Charity Logo

Charity Logo

Charity of the Month


In December I am riding for Heifer International. Founded in 1944, Heifer International works with communities around the world to end hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth. Its approach is more than a handout. Heifer provides animals (e.g., heifers, goats, water buffalos, chickens, rabbits, fish, and bees) and training to impoverished people in over 30 countries. The animals can give milk, meat, or eggs; provide draft power; or form the basis of a small business. Communities make their own decisions about what crops, animals, and market strategies make sense for their everyday conditions and experiences.

Heifer International is based on 12 Cornerstones, such as Sustainability; Genuine Need and Justice; and Gender and Family Focus. Perhaps the best known Cornerstone is Passing on the Gift, in which Heifer recipient families pass on the offspring of their animals to others in need. In this way, whole communities can raise their standard of living.

A donation to Heifer International also can make a wonderful alternative holiday gift. Instead of yet another sweater for Grandma that she really doesn’t need, why not donate a Heifer animal or a share of an animal in her honor? Does your child really need so many new toys? Instead of five new toys, give him/her three new toys and a Heifer flock of chicks. Heifer has honor cards to let your loved ones know of your gift on their behalf.

I have set up a Team Heifer page to support Heifer International through A Year of Centuries. My goal is to raise $500. Please make your donation through If you would like more information about Heifer’s work, please visit Whether you give to honor a loved one or make a regular donation, thank you for taking steps to transform the world for the better.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Saturday Morning Cycling Adventure

During the warmer months I love to go for a Saturday morning bicycle ride and stop by the square in my hometown.  I visit our farmers market and have a cup of tea at The Vanilla Bean, our wonderful local coffee shop.  It’s gotten to be a highlight of the week that I really look forward to.  As much as I enjoy this routine, I discovered today that it’s even more fun when Robert goes with me.  Today’s adventure was extra special because it was also his birthday and the beginning of the 100th Tour de France!

I planned our cycling route to include a particular point of interest.  A Little Free Library has just opened on one of the rural roads in our county, not far from where we often ride anyway.  A Little Free Library is a small structure built for public access that holds a small collection of books.  People can give a book and take a book at no charge.  Bikes and books – two of my favorite things!  I brought a book to swap with one at the Little Free Library:

This one looks like a real treasure:

However, I opted for a smaller paperback that would fit in my jersey pocket.  This one seemed apropos for several reasons:

Robert and I rode together for about 25 miles and then reached the square.  At The Vanilla Bean I ordered some white orchard tea (a nice floral, fruity tea for a summer day) and a morning glory muffin, which had carrots, apples, coconut, and raisins in it.  This muffin looked and tasted delicious anyway, but it also reminded me of the morning glories I had seen earlier on our ride, commenting to Robert that they have the perfect name.  By the way, one time I made some morning glory muffins.  Mine weren’t nearly as good as The Vanilla Bean’s anyway, but a weird phenomenon occurred.  I used some pre-shredded carrots that I had on hand.  Cooked inside the muffins, the pieces of carrot turned green at the edges.  I made a note on the recipe to shred the carrots myself next time.

Robert had waited to eat breakfast until we got to The Vanilla Bean, and so he ordered plenty to fuel himself for the rest of his ride: a latte, a shot of espresso, a ham and cheese scone, and a strawberry cupcake to celebrate his birthday:

This espresso cup has special significance.  It's one of a pair that came from a time trial that we did.  There were all kinds of great raffle items following the race, and Robert had his eye on these espresso cups.  They were made by Assos, a high-end cycling equipment company.  Words on the inside of the cups read, "Have a great ride!"  Robert's number wasn't called at the raffle, but our friend Jeff Licciardello's was.  Jeff picked the cups and then generously gave them to Robert!  Robert donated the cups to The Vanilla Bean and made a special arrangement with them.  Any cyclist who comes by the coffee shop can get a free shot of espresso in one of the Assos cups, and Robert will pay for it with his monthly tab.  That almost makes me wish I liked coffee!

Robert planned to ride a while longer, but I needed to get on home.  I stopped at the farmers market briefly to get a watermelon.  I thought about trying to balance it on my helmet for the ride home but decided it would be better to leave it at Jordan Engineering and pick it up later in the car when I went grocery shopping.

Speaking of grocery shopping, there wasn’t much in the cupboard for lunch.  I did scrounge around and put together this rather European lunch of cheese, crackers, fresh peach, and leftover wine:

Vive le Tour!

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