Sunday, January 24, 2010

Jessica's New Bike

We finally bought Jessica a bike! It took forever, but it is perfect. Here's the story:

On the night of the first Saturday this month we were driving around and decided to go the thrift store to check some things out. We walked in and almost immediately off in the corner I saw a glint of blue from a bike. Of course I'm naturally drawn over to it. As I'm walking over I'm sizing it up and see that it would be about the right size for Jessica. As I got closer it suddenly hits me! It was the female version of the Free Spirit Britney!!! Now that might not seem significant, however, my first commuting bike (look familiar?) was a...**drum roll** Free Spirit Britney!!! I couldn't believe it! I jumped right on and started riding toward Jessica and the girls giddy with excitement saying "Jess, Jess, check it out!". She got on the bike and it fit. The best part? It was only $19.99 (not quite as good as the free frame that Matt Young dug out of a dumpster for but I'm not complaining, it was still an awesome deal).

I didn't get off the bike in the store. For one, I was excited about it and for two I didn't want someone else to get it. It's in super good condition, I believe all original parts. I just had to inflate the tires a little, adjust the seat, and do a little derailleur adjusting and it is good to go. The only thing is I need to replace the cable and housing for the rear brake.

Here's a cellphone shot of Jessica riding in the parking lot that night:

Today was the first day that Jessica really got to ride it. She loved it. Of course by the time we got outside and the girls situated in the stroller I realized I left the camera inside. So of her first ride I have one cellphone pic:

What are the chances of finding that same bike, female version, in primo condition, and it's the perfect size? Too bad my Britney was too small and I had to sell it. Tomorrow I'll dig the bike trailer out of our storage and we go for our first family bike ride! Woooooo!

Friday, January 22, 2010


I made a killer dinner a couple weeks ago and I was going to post it but forgot. So let's had been awhile since we had made any kind of Chinese food so one night I sort of went nuts.

We had ham fried rice, an Asian cole slaw, sausage egg rolls, and a sweet and sour sauce. Everything was homemade and dinner was good. I really liked everything (well I knew I liked the fried rice and cole slaw because we've made them before) except for the sweet and sour sauce. It was sweet, it was sour, but it just wasn't quite right.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I've never been very big on 'journaling' in the traditional sense. I don't have a leather bound, a hardback, or any other form of journal that I update on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Growing up I always heard about the importance of journaling for posterity. Write your feelings, your thoughts, what's going on in life. Writing takes too long. This blog, of course, is a form of journal for me, but still not in the traditional sense. But at least it's something.

Over time I've warmed to the idea of keeping track of things but still can't behind writing. I still haven't found the motivation to write down the traditional type topics. What has happened is an odd collection of journals. It all began last year when I decided I wanted to keep track of my bike commuting miles. I created an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of various things. Then it progressed to a list of all the books I had read for the year (the rule being that the book is counted in the month it is finished). And it culminated with a 'body' journal. This one is my favorite. The idea came entirely from my friend Craig. The premise is that anytime you do something to your body that causes pain and discomfort for more than a couple days, it get's put in the journal. It's fantastic because I'll never be able to remember this stuff, but when I read about it again it brings back fond memories. Of course many of the entries could be embarrassing.

So without further adieu here's a recap of 2009:

Bike Commuting Highlights

  • Logged 206 days in the saddle

  • Covered 1,799 miles

  • Burned approximately 63,210 calories commuting

  • Drove the car 3 days

  • Rode the bus 7 days

  • Put in 20 days riding recreationally (mostly mountain biking)

  • Logged 128 miles (thank you short Glenwild loops at lunch

  • Burned 4,480 calories

  • In total has 226 riding days, 1,927 miles, and 67,690 calories burned

Here's the list of books I read in 2009, by month:

  • A Rumor of War

  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid

  • Urban Homestead

  • Glorious Cause

  • Rise to Rebellion

  • Grace

  • Fablehaven

  • Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage for Fruits and Vegetables

  • The Art & Science of Dumpster Diving

  • The Last Lecture

  • Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star

  • Complete Guide to Container Gardening

  • Fablehaven: Grip of the Shadow Plague

  • The Collectors

  • Trial by Fury

  • Hot Money

  • The Urban Homestead

  • Stone Cold

  • The Backyard Homestead

  • Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage

  • Homemade Root Beer, Soda & Pop

  • Taking the Fifth

  • Free-Range Kids: Giving our children the freedome we had without going nuts with worry

  • Revenge of the Whale: The True Story of the Whaleship Essex

  • Fablehaven 4: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary

  • The Backyard Homestead

  • Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War

  • Jesus the Christ

  • Divine Justice

  • Born to Run

  • Between a Rock and a Hard Place - Aron Ralston

  • Influence: Science and Practice (5th Edition)

  • Believing Christ

  • Into the Wild

  • Deal Breaker

  • Enchantment

  • Monkey Wrench Gang

The Body Journal

This I didn't start until partway through the summer. My self-injury rate dropped dramatically once I started school because I don't have time to do anything else.

Click to see a larger image:

I'll keep these going during 2010 and will possibly add some others.

How about you? You keep any nontraditional journals?

Monday, January 11, 2010


I decided to try and make soap. It's been something I've thought about doing for a few years but for whatever reason over the holiday break I got motivated. I found a book at the library, read it in about a day, bought the ingredients, and gave it a whirl.

Things started out well. The lye and water were mixing well, the oils were combining well, and I started mixing the lye/water with the oils to begin the saponification process. The book recommended using a stick blender to mix the soap but it said you could do it by hand. I tried by hand but it didn't work out. It never fully fixed. I poured it into a mold anyway to see what happened.

I was super bummed about it not mixing was talking to Jessi about it, so she did a little searching and found that you can't really mix soap by'd take something like three days. So she went and picked up an inexpensive stick blender.

I made another batch of soap and it's true, you really need to have a stick blender. This second batch mixed correctly and poured nicely. The next day batch one had a nice thick layer of oil on top. Batch two was just as it should be. It looked and smelled like soap. I remixed batch one and set it aside to see if it would cure but it didn't. It's just like the regular soap but creamy like lotion.

The strangest part that I didn't know is that the bars of soap need to cure for one month to fully harden. We've tested the creamy soap and the shavings and bits from the other soap and so far so good. We just have to wait it out.

Next up comes fragrance oils and exfoliators. The bars are super rough looking. I didn't try to clean them up at all.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Jessica the Baker

So after a ridiculously long blog hiatus (I swear I've blogged since November 7th) I am back.

Tonight I have been removed from all cookie baking in the Miller household. Jessica made us some snickerdoodles and when she pulled the first batch out the oven she said "you have officially been removed as the cookie baker". She is correct. Man they were good cookies. Check them out:

My snickerdoodles never quite turned out like that. They always ended up super crunchy. Hers are still soft, chewy, and delicious. She can definitely take over the cookie baking, I won't mind at all!