finding a new dentist
Ball #16: keeping FSA/healthcare funds straight
Ball #17: laundry
Ball #18: those herb seeds I keep meaning to plant
Ball #19: that basket that still needs a coat of something protective
Ball #20: don't forget to water all those plants you recently potted!!
Ball #21: several seasons behind in Doctor Who and Torchwood
Ball #22: Boy's attempt to get me to watch every original Star Trek episode
Ball #23: the other netflix sitting there
Ball #24: reading
Ball #25: trimming bushes
Ball #26: raking up the grass for the garden
Ball #27: sanity
you get the point.

To be honest, I was never very good at juggling. 3 balls for a couple of rounds and then they went plop plop plop on the ground...
You may have heard those sounds a bunch in the last couple weeks as #1 and #2 went tumbling.

But hell, I know I'm not superwoman. I know we can dream big and not quite make it and not feel like a failure. I know that I will pick up what's dropped as soon as I can. Priorities will change. Balances will adjust themselves. Life will move on.

Yes ball, I see you lying there. I'll get to you soon...

I guess it'd be rhetorical to ask if anyone else agreed that there is just never enough time?

Much Love,
Able-Bodied Girl


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

more tasty lamb favorites

Back in October, we ordered a half a lamb from a local farm, $150 for what they estimate is 25lbs of goods. They raise them grass-fed and we-can't-afford-the-certification-but-really-are-quite organic. Our November delivery included a selection of ground meat, roasts, chops, shoulder chops, shanks, a leg, and liver. We have been very pleased with the quality of the meat so far!

One of our favorite amusements in Ireland was looking at all the tasty lambies. I have great respect for cute animals that grow up to be delicious and nutritious. Thus is the cycle of life, eh?

This, combined with regular purchases of Costco meats and frozen goods and fresh vegetables, has caused a new pattern in weekend eating: what recipe can we find to get rid of all this food!?!? This weekend, lamb shanks and sweet potatoes were on the chopping block, as you may have noticed with the thai lamb recipe. But there are a couple other stand-out recipes that made great use of our lamb supplies...

For a quick burger fix, this was awesome. I used dried herbs instead of the fresh it calls for, as well as red wine for the sherry. (If you haven't discovered the joyous assistance of the Cook's Thesaurus for food descriptions and substitutions, please do bookmark it!)  I threw on some thick slices of feta cheese near the end of the grilling, and they turned out juicy and delicious!

Lamb Kofte with Yogurt Sauce and Muhammara
We read Bon Appetit religously (thanks for keeping our subscription going, Able-Bodied Mom!) and frequently use their recipes.  This recipe has a lot of things going on ("The Middle East on a flatbread: Turkish meatballs, a tahini-spiked yogurt sauce, and muhammara, a Syrian red pepper spread") but we made all the meatballs in advance and then froze them for later; they are a bit drier that way, but it was less daunting of a meal to pull together on a weeknight. The onions are easy enough, as is the yogurt sauce. And don't let the muhammara scare you... pomegranate molasses can very easily be made Alton-Brown style and I've been able to keep in the cabinet for a number of other uses!

Moroccan-Spiced Pastitsio with Lamb and Feta
Best. For. Last. YUM.
This is a baked pasta dish, topped with a decadent feta bechamel sauce. If you in any way love the flavors of the mediterranean, love pasta and cheese, you will die and go to heaven just like we did. This would make a fabulous hearty meal for a small informal dinner party. It calls for a spice mixture called Ras El Hanout; I found a great version here that uses spices we always have on hand and makes just a bit more than you need for this particular recipe (but I threw it all in for good measure). The bechamel is very rich, and I found that I only needed about half-to-two/thirds of the sauce when using my deep casserole. And I threw it under the broiler for golden good measure there at the end of the baking.
Now I think I'm going to have to go make this again......

Of course, if you don't particularly like lamb, ground beef or ground turkey meat would work well with all of these recipes too. But maybe you think you don't like lamb because it's never been this tasty :)

What well-loved foods do you keep on hand for frequent yums?

Much Love,
Able-Bodied Girl


roasted thai lamb shanks

I just have to share the meal I made on Sunday night. Ever since Able-Bodied Boy discovered my thai cookbook, thai flavors are at the top of our list. I found this recipe on food52, my new favorite source for recipes. The original recipe used ingredients I didn't have, or forgot, and didn't use sweet potato, which we wanted to eat over the weekend. But, really, when have I ever followed a recipe...

with sweet potatoes

i'm not really a good food photographer.... sorry!

You'll need:
*optional substitutions
  • 1/2 cup fresh thai basil leaves (* 2 tsp dried regular basil OR 1/2 cup fresh cilantro) 
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves (from the garden!)
  • 4-5 kaffir lime leaves (* 1/4 tsp lime zest)
  • 1 sprig fresh lemon grass, diced (* 1 Tbsp lemongrass paste)
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp thai red curry paste
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1-3 red thai chiles (ground dried or fresh, to personal spice level)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 8 ounces coconut milk (about 2/3 of a standard can)
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 lamb shanks (1-2lbs each)
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, in 3/4 inch thick rounds
  • 1/4 cup chicken, vegetable, or lamb stock

In a food processor, blend first ten ingredients (leaves through salt) into a paste. Blend in the coconut milk, fish sauce, oil and lime juice, scraping the sides as necessary. Pour into a gallon bag with shanks and allow to marinade at least 4 hours (all day/overnight is better!).

Preheat your oven to 400F. In a baking dish, place the potato rounds in the bottom, then place the shanks on top and cover all with the marinade. Roast for 65-75 minutes (medium-rare to medium-well, to your preference) until potatoes are cooked, turning the shanks over once half-way through.

Plate and cover the lamb shanks to rest and the potatoes on the side. Pour the drippings and stock into a small pan and simmer the gravy for 10 minutes, to thicken. Use a gravy strainer to rid yourself of some of the grease, then serve all!

Note: the original recipe calls for coconut milk to be added to the drippings for the gravy; I opted not to add the additional calories of the coconut milk, but you can if you want! I'm sure it would still be very very tasty!

Serves 2

Prep: 30 minutes
Inactive prep: 4+ hours
Cooking: 1.5 hours

Which style of cuisine is your favorite to eat? to cook?

Much Love,
Able-Bodied Girl


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

chicken commitments

Well, it's official. Able-Bodied Boy bought a chicken coop. We're getting chickens!

I'm not altogether upset that we went the easy route and purchased a pre-made one online. Sure, I would have loved to have had the time and know-how and ability to build our own, reusing wood and making it eco-friendly/sustainable. But really, that wasn't feasible and would have pushed this off for many many months.

In the end, I think that getting closer to our food sources is a much bigger step than building it ourselves. As food corporations get larger and more influential, I fear that comsumers - not the corporations or governments - will have to become more accountable for the food choices they make. Which is why having chickens, joining a CSA, preserving our harvested goods for later consumption, buying local meat & dairy products, learning how to garden, and generally have a self-sustaining lifestyle are all really important to me.

Yes, we're going to defy the local ordinances that dictate we can't have chickens. First, we believe the ordinances to be a residential protection for the smell and sound (roosters). Our planned coop location is 100 yards from our neighbors across the street, and not within line-of-sight of their homes (brush and trees block the view). We don't plan to have any roosters. Our other reason for not requesting a variance is the cost... it's a $300 gamble as to whether or not they'll approve us. And since we don't believe there would be any fee (just the lost investment) if we were to be asked to remove the coop and chickens, it's an added cost we want to avoid.

Once we get the coop, assemble it, and place it, we will dig a 6-inch wide trench of sod out from around the coop. We'll get some additional chicken wire, tie it to the coop fencing, drop it down to the soil and then bent 90-degrees out along that 6-inch trench, then replace the sod. With that, any animals trying to dig under the fence will immediately hit chicken wire and be halted. There is some concern about the latches being too easy for raccoons, but we have never had a raccoon problem in our area so we're crossing our fingers about that.

We've opted to not raise chicks and go for the purchase of pullets (teenagers), three birds to be exact. I think Able-Bodied Boy told me that the next shipping date is in May, so I guess we'd better be ready by then! I'll keep you posted :)

So, who wants to barter for eggs?

Much Love,
Able-Bodied Girl

 ps. next up.... a dog? 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

the great big new announcement!

I'm always making PLANS, aren't I? *grin*

So, on Saturday September 24th, I will be cycling 75 miles from Dover to Rehoboth Beach! This is a MS Society charity event, as well as a great goal in terms of fitness, and I'm happy to have Beth, Girl Explorer joining  me :)

What does this all mean? Well, I can currently ride about 20 miles, no sweat, using a really heavy mountain bike. So if I keep pushing myself, practice good training nutrition, and do some upgrades on my bike, 75 miles should be no problem. I'll also need to raise a minimum of $250 in donations to the MS Society, so I may use this blog for the occasional fundraising; I hope you'll support me in my goal of personal fitness and help to create a world free of MS.

This is going to be a big commitment; I'll need to keep up with my training, riding at least 3 times per week (and at least one of those being a push to go further) and being sure to get out with group rides in the area to get some practice riding with others.

So, I have to ask you all one big question. Do you know someone personally who is affected by MS? If so, I'd love for you to share some of what you know. I don't believe I do, and it would make this event all the more special if it weren't just about me losing weight, but truly about the event itself and it's purpose.

Is your life touched by MS; you, a friend, a loved one? Please share their story in comments and help us all learn more about the impact we could all be having...

Much Love,
Able-Bodied Girl


Thursday, April 7, 2011

how to eat badly, aka lessons never learned

Hmmmm... I wonder why I feel like crap this week? Stumbled through DDR this morning, didn't have the energy to go to the grocery last night, have felt vaguely sad and disconnected this week...

Could it be all the over-eating? The poorly-planned and poorly thought-through meals out? The changes in plans that I used as an excuse to stop trying?

To those that say "Well, all of that is avoidable, isn't it? A little planning and thoughtfulness is all you need!"... well, fuck you. Thank you for making me feel like an idiot. For some people, the mentality and willpower and emotional ties to food are bigger hurdles. Chains that can't be broken easily, habits that persist.

Yes, I could have asked the waiter how the soup was made; it sounded healthy, but came rich and decadent and too tasty to resist. Yes, I could have saved the leftovers for another meal, instead of eating it as a very large snack a couple of hours later. Yes, I could have called ahead to see if that take-out place with some great healthy options was lying on their website about being open; maybe then I would have had a back-up plan that didn't include the fast-food place next door. Yes, I could have paid attention to the nutrition information and not my cravings. Yes, I could have just had a small plate of something and used ice cold water to break my mouth of it's watering as I watched others eat after I had already had my well-portioned, well-balanced light dinner; but I didn't.

That's why I need to have a support person. Someone that can help remind me of my path, remind me of the choices, help me past the mental roadblocks. And most of all, someone who will understand that this might be harder than they realize and treat me gently when I get frustrated, and let me know that it's ok to not be perfect all the time.

Sadly, and obviously, mine was not around this week. So I flailed and failed. But that's ok. I have big plans coming :-D

How do you push past your more-obvious failings?

Much Love,
Able-Bodied Girl


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

eating my own words, nom-nom-nom

Life is all about choices, eh? Life is full of change?

Well, I'm sick of them.  Done. Packing up. No more. Give me a good coma and let me be.

I feel pulled in a million directions. I feel like an awkward teenager. I feel misunderstood and misguided. I feel selfish. I feel dumb and too smart for my own good. I feel capable of doing everything and incapable of doing anything. I'm strong and weak, busy and idle, restrained and liberated. I feel overwhelmed by it all, tangled up in too much, surrounded by life-clutter that no amount of type-A anal-retentivity can begin to sweep up.

I am clearly not living up to the person I want to be, so I either have to shape up or lower my personal standards. Spring fever is burning me, I guess :)

What's got you tangled up these days?

Much Love,
Able-Bodied Girl


Monday, April 4, 2011

omg it's springtime go go go!

I don't know about you, but the weather has created a sudden frenzy of activity. From runs to the hardware store for plants and pots and garden supplies and home repair items to outdoor activities like campfires and impromptu dinners on the deck and cycling around...

I'm exhausted. And motivated. And beginning the all-important LISTS. To-do lists and to-buy lists and to-remember lists. Reminders about reminders and lists about lists. And I don't even do half the stuff I would want to do were I home more often and/or more of a green thumb :)

This weekend, I took the scissors outside and cut the grass. Ok, not really. I cut the chives, which grow way faster than grass as spring begins. I cut a half-basket full, sorted and snipped them, then let them go overnight in the dehydrator. (Overnight was probably too long, but I didn't get them on until late in the evening.) Last year, I spread them on metal sheets and put them in the freezer to freeze-dry. That worked quite well, but took a while. My favorite thing to make with them is sour cream and chive hummus. *DROOL* I'll post a recipe later!

I also got four pots for the spider plants and the *mumblemumblemumble* plant that is dying in the bathroom. I'll repot those (tonight?!?!), and find happy places for them around the living areas of the house. This morning (in my franticly motivated frenzy of cramming every second with productivity) I also discovered why exactly my low-light tropical plant died last year. Apparently the larger pot it came in was filled with smaller plastic pots with the individual plant seedlings; while they were full of slits for root growth, they weren't big enough. Poor plant suffocated to near-death, at which point I gave up and tried to let it thirst to death, while Able-Bodied Boy took pity and kept giving it water until I finally left it outside in the cold. Now I know... check the damn pots for stupid plastic crap.
The big announcement is coming very soon, I promise. No later than this weekend :)

In the meantime, my posts may be a bit more sparse than they were in the winter!

Has spring sprung for you too?

Much Love,
Able-Bodied Girl


Friday, April 1, 2011

w/m02h #3: my shampoo-less month

Ok, it's nearly been a month since I stopped using shampoo. And, no, I'm not gross :)

There were plenty of occasions for adjustment. A 6-day vacation in Florida was a chaotic, greasy, flaky time. But I managed to pull through, figure out what my hair didn't like, and moved on with my life.

I'm still only washing my hair on Mondays and Thursdays. But I'm no longer trying to add oil to my hair; I'll just brush it more to distribute the scalp oils.

I started noticing that flakes were coming back and, after reading a bit of advice in this LJ community (which is very helpful if you're starting out and are looking for solutions for your particular hair type or issue), I decided to try a few things:
  • I'm using a more-diluted baking soda mixture, but I can't really say how diluted... I add water to the bottle during my next washing if the previous washing seemed to have left me with baking soda residue/flakes.
  • I scrub my scalp with my nails pretty furiously when the residue/flakes first appeared, to see if it was just all sorts of chemical grossness coming loose from years on shampoo, or even just dead skin cells. This has really worked the best of all; granted, I had a nightmare day in Florida after the first scrubbing when I looked like I had decended upon them with snow. But that's what a ponytail is for. After that, though, there has been less and less, and I have to spend less and less effort with the scrubbing to maintain a minimal level of flake.
  • I also spend 5-minutes to blow dry (on warm, then cool) my roots; I was thinking that some of the residue/flakes were due to a wet scalp all morning, in combination with too much baking soda. Plus, the blowing might blow some of the flakes out? As I dilute the baking soda more, I'll try drying less. I just hate wasting the energy blow-drying when I have at least another hour before I am in public, and no-fuss no-primping straight hair.
Ok, so for those of you reading all this and considering (or not really considering) going without your coveted shampoo and conditioner, and thinking OMG this sounds like a pain in the ass to do; I could just suds up with some Tresemme... (shit, nobody thinks "OMG" do they?)........

You're right. It's been a bit of a pain in the ass. Everyone's hair is different and your scalp and hair will have to go through their own personal adventure. But, I love a good challenge and this has been a money-, time-, health-, and environment- saving journey so far. And that, in my book, is a WIN. Also, had I not found the little well-sealed bottles that I had found to transport the BS/V in, I could have just rummaged all the ingredients from the houses of those we visited :)

What fun challenges have you encountered lately? Any April Fools' jokes today?

Much Love,
Able-Bodied Girl