Indoor climbing competition

One of my favorite things to do is to go rock climbing, preferably outside, but when it’s too cold to go outside, I head indoors to climb.

The first time I went rock climbing was 11 years ago and I was instantly hooked.  I rock climbed outdoors when I could over the years, depending on where I was living and how easy it was to get to a rock cliff.  I started climbing more frequently, both outdoors and indoors, four years ago when I moved to Fredericton, joined the UNB Rock and Ice Club, and met my future husband Chris there.

The UNB Rock and Ice Club is a great volunteer-based community group that runs a  non-profit bouldering gym and a variety of climbing-related activities (introductory rock and ice schools; advanced rock schools;climbing safety sessions; Banff Mountain Film festival).

Last Saturday the UNB Rock and Ice Club hosted an indoor bouldering competition.  At a bouldering gym, climbers use artificial holds to climb up walls without a rope (usually no higher than 15 feet).  Large mattresses are in place to catch falls.  This is different than at a rope climbing gym where climbers wear harnesses and are tied in to ropes while climbing walls that are usually around 40 feet high.

Since I joined the Club four years ago I’ve tried to go to all the competitions (three a year).  I love the day of competition – so many new routes to try, the challenge of trying to complete the hardest routes I can in as few tries as possible, and the competitive energy in the air . I’m usually super nervous at the beginning, my heart beating like crazy on the first few routes. After a few routes, I’m warmed up and start trying harder problems. The atmosphere at competitions is super friendly with climbers encouraging each other and offering sincere congratulations when a route is completed.

On Saturday there were two categories: open and recreational. The open category’s winner was determined in a finals round.  The top six climbers from the preliminary round each climbed four new routes and had five minutes to climb each one. The winner was the one who completed the most climbs in the least number of attempts.  It’s always fun to watch great climbers on these super hard routes.

I climbed in the recreational category which is a three hour competition where competitors try to climb the hardest problems they can in the least amount of attempts.  A climber’s top six scores are added up at the end and the climber with the most points wins. We have a lot of strong women climbers at our gym and I didn’t end up winning the competition on Saturday, but I had a great time. I climbed hard, gave it my best, and was happy with my results.  This is the last competition for the season – hopefully we’ll be climbing outside in a few weeks!

If you haven’t tried indoor rock climbing yet, I’d recommend it! 


Gluten-Free Update

For the past two months Chris has been trying out a gluten-free and dairy-free diet. I’m still eating some dairy and gluten for my lunches so I can’t comment on how it feels to have switched to a completely gluten-free diet, but in terms of meal planing and preparation it hasn’t been too difficult. From day one, I looked at it as an opportunity to search out new recipes and try out different foods.

As I wrote last month I started baking gluten-free muffins following a recipe from the Gluten Free Girl  I am also using one of her recipes to make granola bars, and boy are they tasty!

One of our favorite discoveries has been homemade corn tortillas. I made them one night to go with a beef and rice dish that we’d normally eat with store-bought crispy tortillas.  Well, no more.  The homemade corn tortillas were so easy to make and very tasty.  All I did was buy a bag of corn masa mix (the brand sold here is “Maseca”) and follow the instructions on the bag – simply mix flour with water and salt, roll out, and cook in frying pan. So easy.  The instructions say to use a tortilla press, but I just rolled them out between two sheets of parchment paper.

Another hit is a creamy gluten-free dairy-free pasta that I made for lunch this weekend. I found the recipe on the From Scratch Club website and substituted buttercup squash when I couldn’t find pie pumpkins.   Chris has been eating dairy-free for over two years and had not eaten a  creamy pasta since then. The dish was amazing.

The most difficult has been eating out.  We have not gone out to as many restaurants as we usually do and have mostly had friends over to our house to eat gluten-free meals.  We went to Pizza Delight to try out their gluten-free pizza and Chris said it was very good.

I’m looking forward to trying out some new gluten-free recipes this month!

Do you have any great gluten-free recipes to share? 

My public library

At the public library yesterday I was thinking about how much I use and appreciate the public library system that we have.

Some of my earliest memories are connected to the public library.  I remember being 3 or 4 and my mom ferrying my kindergarten class to the library in our station wagon. Once there we would be treated to story-telling, puppet shows, and sing-alongs (my favorite was “Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”).  It’s no wonder that my dream job at that age was a librarian! I adored them.

As I got older I kept visiting the public library in our town.  I’d borrow fiction books, magazines, comic books.  I remember how grown-up I felt once I started borrowing books that weren’t from the children’s section.

These days I still visit the library at least once or twice a month.  Our library has a big collection of DVDs so most of the movies we watch come from the library.  Because most of the movies available aren’t the very latest movies (although they do get many newer movies) – I find that we are watching a wider variety of movies and some that we wouldn’t normally pick up at the DVD rental store.

We also make a trip to the library before road trips to borrow music, comedy, radio drama, and book CDs.  These are great to listen to on the road.  On one climbing trip to the Gunks we listened to the Hobbit most of the drive – it makes the drive go so much faster.

I also love borrowing non-fiction books that I’ll only need for a short while, instead of buying them.  I borrowed a lot of wedding planning books a few years ago. For our road trip last year I borrowed three different California travel guides which all proved very useful in finding things to do and places to eat during my solo-travel week.

Lately, my routine has been to go directly to the new arrivals bookshelves.  I can usually find a handful of fiction, non-fiction, and biographies that look interesting.  I find that this method makes me read books that I might not normally think of looking for in the general book shelving.

Have you visited your public library lately? 

Right Now I Am….

…wishing my big brother a very happy 36th birthday.  He was my first friend and even though I don’t see him very often these days, I still love my big brother. 

…reminiscing about the adventures that we had playing as children and partying as teenagers.

…anticipating his birthday lunch this weekend with my parents.

…working in our satellite office for the day, replacing a co-worker who is ill and awaiting test results.

…hoping for positive test results and a full recovery.

… eating a homemade carrot muffin. So tasty!

…listening to the laughter through the walls.  This office is located in a retirement residence and it’s great to hear people’s laughter throughout the day.

…wondering if the bellows I ordered a few weeks ago is ready for pick-up in the town across the border.

…not looking forward to crossing the border.  I always feel so guilty even though I have no reason to.

…preparing material for the full-day of training I am giving tomorrow.

…thankful that I only have to give training once or twice a year – it’s not my strong point.

treasuring this lovely winter that we’re having.  Just enough snow to play in, but not so much that we have to shovel the driveway all the time.

What are you doing right now? 

Kingsbrae Garden

In between bouts of winter fun, I’ve been looking out my window at our garden covered with snow, daydreaming of the planting season to come, and thinking back on other gardens I’ve spent time in.

In 2002, after I finished my course at Linnaea Farm, I moved to St. Andrews, New Brunswick – a beautiful seaside town.  I found work at Kingsbrae Garden – a 27-acre horticultural garden built on the donor’s family estate property.

Kingsbrae Garden is filled with beautiful themed flower gardens such as the Bird and Butterfly Garden, the Ornamental Grass Garden, the Scents and Sensitivity Garden, the Heath and Heather Garden; ponds; orchards; forested walking trails; ducks, goats, and alpacas; and a 1/3 scale Dutch Windmill.  Also, to my delight , an organic vegetable garden.

Each of the gardeners working at Kingsbrae Garden is assigned to a few gardens for the season. I was happy to be assigned to the organic vegetable garden. I was also assigned to the Knot Garden which was beautiful, but not so fun, as it required near daily trimming of the boxwood, lavender, and other herbs.

As we started work a month or so before vegetable planting season I took that time to plan the vegetable garden with a four-year rotation cycle and with a good mix of companion plants.

To get the garden ready I took one of the trucks down to the nearby beach and filled with with truckloads of seaweed that washes up on shore.  Seaweed is a great fertilizer that is rich in trace minerals and hormones that stimulate plant growth. And for those who live near the beach, it’s free.

I also took the time that month to build a scarecrow.  I called her “Stella” and she became quite the attraction over the summer.

The summer I spent at Kingsbrae Garden was wonderful.  I spent most of my days in the vegetable garden, planting, weeding, and harvesting.   I would offer vegetables to taste to the visitors that walked through the garden.   I would also offer vegetables to the other staff who were not always used to my odd vegetables.  No one took me up on the offer to take home purple potatoes!  What was left over I took home and cooked up for supper.

During the time that I wasn’t in the vegetable or knot garden I helped the other gardeners in their flower gardens and helped to take care of the ducks and goats.  I learnt so much that summer.  Maybe I’ll go back to work there someday. 🙂

If you’re in St. Andrews by-the-Sea, go visit Kingsbrae Gardens. You won’t regret it.

Simple Meals – Spicy Rice and Beans

This is a recipe that my friend Jill shared a few years ago when we all tried a vegan diet for a while.  We’ve all since gone back to an omnivore diet, but discovered many great vegan recipes during that time.

Spicy Rice and Beans has become a staple in our house.  I love the flexibility of the recipe and how easy it is to throw together.

Spicy Rice and Beans (by Jill N-N)


  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 stalks of celery (I omit this if I don’t have any in the fridge)
  • Can of sweet corn
  • Any extra veggies you need to use up
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano (or more, to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme (or more, to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp. basil (or more, to taste)
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper (or more, to taste)
  • 1 cup white rice
  • 1 can black beans (or 2 cups cooked black beans) and/or
  • 1 can chickpeas (or 2 cups cooked chickpeas)
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 cup veggie broth or  1 can of diced tomatoes with liquid
  • 1/2 tsp. salt


  • Heat the olive oil.  Once heated, cook the onions for 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and vegetables and saute for 2 minutes.
  • Add herbs and spices and mix until everything is coated.
  • Add tomato paste, vegetable broth or diced tomatoes, beans, rice and salt. Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is cooked.


Winter Wonderland – Snowshoeing

This past Sunday Chris and I went out for a snowshoe in the woods behind our house.  The woods are a 30-acre parcel of land with a mixture of large trees (mostly hemlocks)  and cut-over land growing over in alders, and two streams running through the property.

Saturday night and Sunday morning a lot of fluffy snow fell and by Sunday afternoon it was a winter wonderland in the woods.  Tree branches were full of snow. At one point a strong wind gust shook the branches and snow gently fell down on us. For a moment the whole forest looked like a big snow globe that had just been shaken up. Magical.

It was a cold and windy day, but in the woods we were pretty sheltered.  We followed the stream through the woods and came out in a newly cut-over area a kilometre away.

We walked back on the still visible trail that used to be a public road a long time ago. On our subdivision plan it’s marked as “Old Maugerville Road,” but that’s all I know about it. It would be neat to find out more of its history.

We don’t go out in these woods often, but I always love the times we do.  Sadly, there is always the chance that this parcel of land will be developed for a residential subdivision.  We are hopeful that if it does happen, the new landowners will keep a lot of the big trees around the stream and leave a buffer between the new houses and our back yard.

Have you been out snowshoeing lately?