Week 18 – The cave of wonders..

Let’s start this post with a little story:

Once upon a time, there was a princess born in a loving family. She lived in a palace in the heart of Navan and, throughout her childhood, was blessed with love, a beautiful sister and every luxury a girl could hope for. She grew up and as she did, she quickly came to realize that life is no fairy tale… Life is beautiful of course but it is filled with lots of “obstacles”. Now that this princess is all grown-up, she can choose to wait for a handsome prince to save her but why do that when the best option is to save herself?! The end!

The moral of my little story here is that at some point in life, it’s really important to acknowledge that the most important person in your life is YOU! I don’t mean this in an egocentric way but rather in the way that you are making a clear and conscious effort to treat yourself with the respect and dignity you would someone you care about! Too many of us tend to put our effort, time and focus on work, activities or people in our lives, not even bothering to ask ourselves if our basic needs are met. As a general rule, try.. I mean make sure to set time aside for yourself during the week. Here are a few simple things we should all integrate into our lives to increase our well-being:

Take your lunch break: walk outside, play a sport or read a book;

Get enough sleep (a lot of us struggle with this one): try to go to bed early enough to reach 7 or 8 hours of rest;

Exercise regularly: yoga, weight training, swimming, any sport, etc.

Eat healthy: meal prepping can go a long way;

Take time to relax: take a bubble bath (that includes you boys ;)), play a video game, watch Netflix, etc.

What I am trying to say here is listen to yourself and make decisions not by obligation but rather based on your current needs. Instead of attending the Tim Horton’s Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival which sounded really fun, I took a step back and opted for this instead:

Week #18 Challenge – part 1: Treat yourself to me time!

I followed my own advice and slowed down! I didn’t go out, left the online dating world and refocused my life on me. Which means I took the time to meal prep, tanned in my yard, went to bed early “enough” and started a new workout routine at Movati! This was my first visit at that gym and I loved it. How do I feel now? Pretty marvelous! Recharging your batteries is not something you should feel guilty about, to the contrary, it should become one of your priorities since it will affect everyone around you in a positive light!

Now, here is the really cool part guys. Throughout our lives we all meet individuals who treat us like royalty. Lately, I have been spoiled with this royal treatment and this last weekend was NO exception. I was picked up and brought to…

Wait, where are we going? No clue! All I was informed was that I needed a bathing suit. After an hour or so on the road we reach a cottage area and we start walking and walking… Still absolutely oblivious as to where we are headed and after a 30 minute walk we reach a fence with a hole in it! Ha ha… Is this it? You may think that was the big surprise but no. We pass through the fence, enter a cave and start walking down.. It’s a steep and rocky and fairly dangerous walk but as we go down: Wow!!! The view is amazing!

imageWeek #18 Challenge – part 2: Visit the secret (or at least it was) Wallingford-Back Mine.

This gorgeous site is not in Ottawa but it’s not very far away! If you want a breathtaking view this is a must see. You can visit inside the mine by walking down until you reach the water. The water is clear and turquoise and refreshingly FREEZING cold.. Nobody was swimming of course but one or two people had floats and were just enjoying the scenery on the water.

You can also make your way on top of the mine and view the water from high above. If you are afraid of heights, it may not be the place for you to visit. We just spent hours looking down and soaking in the sun. While at the top someone brought an impressive Drone and flew it into the cave. It was fun to watch! On your way to the mine and back, you will see a little beach area and this may be a good place for you to stop and swim. It was getting a bit late but with the heat we decided to just go for it and jumped in. Best decision we made, it felt like heaven!

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Keep in mind: if you choose to visit this site, make sure to be respectful of your surroundings. Many people own cottages and it would not be fair to them to disrupt the vicinity with either pollution or excessive noise or commotion. By doing so it will grant others the opportunity to explore this mysterious cave of wonders…

Until next week!

Isabelle xo

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Week 17 (Continued) – Glowing with French pride!

This weekend was busy, sooo busy! Not only was the city hosting tons of festivals but it was also Father’s Day! Don’t you love sparkling, shining, glimmering, glowing things? If you do, odds are Glow fest is something you should try!

Week # 17 – Part 2: Visit the Glowfair Festival! Or not!

On Friday night, I had the full intention of attending the Glowfair and then life happened. If you missed it as well, that’s ok, it just means it’s something new for you and I to do next year!

Knowing fully well I didn’t get enough sleep on Friday night, actually let’s make that all week, this didn’t keep me from my volunteer commitment on Saturday.

Week # 17 – Part 3: Volunteer at the Festival Franco-Ontarien!

This festival holds a very important place in the hearts of French Canadians from Ontario and all across Canada. It’s a reminder, every year, to celebrate and be proud of our heritage! This festival is meant to showcase French Canadian artists of all types including both musical and culinary arts. Everyone is welcomed! Don’t speak French? Why not immerse yourself and come for a visit. You may learn a thing or two, non?

What is there to do? The festival is held for four days (Thursday to Sunday) and each day is filled with a variety of shows and activities.

  • During the day, the focus is geared towards children with magicians, games, mascots, face painting and so on. Kids of all ages loved exploring the festival site!
  • At night, the mood changes with a more adult focused programming. Every year, new French talent is showcased and great food and drinks are served. I didn’t get to the stay for the nightlife but I hear the shows are fantastic!

Near the end of my shift, the volunteer coordinator said I could get a face painting and I jumped on that opportunity! The artists, from Kromatik face and body painting,  were beyond talented! I tried to capture their art in the below picture.

Cost: the festival passport for the entire weekend is 35$, if you wish to attend only one day you can purchase a day pass for 15$.

Also here are a few sweet guys I volunteered with that day! They were pretty hilarious and brought their French spirits with them!

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It was a wonderful day, which ended nicely with a Father’s Day BBQ. Which brings me to wishing a Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful dads including you Dad! You inspired me to start this blog experiment and I am so thankful you did. Je t’aime xo

Week 17 – Paddling where the wind takes you!

Please Note: This week’s activity was partially sponsored by Paddlefit!

I love cottages, I mean LOVE them! My dream home is a cottage by a lake, where I can serve/eat blueberry pancakes on the patio while watching the sunrise. Yes! I thought this through ha ha… What makes a cottage so appealing is simply the presence of water! This week’s activity was wonderful since it involved lots of water and I am talking about water from a natural source, that source being Meech lake 🙂

Week # 17 – Part 1: Go paddle boarding with Paddlefit at Meech lac!

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I reached out to the owner of Paddlefit, Jodi, a few weeks ago and scheduled my introduction to paddle boarding. The group of 8 or so met at Meech Lake for 6pm. Everyone was so nice and we laughed as we all got set up and attempted to keep our balance on our boards.  Jodi, who was the instructor that day, guided each person and provided useful tips the entire time we were on the water, which was around 2 hours! The water on your toes and the breeze was beyond relaxing but don’t be fooled it works your core. Guys you have to try this!

What does Paddlefit offer? It is the number one stand up paddling company in Ottawa! imageThey have introduction programs, paddle yoga, paddle racing and fitness clinics!

Where does it take place? All around the Ottawa and Gatineau region. Either Bate Island, Meech Lake, Lac Leamy, Jacque Cartier Park or Aylmer Beach!

What is the cost? Depends on what you choose. Equipment rental alone is 25$ plus taxes, clinics with equipment rental range between 45$ an 65$ with taxes. Should you want a season membership, they start at 85$ + taxes for yoga and up to 250$ + taxes for unlimited Paddlefit class access. With the purchase of a membership, you can use your own board (you can buy one through them) or get discounts on equipment rentals.

What to wear? No shoes required here, you ride your board bare feet! I suggest you bring flip flops and that you leave them on the beach during the session. Also, wear light and quick dry clothing. It was cold when I went which is why I kept my sweatshirt but underneath I had a sleeveless top and a bikini. If you own a tight fitting running shirt or jacket that would work well. For pants, shorts or leggings are great. Or even better, a wetsuit!

Will I get wet? It is very possible. When trying different moves and techniques you can lose your balance and fall in. You have a life jacket so you have nothing to worry about! Make sure to wear something that won’t absorb too much water! On a warm day you will most likely fall in on purpose!

Again this was a wonderful experience! I say that even though we had a fairly chilly and windy evening. Imagine how great this activity would be on a warm summer day! Do you own a paddle board? If so, where did you purchase it?

Week 16 – Sweet sweet Victory!

No matter how old we get, I have the impression that nobody ever stops enjoying games. I mean, are we ever too old to play: Clue, Mario Kart or Cards Against Humanity? I think not. In general, games are amazing ice breakers for groups and make everyone feel comfortable. If you have yet to incorporate fun games during a house party, try it at the next event. I promise it will lighten up the mood and create great memories. If you don’t want to host a game night, don’t worry The loft board game Lounge can take care of that for you.

Week #16 Challenge – Part 1: Visit The Loft Board Game Lounge.

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What is this place? It’s a lounge located in the Ottawa market where you can gather with friends to drink, eat and, as you would suspect, play board games. They have hundreds of games to choose from.

Cost: 5$ after 3pm on weekdays and anytime on weekends.

I went with a group of 6 individuals and it was really fun! We would play a round of one game and move on to the next.. Most games become pretty funny and when drawings are involved I must warn you that it can get PG or R rated pretty quickly. Make sure to try: Telestrations After Dark (one of my personal favourites)!

Week #16 Challenge – Part 2: Explore the sweets at DessertFest.

When I first heard of DessertFest, I envisioned a dessert heaven. Such as kiosks upon kiosks of savory treats for us to try and purchase to bring home. I was curious to explore this new event and so I made my way to Lansdowne with a friend.

What did I think?

Pros:

  • Fast Service: The entrance line was quick and purchasing an admission ticket (10$) and dessert ticket sheet was easy (10$ for 20 tickets or 20$ for 40 tickets);
  • Delicious: The desserts we tried tasted very good;
  • Quality Service: The DessertFest coordinators, volunteers and businesses were very friendly and helpful.

Cons:

  • Poor navigation: The venue layout was far from ideal. It was difficult to navigate because all the kiosk were so close to one another and line ups were blocking access. Everyone was heading in different directions, it felt a bit chaotic!
  • Minimal dessert selection: granted I attended the event on Sunday around noon but it seemed like most of the desserts were gone and I found no gluten-free options.
  • Overpriced: To put it in perspective, for 20$ (including admission and tickets), I was able to purchase a small piece of pie and two little chocolates. Nothing more. The portions were so small, it just didn’t seem worth the cost.

I loved the concept of the event and really believe it has a lot of potential. However, unless they reduce the cost per item, increase the dessert availability and arrange the kiosks differently, I am not tempted to encourage you to go. I say let’s keep an open-mind and see if the event improves next year!

Week 15 – Getting down and dirty!

Run, run, run… Stop! Wait a second, what is that? Oh fantastic, a mud swamp to swim in. Just what I asked for I guess!? That was my reality this weekend when I attended my first Mud Hero Race.

Before I go into details, let’s go back to the previous week. I failed to mention that aside from, imagetrying EPIC Fitness + Lifestyle, I also volunteered at the Ottawa Tamarack Race Weekend. If you are looking for a fantastic volunteer opportunity make sure to sign-up at this event next year! The volunteer coordinator Nancy was incredible. We had excellent conditions: drinks and snacks, various tasks to make the day go by quickly and plenty of breaks (seems like a given but trust me it’s not). That day was wonderful also due to the great volunteers I worked with, some of which were runners. Volunteering at the Ottawa Race Weekend was an excellent way to prepare for this week’s challenge since I was exposed first hand to what runners require pre and post-run.

Week # 15 Challenge: Run my first Mud Hero Race with a group of Badass girls!

I still remember the moment so vividly! I am on top of a tall slide that leads to a mud lake and wondering: “Why did I even climb up here? I change my mind. ABORT mission!!” Luckily my competitive side kicked in and I just went for it! SPLASH!! and my entire body was officially covered in mud! There is no denying, if you ever had the desire to play in the mud, this type of run is for you!

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What is Mud Hero?

It’s a 6km or 10km obstacle course with a catch. To put it simply these obstacles are full of mud. You will get dirty and I mean really dirty!

When and where do I sign-up?

This is a yearly run that takes places in many cities, one of them being in the east end of Ottawa! You can register for the event on the Mud Hero Website and they offer discounts should you sign-up early in advance or in a group of 10 participants. The price ranges between 39$ and 84$ + HST. The races start in waves every half hour and so it’s never very crowded on the course.

How do I prepare for Mud Hero?

Training: If you want to train, doing a bit of upper strength training and cardio can be useful! You will be using your arms to lift yourself up and to climb various obstacles. The cardio will help you keep a good pace during the entire race which can last approximately 40 minutes to 2 hours. Training isn’t necessary of course since this event is meant to be fun, you can take your time!

Clothing: Here you can be creative and/ or practical!

  • Tops: use or buy an inexpensive shirt, tank and/or for the ladies a cheap sports bra, ideally in a fabric other than cotton. Cotton absorbs the water and mud and ends up weighing you down. I should know, I wore a cotton tank-top.
  • Bottoms: same rule applies. A pair of shorts, pants or swimsuit bottoms made of spandex or any quick dry material.
  • Shoes: use any old running shoes or, if you have none, I recommend you purchase a cheap pair as they will be drenched in mud. Check your local outlets for a good deal. Make sure to tie them up very tight otherwise you may lose them in the mud. Many orphan shoes are left behind along the course ha ha…
  • Hats and hair: as part of your registration package you receive a head band with your number on it. This will help keep your hair away from your face but for those with long hair make sure to tie it up. It will be much easier to keep mud away from your hair and face. You can also bring a hat but it will get dirty!

Want to dress creatively? You can dress up any way you like. Some wear gowns, tutus, pyjamas… options are limitless! It won’t make the race easier but it certainly adds a fun element!

What to pack?

Packing List:

  • Gym bag and/or garbage bag;
  • Water bottle;
  • Towel;
  • Clean tops, bottom & intimates;
  • Second pair of shoes or flip flops;
  • Wallet (ID and cash);
  • Sunscreen;
  • Dysinfectant;
  • Hat;
  • Plastic bags for dirty clothes and shoes;
  • Snacks (ex: fruit and nuts);
  • Personal products (cream, soap, shampoo & deodorant);
  • Positive attitude – hard to pack but I think you will manage.

Pre-race: Parking is limited and costs 10$ which means carpooling is a great idea! Make sure to arrive at least 1 hour and a half before your race time since the registration and bag check lines are very long.

What’s included:

– Race admission

– Time tracking chip

– Head band with your race number

– Mud Hero T-shirt

– Mud Hero Medal (at the finish line)

– Free alcoholic beverage (upon presentation of your tracking chip)

Post-race: Great job you survived the mud madness, now what?

  1. Make memories: Find your friends and family and go take pictures before washing off.
  2. Go enjoy a shower or 3: A shower area is on site to get ride of the bulk of the mud covering your body. Change areas are available to get into clean clothes. Fair warning, you will want to shower again at home.
  3. Grab a bite to eat: on site is a party area where you can purchase BBQ food such a burgers, salads, fries and drinks. This is where you can redeem your alcoholic beverage.

There you have it! If you prepare properly and are cautious during the race I can guarantee that you will have a great experience! To all Mud Hero racers, do you have any advice or tips to share?

More fun to come in the next few days!!

Isabelle xox

Upcoming Ottawa Events – June 2016

I have been working away on last week’s post but while I wait for pictures of the event I have a special post for you!

First, I am very happy to announce the winner of the #DessertFest Giveaway:

Congratulations to Kerri-Anne!!

Hope you enjoy the treats!

If you are asking yourself: What is happening this month in Ottawa? What festivals or events should I attend?

Here are a few ideas for June 2016:

imageJune 11th and 12th – DessertFest: A festival filled with treats from multiple bakeries for you to try – 10$ admission fee.

June 13th – Ottawa Young Professionals Toastmasters Club Meeting: for the opportunity to improve your presentation and communication skills at the Clocktower Brew Pub on Bank Street – FREE first meeting.

June 15th to 26thOttawa Fringe Festival: A festival where a wide range of artists perform shows for which all proceeds go directly to the artists – 3$ for the access pin and 10$ to 99$ for tickets/passes.

June 16th – Stepping Out 2016: a glamorous fundraising event held at Landsdowne with live entertainment, Cotton Candy Martinis, Gourmet Concession Stands, Photo Booth and much more – 50$ to 120$.

June 16th to 18th – Festival Franco-Ontarien: a festival showcasing French Canadian talent with live entertainment, kiosks, drinks and food at Major Hills Park – 15$ to 50$ per ticket/pass.

June 22nd to 26th – Ottawa Rib Fest: Your go to event to try the best ribs available from all across North America on Sparks Street – FREE admission.

June 23rd to 26th – Tim Hortons Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival: Come watch the dragon boat race held at Mooney’s Bay and enjoy music along with fun family activities – FREE admission.

June 23rd to July 3rd – TD Ottawa Jazz Festival: a music festival meant to promote jazz talent across various stages in Ottawa – 20$ to 325$ per ticket/pass.

 For more ideas make sure to visit these sites:

  1. Eventbrite
  2. Ottawa Tourism
  3. Spotlight
  4. Ottawa Start
  5. Couch Assassin

Personally, I associate the month of June with strawberries, tons of strawberries. That’s why I recommend you visit your local farm if you want to go strawberry picking. The rule is: one strawberry for your basket, one for you and so on… 😉 Do you have any events or activities you plan on trying this month?