Maps of Indy bike paths

Okay, the ‘staycation’ term is lame, but it is nice to have one place to look up all the bike path maps in town. I’m largely posting this so I’ll know where to find the info later! NIFS is National Institute for Fitness and Sport and BGI is a local bike/exercise gear shop (they sent me the email with this info).

Apparently the Pennsy Trail has some progress between Arlington and Shadeland/Shortridge now, too! That part’s not on these maps. I’ll see what else I can find out about this new greenway near home.

NEW!! Tour Du Parc Bicycle Staycation Web resource
Bicycle Staycations: Affordable Fun at Your Feet!

The “bicycle staycation” concept & the Tour Du Parc webpages are a collaborative effort between NIFS and BGI. BGI and NIFS worked together to develop suggested routes, links to resources, and discounts for downtown venues. It’s an effort to encourage individuals and families to consider the great opportunities for bicycling staycations in Indianapolis.

The mapped routes use low traffic roads and Indy Greenways to connect many parks and venues in Indianapolis, including: White River State Park, Fort Harrison State Park, Broad Ripple, Skiles Test Park, Ellenberger Park and Garfield Park.

So what are you waiting for, Hoosiers? Pack a picnic, grab your frisbee and jump on your bikes! Discover what’s in your own backyard. Spend less. Explore Indy by bike! Your imagination is the only limit!

At the “Bicycle Staycation” displays at BGI you can view some of the webpages and pick up some additional maps/resources for other areas around the state to explore.

Get the awesome, no-charge Staycation E-Book
View the linked routes, maps and discounts online by downloading a 29-page, 6.6MB PDF e-Book. It’s a great resource made by the professionals at NIFS. 6.6MB is a fairly big file, so the download might take some time.

Bike Paths pdf

Casper goes to the symphony

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Casper and I walked down to the park for a free concert last night. She wasn’t so sure about the clapping or the kids who petted her, but she did well. As usual, the walk home was her favorite part. Casper is not a social butterfly–unless you count the dogs she sees on the way. She was reluctant to keep going on our way there until she saw another dog and followed him!

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Check out a total WIN for vegetarian comfort food. I took my mom’s porcupine meatballs recipe (which appears to be xeroxed from Betty Crocker), subbed in Gimme Lean ground beef substitute, and came up with ‘meatballs’ even David thought were great. He even said these were preferred over the real ones–obviously duplicating a steak is difficult, but for meatballs that get all the flavor from seasonings and sauce, the fake stuff wins and you don’t have any of the fat/cholesterol of ground beef.

A couple of pics of my recent dining adventures. Well, I guess it’s not that adventurous once you’ve had the dishes multiple times.
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Peruvian food: vibrantly colored pesto pasta and potatoes from Machu Picchu restaurant

falturds
I took this picture because the falafel looks like little turds.

The neighbor’s dog, again hanging out on OUR front porch.
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And this is just weird. I think I saw this truck at the Woodruff Place sale. They sell lemonade or lemon shake-ups or something. Whoever drew this ought to be fired.
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Multimedia (you were sick of reading, right?)

I have been giving to more charities lately and every freakin’ time they add me to the mailing list. This drives me nuts. I understand I look like a good prospect because I’ve donated once, but my environmental side detests physical mail, especially solicitations, and I only donate online anyway. Why can’t there be a radio button for me to decline future mailings when I give the first time? I’d be much more likely to give again without the aggravation. They waste my donation on paper, postage, staff… that’s not why I gave them money.

Seriously, people, contact me by EMAIL if I gave you money through your website. Then I can spam or unsubscribe (or even better, set my preferences to remind me again in six months when I’ll be ready to give to you again) and you don’t waste your time and money. Let’s put the Post Office out of business. Nonsense. Why do you need my address to give you $$?


Went to Indiana Black Expo corporate luncheon this week. My company bought a lot of tickets. After a silly string of forwarded emails that never did find out if I’d have something to eat at this function, and several comments that I could always eat the salad (argh), in an ironic twist, EVERYONE ate salad! That was the meal. Sure, everyone else had a chef salad but sure enough, there was a foliage-only version for the picky weirdos like me. Wow, I had a lot of fiber that day.

Jamie Foxx and a few other folks received awards after short comments by the governor, mayor, and former mayor (who oddly enough received an award at the other corporate fundraiser I attended and he now works for my company). I was looking forward to inspirational speeches and was a bit disappointed that it focused on entertainment and awards, but I projected my previous experience here, I guess. Or perhaps that’s a cultural bias. Anyway I really preferred the Lambda Legal dinner because the speakers were good.


Okay, now my debut music video. I’ve been playing with a little Flip video camera mounted on my bike. The lame Windows MovieMaker software won’t allow me to specify how much to speed up the clip (at least I can’t find a way to do it other than double or half speed), so I couldn’t match the length to the song I chose. But I do have a video now which is just part of a cloudy Friday’s ride home, sped up so it’s less boring. Of course you won’t get to hear the guys yelling at me out their car window (the only part I understood was the F-bomb), but you will get to hear Silversun Pickups’ Lazy Eye. Until the song ends and there’s a little silent cycling left over. Ideas for better (hopefully free) software? Also, what is the best (fast, universal, whatever) file format for sharing on blogs and such? I started a Vimeo account, which is the embedded video below, but it’s showing as slightly poorer quality than the original file I uploaded, which can be clicked on with the text right above the Vimeo stuff. The direct link file format seems slow and large.

Yes, I know I have lots of room for improvement in editing. Just a first attempt.

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Indy Bike Commute from Amy D on Vimeo.

Free tofu cookbook; $25 Whole Foods giveaway

This free .pdf tofu cookbook looks pretty good. Most recipes are vegetarian, but there’s at least one that incorporates seafood.

Delicious Living Tofu Cookbook

The cookbook does not talk about prepping the tofu first (I usually press it but some people freeze it or do other manipulations), and without prep you may have a disaster. One simple way to press it is to put the block between paper or kitchen towels and put something heavy (like a cast iron skillet) on top. The goal is to get rid of excess water before you cook it. Tastes and handles way better this way.

Also make sure you buy the right firmness. Basically choose firm/extra firm for any stir fries or other keep-it-intact cooking. If you are doing desserts or otherwise blending it, get the softer varieties.

Afraid of tofu? You might want to start with Tofu Prep for Virgins, a post where you learn to deep fry it and you can also link to some lovely macrophotography of grody lunch meats and sausages.

Where can you buy tofu? At most grocery stores, actually! It’s often in the refrigerated/produce section, like at WalMart. At Meijer it’s there too but in a subsection for soy products and organics. Note some brands, while sold refrigerated, don’t need to be kept refrigerated. Just check the box.

Enter to win a $25 gift card to Whole Foods! (That would buy a lot of tofu.) The blog post talks about value at Whole Foods, and I agree that their house brand is good and saves money. But it’s also true about organics being more expensive: for a shopper who never leaves a traditional grocery store, they’ll quickly see how the price is higher for organics vs regular offerings. I was at Meijer yesterday and found 5# of non-organic potatoes for about $2, but the organic potatoes, in a 3# bag, were $3, and the organic potatoes were smaller too. I try to strike a balance and go organic as often as the budget allows (which is frequently) and think about which foods SHOULD be organic in my diet. For example, banana skins are thick and don’t get eaten, so it’s less important to me if they’ve been treated with pesticides than a fruit or vegetable that I will wholly consume. Of course that doesn’t take into account the effects on the earth from using those pesticides, but sometimes we must ease into better decisions.

Did you know all produce at Marsh groceries is now organic? That’s one way to remove that painful decision for the consumer! I hope more places go that route, which creates greater demand for organically grown products, which will then become cheaper.

Cool food stuff coming soon

I’m glad this film is coming to Indy! I can’t figure out if it’s really playing on Friday or if that’s just the national release date; the local theater says it’s coming July 31.

Coming to Indianapolis
July 17
Keystone Arts Cinema

Filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation’s food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that’s been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government’s regulatory agencies, the USDA and FDA.

Food, Inc. reveals surprising—and often shocking truths—about what we eat, how it’s produced, who we have become as a nation and where we are going from here.

There are some free screenings too, but not in Indy.

This one is happening at our favorite restaurant and involves bikes and the urban eastside! I hope we can get a reservation.

August 4: Urban Farm Tour & Farm to Table Dinner

Where: R Bistro (888 Massachusetts Avenue, Indianapolis)
When: August 4:
5:30pm Urban Farm Tour followed by dinner seating at 7:00pm
OR
7:00pm Urban Farm Tour followed by dinner seating at 8:30pm
Cost: $25 for Slow Food members or $30 for non-members
(price includes taxes and gratuity – drinks are not included)
Dress: Casual with comfortable shoes, as guests will be walking or biking and exploring urban farms before dinner.
Reservations are required: Call R Bistro at 317.423.0312
*If you prefer the vegetarian option, please alert R Bistro when you make your reservation.

Join Slow Food Indy for a tour of urban farms and kitchen gardens and enjoy a local hog roast at R Bistro.
While guests have the option to skip the tour and simply make dinner reservations, we hope you’ll follow local farmer-tour guides on foot or bring your bike! We’ll tour the Big City Farms Urban CSA lots, the Cottage Home Community Garden, and several backyard kitchen gardens in the Cottage Home Neighborhood. The tours will depart promptly from R Bistro, and guests are requested to meet there at 5:30pm (in advance of a 7:00pm dinner seating at R Bistro) or at 7:00pm (in advance of a 8:30pm dinner seating at R Bistro).

Only a few seats are still available! Call R Bistro at 317.423.0312.
Reservations will be closed on July 31st (or when all places are filled).

Found both of these at Slow Food Indy. I’m not a member but they often have interesting stuff going on.

A tomato ate my sister

My work email is at 180%, I have two extra days of work to cram in this week since I dared take vacation, my arm hurts from being on the computer too much, and my neighbor mowed our lawn because I’m too lame to make time for it. I struggle with being in a funk half the time and the other half avidly planning Big Things like catching up on life, as neatly described in lists (the bits and pieces must be captured on paper so I can free my mind to remember other things). All of the errand-doing makes me feel in control and when those things are done and the house is clean, I’m unstoppably happy. It just doesn’t happen very often.

A friend of mine quit her job today. She saved and made a plan (things I am reasonably good at) and just quit to pursue something better on her own. I am risk averse and actually I like my job (mostly), so I don’t see quitting in my near future. But what if I could make a living out of something I really liked? What if I weren’t stressed from work most nights, lugging my laptop home to write my Performance Management since I’m being Performance Managed tomorrow morning by a person I see in meetings now and then who judges my Performance on many items, not the least of which includes my ability to balance work and life and taking care of my ergonomic injury, both of which I’ve just admitted I am unable to do well at all? Meanwhile I’ve felt too busy to exercise in weeks and coupled with stress-eating, well, I’m unfit and cranky.

So let’s talk about happier things like vegetables. I planted some for the first time ever.

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Pretty peppers. They are planted in a drawer box that never made it to drawerdom. I love how the bell peppers start out like a baby acorn and suddenly turn into an ungainly fruit. The mint achieved real pots, and note the famous hose reel. And David made me some cute little support sticks from leftover cherry.

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David’s tomatoes match my height. He keeps singing about their Attack.

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Zucchini takes over the world, obscuring some sad broccoli, neighbored by the coneflowers which made it back from last year’s flowers, basil, and parsley with mutant branches.

The coworker whose phone keeps playing TNT, it’s Dynamite is about to get slapped.

Off to the big city

I finally planned a Chicago trip and took a couple extra days around the long weekend to enjoy it with David. The old Amy never would have paid for a hotel in the Loop but the new financially mature Amy quoted her Dad (“Can’t put a price on a good time”–keep in mind he’s MUCH more of a miser) and got a room overlooking Grant Park.

We hit Chicago Diner, an all-veg place that wins lots of awards. Check out my (not)chicken-fried-(not)steak and David’s avocado quinoa nachos, plus the pot stickers. I get really excited when I have an entire menu of choices.
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We didn’t have a chance to try out the other recommended veg place I was hoping to visit but I did have veggie BBQ at Taste of Chicago. Yay food on a stick! Maybe this year I’ll finally get to the state fair.
taste

David played conductor at the Museum of Science and Industry. Some of it hadn’t been updated since I was a child and the rest seemed to be all noise and flashing lights for kids, the parking was $16, and the body slices weren’t there. Now I’m officially old and cranky. But we did enjoy the U-505 sub, which was put in the basement since the last time I saw it.
davidtrain u505

We did one of the architectural tours by boat (thanks for the idea, Mymsie) and enjoyed that despite annoying people behind us hitting on each other while we were trying to hear the guide. (Also: we’re old. But who pays thirty bucks and doesn’t listen to the tour?)
boatchicago

I really liked these frogfish at the Shedd Aquarium. All three had adapted to look like the structures near them. Yes, the black one is also a fish. I liked the orange guy because he looked like a plastic super hero.
frogfish

We also hit Kingston Mines, the oldest blues club in the city, where we happened to wander in early during amateur time and therefore paid no cover!

I bought tickets to the museums online before we left and while TicketMaster fees always make me angry, it sure was nice not to stand in those long lines. Highly recommended.

Our neighbor helped with the dogs on one of the days, and after we got home she apparently told David she thought Walter could use some more exercise (I’m not denying that) and she volunteered to take him on her 0630 daily walks! The real trick here is that neither of us are up that early and I don’t suppose we should let her waltz on in while we’re in bed, even if she’s trusted with a key and the alarm code. But since I do get up close to that time (or should be up then anyway), perhaps we can do a trial where I’m up and send him off to school with her while I get ready. It’s just that guilt factor of someone else walking my dog that’s getting in the way…

Janie and Frisco, sittin’ in a tree

Janie and Frisco are my guinea pigs. I had a few days off so I finally got them vetted for routine stuff–Janie for a spay and Frisco for ongoing skin problems.

I think Frisco’s skin issues are related to his Teddy breed, the frizzy look, which has cousins in the Texel breed and those are notorious for skin problems. Poor Frisco has on and off hair loss and crusty stuff in the upper rump area, and despite some attempted treatment when I adopted him it never really went away and has gotten worse. We don’t really have conclusive results about the cause yet, but at least we’re trying another usually-works treatment and hopefully it will improve. At least it doesn’t bother him and his pal Janie doesn’t have any of it (which is why it doesn’t seem like mites but who knows).

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Janie is probably getting close to middle age and so many of my female pigs have had reproductive cysts and cancers (all of the pigs in the past several years!) that I just decided to have the spay done. She had no symptoms, but guess what: ovarian cysts! Glad I did it. Trivia: Janie also has an extra set of nipples. Amazingly, she was eating and moving around like normal by the time I got her home. I set up their cage with a divider so she could rest and when I got up this morning the little goofballs had moved it and were hanging out together, as you can see here. They had it undone again when I came home from work, proving they are smarter than their owner. Pigs in love!

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In the frequent news of the weird that comes from going to an exotics vet, someone called to report they’d caught a coatimundi (which is apparently correctly called a coati) in their raccoon traps in the barn. I had to go look that up–it’s like a Central American raccoon. I’ve certainly heard of them but couldn’t really imagine the creature in my head at the time.