88Bikes Endowment

"It doesn't always take a massive relief organization to tip the scales for joy and sustainability in places where children and young adults are challenged to be their own heroes."

Last year, Matt got me an amazingly meaningful birthday gift - he donated a bike to one of my favorite nonprofits, 88Bikes, in my name. I briefly wrote about this project back in June 2011, after meeting the organization's founder, Dan Austin, at Mountainfilm in Telluride, CO. Not only does 88Bikes give underprivileged children in developing nations free bikes, they also provide the kids with bike maintenance training, safety workshops, group bike rides, and bike-based job skills. On top of that, all individual donations are used to purchase and assemble the bikes (which are purchased in-country) and for local transportation, so that means 100% of the donated money goes directly into the country’s local economy.

88Bikes plans endowment trips to different communities around the world periodically, but so many $88 donations had come through before mine, that it took a while for "my" bike to get to my child. About three months ago, I got word that a bicycle in my name was endowed to a child named Domingos in Mozambique. Here he is, holding a photograph of me, riding my bike!

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I also wanted to be sure to mention this article that came out a while back on their Asha Program, which focuses on empowering girls with bikes. True global impact like this gives me goosebumps, and I'm proud to support this inspiring movement! Want to learn more about 88Bikes? Check out their website here.

A Few Reasons I Love Telluride

Telluride, Colorado is an incredibly picturesque and unique little town. Here are a few of my favorite things about it.

1.) The mountains.

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2.) Other people's dogs.

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Matt and I estimate that two out of three people that pass us on the street in Telluride have at least one dog. And they bring them EVERYWHERE. Which means that I constantly get to hang out with cool pups while their owners are inside restaurants, etc.

3.) Progressive Environmental Attitude.

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The wind-powered gondola is the first and only free public transportation system of its kind in the United States. Even cooler, the city of Telluride is working towards a solar-powered gondola system (check our the Green Gondola Campaign). Did I mention that there are bike racks on all of the gondolas? Virtually everyone rides their bikes as their preferred mode of transportation in Telluride; in fact, I noticed almost everywhere we went that bike racks were not only full, but the majority of bikes were left unlocked. Bicycle theft apparently isn't an issue in this forward-thinking city.

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Every restaurant we dined at was focused on sustainability and utilized as many local and organic ingredients as possible. Honga's Lotus Petal was my favorite place to eat - best pad thai of my life.

And as if the place could get any cooler, there is also a plastic bag ban in Telluride.

4.) The wildlife and not-so-wild flowers.

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We saw grazing elk on the edge of town daily. And marmots, gophers, and deer, too! There were lovely pansies and colorful tulips popping up all over as well.

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5.) The preservation of what once was.

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I'm a total nerd for all things vintage as most of you know. Numerous historic buildings have been preserved, restored, and are still in use today.

And one last thing that makes Telluride an amazing place to visit: the people. Though I didn't get any photos of the dozens of smiling faces we encountered every day that never failed to say hello to us (total strangers) as they passed by, it surely didn't go unnoticed. What a change of pace!

New Art, Happy Heart!

We have some relatively new pieces of art in our home so I wanted to share! One is by Orlando-based mixed media artist Tic Bowen. Matt and I fell in love with his work during Twelve21 Gallery's Home Brewed exhibition last month. We picked a charming little shadow box filled with pointy-nosed bicyclers.

The second new artsy addition to our home is by Alabama folk artist Butch Anthony. He has been making annual visits to Central Florida for the past two years thanks to the fabulous Jeanine Taylor Folk Art gallery in Sanford. The paint-by-number skeleton deer is the third Butch Anthony original in our collection, and it fits into our living room's decor perfectly! Check out this New York Times article about Butch and his incredible self-made forest home here.

In other news, Matt turned 28 over the weekend. I'm no longer a cougar (until June, when I turn 29 anyway). I spent a lot of time in the kitchen, which was lovely! Made Smitten Kitchen's lemon ricotta pancakes (here), which were by far the absolute best pancake I've had to date! Super moist, fluffy, mildly sweet and bright (from the lemon peel!). I also baked Matt a pineapple upside-down cake from the Blackberry Farm cookbook.

High Five Fridays 9.10.10

Hola! Here are a few charming little things that brought a smile to my face this week... 1.

The DIY tab of the Modern Cat website! Matt and I are making Misu and Lily a wine box window bed =D

2. Lighthouses, umbrellas, and impeccable fashion sense via Keiko Lynn.

3. Strange and amazing photo of Conan that I'd never seen via File Magazine.

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Twig wall hooks by Timber!

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[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/14671157 w=658&h=370]

Mark Ronson & The Business INTL: "The Bike Song" from Warren Fu on Vimeo.

Mark Ronson's video for The Bike Song! Watching how wobbly the girls are on bikes at the end of this video is cracking me up.

Enjoy your weekend, lil pumpkin muffins! xo.

4 on a Quarter

While recently taking a walk on Park Ave. with my best girl Wendy, I saw two of the coolest (and weirdest) looking bikes I'd ever seen. They were really long (but not tandem-style), and one had a pimped-out setup that looked ideal for groceries (essentially a huge tupperware bin with a bench built into it) attached to the back, and the other had a high-tech child seat and storage area attached to it. I gawked for a few seconds, then looked to my left where I saw a friendly-looking couple, their two rosy-cheeked kids, and their adorable dog. Naturally, I started a conversation with them about how badass their bikes were, which turned into them telling me about a unique challenge they've committed to. They have been documenting this "adventure in car-light living from the land of urban sprawl" in their blog - 4 on a Quarter. IMG_2267 PC: Keri Caffery

Jesse and Angie Ross (and their two and five year old daughters) are attempting to live on just 25% of the national average for car miles (4,000 miles). And let me tell ya folks, in the city of Orlando, that's a HUGE commitment. The majority of roads here, especially main roads, are not bike-friendly and very few have bike lanes. Like most mid to large sized cities in the US, drivers and cyclists have yet to find a harmonic balance.

I absolutely admire what the Ross family is doing, and their balls inspire me (perhaps I should use a word like "courage" or "initiative" or even "guts"? Nahhh!). But in all seriousness, when I moved to Orlando and almost immediately started The Downtown Orlando Bike Club (lovingly referred to as DOBC, which is currently in hibernation), I preached that drivers will never respect cyclists until cyclists respect drivers. And though most cyclists I know DO, some do not. Supporting things like 'corking' traffic (made popular by Critical Mass) - those are the kinds of things that piss drivers off most. They think "if we can't do that why can they?" Talking about this reminds me of a story I heard on NPR that almost made me cry...here. That's one of the reasons that I try to follow the laws of the road while on my bike. When the light is red, I stop (or at least yield if it's not busy). And it sucks because I've been assaulted numerous times by vehicles while on my bike, and those experiences really make me want to say EFF THIS, but I can't. For example, a friend and I once had an SUV pull up two feet behind us, rev their engine, and flash their brights and honk at us. I could smell their Ed Hardy cologne permeating from their disgusting car and imagined them fist-pumping the air while listening to their crap techno music (though I never turned around to actually confirm my suspicions). They thought this was necessary even though there were three OPEN lanes around us. It was horrifying and pissed us off to no end, and I remember having the urge to hock a loogie on their car, but I chose to take the high road. Because if I wouldn't have, I'd just become part of the problem - the vicious cycle, if you will.

End rant. Back to Angie & Jesse! Their journey is great. Here are some photos of things I bet you never thought a family could do by bike:

Groceries!

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Trick-or-treating!

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Taking the Christmas tree home! xmasbike

They've got the right idea.

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Follow their adventures: http://fouronaquarter.com

Read the great Op-Ed piece Angie wrote for the Orlando Sentinel about their decision to go car-light here.