Week 43 – A shortcut to being healthier, want to try it?

One of the best things about the holidays are the treats! Who doesn’t enjoy turkey, potatoes, wine, sugar cookies or mint chocolate ice cream?! But too much of a good thing, is just that: too much!! Don’t worry, the holidays are meant to be freeing that way and it doesn’t mean that you can’t go from holiday eating to a balanced and nutritious menu! I am really excited to share with you an incredible tool called: Meal Garden (aka) your new best friend!

Week #43 Challenge: Get my eating schedule on track with Meal Garden!

What is Meal Garden? is a website which assists you, and whoever you cook for, with following a healthy eating schedule! You get access to hundreds of delicious and easy to make recipes, pre-designed meal plans by nutrition experts, a customizable food schedule and access to all the necessary nutritional data you could possibly need! The recipes are sooo… good!

Meal Garden Recipes: you can search the recipe inventory easily by key words, ingredients or preparation time.

  • Recipe Ratings: Each recipe is rated by a 5 leaf rating system! 1 leaf is not so healthy, 5 leaves is very healthy! It’s totally reasonable to incorporate less healthy recipes in your plan, it’s a question of moderation!

Meal Garden Meal Plans: you can create your own meal plan by searching and adding any breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack recipes to your schedule! If you want more support, you can access pre-designed meal plans (established by the website nutrition experts) in the Healthy Eating Bundle section and choose which one fits your goals!

  • Recipe Bundles: Are pre-designed meal plan categories which include: No Added Sugar, Kid-Friendly, Gluten Free, Paleo, Vegan, Weight Loss and more!

    MealGarden Customization: Meal Garden is tailored to you! By navigating to the My Profile Section and selecting Diet and My family! You can enter a bit of information which will ensure Meal Garden recipes and meal plans are meeting your nutritional goals and needs! You can enter your dietary restrictions (if any, such a dairy-free, vegetarien, gluten free, etc), your preferred meal and snack frequency as well as you and your family members personal data! This information will change the Meal Garden dietary targets and recipe portions to fit what you entered!

    Meal Garden Subscription: To start using Meal Garden it’s very easy! Simply subscribe by selecting HERE!

    For 19.95$ you get access and use all of Meal Garden’s tools for an entire year! The best part is that you are not alone when using Meal Garden, you can connect to any Meal Expert should you require further support or have health related questions!

    With the New Year upon us, this is it! I am getting a sense that 2017 will be bringing you and your family lots of wonderful new adventures and it’s time to improve our lives!! You can set various resolutions, but one of the most important is your health! This is where Meal Garden comes in, it’s an affordable gift worth offering yourself, your partner and your family!


    Week 42 – Last minute gift inspirations in Ottawa!

    That moment when you realize that someone’s birthday or the holidays are right around the corner and you have NO CLUE what gift(s) to get! Finding the perfect present can be a really tricky task. Here are the steps I typically follow and find useful:

    Scroll to the bottom of this post for a gift idea summary ūüėČ

    1- Pay attention: This is my favourite approach since it’s meaningful! Listen attentively to your loved ones all year round, without even realizing it they constantly give you gift ideas! By talking about activities, hobbies or little things they want or enjoy and making note of it, you gradually create a mental checklist of things to get them!

    2Go with a staple: If you don’t know the person well or if you want to play it safe just go with something standard. For instance, gift cards for the movie theatre, coffee shop or restaurants are always appreciated of course! In terms of smaller gifts: chocolates, Holiday scratch tickets, books and alcohol (a nice wine bottle or get a small bottle of Fireball woohoo!).

    3- Ask them: you can do so directly or indirectly! With my family it’s simple, I ask them exactly what they want! This way you are sure to get at least one thing they will love. If they have no suggestions, you have your work cut out for you but it’s not an impossible task! A more indirect approach is to casually gather information during a day to day conversation! If the person you are buying for mentioned they love skiing, ask them where they typically go “umm…since you are considering going this winter“! Truth be told, you are asking to know where to buy them a day pass!

    If you are still stuck, use Google my friend. You can find all types of gift ideas and you are bound to find a perfect option if you plan ahead. Or another idea, if you are patient just go browsing in stores since you can find gifts that way too!

    Week #42 Challenge: Visit the Tanger Outlets in Kanata!

    Taking the time to do new activities when you have tons of errands is tricky, so I decided to be efficient and integrated my challenge into my schedule. I wanted to get started on Christmas shopping and heard that the Ottawa Tanger Outlets are a nice place to shop!

    Tanger Outlets is a North American chain of outlets stores. The Ottawa location has over 75 stores, including a few restaurants to choose from.

    Important note: This isn’t a mall, you walk outside to get from one store to another so make sure to dress based on the weather.

    I am very glad I went shopping with a very patient man because I couldn’t make up my mind on anything! The worst part is that I didn’t end up finding a whole lot either but I did pick-up a onesie for myself, this has to be the best invention on earth! Yes I realise that I didn’t fully grasp this whole buy gifts for others! I did buy plenty of Lindt Chocolates for my chocolate-loving colleagues and family members though!

    Last Minute Gift Idea List:

    1- MealGarden Subscription: My top choice as this is a perfect gift for anyone. By paying only $19.95, you offer a year subscription to MealGarden a site with hundreds of quality recipes, meal plans, how to guides and grocery lists developed by nutrition experts. Click here to subscribe.

    2- Quality chocolate: Purdys Chocolatier; Lindt Chocolate, Chocolats Favoris, etc.

    3-Scratch Tickets: crosswords and bingo are fun options!

    4- Books: Buy one of the year’s most popular books.

    5- Alcohol: One affordable top wine choice would be Wyndham Estate Bin 555 Shiraz, only $14.95!

    6- Gifts cards: for the movie theatre, gas station, Bridgehead Coffee Shop, etc.

    7- Donations: you can get a great gift and support an amazing cause at the same time! The Breast Cancer Foundation sells incredible calendars for which the recipient could win a prize everyday of the calendar year, the best part being that 75% of the net proceeds go towards the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation!

    If you have any last minute gift ideas that aren’t listed above, please feel free to share them in the comments below!

    Happy Shopping!!

    Isabelle xo

    Week 41 – Mix and match singles!

    “Ok ok, keep an open-mind” I told myself! When you have tried online dating, blind dates and speed dating, what other options do you have? You can¬†leave it up to faith by hoping you will meet someone when you least expect it but if you want to take a¬†more proactive approach,¬†I¬†think at this point¬†you are basically left with two options:

    1. Join a singles cruise; or,
    2. Participate in a local Singles Event.

    A friend of mine mentioned she was attending a Singles Mixer and so that encouraged me to tag along with her.. You never know where you can meet someone special after all!

    Week #41 Challenge: Attend the Early Christmas Singles Party!

    Pixabay Photo

    What’s a Singles mixer? Well it’s essentially a gathering of singles¬†from across the city¬†in one specific location, in this case at Hooleys on Elgin! That’s about the extent of what I knew and figured it could be worth attending! I was under the impression that the event had a cost but it turns out it was free for the ladies.

    The evening unraveled in an interesting way! I started seeing someone a week prior to the event which obviously made things a bit awkward but I had made plans with my friend and I was going to follow through! Here are things you should keep in mind about mixers:

    1) Art of conversation: this event encourages you to interact with as many guests as you can! If you enjoy meeting new people this is a great option since you can easily start a conversation with anyone! As you arrived, you were handed game sheets that were helpful with breaking the ice and had a great list of topics! I was impressed to see how well these games worked. By playing you also increased your chances of winning prizes at the end! I sneaked out of the event before the prizes were drawn but my friend actually won the grand prize, two tickets to the Sens Game!!

    2) Attendees: A group of around 100 people showed up I believe. This event was not targeted to any specific age group. There were adults of all ages from 20s up to 50s! I was a bit surprised by this and felt slightly uneasy as I was afraid I may be sending the wrong message! Maybe I was overanalyzing?!

    3) Think Outside The Box: Don’t limit yourself! I spent a lot of time talking with the mixer participants but eventually I¬†made my¬†way to a separate location in the building. There I met really fun people who worked at the pub and even just guests sitting at the bar! I found those talks refreshing since they were playful rather than in-depth like the ones in the mixer!¬†I suggest you¬†explore your¬†surroundings as you¬†never know where you may meet a match!

    Would I recommend this event? Yes and no! If you enjoy being social, this is a great way to meet new people! The reason I wouldn’t do this again is because I found it rather draining really! Even though I wasn’t there to look, I eventually lost the ability to focus during conversations and just felt like I would rather be doing something, anything else! You can’t predict who will attend the event but I feel that your odds are actually¬†better online where you can narrow down your¬†love interests¬†based on certain criterias!

    Visit the Meetup website for upcoming singles events!

    All in all, if you are in the mood to socialize this is a great activity but if not I would stick to going out for coffee with a friend¬†or… just staying at home to watch Christmas movies by the fireplace while you munch on¬†a piece, OK FINE¬†piecesss, of your newly built¬†Gingerbread¬†House!

    Talk to you guys soon xo

    Week 40 – The story of how my crush developed..

    The holidays are coming which means it’s time for another giveaway. But I am getting ahead of myself. This week I toyed with the idea of returning to the online dating world and after quickly browsing through the sites, umm yeah..I postponed it! Instead I did something that I really love and it ends with a happy ending! Ha ha don’t worry it’s totally PG ūüėČ

    Week #40 Challenge: Attend a Purdys Chocolate Bark-Making Class!

    Have you heard of or tried Purdys Chocolatier?  It’s a Canadian compagnie that specializes in making quality chocolate since 1907. The chocolates are prepared using Canadian milk, cream and sugar and are made fresh with no preservatives. 

    Where are Purdys Chocolatier classes held? The classes take place across Ottawa and it just so happens that they had the Bark-Making Class at Place d’Orleans! They also offer Truffle Making classes!

    How is chocolate made? Well that’s what we learned during the first part of the class! We explored the entire process from the cocoa pod cultivation, the roasting, the cracking to the conching. If you ever wondered:

    1. What colour are cocoa pods when ripe?
    2. How long are cocoa beans roasted?
    3. What is the difference between cocoa butter and cocoa mass?

    Purdys chocolatier classes will answer all these questions and more!

    You also get to sample chocolate! I tried the Peruvian chocolate (which has a subtle cherry hint and bitter taste) followed by an Ecuadorian chocolate (smoother and richer flavour)! It was like wine tasting but improved!

    Bark-Making time! Instructions were given and we had the flexibility to customize the bark to our liking! I kept mine simple and healthier by using almonds and dried cranberries as my filling. They had a good assortment of nuts, candies and spices even!

    I left with a pretty large quantity of bark and before going to my sister’s house for a night of bark snacking, I stopped by the Purdys shop to pick-up a little something to give away as a thank you for all the support I have been given this year! This is where I met my crush: Philbert. He is a hedgehog and he happens to be the Purdys mascot! The word “Filbert” happens to be a synonym of hazelnut hence why he was named this way and hedgehogs are in fact a sign of good luck!

    The prize includes:

      How can I win this prize? It’s simple just let me know who you would share the chocolate treats with in the comment section on my blog, on Facebook or on twitter!

      I will draw the winner on Sunday December 4th, 2016!

      Isabelle xox

      Week 39 – For the bodybuilder inside each one of us!

      Do you have a fitness goal currently? Or are you considering a lifestyle change? I know that New Year’s is when people set on a journey to transform their body and mind but… what is stoping you from starting right now? In case you haven’t noticed, I have a soft spot for fitness and health! If you set a goal whether it be to:

      – start eating more nutritious food;

      – uncover those abs;

      – increase your overall strength; or

      – all of the above.

      The best strategy to start with is: Expand your health knowledge!

      Everyone’s body is unique and getting to know your own body is actually the most important part! I can’t even tell you how many hours I have spent researching healthy meal plans or the benefits of cardio vs weight training and comparing my current habits to those who have reached goals I am striving for. I hired Michelle Vodrazka who helped me tremendously get on the right track by providing balanced recipes, weight training programs and an abundance of health knowledge! Once you gather all that information, you are left with applying and testing these practises to see how your body reacts.

      In case you are pondering the idea or have already begun your journey, I have a few things I can share on the matter:

      Nutrition: Strive for balance! Your body needs healthy fats, carbs and protein: even more so when you are physically active. If you need guidelines as to the percentage you should be consuming of each, here are apps that can be useful:

      • My Fitness Pal: allows you to log all your food as accurately as you can and assists with calculating the grams of protein, fat and carbs you consumed on a given day;
      • Fitocracy Macros: an app that will suggest an ideal balance of carbs, protein and fats depending on your goal: fat loss, maintenance or bulking.

      I don’t recommend tracking food so closely as a long term option but it can be a handy tool while you transition to a different eating pattern.

      Training: This will vary depending on the time you have to allocate to yourself but if you can strive to workout 3 to 5 times a week it’s ideal. Cardio is great for your heart, but if you don’t have 1 or 2 hours to run on a threadmill, why not try HIIT training for 25 to 30 minutes once or twice a week. It’s fun and research seems to support that it’s a more efficient way of working out. Weight training on the other hand can be done 4 to 5 times of week. I was pretty intimated by weights initially since I didn’t want to look masculine only to find out it’s one of the best ways to increase your strength and burn fat! Not bad, right?!

      What about supplements? I only started paying more attention to them last week, to see how they could help me! So I decided to find a store in Ottawa that specializes in workout gear and supplements! That’s when I found Fitshop.ca which does have a store in Ottawa.

      Woohoo.. on my way I go, in the snow might I add, and enter the shop! They had shelves upon shelves of products. As soon as I walked in, I was greeted by an employee who asked if I needed assistance. That was a relief because FOR ONCE and I do mean once I wasn’t just browsing and actually needed help. I made sure to mention I wanted the purest and most natural products available, simple ingredients and no artificial sweeteners and so on. The employees were very friendly and there to help so don’t be afraid to be clear on what you want! 

      Important note: be careful when taking multiple supplements because the combination may lead to potentially harmful side-effects. Asking a professional is always a good plan!

      I left with a few goodies and started integrating them in my daily routine! My favourite is the Kaizen Naturals Vanilla Bean whey protein powder, it tastes so healthy and delicious!

      Here is a festive post-workout recipe I would suggest trying: 

      Creamy Mint Chocolate Protein Shake

        This weekend Fitshop.ca is hosting a sale where you get 20% off everything online and in store. It’s the perfect time to stock up on all your workout supplements, vitamins, equipment and more.

        Week 38 – Infusing yourself with doTERRA…

        Let’s say you are not feeling well.. on the verge of a cold or a flu, what do you take to prevent the illness? Vitamin C? Orange juice? Tea? We all have our own preferred remedies but what if I said there is a very simple and healthy way to alleviate almost any discomfort, would you be interested?

        Week # 37 Challenge – Explore the world of doTERRA Essential Oils!

        I was never very familiar with essential oils, if I don’t feel well I typically use a drop or two of Oregano oil (Not a squirt as this is strong stuff) and I let the properties kill all the bacteria. That is about the extent of my knowledge which is why when Nutritionist and Wellness Coach Ingrid Sarfeld invited me to test the doTERRA oils for a few weeks, I was very much interested.

        Ingrid holds free presentations that explain the benefits of doTERRA essential oils. I was really surprised to see how many uses can come from various blends of oils. You can actually use oils three ways:

        1- Aromatically: by adding as little as one drop of oil in a diffuser you can feel stimulated, focused or calmed.

        2- Topically: by massaging these oils directly on yourself or someone else.

        3- Internally: by adding drops to your food, water or directly in your mouth! Note that only some doTERRA oils may be taken internally!

        Why choose doTERRA essential oils?

        • Product Quality: For one, this company’s oils are sourced and 3rd party tested to ensure the highest quality and purity possible. Since essential oils are an investment it’s only normal that you would opt for the oils that are of doTERRA quality;
        • Effective: They are highly concentrated formulas which means a little drop can really go a long way;
        • Ethical: By cultivating and creating partnerships and empowering small-scale growers, distilleries and impoverished nations.

        Where do I start? What oils do I need or want?

        That’s the tricky part, doTERRA offers such a large array of essential oils with so many different properties and benefits that it may feel a bit overwhelming at first! They do sell kits and offer promotions for those who want a good sample of their tops selling essential oils!

        doTERRA oils come in two categories:

        1) Single Essential Oils: which are steam distilled or cold pressed from one ingredient. For example: Grapefruit, Cinnamon Bark, Melaleuca (Tee trea), Black Pepper, White Fir,  etc.

        2) Essential Oil blends: which are made of a combination of essential oils. For example: Citrus Bliss, Breathe, On Guard, etc.

        Depending on your needs, you may opt for a few specific oils. Here are some examples:

        Lavender: is an oil that can help you relax and assist falling asleep! As an example, I added one drop in the diffuser before bed as well as two drops in my bath! Next thing you know, I was sound asleep!

        Lemon: is a more uplifting oil! It smells great and has so many uses. For instance, instead on using lemon juice, I just added a drop of lemon oil to my water as it helps boots your metabolism. Also, with it’s disinfectant properties you can use a few drops of the lemon oil in water and use that to clean your counters.

        On Guard: is a mix of Wild Orange Peel, Clove Bud, Cinnamon Leaf, Cinnamon Bark, Eucalyptus Leaf, and Rosemary Leaf  which is meant to minimize seasonal threats. When my sister wasn’t feeling well, I added a drop of On Guard in a small glass of water for her to drink and diffused the oil in her bedroo

        Aside from oils, doTERRA also sells products that contain their essential oils. For instance, an athlete could use the Deep Blue Rub on sore muscles for a sensation of cool and warmth. I applied it on my shoulders and back after I went weight training and it felt really nice.

        Looking for Gift Ideas?!

        doTERRA essential oils can also make a great gift that you customize to the person you are purchasing for. Make sure to visit Ingrid’s Facebook page here or her website here to enquire about free samples and upcoming presentations and workshops! 

        Lots of fun holiday workshops will be held in Ottawa in the next months so if you want to make a Mojito sugar scrub, healthy festive room spray, etc. this is a perfect opportunity!

        Week 37 – Capturing True Beauty!

        When you look in the mirror what do you see? Do you ever take a moment to really appreciate who you are? We get so wrapped up in our lives sometimes that we begin to take for granted someone really important, I am talking about you! This week’s activity was a way to embrace who I am and I am writing this post to encourage you to do the same.

        Getting professional pictures taken is something people do when they get engaged, married or have a family but what if you don’t? Should that stop you? I certainly don’t think it should. I have wanted to get pictures done for a very long time but never dared to do it… Why? Well the truth is that I could never meet my own standards. I always had something to improve. If I could just tone my legs a bit more, grow my hair a bit longer, get another laser treatment first and so on and so forth… It was excuse, after excuse. Why did I finally do it? Well it’s simple, I accepted that loving yourself means appreciating who you are inside and out. My body is recovering from serious neglect and I am furthest from that ideal image that I have ever been, but truth be told I am proud of it anyway! It is getting healthier day by day and that is what is most important…

        The idea here is that you should be proud of who you are and I don’t mean tomorrow… I mean right now! Working on improving yourself is very important but try your best to not be so hard on yourself. Some days you may feel great about yourself but on the days you don’t it’s particularly important to focus on who you are on the inside! Positive and kind-hearted people are by far the most precious and beautiful! So when you look in the mirror next time, don’t forget to really look at yourself and appreciate everything that makes you who you are!

        Week # 37 Challenge: Model in a Photo Shoot!

        Let me talk to you about Paul Sanderson, who as you are about to see is an incredibly talented photographer! When I first decided to look into this whole photo shoot concept I researched various photographers located in Ottawa! I looked at their portfolio before reaching out to them. While I was in contact with one photographer, a colleague asked me why I hadn’t considered Paul! I actually didn’t know Paul which is why she sent me a link to his website. One glance at his pictures and I fell in love with his style.. the romantic and mysterious feel he captures through photography is captivating and exactly what I wanted. Naturally, I reached out to him, mentioned the self-acceptance message I was trying to portray and I was beyond thrilled when without hesitating he was on board and willing to support this project.

        Paul Sanderson Photography
        What to do in preparation of a photo shoot:

        1) Meet with the photographer to come up with a concept: share your vision and expectations, if you have any. In my case I wanted a simple and natural outdoor photoshoot near a source of water. I also researched pictures and shared the look I wanted with Paul, and he understood exactly what I was looking for!

        2) Pick a date and location: it’s great to have an idea of what type of scenery you want, a studio versus an outdoor session. If outdoors, try to keep track of the weather prior to choosing a date. Paul proposed a Sunday and it turned out to be perfect!

        3) Select your outfit: this was challenging. I looked online, asked for help from various friends and spent a lot of time in malls trying for feel inspired. Don’t be afraid to ask for people’s advice, especially your photographer, and try to choose a style that fits you! Needless to say I went for feminin ūüėČ

        4) Book any additional appointments: You may want to get your hair cut and styled, or maybe a manicure or even makeup done. If you do, make sure to schedule your appointments early enoughto ensure you have time before the photo shoot. Another colleague of mine, happened to have a makeup artist in his family by the name of Chantal, make sure to check out her Fashion Blog, and went for a more natural makeup look. I was really happy with the end result.

        It’s time!

        I met with Paul in the early afternoon and traveled across a little forest area. It was a cool day but the sun was keeping us warm.. A good photographer will guide you by suggesting where to stand and how to pose while leaving you with the flexibility of just being natural! That’s exactly what working with Paul was like! Even though you may not know what you are doing try to stay relaxed and just go with the flow..

        Without further ado here are some of the pictures Paul Sanderson captured:


        If you think you are ready to capture memories on camera, make sure to contact Paul Sanderson to begin your journey!

        Isabelle xo

        Week 36 – Trick or Tre… I mean tequila?

        Alright guys, I have a confession to make! As a kid, I loved Halloween. So much so that I became one of those people who ended up trick or treating up until 9th grade! I am not kidding, I just kept going and going! We may be a little old to go door to door now but that is not going to stop us from dressing up, right? There is no shame in being young at heart and I encourage you to keep that childhood flame alive!

        Week # 36 challenge: Attend a Halloween Event!

        What to wear? That is always the difficult part, isn’t it? You can go for a very simple and traditional costume or you can think of something very elaborate. It’s just a matter of inspiration..

        Let’s take last year as an example: I had a family Halloween potluck and, essentially, no time left to come up with a costume! I needed an idea and fast, so I sifted through my things and found my plush Olaf! Aww.. I love that snowman and then suddenly the concept came to me: I can be Olaf’s personal flurry! So I slipped into a little white dress, picked up a battery operated snowklake light string which I enlaced around my entire body, held Olaf real tight and covered us both in sparkles… It was simple but it totally worked. Once you have a creative idea, designing your own costume may be easier than you think!

        This year my costume wasn’t so original since I decided to wear one I had purchased in the past but never used. You simply can’t waist a perfectly decent costume! The challenge was that I wasn’t certain how to introduce myself… I kept saying I was a maiden or at times a certain pirate’s girlfriend but nobody knew for sure! Just a pretty mesmerizing lady maybe?!

        Although Halloween is quite different from an adult standpoint, I certainly don’t think it’s a bad thing! To the contrary, it brings on a whole lot of benefits! You have the luxury to celebrate any way you want: go out to a club with friends, host a house party, attend a family gathering, borrow a few kids and bring them trick or treating! You have plenty of options.

        A couple friend, well I mean… two friends who happen to be a couple (that’s confusing to say) invited me to their Halloween/karaoke house party! I jumped on the opportunity and made sure to bring candy as a precaution since it seemed like the best approach to gain admission to the party! Luckily for me, it worked like a charm.. As with any good party, we quickly got into shooters and well the rest must remain top secret! I will never be able to disclose what happened to Bananas in Pyjamas, Professor Snape, Ken Bone, Cookie Monster and company that night but it was a night to remember! If you didn’t do anything for Halloween this year don’t fret, you have plenty of time to prepare for next year!

        For those who like being scared keep in mind you can always do Ottawa’s Haunted Walk from April to November, which means you still have a chance to go this year! 

        Week 35 – It’s a Red, Black and Pink game!

        Do you love sports? Playing sports? Watching sports? Maybe both?! Personally, sports¬†have¬†never been¬†my thing, unless we consider dance a sport of course! I may have very little talent or knowledge in that domain but luckily watching a game can be a blast regardless of how familiar you are with the sport itself. Which brings me to this week’s activity:

        Week #35 Challenge: Watch a live Redblacks Game!

        In case you are new to town or have never heard of them, the Redblacks are Ottawa’s football team. The season begins in June and the Redblacks play at TD Place in Lansdowne every other week up until November.

        Want tickets? The prices range from $36 to $131 for one game. You can of course buy season tickets as well, simply select this link for ticket options. Keep in my mind you can always look on kijiji for a good ticket deal.

        Pre-event: Before attending the event with a few colleagues, one of them suggested we pick up a Redblacks toque or wait…. is it a tuque? We had a good laugh over which word to use! Anyhow.. most of us purchased one to support our team and to stay warm. Which leads me to saying how important it is to pack on the layers in the fall! The stadium is outdoors and since we live in Canada, it gets cold! Don’t be afraid to wear a long sleeve shirt, add a hoodie, top it with a coat and wrap yourself with a blanket! See where I am going? After a few hours I could not feel my toes and fingers.. So bring thick socks and mittens (I was wearing two pairs of mittens).

        To park or not to park? Since the game brings in over 20000 spectators you may want to consider using a shuttle to get there! Shuttles leave from across all different ends of the city and bring you to the TD Place very efficiently, see the travel planer for more information! If you prefer driving, parking is available underground at Lansdowne at a cost or free parking is available on certain side streets but I believe there is a 3 hour limit.

        Game Time

        I met a colleague and her daughters and we took the shuttle to TD Place around 6pm. It¬†only took about 30 minutes. The shuttle was busy and so was Landsdowne but that’s the fun part, a good game requires a large crowd. It so happens that on October 21st, the teams were raising awareness and funds towards Breast Cancer Research which means you could see light pink everywhere. As I arrived I purchased a pair of pink mittens to support the cause and they turned out to be really handy (no pun intended lol)!!

        Thirsty or hungry? Before the game is a great time to purchase snacks and drinks and I noticed most people had a beer in hand. I treated myself to a warm coffee.. There is such a large number of food vendors that lines were quite short which made it easy to go back if you wanted more munchies!

        We made our way to our seats, mingled and next thing you know the game started.

        The players, cheerleaders, mascot (Big Joe) and entertainers had an amazing energy! It was raining and¬†it was pretty darn cold and yet they managed to keep the crowd engaged!¬†Watching a football game live was much more exciting than I envisioned and being surrounded by hilarious and kind people certainly made it even better! Our team ended up losing but that’s ok, we always have the next game! Goooo.. Redblacks!!!!

        That reminds me, does anybody know if Big Joe is taken?

        Week 34 – Masks down, this is a war zone people!

        Breathe! Just breathe! I told myself…Oh god there is the signal, I can’t stay here! Up? Yes I should run up! Follow that guy, ahh never mind just DUUUCK! Ok, this looks like a good spot but where are they? I can’t see the dreaded yellow team! Ah ha, I see one… I better shoot first: Pow!!

        Any idea what we were up to? This week’s activity is perfect for those who enjoy an adrenaline rush! You get to play with a gun and feel like you are part of a war-like video game! Are you in?

        Week #34 challenge: play paintball at Commando Paintball Plus!

        I imagine most of you are familiar with this game! Two teams go up against each other by shooting paintballs at one another on a designated field. This goes on until every last member of the opposite team is shot!

        How can I play? Well, ideally you should gather a group of ten players or more and make a reservation. On weekends and statutory holidays, there are no minimums but there is a possibility you may not get to play if you don’t reserve! Commando Paintball is located in the east end, for directions click here!

        What is included? For 50$ you get to play from 10am to around 3pm on three separate game courses. This admission cost includes:

        – a paintball gun;

        – compressed air;

        – a protective face mask;

        – coveralls;

        – a belt to store additional paint balls;

        – 300 paint balls;

        – 2 slices of pizza and a pop! (Not everyone got two pieces though, so bring snacks)

        At admission, for 16$ you can purchase an additional 200 paintballs! I really recommend you do since it costs 22$ for 200 paintballs if you purchase more later on!

        What should I bring? To be on the cautious side I suggest you bring water, a small towel, a few snacks, your wallet and a camera if you want to film or take pictures! In terms of clothing, wear loose clothing like sweat pants and a hoodie. A hat and gloves are useful too! These layers are not to stay warm, you will sweat, but rather to protect yourself.

        On D-day

        Our group met a bit before 10 am at Commando Paintball, we signed a waiver and the instructor guided us to the main desk to pay and pick up our equipment! You may not look glamorous with all the layers on but this isn’t about looks, it’s about survival!

        I didn’t really know what I was getting into and the more I spoke to the group, the more I got nervous! One said it doesn’t really hurt, the other said the paint tastes a little sweet, therefore not to worry if it gets in your mouth! All lies…

        Before you start playing you are taught basic safety protocol: wear your mask at all times on the field, don’t shoot at close range and put the barrel bag over your gun when you enter any safe zone! Simple enough! Soon the group was divided in team red (my team) and team yellow (our rivals)! We were sent at opposite ends of the playing field, given the signal and then you start shooting your opponents and try avoiding getting shot!

        Me and two other red team players trying to shoot our opponents

        What did I think of this game? It was really fun and challenging! Paintball guns are hard to aim with but you get the hang of them with a bit of practise. The excitement of trying to eliminate someone mixed with the fear of getting hit was a pretty good thrill!

        Most importantly do paintballs hurt? Technically it shouldn’t! I didn’t get shot for the first two games but in the third, I got shot twice a few seconds apart! First came the surprise factor but then the sharp sting and pain..OMG ouch, seriously what is up with this pain?! If you think tattoos hurt, then you may not like this at all! I am not sure if it was the distance or the angle but those first shots left me with large, pretty swollen and colourful bruises on my legs! Any welts you may get from playing become your battle scars, or so I was told. Most shots don’t hurt so don’t let the potential pain deter you! It’s just a hit or miss, get it? Ha ha..

        Playing paintball was a really great experience and if you have an adventurous or competitive side, you will love Commando Paintball! Just grab a group of friends, family or colleagues even and once you start playing show no mercy!! Oh but don’t shoot your teammates, I may or may not have accidentally done that!! Sorry guys..

        Lastly, a huge thank you to two amazing friends who covered my paintball admission cost in honour of my 21st birthday, ok ok 29th birthday! Still not sure how to thank you enough xox