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Check Ya Later T.O.

Well my friends, I officially say goodbye to Toronto Thursday morning. I’m taking a train to Ottawa for my final check-in with my surgeon on Friday. Then I fly home on Sunday where I’ll be staying… For good!

When I first decided to move home around Christmastime, this is certainly not the goodbye I had anticipated. I planned on working until the last minute and tearing the city up in my spare time.

Instead, I’ve spent three of my last six weeks in Ottawa recovering from surgery and meeting with doctors. The days I have spent in Toronto have been noticeably low key. Read: no partying in the big city (not that I, ugh, like to, ugh, party or anything).

In some ways though, my injury has been a bit of a blessing. I haven’t been able to work or workout during these last weeks. Instead, I’ve spent many hours walking around the neighbourhoods of Toronto soaking it all in. I’ve spent a lot of time in my own neighbourhood, which I never really did before. I leave feeling quite relaxed, even if it’s without a bang.

Tuesday night, my roommies and I hosted a “Susan’s Leaving” potluck.

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This is the only picture of the three of us! Megan, me, Jocelyn. Ignore me awkwardly holding my injured arm.

As a side note, I’m wearing this sweater. I love it. Expensive, and worth every single penny. Makes staying warm with my injured arm a million times easier.

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Anyways, the potluck. We ended up with tons of great food, despite the fact that everyone showed up with bread.

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I think we had four loaves? Earlier in the day, Meg had the last minute idea to cook meat. Thank god she did. These pork chops were the only protein we had! Ever notice that no one brings protein to potlucks?

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Pardon the blurry pics. This isn’t everything, just a few highlights!

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Balsamic strawberries. Saucy chickpeas.

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My best hummus yet:

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2 cans chickpeas + 1 jar Classico pesto + 2 cloves garlic + a dash of lemon juice + a handful of fresh basil leaves. Seriously, make this now. So flipping easy.

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Tabbouleh! I had a bag of bulgur in my cupboard I’d been stressed about using up before I leave. Now instead of a bag of bulgur, I have a ginormous bowl of tabbouleh. Not sure how I feel about that trade-off.

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Beer!! Can you believe I have not had a single drink since the Maritime Kitchen Party? My accident happened the weekend after that, and drinking since then has been dicey. I made sure I didn’t take any painkillers for 24 hours before this party so I could indulge in a brew! Callie brought me this Blue Moon from the States. I may or may not have squealed when I saw it :)

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My plate! A little bit of everything. Of course, the best part was dessert…

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These cookies made by Callie were definitely the highlight of the party. A soft chocolate cookie stuffed with marshmallow fluff and topped with a peanut butter frosting. Basically, my dream cookie.

Afterwards my friends and I went to a sketchy bar down the street called The Duke. Best known for a fatal shooting that happened there a few years ago. It’s a class act. We spent most of the night talking about journalism-y things seeing as most of us are ex J-schoolers. I’m going to miss my old university friends here in Toronto!!

But if there’s one place that I had to go to in my ‘hood before leaving, it was Strat’s.

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Stratenger’s was one of the first places I ate at in Toronto (read here) and now it will be my last! It’s not necessarily a classy joint either. Just a big, comfortable bar with pretty good food.

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I’ve only ever had their salads, but I’ve heard lots about their pizzas. Cooked in a stone pizza oven. Today was the day to try one!

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Megan and I split the Tandoori Chicken with spicy chicken pieces and hot peppers. Wonderfully spicy, flavourful sauce, lots of cheese and extra crispy crust. Pretty damn good actually.

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Nothing too exciting for my last day in Toronto, but it’s just the way I wanted it. These last nine months have been some of the most intense of my life. I’m looking forward to being home again and getting back into the relaxed pace of the Maritimes :)

As side note, thank you for all the encouraging comments on my last post. I just want to say, I did not write that post for sympathy. I know you all know me better than that. It was just a topic weighing very heavily on my mind, and writing it out felt good!

See you from Ottawa!!

Amblings Of An Injured

Hello friends! A few people have been asking me for an arm update, but at this point there’s still not much to tell. Tomorrow not only marks one month since the skating accident that shattered my elbow, but I’ll also be getting another round of x-rays in Ottawa. My orthopaedic surgeon in Ottawa is keeping a close eye on it to ensure the surgery took.

I may also be getting my thin fibreglass splint off. It runs from my armpit to my wrist on the left side and keeps my elbow at 90 degrees. I’ve gotten pretty good at managing it. The pain has decreased significantly since my last round of x-rays two weeks ago. The swelling is virtually gone, and I’m getting more functionality and strength back in my left hand every day. It will be a looooong time before I can do normal things like carry grocery bags or do a push-up (6 months to a year). Driving a car may still be a few months off. But it’s at least really comforting to notice progress with each passing day.

There is however one thing that I am really struggling with – not being able to exercise. I hate for this to sound trite. And at first, my body was so traumatized the idea of exercise was virtually impossible.

But I’ve been sitting on my butt for a month now. Mostly alone, while the rest of the world does productive things at their respective jobs all day. I’ve been very candid about my struggle with anxiety, a condition I’m able to control partially with the help of vigorous exercise. I’m an endorphin junkie. Sweat and high heart rates make me happy and ready to face the world. Without it, I’ve noticed some of my difficulties with speech are returning (I mumble and stutter when anxious). I’m antsy. My mind is racing, I’m worrying and obsessing over things, and I’m having difficulty concentrating.

Friends, this girl needs to work out. For the sake of my mental sanity!

Unfortunately, since I no longer work at a gym, I also no longer have access to one. Even with my arm in a cast, some incline walking or recumbent cycling on the machines would be fabulous right about now. There are a million reasons why I can’t wait to move back home in a couple weeks. Going to my hometown gym is one of them.

With that said, I have been getting out walking every day. Rain, snow, sleet or shine. Walking is nothing compared to the high intensity exercise I used to do and loved. But it’s at least getting me out in the fresh air more and an opportunity to explore my neighbourhood.

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Most notably, “The Doll House.”

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Do not adjust your monitors. That is indeed a town house with thousands of dolls crammed into the tiny front yard.

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And yes, this is located right in my Toronto neighbourhood. The first time I saw this was at night and the owner of the house came out. He looked just like Crispin Glover and started talking to us. So. Creepy.

When the city streets become too much, I can always wander down to the Leslie Spit.

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The Spit is a piece of land that juts out into Lake Ontario. It’s where they put the dirt they dug up while building the subways.

It also happens to be the my most used running trail while living in Toronto.

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Never run on when snow covered of course. This little slice of nature is what kept me sane while living in my concrete jungle of a city.

Of course, the view of the Toronto skyline always served as a reminder of where I was.

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Just beware the stink of Lake Ontario. Certain gusts of wind bring it right to your nostrils.

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There’s also random sculptures. At least, I’m pretty sure it’s art.

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Even though it will be some time before I can lift weights, do yoga, swim, or even bicycle, the one thing keeping me going is knowing I’ll soon be able to run. Just as the weather warms up for the running season. It’s hard to get bummed about my injury when I still have two working legs.

Honestly though, I am completely terrified to get my cast off. Moving my elbow is excruciating, and not having it locked in place with the splint gives me a lot of apprehension. Last time I moved my left arm even the slightest, my hand swelled like a balloon for two days.

Knowing the recovery process it going to be long, I have decidedly taken a very short-term view with it. I will start physio immediately and do those exercises every day. I will dedicate time each day to stretching, something I embarrassingly haven’t done since the accident. My new short-term goal is to be pain-free enough to hold my left arm up on its own to go for a run. It’s something I am desperately looking forward to.

Until then, you can find me aimlessly wandering the streets of Toronto over the next two weeks in efforts to boost my mood. And possibly looking for croissants.

A Toast to Toast Restaurant

While going on and on about my love of good food the other day, I mentioned eating a 900 calorie sandwich. Or, thereabouts anyways ;)

It then occurred to me that the photographic evidence of this sandwich was still hiding on my camera’s memory card. It appears I am consuming fantastic food so quickly in Toronto, I can’t even keep up with it.

As I’ve mentioned several times, my Toronto neighbourhood is what I deem “Land of the Brunch.” Leslieville is chock full of 30-something 9-to-5ers with money to spare on a late Sunday morning. I’ve been slowly whittling down my list of brunch places to try. With three places left, my friends and I decided we’d finally give Toast Restaurant a try.

I’ve passed this place at least twice a day since moving to Toronto. From the outside, it looks like a super small place with nothing but this quaint toast and wine glass sign overhead. I’ll admit, I ignored it. And I’ll tell you right now, wrongfully so.

Like most brunch spots, Toast is indeed super small inside. I’m starting to believe this is just so they can boast of line-ups out the front door. The decor inside was eclectic and cozy. The perfect atmosphere to chat with my hungover friends and sip on the holy juice.

Sweet, sweet coffee. Breakfast/brunch is the only time I’ll ever order a beverage with a meal. One needs caffeine to stomach the first meal of the day. Especially when your meal is a 900 calorie sandwich.

Yes my friends. That would be a Monte Cristo: Shaved black forest ham and Swiss cheese on challah dipped in egg batter and lightly fried Served with potato hash and house salad.

I have never had a Monte Cristo before and knew it had to happen as soon as I looked at the menu. Calories be damned. French-toasting a sandwich is just too awesome ignore. Yes, awe inspiring. Fluffy egg bread, heaps of melty cheese and layer after layer of fine quality ham. I loved every bite. Especially the bites that I loaded with greasy shaved hashbrowns on the fork too.

Not to be outdone, my roommie Megan ordered the Cranberry Cream Cheese French Toast.

Slices of challah stuffed with cranberry and cream cheese with fresh fruit and pure maple syrup with a choice of bacon, farmer’s sausage, peameal bacon or potato hash. I had a bite and it was dreamy. Challah bread is made for french toast. And there was a lot of it on this plate!

While the two girls at the table polished off their monster-sized brunches, we realized the boy at the table probably ordered the healthiest dish of us three.

Scrambled Eggs.

Scrambled eggs with a choice of smoked bacon, farmer’s sausage or peameal bacon served with a side house salad, potato hash and toast. From the looks of it, Toast even gets this simple dish right.

I can’t believe it took me so long to try this cute little restaurant out. Just another example of why you should never judge a restaurant from its exterior! Only two more brunch places left in Leslieville. Although, I think I’ll leave the 900 calorie sandwiches to Toast ;)

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