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On this day…

Well, it is nearing midnight which means this day is almost over. I don’t have any big announcement, giveaway, or candle in a bowl of oatmeal to mark this day. Just a slight nod of the head and tip of the cap to the year that was.

One year ago, on July 14, 2009, I started a new blog. I’d been blogging for six months prior about my journey to my first triathlon. Once that was done, The Great Balancing Act was born as a way to continue my chronicles of leading a happy, healthy, balanced life. Special shout-out to Ellie who came up with the blog name!

To say a lot has changed since I began this blog one year ago would be an understatement. If someone had told me one year ago that this is what I’d be doing, where I’d be sitting, while typing up this blog post, I wouldn’t have believed it. Only because one year ago I don’t think I was capable of doing the things I’m doing today. But each day that has passed since has been a day of growth.

Here’s a measly selection of some of the year’s most notable occasions:

I moved into my first bachelor apartment.

I quit my job as a radio reporter, and left without turning back.

Took a job at Starbucks AND decided I want to be a personal trainer

Received an e-mail landing me a sweet position at my old university.

Almost burned my house down

Ended a four-year relationship

Celebrated one year of blogging

Announced I was moving from my home province of New Brunswick to Toronto

Took a personal training course

Took care of the world’s cutest dog (I’m biased)

Passed my personal training exam

Moved back home for a month

Left home and took off to a great adventure in Banff.

Lived with my sister for two weeks in Ottawa.

Made a new home in Toronto

Got my first job as a personal trainer

And that last link is from yesterday’s post. Today, I spent the day being shown the ropes at the new gym I’ll be training at. I can’t believe how my life has changed since I began this little blog one year ago. All I can say is that I enter this next year with open arms.

Bring it. ;)

A New Kind of Normal

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Welcome to Toronto I guess??

So nice of the city to greet me with excruciating heat, humidity and a smog advisory :P For my American friends:

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So far I’m doing okay in the heat, but there are no signs of it letting up for at least the next week, which may eventually pose some problems. As of right now, I’m learning how to cope with being a sweaty mess 24/7 ;)

The heat, combined with the decadence displayed over the last several days, has led to many simple meals on my part.

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I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling and seeing the after-effects of my eating over the last month. I was more than happy to participate in the wonderful food opportunities I came across, especially seeing as I might never get the chance to participate in such things again. (read: a giant bison burger in Banff, my first gelato experience, or a homestyle Jewish brunch).

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I’d also be lying if I said I wasn’t ecstatic to start eating kale and hummus salads again on the daily. We eat the way we do for a reason – because it works for our bodies. A deviation from that can be fun and welcome for a short period of time. But we’ll always desire to fall back into our natural patterns for the long-run.

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Grocery shopping in Ontario is proving to be a fun experience. Many of the same products as in New Brunswick, but I’m finding a few new-to-me things!

I’ve never found hummus to be overly caloric to begin with, but the foodie in me was intrigued by Wendy and Barb’s Skinny Dips Hummus.

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15 calories per tablespoon. Okay, so maybe this is good if you’re prone to eating hummus by the half-cup (I can’t be the only one!!)

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The ingredients are all very normal. It seems they simply cut out any oil to eliminate some calories and fat, something I do when I make my own hummus at home. Not great if you rely on hummus as a healthy source of fat though. Taste wise, it’s pretty good. So long as hummus has chickpeas and garlic I’m good. Texture-wise, it’s a little on the watery side.

Dessert!

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Ikea chocolate. Yes, a $1 chocolate bar from Ikea my sister insisted on getting. And by “insisted” I mean she pointed to it and I fervently agreed. I’m on a hazelnut milk chocolate kick and this fits the bill. No Lindt though. Lindt will always be my favourite.

I’ve also finally started cooking in my new place!! This is where all the magic will be happening…

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A much larger kitchen than in my old place, which was literally smaller than a closet. The fire alarms are all working, which may be a necessary quality with my cooking methods. I predict many great things coming from this kitchen!! :)

The living area just off the kitchen:

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Please excuse the mess, we are still doing a lot of unpacking and cleaning. Table is off to the side, which will be perfect for eating off of.

We have stairs!

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Which lead up to a hallway that includes a bathroom and three bedrooms. I have two roommies who I met in J-school (and played in a band with!!). I’m sure you’ll be seeing lots of them on the blog soon :)

Meet my Ikea bedroom:

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Note, that is not a comforter but a sleeping bag I brought to Banff with me. Bedding will be arriving at the end of the month.

To the immediate left is my giant closet.

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Hi!! Full length mirror came with place, score. So did this TV:

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Double score. This is the opposite wall at the foot of the bed. There’s another small closet there that is currently empty because most of my belongings are still in Moncton! I still need to find fun things to put on the walls too.

That weird halo lighting comes from these:

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Two skylights above the TV! Pretty neat, however I can’t open them which makes it pretty warm and stuffy in my room. Also, I’ve taken to wearing an eye mask because I have yet to figure out how to put curtains on them. Honestly though, I should have started wearing an eye mask a long time ago. I’m always up with the sun, and now I’m sleeping 8+ in pitch black. It’s heavenly.

I also have a second home here in Toronto:

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The coffee shop just down the street. We still don’t have internet at the new place, so I’ve been spending my afternoons hanging out in here and it really does feel like a second home! I just finished that above iced tea.

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And I maaaay have just had a coconut cookie. But the only evidence of its existence are a few mere crumbs on a plate in front of me. Hmm. Second homes with delicious baked goods could be dangerous.

On that note, I am off to discover my third home here in Toronto. My nearest gym!! I haven’t worked out in five days and feel like I just need to get in there and move my body. I’m still sick as a dog, but maybe getting my blood flowing will help this cold along.

Oh! Oh! And thank you for the good luck wishes on my interview today! I have a second interview tomorrow morning so they must have worked :) Keep ‘em coming!!

 

Question of the Day: I am starting to feel out of touch with my bloggie friends, name one exciting thing that has happened to you in the last week!

Toronto Restaurant Tour: Round 1

Aaaaand I’m back.

Hope everyone had a fabulous weekend!! Mine was action-packed, which would have been fabulous if I wasn’t coughing up a lung. After two months of living out of suitcases, sleeping in strange beds, and literally traveling across a continent, my body is finally saying “enough.” Okay body, you win. Instead of exercising, I’ve been feeding it. There seems to be no better way to celebrate moving to Canada’s biggest city than a weekend of testing out all the wonderful food it has to offer.

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There’s a lovely place down the street that serves cheap big salads. I don’t use the term “big salad” loosely, it is definitely Susan-sized.

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They also have a wood-fired stove and have really good pizza. Lots of toppings, amazing crust. Good price. I can see myself coming here a lot :)

Also close by is this quaint little coffee shop, where I currently sit, filled with comfy chairs and a welcoming staff.

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Pictured is a chocolate cinnamon pastry of sorts. It tasted much better than it looks. Their pastries are all dense, but super flaky, which in my opinion is the best way to have them. Apparently they come from a popular bakery in Toronto called Miss Cora’s Kitchen.

Remember that giant enchilada from our first day here?? Well Sara and I got two more meals out of it.

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For breakfast on Saturday, we cut the leftovers in half and topped each with a fried egg. Voila! A Mexican breakfast! This was SO filling. Eggs + beans + cheese = no hunger signals for five hours.

Once again, the sustenance was required, for we had another long day ahead of us.

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Shopping!! Sara and I had big plans of starting on Queen West and making our way to the second-hand shops in Kensington. But we never made it off the first street!! I picked up some very cute items which I’m sure you will see over the course of the summer. My wardrobe was reduced to one suitcase before I left New Brunswick, so my circulation these days is pretty small :P

We eventually started to get the hunger tickle around 2pm. Sara mentioned there was a great place called Fresh around the corner and I jumped. I’ve heard all about this place from Angela!

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It’s a pretty popular vegan restaurant in Toronto that also offers up great juices. I highly suggest you peruse their menu. It was so hard deciding on something!!

I started with a juice.

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I’m not a huge juice person, but I thought it couldn’t hurt with my wicked cold. Went with the Immune Boost: carrot, beet, apple, ginger, vitamin C, echinacea.

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It was actually really good! Only complaint is that it was warm, could have used a few ice cubes.

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Sara started with a carrot coriander soup.

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Which I had many bites of, for the sake of “the sickess.” The toasted coconut on top was a nice touch.

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Sara also ordered a big salad, but I can’t for the life of me remember what kind it was. The crispy tofu on top was really good though!

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Fresh is famous for their “bowls” so I knew it’s what I had to go for. I settled with the Jerusalem: hummus, grilled spinach, tomato, cucumber, parsely, red onion, sunflower sprouts, olive oil, tamari, mixed herbs, lemon & chili powder.

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I asked for it on soba noodles, but they brought it rice. I also asked for marinated tofu cubes for extra protein. It was a huge bowl!! I couldn’t finish it. Which is saying a lot.

The waitress asked me if I wanted hot sauce and I thought why not…

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I have no idea what this hot sauce was, but it was good!! Fresh will definitely be a re-visit for me :)

The eating didn’t end there though, ohno. By 6:30 we’d made our way to Lemongrass too meet up with our Aunt Heather. Apparently it was the first Thai restaurant to open in the city!

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We all started with a spring roll appetizer, I went for the “non-crispy” kind with chicken.

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That peanut dipping sauce was to die for. Omg. It took everything I had not to stick my finger in it and just eat it that way.

The three of us then split three dishes:

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Holy Basil Crab. Delicious, but super messy to get into. The crab wasn’t shelled but covered in sauce. Tricky!!

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Bok choy. The token green.

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Pad thai. With chicken and shrimp. I’m not a huge noodle person, but really enjoyed this!

My plate:

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My plate, times two. 

Dessert was honey ginger tea, again, for the sake of “the sickness.”

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This tea was SO good!!! Not my usual kind of flavour, but I would get it again and again. I have a feeling they made it themselves with real honey and ginger, and not from a tea bag.

Me and Heather!

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Thank you for everything Heather!! I’ve already promised to take her out to “Toronto’s #1 gelato place” when I get my first pay check :)

The family bonding didn’t stop there. We then rushed off to meet up with my two cousins, one of which was my bestie growing up.

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Some of my best childhood and teenage memories were shared with Ellen! I’m super excited to be in the same city as her again. We’re amidst cooking up a stellar fitness plan, so I foresee more fun times in our future :) I may be leaving some family behind, but it’s pretty nice to be close to other family now!

In all, Sara and I were out and about for 12 hours yesterday, leaving at noon and returning at midnight. Thanks to a newly bought eye mask, I conked out for a solid 8. I could have slept longer, but alas, we had more eating engagements to attend.

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Sara was super excited about brunch today at the Free Times Cafe. As soon as we arrived, I understood why.

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The owner started chatting with us and said she started the Sunday brunch years ago as a nod to a huge brunch your Jewish grandmother may have made. Everything is made at the cafe, including the breads and smoked fish. Yesplease.

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First trip included pita, hummus, beet salad, a pickle, some crab cake thingy.

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Challah french toast and smoked salmon scrambled eggs. The french toast was my favourite of this plate. I’ve been told that challah is the best bread for french toast and I am now a believer!!

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Potato latke topped with an apple sauce and a cheese blintz topped with a berry sauce. The latke was amazing because it was deep-fried. And let’s face it, deep frying things makes them delicious. The blintz I could have gone without. The texture was weird and I didn’t like ricotta. Not for me I guess!

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Did I mention there was live Klezmer music?? There was live Klezmer music.

Second plate!

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I missed some of the breads the first time around, so I grabbed two pieces. One topped with a homemade smoked salmon cream cheese the other with havarti and smoked herring. In the back was my second favourite thing from the buffet – a beet and smoked herring salad. Sounds strange but it was dreamy!! I think the base for it was cream cheese or sour cream or something. Awesome.

The desserts!

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Not entirely sure what all of these are. The thing in the back is an apple streudel of sorts. The pinwheel in the front had a date puree. The chocolate square was like a chocolate mousse cake (excellent). That brown clump was pretty interesting. My first thought was that it was a butterscotch fudge thinky, but it had little sugary pieces in it reminiscent of cotton candy!! Sara said it could have been halvah, but I’m not sure if it fits the bill. Anyone out there know??

 

Well, that just about wraps up my first weekend of eating in the city!! I’ve already been exposed to so much new food, and it’s only just a small microscopic dent in what Toronto has to offer. However, once I hit publish, I’m walking down to the closest store to pick up a giant bunch of kale to make a green salad the size of my head. I am then going to lay in bed reading a book for the rest of the night. It would be nice if I no longer sound like I smoked a pack of cigarettes and downed a pint of Jack Daniels before my job interview tomorrow!! Operation: Get a Job is now in full swing. Wish me luck – I might need it!

 

EDIT: Don’t forget! There’s a Toronto meet-up happening next Sunday. E-mail me at thegreatbalancingact@gmail.com for details!

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