Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Summer, Summer, Summer!

Back on the bike!

With no events on my calendar to train for this year, most of my activity has been in the garden, not the bike. May was a busy one, bookended with the boy's celebrations of the ending (temporarily) and beginning of school. We all travelled to Ann Arbor for Chip's graduation from the University of Michigan at the beginning of the month. (Yayyyy, Chippy!!!) He returns to UMich Engineering for his master's degree in biomedical engineering in the fall. 

Then, at the end of the May, Will started his doctorate program at Tufts School of Medicine. He'll be living at home for a semester or two until he begins clinical rotations, hoping to temper the costs of medical school, so I'm crossing my fingers it all works out. 

Wolverines Forever
Chip UM Class of '24, Will '21

The stress I was semi managing throughout the winter -- with elderly family members navigating health issues, our house projects consuming much of January and February, and general daily stressors -- wasn't very successful. I dived off the rails with binge eating -- obviously not the best way to handle stress. Fortunately, I know how to fix that!

Summer is here, it's time to get active again! Donna and I are back at the track and I'm BACK ON THE BIKE. My gardens are well underway, and if the damn rabbits don't eat it all, I just need to weed and water and enjoy what comes. (Gosh, I love my gardens.) It also means I have more time to get out on a ride. I don't have any set goals worked out yet, but I'm working on it. 

I love this time of year.

Summer fun ahead!

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

April! 30 Days of Biking? Not this year

April 1, 2024 30 Days of Biking
The month of April, for ten years, always meant 30 Days of Biking for me... rain or shine. I have to say it wasn't always joyful. I planned to retire after last year's season... and have pretty much stuck to that decision... but did venture out on the bike the first few days of April... until the weather turned. I did not feel compelled  to ride in our early April snow.

Both biking and running have taken a back seat to my garden plans this Spring. My body aches from some of the heavy lifting I've been doing while building new garden beds. (I'm definitely feeling my age these days.) I'm still contemplating riding one day of the PMC this year, and possibly a few 5Ks in the fall. Of my pack of girlfriends, only Amy and Jennifer are training for any big events this year, so there is very little peer pressure. We'll all head to Lake Placid in July for Jennifer's 25th Ironman.

Not 30 Days of Biking, Library haul
We've had a lot of rainy days, which isn't great for riding but good for the garden. I'm waiting to see what perennials return, and have taken over Chip's bedroom as a seed starting station. I had decided to cut back on my vegetable garden this year and instead turn the beds into cut flower gardens, (dahlias, zinnias, sunflowers, etc). But then I ordered three varieties of pumpkins and squash, so I needed to build a few more beds. I finished building one bed on Friday, and then 11 pounds of seed potatoes showed up over the weekend. My plans to cut back this year have been smashed. Clearly I was feeling overly ambitious in January when I ordered five varieties of potatoes. I've gotten out for a handful of rides the last two weeks when the weather has been nice, but my garden has taken over April so far.

Not 30 Days of Biking, Solar eclipse and
nerdy paper glasses

Friday, March 29, 2024

PMC Winter Cycle!

PMC Winter Cycle with Kathy Cronin Grant

Gosh, the winter flew! Kathy and I returned to Fenway Park in early March for the 2024 PMC Winter Cycle, rising money for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Being more familiar with the event this year, our morning went seamlessly, including finding parking directly across from the park! (Score!) 

We had a great session, with high energy lead by instructor's from Boston's B-Cycle -- and look forward to making this an annual tradition!

Pre-Ride Warm-up
Brief chat with PMC founder Billy Starr

Following our PMC Event, we hustled back to the North Shore for an Irish baking course with baker and author Cherie Dunhem, who came to us live over Zoom from her kitchen in Ireland! We learned how to make butter, lemon curd and two types of Irish soda bread during our 90 minute class with Cherie. Fun!

Kathy baking along with Irish baker
 and author Cherie Dunhem
Spotted Dog (soda bread)
Bread, butter, and curd!
A great day!

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

1/12th of 2024

Time for the lobster claw gloves

January is always a good for a reset. After a packed December with family and friends, including hosting a few gatherings -- and having both boys home at the same time, which meant more cooking and meals -- I was happy to get back on track with healthier eating and a regular workout routine. Donna and I did a juice cleanse, which was interesting. I'm not sure I felt cleansed when it was done, but it did help me mentally break away from the excess of the holidays. 

Coffeenurring '23 patch arrived!
The weather has been rather depressing, and I've only been out on the bike a handful of times since the new year started. Since I have a PMC Winter Cycle coming up in March (with my sister-in-law Kathy Grant), I've been getting on the trainer a few days a week just to get in some saddle time. The winter cycle is a spin event, so I don't need to train for it, but it's a good motivator to get on the trainer. 

It's been a month of ups and downs, but we're navigating through it. Fortunately, sprinkled in with the sad and frustrating moments was a University of Michigan WIN in the college football championships, (both boys are Michigan Wolverines); Last fall's Coffeeneuring 2023 patch arrived! So fun! (Always be Coffeeneuring!); Will accepted an offer at Tufts Medical School to pursue his DPT; and we completed a hardwood flooring project which disrupted the house for a while but wrapped up on Monday. It looks so awesome. 

It's been a long month. Im ready to flip the calendar to February.

It's good to be a Michigan Wolverine

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Coffeeneuring 2023 Control Card

Always Be Coffeeneuring

Ride Number: 1

Date: 10/09/2023
Mileage (total): 5
Location Name: Cafe Avellino
Address: Humphrey Street, Swampscott
Drink: Iced latte (and Italian sugar cookies)
Bike: Trek Domane
Ride note: Met a friendly elderly neighbor and his 13-year-old dog, Sonny, who were visiting the cafe  for Sonny's daily homemade meatball, (made by cafe owner Teresa S.)

Ride Number: 2

Date: 10/14/23
Mileage (total): 16
Location Name: The Blue Canoe
Address: School Street, Marblehead
Drink: Iced Vermont maple coffee (and a breakfast sandwich)
Bike: Trek Domane
Ride note: My sister Donna joined me for coffee at The Blue Canoe, followed by art shopping downtown. Fortunately my purchases fit in my backpack for the ride home.

Ride Number: 3

Date: 10/19/23
Mileage (total): 18
Location Name: On the Grind
Address: Jefferson Ave, Salem
Drink: Large cappuccino (and an oatmeal cookie)
Bike: Trek Domane
Ride note: Ran an errand in Salem, which is always difficult at this time of year. (Haunted Happenings brings thousands of tourists to Salem every October) Riding the bike made it quick and easy! I took a winding, off the beaten path route, and snapped a photo of the Halloween decorations on Federal Street. Coffee was at a new place -- On the Grind Cafe -- which opened last Spring. It might be my new favorite coffee shop!

Ride Number: 4

Date: 10/27/23
Mileage (total): 11
Location Name: Java Sun
Address: Atlantic Ave, Marblehead
Drink: Iced chai (and pistachio biscotti)
Bike: Kona Kahuna
Ride note: 75 degrees! Summer in October, I'll take it. Unless that's emblematic of global climate change; in which case, I'd rather it be the normal 55 degrees of October.

Ride Number: 5

Date: 11/3/23
Mileage (total): 14
Location Name: Camilla's Cafe and Breakfast
Address: Canal Street, Salem
Drink: Medium cappuccino (and a croissant)
Bike: Kona Kahuna
Ride note: Started the day early with a gorgeous sunrise! Rail trail to Salem and back, including a paved section along Canal Street in Salem. Stopped at another new coffee spot -- Camilla's Cafe. Great day for a ride!

Ride Number: 6

Date: 11/11/23
Mileage (total): 15
Location Name: Red Line Cafe
Address: Essex Street, Salem
Drink: Iced mocha (and ham and cheese spanakopita)
Bike: Trek Domane
Ride note: Headed our on a windy morning to meet Will at the Peabody Essex Museum, followed by coffee at the (new to me) Red Line Cafe  on the pedestrian mall. There's still quite a number of tourists 2 weeks after Halloween.

Ride Number: 7

Date: 11/16/23
Mileage (total): 15
Location Name: Lulu's Bakery and Pantry
Address: Derby Street, Salem
Drink: Iced latte (and a chocolate covered marshamallow)
Bike: Trek Domane
Ride note: Last ride of the challenge! Visited (new to me) Lulu's Bakery in Salem during a winding tour through quiet city streets. The hordes of tourists are finally gone and Salem is peaceful again. I love this time of year, the lull before the holidays.


I finished Coffeeneuring early this year! Woot woot! That's so rare for me! The weather was near perfect, which made it easier. I also visited several new coffee places this year -- four of the seven, (On the Grind, Lulu's Bakery and Pantry, Red Line Cafe, and Camilla's) -- and one, (Cafe Avellino), I'd only been to once before. Salem has several terrific coffee spots downtown, (and really the best coffee), but I avoid biking through there during most of October. Some great rides this year! Hopefully there will be a few more before the snow arrives.

Happy riding, happy fall!

Friday, November 17, 2023

Coffeeneuring Ride 7, An early finish!

Coffeeneuring Ride 7, Lulu's Bakery and Pantry

I didn't ride with a theme this year, but I could have -- I visited four new coffee shops this Fall and easily could have added a few more to make it a theme. Today I stopped at Lulu's Bakery and Pantry which opened in 2022 and was new to me. Add it to the growing list of great coffee places in Salem! 

The bakery offerings were large, (cookies the size of a saucer), so I chose a small chocolate covered marshmallow and ordered an iced latte with oatmilk. I'm trying to limit my sweets leading up to Thanksgiving, but when I opened the mini bakery box there were two marshmallows inside. OMG. Yes, it was as delicious as it looks. 

I only ate one... until I rode home and patted myself on the back for once again riding up Lafayette Hill into Marblehead... and rewarded myself for the effort with the second marshmallow. Lol.

I started my ride with a loop out to the Willows and Winter Island, and then back towards Salem Common where I intended to cut down to Wolf Next Door for coffee. The trees were beautiful, with just a smattering of leaves hanging on for the last bits of autumn. A lighting contractor was stringing lights in the trees, getting ready for the winter holidays. I love this time of year, when Salem transitions from the gaudy Halloween spectacle to classic, old charm Christmas. It's so lovely.

Broke out the coffeeneuring bandana today

I walked my bike through the Common and rode down Hawthorne Blvd towards Derby Street, but changed my mind on the coffee destination -- instead visiting Lulu's Bakery. It was a happy decision.

Heading home, I swung down Peabody Street to check out the new mini murals that were painted over the summer. Last May, I helped prep the panels for new art work, but hadn't made it over to see the new installation. I got a chuckle seeing the Dunkin' art -- what a perfect ending.

Coffeeneuring 2023 officially comes to a close. Hopefully there will be a few more coffee rides before the snow falls.

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Coffeeneuring Ride 6, Museum Day!

Coffeeneuring Ride 6, Red Line Cafe
After several days of gray, wet weather, it was nice to see the sunshine this morning! Will and I had tickets to see the Salem Witch Trials exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum, (ending on November 27th), but with the weather being so nice, I wanted to take advantage of it while I could and get out on my bike! We made a plan to meet at the museum later in the morning, and I headed off to Salem on the road bike.

The sun was deceiving. There was a cold headwind!

1941 Columbia Superb
We met at the museum and had a great time exploring the galleries for a few hours -- we can both easily spend an entire day there -- and then walked down to the Red Line Cafe on the Essex Street pedestrian mall. I'd actually never been to the Red Line Cafe, as so many of my favorite coffee places are nearby, but I'm glad we checked it out! It was packed -- but we were able to find a cozy table, and went ahead and ordered two iced mochas and some food. The coffee was great and the lunch hit the spot and we enjoyed the vibe. It was still quite busy in Salem post-Halloween, which was surprising to see. 

Heading home I had a tail wind, which wasn't so bad. 

Coffee, art, bikes, and Will. It was a perfect Saturday.

Saturday, November 4, 2023

Coffeeneuring Ride 5, Sunrise start

Early morning double sunrise
I know I'm lucky to live where we do -- it's just a short hop to the beach -- and yet I don't take advantage of catching the sunrise often enough. I was up early today and thinking about brewing my first cup of coffee when I received a text from Will, (already at work), alerting me to the pinks and purples in the sky. I headed down to the beach, thinking there was still 15 minutes before the sunrise, watching the pinks and purples in the sky become shades of red and orange as I got closer to the ocean.

When I arrived at the beach, I was surprised to see the sun was already well above the horizon, a bit hazy from the clouds. My timing must have been off?? But, as I sat on the seawall and enjoyed the changing colors, the sounds of the surf, and the gulls flying overhead, the actual sun popped up over the horizon, giving the illusion of two suns. Stunning.

Today's coffee ride was to Salem, taking the rail trail and new Canal Street bike path that drops you right into Riley Plaza, Salem. (Is it still called Riley Plaza?) I've been trying to visit new coffee places during this year's Coffeeneuring Challenge, and decided to try Camilla's Cafe and Breakfast on Canal Street, adjacent to the bike path. (It's a new-ish place in the original HoneyDew Donuts shop.) The coffee was good but my timing may have been off because they didn't have much in the way of small snacks. I ordered a cappuccino and croissant and sat by a sunny window to warm up. 

Coffeneuring Ride 5, Camilla's Cafe

I headed back home, staying on Canal Street to Loring Ave and then through the Forest River area. There still isn't much foliage to be seen this year -- and many trees have gone straight from green to brown and leafless, (with no change of colors in between). Crazy weather we're having, but lovely for riding.

Friday, October 27, 2023

Coffeeneuring Ride 4, Summer in Fall!

All the colors

It doesn't get much nicer than today's summery day in late October! Last week it was so raw and chilly, we came close to turning on the heat in the house. Today, the temps outside hit 76 degrees! Crazy weather! I took a trail ride into town with a side detour to Hawthorn Pond. We still have a lot of green trees for this time of year, but there are pockets of autumn colors here and there.

I dipped over to Java Sun for an iced chai (with almond milk) and a pistachio biscotti, which looked yummy but sadly was very dry and short on flavor. Once-upon-a-time, this was one of my favorite coffee shops, but lately it's been hit or miss. 

Three coffee-dedicated rides to go, and I'm on track to actually finishing the Coffeeneuring Challenge on time this year! (Last year I needed the bonus day when I misread my calendar -- a few years I've finished on the last day.) I don't want to jinx it, but I'm feeling optimistic.

Coffeeneuring Ride 4, Java Sun

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Coffeeneuring Ride 3, On the Grind

Coffeeneuring Ride 3, On the Grind Cafe

The weather isn't looking great for the weekend, so I headed out on the bike today while we still had sunshine. It was a perfect day. I had an errand to run in Salem, which is always dicey at this time of year with the influx of thousands of tourists. (Not an exaggeration.) Fortunately, I know a lot of side roads and detours, which made for slower, meandering ride, but a nice one. I stopped and snapped a few photos of a house on Federal Street decorated for Halloween. The pumpkins and skeletons were fabulous.

Coffee was at a new place on Jefferson Ave in Salem called On the Grind Cafe. They served Atomic Coffee, which is a local favorite. The coffee was really, really good and I enjoyed the friendly vibe. I will definitely become a frequent customer. 

Perfect autumn day

Halloween on Federal Street

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Coffeeneuring 2023, Ride 2, Saturday Sun

Coffeeneuring Ride 2, The Blue Canoe

We lucked out with the weather this weekend, which was originally forecast to be a washout. I took advantage of the limited early sunshine and biked to The Blue Canoe in Marblehead where my sister Donna joined me for coffee. We then located a bike rack a block and a half away, locked up my bike, and walked downtown to do some art shopping. 

We headed first to the Artisans Fall Festival at the Jeremiah Lee Mansion -- which was ok but lacked freshness. The artisans were, of course, very talented and had lovely items, but everything on display was overly familiar and nothing inspired a purchase. (Especially since we each own several pieces from many of the same artists.)

Leaving the mansion grounds, we next headed to the galleries and artisan shop at the Marblehead Arts Association at the King Hooper Mansion, diagonally across from the Lee. I purchased a sweet felted acorn necklace and a suet bird feeder with a kaleidoscope of colorful nesting materials. (Donna purchased a few items as well). We had a fun afternoon visiting a handful of shops, making a few more purchases, (a hat and gloves for me) and then called it an afternoon. 

The sun disappeared on my ride home -- I caught the best part of the day.