Of all the things people ask me about moving home from “the big city,” two questions come up over and over:
1) Aren’t you going to get bored?
2) How will you eat??
The answers are actually quite simple.
First, a girl can make her own fun wherever she is. Trust me. It’s pretty darn simple to be in a big city with a million things to do and still feel bored and lonely. Sometimes you just have to be a little more creative in smaller towns ;)
Secondly, one word: Calactus.
Actually, one of my best friends told me that I won’t miss any of those Toronto restaurants because Moncton’s Calactus is all I really need.
Exaggerated, yes. But still not that far from the truth.
I’ve been blogging about this place for years now. It’s my favourite restaurant. Ever. And all right here in my hometown.
I first started going to Calactus over a decade ago when it was in a small old house on Mountain Road. It was around the time my family first started eating vegetarian, and this vegetarian/vegan restaurant helped introduce a whole new style of eating to me.
Calactus is also home to the world’s best veggie burger. Seriously. This coming from a girl who spent eight years as a vegetarian and has choked down a lot of veggie burgers in her day…
But the even better thing about this restaurant, is that they are more than just one standout dish. Everything is good. All house made, fresh, flavourful. The kind of meal that doesn’t weigh you down, but leaves you feeling healthily satisfied.
Like with they’re Burrito Bandito.
Or their extravaganza pizza with tomato sauce, veggie pepperoni, falafel, red onion, green pepper and cheese. Along with a beet and goat cheese salad.
I have yet to try their pakoras, but their munchables are amazing.
The Thousand and One Nights with chapati bread, feta cheese and olives, falafels, hummus, tofu cream and veggie sticks.
Their falafels are the bestest. Perfectly seasoned, crunchy on the outside, soft in the middle, without being greasy. Their tofu cream still alludes me. They put it on a lot of their dishes. Like a garlicky tofu hummus or tzatziki of sorts.
My latest visit to Calactus was on Saturday for lunch and my midday cravings wanted something rolled up in bread.
I went with a “Flute” which is essentially a wrap. Falafel flavour, because as I said, their falafel is out of this world.
With sprouts, lettuce, red onion, tomato, and a drizzle of that savoury tofu cream. My oh my it was good! Their house made chapati bread never ceases to amaze me. Always so soft and fluffy. A million times better than the usual flour tortilla.
The tabbouleh is something to write home about as well. Rather than being pre-mixed, it’s couscous with the dressed parsley and tomatoes dolloped on top. Tastes almost like a bruschetta on couscous.
Then of course there’s Christie and Tiffany.
My Calactus lunch-mates on Saturday. We’ve lunched manymany times together over the ooohhh 20 years (?) we’ve known each other.
They’re both living back at home now too. So the three of us live just down the street from each other like we did growing up!
Except you know, with a few extra stories to tell from along the way.
Told ya, a girl can find some good fun and good food just about anywhere ;)
Just over one year ago, I made the decision to move from my small home province to the country’s largest city.
I’d been living in my university city for six years. It was a great place for school, but it was not a good fit for me as I transitioned into being a working adult. Actually, it suffocated me.
When I left both my “real job” as a radio reporter and a long-term relationship last winter, my back-up plan was to move back home. You see, I left my hometown two weeks after my high school graduation and haven’t lived there since. Even though my university city was only 90 minutes away, I never made it back there for much longer than the requisite four short visits a year.
But when my friends in Toronto contacted me about my moving in with them in Toronto, it seemed like just the adventure I needed. Anyone who knows me in real life was surprised by the decision. I’ve always been the girl who wanted to stick close to home. I’m not a big city person. I take risks, but never those that have big consequences.
I arrived in Toronto in July after a month of travelling to Banff and Ottawa. My sense of adventure was at an all time high. I remained open minded about the experience. Maybe I’d love it and want to stay forever. Maybe I’d get the itch to move on after a year and continue my way across the country – or even overseas!
My first four months in the city were amazing. I adjusted quickly, finding work easily. Work that I really enjoyed. I already had a great group of friends I knew from university, and met new ones through blogging. I became a part of the city’s pulse. I realized why Torontonians think they’re the centre of the universe. The city has so much to offer and so much excitement, there’s no need to look elsewhere for anything else.
But after four months, the honeymoon period started to wear off. Even though I adapted to the city quickly, I still felt like an outsider just pretending like I belonged there.
I started daydreaming about moving out West among the mountains. Maybe Vancouver. Or back to Banff. My mind even wandered all the way to Scotland. Which apparently has a decent number of personal training jobs to offer.
But when I turned my mind off and listened to my gut, my heart, and my instincts, I knew I still belonged back home. In the city I left seven years ago. With my mom, my dad, my Nana, my step-siblings and poodle.
The three weeks I spent back in Moncton over Christmas only solidified that for me. I could daydream about living elsewhere, but in the end I truly believe that I am happiest and most in my element when I am home. I need a break from forcing myself to do things because I think they will be good life lessons or learning experiences for me. I want to make decisions based on what I am most comfortable with. Maybe it’s time to stop looking at it as the “easy way out” but come to terms with it being what will make me the most happy. For now anyways.
I remember having a conversation with my cousins when I first moved to Toronto about being displaced Maritmers in the “big city.” They were talking about how they didn’t want to move home because then it would feel like they failed at whatever they were trying to accomplish in Toronto.
I definitely do not feel like a failure. Following your heart is definitely a brave thing to do. I feel a little boring for not moving on to another adventure somewhere else in the world. But in my mind moving back home is an adventure. And will certainly be challenging.
For one thing, I’m moving to the small town where I grew up just across the river from Moncton. 5.5 million people to 16,000. I’ll be living with my dad on the street I grew up on. I haven’t lived with my father since my parents separated when I was 11 years old. I love my mom to pieces, but I’m stoked to spend time with my old man again.
I’ll also be living with my little sister, her partner, and my brand new nephew Cole. I only hope my arm heals soon so I can hold him!
All of this will be happening in about three weeks. I was hoping to work at my Toronto jobs up until the end of March. But then the accident happened, leaving me unable to work as a trainer or in my physical retail job for several weeks. I should be getting the cast off in Ottawa in a couple weeks, then starting the long process of learning how to move my arm again with physiotherapy back home.
My original plan was to continue working at the running store and start my own training business once I got home. But the accident has changed that. Or at least indefinitely postponed that. Right now I’m reverting to the only thing left I am trained professionally to do – write. Living at home will at least give me extra room financially to figure it out.
So there is my very long explanation of why I quit both my jobs last week. Why I’ve been Tweeting about getting a moving truck. Why I have a Toronto bucket list and such a driving motivation to eat brunch at every restaurant in my Toronto neighbourhood so soon.
I am SO excited about being home again. Hanging out with my family and old friends. Living among the mountains for the summer would have been nice, but being at my cottage on the Atlantic waters all summer is something I always dream of.
Oh, and my dad has an amazing kitchen. I can’t wait to get in there and start cooking for my loved ones. I can’t wait to go hiking in Fundy. To eat cinnamon buns in Alma and lobster in Shediac.To go swimming in the Northumberland. I can’t wait to be amongst Maritimers again. My people. Laid back, easy going people.
I do not regret moving to Toronto one bit. I still maintain it’s the best decision I ever made. I experienced so much while there. And it taught my just how great my home actually is.
When I was leaving my mother’s house in January to return to Toronto after the Christmas break, she said to me “This isn’t right. You shouldn’t be the one leaving. You belong here!”
And I couldn’t agree more.
I finally got that snow I’ve been wishing for!!
It seems everywhere in Canada has had a major snowfall except for Toronto. The surrounding areas look like a Winter Wonderland, and yet the city is still bare.
I always used to complain about snow. Mostly about how much I hate shovelling it. For the record, shovelling is still at the bottom of my list of activities. But it now officially feels like winter to me. Even if I do have to ditch the snow crystals for pavement if five short days.
The snow is also making me want to do winter activities. Like tobogganing and ice skating. And of course… baking.
Let me tell you, a 28 oz can of pumpkin can go far. So far I’ve gotten a cake, a big batch of pancakes, two bowls of oatmeal and now a batch of scones out of it.
I feel like me and the mushy stuff have turned a corner this holiday season. I still like my oats better without it, but I no longer fear adding pumpkin to baked goods.
I asked my family if they wanted pumpkin chip bread or scones, and the scones won out. Most of the pumpkin scone recipes out there are meant to mimic the Starbucks version. You know, the one that’s 480 calories.
No thanks. I believe I ate enough of those triangle cakes when I was a barista and at my heaviest weight.
Instead, I opted for this Joy of Baking recipe with a few changes, of course.
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoon cold butter, cut into pieces
- 1/2 cup plain fat-free yogurt
- 1/2 cup fresh or canned pure pumpkin (if using canned pumpkin make sure there are no spices or sugar added)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 tablespoon eggnog
Mix together the flours, sugar, spices, salt, baking soda and powder. Add your cold butter pieces and mix until crumbly. Some people do this with a fork, I find my hands to be a lot more effective.
Stir in yogurt and pumpkin, kneading a few times to get all the dry mix in. Shape into a circle around 7 inches by 1 1/2 inches. Cut into 8 triangles and transfer to a greased baking sheet. I stack two baking sheets to prevent burning on the bottom. Then mix up the egg wash and brush on the tops. Bake for 20 minutes at 400F.
They rose up big in the oven! I probably could have cut them smaller, but it also meant more scone for me.
I was barely done taking photos before my family started attacking these.
Scones fresh from the oven on a winter day, aahhh. These were a brimming success. Slightly spicy, a little hearty, with that soda-scone taste I love. My 12-year-old step-bro had two. And he’s never even had scones before.
Another day, another mess in my mother’s kitchen. Muhaha ;)
The scones acted as a great snack to hold us over until supper. We ended up going to the Old Triangle, an Irish pub here in Moncton.
From left to right: Me, my step-dad Mark, oldest sister Sara, Mom, middle sister Jane, and her partner Renaud. Behind the camera is Heather, who had quite the time trying to capture everyone in my zoomed 50mm lens.
Well, like mother like daughter. One of each colour!
Can’t we all just stay here together forever? I promise to bake scones!
But I can’t promise I won’t make a mess ;)