Blue Pear

July 26, 2009

Don took me out for dinner at the Blue Pear for my birthday! It was delicious. I had a salad with fresh ricotta fritters; asparagus and pea soup with truffle oil and morels; jicama salad with fresh tomatoes, citrus, and watermelon; baked wild salmon on safron orzo pasta; and cherry, chocolate & hazelnut tart with thai basil ice cream. YUM.

I took Pashley and rode up a hill that never ends. We have an incredibly beautiful river valley in Edmonton and there are many glorious routes to choose from when heading across the river. Pashley and I might not be very fast when heading uphill, but I survived in 2nd gear and didn't have to get out of the saddle.

This is another dress I got from Anthropologie. I like how the fabric is lace-like. The proportions are good too.

On the ride home we took a series of streets I have never been on despite having being born and raised in Edmonton. Check out this time warp of a liquor store! I like the stones.

A bow!

High heeled floral canvas cork platform sandals.


July 21, 2009

I recently ran out of everything. Tooth paste, bobby pins, moisturizer with spf... desperately needed a visit to the drug store to stock up on essentials.

I've noticed that when I see people they unconsciously look at my tummy area. I guess it's natural to be curious because the last time they saw me I was super pregnant. Many of my summer dresses are really flowy so they don't necessarily show off the curves since I tend to gravitate towards things that are cut for the purposes of ventilation and sweat. I've also been wearing a hugely baggy linen shirt a lot that my mom bought me, it has really dramatic puffy sleeves. Despite how good these things look, I always feel as though people look at me and think "MOM hiding body in fabric" when I'm wearing them. I'll have to wear something more fitted one of these days.

For now, I'll keep enjoying how my dresses sail behind me when I'm riding!

Lion King

July 19, 2009

My mom is hugely into musicals. Every time she goes on vacation she basically goes to a show every night - it's her thing. I like how at intermission she always buys ice cream. Lion king is touring here and mom got tickets for us to go tonight as a birthday present for me. Thanks mom!

I left baby Dexter with Don for the evening and met up with my sister and mom for some supper and the show. It was good to hang out with my family and also good for Don to chill out with baby by himself.

This is my new striped dress! When I heard that Anthropologie opened up a store here in Edmonton I had to check it out asap. They even had a 50% off opening sale that I didn't know about... curses. It was actually a student of mine who told me they had gone shopping there and every dress reminded her of me. Nice call on my style, girls!

Of course, everything looks nice with my Pashley bike.

These pumps are really old. I have the same pair in red and both serve as neutrals for countless outfits. I keep thinking these are going to wear out but they just keep trucking. I have an exciting pair of sandals to debut on the blog (and that look beautiful with this dress) but it was crazy rainy and windy today. I didn't want to get caught in the rain wearing fabric strappy red open toe sandals. These grey patent pumps work well too, they're just less summery.

I often like clothes that are nostalgic and this one has a definite 50s vibe. You can't tell from the photos but there are pockets too. I looove dresses with pockets. And the sash is fun.

I'm also a big fan of hair bands for dressing up, another style quirk I've inherited from my mom. When gossip girl came out on TV I kept seeing the character Blair Waldorf wearing hair bands and I thought, "hey, I do that too!" On one episode she's actually wearing one that I also have... the one I wore with this outfit is also a new find from Anthropologie. Most of my hair pieces have bows, flowers, or feathers. I like how this one is more subtle.

When I'm riding I take the hair thing off and put it in the basket while my helmet is on. When I arrive at dinner the helmet comes off and hair ornaments go on. Easy.

This was the clutch I took. Perfect for a fan, lipstick, glasses, Visa, business cards, and my iPhone. My keys were huge so I took the ones I needed (house key, bike lock key) and looped them through the clutch's wrist loop with a cute keychain.

Even though my sister drove with my mom, I thought it would be nice to make note of their outfits. You all know Sable...

And here is my mom, Ann! Too bad I haven't mastered taking photos with my iPhone yet. I need to learn about light. Mom is wearing a gorgeous knitted sweater by Eskandar.

Mom always wears nice shoes. We're all suckers for rhinestones.

The show was really entertaining. Impressive dancing, cool effects, and everything was very energetic and colourful. Looking forward to having more occasions to both wear dresses and ride my bike to go do fun things!

Boys & Scotch

July 18, 2009

Don's childhood friend, Kris, is visiting from Victoria! It's always nice to have somebody you love drop in unexpectedly. Don had an invite to taste some amazing scotch a friend brought back from a trip, so Don mounted his Surly road bike and set out. Kris was kindly invited as well and obviously doesn't have his bike here in Edmonton. We got him to ride the Dahon! They have since then come back home and report that they had a lovely time.


I love the 104 street downtown market. It runs until Thanksgiving weekend and is truly fantastic. You get your groceries, can shop for craft wares, pick up tarts and cupcakes for dessert... beautiful food. It's also a wonderful place to run into random friends. Don was very curious about checking out Credo, a new coffee joint, and we sipped on our drinks whilst commiserating with various passers by. Friends from high school, previous co-workers, another couple who recently had a kid the same time as us... it's like a reunion without all the planning and posturing.

My friend Lisa informed me that she came by bike and I was (obviously) immediately excited because I haven't known her to be a fellow bike chick. She just recently got herself an Amsterdam (our club continues to grow) and I insisted on taking some pictures for the blog.

Lisa has really beautiful hair. And sunglasses. Those are Prada.

The dress is from one of the farmer's market stalls. I actually considered getting it for myself but it's way too long on me and these things are sometimes a shame to hem (messes up the proportions of where the graphics land, etc).

I think she said her bag was from Peru. Once again, no yucky bike bags! Just beautifully crafted leather goods.

I am so jealous of these leather gladiator sandals. They're glorious.

Welcome, Lisa, to the fabulous world of cycling and beauty! Hope we can hang out more regularly so I can keep stalking you with my camera.

Pashley 101

July 14, 2009

I get a lot of questions about my Pashley from readers, so here is a bunch of information on the Pashley Princess Sovereign.

Oh, and I have recently written a follow up, Pashley 201 and Pashley 202.

First of all, that black bike that you see in the photos? Yes, that's the Pashley.

Can you get them in Edmonton, AB? Yes! At redbike. Their link is on the sidebar over there so feel free to give them a call or a visit:) 4th floor distribution brings them into the country from overseas (they're located in Toronto), but 4th floor distribution also distributes to retailers across the country. In Vancouver you can get one at Rain City Bikes, and in Toronto you should go to Curbside Cycle.

People always tell me they want a Pashley, and I often direct them to the Batavus Old Dutch. I ride a Pashley because I am quite petite (5'0) and my legs are short (I'm longer in the torso). The wheel diameter on the Pashley is 26" and the bike frame I ride is 17.5" so it's correctly proportioned for me. If I were a few inches taller, say 5'4, I'd probably be riding a Batavus. The Batavus Old Dutch has a 28" wheel diameter and it rolls along like a dream! It's too tall for me though, and after a lifetime of riding my brother's old cast off bikes I'm not interested in riding a bike where I have to hop on and off every time I start and stop. If you're looking for a beautiful bike? See if you like the Batavus. It's also less expensive so you get a lot of bike for your buck.

Back to the Pashley. I took the basket off mine because it doesn't hold as much as I want. There is also this front cargo bit that the basket sits on... I took that off too because it wasn't really doing anything except squeaking and rubbing every time I turned the handlebars. I replaced the basket with another wicker one (one of my readers, lovely bicycle, suggests that my basket might be from basil, and I think she might be right).

Things I love about a bike like the Pashley (these are things that are also available on other brands of bikes. I'm not saying these things are exclusive to Pashley):

She looks great.

Drum breaks (so there isn't that annoying squeaking of rubber rubbing the wheel when breaking). Also, these are sort of weather proof.

She is made of steel. This absorbs impact and feels super solid to ride. My aluminum framed bike is lighter, but I feel every tiny bump on the road.

The Princess Sovereign (as opposed to the Princess Classic) comes with all the accessories like a great bell, a basket, lights, rear carrier, and a skirt guard. The Princess Classic has all the important bike bits too, and you can always go around finding the extra accessories you want.

The lights! Super bright and great for being visible at night. The headlight is powered by the oscillation of the front wheel. The harder you pedal, the brighter it gets!

Upright riding position. Not a necessity for wearing more tailored items, skirts, dresses, etc... but it certainly does help. I get a lot of comments from readers who ride bikes with a horizontal top tube (mountain bike, road bike). They lament that they can't wear heels while biking or wear dresses like I do because their bike isn't the same. A low swoop top tube helps, but it isn't a must. I've ridden in dresses in heels on my road bike before, and that bike has those crazy egg-beater pedals too!

Rear rack. It's the kind that has the spring loaded clamp that can keep your cargo down. Many rear racks are just a plank and you have to use your own chords to lash stuff down. It's not a big deal, but I like the clamp thing. Keeps my precious cargo in place!

Enclosed chain guard. Never have to velcro my pant leg because there's no fear of my beloved wide legs getting caught in my chain. It also prevents sand and crap from dirtying my chain. Less maintenance.

Steel fenders. This is the thing I hated about my Amsterdam and it's what sent me shopping for a beefier bike. The fenders on the Amsterdam are aluminum and they would rattle persistently. Edmonton has a lot of pot holes because of all the snow and thaw each season. Despite the bike place using lock tight on all of Amsterdam's nuts and bolts the fenders continued to make the most awful clanking every second of every ride. Unbearable! Then one day I discovered that Amsterdam's rear fender had actually cracked and had split right in half. So the bike store was great and ordered me a new one, but Amsterdam the company took its sweet sweet time and I was basically without a fender for the entire summer. Of course the bike worked, but it looked hideous. And fenders are all about enabling you to cycle through rain! No rear fender means you've got that mud splattered all over your back. No thanks. Pashley has steel fenders so they're super solid, and if a fender is rubbing against the wheel or something like that, they can be massaged and coaxed into their desired position without snapping in half.

Basket & Rear Rack. Excellent cargo options. You can actually go do real-life things like bring food to a friend's place, go get groceries, shop for shoes, take a pile of books to school... you name it! To me this is preferable to hauling all of my life's cargo on my back in some ugly and uncomfortable knapsack or anything similar that leaves my back sweaty.

Brooks saddle. Enough said.

People often ask me if the bike is heavy. Sure, it's heavier than my 1-speed road bike and the Amsterdam, but it's fantastic. It's more expensive, but that's because it's built in the UK, not in some mega-factory in China. Batavus, by the way, is about the greenest bike you can ride if you factor in its construction and the company's practices.

The thing I tell people who are concerned about Pashley's weight is for them to question what qualities they're looking for in a bicycle. Lighter doesn't always mean better. Sometimes BETTER is is better. The Pashley is heavier, but it's an heirloom bike. With proper care that bike is going to be something my grandkids can probably ride. It has 5 gears so if I'm riding a hill or want to go faster or slower, I can just gear up or down to accommodate. I've never had a problem with hills... it takes me a while, but I just go into first gear and employ some yoga-like breathing techniques, imagine how my butt is getting firmer, and climb that hill. Pashley makes me strong. I don't want that comment to be mistaken with the Pashley being labourious to ride. She's easy to ride because she is so well made, the effort you put in works with you, not against you.

Also, Edmonton doesn't have TONS of hills. It only has some. I'm not sure if I would ride a Pashley if I lived in San Fancisco. I would have to be REALLY strong for that.

Anyway, if you're somebody who really prizes weight above other things, then Pashley might not be for you. However, you can be like me and have a light bike for the rides when you want a light bike, and a Pashley for other times. Also, consider what you're looking for when purchasing a bike. If you don't love your bike (no matter how light), you won't want to ride it.

So there's my 2 cents about the Pashley, hope it's helpful to anyone who is out shopping!

P.S. In the comments section I was asked how far I ride Pashley. Approximately around 9-10 km one-way when I'm out and about for an afternoon? I live really central. Ran into a friend who also rides a Pashley and she says she does 25-30 km one way, so double that if you're thinking round trip. I never have to ride more than 30-40 mins one way, wherever I'm going, and it's totally fine. I never feel tired or anything...


July 11, 2009

My mom had the day off so she came over to babysit little Dexter. Changed his diaper, fed him a bottle, put him in his little vibrating chair... the works!

Don and I took the opportunity to bum around our surrounding neighbourhoods on bike. We decided to take the scenic route to leva café. We like riding past houses and pointing out the ones we like and the ones we think are oversized and ugly. Mid century modern bungalows, open beamed ceilings, clean design, old houses with character... we love these things. Yucky monoliths that attempt to pass as Italian villas or gigantic plastic renderings of French country manors? Not so much love. Actually, they're not so bad if they're built to be architecturally accurate and if the proportions are right. This doesn't happen very often.

House stalking - it's a weird thing that we enjoy!

Went to the café, had pistacio gelato, an iced coffee, and ran into Don's old physics teacher.

Rode home through the University grounds and took some pictures, check it out:

Neutral leather sandals that go with everything!

The heel of my shoe was sinking into the grass.

I will undoubtedly get comments about how I am gravely irresponsible for not wearing a helmet. Relax! It's right there in my basket and no, I don't like wearing it when we're shooting pictures.

Anybody wanting to babysit, let me know and Dexter is all yours!

Return of Sable

July 10, 2009

My sister Sable is back from her jaunt in Europe! The best part about her being back (besides coming to hang out with me) is the presents. Marimekko bib for Dexter, and Marimekko journal and coin purse for me from Helsinki, Finland. And some lemon/oat biscuits from Harrods in London. She knows I love the food hall at Harrods.

Unlike most people, Sable doesn't wear a lot of black. Things she and I both like are wide legs on pants, things that are shiny, and vibrant colours (whether they be in the clothing or accessories). I think the cardigan she wore today is new from her travels. Love it. Also, super lime scarf? Love that too.

Sable isn't big on heels like I am. But just because she doesn't often wear heels, it doesn't mean her flat shoes/sneakers have to be boring or ugly. Sable excels in finding great flat shoes, too.

Only a few people are privy to the feud Sable and I have over this purse she is wearing. It's actually my mom's. I saw it last October when we were over at my brother's house for dinner and immediately put it on and starting going on about how much I like it, etc. Sable is much more understated than I am and has the advantage of still living under the same roof as mom so her opportunities to lobby for mom's cast-off purses are greater. Well... you can guess who won the lobbying. Mom still insists that it's HER purse and that my sister and I are merely borrowing it. Fact is, my mom tires of her pretty things easily and once you've got your mitts on something it's pretty much well yours. Sable has the bag. I was placated with the matching wallet. Our mom has this obsession with having matching wallets to go with her bags.

Sable and I have reached détente on the matter for the time being. Don keeps reminding me of how petty and greedy I sound when I talk about this purse feud, but I remind him that it's a weirdo sibling thing. It doesn't really make sense or have to be reasonable.

Most importantly, no bike bags for Sable. Just a bag she happens to be wearing while on a bike!

Enjoy it for now, Sable. I have a wallet that is waiting to be reunited with its mate!

Oh, and to be petty again for a moment. Sable and my mom also have the same shoe size. NOT FAIR.

I'm back!

July 7, 2009

I gave birth 6 weeks ago. Tonight was the first time riding my bike in 6 weeks and 2 days. It was fantastic!

Things I forgot about riding a bike:

It's so much faster than walking.

I can wear impractical shoes.

Bugs fly into my eye if I'm not wearing shades (this wasn't a problem when riding during the winter).

I've recently started pumping my breast milk in an effort to get Dexter comfortable with both real boobs and fake plastic nipples. I know nothing beats the real thing, but I'm going to be leaving the baby in the care of other people from time to time and it would be prudent to take measures so Dexter doesn't starve.

This morning Don reported to me that he would be home from work "early" at the ripe hour of 7 pm.

It occurred to me that I could go to my 7:30 dinner date with some new girlfriends sans baby. So Don and I engaged in this social experiment of leaving the child solely in his care, and it turned out splendid. Not because I need a break from Dexter. Those of you who read the blog have likely heard me mention that he is a very easy baby to take care of. Going to dinner without the baby was great because I could ride my bike!

Oh Pashley, how I've missed you.

I also took this opportunity to wear a dress that I can't readily breast feed in because I wasn't going to be required to breast feed. I hereby give praise to expanded wardrobe possibilities!

I loved it. Particularly the part when I was at an intersection waiting to cross and this car drove by with a voice yelling, "HI MISS SARAH!" out the window. It was the mom of one of my students:)

FAQ: Baskets and Stuff

July 5, 2009

I thought I would do a blog post answering some of the frequently asked questions I get in the comments section of the blog - they're easy to answer, but I figured I would post them if any of you were curious.

I've had inquiries into what kind of helmet I'm wearing. Ditto with the basket I've got on my bike.

I ordered both from Jorg & Olif when they were still open for business in Vancouver. The helmet works great for me, but has attracted some ridicule because it's not actually a bike helmet. I didn't know this when I bought it (the helmet was from a bike place) but the helmet is a black kayaking helmet that says "predator" in shiny black lettering on its matte surface! I still wear it anyway.

My basket is hard core! A reader correctly pointed out that I don't use the standard Pashley basket. The Pashley one is cute and wicker and all... but the wicker is thin and the base of the basket is quite narrow which makes it really difficult to carry lots of groceries. All the basket cargo ends up sort of spilling up and over the basket brim. It's alright if you have bungee chords to keep it all down so I still use it on my other bikes since it's easy to detach and attach with little leather buckles.

My non-Pashley basket that I use on the Pashley bike (I hope this isn't confusing you all) has a round and deeper base so the basket is shaped more like a cylinder and less like a cone. More volume means being able to carry way more stuff, and the wicker is thicker and stronger. It also has these two super strong metal prongs so it hooks onto the handlebars and is also easy to detach and attach. I lot of people like the idea of taking the basket to go shopping. I used to do that until I found out that the ends of wicker in the weave would bruise and poke open my peaches and tomatoes. I find it way more convenient to carry a reusable bag (the ones that fold into a little pouch) and just put the bag into the basket.

A tip for you basket users: I found that the basket bottom would bounce around and was putting a dent in that front, vertical tube. Sorry, I'm not a technical bike buff. The tube that the handlebars come out of. To fix this I bought a roll of velcro tape. Cut off a long strip. Wove it through the wicker at the basket's base to create a bit of a puffy cushion. Then I wrap the velcro around the aforementioned vertical tube so it stays put while I'm riding. Ta da!

So my hard core basket is from a place that is no longer in business. So sad. I went to buy Leanne a good basket last week and found a very nice one at redbbike so I'm sure anybody looking for a good wicker basket will find a suitable one. Things to look for are just making sure the mounting apparatus fits on your handlebars (I hate seeing saggy baskets), and that the cargo capacity suits your needs.

When Chelsea was looking for a basket for her Amsterdam we opted for one that mounts on the rear rack. Her handlebars has this gorgeous headlight on it and a basket wouldn't fit. I've also heard of lights being re-wired and mounted elsewhere to make room for baskets but you don't have to if you're satisfied with the back basket. Hers is wire and black. Looks great!

Don bought this one (above) for his rear rack. I find it heavy. He likes it fine, and puts bottles of wine in it with bungees to keep things from falling out. Lining it with some ghetto cardboard also helps keep things from falling through the big squares.

There are all these baskets that have wire cages on top for pets. I find that Dougal is just fine hanging out over the top. If you're bicycling with a pet make sure that his harness/leash are securely fastened to your handlebars. Pets are smart but there is no guarantee!

I heard from a friend that in Japan she would just see ladies put their babies right in their bike baskets! Believe me, I would do the same if I wasn't sure that I would probably get stopped by the cops here and subsequently get reported to social services. Here in non-Japan we're all about rules and safety and fearing for our lives. Yeah yeah yeah...

Even disguised as a bunny, I don't think Dexter and I could get away with it.

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