Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas 2013

John and I spent Christmas week with family in Boulder City. Aunt Jan and Grandma drove up from CA and were already there so when we arrived in town, we met everyone at Jack's Cafe for lunch. We had drinks and jalapeno poppers and wings and blooming onions...and I can't remember what else but it was all so good! Afterwards the women went to the local library to pick up some books while the boy went to the stable.
 Our cat, Havi, is not the only animal who can shake hands. Dolly the goat can also shake hands!

I wish I could tell you about each day but this post would be very long so there is a slideshow at the end.
To sum it up we cooked all sorts of good food and ate and drank wine like kings and queens. There were homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast, the best sea scallops and prawns for dinner one evening, seared to perfection prime rib roast another evening - OMG, I still drool at the memory!!
With no solid plans on schedules it was really nice to wake up, have breakfast, and chat with each other. John brought his bike and rode alone some days and went on a bike ride other days with friends.
The ladies went shopping one of the days and had lunch at the Elephant Bar.

When Christmas Eve came we were just spoiled, spoiled, spoiled with gifts. I love them all and the best part, is just sharing that evening with family over port and chocolate or was it ice cream with sparkles. I didn't want it to end!


We had received a Wine Trivia card game and we played that one of the evenings. Aunt Jan and Grandma won and Maggie and I were a close second! Before we knew it, it was time to head back home to Reno. But we were grateful for our time together, every minute of it.

I hope you had a nice Christmas and...Happy New Year to you!!

These are photos from our Christmas week:

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Oh Christmas Tree

We finally got around to decorating the Christmas tree. Each year we support the local Boy Scout Troops by picking out a Silver Tip from their tree lot. But we were a little too busy to adorn it with our favorite ornaments so the tree sat naked for a while.

 But when it came time to decorate the tree, it was a family affair indeed.
 Well...for some of us anyway.  Elgy was a little too pooped from playing all morning to do any decorating.
 Always curious Havi decided to try out some of the tin boxes for size.
But by the evening, we had to stop ourselves and not overdo things like we always do.
 The tree is decorated and the stockings are hung.
 

 This ornament is 39 years old!
Now all that's left to do is to wait for Santa!

Tax Benefits for Bicycling to Work

Bicycling is a great way to save money and get exercise. Achieving both can be beneficial, especially if you bike to work. Did you know that you (and your employer) can get a tax break and credit for you commuting by bicycle? Former President Bush signed the Bicycle Commuter Benefits Act into law in January 2009. The best information I have found about the Bicycle Commuter Benefit is on the League of American Bicyclists's website. You can reead more about what the tax break for bicycle commuting is on eHow.com

The maximum reimbursement is $20 per month* for expenses such as the purchase of a bicycle, bicycle improvements, repair, and storage. The tax benefit could get better if H.R. 2288: Commuter Parity Act of 2013 is passed. It will amend the Internal Revenue Code to allow up to $35 per month for qualified bicycle commuting reimbursement. I will keep you posted on the status this bill (if only my Issues and Tracking page was working :-P).

If your employer is not participating yet - go talk to the Payroll or Human Resources Department. I made contact today so they will start the ball rolling at my workplace. Here's "How to Bicycle to Work for a Tax Deduction" (eHow.com). There are more references and resources below.

Keep pedaling and have a safe ride!

By the way, I always wear a helmet when I ride any of my bicycles. I was demoing my new bike to my co-workers in a parking lot when this photo was taken.

References and Resources:

Friday, December 13, 2013

Friday Finds

Love these bicycle related gift ideas (wristlet, ID pouch, wine holder and tea towel) -- oh my!
  1. Natural Life Bicycle Vegan Leather Wristlet ($29.99 at Ulta.com)


  2. Natural Life Vegan Leather Bicycle ID Pouch ($15.00 at Ulta.com)

  3. Use coupon code 104660 when you shop online at ulta.com and get $5 off any qualifying purchase of $10 or more. Ulta coupon valid 12/4/2013 - 12/24/2013. Enjoy!

  4. Red Bicycle Wine Holder ($19.99 at World Market)

  5. Green Flower Power Bike Tea Towel ($7.99 at World Market)


  6. Get 10% off everything + free shipping on $50 when you use code VERYMERRY during checkout at WorldMarket.com while supplies last. I am not sure when the code expires.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Night Riding

I just simply needed to ride my bike somewhere...anywhere. So I rode in the freezing morning 2.2 miles to my coworker's house. Most of the route was downhill. At one point, I had reached speeds of 36.8 mi/hr on my commuter! Although it was a short 10 minute cruise, my gloves were no match for the 10°F degree temps--especially with the windchill factor. By the time I reached my co-worker's house, my thumbs were ready to freeze off. Painful but still it was fun to be out there!

What I wore was simple. A 32 Degrees Heat by Weatherproof® base layer (it might still be at your local Costco for $8.99 -- which is a great deal!). Check out this link to the features as posted on Macy's website. I absolutely LOVE them because even though they are thin they retain my body heat, wick away moisture to keep my skin dry, and feel comfortably soft like a second skin. Compared to my Pearl Izumi, Craft, and Nike base layers (as well as others I have seen out there) this one wins for value.

On top of my base layer is my sweater, scarf, and these great off-white stretch riding pants which fit nicely into my boots. Of course I wore a wool jacket which is hanging on the wall behind me.

Never once was I cold - except for my thumbs.
I braid my hair into pig tails for hassle-free and helmet-free hair. When I look outside my office window, it doesn't seem cold out there with the amber clouds but it is still freezing out there!
When evening came, I rode back home. In the dark which is not what I am used to. My husband met me outside to greet me as I pedaled down the snow and ice covered street to our house.



Monday, December 09, 2013

Single Digit Temperatures in Reno

I don't think I have lived anywhere where the temperature was this low. Not in Washington state and not ever in Nevada, Vegas or Reno. The weather is cooler for other regions too, not just our state.

The gauge in the car read 1 degree Fahrenheit this morning so you bet I rode in the car with John instead of bicycling or scooting to work today.


Besides, I would have to shovel the snow in front of my bike locker anyway.


At least our home is nice and toasty! And it should warm up to normal temperatures this week as well.




31 Degrees Below Freezing

Now that the snow has stopped, I long to ride my bike to work again. Of course my timing could not be worse since it is clearly too cold outside. Not only that but the roads are icy and poorly plowed in places less traveled. Add to that, bike lanes that are pretty much non-existent or more like they've become temporary parking places for displaced piles of snow.
If I were to ride by bike, the first descent out of the gate would be down this .60 mile, 7% grade stretch of road. It is fun (and hairy) on a road bike in dry conditions but certainly not smart to fly down when it's icy.

My husband drove me to work instead. The temperature gauge in our car read, 1°F -- which was 31 degrees below freezing!
Besides, my bike locker appears to be blocked by hardened snow and I would need to do some shoveling to clear it. I guess whoever plowed this area assumed no one would be crazy enough to ride in this weather anyway.
Still I couldn't resist dressing up like a cute commuter!
 After this, I put on tights, my long wool coat, and boots! There is an positive side to this cold weather.



Sunday, December 08, 2013

Our Weekend

It snowed on and off throughout the weekend except for today. It was clear and sunny and felt warmer than the reported high of 19F degree temperature at the airport.



John and I went shopping to get some winter gear. I picked up a couple of snow boots (hard to believe I don't have any going into our third winter in Reno-Tahoe-Sparks). 


These Joan of Article by Sorel and Keen Bern Baby Bern boots. Both waterproof but the former has heavier duty insulation.



Then we went to lunch at Josef's Vienna Café (which also has a nice bakery inside). We tried their sandwiches, soups, and salad - all yummy. I think the freshly baked bread makes it all better...oh and the homemade butter cookie included with the meal.



We also picked up a silver tip Christmas tree from a local Boy Scout lot. We started to decorate the outside of our house after we got home. 




Things are coming along nicely even though we told ourselves that we would not get carried away with the decorations this year.


Now John has the flu so we are waiting for him to get better before putting ornaments on the tree, it is a family tradition that we like to enjoy together while playing Christmas music and drinking egg nog.

This is my last week of the semester with two more class meetings to go. Then I get to come home to our family instead of staying on campus late.

I cannot believe how fast Christmas is approaching. So much to do before then!!