Week #53 – Finding Ottawa’s Hidden treasure!!

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!

This map was made for me as a joke a while ago!

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?

  • comfortable attire such as running shoes and light clothing;
  • a smart phone with the iOS or Android app;
  • a vehicle to move around the city;
  • your team of 2, 3 or 4 members;
  • water and snacks.

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.

In summer of 2018, let’s go searching for that treasure!

Advertisements

Week #52 – What better way to celebrate a birthday?! 

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:


1) A few months ago, I almost lost my best friend.. It was hours of waiting in the ICU that felt like years and the disbelief that she may no longer be part of my life was unbearable! 

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?!

Week 51 – There is nothing cheesecake can’t fix!

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 😉

Week 50 – Just keep it pouring..

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.

Important to remember

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!

Week 49 – A little less talking, a little more dancing!

Are you the type of person who dances every chance you get? Or perhaps the person who wants to dance but isn’t ready to share their moves with the world? I know we aren’t all born dancers, maybe you are not really flexible nor great at following the music’s rhythm! Does this mean you shouldn’t dance? No way! To the contrary, you should be working on those movement skills and I have discovered an incredible way to do it!

Week # 49 Challenge: Try a barre fitness class at the iNSiDE Out STUDiO barre!

IMG_1152

As a child, I danced for 10 years! I was never on the competitive level but I took ballet jazz! I love dance and well.. anything that reminds me of it! That’s why every year I look up dance class options for adults in Ottawa. This trusty google search eventually led me to the iNSiDE Out STUDiO! This studio offers classes that help you sculpt your body through a low impact workout that includes the ballet barre, and don’t let the “low impact” concept fool you, these workouts bring on a fun yet pretty impressive challenge! I thought WOW, I need to try this..

iNSiDE Out Classes

STUDiO barre: Is a classic choice, since it’s a 60 minute class which focuses on sculpting your muscles and burning fat through 4 techniques including: the dance barre, yoga, pilates and strength training.

CORE barre: Is a spin on the STUDio Barre, although the 60 minute workout involves each body part, this class puts an emphasis on developing your core using the barre, mat and other accessories.

EXPRESS barre: Is a slightly higher intensity and shorter version of the classic STUDiO barre class. It may be a 45 minutes condensed class but the benefits are meant to be just as good!

BABY WEARING barre: Is a 60 minute barre classe that is slightly adapted to allow you to carry your little one, using a symmetrical baby carrier. Who says new mothers can’t have a bit of workout fun too?

What To Bring

1- Comfortable attire, nothing too lose!

2- Grip socks, if you don’t have any you can buy STUDiO sticky socks for $11.99 or sparkly Sashi sock for $21.

3- A water bottle

4- Lock to store your things in the lockers

5- Shower gear (towel) – the STUDio provides shampoo, conditioner, body wash and lotion!

Location

The Inside Out Studio is located in Westboro: 1416 Wellington Street West!

Cost

New to the barre studio? If so, the first class is $15 plus taxes or if you really want to explore the classes, you can purchase a month of unlimited class access for $99 plus taxes.

Following your first visit, drop-in classes are $20 plus taxes. You can also purchase class packages starting at $90!

Two of my friends and I attended the 9:45am class on Sunday and let me tell you I learned a few lessons before the class even begun:

1- Avoid doing an intense weight workout the day before

2- Get a decent amount of sleep

3- Give yourself enough time to commute and find parking, and plan on arriving approximately 15 minutes ahead of the class. I arrived only on the nick of time and everyone was very understanding, but still not one of my proudest moments!

And the class begun with Janine, one of the founders who happened to be our instructor, guiding us with stretches on our mats. As we did, I was thinking:  “Ok, this is nice and easy” but then we gradually got into targeting various body parts, mainly the core, and it got more and more challenging… It also involved a whole lot of squeezing, and she eventually said and I quote:

“If you don’t squeeze it, nobody else will!”…

I thought that was priceless, and quite true! Janine is excellent at what she does, she manages to keep you motivated the entire time, makes suggestions to ensure you benefit as much as possible from each movement and also maintains your interest by switching the movements and accessories frequently!

Working out can be exciting and truly enjoyable when done properly and, based on my experience, I can tell you that this studio clearly knows how to do it right!

I want to take a moment to thank Janine for the wonderful experience and look forward to returning for another class! Perhaps you care to join me?!

Week 48 – A bit of “organic” royal treatment!

Do you miss the sunshine? The warm weather? The ability to walk out the house with flip flops? Yup, me too!! Winter is great, and has lots of advantages but sometimes you just want a little break and this week’s activity hit the spot! This may not appeal to you boys off the bat but if you are curious keep reading since the services apply to you too!

Week # 48: Get a pedicure at Daya Spa!

My SpaRitual Nail Colour – Cream Symmetry
Why did I bother getting a pedicure in the middle of winter? Well why not?! We can easily neglect our feet, especially during the off season (aka winter months) and so getting a treatment to make them look and feel good is always a great plan!

How to choose a nail treatment location? Ottawa has tons of affordable nail salons but most of these are not exactly the ideal setting. Many nail salons smell of strong chemicals and don’t appear to have the most sanitary environment nor tools. I have tried those express salons in the past with no issue but I can’t help but think I am taking unnecessary risks. This time I wanted to go the more natural route and looked for a Spa that offered organic treatments, which lead me to…

Daya Spa: It’s a wellness centre that offers high quality organic and natural spa services and products. Which includes:

– Skin care (éminence, Elapsa and Juice beauty)

– Hands and Feet (SpaRitual and Allpresan)

– Makeup (Juice Beauty)

I chose the Slow Beauty Pedicure which included a foot soak, a foot grooming with a sugar scrub massage treatment, followed by a leg and foot massage and nail polish application. I chose the SpaRitual polish in the Cream Symmetry colour.

I was excited to get this treatment done and I found it really relaxing. Camille was the esthetician who offered my treatment and she was fantastic! I felt really comfortable with her and we ended up chatting quite a bit!

Cost: The prices are very comparable to any spa but you end up getting much better value due to the organic nature of the services. The Slow Beauty Pedicure was $62.35 (plus taxes and tip), if you wish to have a quicker and slightly less expensive option you can opt for their express pedicure.

Time and Location: the spa is open every day, except Mondays, and is located in the ottawa market: 200 Dalhousie Street! For more details, follow this link.

By visiting the Daya Spa, you can feel good knowing that you are offering yourself the healthiest and best quality service, and that is afterall what you deserve!

Week 47 – A stroll in the snow!

Yay to snow!! It’s so pretty to look at, it’s chilly which makes us want to cuddle, it allows you to make Maple Syrup Snow Taffy and it’s one of the main ingredients necessary to enjoy most winter activities! In Ottawa we are blessed with plenty of snow in the winter and so we might as well enjoy it, right?!

It was a cold Saturday but my friend and I weren’t going to let a little thing like freezing weather stop us… We were going to be our though Canadian selves and head to the Gatineau park to walk along a few trails, but of course it wasn’t your typical type of walking.

Week # 47 Challenge: Go snowshoeing in Gatineau park!

snow-1209835_1920

Do you need your own snowshoes? No not at all! If you own a pair you are set but, if not, you can rent snowshoes at the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre for 9$ per hour.

How do I gain park access? In order to snowshoe, whether you have your own pair or are renting a pair, there is a park access fee of 7.50$ for the day! You can also purchase a season pass if you go frequently. Not sure how closely they monitor the park access, I must admit!

What to wear? Hmm.. well I am no expert but I suggest layers, lots and lots of layers. A tank top, with a long sleeve top, with a hoodie and maybe a second hoodie… You get the idea! Of course, you don’t want to overheat either! A warm coat, snow pants (I didn’t wear mine and my legs felt incredibly frozen), hat, mittens, scarf and comfortable walking boots. I know men are equipped “with internal heaters” which is why you may not need quite so much on!

Gatineau park has lots of trails, but since we parked near the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre we walked to a nearby bridge and took a path from there. Walking with snowshoes was not difficult but felt different, I was tempted to elevate my legs a bit more than normal with every step. It was beautiful and peaceful and a great way to catch up with a friend!

Post Snowshoeing: After an hour we were both a little cold, well ok I was reallllyyy cold, and we brought back the rental shoes. The best way to end an activity like that is with a warm drink so we headed to the Equator Organic Coffee Shop in Westboro for hot drinks and lunch! It was fairly busy, lots of University students in fact. It’s worth a visit, the best part is that the roastery is based in Almonte. High five to supporting local businesses!

Week 46 – Playing hard to beat!

It’s almost been a full year of blogging and I have important news to share therefore keep reading!

When it comes to life, we all get a bit discouraged sometimes. Even though you may try your best, the result you want or anticipate isn’t always the outcome. In those instances you may start to look at the world in a negative light, almost as though life is working against you! It’s so tempting to fall in this trap of negative thoughts.. but I am here to tell you to pay attention to the positives. I am a pretty upbeat person myself, I try to appreciate the little things! But once in a while I get those days where I feel DOOMED (not dramatic right?!).. heck I think we all do. Well, I am here to remind you to keep your head high and push yourself to focus on what you accomplish/ have rather than what you wish you had! Appreciating the present moment is so important and can actually be hard during certain life phases. But I know you can do this!

Which brings me to the first news: my one year blogging anniversary is coming up and I have made an executive decision! On the one year mark, towards the end of February, I will….

… Stop blogging on a weekly basis.

Why? As much as I love it, I want to spend more time living, less time documenting. I still plan on trying new activities of course and so I will simply write from time to time. In the meantime, it’s back to business!


Wether you are competitive or not, there is something to be said about trying your best to succeed or to offer a good performance in whatever situation life throws at you! In certain contexts, I like to put on a poker face and pretend I am fully confident in my abilities by challenging someone else! I even find this attitude, even though it’s more playful than anything, can improve your performance! To clarify, I am not encouraging you to go up to someone and say you are better than them but more that it could be fun to tease a little and tell your opponent that they have something to worry about!

Week #46 Challenge: Rekindle with an old sport!

You see, this week I got a few opportunities to show off “my skills”(I can’t think of a way to make this sound less suggestive), one of which took place on a court! This one on one action session was a great reminder of how fun it can be to attempt to beat someone else at something.. anything!

First off, this will be hard to believe but I practised playing basketball! That’s right, this girl played a sport. I hadn’t played since High School but I was really interested in learning again.. and turns out we have a gymnasium at Movati! Who knew?! It was such a blast and even though I did indeed lose, my performance actually wasn’t that bad! Granted I went easy on my opponent 😛

Second news, I am hosting another Giveaway, yay!!! 

Prize: 2 x 1 Day Adult Passes to go tubing at Edelweiss!

I realise snow tubing isn’t a sport but it is one of the most entertaining and laugh enducing winter activities, in my opinion. There is nothing quite like sliding down a snow hill, while you spin on a donut shaped tube and try to hold on to your friends/partners hand! Sigh.. such great memories. I want to offer you and someone else the chance to go tubing at Edelweiss for FREE!! You can create your own memories!

How can I win?  Simply let me know in the comments below, on Facebook or on twitter what new activity you want to try this year. Skydiving maybe?!

Draw will be held on February 3rd, 2017 – Good luck!!

Week 45 – I really shouldn’t have but I did!!

When another year ends, you get to reflect back on what the last year has brought you! The great memories and the not so great ones too.. Even though you may not have reached all your goals or aren’t exactly where you hoped you would be by the end of the year, one thing you can control is how to end it!! To ensure my year ends on a good note, I did something I never thought I would do…

Week #45 Challenge: Eat dessert for breakfast, at Cocoa 70!

Tough challenge I know, but someone had to do it and I sacrificed myself for the purpose of this blog! My little cousin, suggested we go together since she said the dark chocolate fondue is really good and a perfect size to share! So I picked her up on the morning of December 31st and we headed to the Byward Market!

Cocoa 70 is not a chocolate shop, it’s more of a chocolate restaurant! Their menu includes chocolate covered crêpes, cheesecake, waffles, sweet pizzas, fondue and basically anything chocolate covered your heart could desire! Good news is these treats are actually really affordable, considering the portions! They offer brunches with more traditional breakfast options too, in case you aren’t ready to tackle on chocolate in the morning!

Location please? in Ottawa we are lucky since we have two locations, the Byward Market and in Landsdowne!

We reached Cocoa 70 shortly after 10am and it was surprisingly quiet! We were expecting a large crowd so we were relieved. Once seated, we ordered the dark chocolate fondue, but I was curious to know what the chocolate percentage was! The waiter, who I suspect was the manager, explained it was 60% but he told us to wait a second since he wanted us to try something! He came back with samples of the darkest chocolate and lightest milk chocolate they sell. This way we could see the contrast… I had never done that before and my cousin and I actually preferred the dark!

Next thing you know our plate arrived.. The chocolate fondue comes with a bowl filled with melted chocolate, 4 assorted fruit bowls (bananas, strawberries, pineapple, etc.), waffle bites (hidden behind the melted chocolate sadly) and brownie bites!

It was so good and actually very filling. We didn’t want to waste a bite so we took our time and managed to eat the entire thing, although we still had chocolate left! Those waffles though.. I could have eaten them all without adding the chocolate even!

I may have ended my year on a sweet note, but there is nothing wrong with you starting off your New Year doing the same! It’s also a perfect date night spot therefor make sure to stop by next time you get a chocolate craving!!

Week 44 – When your heart skips a beat!

Do you ever wake up and reality hits you, instantly? It’s as though a part of your life is missing and you aren’t exactly sure how to cope! Typically, this feeling is brought on by the loss of someone who had an impact on you, and now you need to fill that void, alone! Accepting the loss is important but to keep your sanity, a good idea is to take the time to do something that can improve your mood! Maybe it’s spending time with your friends or singing in the shower or maybe even playing with your Xbox for hours! Once you identify those “happiness triggers” make sure to resort to them when you need them!

On Christmas Day, I really needed a fix to keep my spirits up and so I decided I would do something that would clear my mind and help me feel good, which meant: a new cardio routine! You may be thinking, “Seriously? You get joy from that?!” Umm.. well yes absolutely, because exercise is great to keep your heart pumping, keeps you energized and can motivate you to get out of bed!

Week #44 Challenge: Follow a HIIT Cardio video at home!

One thing I love about working out at home is the fact that you can follow videos! P90X and Insanity were my favourite for years! They are pretty intense but they yield great results! Since I wanted to try something new, I opted for a YouTube HIIT video! You just play the video and start mimicking the trainer!

Here is the YouTube Video I followed:

How to make your workout fun? Well now that you picked your video (videos if you are following shorter segments), here are a few things that can enhance it:

1) Create an amazing song playlist: you only have to watch the workout video to replicate the movements, therefore that leaves you with the possibility of muting the workout video to play your own tunes! These are music tracks that are sure to get you “in the zone”:

Warm-up and/or Cool-down beats:

2) Spruce up your hydration: water is so important while working out! Grab your favourite bottle and throw in a few fruit pieces to liven it up: lemon, frozen berries, melons and kiwi are great additions. Frozen grapes make awesome ice cubes!!

3) Bring sexy back: I am serious! I feel most motivated and inclined to workout hard when I put a little effort in my workout look! This will vary based on what you feel looks good on you! So girls: pin your hair up, slip on your favourite workout outfit and pull out your hottest moves! As for you guys, maybe your favourite jogging pants and a ball cap will do the trick, Channing Tatum style you know 😉

Most importantly have fun guys! This is time and effort you are putting into your body and mind and that is a wonderful thing to do!