First Ride of the Season

Added on by Renee Heiselman.

I managed to get out on the bike, yesterday, when the weather was nice. I must say, I think it is going to be a great riding season. Everything is new for me, this year. A new Vulcan, a new helmet, and a new jacket. All I need now are some new boots and some kevlar jeans, and I will be all set.

The new gear is working out great. My old helmet is black. Not only is it not very visible, but it gets HOT. My new one is neon yellow so it's very visible, which I like, and a lot cooler. Which is good considering my tendency to overheat.

My mother-in-law also gave me her jacket since she no longer has a bike. The jacket I had is black leather so, again, hot and not very visible. It does have some great retro-reflective piping on it so I will wear it at night as much as I can. The new jacket is a textile mesh and will be great in the hot days of summer. Very happy about that.

I must say, I am really liking the Vulcan. We traded in my Rebel for it so we're talking going from a 250cc to a 900cc. And that thing goes! I love having a windshield, the weight of it, and having the side bag storage. It's a really smooth ride. I was definitely ready for an upgrade, and it is a good for-now bike for my hubby until we can get a second one.

I didn't get to ride much, last season. With a new bike, it took some reacquainting. I found that I am still a bit skittish about right turns, left over from laying my Rebel down during my first season. I seem to be better about it than I was, last year, so at least there's that. I am hoping to get a lot more riding in to completely get over it. I am also hoping this rain helps wash away some of the gravel and gunk out on the roads since that's what caused me to go down.

So, all in all, I had a great time getting out, and I can't wait to be out all summer!

Starting off Thanksgiving week

Added on by Renee Heiselman.

Well, my 6 year old is carrying on my tradition of being sick during holiday times. Sigh. She has even managed to wrangle her daddy in on the action. I haven't got too much to do to get ready for Thanksgiving, so a sick kid-o shouldn't set me behind. We had already planned on a light school week, so that won't affect us too much, either.

My four year old seems to be enjoying the opportunity to play nurse. She has been running around all morning getting her sister a stuffed animal to cuddle with, getting her cereal, setting up the Wii, and doing whatever else her sister might need. My 6 year old is usually the little nurturer so it's nice to see my 4 year old taking care of her for a while. Maybe I can enlist her for Thanksgiving stuff, too.

Holiday dinners with family are always a bit challenging with my 4 year old and me having a reaction to milk. The tricky bit is having enough choices for us without overdoing what I take. It usually ends up with me taking a combination of things I can make Nay-friendly for everyone to enjoy and things I make for myself so that I can have them for the dinner.

My sister is getting a smoked turkey, which sounds amazing. I thought I would contribute some things that would go well with a grilling-type theme. I'll be making some corn bread muffins and roasted veggies for everyone and some sautéed garlic mashed potatoes for my girl and me to take the place of cheesy potatoes. I have some apple pie filling all made up and frozen, so I think I will whip up a crust and take that, too. That's a lot of food, I know, but it's all pretty easy to make, and I can make the muffins the night before.

I think I've got this. I had better get that pie filling in the fridge.

Working on a wedding cake

Added on by Renee Heiselman.

My sister is getting married and has asked me to make her cake for her!

I am very excited about this and very nervous at the same time. I have done one wedding cake, but it was small and non-traditional. This one is going to white, stacked, the whole things.

Luckily, my sister realizes I am not a pro at this and have my limitation, so I don't need to worry about being set up to disappoint her. Everything she is asking for seem within my skill set. I am mostly worried about getting a tiered cake to a winery off a dirt road. Going to have to do some research for that.

Should be an adventure!

Loved our camping and Dubuque trip for the hubby's birthday

Added on by Renee Heiselman.

What an amazing weekend we had for my husband's birthday. To start off, we went camping. When the weather turned bad, we headed for Dubuque, off of the Mississippi, in northeast Iowa. Five short days that felt like a good week.

We started off heading up to Backbone State Park. Now, for a girl who grew up in southern California and was, unknowingly, spoiled by annual trips to places like Sequoia and Yosemite, it is hard pleasing me when it comes to camping. Backbone, though no Sequoia, was a very nice getaway that had us feeling as though we were immersed in nature.

We didn't get to do everything, but we did get to get out away from the camp site and have some fun. There was a wonderful trail along the lake that was a little bit of a challenge for the girls, which is always good, but nothing they couldn't handle. We hiked over to the "beach" where there is a neat old boat house and play ground. If we go back, we'll have to go during peak season and rent a canoe.

Being that it was Iowa, and the later part of September, the weather did not remain kind to us. Instead of testing whether or not our sleeping bags would keep us sufficiently warm in near freezing temperatures, we packed up and headed to Dubuque, about an hour away. I had wanted to visit the city for a while and was very happy my husband had decided on it to finish off his birthday trip. 

Dubuque feels very much like stepping back in time about a hundred and fifty years, in a good way. There are modern buildings, but they don't do much to interfere with the charm of the victorian homes and old time factories. You can imagine the city in the hay day of it's river based industries. It reminded me very much of Portland with it's greenery and laid back feel. It was a welcome escape.

Dubuque is also home to the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium. We had to check it out. They had some eye opening , informative exhibits about the oceans and water ways and some great interactive areas for the kids. They aslo had a riverboat on display that you can explore. I would have loved to have gotten on the river in one, but that was just not in the budget for this trip. I was happy to at least be able to get on and walk around on a riverboat.

On our last night, we had dinner at an old brewery which was in an awesome old brick factory building. The food was OK for the price, but the atmosphere was nice and, or course, I loved the building. 

Top that the whole thing off with the great people at the Fairfield Inn, and, man, what a great visit. I couldn't have asked for more from the short camping stay, and Dubuque did not disappoint. Looking forward to many more family vacations. 

Starting off with a New Website

Added on by Renee Heiselman.

After having sitting around in cyber space for years, I am finally putting it to use. It's not a store front for cookies and baked goodies, as I had imagined, but hopefully it will be a good outlet for me and some fun for the people reading.