MS Bike Tour 2012

Today I joined the Neon Riders Team which will be biking in the Nova Scotia leg of the 2012 MS Bike Tour.  The event will be held over two days in July – each day we will bike 50 kilometres (31 miles).  We will be biking from Windsor to Wolfville one day, and return the next day.

The MS Bike Tour is an annual fundraising effort for the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society.  It has been going on for over 20 years and the funds raised help to provide support and services to those living with MS, their families and caregivers. The MS Society also funds research with three goals: to find a cause and cure for MS, repair nervous system damage caused by MS, and stop MS attacks.

It’s estimated that approximately 55,000-75,000 men and women in Canada have MS, and every day about three more people are diagnosed.  It’s most often diagnosed in young adults, aged 15 to 40. Symptoms of multiple sclerosis are unpredictable and vary from person to person and from time to time in the same person.  Some of the symptoms include impaired vision, memory failure, and difficulty in walking.

One person diagnosed with MS is the Neon Riders’ team captain, Beth Button.  I met Beth through mutual friends a few years ago.  She was diagnosed with MS in 2006 when she was in her mid 20s.  I did not know much about MS before I met Beth and I still have a lot to learn, but I do know that I want Beth to be able to keep riding her bike in the summer and keep skate skiing in the winter, and I feel that the MS Society of Canada can help.

This will be my first year riding with the Neon Riders.  Last year the team raised over $11,000.  This year I’m hoping to help increase that number by raising $500.  If you’d like to help me reach my goal, you can donate online here.

Team Neon Riders is always looking for more members.  If you would like to join us, give me a shout!

Back to where it all began (aka rock climbing at Minkey Wall)

On Saturday Chris and I headed out to Cochrane Lane for a day of rock climbing. Cochrane Lane is the most developed trad climbing area in New Brunswick and one of my favorite crags in the area.

We hiked in to Minkey Wall, which is the prominent wall with impressive roofs that you can see from the parking lot. The hike in was much different than in past March outings- all the snow is already gone!

Minkey Wall is where Chris and I first met 4 1/2 years ago.  At the time I wasn’t rock climbing very often, but had tagged along with an old friend for a day on rock.  Chris was out aid climbing and ended his day by rapping into Minkey Wall.  We met, he liked my smile, and when I moved to Fredericton a few months later he made sure to come introduce himself at the climbing wall.  The rest is wonderful history. 🙂

Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day with temperatures around 10 celcius (50 F), but the strong winds made it feel a lot colder.  As you can see in the picture below, at one point in the morning I got pretty cold and was wearing a couple of layers of long sleeve shirts and Chris’s down jacket over my down jacket. I looked like the Michelin Man!  Thankfully it warmed up a bit after that.

We started out with me leading a few easy trad climbs – Dash of Fall Memory and Salt N’ Pepper.  They’re not very difficult, but I found myself taking a long time and needing to rest on a few pieces.  It always takes me a few days at the start of the season to get my “lead head” back. Hopefully next time out my lead climbing will be smoother.

Chris then lead up 5.8 for Style and A Warm and Sultry Evening. Two great climbs that he had no problem with.

We finished the day with a new-to-us climb.  I’d forgotten a quickdraw and nut on 5.8 For Style so Chris decided to lead up the small gully to the left of it and rap down to grab the quickdraw.  It wasn’t very difficult, but he says it’s always fun for him to go up something he’s never climbed up before, especially in this case where he had no clue what awaited him on the cliff.

Thus ended another great day climbing in Welsford with the man I first met there 4 1/2 years ago.  I’m looking forward to seeing where and on what adventures the next years will bring us!

Have you gone back to “where it all began”? 

New favorite – homemade granola bars

I started making these gluten-free granola bars a few months ago for Chris, but I quickly started eating them too as they are so good. If I would have known homemade granola bars were this easy to make I would have started making them years ago!

This recipe comes from the glutenfreegirl’s website.  It is the main website that I have been using to find gluten free recipes. They have all been great and easy to follow.

Granola Bars (adapted from glutenfreegirl.com)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups oats (I’ve used both rolled and quick-cooking)
  • 1 cup walnuts (or hazelnuts or almonds)
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup puffed rice cereal
  • 2 cups mixed dried fruit (I usually use raisins and cranberries, but any dried fruit would work)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 325.
  • Line a small casserole dish with parchment paper (I find my 9×6 stoneware baking dish to be the perfect size).
  • Add oats and almonds (or hazelnuts) to casserole dish and toast in oven for about 10 minutes. Turn once in a while.
  • In a saucepan, add honey, brown sugar, butter, vanilla and salt. Bring the mixture to a slow boil on medium heat.  Once it starts boiling, set aside.
  • In a large bowl, mix together toasted oats and almonds (or hazelnuts), sunflower seeds, puffed rice cereal, and dried fruit.
  • Add honey/sugar mix to bowl and stir until everything is evenly coated.
  • Pour mixture into the casserole dish.  Smooth out with a rubber spatula.
  • Bake 15 minutes (up to 30 minutes if you like your granola bars crunchy).
  • Cool for at least an hour before cutting them up into bars.

Enjoy!

Winter Garden Fail – Overwintering Carrots

My harvest basket returned home empty tonight.

I had high hopes as I went to the garden to see if I could harvest some of the carrots that I had overwintered in the garden.  These carrots were not very sweet-tasting last fall so I decided to leave them in ground and cover them with a foot of straw.  I was hoping that the cold would sweeten them up and we could have carrots from the garden in the spring.

As you can see in the picture below, the carrots did not fare well over the winter.  I’m not sure if it was the constant change in temperature that we had this winter or something else, but the carrots turned to mush.  Stinky mush!

Since we’re not completely dependent on the garden for our food we’ll be okay without the carrots, but I’d like to try again next year and successfully keep carrots in the garden over the winter.

Have you overwintered carrots in your garden before? Any tips? 

Tire d’Erable: A Taste of Heaven

March is the season for maple syrup production in New Brunswick.  The starch that was stored in the maple trees’ trunks and roots before the winter is converted to sugar and rises in the sap in late winter.   A hole is drilled in the tree and a spile (traditional method) or tube (modern method) is inserted in the hole to collect the sap in a bucket (traditional) or large holding tanks (modern).

Tire d’Erable, also know as Maple Taffy or Sugar on Snow, is one of my favorite seasonal treats. It’s maple sap that is boiled past the point of maple syrup, but before it turns into maple butter. The liquid is then poured on snow to cool.  To eat, you take a popsicle stick and roll the taffy around it. Tire d’Erable has a chewy texture and tastes amazing!

I first had sugar on snow when I was in girl scouts and we would go to a sugarbush each winter.  A horse-drawn sled would take us to the sugar shack in the middle of the woods.  We’d all crowd around the person pouring the boiled sap and wait impatiently for the moment when we could pick up a stick. My addiction to sugar on snow started then.

This year we went to Kings Landing Historical Settlement for their Sugarbush event.  The York Sunbury Ground Search and Rescue organized a fundraising breakfast.  Pancakes, sausage, bacon, eggs, toast – and lots of maple syrup! Yum.

After breakfast we went outside to the sap boiling demonstration and tire d’erable station.  The man pouring the boiled sap told us that the pots boiling outside were just for demonstration – because of health regulations they have to use maple sap that has been boiled in sterilized, special equipment.  Didn’t matter to me, it still tasted amazing!

I love that sugar on snow isn’t available year-round. It’s a special once-a-year treat that I look forward to every year.

If you haven’t been to a sugar bush before and have the opportunity, I recommend it.  And make sure you try the Sugar on Snow!

2012 Garden Plan

I sat down last night and designed the garden for this year.  I used growveg.com again as it’s so easy to use.

(The brown square in the garden is a large boulder that I find easier to plant around than to dig up or blow up.)

I used the same Legume-Root-Fruit-Leaf rotation as I did last year.  This means that each group shifted clockwise one quarter. When designing the garden, I kept in mind the position of the sun and how plants would be shaded.

This year I added more flowers in the garden.  Borage, calendula, and nasturtium are all edible flowers as well as beautiful flowers.

I also tried to mix up vegetables a bit more, but that is harder to do with the computer program than when I draw plans by hand.  If I have time this month, I will draw the garden plan by hand and get even more creative with the garden.

The next step is to get my indoor seed starting set-up organized.  I borrowed some grow lights from my stepdad and have picked a spot in the house to start the seeds.  I need to gather supplies and then, at the end of March, start peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, and cucumbers.

I’m excited!

Have you started your garden planning for 2012?

First Outdoor Climbing Day of 2012

Last Sunday, we went outdoor climbing for the first time this season. It was great!

We weren’t sure if we were going to go because the weather forecast was calling for 4 C (39 F) with a few flurries, but I’d been itching to go climbing for the past few weeks and convinced Chris it would be fun.

We met our friends Chris and Jill at the Sunnyside crag, a sport climbing area about 45 minutes away. Six other climbers were already there by the time we arrived at noon.  Everyone was bundled up with lots of layers and had hand-warmers in their chalk bags.

Flurries started coming down as we were getting ready for our first climb. It’s the first time I’ve been rock climbing in snow. It was pretty neat :).

Our hands got pretty cold climbing and most of us wore socks in our climbing shoes (or climbed in boots!), but all in all, it wasn’t that bad.  Part of the cliff was still wet and full of icicles, but a good number of climbs were dry.

It felt wonderful to be back on rock after a winter of climbing on plastic holds.  I love the feeling of climbing rock and the extra challenge of route-finding.  Indoors, routes are tapped with different colours so you never have to guess which way to go.  But on a rock climb, even though you have a general idea of which way to go because of the bolts, you still have to do more mental work to figure out the best way to approach a climb.

I can’t wait to go out again!  I’m crossing my fingers that the sunny forecast for this weekend happens.