The First Day of the Rest of My Road


1,000 decisions, properly made -Specialized Sequoia

The day has come! Today is the first day of the rest of my bike commuting journey. After writing a recent post about finding a new balance, moving into my second year of full time work, I realized that it was going to take even more focused planning to realize some of the goals and balance points I set for myself. An even more deliberate change of lifestyle was necessary if I wanted to reincorporate exercise, healthy movement, and cycling miles into my life. Here are a few factors motivating me to bike commute:

  1. I haven’t been to the gym even one time since my posting about balance.
  2. Time is my most precious resource at this point.
  3. I haven’t changed my position about seeing my boys each morning before work.
  4. I need a way to incorporate movement and exercise into daily life more closely aligned with my every day activities.
  5. I happen to be married to a bike guru who I knew could bring it all together (that’s just what he did). He has become my biggest link to bike commuting success!

Bike Commuting Is the Cat’s Pajamas

Bike commuting will be an entirely new world for me, but I’ve seen its benefits firsthand. When we lived in Alexandria, Virginia, right outside of D.C., my husband commuted by metro for the first year of his job. I could write an entire article about the reasons that he started bike commuting, but the number one reason was that his commute to and from the city generally put him in a terrible state of mind.

He’d come home bummed out, tired beyond belief, and full of depressing tales from his mass transit commute. (Let me state here that metro, subway, bus, and train– all of these are superior to one human getting into one vehicle and burning mass amounts of fuel on their hour-long commute each day.)

There came a moment one Wednesday when Perry showed me a Surly Long Haul Trucker on Craigslist. He said, “I’m going to start bike commuting.” I have vivid memories of that gorgeous green Surly still. Sweet moments when our little P would call down to his daddy from our second story condo window, “Love you daddy! Be safe!” are forever logged in my memory. Off my husband would go on his bi-pedal hoss. I remember thinking then what a great example he was for our son, and how I hoped that we would always honor biking as an important transportation reality.

The change in Perry’s demeanor was dramatic and nearly instantaneous. He had more energy, not less. He looked forward to heading in to work. He loved the challenge of pedaling to his place of employment regardless of the weather. He has plenty of stories that involve snow up to his free hub, being cut off by cars, particularly one crazy taxi cab, near the Jefferson Memorial, and spinning through ankle deep water. Even a less-than-happy story about confronting someone at a stop light who had almost ended his life at a traffic circle was part of his daily bike commuting experience.

On the whole, the entire affair was wonderful for Perry. Plus, the other people in our family who have been consistently bike commuting are my two boys. After our move this summer, we switched elementary schools and the boys have been commuting by bike since school began. I have to be honest that those first few afternoons I waited for them at the top of the driveway– excited and a little nervous. But they have cruised up our road safely every day, and it’s given me an even stronger desire to ride out on my own commute.

Of course, I hope that my commute won’t be fraught with danger. Part of my ride will be on bike path, and the other piece on less-traveled town streets. But I will be commuting in the early-morning half light, and I plan on subbing out my current tires for studded snow tires this winter. I hope I’ll have the presence of mind to stay safe and be aware of motorists and fellow cyclists alike. But beyond some of the cautionary tales I’ve heard, I am more than excited to take on this new mode of daily transportation. With my new transportation adventure happening real-time, there is a chance to talk about some bike commuting essentials.

Here’s the gear that will go with me as I set out on my new adventure:

First, The BIKE

This Specialized Sequoia will be my daily commuter. I really enjoyed reading this review of the Sequoia, though these folks took this gal out for a real, true gravel grinding tour. One aspect of the Sequoia I am looking forward to self-testing is what Sarah Swallows describes, “It feels equally capable with or without a load.” I’m not only planning to use this bike on my commute, but as my weekend pleasure cruiser.


Wear a Helmet, for Cranium’s Sake

This may seem to go without saying. But I’ve seen plenty of commuters who roll on sans skull protector. It only takes one story like the following to change your mind about helmets.

One sunny day last summer, I was riding to work without a helmet. I’d been riding this way for a few weeks, after I got a new bike for my birthday. I was turning off my street, where there is a gas station and a car pulled out of that lot , into the street, without looking. The guy didn’t see me, but I saw he wasn’t stopping with enough time so I swerved. He pulled out far enough that his front bumper knocked me further into the street, but I’d swerved enough that it didn’t knock me over. At 5 mph or less, the force of his car, not to mention his sheer stupidity, were enough to scare the ever living sh*t out of me.
I turned around and grabbed my roommate’s helmet and wore one from that day forward. Two weeks later on that same corner, no less, I took a spill and landed square on my face. Broke my right wrist, dislocated my left shoulder and lost my two front teeth, among others. It was awful, but that helmet saved my life. To anyone getting on a bike, no matter how experienced, please pick up a helmet first. I’d be eating through a tube or worse were it not for that helmet. -wordwithsam from “Gear You Need to Commute By Bike,” Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan

Here’s to not breaking a wrist or especially losing any teeth on my commute (this is actually one of my most longstanding fears– toothless glory). But it should go without saying that a helmet is non-negotiable gear.


Light Your Bike, Like a Diamond

My sweet hubby tricked out my bike with two lights– a headlight in the front, and a Specialized Stix taillight in the back. Technology has advanced in every realm, and bike lights are no exception. Once I’ve reached my destination, I simply plug my lights into my USB to charge them for the next day. Genius!!


Under-seat Pack, a Must

No one wants a flat tire, but it’s bound to happen. This reality is one I must face, and I must sheepishly admit that I’ve been taught to change a flat time more times than I have fingers. I haven’t mastered this skill in all my years as a roadie. Now’s the time to figure it out!! (I also secretly hope my hubby will be within phone’s reach.) This under-seat pack holds everything you need to change a tire successfully.


Multi-tool, Oh My!

Along with changing a flat, a multi-tool will always come in handy. Seat adjustments, chain/cable problems, I got this! Below, the Specialized EMT multi-tool, is a good option for most commuting scenarios.


Fenders, Why Yes

When it comes to all-weather commuting (yes, this is my intention and I’ll keep you posted!) fenders are a must. Rain, snow, mud, you’re going to see it all. If you want to make it to work without having to hose off before beginning your day, you should invest in fenders. Leave it to my partner to source the best-of-the-best. Woody’s Fenders are custom, handmade in Bend, Oregon. You check them out HERE, and HERE.


Panniers, for All Weather

I tend to have a lot of STUFF when I head to work. Depending on the day I may have my laptop, two class texts, a set of student papers I’ve graded, my daily planner, a change of clothes, shoes for work, and breakfast and lunch for the day. I knew that I’d need some roomy panniers and these Ortleib Commuter QL 2.1 bags are a good match for my commuting needs. Water-proof, professional, without screaming bike nerd, I’m excited to pack the crap out of these and roll.



Leave it to me to look into stylish clothes for my bike commute. At this point I plan on alternating between these carpi length Ibex bike shorts, and my Specialized long leggings. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have my eye on some new bike bottoms. I’ll keep you posted as update my clothing. For now I really do plan to stick to the standards I listed above. I am also wearing the brightest jacket/topper I could find for greater visibility, the Specialized Women’s Deflect Jacket. It’s light, bright, and sure to catch the eye of motorist and fellow trail blazer alike.

I hope you all have an wonderful Monday. I’d love to hear any of your ideas or experiences bike commuting. I’m completely new to this realm, but really looking forward to the ride!

XX, Megan


Outerwear in October

Early Fall

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Jean Jacket, FleeceLeather Jacket

Not all climates are created for layering, but I live in one that requires it. I still contend that even in a temperate climate, layering is possible if you evaluate your options. A jean jacket, blazer, leather bomber, or even trench coat are universal style staples sea to shining sea.

I’ve gathered some of my current outerwear favorites for October from across the web for this latest installment of Refined + Rugged. Take a look, and tell me what your favorite outerwear pieces are for fall. Happy Friday, wonderful humans!

XX, Megan

Late Fall

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Wool Topcoat, Rustic Puffer, VestBelted Topcoat

Climate Dependent

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Puffer Parka, Trench Coat, Rain Slicker 

Cold Stoppers

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Toggle Coat, Extreme Puffer, Insulated Topcoat, Wool Trench Coat

New Balance: Five Things I’m Doing To Renew Daily Equilibrium


Here are five things I’m doing to renew balance in the eternal quest for equilibrium.

  1. Working out in smaller chunks
  2. Contacting one of my friends every week
  3. Maintaining some of the positive changes I’ve made to my schedule this past year
  4. Scheduling chores and cleanup in a set timeframe
  5. Meditating

(If you need the quick details, scroll down to the bottom of the post!)

With the beginning of my second year of teaching I’ve encountered the reoccurring matter of balance. We have on-boarded a lot of activities and obligations to our family life. In addition to working full-time I will also be taking college courses as part of professional development for my teaching licensure over the next two years.

We are involved in soccer, cycling, and a host of other activities associated with work, school and community. We are still recovering from our move. For some, it sounds ridiculous to say that a return to normalcy would be so hard to achieve after moving. In all honesty, moving really threw me out of my groove. Maybe many of these feelings of precariousness come from that uproar. It was a big life change. But I think there is more to this moment in my life than moving, career focus, or realigning my goals.

I need another reset, a re-centering, a restoration of balance and order, in my entire existence. It would be foolish for me to say that simply because I recognize this, I’ve achieved my balance. I feel as though I am entering a new time in my life. I have lived my childhood, my young adulthood, my child bearing years, and we’re into the real thick of the child rearing years, and it has always taken me a while to find my equilibrium.

Now I have reached another new juncture in my life. I am experiencing the need to return to some of the tried and true things that make me who I am, and I now have the opportunity to incorporate some of the good habits I’ve picked up on returning to the workplace. I am excited to see what this part of the journey holds for me and my little family, and I am committed to finding my balance in this new episode.

I have written about balance on the blog, HERE. Perhaps the first post should have covered it for me. When I wrote that first article, I talked mostly about balancing blogging and home-life. As my quest for balance continues, maybe yours does, too. When I say balance I mean the confluence between the things we prioritize in our daily schedules, and perhaps some of the things–activities, practices, time frames– we might want to bring into the daily stream.


One of the hardest transitions for me in returning to work has been that I have really let go of working out. I’d like to say that “I had to let go” of working out, but there are plenty of people who are up at 4:30 am getting their physical activity on. Therefore, I have to place the responsibility for my physical fitness needs and desires solely on my choices.

One of the reasons this shift into zero work outs has been hard is that I find that physical practice has just as imporant mental impact as physical benefit. I truly believe in the mental cleansing that comes from working out.

This entire internal dialogue came to a head one night about a month ago around 8:45 p.m. I had recommitted myself to returning to the gym that very next morning. My intention was to make a morning work-outer of myself. (This has yet to happen in 37 years, but why not try again now when I really need it!!!!?!) My alarm was set for 5:00 a.m., my intention was to head to bed.

But it just didn’t happen. One of the boys got up with a tummy ache, I realized that I still needed to turn off all the lights downstairs and let the dogs out, my husband asked if we were ever going to hang out again. The pressure was on. The other reality is that I absolutely hate going to the gym in the mornings.

Leaving for the gym at 5 a.m. also means an insane amount of preparation: packing lunches, gym bag, work clothes, prepping breakfast, solidifying lesson plans– all things that I usually do in the morning before work. First world problems, I realize this. But stumbling blocks, nonetheless.

More importantly, if I am gone in the mornings I miss out on those precious moments right as I am heading off to work and my boys rise each day. We say our good mornings/goodbyes. I’m able to give squeezes, and kisses, and wishes for a wonderful day. This time is very important to me. So what am I to choose?

I’ve been looking at this problem from many sides for a few months now and it is time to make a change. Something’s gotta give. I understand that part of this conundrum is the “having it all” syndrome. The idea that you can balance the big five: family, work, sleep, working out, and friendships.

The night my plans to make a fresh start in the working out world crashed and burned for maybe the seventh time in as many months, I sat on the couch dejected. My phone buzzed with a text message from my husband upstairs. “Don’t feel bad. You’re not the only one who can’t have it all.” He wrote, with a link to an interview by Jessica Stillman with Randi Zuckerberg (sister of Mark). Ms. Zuckerberg explains that if the five pillars of life are family, work, sleep, friends, and working out. A person who wants to be successful (in any of them, to any degree) should choose three.

Wa-wa-wahhhhh. I’m still not stoked on this paradigm. Though I have to admit that I’ve been living it for half-a-year or so. (Or if you ask my close friends, people who I loved, cherished, and treasured before I had a full-time job how I’m doing on the friend front [read POORLY] I’ve probably been struggling with this shift in balance from day one of full-time employment.)


After parleying the merits of this approach– big five, choose three– for some time now I’ve come to believe that perhaps a more nuanced look into each of these– family, work, sleep, friends, working out– might yield more benefit. I read this article by Mallika Chopra, and it encouraged me to be more open to examining my balance, desires, and involvement in all aspects of my life in a more refined way.

Below are the five things I’m doing to realize more balance in my every day:

Working out in smaller chunks

In the past I had time to work out for 60 to 90 minutes a day, no problem. I have always enjoyed working out, so I knew that I wasn’t experiencing an apathy issue. I just simply didn’t/don’t have the luxury of devoting the same amount of time as I did in the past to physical fitness.

One of the mistakes I made was to mislabel the lack of time I had (of course my schedule is tighter) for NO time whatsoever. I DO have time. I simply need to realign my idea how much time a full work out really needs to be effective. My plan is to work out for 30 minutes a day.

If I have more time, great. If not, I’ll take the 30 minutes I can get! I have also had to refresh some of my work out modes. For example, I set my bike up on my trainer at home. I can hop out of bed, into my clothes, and be on my bike in less than five minutes. I also downloaded several workout apps to my phone. This will make it easier to get SOME sort of workout in, no matter the days’ schedule.

Contacting one of my friends every week

I value all my friendships very highly. I may not be able to devote as much time and energy to each of my friends as I did in the past, but I can still make an effort to reach out with sincere love and care. I am going to call one of my friends once a week every week. This includes my sisters, and some of my friends that are very distant from me geographically. There’s no reason I can’t pick up the phone and simply let them know that I am thinking of them.

Maintaining some of the positive changes I’ve made to my schedule this past year

I have established some very good habits this past year, and I don’t want to forget that during this increasingly busy time in my life I have been able to dial in some habits that I want to keep forever.

One of those is a more balanced approach to sleep, i.e. the pure recognition that I am a human that works best if I have eight hours of sleep every night. I function better, I am happier, and I am more productive in every way if I pay attention to getting enough rest.

Another one of the healthy habits I felt stayed consistent during some of these life changes was my commitment to family dinners. A huge thank you to The Six O’clock Scramble, revolutionizing dinnertime one family meal at a time.

I have such a belief in and reverence for family dinner, and I was able to maintain a relatively consistent dinner schedule through the past year-and-a-half. Home cooked meals were and are happening, and I want to make sure that this continues.

Scheduling chores and cleanup in more organized and specific time frame

With the job, and the move, and the increased activity level the struggle to maintain home tidiness has been real! I have to say that we have tried our best to keep every aspect of life clean and good working order. But it is time, time for the chore chart, time for task delegation, and time to set up a rotating system or jobs that benefit our home environment.

We’re dialing in laundry by giving every one a wash day, and have made great strides (read my husband has worked miracles on our home to make it more sound, more pleasant, more functional, and more beautiful) to get this new home in functioning as well as orderly condition.

We’ll get there, so this week will include a long hard look at some of the chores that need to be address on the regular. My fear is that this will become a fight between the parents and other occupants of the household, my hope is that if we get into a true routine with our chores it will move along seamlessly (ha ha, I know). Cheers to trying for balance in chore land!!


Meditation time may also fall under the category of ME TIME. When discussing some of my new approaches to balance with friends, many of them mentioned that it is important to have time for yourself. Time that is not devoted to a particular enterprise or even goal. This meditation time might be spent genuinely meditating. It might be spent reading. It might be spent painting my toenails.

The important thing is that I don’t lose sight of some of the little things that I might need to bring continuity and even free flow to my new practice of balance.

I’d love to hear some of your thoughts on the subject of maintaining personal balance. As for me, I need to quit this post so that I can start acting on the steps I’ve outlined!! Have a wonderful Monday, friends.

XX, Megan


Living Room Remodel: Boho Eclectic


When we moved into our new home I wanted to bring some added warmth and texture into our living spaces, especially the living room. Our previous home had a smallish living room that also served as the TV room (more on this later, as we haven’t even unpacked our TV and it has made me so very happy!).

One of the things I disliked about the previous space is that it seemed to serve as more of a walkway to the kitchen and dining room than it did as a living space. The furniture was nice, in fact we have only really added a few pieces in this new home. But it lacked a certain cozy comfortability I hoped to bring to this new abode.

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The first thing we updated in our living room was the flooring. The house originally had carpet in all of the rooms except the kitchen. We replaced the living room carpet with laminate flooring. We decided to go away from the dark, dark wood we had in our previous house and instead go with a more natural walnut colored floor. I couldn’t be more happy with our choice. The floor is the perfect warm neutral tone I was looking for, it shows much less dirt and wear (hello two dogs), and I feel as though we’ll be happy with our choice for years to come!

I’ve already explained that one of the updates in our house was the new rug  top right in the picture above. It was a happy mistake because I originally purchased for the dining room but it was WAY too big for that room. In all honesty, we got the rug, realized it wouldn’t fit, rolled it out in the living room, and it hasn’t moved since! In fact, it was really the first piece that we put into our new home post new paint and flooring.



I’ve put together some mood boards of the process we went through to pick the rest of the decor. I started with some of the neutral basics I already had and added a few I wanted. One big addition for us was also a coffee table. Because of the size of our last living room, we had never pulled the trigger on a coffee table. We love our pick (we actually bought two coffee tables, but one acts as more of a side table), it is affordable, functional, and just the right size for the space. Unfortunately this couch is sold out online, but I’ve shopped some worthy alternatives at similar price points.

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Mirror, Side Table, Tray, Shelf, Couch (1, 2, 3), Coffee Table, Coffee Table, Lamp, Throw


After the basic neutrals, I decided that I wanted to add some touches of pink throughout the living room. I picked up the pillows and throw on sale at Anthropologie. My husband has given me plenty of grief about the price, but the rest of the pillows are a combination of old favorites from Ikea, and some refreshed cream basics from target.

We also picked up two of the Eve Buttoned Chairs from West Elm. I was adamant that we switch out my two woven fabric chairs for this microfiber because of the way that dog hair gets trapped in the woven fabric of our yellow chairs. I actually kept both yellow chairs because there is plenty of space for extra seating in this living room.

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Rug, Pillow, Throw, Runner, Pillow, Chair 


Last, I wanted to have some decor in this room that was simply for looks! Now that my children are older, I don’t have to worry about whether or not someone will throw the small gold starburst sculpture, or if they will pluck a succulent out of the terrarium, or try to climb the ladder that is only meant for blankets.

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Picture, Starburst, Succulent, Terrarium, Wall Weaving, Ladder

Fall Cozy: Splurge or Save

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SPLURGE: Sweater, Jeans, Booties, Earrings

Fall– undoubtedly my favorite time of year– favorite as far as weather, favorite as far as food, and of course, favorite as far as fashion is concerned. One of my friends said it best when she wished for fall to span six months a year, and the other three seasons could fight over the other half!

One reason I love fall style so much is that it that it allows such cozy dressing. There is nothing more comfy or relaxing than slipping into a cashmere sweater to cuddle up next to the fire with a good book after work. (Yes, this sometimes still happens!)

I’ve put together two outfits, nearly identical in look, but one that is full of closet splurges and one that is easy on the wallet. I don’t actually own any of the items on the splurge list. I’m a first believer that as far as fashion is concerned, you don’t need to break the bank. I’ve put together another set of this same look to save you some dough.

The other thing you don’t have to sacrifice when you walk on the cozy side is style. In love with that slouchy sweatshirt you’ve had since college? Great! Add a pair of bold, gold, geometric earrings to spice it up. Still holding on to that perfect pair of distressed Levi’s you picked up at the thrift store three years ago? Awesome! Simply invest in a pair of killer booties– extra credit if you find some with rivets or embellishment.

Below is the same look as above but for less! What are some of your favorite fall fashion finds? I’d love to know what you think, and as always, I’m wishing you a wonderful day!

XX, Megan

SAVE: Sweater, Jeans, Booties, Earrings

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