Come visit my new and improved blog to keep up with all the latest weekly challenges 😀
While I have you here, thank you for reading, commenting, liking and/or visiting my site!
Come visit my new and improved blog to keep up with all the latest weekly challenges 😀
While I have you here, thank you for reading, commenting, liking and/or visiting my site!
If you ever had food intolerances, you may be familiar with the low FODMAP Diet.
Never heard of a low FODMAP diet?
It’s basically a temporary restrictive elimination diet that can assist with identifying the source of any digestive pain you may experience.
Having been feeling random cramping for some time, my doctor prescribed this diet! He gave me the Low FODMAP name, told me to study the details and follow-it for the next few months.
As I was reading up on it, I reached the Do Not Consume food list:
“Woah, what is there left to eat? Just meat?! Sigh… so much for sticking to a more plant-based diet, luckily it’s temporary.”
After two weeks of filtering the grocery aisles, it became clear that the only way to eat while following this diet is by making your own food. The large majority of snacks, condiments, pre-made items contained something high in FODMAPS which means it’s off limits. Although I always recommend cooking fresh and healthy meals yourself, it’s also a good thing having a few items on hand that you know you can safely consume or snack on. That’s when I discovered FODY Low FODMAP Food Co. and not a moment too soon!
Week # 53 Challenge (Part 2) – Test FODY Foods products!
Full-disclosure: I was sent these low fodmap items at no cost by low FODY Food Co.
What is FODY Foods? It’s an online store that specialises in low FODMAP snacks and condiments. It’s the only store of it’s kind that I discovered caters to Canadians.
The FODY Low FODMAP FOOD Co. offers a 10% discount (enter code: happy10) for your first time order and free shipping for orders above 75$!
The shipping to my house was incredibly fast, I got it the next day! When I opened the box, I was thrilled to see snacks, steak spices and OMG yes Ketchup!! In case you didn’t know, all grocery store Ketchup (including the organic varieties) contain garlic or onion powder which has to be avoided at all cost. Meanwhile, potatoes are part of the “Things you can eat”. What are homemade fries without ketchup?!
You know these are amazing when even your cat tries to grab one!
The Mockingbird Trail Mix (red packet) contains delicious ingredients like dairy-free chocolate, banana chips, salted nuts… yum yum yum! On a day I was running late, I just grabbed a FODY bar or trail mix and a fresh fruit and had an instant breakfast on the go. Simple as that!
I was looking through my pantry and realised, I have plenty of spice mixes but all of them (aside from the Italian seasoning) have garlic/onion powder.. useless I tell ya! Getting a chance to try a FODY Steak Spice Blend Seasoning was wonderful..
I went pretty generously and was surprised at how spicy it made the steak. I really enjoyed it. If you prefer milder less spicy tastes, just add a little dash here and there.
Ketchup is a staple item that you find in pretty much all households. The Fody Ketchup tasted very similar to the original. The boyfriend, who was curious, tried it too and totally agreed!
I love the products so much I already have my next order lined up, don’t forget to use the 10% off (enter code: happy10)!
They sell a cool BBQ Cookout Set for $64.99 which includes 8 Fody Food Products, a beach ball, cooler bag and 21 Low FODMAP recipes to try!
All Fody Food products are healthy, taste great and what’s best is that they are good for everyone. So if you find yourself sensitive to food or looking for digestion-friendly options when recovering from a flu or hang over even, Fody Food Co. products are your best bet!
Finding great gluten-free bread, cakes, pies and more in Ottawa is no easy task. If you are, or have ever had to eat solely gluten-free foods, you understand how limited your options are to this day.
Is gluten-free just a trend? Not at all! The reason most people resort to gluten-free items is simply because it aids your body with your overall digestion.
Whether you maintain a gluten-free diet for medical reasons or simply by choice the obstacle remains:
Week # 57 – Try Pete’s Gluten Free Products!
As I was searching, I came upon Pete’s Gluten Free which is located in Ottawa. After touching base with the owner, Pete, I scheduled to come in one night to get a feel for this local business!
Coming soon: pies and scones in 5 different flavours (keep an eye in the freezer isle)!
I was under the impression that most of their products were sold at their new facility but many local businesses actually carry Pete’s Gluten Free line. They can be found at Farm Boy, Independent Grocers and various Natural food stores – list of retailers here!
*For the freshest batches, keep in mind that Tuesdays and Fridays are the days deliveries are made in store!
If you prefer online shopping, products are available for purchase on Pete’s Gluten Free order page.
Can’t find a specific product or looking for custom orders? Simply contact Pete’s Gluten Free: info@PetesGlutenFree.com. He will be happy to help!
They recently left the Ottawa Market and moved to:
5390 Canotek Road – unit 20, Gloucester ON, K1J 1H8
Product testing Time
On Friday, I stopped by Farm Boy to pick-up a fresh loaf of bread! I purchased Pete’s Gluten Free Sandwich bread to make.. oh you guessed it: sandwiches!
I kept the it simple home cooked chicken breasts, Pete’s Gluten Free sandwich bread (toasted), lettuce, mayonnaise, a dash of salt & pepper with a side of steamed vegetables!
Honestly this bread was really really good! Something about the density and texture made it so enjoyable, unlike most other gluten-free breads I’ve tried!
Cost? It’s a bit pricey, at $6.99 a loaf, but it’s an average price tag in the gluten-free world. You can freeze it too, so you don’t waste a single slice!
Overall, I would say my first experience with Pete’s Gluten Free was a success, looking forward to trying more… especially those pies once they are released!!
It’s been a long day.. you’re cold, your skin is getting dryer by the minute and all you want to do is clear your mind?! That’s when your shower comes in. Perhaps you prefer morning showers which, to be fair, are a great way to kick-start your day! No matter your preference, one thing that can really transform your cleaning routine is what you choose to clean yourself with…
To the gentlemen reading, don’t be fooled by the pink, I dedicate a paragraph below to you as some of the products cater specifically to men!
Week #58 Challenge: Discover a local bath and body company – Pink Soapworks
As anyone would, I took to google to conduct a search on local bath product companies and Pink Soapworks caught my eye! I touched base with the lovely owners, Lori and Kristin, and next thing you know I was chatting over coffee with them!
A line of natural and homemade bath and beauty products based right here in Ottawa.
I was kindly offered a box of goodies, at no cost, which contained four of their signature natural products including:
Rosey Orange Body Scrub (8oz glass jar)
Rewind Aging Face oil (30ml glasss jar)
I was so excited when I received the box, I took a moment to read about each product and set everything up to enjoy them in the following weeks! Bath time….
I used the Rosey Orange Body Scrub in my bath every two/three days.
Instructions: Rub the product onto your skin, in a circular motion, and rinse.
My skin felt so soft and a tad bit oily, and I had no dry skin on my legs. The orange/floral scent was really nice and fresh, other scents are available too! I think spacing the use of scrubs is ideal to avoid irritation if your skin is sensitive and also means your product will last longer!
As for the Rewind Aging Face oil, I’ve been using it every night!
Instructions: After cleaning your face, you only need two or three tiny drops on your hands and you gently apply it to your skin.
I have a combination of dry and oily skin and I was nervous about applying oil! I hardly ever use creams or moisturizer on my face because the shiny look is definitely not for me. Turns out, this product doesn’t make your skin look oily at all, just helps moisturize! Oh and the smell is incredibly soothing. I didn’t think I would like this product and turns out…… I LOOOVE IT!
As for the soaps, I used the Peppermint Green Tea Goat milk mostly in the morning as it’s a more vibrant scent and applied the Apple Cider Goat Milk Soap bar at night! The soaps lather well and do no irritate your skin at all. You can also use the Apple Cider soap as a shampoo bar, which makes it a versatile product perfect for traveling!
Make sure to go visit the Pink Soapworks kiosk at these upcoming Holiday Craft Fairs:
Holi-yay Freewheeling Christmas Market
November 26th, 10am – 4pm
December 2nd, 10am – 5pm
Mac Fair Christmas
Pink Soapworks bath and body items make a fun, useful and natural Christmas gift or stocking stuffer for your friends, family and even colleagues. For gift baskets or specific requests for yourself even, simply contact Lori and Kristin as they will be happy to personalize your order or gift!
You can feel great knowing that your purchase also helped support a local Ottawa business that is run by two wonderfully dedicated and caring women!
Oh baby, it’s getting cold outside and the need to stay warm is imminent. Not to worry, I have an activity for you that will do just that and so much more. I was granted a very luxurious opportunity which I turned into a solo escape, such a daredevil at times I know 😌 But in all honesty, it gave me a different appreciation for this beautiful facility and made it clear that you gain something entirely different from visiting alone, with a friend, a group or a partner!
Week # 55 challenge: Spend an evening at the Nordik Spa-Nature!
If you haven’t yet been, you should know that Nordik Spa-Nature in Chelsey, QC is a one of a kind indoor and ourdoor spa in the Ottawa/Gatineau region. It offers an escape from our stressful daily lives and is luckily just a short drive away. It offers all kinds of luxurious services, one of which I was introduced to during this visit named the Källa treatment but I am getting ahead of myself…
With all that Nordik Spa has to offer, it’s worth exploring the website to plan what you want to incorporate during your stay. Also, consulting the site map is a great idea since there is so much to try.
My self-established itinerary included:
5:30pm: Arrive, change and begin with a Källa treatment
6:30pm: Begin my thermal cycle experience
8:00pm: Dine at one of the four Spa restaurants
8:45pm: Take a last dip in a hot tub of choice
I booked my stay at the Nordik Spa-Nature, early evening on Friday, so I headed there directly after work! I had packed everything ahead of my visit:
I arrived, changed and was ready in no time to begin. I wanted to respect the no phone policy and so I had to be strategic when capturing a few pictures.
First, I tried the Källa Treatment; a salt-water floating experience. This treatment can be added to your bath pass at a discounted rate and will compliment your thermal experience or can be purchased as a standalone 60 minute treatment.
Being in the pool felt surreal, it was a really unique feeling being able to float! I hung on to the side of the pool to avoid accidentaly drifting and making contact with someone but as you get more comfortable just let go! Whatever you do, avoid contact with your eyes.
Thermal Cycle Experience
This spa is renowned for it’s thermal cycle experience where you expose your body to warmth, then cold followed by rest!
First Cycle: I started in the Banyä sauna, it was dry, warm and incredibly humid. Although I am not a big fan of humid heat, the temperature (between 95 °C to 100 °C) in this room was heavenly. You may find breathing in the humid/warm air a bit difficult, just take deep breaths and that should help! Not to be too graphic but I was shockingly soaked after 15 minutes and actually ready to take on the cold bath..
Second Cycle: I tried a sauna infused of essential oils called Aromi. A change of light in that sauna is accompanied by a new natural aroma. The heat was much milder (between 60 °C and 65 °C) and found it more comfortable.
Third cycle: On my last turn, I opted to try the Tuli Sauna. This sauna has a beautiful fireplace and is a bit warmer then the Aromi sauna (between 85 °C and 95 °C)! It’s a silent sauna but, as luck would have it, in came a group of social butterflies celebrating a friend’s birthday. We were the only ones occupying the sauna so we may or may not have chatted a bit!
First cycle: I made my way to the Tempër bath (it’s the least cold bath at 21°C)! I was so warm after the Banyä Sauna that I managed to immerse my entire body. Give this step a chance and listen to your body. You may be surprised to see that you get accustomed to the cold rather quickly.
Second cycle: I skipped this step and that’s ok, you get to customize your very own thermal cycle as you see fit.
Third cycle: I tried the Kylmä bath, a glass above ground bath which is slightly colder at 15°C. I dipped my toe to determine just how cold it was – dip toe- “Woah… that’s cold alright”! I managed to put both my feet in for a 15 seconds and well that was it for me.
Step #3 – Rest (15 min.): This is the best step in my opinion. Over the course of the night, I tried all three relaxation areas.
First cycle: I made my way to the Borëa area, a whisper zone. I opted for the Kaskad hot tub since it was a perfect contrast to the Tempër cold bath.
Second cycle: Panorama area, a social zone, was my second rest stop! An ideal stop to socialize and have a drink. I went into the Näkymä, a large infinity pool, which gave me a perfect view of the stars ✨!
Third cycle: On my last cycle I visited the Kaskad area, which is the quietest space, to rest. It’s great for reading and taking in the scenery. I just sat in front of a fire there before heading to the Panorama Lounge to eat.
After all this, I was ready for dinner. I chose the Lounge Panorama with it’s darker more cozy atmosphere. I ordered a Sweet Potato Burrito and the waitress had no problem slightly altering the item, no onions for me!
It was so relaxed that I opted to head home after my meal, but the facility was still active with music and lights. It was a perfect end to a long week!
Banyä Treatment – Starting November 7th, 2017
Yoga Sessions – Available on weekends
Health and Wellness Retreats – Various dates
They offer services for all price ranges and found the costs for the services, restaurants and boutique items all very fair. Massages are administered by registered massage therapists (RMTs) on site; therefore, if you require a massage for medical reasons this is by far the best place to go!
If you are ready to live a soothing spa experience or want to offer it as a Holiday gift by purchasing a gift certificate, make sure to have a look at Nordik Spa-Nature’s current rates and packages. You can book here right now!
A special thank you to Marianne for coordinating this special Nordik Spa-Nature evening visit! It was a truly memorable experience and looking forward to many more visits!
It’s fall, it’s chilly and it’s the perfect time to involve pumpkins in everything you do. For instance:
– In the morning, enjoy a Pumpkin Spice Latte.
– At work, have roasted pumpkin seeds as a snack.
– After work, there is no shame coming home to a massive display of pumpkins inside and/or outside your house.
– At night, there is one place you really should be…
Week # 54 challenge – Visit Pumpkinferno at Upper Canada Village
What is Pumpkinferno? It’s a large outdoor night time pumpkin exhibit that is entirely lit up! It’s a unique site with 7000 carved artificial pumpkins on display.
Important things to know
Location: Pumpkinferno is located at Upper Canada Village! From Ottawa, it’s just over an hours drive to get there. Directions are available here.
Duration: It’s an annual event from end of September until October 29th. It’s open between 6:30pm and 10pm.
Cost: Without taxes the 2017 prices are shown below:
Tickets can be purchased on site, however, to avoid having to wait in line simply purchase your ticket in advance online. Please note, there is a small additional fee per ticket when purchased online.
We started our journey to Pumpkinferno early afternoon to be able to slowly make our way to Upper Canada Village!
We arrived around 4:30pm at which time only the Upper Canada Village store was open! It had all kinds of items, but we only left with candy! I recommend the watermelon flavour, it was really good.
For dinner, it’s important to note that reservations must be made in advance by phone. Since it was the last night of the season and a quiet night, Julia the coordinator was kind enough to let us access the cafeteria without a reservation! We got lucky..
The darker it is out, the better the view! When it was dark enough we started our tour! I didn’t take too many pictures as I want to maintain the mystery of the event but these were my favourite:
It turned out to be a really fun night, it’s a must see next year if you haven’t been! In the meantime, the Festival of Lights Alight at night will be taking place December 1st, 2017 to January 6th, 2018!
On a side note, if you can get your hands on Angie’s limited edition Candy Corn flavoured popcorn 🍿it’s a must try! They are so good and a perfect Halloween movie night snack!
If you are curious, competitive and game for something different, I have a perfect opportunity for you to bring out your sleuthing skills. Maybe this comes as a result of spending far too much time playing Nancy Drew games on my laptop in the last week (it’s what I do best when I am sick), but I was compelled to explore and discover hidden treasures in our city!
The National Capital Region, in honor of Canada’s 150th birthday, has done an amazing job at advertising and exposing local residents and tourists to activities and events never seen before! It’s really created an incredible opportunity for us to experience new things but what I was looking for this week required further digging…
Week # 53 Challenge: Join Ottawa’s Treasure Hunt!
Believe it or not, there is an opportunity next summer, in 2018, for you and up to 3 other friends to compete against other teams in solving challenges and following a map that will lead to an actual Treasure in Ottawa – “Yes, yes and yes, I am so in!!”
Adventure Hunt is a US company that coordinates these races in various cities throughout the world, including Ottawa. By signing up and downloading the necessary app, you will be able to participate in a unique adventure meant to challenge you….. and let’s just say finding a treasure at the end isn’t a bad incentive either!
When is the Treasure Hunt in Ottawa?
August 4th of 2018, start time is 9am (exact date may change)!
What is the cost of the Hunt?
$59 US a person, however they have a current promotion for $25 US for early birds! By using promotion code “isabelle” you get an additional 20% off your order!
Which means right now the cost is $20 US per person, sign-up here!
What do you need to Hunt?
Of course, I haven’t completed this race myself yet but I fully intend on participating during the summer of 2018! Another cool option would be to consider completing a hunt in another city since they host them in Montreal, Calgary, Buffalo (NY) and Seattle (WA) just to name a few.
Fun little fact, it’s the eve of my birthday and not just any birthday… I am turning 30! It’s slightly scary and let me tell you I got so nervous when I realized that I was soon entering a different age bracket in surveys – 30 to 34 and I’ve seen 30 to 39 ahhh!!! I ended up munching on a whole lot of candy that night! Funny thing is, life found a way to change that perspective entirely.
What made me change my mind? This shift in thinking is the result of 3 recent events:
2) The Las Vegas Shooting is another, feeling devastated for all those who lost their lives and those who were injured during that horrible event!
3) Even more recently, a fellow childhood acquaintance tragically lost his life!
These traumatic events and so many others make one thing clear, life is so precious and every year you get to celebrate is a joy and a blessing in itself! Why be embarrassed that you are turning older? It just means you get to cherish so many more memories and I wish that for you and all those you love as well xo
Now, what new activity could I tie into this?! Well, how about donating blood? It’s so important to do so, you can save a life! There is no better gift 🙂
Week #52 challenge: Schedule your blood donation
So today, I booked my appointment. Are you ready to book yours? Book Now
Yes, I am incredibly scared of needles and losing blood but it can’t be worst than a tattoo, right?!
Is online dating actually a good idea? I keep hearing that it’s the way to go these days! Many couples have met through the use of online dating websites including family, friends and colleagues. So after being fully disconnected from that world for a while, I decided a few weeks ago to give it another try! I jumped right back in… It’s that moment where you choose, even though you are dreading it, to take a chance and see what is out there! As expected, they have been interesting weeks to say the least! I tried following all the recommended steps before following through:
Step 1: Ask yourself what it is you are really looking for;
Step 2: Take the time to write a description you feel represents who you are and what you expect in a partner/lover whatever the case may be;
Step 3: Gather a few recent and, ideally, flattering pictures;
Step 4: Pick a meaningful username and opt for a catchy headline;
Step 5: Select the site(s) you want to sign up to.
Check, check, check, check, check and…. next thing you know I was chatting away. Like with anything, you start off using the site reasonably. I would go on every few days, which quickly turned into once every day and eventually I noticed myself spending way too much time online with the hope that maybe the next message will come from my prince charming! A girl can dream, right?! Well needless to say, this online approach was starting to feel consuming and I needed out! So as luck will have it, I tried logging in one day and it looked as though my account was deleted. I was so confused and concerned that someone hacked it! The mystery remains, I just know that for some unknown reason my account no longer exists! I felt a little guilty vanishing without a trace but at the same time, I took it as a sign of life! lol
Prior to the disappearance of my account, I did get to meet one great guy! When it comes to meeting someone, I think safety should come first! You never know who you are dealing with, virtual reality isn’t always accurate! Hence why I prefer trying coffee/drinks as a first date option. But having a ton of Starbucks encounters can quickly become less appealing, so why not pick a restaurant/coffee shop you have never tried to keep things interesting?!
Week #51: Visit The Flying Banzini Restaurant!
Why did I suggest this location? I was looking for a restaurant that serves both drinks and hot beverages and, most importantly, they sell bite-sized cheesecake! How cute is that? They are also known for their roast meat sandwiches.
Location: The restaurant is easy to access from the 417, in Wellington Village: 1242 Wellington Street West.
It was a nice little restaurant and let’s not forget that having great company helped make this place more enjoyable! Since I couldn’t make up my mind on which cheesecake to try, we ended up trying two flavors each! One was a cherry cheesecake, the other an Oreo cheesecake! They tasted great and also were a perfect sample size, even though I didn’t completely finish them!
The Flying Banzini is a great date night location for anyone, whether it’s the first time you meet someone or you are just looking to try something new with your long term significant other!
If, unlike me, you haven’t yet been catapulted out of the online dating world don’t worry if you feel it’s not for you! I think giving things a try is a wonderful thing but if it doesn’t feel right there is ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with taking a break or trying other avenues… I should confess that I remain active on one other dating app which means hope is not yet lost 😉
If there is one thing Ottawa does really well, it’s hold Festivals! They are offered all year round and touch on so many topics from art, to history to culinary themes and so on! One festival type I have never dared venture into are festivals relating to alcohol and yet Ottawa hosts so many including: the Beerfest, Oktoberfest, Wine and Food festival…you get the draft.. I mean drift! Ha ha… ok, yes I know poor attempt at a play on words! But all that was about to change…
Week #50: Visit the Winter BrewFest aka Festibière!
What is Festibière? It’s an event held in February which is meant to launch the beer season! Microbreweries from across Québec gather at this festival to sell 4 oz and 8 oz samples. This is accompanied by live music, a casual indoor environment as well as outdoor activities including snow tubing and roasting marshmallows above fire pits!
When is Festibière held? It’s held typically twice a year! Once in February, the second is in June!
What is the cost? The access price varies based on the type of pass you purchase! They offer early bird specials, so buying your ticket early is best for your budget! I was last minute this time and bought my ticket on the day of, at which point they were practically sold out might I add, and it came up to around $30 for the bracelet!
Once there, you can make your way to kiosks to add money to your wristband! That is what you use to purchase food, beer, wine and/or cider samples! To give you an idea, with $20 on my wristband I was able to buy:
– 2 x 4 oz ciders
– 2 x 4 oz beers
– 1 large marshmallow
– 1 poutine
Full disclaimer: I am not a fan of poutine (yes I know, not very Canadian of me) so I got it for my friends and the second beer sample I offered to a random guy as we were leaving, it always feels nice to share and everyone was happy!
Where does Festibière take place? At the Canadian Museum of History – 100 Rue Laurier, Gatineau! Parking is available at the museum itself or you can opt to park for free on nearby side streets.
When attending this event make sure to monitor your alcohol consumption! You can always identify a designated driver or get a taxi/uber ride. Have fun but do so responsibly!
I captured a picture of someone I met that night, as he was tubing down the hill. He was nice enough to lend me his jacket, as they had no more blankets available to go outside! It was a good reminder that even strangers can demonstrate a lot of kindness, there is nothing wrong with paying it forward either!