Birthday, biking bodies, and a new doc in town

Let’s start with a mystery photo, shall we?


Make your guess now . . . and all will be revealed later.

Early April through early May is a big birthday month in my family.  This week we celebrated Matthew’s birthday with not one, but two, homemade pizza dinners (now Sir thinks we should have pizza for dinner every night), and two rounds of birthday cake.

I made a chocolate chip banana cake with peanut butter frosting.  I used this recipe for the cake, omitting the orange zest and adding about 2/3 c. chocolate chips.  The cake was not bad, but it seemed more banana bread than banana cake.  I’m not exactly sure of the difference between the two, but it wasn’t quite what I was going for.

The frosting, however, definitely said “cake!”  If you’re into peanut butter, you should definitely make this frosting (or perhaps not, as it may be hard to avoid eating the whole batch!).   I started with this recipe, and made a couple of tweaks: 1) reduced peanut butter by 1/8 – 1/4 cup, 2) replaced the missing peanut butter with 1/8 – 1/4 cup plain, whole fat yogurt, 3) omitted the milk, 4) added 1 t. vanilla, 5) sifted the powdered sugar.  It was tasting good and starting to come together, but an extra couple of minutes with the highest speed on the mixer really elevated this frosting to the light and airy level.


Then I got all fancy and melted chocolate to decorate the cake (I almost never bother with the “decoration” step, but I had fun here).  Also, there is extra peanut butter frosting, to be eaten on chocolate graham crackers.

Nothing like a birthday to make us reflect on health, right?

Matthew’s Knee
After I wrote this post, Matthew saw an orthopedic specialist who ordered an MRI.  The doctor expected to find some cartilage that needed to be removed, but the MRI came back clear, so instead of surgery, Matthew got physical therapy, aimed at correcting muscle imbalances in his leg that are making his knee cap rub when he bikes.

He has returned to biking, but the pain is not gone.  Both the physical therapy (an hour of exercises day) and the warmer weather seem to help, but in all honesty, surgery to remove some deteriorated cartilage would likely have been a quicker fix.

He’s also experimenting with clipless pedals again, so he can balance his muscles while biking, by getting the “pull up” motion, as well as the “push down.”  He used birthday money to purchase a pair of Keen cycling sandals, which, while not nearly as roomy as biking in Birks, have much more toe space than a standard bike shoe.

My Back
My back is my back.  After two visits to a chiropractor (the first followed by intense neck pain, that I tried to attribute mainly to sleeping wrong), I’ve decided that is not the route for me.  On the second visit, I gently mentioned the neck pain, not blaming her, but suggesting we stay away from that area.

This seemed like a perfectly reasonable request to me, given that the issue that brought me to her office was pain in the MIDDLE of my back.  I mean, I know it’s all connected, but still.   Unfortunately, this chiropractor (and I suspect most others would be similar) could NOT stay away from my neck, and my neck doesn’t seem to like chiropractic care.

I discovered that some sun salutations seem to help (if not cure) the pain, so I’m trying to do those daily, along with a few of my previous PT exercises.  That’s the current plan, given that the pain, if annoying in duration, is usually quite minimal and doesn’t really limit my activities — I can live with it.

If it gets out of hand, I can always go see our new doctor . . . .


. . . . Dr. Gabe!  He’s definitely into alternative healing; little pink super balls can work wonders, apparently.  Or maybe he just has a healing smile!

And now, to return to our mystery photo . . . perhaps not all that mysterious — if you guessed winter squash, you get the honor of being correct!  I love working with this variety of winter squash — a long, solid neck and very sweet flesh with a nice texture — and I loved how it looked on the tray after slicing.


  1. EcoCatLady says:

    OK… I purposely skipped the part about the cake lest I be tempted to try making one (which would quickly lead to eating one).

    What a bummer about all the aches and pains! I have irrational fear of chiropractors, so I’m quite impressed that you’re trying it. CatMan has used something called McKenzie exercises for neck and back issues with sorta mixed results, but some people have reported remarkable pain reduction with it.

    I stumbled upon the Keen brand a few weeks ago and was intrigued by the biking sandal. I hope it works for Matthew. When I had my bike fitting done they put a shim in one of my shoes because my knee wasn’t pointing perfectly forward, and the shim fixed the problem. BTW – this is the site that turned me on to the Keen brand. It has a wealth of information about feet and gait “issues” – and this post in particular caught my eye because it describes me to a T! Thought I’d pass along the link:

    Anyhow, I thought the photo looked like squash but couldn’t believe my eyes, because I really couldn’t imagine being able to slice a winter squash like that without the use of a chainsaw! You must be Hercules! 🙂

    1. Melissa @ HerGreenLife says:

      You could make the cake and use our baked good strategy: have one piece when it’s fresh, and immediately slice and freeze the rest. I was pleasantly surprised when we discovered that frosted cake actually freezes and thaws really well. We freeze it on a big plate or baking sheet, with space in between each piece so they don’t freeze together, then bag it once frozen.

      Interesting on the feet. My mom has very painful bunions, and I partially credit Matthew’s getting me into Birkenstocks for avoiding that problem (at least so far) with my own feet. I am willing to [mostly] sacrifice style for healthy, happy feet! I bought a pair of Mary Jane-style Crocs at the end of last summer for a sock-free, but still close-toed biking option, that will hopefully look decent with shorts, capris, and skirts. I’ll have to check out some of the other “recommended” shoes on that page.

      1. EcoCatLady says:

        Ha ha ha! Soooo… the freezing strategy with sweets used to work pretty well until I discovered that frozen cookies or cake or whatever actually taste remarkably good. I nearly broke a tooth on a frozen Fig Newton once, but suffice it to say, I have ZERO self control with sweets. Now… maybe if I encased them in a block of ice a foot thick… 🙂

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