5 Things I’ll Miss Most About Toronto

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Photo by Cabello by Carolina

7 years ago this month, I moved to Toronto. In less than 3 weeks, I packed up my life and left everything behind to go find myself. And find myself did I ever! It was the best decision I’ve ever made. The past 7 years have been undoubtedly the BEST years of my life. I’ve learned so much and accomplished so much, I’m truly proud of how far I’ve come.

Two months ago, I decided to leave my full-time network television job after 5 seasons in pursuit of the next life adventure. I’ve always dreamed of spending several months traveling but those who work full-time jobs will know that these kinds of adventures are almost impossible to get when you’re working for someone else. So I decided to pursue this website endeavour full-time and also a few other creative projects (some of which will be revealed to you soon, can’t wait!!) in order to fulfill this dream of going on a great travel adventure. With travel comes uncertainty, risk, the unknown, lack of funds, etc. So my husband and I have decided to give up our apartment, put everything into storage and see where these travels take us. Because you never know what the future is made of, I’ve decided to write a little post today on some of the things I love most about the amazing city of Toronto. I know I will be back but knowing I will be away for a little while, I figured this would be an appropriate farewell for the next couple of months. I am forever grateful to the city of Toronto for the past 7 years and am excited about future adventures in the city in 2017! In the meantime, here are the 5 things I’ll miss most while I’m away!

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1) Parkdale – Ah Parkdale… I could write a novel about this neighbourhood. It’s with a lot of pride that I called Parkdale my home for the last four years. I LOVE Parkdale. It is a real example of a little tight-knit community in a big metropolitan city. You can stay just in Parkdale and find everything you need. Parkdale has character and personality. Parkdale is a little rough around the edges but it has charm. When I first moved, the area wasn’t so sought after but over the past couple of years, it has become one of the city’s hotbeds for new restaurants and bars, young entrepreneurs, artists and creatives that are pursuing their dreams in the big city. Through the years, I got to meet so many incredible people in the neighbourhood and lend a helping hand to those who are less fortunate. Parkdale residents look out for each other and help each other out. Some of the things I will miss most about the neighbourhood is The Abbott, the West End Food Coop, the Cadillac Lounge, Electric Mud BBQ, Grand Electric, Tempered Room, Public Butter, etc. No matter where I end up, Parkdale will always be a part of me. It made me fall even deeper in love with the city.

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Photo by Tobias Wang

2) The amazing fitness community – For the past two years, I’ve had the opportunity to really become acquainted with the amazing people in the fitness community in Toronto. Through my website, I was able to work out at some of the raddest gyms, studios, with some of the nicest and most supportive crews. Whether it would be the Nike Running Club, Nike Training Club, Spokehaus, Misfitstudio, Big Hit Studio, Academy of Lions, Black Toe Running, Greco Toronto, etc. all of these amazing crews all share their passion and love for sport and being active. Through being surrounded by such inspiring people on a weekly basis, it has helped me become the healthiest and best version of myself. It has inspired me to starting running races, lead a healthier lifestyle and take care of myself, something I had never really taken the time to do prior joining all these groups. What’s also amazing is that no matter the activity you want to do, there’s always someone that will be up for a cycle session, a run, a training session, etc. The women in the fitness community here in Toronto are all incredibly supportive and push you to accomplish goals you’d never thought possible. People like Nike Master Trainer Eva Redpath, Nike Running Club Coach Inge, Adidas Running Club coach Rejean Chiasson, are just some of the inspiring people that I’ve had the opportunity to learn from. They have taught me more than I would have ever thought. All the pacers, volunteers, race organizers, gym leaders, instructors, etc. in Toronto have all had a positive impact on my health and am so grateful to them all!

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3) The vegetarian food – Toronto is vegetarian and vegan heaven. When I first moved here I had high hopes, leaving a very meat-heavy city like Montreal, all I wanted to find was amazing vegan food and that I did! Some early favorites were Sadie’s Diner (RIP!), LIVE, Hogtown Vegan and Urban Herbivore. Now there’s also Doomie’s, Fresh, Kupfert & Kim, and the list goes on. Toronto knows their vegetarian and vegan food! Plus almost all restaurants in the city also offer delicious vegan or vegetarian options on their menus. I now definitely hold higher standards for vegan and vegetarian cuisine, thanks to Toronto’s topnotch restaurants. I definitely need to get my Toronto vegan fix before I leave on my adventures…

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4) The waterfront – I love nature and if it wasn’t for beautiful Lake Ontario located right at the foot of the city, I’m not sure if I would have loved Toronto as much. Luckily, I had the opportunity to live right by the waterfront for the past couple of years and it has allowed me to find peace and solitude in times when things in the city got a little too crazy. The vastness of Lake Ontario, the beautiful parks on the waterfront, the islands, etc. are all aspects of Toronto that I love the most. Running on the waterfront several times a week became my meditation, my getaway and a huge stress relief.

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Photo by Tobias Wang

5) Friends – When I moved to Toronto, I didn’t know anyone in the city. I moved on a whim, in less than 3 weeks, with a car packed with the few belongings that I owned. It’s one of the proudest moments of my life. A lot of people are afraid to just pick up and leave, to move away from familiarity, from friends and family. Though a little scary, I just couldn’t ignore the voice inside my head that told me I had to go. Though I was afraid that I would end up alone in this big new city, I was lucky to meet some of the most incredible people over the past 7 years here. Some people came and went but some of the friends I’ve made in the city have become family. Making friends seems easy as a kid or when you’re in school but when you become an adult, it’s always a little more challenging. Luckily, half of the people that reside in Toronto also come from somewhere else and therefore are open to making new friends. I’m so grateful to all those who have had such a positive impact on me in this city, who have inspired me and bettered me and no matter where I end up, I know we will always remain close. Thank you!

Mudmoiselle

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Looking for a great sporting event to take part in and help out a great cause all at once? Then consider taking part in one of the Canadian Cancer Society‘s Mudmoiselle races coming up in the next couple of weeks.

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Mudmoiselle is much more than just a mud run. The goal of the event is to not only raise funds for the organization but also but also raise awareness for all types of cancer. The Canadian Cancer Society is the primary funder of cancer research in the country. Their mission is to educate Canadians on the 200 different types of cancer, work on cancer prevention and help those affected by cancer through a variety of services and support.

This women’s-only 5k and 18-obstacle run is all about having a good time. The course is open to all levels and is a good introduction to mud runs for those who are new at these kinds of sporting events.

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One of the most inspiring things about Mudmoiselle is seeing women like Sherry Meehan, who are currently undergoing treatment for cancer be a part of the event.

I asked Sherry to share a bit of her story and why she continues to take part in sporting events while battling cancer.

I have led an active lifestyle with exercise since my 30s and starting to run in my mid-40s, eating well and looking after myself so it was a surprise (shock) to me to be diagnosed with breast cancer in January this year. Everything happened so fast from the diagnosis to the surgery and then the start of treatment that I didn’t have a lot of time to think about it. I always thought that if I ever got cancer I would just go into a corner and die but fortunately that didn’t happen. I was lucky to have a very treatable form of breast cancer and, being risk averse, chose the most aggressive treatment for chemo and radiation,” she explains.

At the time she was already signed up for the Mississauga Marathon and with the support of her husband and friends continued training and even completed it. “I found the importance of a good support network made a huge difference and I had enough friends and family that stepped up to support me,” Sherry adds.

During the past couple of months, Sherry has continued being active even during her intensive treatment rounds. “Keeping active during chemo and radiation is not easy. You feel tired, nauseous, have bone or muscle pain, low blood counts and not be eating or sleeping very well. BUT any activity you can do will benefit your recovery,” she says.

For me, it increased my appetite, helped me sleep better, minimized a lot of the side effects so they were manageable and increased my energy. I worked with a personal trainer two days a week, ran when I could and did some yoga and stretching to remain limber. I wanted to maintain as much muscle mass as I could during treatment so I could recover my health faster after treatment was done and I could go back to my regular life,” Sherry continues, “running has given me some mental toughness and that really helped in dealing with treatment.

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As to why she wanted to partake in an event like Mudmoiselle, she explains that as a benefiter of the research done by the Canadian Cancer Society, there’s no better run to support. “I gathered some sister-in-laws and a niece and am busy making pink costumes for us. We are not fast runners but every race we do is one where we have fun and support each other! Since that seems to be the theme for this event we will fit right in. It will also be a challenge for me but it will make me feel stronger at the end,” she concludes.

There are a handful of Mudmoiselle events that will be taking place across Ontario in the next couple of weeks. The dates and locations are as follows:

August 20th – Sudbury, ON

September 10th – Beaver Valley, ON

September 16th – Kingston H.S., ON

September 17th – Kingston, ON

September 17th – Halton, ON

September 24th – London, ON

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I am excited to be taking part in the Halton event on September 17th with my sister. I can’t wait to drag cancer through the mud!

For more information on Mudmoiselle or see how you can raise money for the event, go here.

SUMMER GETAWAY – Bruce County

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This week I wrap up my Ontario Summer Getaway series with a trip to Bruce County, another destination I had been wanting to cross off my bucket list for quite some time now.

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For my weekend’s adventures, I had the opportunity to test drive the brand new Ford Focus. This car has come a long way over the years so I was happy to try out the latest and greatest model. The first thing that I noticed while in the Focus was how easy it is to drive around in and how quickly it reacts on the road. The car’s sleek design and spacious interior made the 3 hr drive to the county very pleasant. The trunk also offered the perfect amount of space for all of our gear and luggage for the weekend. In the Focus, you’ll also find some signature Ford features such as the standard rearview camera, available active park assist, Available Blind Spot Information System (BLIS®), the SYNC® 3 – which was definitely a highlight for me in every car I drove because it was a huge help with navigation, providing me with a great soundtrack (thank goodness for Sirius XM Radio!) as well as keeping my drives safe with my two hands on the wheel.

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Bruce County is a big region to explore so I made the most of the 48 hrs that I was there to see as much as I could. I started my weekend off with a trip to Sauble Beach, a cute little oceanfront community that offers great food, entertainment and beach fun. The place reminded me of Grand Bend or other family-friendly towns. A must while you’re in town – the Casero Taco Bus, for great and cheap Mexican food made from scratch! Also, if you’re a fan of the water like I am, you’ll love the super long strip of beach and the warm water.

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Another must-visit is Lion’s Head. This small waterfront community is located halfway up the Bruce Peninsula’s Georgian Bay coast. What’s great about Lion’s Head is that it’s super quiet and quaint, away from a lot of the tourists that flock to the area. The mix of sandy and rocky beaches are absolutely stunning. They’ve got a small marina and harbour that neighbors the town’s main street. In the summer, you’ll find a farmers market right at the beach on Saturday mornings and live music on Friday nights.

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You can’t go to Bruce County without at least spending a couple of hours in Tobermory. Tobermory is known for many things including all the shipwrecks located in the area. It’s one of Canada’s top scuba diving destinations. Instead of getting on board one of their many guided tour boats to visit some of the wrecks, we opted for a more DIY approach and rented a canoe at a nearby marina and went exploring on our own. We couldn’t have gotten more up close and personal with the wrecks as you’ll see in the video below. It was quite a surreal experience!

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Accommodations in the area come in all shapes and sizes. For this last getaway, we opted for something a little more remote and unique. We rented a cabin at one of the many campgrounds in the area. I loved having our own BBQ, picnic table and fire pit while also being right by a dock and the water. Nothing like staying in a place with no reception or wifi and just one general store nearby. It’s nice to disconnect and be off the grid once in a while!

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All in all, a memorable last weekend getaway with the Ford Focus in Bruce County. I hope you enjoyed these travel posts and videos.

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For more information on the area go here.

Unrooming with Hotels.com

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This past weekend I had the pleasure of staying at one of Hotels.com‘s hundreds of thousands of properties that are located in over 200 countries. For my trip to Prince Edward County, I stayed at the TownePlace Suites located in Belleville.

This was my first time booking a hotel with Hotels.com and I found the entire process to be super quick and easy. What I like about their policy is that after every 10 nights you book with them, you get 1 night free.

One of the things I’m particularly found of on the site, are the guest ratings. They are quick and easy to find and provide great insight when booking a room.

I downloaded their app for free, which made my check-in even easier because I had access to my reservation right in the palm of my hand.

Another unique thing to Hotels.com is their post-check-in survey that allows hotel guests to immediately rate the room and check-in service only minutes after arriving and thus providing real-time feedback to the hotel.

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The TownePlace Suites was the perfect combination of comfort and class. We had all the amenities we needed for our weekend in the area. Our suite was equipped with a beautiful kitchenette (which to my surprise even included a dish washer!). There was also a desk area that was perfect for the blogging I had to do over the weekend. The bed was incredibly comfortable and plush. The bathroom was spotless. Even if the room was a little small, it contained a lot of storage and state of the art amenities. A great plus was also the free breakfast in the morning, the perfect way to kick-start my day!

I made a little Unrooming video to show you guys the room that we stayed in and also gave a rating on 5. These Unrooming videos are also a great way for you to see what the room in a particular hotel actually looks like at the moment and also get a full review of the room.

For more Unrooming videos, check out Hotels.com.

SUMMER GETAWAY – Norfolk County

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I’m thrilled to share with you today the first of three destinations located just a few hours from downtown Toronto. These destinations are perfect getaway ideas for those living in Toronto or Southern Ontario. This weekend’s destination was – Norfolk County.

For these weekend getaways, I’ve also partnered up with Ford Canada to try out some of their latest models while driving to different areas of Southern Ontario. For this past weekend, my ride was the 2016 Ford Edge Titanium. I became familiar with the car in the spring during stress awareness month (you can see the post here) so I was excited to take it for much longer ride and explore more of the car’s many features during the weekend.

I was first introduced to Norfolk County a few weeks ago at an event. I had never ventured down to Lake Erie before so I was excited to make my way to a new area of the province. This area is located just 2hrs from Toronto and offers some of the best outdoor adventures as well as local food and wine options in Ontario.

The Ford Edge Titanium was a smooth and comfortable ride down to the county. I took advantage of the car’s cooling seats and extra-large sunroof to keep me cool during the ride. I was also happy to find Voice-Activated Sync 3, which allowed me to pair my phone and use voice commands to help me navigate and also choose my favorite Sirius XM radio station – Lithium! (Am I giving my age away by saying that?) Another thing I thoroughly enjoyed while driving is the lane-keeping system that gently nudges the wheel to help you stay alert and maintain proper lane position especially during those longer drives.

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When we reached the county, we checked-in to Long Point Eco-Adventures. If you’re a camping and nature enthusiast, you will want to add this spot to your weekend itinerary. This eco-friendly adventure centre offers some of the coolest lodging accommodations in all of Ontario. If you’re looking for a rustic experience, you will want to book your weekend in one of their wilderness pods. This ultra-cute pod can barely be called “ruffing it”, with its beautifully furnished wooden interior and extra comfortable bed. The glass and screen doors as well as private wooden deck allow for beautiful nature and relaxing views. They have brand new showers and toilets located just a few steps away.

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If you’re looking for something a little fancier, Long Point Eco-Adventures also offers beautiful glamping wilderness suites equipped with king or queen beds, private bathrooms and beautiful outdoor showers. Amenities such as a mini-fridge, hardwood floors, hot and cold running water, electrical outlets and free outdoor parking, make these suites comparable to any 5-star hotel.

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No matter what type of accommodation you’re staying in, you’ll have access to a delicious complimentary homemade hot breakfast every morning in their main tent. Their super friendly staff know how to kick-off your morning the right way.

What’s great about Long Point Eco-Adventures is the array of activities they offer. Because I’m all about trying something new, I took the Ford Edge Titanium to the nearby waterfront for a few hours of fishing and kayaking with Baer Fishing Adventures, one of Long Point Eco-Adventures many expedition offerings. My fishing days go back to grade 5, when I had caught a crab in PEI and that’s about it. We spent 3 hours in the water learning about casting a line, different fishing techniques while also pedalling in this super unique kayaks. Though it took a bit of time, I finally caught my first fish with the help of the super rad guide. What’s great about the expedition is that it’s a small group and also, you are encouraged to release the fish, only a select few are actually brought back to shore. The expedition was a great experience and a whole lot of fun. It was so neat to be out on the water while learning new skills. I even got to eat the fish that I caught a few hours later for dinner thanks to the kind folks at Burning Kiln Winery, who cooked up the bass with fresh lemon and lavender. A first for me!

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Located just a few steps away from and affiliated with Long Point Eco-Adventures, Burning Kiln Winery is a repurposed tobacco pack barn that has been transformed into a multi-award winning winery. They have 27 acres and produce 4 reds and 4 whites, including my personal favorite of the weekend, the 2011 Kiln Hanger. Before going this winery, I had never really found an Ontario wine that I thought really lived up to Californian or European wines but that changed this weekend when I had this delicious red. We were given a tour of the beautiful property which includes the UNESCO-designed Long Point bay World Biosphere Reserve where you can find turtles, migratory birds and all sorts of wildlife. We were also shown their brand new garden where they grow most of the produce they use to serve dinner.

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From May to September, in addition to wine tasting you can also eat some of the most delicious food made by Chef Scott McRae of David’s restaurant that features some of the best local products. Their local charcuterie and cheese board is a must and so is their Korean Fried Cauliflower (which is vegan) and also Aranchini Balls. Their patio or even beautiful wine tasting room and indoor dining area (perfect for weddings!) are all great locations to enjoy their delicious food and wines.

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If you aren’t staying at Long Point Eco-Adventures, you can easily access the winery and other great spots in the region via the Norfolk shuttle that runs across the whole county. It only costs $6 for a day, can drop you off and pick you up at a handful of destinations in the county and you can even bring your bike onto the bus if you so desire.

After all this food and wine it’s only normal that I wanted to go spend more time exploring the outdoors and some local activities. One of the fun things I got to do over the weekend is spend time at Turkey Point beach. This beautiful sandy beach on Lake Erie is perfect for a picnic, a swim or even watersports. Turkey Point Watersports rents SUP, kayaks and even sea-doos for those seeking even more adventure. I took out a SUP board for a beautiful paddle out in the calm water. It was a great place to spend the afternoon. They’ve got a few shops and restaurants by the waterfront so you can easily spend the entire day there.

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Before leaving the area, I wanted to make sure I tried zip lining again. I had had such a blast in Whistler in the fall that I couldn’t resist zipping around the area for a few hours. What was great about the Long Point Eco-Adventures zip line and canopy tour is that it not only features 8 zip lines, 2 suspension skybridges and a 40-foot rappel but it’s also a great way to learn about the area. The two guides that spend the 2-2.5 hrs on the tour with you give you a lot of info about local history, wildlife, etc. The tours are nice and small, which make it relaxing and also very easy to make friends along the way.

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One thing we wished we would of have time for was the observatory at Long Point Eco-Adventures. They have one of the biggest telescopes in the country and offer great nightly sessions to learn about the beautiful sky that surrounds us.  

On the way home we stopped in Port Dover to grab lunch at the Urban Parisian café. I hope to spend more time there on my next trip, as the motorcycle culture is huge there and the city looks incredibly cute.

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We couldn’t have gotten a better vehicle for all of our outdoor expeditions this weekend. The Ford Edge Titanium had lots of space for gear, suitcases, tents, etc. and most importantly, was incredibly comfortable to drive.  

Even if it was an action-packed weekend, we only got to scratch the surface in Norfolk County. There are so many other cities and activities I would have liked to explore so I hope to have the opportunity to make my way back there again for more firsts. Everyone in the area that we met over the weekend were so incredibly hospitable, friendly and proud of their region and after spending time there, I can totally see where that pride comes from!

For more information on Norfolk County and all the local accommodations, activities, restaurants, etc. please go here: http://www.norfolktourism.ca/

Stay tuned next week for a brand new destination. In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy my little recap video below.

5 Things to do in Hamilton

FullSizeRender(12)I recently went on an impromptu daytrip to Hamilton to discover some of the city’s latest and greatest restaurants, shops and attractions. The day spent there went by way to fast and I’m already itching to head back to discover even more gems in this booming town. Here are some of my recommendations from this quick trip.

1) Go for coffee – Hamilton has some of the best and coolest coffee shops I’ve seen in all of Canada. Everywhere you look, there’s a cute coffee shop nestled on a street corner, that is designed beautifully and that offers delicious beverages and snacks. Whether it would be Cannon Coffee Co., Relay Coffee Roasters, Smalls Coffee, Pinecone Coffee or my latest discovery Durand Coffee, you are sure to get your java fix while in the city.

IMG_8843FullSizeRender(4)2) Visit the James St. North District – This super cute area of Hamilton is the perfect place for a morning stroll. Stop by the many boutiques (like the incredibly cute White Elephant), grab a snack from Mulberry Street Coffeehouse or from Saint James Espresso Bar & Eatery. New businesses are popping up in this area every couple of weeks.

FullSizeRender(10)FullSizeRender(9)FullSizeRender(5)FullSizeRender(8)FullSizeRender(11)3) Grab lunch at Butcher and the Vegan – Located in the Barton Village, this newly opened restaurant is a great spot for a mid-day break. All of the food they serve come from a 100km radius of Hamilton. Additionally, they serve a mix of meaty and vegan dishes that will surely please everyone’s taste buds. Their farm to table menu is fresh, tasty and original. Their “Every dish under the same roof.  Every dish made with love. Everyone together.” philosophy is one I can totally get behind.

FullSizeRender(1)FullSizeRenderFullSizeRender(2)4) Wander around Locke St. – This super cute street in Hamilton is located in a quiet area of the city. It’s the perfect place to go grab a fresh juice from the brand new Glow Juicery, or some cheese from the Cheese Shoppe. They also have a handful of restaurants, local specialty boutiques and even a whoopie pie shop. The row of houses converted into shops are what make the street even more unique and charming.

FullSizeRender(6)FullSizeRender(7)5) Snack on a Donut Monster. These local donuts are made fresh from scratch daily in small batches. You can find Donut Monster in more than a dozen retailers around Hamilton. They are some of the best donuts I’ve ever had. A must: their brown butter donut!

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13 Cities, 13 Runs – Thunder Bay

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Thunder Bay, has an important relationship with running. In 1980, Canadian athlete and humanitarian, Terry Fox embarked on a cross-Canada run to raise money and awareness for cancer research. After running for 143 days and 5,373 kilometres, he was forced to abandon his run just outside of Thunder Bay when cancer spread to his lungs. Over the years, Terry Fox’s accomplishments and bravery have turned him into a Canadian hero.

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I had the chance to visit his monument while I was in Thunder Bay and was really moved by his story again. Growing up in Canada, you always hear of Terry Fox but researching and finding out more about his story on this trip, inspired me even more to keep running.

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Prior to this trip, I had only been to Thunder Bay once in my life and didn’t know too much about the city. Not only is Thunder Bay extremely beautiful, the people in the city are also very active.

There are a lot of places to run in and around Thunder Bay, so I chose to run around Boulevard Lake. It’s a paved trail around Boulevard Lake that goes in and out of the woods. The trail will take you to the lake lookout as well as the dam, giving you a beautiful view of the city and the waterfront. There is available parking at Algoma St and Lyon Blvd. It’s a popular spot for people to also walk their dogs, play tennis and disc golf.

The Boulevard Lake trail is only a 5k loop, so I decided to run it more than once. If you’re looking for a longer trail, I recommend checking out the trails that go from the corner of John Street to Junot Avenue to the corner of Arthur Street and Riverview Drive. That run will be around 10k.

To see a map of all Thunder Bay recreational trails, go here.

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Photos by @Offner

Nike Air Zoom Elite 8 (get them here)

Nike Hypercool Limitless Women’s Shirt (get it here)

Nike Therma Sphere Women’s training Vest (get it here)

Nike Printed Engineered Women’s (similar one’s here)

5 Questions With: Phylicia George

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Thrilled to have on the blog today an Olympic Athlete and also all-around inspiring woman. The timing couldn’t be more perfect with the Pan Am games about to hit Toronto and today’s 15k race in Toronto. Phylicia George is a track and field athlete from Markham, Ontario. She made her Olympic debut in 2012 in London and finished in sixth place in the 100m hurdles. I’ve been following her training journey these past couple of months via social media so I couldn’t be more thrilled that she took some time from her busy schedule to answer the questions below. Hope you’ll be just as inspired by her as I am. Enjoy my 5 Questions With Phylicia George:

1) What first got you interested in track and field? What is it about this discipline that you like so much?

My earliest memories of running was racing my dad in the parking lot. I loved racing kids on the playground and putting everything I had in me to be the first at the finish line.  So I guess you could say I’ve always had this innate competitive nature.  One of my first introductions to the sport of track and field was watching the 1996 Olympics. I instantly fell in love with the intense competition and the raw emotions that I saw. I love the fact that track and field is an individual sport. It’s very much a personal journey about pushing yourself past your limits. When you line up at the start line, It is literally you vs. 7 other people; your best vs my best, which is an amazing feeling.  It’s a sport that continually encourages you to grown as an athlete and as a person. It’s a very difficult sport to train for and takes a lot of sacrifice, however that dedication makes achievement all the more enjoyable.

2) You always have some very empowering and inspiring posts on your blog for athletes and also for women in general, who inspired you along the way?

I’m inspired by so many people. Anyone who overcomes the odds, strong women that defy societal standards, positive people working to make real change in the world, and the list goes on. More specifically my mother was a huge inspiration to me. She was a very strong woman with great values, who always encouraged me to be great. As well, my father is the ultimate humanitarian. I grew up seeing him helping people and going out of his way to make others lives better. I try to fashion my life and my impact after both my parents. They both inspired me to not only be a better person but to also be good other people.

3) You made your Olympic Games debut in 2012 in London and will be going to the 2016 Rio Olympics, what does a typical training week look like for you?

Training is pretty intense. I usually train 5 days a week. Sometimes I’ll have training blocks where I train 6 days a week. On average 3 days a week will be high intensity and 2 days a week will be recovery days.  Different parts of the year we have different things we focus on. For example at the beginning of the year, it’s all about conditioning and getting in shape, so it’s a lot of long runs, high volume, lower intensity. As we get closer to competition, we decrease volume and increase intensity. Throughout a training week I also make sure to have great emphasis on my recovery and sleep, which is a huge to make sure I’m getting the gains I want from my training.

4) What 3 tips would you give to people who are currently training for their 1st ever race or who are just getting into running?

1)     Don’t try to do too much too soon. That is the fast track to injury. Its easy to get really excited about training and take on more than your body can handle. Its important to have a plan to stick to which will help you increase smartly

2)     It’s a process. Things won’t always be amazing. You’re body won’t always feel great.  There will be ups and downs but during the downs its so important to trust in the process.  The path to success is never straight. 1 step back and 2 steps forward, is still moving in the right direction

3)     Set Goals. I’ve always found having something to work towards helps with my training. I usually set big goals at the beginning of the year and then small ones throughout the year. It really helps to keep you focused and it can be the extra motivation you need to help you get through those tough workout

5) What is your next career goal?

My main goals right now is winning an international medal. I’m aiming to be on the podium at World Championships this summer and then next year at the Rio Olympics. I’m also looking to break the Canadian record in the 100m Hurdles.

Bar Isabel

Last week, one of my friends and I decided to hit up Bar Isabel, a new restaurant and bar on College street just east of Ossington in Toronto. I’ve been hearing lot’s of great things about the place from my friend @jbsmith. Her boyfriend Josh is responsible for all the great drink creations there.

We arrived just around opening time (6pm) on a Wednesday and there was already people lining up to get in. Since we didn’t have time to stay for a full meal, we opted for some drinks and appetizers. What I really liked from the get-go, was everyone’s welcoming and friendly attitude. The place was nicely decorated. The wood and colored lights gave a very homy feel to the place. Only a few minutes after we sat down, Bar Isabel was already packed!

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The menu was simple but very well divided. They had a big choice of starters then vegetables, meats, seafood, bar snacks, cheeses, cured meats and desserts. Being a vegetarian, I appreciated seeing a “vegetable” section. I know that next time I go, I will have a few different plates. Everything on the menu is also very reasonably priced. One of the things I loved most, were the slogans on their drink and food menus.

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We each ordered some tasty drinks and for our appetizer, we opted for a selection of three cheeses from the chef for $16. Our really kind waiter asked us if we wanted bread with the plate and we said yes, not knowing that there would be a surprise in store for us on our bill. Being a pretty big cheese fan, I was expecting a decent cheese selection from the chef. The cheese we did get was good but pretty standard for a cheese platter, nothing too creative or different. The thing that made us really less stoked was to see we had gotten charged $4 for the bread the waiter had offered us. Now, usually if you’re going to offer a cheese platter on your menu, you’d want to offer some type of bread, cracker, jam, fruit, nuts, biscuit or something to go along with it without charging the customer but apparently not at Bar Isabel. Though the bread was really delicious, it’s absurd to think they’d charge a customer especially when ordering a cheese platter. That unfortunately left a bad taste in my mouth… though not enough to never return. I undoubtedly want to give this place a fair chance: get some more drinks, mains and desserts next time.

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All in all, mixed feelings about my first experience at Bar Isabel. Maybe I just wasn’t lucky with the cheese so I definitely want to try a full meal next time because I’ve heard so many amazing things about them. Have you been to Bar Isabel? If so, how was your experience?

Fall Pumpkin

Last week, two small pumpkins came in our Fresh City Farms bag and just like the concord grapes, I had never cooked anything with pumpkins before. Growing up, I saw my mom make pumpkin pie but had never really been interested in making anything with pumpkin because it always looked so complicated.

After looking at a few different recipes (thank god for Martha Stewart sometimes!), I got inspired to make my own pumpkin dishes.

The first recipe I made was a pumpkin, roasted garlic, beemster cheese, concord grape, tomato, avocado and cantaloupe salad. It really took no time to make. The only kind of preparation it took, was cutting up the pumpkin in small cubes and placing them on a cookie sheet. I drizzled a bit of cumin, maple syrup, olive oil and salt and pepper on them. I also added a few fresh garlic cloves on the cookie sheet to bake with the pumpkin. I cooked the pumpkin in the oven for 40mins at 350F, I kept adding water throughout so that the pumpkin didn’t dry up. When it got nice and mushy, I took it out of the oven and peeled off the skin.

For the dressing, I just mixed freshly squeezed lemon juice, olive oil and dijon mustard. Contrary to what I was expecting, the pumpkin tasted really soft and sweet. It was delish!

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For the second pumpkin recipe, I made a pumpkin and tofu stir-fry with the left over pumpkin I cooked for the salad. I pan fried cubes of tofu, added pineapple pieces, garlic, pumpkin cubes as well as sweet and sour sauce. I cooked everything in the pan until nicely roasted and then placed it on a bed of fresh kale. I was also surprised by how amazing it tasted!

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With the leftover seeds I had from the pumpkin, I put them on a cookie sheet, drizzled a bit of olive oil on them and spices and baked them in the oven at 350F for 15-20mins. They were the perfect lunch snack for the next day!!

There you have it! Some quick and easy pumpkin recipes. What have you made with pumpkin this fall?