Eating jellyfish

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Goal: Try 20 new foods (20 of 20)

Date: November 6, 2014

Location: London, UK

Well I finally did it, I tried jellyfish. Jellyfish and I have not always had a good relationship. When I was a tween I was stung while wading in the Atlantic ocean on an island camp out. That was the most persistent pain and annoyance I have ever experienced. After I packed some sand on my legs for about a half hour, I felt better.

That to say I didn’t eat the jellyfish today to punish the species, I just wanted to try something truly unique. That it was.

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So I was in Chinatown in London browsing menus outside of Chinese restaurants and an older Indian man (Raj) was doing the same. Then we turned to each other and opted to have lunch together. I heard all about his family back in India and how his birthday was just two days earlier. He said our lunch was his celebration because other than a cake at work (the Indian embassy), he hasn’t done anything special to celebrate.

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He definitely was not game to try the jellyfish. And to be honest I was a bit anxious until I chewed up the first piece. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It was flavoured with sesame and soy perhaps. It was rubbery indeed, but didn’t take too much chewing before I got it down. I definitely didn’t finish the plate and I won’t be ordering it again, but I’m glad I braved the challenge.

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90 days of exercise complete P90x style

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Challenge: Try 6 new physical experiences (6 of 6)

Date: September 13, 2014

Location: Ottawa, Ontario

In the spring a bunch of us got together to commit to the 90 exercise program of P90x3. This is a 1/2 hour per day program that relies on the principle of muscle confusion. The idea is that your body never gets too used to any exercise and thus, every time you do something, you get the best bang for your buck. There is no going through the motions with this program. For a 1/2 hour exercise, it’s simply excellent to get you sweating, sore and feeling great.

We did the program June-September. It was my husband, parents in law, brother in law and his girlfriend, and a good friend of the family. We kept accountability through a facebook group. The program is great because we all had it on our laptop or tablet and could take it anywhere. I’ve done a lot of traveling this summer and still managed to keep up. If I needed to miss a day, I’d do it in advance or catch up right after. I sometimes took Sunday as a rest day or a day to do other activities (run, swim, etc). It was good to keep consistent for so long and 1/2 an hour is not much to squeeze into even a very busy day. I tried to do it in the mornings so I felt great all day.

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Medieval Times Dinner and a Show

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Chalenge: Try 27 new restaurants (27 of 27)

Date: September 5, 2014.

Location: Toronto, Ontario

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Nice coincidence they are celebrating 30 years! So they started the year I was born. This was appropriate for the final new restaurant on my challenge list for my year of being 30.

Since we moved to Toronto and heard about Medieval Times restaurant, we have wanted to go. Jackson’s graduation day with his parents visiting was the perfect time. We made a full day leading up to it. We got up in the morning to take some golf lessons for starters.

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We started with putting and chipping lessons and then got into the driving.

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We went to Jerusalem Restaurant next, the best buffet I’ve had in Toronto. The spread at this place it so wicked.

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Following that we attended the oath ceremony with the school president which was the reason for all of the celebration of course.

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Then the grand finale – dinner while watching a jousting show. What a totally bizarre experience. Jackson was so lit up about the whole experience.

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Jackson’s dad Richard, myself, his mom Merredith and the graduate himself.

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It was indeed a grand show with costumes, a narrator of sorts, animals, horses and rivalry between the various teams.

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The falcon was awesome. He owned that arena, soaring around.

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We were enthralled by the show from the beginning. Our flatware was metal.

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I wanted to hold the biggest sword they had. Not so practical for a fight since I’d have a hard time holding it up for long.

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The horses were majestic.

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I felt a bit odd getting the veggie option while others were gnawing on animal bones, but it wasn’t half bad. Let’s face it, what’s cool about this place is not the food – it’s the whole experience. Definitely make it happen if you live in or visit Toronto. Medieval times website

Trail run and swim

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Challenge: Do 8 outdoor excursions (7 of 8)

Date: September 1, 2014

Location: Gatineau Park, Quebec

Gatineau Park is incredibly gorgeous. You can bike, hike, swim and more in the summer and ski and snowshoe in the winter. My friend Sarah and I used to head to Meech Lake in the early mornings before work for a swim the summer we were both training for a triathlon. However, we haven’t made it there yet this year…until recently. For Labour Day, we knew we would both be in the city and available. I was up before the sun.

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I picked Sarah up at 6am and we drove over to Quebec. Instead of just swimming we decided to add a little trail run as well. I’ve never done it before, but I really enjoyed it. It’s almost meditative because you need to stay so present (in order to not fall on your face over a tree root). Sarah is a marathon runner, so running the trails together helped level the playing field a bit. After we were all hot and sweaty from the running, we headed for the lake. It was still a little shocking to the body, but we got used to the cold water quickly. We did a 1km swim in Meech Lake out and around the island. We were headed back to the city shortly after 8am….and what a wonderful morning we had already had and the city was just waking up.

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Das Lokal Kitchen and Bar

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Challenge: Try 26 new restaurants (26 of 27)

Date: August 28, 2014.

Location: Ottawa, Ontario

Das Lokal Kitchen and Bar

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I have been to some cool spots in Ottawa, but this restaurant takes the cake. It has some funky lounge chairs on the deck. It’s in a weird location, sort of away from downtown and the west side of the city – where it would seem more suited, but it’s worth the walk! That said, there are some funky shops along the way like Wunderkammer, which Apt613 named funkiest boutique in Ottawa.

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The whole ambiance and décor are funky and chic (in a hipster way) and the menu is full flavour and very unique. There is something for every diet, but I’m sure people with no food restrictions win out on the truly decadent items.

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I had the smoked fish perogies (yes, the vegan challenge is over). My friend Lesley tried dessert too and was wowed by the crème caramel.

It was a fun place to spend the evening. Plan to visit.

Final week of vegan challenge

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Challenge: Go vegan for 30 days (days 25-30)

Date: August 15-20, 2014.

My location: Toronto, Ontario

The vegan challenge has been great. I definitely overestimated how challenging it would be. Since I love veggies and whole foods, I found taking on the challenge to be a good refresher on how to eat more clean and to leave out the processed foods and the add-ons like cheese, butter, etc. I saw a naturopath and it was clear that I was prepared and informed to do this. Some friends had concerns about whether I would be getting all of my nutrients and I think without question, I was able to have a full, balanced diet that left me more energized and feeling great than even before I began this.

Moving forward I want to try many more vegan recipes since I have found so many intriguing ones. I also want to prioritize vegan options where possible. So when I’m home, shopping and cooking for myself, I want to primarily eat a vegan diet since I’ve found it to be superior to my old habits. When I’m out or visiting others, I will expand my diet a bit beyond the vegan parameters. I will also add back in honey since it’s a great sugar substitute and excellent for baking.

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I really enjoyed trying new things like this tuna salad substitute made with soaked almonds. It was definitely still crunchy compared to tuna, but that worked out fine and it was filling. Try it yourself

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Served in cucumbers, it was a funky-looking snack.

So altogether, going vegan was more fun than anything. I learned a lot from friends and vegan blogs too. I enjoyed that Jackson (my partner) and my friend Jill also took it on, so we were able to exchange ideas. I would definitely recommend trying this if you’re up for an experience to try new things and expand your knowledge about food and nutrition.

Paddle boarding on Lake Ontario

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Challenge: Do 8 outdoor excursions (6 of 8)

Date: August 17, 2014

Location: Toronto, Ontario

My dear friend Andrew and I have been wanting to go paddle boarding from downtown Toronto for a little while now. A groupon came up (discount) and we booked it. Lake Ontario isn’t the nicest place to swim as it’s known to be a little dirty, but the ratings have been good recently and that hasn’t stopped us before. Andrew and I did the polar dip in Lake Ontario New Year’s Day this year (with my husband) and  we always took a dip last year after a 50km bike ride from the northern city limits down to the beach. A couple years in a row my inlaws, husband, friends and I did a triathlon which involved a stretch of swimming in Lake Ontario too. It all worked out, so we were up for another excursion to the lake.

As you may have seen in my July posts, I tried paddle boarding in Austin, but I hadn’t been out for a long jaunt and I certainly hadn’t got the balance thing down. We booked a session with a lesson and instructor so we could learn some cool moves. It was a beautiful day and so refreshing.

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We managed to stay upright the whole time for our 90 minute paddle. I definitely enjoy this and want to do lots more in the future.