Thursday, October 18, 2012

One Simple Goal Accomplished: Two Wheel Traveling

A couple weeks ago I wrote a post about 4 Simple Goals {Before 2013}
The third goal on my list reads: Ride my bicycle to campus more often than I take my car.
 I can gladly report that I've succeeded at this goal.
And I love it. 

 Breathing fresh air and getting my heart pumping is a much better start to the day compared to sitting in traffic and trying to find a parking spot, and it's actually faster to take my bike.

I pack simply and lightly. My little basket holds a small notebook, a few books, my phone and wallet, a collapsable tote, and even a strategically placed coffee cup. (Although I might be pushing the 17 pound weight limit now that we're into the very large second volume of the Norton Early American Literature anthology, but that's yet to be seen.)

Bicycling makes me more confident, y'all. Those hills aren't as steep and those cars aren't as intimidating as they used to be. I grew up in the completely flat Mississippi Delta, never having to change a gear to pedal up hill, so I am weary of even the smallest of hills and plan routes around them. (Ask Steve about the first time he made me pedal up a hill in Columbus.) But one day I got the courage to go a faster route up a small hill, and now it's a breeze. I'm also more comfortable in street traffic. A lot of students at UA ride their bikes on the sidewalks, but I'd rather not run the risk of hitting someone who is walking or getting in the way of someone who needs full access of the sidewalk. So it's out into the street for me. Thankfully, drivers around Tuscaloosa seem to be pretty aware and considerate of us folks on two wheels.

Riding while wearing a skirt is much easier than I imagined. I had horrible {possibly illogical} visions of my skirt blowing up over my head or getting caught and ruined in the chain, but after seeing the women on Call the Midwife ride on cobblestones in nurse's uniform skirts and finally deciding I couldn't keep saving my favorite skirts for the rainy days of driving, I mustered up the courage to try it out, and much to my surprise, it was no big deal. 

Here's a photo of my second successful skirt/Schwinn combo:

thanks to Collyn for snapping this one

Happy pedaling! 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffin

In our little half of the duplex, we currently have pumpkin beer, pumpkin spice coffee syrup, and now pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. You might say that Collyn and I have a little bit of an obsession. But, who doesn't love pumpkin goodness, especially in October? 

pumpkin chocolate chip muffins

A few days ago while I was working on the paper that has kept me from blogging for the past couple of weeks (I turned it in yesterday, hooray!), I ordered a pumpkin chocolate chip muffin at one of our lovely local coffee shops, so today, when I decided I was in the mood for some baking, I thought back to those delicious muffins. I looked online for a recipe but didn't find one that sounded right to me. I wanted to use multiple spices rather than the pre-mixed spices in a cake mix, oil rather than butter, and pure pumpkin rather than pumpkin pie filling. So I, of course, called Lulu for consultation, and she had a plain pumpkin muffin recipe that we spruced up to make the recipe for these muffins. 

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
yield: 24-30 muffins 

2 cups AP flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger 
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 15 ounce can pure pumpkin
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

How To:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

 Whisk dry ingredients together.

Add vanilla eggs, oil, and pumpkin. Mix until evenly incorporated. 

Add chocolate chips and stir. 

Spray muffin tins with cooking spray or line them with cupcake paper. Fill the tins 3/4 of the way full (I discovered that filling them not quite as full makes the tops pop rather than spread and flatten).

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Enjoy. 

Why not have a little chocolate with your breakfast?