A Wildcard’s Afternoon In Downtown Fredericton #Bringitdowntown (part two)

Last week I described my role as a wildcard in Downtown Fredericton’s Bring it Downtown campaign. Here is the rest of my wildcard adventure – and how I spent my remaining Downtown Dollars.

Yarns on York

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Such a beautiful selection of yarns at Yarns on York! I’ll be using the cherry red to create another crochet christmas present

I popped into Yarns on York to find the perfect companion yarn for my current project: crochet dinosaurs. I have plenty of green yarn, but I wanted a new colour for spikes. I found the perfect soft red acrylic blend. More photos to come :).

Any knitter or crocheter will drool over the variety of colours, textures, and blends of yarn offered at Yarns on York. The staff members are knitters themselves, so they have a good feel for how each type of yarn will work up. Also, they offer plenty of classes – need I say more? It’s the perfect first stop for a handmade gift this holiday.

Made You Blush

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Pretty things at Made You Blush

Remember the whole NEW theme? The best way to prepare myself for the holiday season was to update my old cosmetics. So I had to visit the girls at Made You Blush for some tips.

One thing that I love about this store is the helpful staff members. They’re easy to talk to and able to track down items with even my vaguest of descriptions. I wanted to update my eye makeup regiment, so I asked for some ideas.  We did a round of the store to check out the new shadows, while explaining some of the specifics of shadows and some of the key looks this holiday season.

I picked the Two Faces Neutral eye shadow collection. It has the warm browns that I usually wear, along with plenty of sparkle and shine for the holidays. I’m already in love with them – the colours combine perfectly and the pigment is long-lasting.

Made You Blush also has plenty of great gift ideas for the holidays – everything from bath bombs and lip glosses; nail polish and makeup kits; makeup bags and brushes. They have plenty of popular gifts set aside and are happy to give you some advice.

Urban Almanac

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Pretty gift baskets at the Urban Almanac

This is another great shop to find unique Christmas ornaments and kitchen implements for any occasion. The Urban Almanac also has a great variety of gorgeous gift baskets featuring organic sauces, jellies, and jams, as well as a section of tasty gluten-free mixes for cookies and cakes. Something to keep in mind if you have a gluten allergy in the family.

I was drawn to the Tasha Tea section. I’m just beginning to explore the world of loose leaves, so I wanted to try something new to me. After much smelling and discussion, Scott and I settled on the Caramel Care Mate. It’s a tasty drink – with just a hint of caramel – that I’ll be happy to share with guests over the holidays.

Picaroons

Having recently acquired a Growler, Scott and I were excited to fill ‘er up with Picaroon’s seasonal “Winter Warmer”.  We both enjoyed the drink with our friends that evening. They offer a great selection of delicious beer and will fill your growler up for just 10$.

 

We had such a blast Bringing it Downtown this year – there really are a lot of interesting shops and great gift ideas to choose from. The only person that we didn’t see was Santa Claus, though I’m sure we’ll catch him making his rounds in the weeks to come!

Follow @downtownfred or check out the #bringitdowntown hashtag on Twitter for more Downtown adventures.

Will you be shopping in Downtown Fredericton this December? What are your favourite places?

A Wildcard’s Afternoon In Downtown Fredericton #Bringitdowntown (part one)

This year I am a wildcard.

That is, I won the chance to take part in Downtown Fredericton’s second annual Bring it Downtown campaign. Fifteen social media junkies and five wildcards were chosen to receive 100 dollars to spend at over 160 downtown businesses. Just in time for the holiday season!

After following the campaign closely last year, I was thrilled to be chosen to share my downtown experiences. I adore popping into the cozy little shops on Canada’s Great Street (Queen Street), eating locally sourced food, and wandering around with my boyfriend. What better way to prepare for the holiday rush ahead?

The theme for this year’s Bring it Downtown campaign was NEW. Trying new cuisine. Creating a new look. Finding a new holiday embellishment. Or trying a new activity. I set out on my adventure with the intention to prepare myself for the holiday season.

So Scott and I decided to start off with our favourite meal: brunch. And where was one place that I’d heard wonderful reviews but had yet to try?

The Cedar Tree Cafe

Yummy treats at the Cedar Tree Cafe, Fredericton

Locally sourced Lebanese cuisine served in a trendy atmosphere – the Cedar Tree provided a perfect brunch date for two. I ordered the mezza sampler (hummus, tabouleh, babaganoush, grape leaves, falafel, pickled turnip, pita) to get a feel for the Cedar Tree’s offerings. It was all very tasty, though the falafel stood miles above the rest.  Scott opted for the breakfast special: a 3 egg scramble with feta and spinach, hummus, granola, and sausage. The sausages were particularly delicious – spicy with a nice texture. He’s also added that the coffee was great. Of course, I stuck with tea.

I must say this will be a new place that I’ll suggest when my girlfriends and I are debating on where to exchange gossip over caffeinated drinks or a casual meal. The servers were helpful and energetic. And despite the Saturday morning crowd, I was still able to enjoy conversation and to check out the local art. A relaxing way to start your shopping adventure.

I’m not much of an impulsive shopper; this trip downtown provided me a great time to look into stores to ponder the perfect gifts for family and friends. I popped into some of my favourite shops to gather ideas for future Christmas presents. 

The following is a sampling of the stores where I browsed:

  • Endeavors/ Think Play: All manner of art supplies for the artist on your list and the coolest toys in town. My favourite toys were their delightful puppets (fraggles, wizards, and an assortment of animals), the Magic Ball 3D puzzle, and the
  • Savour Decor: With a gorgeous assortment of decorative items for the holidays, there’s something here for every home. I fell in love with their owl decorations and multi-coloured tea sets.
  • Geek Chic: The perfect place to pick up mugs, t-shirts, and plenty of stuffed nintendo characters for the proud geek on your list. Scott and I are still debating over the shower curtains – should we go Periodic Table or Water Cycle?
  • Room 2 Remember: Known for their mad variety of K-cups, this store sells some of the most interesting kitchen and bathroom bobbles that I’ve seen. A must-stop for future wedding and house warming gifts!
  • Westminister Books: My favourite bookstore in Fredericton. They offer a great selection of popular fiction, along with an extended selection of Eastern Canadian titles. Of course, Scott and I made a beeline to the kid’s section. They have something for every young reader on your list.

So what did I buy with my remaining Downtown Dollars? You’ll find out tomorrow!

My Experience at Doors Open Fredericton

It’s been a while since I posted here. I suppose it’s because I was working on a couple other projects – although I must admit that I’ve had nothing interesting to discuss over the past couple of weeks.

Until now.

This past weekend I experienced my first “Open City” event. These events give members of the public a chance to explore a selection of government and privately-owned buildings. My hometown, Fredericton, offers just such an opportunity and I was excited to check out a few new places.

I started off with a tour of Fredericton’s E. John Bliss Water Treatment Plant. I wanted to share my passion for water treatment (weird, I know) with my boyfriend – so this was the perfect opportunity. The Water Treatment plant was shiny, new, and equipped with all the latest in automated water-management technology – a beautiful sight to me after touring equivalent facilities in Scotland.

Some interesting facts about this new water treatment facility:

  • The facility was built in 2008 on the site of a former gas station – the land was remediated and repurposed successfully
  • The water comes from ground-water wells in the Queens Square area
  • Lime and chlorine are added prior to filtration – this treats the moderate levels of manganese present in our otherwise very clean water
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The Observatory (on UNB campus)

Next, we headed over to the Brydone Jack Observatory – Canada’s first astronomical observatory. We learned about the politics that surrounded the construction of this tiny observatory, and about its original purpose in land-claim disputes. It was interesting to learn that much of the province’s original land-surveying was based on one man’s work.

Finally, we headed over to the Provincial Archives. Here we chatted with friendly staff about the use of the Archives – which are open to everyone – and the storage process. We got to take a peek inside the massive holdings of the archives and discussed the length of time that modern documents could be preserved. I was particularly interested to learn that modern papers and inks decomposed quicker than those printed more than 100 years ago on cotton-based papers.

I learned a lot more than I can describe in this quick blog post. The opportunity to see behind the scenes in just 3 of 19 available buildings was fascinating. I hope to check out more next year!

Thanks a lot to the coordinators of Doors Open Fredericton! Next year I’ll be sure to snap more photos.

Not Ready to Let Go of Summer

A summer’s sunset

If there’s one good thing about being finished university , it’s the ability to enjoy a few more summer weekends before the temperatures drops.

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This weekend I made bacon wrapped cheese-stuffed jalapenos. Delicious.

After another excellent summer weekend filled with zip-lines and aerial obstacles, kids birthday parties and jalapeno poppers, and a sweet marshmallow-optimized bonfire, I’m ready to keep the summer party rolling. Who’s with me?

Here’s my to-do list for my remaining summer days:

  • Whale watching in St. Andrews
  • A picnic dinner
  • Plenty more reading on my chair swing
  • One last trip to the Miramichi
  • Another trip to the Harvest Pumpkin so I can make more jalapeno poppers
  • Another meal on a downtown patio
  • A girls night featuring Sangria
  • More walks in the Park and on Fredericton’s beautiful trail system
  • Lots more time outdoors!

Although I must admit that I am looking forward to some activities this fall – mostly the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival, apple picking (and apple crumble), and walking through O’Dell park once the crisp leaves line the trails. There really is no perfect time of year!

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Inspired by Weekends That Rock… and Roll

This weekend went off with nothing but hitches.

It was one of those well planned weekends, but with just a little weather it seemingly fell through. But where there was rain, there was also opportunity – which I took in the form of pickling some beans.

Ok – that’s a lot to take in so I’ll just start at the beginning.

On Friday I had the opportunity to attend my first ever Rock Festival: FredRock 2012 in my hometown (Fredericton, New Brunswick). Normally I’m not one for large crowds, but this summer has really had me stepping out side of my comfort zone in a lot of respects; from swimming in open water to fundraising outside of a liquor store, I’ve really tried a lot of things that scared me. Besides, I love live music and I really wanted to review the concert as the new East Coast contributor for Ride the Tempo. 

Matt Mays at FredRock

So I headed out with my friends in tow, expecting rain-showers and dressing accordingly. Fortunately, the rain held off – so I was stuck in my black and white rain boots for the duration of the evening. But I didn’t mind the discomfort – especially when I got to enjoy 8 hours of great performances from Walk off the Earth, Matt Mays, Awolnation, and Matthew Good.

But Saturday dawned as miserable as ever and I soon found that my weekend plans had fallen through. I was expecting to have a stay-inside-and-watch-movies day, when my boyfriend suggested we complete one of our summer goals: making spicy pickled beans.

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My cayenne peppers are almost ripe for the picking, but this was the only string bean produced

This is one of those strange little things that we’d talked about for ages – ever since sharing Spicy Caesars at Cannon’s Cross Pub last winter. We tried our hand at gardening – growing cayenne peppers and string beans – to great success and failure, respectively. And when all failed, we hopped in the car and headed out to one of Fredericton’s favourite fruit and vegetable stands – Moxon’s Country Pumpkin.

The Country Pumpkin was as packed as always. We found everything that we needed for perfect spicy bean making – a 5 pound bags of string beans for 10$, fresh garlic, dill, hot peppers, and a loaf of their warm brown bread. That last one was a snack for me ;) As a bonus, we got to check out their attached petting zoo where I finally came face-to-face with Alpacas. Another random life-goal crossed off my list.

Alpacas at last

The pickling process actually went fairly smoothly, though I must admit that there is a learning curve to it. After two and a half hours of hard work, we came away with 5 – 750mL bottles of spicy string beans.
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These photos that will have to suffice for a fast-forwarded version of a pinterest-worthy bean-pickling post. The recipe that we used is available on Canadian Living – I’ll have to let you know in 2 months time whether they turned out or not! Sorry to disappoint, but this post is already way out on a limb.

I’m pretty lucky. I might be caught without a job at the moment, but I’m pushing forward and looking at new options like never before. To top it off, I have a boyfriend who makes every weekend the best, even if it means chopping through 5 pounds of string beans with me. I can’t wait to make my own spicy Caesars with family and friends this winter.

Sometimes our best-laid plans fall through; both in our leisure time and our career planning. But if you’re open to a little improvisation you might just have a great time trying something new.

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Inspired by a Near-Space Photography Project in Fredericton, New Brunswick

This past weekend I got to watch as my boyfriend’s pet-project came through to fruition. It was an exciting morning for everyone who came out to watch.

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The near-space balloon launch from my perspective – Saturday July 28, 2012 in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

The project was completed by three former chemistry students from UNB: Aaron, Alex, and Scott. They have been talking about launching a weather balloon  for months, hoping to take photos and video of the city of Fredericton from near-space.

When I first heard about this project, I assumed that it was one of those ideas that would never get off the ground.  So I was pretty impressed when it all came together and the balloon was launched Saturday morning from the UNB campus in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

I really didn’t know what to expect as an outcome. Most of the friends and family members who showed up to watch Saturday morning wondered whether they would find the balloon. Even with the aid of a GPS tracker, there was some doubt that the ‘payload’, a styrofoam cooler containing two cameras, would be retrieved at all from New Brunswick’s boggy countryside.

Luckily, the box touched-down just outside of the town of Chipman (about an hour’s drive from Fredericton), just a kilometer off the main road. They survived a rough 200 meter hike through thick vegetation and retrieved the remains of the balloon, along with its parachute and pay-load, from a tree.

At a time when most people my age can’t commit to a coffee date, it was inspiring to watch these guys turn their dream project into a reality. However, it was even more exciting to spend the evening with the guys as they screened through nearly 800 photos (not to mention those on the ground and in the tree). Included in the mix are various views of Fredericton, the Grand Lake meadows, Mactaquac, with St. John, the Bay of Fundy, and even Prince Edward Island in the distance. It’s actually pretty cool.

The photos and a working description of the project are available here - this is a must-see for any Frederictonians out there!

Awesome job guys – and thanks for having me along to watch and enjoy the project. I really enjoyed this experience and I took away a newfound enthusiasm for near-space photography.

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Next Time Someone Else Makes the Signs

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It’s me! In the Daily Gleaner! At Run for the Cure 2011 in Fredericton!

So these days I have been working pretty hard. Not work-working, of course, but instead I’ve been researching the ins-and-outs of becoming a freelance writer. With my measly portfolio and lack of business experience, there are a lot of things that I need to learn. And thanks to a wonderful selection of freelance writing guides and ebooks I’m gaining the momentum that I’ll need to set up shop.

That aside, I find like I have this new and inexplicable need to volunteer my time. I suppose it’s because I need to get out of the house as much as possible – and I enjoy working with great people for causes that interest me. At the same time I find myself offering to do strange new things that are well outside my comfort zone. Like wandering through bogs at night in search of frogs, or designing posters for a Run for the Cure fundraiser.

I was excited when my Run for the Cure team (Breast Intentions) reformed this year, although not so excited about our new team name (Head Shave 2012). That said, I’ve embraced the idea because I’m working with a team that includes a number of 20-somethings and teens who are willing to shave their heads should we reach our fundraising goal. I want to see that part through. (Also, please note that I will be keeping my long blonde locks – for the foreseeable future anyway).

Before heading to our first public fundraising event, which will be held outside the NB Liquor Store on Brookside Drive this weekend, we needed signs. And being a “creative person”, I offered my sign-making services. I have no experience making signs, but I thought ‘how hard can sign-making be?!’

Sign making is not for me.

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Here’s the sign – you can see all the smudginess around the word “HEAD” – should I continue?!

Let’s face the facts: although I would love to be paid to write for a living, my hand-writing is frightening. I probably should have used desktop publishing software and taken it to be printed, but I was assured that poster board and markers were the way to go.

Tell that to my hand, which is now stained a blackish-purple from a run-in with a Sharpie.

Now I’m sitting here with a half-smudged sign… and of course the smudged part is suspiciously focused around the team name that I was not eager to accept. (Not on purpose, I promise). Should I continue and deal with the fact that the bottom is all a mess by trying to pass it off as artistic-expression? Or should I just chop it off and stick on something else? (Note: chucking the whole sign is not an option).

I guess it’s not been so terrible and my friends will appreciate the effort that I made. I did learn how to draw on poster-board and I’m starting to get a little bit quicker at it. Maybe next time I’ll come up with an easier design and have someone else do the colouring.

 

If you would like to donate to my Run for the Cure fundraiser I would really appreciate it! Follow this link to my personal page.

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