Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Big Day Downtown (Part 2)

Part 2 of this downtown adventure involves me taking Gillian on a tour of what downtown means to me.

Stop 1: Cyclone Cycling

I'm usually wary of asking someone whom I don't really know that well to do something intensely physical. They may have a bad knee, or some other injury that you don't know about, or maybe they're just out of shape even thought they don't look it. So it was with some hesitance that I asked Gillian to join me for a class at the new spinning studio on Sackville Street: Cyclone Cycling (@CycloneCycling).

I have only been to a handful of spin classes before, but I'm no stranger to cycling. I'm a regular bike commuter, and my Big Day Downtown last year was all about cycling. The studio was 3 months old on Saturday when we had our class. Elana Liberman, the owner, took us on a conceptual cross-Canada ride, climbing up the Cape Breton Highlands and Rockies, and sprinting through the prairies. They also offer a combination spin/yoga class that may be compelling to some people. She definitely put us (and several other participants) through our paces as we crossed the virtual country. I invited her to try out of Julie's kettlebell classes for some payback :)

Stop 2: Two if By Sea Cafe

Our second stop was originally planned to be I <3 Bikes (@IHeartBikesHfx) on the waterfront, but the clouds were ominous and grey, and we didn't want to have to worry about getting the bikes back on time because the spin class ran a little long, and our schedule was tight as it was. We hoofed it to Historic Properties to get to Two if By Sea (@TwoIfBySeaCafe)before it closed.

I got my usual black coffee and a muffin (unfortunately we were there so late in the day all of their croissants were gone), Julie got a latte, and Gillian got a chai something or other -- much fancier than anything I typically order :) Sitting down in a cafe setting was a nice change of pace from the sweaty spin class. We sat and talked and sipped on our beverages. I maintain that TIBS has the best brewed coffee in downtown Halifax, and if you haven't had one of their bigger-than-your-head-croissants or their cake-sized cookies, then you really owe it to yourself to try one. What better way to put those calories back on?

Stop 3: Garrison Brewing

Down the boardwalk we walked all the way past the Seaport Farmers Market to Garrison Brewing. In retrospect, I wish we had made the stop at I <3 Bikes, because the rain ended up holding off and we could have saved time in the long run biking to Garrison instead of walking. Julie and I split a sampler tray, and Gillian got a Tall Ship Amber Ale. I'm partial to strong tasting beers, so I really enjoyed the Nut Brown and their various selections that are heavily hopped.

The sampler tray looks really appitizing, doesn't it?get-

The beers went down very well, and this was a perfect way to end our Big Day Downtown as Gillian had to leave. Julie and I had to walk back to our car parked outside Cyclone, so we headed up that way. It was just starting to peck down rain.

Stop 4: Mongolie Grill

Julie and I weren't planning to make a fourth stop, but Grayson was getting hungry, and she had fallen asleep on the walk to Garrison Brewing, so we didn't have the chance to feed her. We stopped in at the Mongolie Grill because it was about a block from where we had parked.

The prices for the meals at the Mongolie Grill are based off of the pre-cooked weight of all the ingredients that you pick out yourself from their buffet. Grayson was a pretty cheap date. I always enjoy eating there because you get to pick out exactly what goes into your meal, right down to the spices and sauces. I'm never disappointed. They have great service and I always get what I expect.

I hope everybody enjoyed peering into what I do downtown.

Big Day Dowtown (Part 1)

As I said in the previous post, I was paired up with Gillian Wesley (@GillianWesleyNS) of http://www.thelocaltravelerns.com/ for this year's Big Day Downtown promotion.  The idea was for each of us to take the other to some businesses in the downtown area that describes what downtown is to us.

This was the first time I have ever successfully hula-hooped.
On Thursday night, Gillian invited me to Serpentine Studios (@SerpStudios) on Barrington Street for a hula hooping lesson. I have never been been able to get a hula hoop to go around me with anything other than momentum from the initial thrust, but mere minutes into this session, I was able to do it! Monique from Serpentine explained that the size of hoop you should use (at least to learn) is proportional to your height, so after picking the "special" hoop, i.e., the biggest one in the place, I was finally able to work that thing like a pro. I had a profound sense of satisfaction at being able to transfer a Wii Fit skill into the real world. Hula hooping is definitely a great core exercise, and while we only picked up the basics, there are two different levels of classes designed for beginners and advanced 'hoopers'.

Our four drinks from the Middle Spoon
Another Barrington business was next on the agenda: cocktails at The Middle Spoon (@TheMiddleSpoon). We perused their drink menu and waited a big for the guy who was going to take us through some of the process that goes into making drinks. Now, I've been to lots of bars, and perhaps I just don't often order  cocktails, but what was to follow had me intrigued. We were shown how the staff at the Middle Spoon makes cocktails, not only what liqueurs, bitters, flavour-enhancers, atomized sprays, and garnishes are used as ingredients, bu also the process, and why things are done the way they are. Talking to someone as passionate about what they do as Jenner is about mixing drinks and coming up with custom drink recipes is fascinating  you can't help but be caught up in their enthusiasm for the subject. From how and why the glass is chilled to the reasons for adding certain ingredient in a certain order, to how to properly shake a cocktail, I was soaking it all in; and this was before even having a drink in my hand!

I had ordered "the Varclay", which is a coffee-based drink with absinthe, scotch, and vanilla liqueur. It was as good as I have led you to believe, and being a party to the creation process and not simply having it delivered to me by the kilted waiter made it that much better.

After our drinks, we parted ways, and I had to walk around a bit before I felt comfortable enough to drive home. Yeah, there was quite a bit of alcohol in that drink, but I apparently can't handle it like I used to :)

Stay tuned for part two where it's my turn to play host.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What's up with me?

I feel like I should mention why I haven't blogged in over a year. The reasons are at least two-fold:

  1. I had a daughter.
  2. Twitter.

Those aren't really good excuses, because people do more with less time on their hands, but what can I say, it was easy to ignore. With my wife recovering from pregnancy and giving birth, I also took over the downtown kettlebell classes 3 times per week. That cut down on my free time too.

But, yeah, I'm still around, and I still spend lots of time in the downtown area. Which leads me into the next topic: Big Day Downtown 2012! This year, there is a bit of a catch to being given one hundred bucks and let loose to spend it in downtown Halifax. Each participant is paired up with another, and we have to go have our downtown adventures together. I got matched up with Gillian Wesley from www.thelocaltravelerns.com. I wasn't able to stay long at the launch of the event, so I haven't even met her yet.

Look forward to posts describing what we've been up to with our downtown money!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My 2011 Big Day Downtown

I was lucky enough to get asked again this year to take part in the Halifax Downtown Business Commission's Big Day Downtown promotion. The theme this year was to do something that you've never done before. I originally thought this would be a bit of a challenge for me, because I've worked in the downtown core for nearly 15 years and in that time, I've done a whole lot of things. It definitely took some thought before I decided what I would do.

Eventually, I settled on an idea that wasn't tied to a particular place or business. Ultimately, of course, I would have to spend my money somewhere, but what I chose was part of an activity I love to do downtown: ride my bike. I've been a bike commuter from Clayton Park to my office in the BMO building for the past two years. It's made me want to attempt things like bike touring or racing. I decided to use my Visa gift card to get some clipless pedals.

For those that aren't sure what makes pedals 'clipless', it means that there is a mechanism that binds your feet to the pedals via special cleats on the bottom of your shoes that doesn't use the over-the-toe baskets or toe-clips. Most cycling shoes are very narrow, and I have fairly wide feet, so I ended up getting a pair of Keen Springwater cycling shoes. the shoes and pedals together would have been over budget for my Big Day Downtown, so I'll just talk about the pedals :)

At Mountain Equipment Co-Op, Crankbrothers had a special edition version of their Candy 2 pedals (made especially for MEC) for about $15 less than the non-special edition version. The special edition is half black and half green (MEC's primary colour), but that is really the only difference. The silver version would have matched my bike better, but it seemed like a no-brainer for me to get the cheaper, greener, equivalent pedal. Since I bought them at MEC, their in-house bike shop was good enough to install them for me free of charge. It was a simple enough process, taking only about 10 minutes. I could have done it myself, but I don't own the specialized tool (a pedal wrench) required to remove my old pedals. The new ones are installed and removed with an 8mm allen wrench.

Part of what makes clipless pedals so appealing to me and cyclists everywhere is the simple fact that your feet are fixed to the pedals. This means that you are no longer limited to just pushing on the pedals, but you can pull on them as well, and once you get used to that, it can mean twice the power on every stroke and a smoother revolution; spinning, rather than a series of alternating pushes.

When I told people that I was trying out clipless pedals for the first time, everyone suggested that I practice clipping and unclipping several times before heading out on the road. I heard horror stories from cyclists who, forgetting to unclip when coming to a stop at an intersection, tipped over like they'd just taken off their training wheels. Then, hoping they didn't tip into traffic, they must swallow their pride and right themselves to keep going. I've never been one of those sensible people that do things like 'read instruction manuals', or 'practice unclipping', so as soon as the pedals were installed, I hopped on and took them for a test ride :) My inaugural ride with clipless pedals went from MEC on Granville St. to Sackville to Hollis to Marginal Road so I could visit the Seaport Farmers Market. I also picked up some of the fine wares from the Garrison Brewing Company since I was down that way.

To date, I have not yet forgotten to unclip from my pedals and I have not yet fallen unceremoniously on my side, however unclipping is not as simple a process as you might think. You can't just take your feet off the pedals, you have to turn your heels outward so that the angle that the cleat on your shoe makes with the pedals is such that they release. It can be awkward because due to the size and shape of my shoes, I can't do it when my foot is at the bottom of the pedal stroke; the crank gets in the way. I have had some close calls, but I have always managed to get my foot out in time. Here's hoping I never have to find out what happens if I can't.

A few days after having my new pedals installed, I found out there are going to be some changes going on to the streets in the downtown core; some streets are changing to one way, some are getting more parking, and some are getting bike lanes! I purposefully chose a cycling-related topic in order to draw some attention to cycling in Halifax and in retrospect, I can claim it was because of these new cycling-friendly changes coming to downtown.

After buying my pedals, I only had about $8. Who knew pedals could be so expensive? I treated my wife, Julie, and I to some coffee and confections at one of my favourite coffee places downtown, Just Us Coffee Roasters on Barrington Street. We enjoyed our coffees, muffin, and cookie as she walked me back to my office.

Thanks, Halifax Downtown Business Commission for allowing me to take part in this awesome promotion again. I had an awesome time trying out a new thing downtown!

Monday, April 25, 2011

My experience with Vibram FiveFingers

A little over two years ago, I started a journey that led me to lose 120lbs in 15 months. It's not like I tried to keep that a secret, but I've never really blogged about it either. I did this through a fairly drastic change to my lifestyle. I joined a gym, got a trainer, and more meticulously watched what I ate, as it was apparent that the "pub food" diet wasn't working for me. My physical activity was primarily swinging, snatching, and otherwise lifting kettlebells.

I had done a few stints on the treadmill in the gym in between kettlebell workouts, but never for longer than 10 minutes at a time. And those 10 minutes were a chore. Despite how difficult it had always been, I have always had an underlying desire to be able to run, maybe because it was so difficult. Perhaps it stemmed from the gym classes in elementary or junior high school where we had to run around the perimeter of the soccer field, and I would inevitably be somewhere near the back of the pack. I was envious of the people who seemed to be able to run with such ease. You always want what you can't have, right?

But wasn't running supposed to be easier now that I was lighter? I kept at it, telling myself that it was just because I wasn't used to it, I had to work up to it, etc. This was partly true; I gradually increased my distance and time until I got to the point where I was going to sign up for the Blue Nose Marathon's 10k event. I managed to get up to the 10k distance, but my entire lower body paid the price for it. My knees and hips were sore for a few days afterwards. It was dawning on me that being lighter had very little to do with this. After reading running websites and blogs, I learned that many people were experiencing the same issues as I was, and these people were runners ran regularly! Unlike me, they presumably knew what they were doing and they were still getting injured. Hrm...Perhaps some more investigation is necessary.

Time passes...

A friend and co-worker was a regular runner, and a while back he had started running in these strange toe-shoes that I came to understand were called "Vibram FiveFingers" or VFFs for short. He also introduced me to the book Born to Run. I think that part of the reason I had always wanted to be able to run was that you didn't need any implements, accessories, or equipment. To risk sounding like a Nike ad, you should just be able to do it. The barefoot running experience that Born to Run evangelized seemed exciting to me; exciting enough that I decided to get a pair and try it for myself.

I figured that fit was a very important aspect to wearing shoes with toes in them, so I went to a local retailer to get fitted. They brought out a custom measuring device provided by Vibram and I tried on the size that it recommended. They felt tight. Unfortunately, they didn't have the next size up in the model that I wanted (KSO), so I decided to gamble and order them online. A little less than two weeks later, I had them.

At first, I wasn't sure if I wanted to wear them for running. Since I had already managed to complete 10k a while back, my wife convinced me that I should be attempting a half marathon instead. I had read that there was an adjustment period to running barefoot, and I didn't want to have to scale back the distances I was running for training, so I started out just wearing them while I did my cross-training activities. Curiosity got the better of me soon enough, and I took them out for a jog on the treadmill.  I lasted about 10 minutes before the pain in my calves was too unbearable to keep running. I was probably running too far on my toes than I should have been, but my calves were inconsolable. The next day I found it difficult to walk, my legs loudly voicing their opinions on what I shouldn't have done the day before. Nevertheless, I noticed that it was only the muscles that hurt; my joints were what usually gave me grief, but today they were conspicuously silent. This was interesting.

It took a good week before I felt up to giving a run in the VFFs another attempt. I tried landing a bit more on the outside of my mid-foot, as some websites had suggested. It seemed a bit better. My calves still ended up getting sore, but I lasted more than twice as long on the treadmill, and they didn't hurt quite as much the next day. There was a downside though: I was getting blisters. The more I ran in the VFFs, the more I realized that that damn sizing chart was absolutely correct. I had bought a size too big, and my feet were sliding around, ever-so-slightly in the shoes. Sliding enough to give me quarter-sized blisters on both feet, right at the base of my big toes. Ouch. Some healing time was needed once again.

I tried using Injiji socks, which definitely helped, but I finally conceded that if I was to run regularly in these shoes, I would need the right size. I sold my slightly-used 45s and picked up a pair of 44s. Whereas they felt tight when I had first tried them on in the store, now they just felt like they fit. I guess you have to know what you're looking for. The moral of the story here is to trust the Vibram sizing chart. Once I was in the correct size, the blisters were a thing of the past. Over about three weeks, I started building up my time and distance until I could once again cover the 10k distance. That's a shorter amount of time than most people recommend; I think I paid for it in calf pain.

The first time I ran 10k in the VFFs without any lasting effects on my calf muscles (other than normal fatigue, of course), I was ecstatic. My joints didn't bother me anymore either...was it just the shoes all along? Was this why I never really enjoyed running? Well, it probably wasn't the shoes themselves, but they certainly didn't encourage me not to land with a heel-strike, like the VFFs do. Ever since, I've been running exclusively in my KSOs or the pair of Trek Sports that I bought later on. I am still training for that half marathon...so far I'm up to 18k. I have about a month of training time left. I now have no doubt that I'll be able to finish, but I'm working towards a certain goal time that I have in my head. Based on my training, people have told me that I can definitely attain this goal, but I don't want to jinx it :)

I can't credit FiveFingers for my weight loss, as most of that happened before I owned a pair. But I can definitely say that the VFFs and the barefoot style of running that they encourage make running much more enjoyable because the only after-effects seem to be on my aching muscles, and not my joints. I have to consider that a very, very good thing.

Are you thinking about trying barefoot running? Do you struggle with sore joints when you run? Does that keep you from enjoying running? If you answered yes to any of these questions, I think you owe it to yourself to invest the time in trying out a pair of Vibram FiveFingers.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Big Day Downtown (Part IV): MEC, Just Us, & Freak Lunchbox

Going into my last Big Day Downtown, I had $66.75. Coming out, I am left with a single cent that I am afraid I will be unable to spend. Even if I could find something that only cost a penny, I doubt I could buy it with a Visa gift card. Let's run down the day's purchases :)

Stop 1: Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC)

Mountain Equipment Co-op
When I went to university, I used to make fun of all the Upper-Canadians going to my school with their MEC backpacks all snooty and such. Well, call me a hypocrite, because I am so happy that MEC decided to open a store in Halifax. Since it arrived on the corner of Granville and Blowers Streets back in 2001, I've shopped there many, many times. It's close to where I work, it's right across the street from where I park my car, and well, they just sell so much cool stuff. Very soon, I'm planning to go buy some camping equipment from them, including some sleeping bags for Julie and I. It's a very easy place to spend money, not to mention their kick-ass website! If they don't have something in stock at the store, you can order it online and have it delivered to the store at no charge. That is service.

Downstairs at MEC
Since I had to restrain myself to spending only 67 bucks during this visit, I bought a nice fleece for the upcoming cooler fall weather, and a 14L waterproof stuff sack to contain my wares and keep them dry as they sit in my pack.

FYI, if you'd like to help with my MEC addiction, please visit my wish list. I keep it up to date :)

It's freezing out here! Maybe there's something in this bag This looks like a nice fleecy jacket I think this'll fit All warm now

MEC Watchtower fleece + MEC Roll Top Stuff Sack + tax = $64.98
Left to spend: $1.77

Stop 2: Just Us Cafe

Just Us! Cafe
One of the fine baristas at Just Us!Anyone who knows me (and some of my previous Big Day Downtown posts will confirm this) knows that my drug of choice is caffeine. It gets me up in the morning, keeps me going all day, and puts me to bed at night (in tea form, preferably orange pekoe or Earl Grey, thanks). And the dealer I frequent most often is Just Us on Barrington Street. I try as much as I can to remember to bring my re-usable mug with me when I go here because they have a very sensible policy of only stamping your loyalty card when you buy a coffee in your own mug. I think that is a great way to gently nudge people to use less disposable products. Smart thinking, Just Us!

I had a mug full of the darkest roast they had brewed.

Mug full o' coffee + tax = $1.48
Left to spend: $0.29

Stop 3: Freak Lunchbox

Freak Lunchbox
At this point, I had 29 cents left on my Visa gift card, so there was not much choice in the matter. There is only one store that I could think of where I could buy something for 29 cents, let alone with a Visa. I walked the block north to Freak Lunchbox, enlisted the help of one of the friendly staff and manged to purchase an amount of chocolate-covered coffee beans that came to as close as possible to my $0.29 when tax was added. I walked back to my office munching on $0.28 worth, or about 15 beans :)

~15 chocolate-covered coffee beans + tax = $0.28
Amount remaining unspent: $0.01

And so that brings to an end of my Big Day Downtown money, I sure enjoyed spending it!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Big Day Downtown (Part III): The Mongolie Grill

The Mongolie Grill
One of my favourite places to eat downtown is the Mongolie Grill on the corner of Granville and Sackville Streets. It's located where the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame used to be. It's one of the few places where you can absolutely know every ingredient that is going into your meal, and over the past year and a half, when my big push was to lose weight, this was a huge benefit to me. It's one of the reasons why the Mongolie Grill is one of my picks for my Big Day Downtown.

VegetablesI suppose I should describe the premise of the Mongolie Grill a bit before I get started on my experience: You are presented with what resembles a salad bar of raw vegetables, meats, and sauces. You put the ingredients you want in your stir-fry into a small stainless steel bowl, and then have it weighed. This weight determines the price of your meal. You pay depending on how hungry you are! They then dump the contents of your bowl onto the largest cooking surface I've ever seen, and toss it until it's cooked. I should mention that they use water instead of oil when they stir-fry, so you know you're not getting more than you bargained for. There are oils that you can add in the sauce bar if you're into that sort of thing.

Hot and Sour soupI came into the restaurant at an odd time, 2:30pm, so I was the only one there! I got great service :), but even at its busiest, the wait staff are very attentive. Because of the buffet-style nature of the place, the menu is pretty much just appetizers and drinks; I usually opt out of those and go for a water. Besides, each meal is started with a bowl of your choice of either some kind of creamy soup (today was corn chowder) or some kind of spicy soup (today's was hot and sour soup). As a general rule, I try to stay away from cream-based stuff; I went with the hot and sour soup. Wasn't the hottest or sourest soup I've had at the Mongolie Grill, but it was good.

Weighing inI jammed some of my favourite vegetables into that bowl: broccoli, green onions (and regular onions), water chestnuts, carrots, green peppers. Don't give me any of that baby corn though, I can't stand it. Add some chicken and some scallops and a scoop of some hot oil, and we're off to the scales for the weigh-in. My meal weighed in at just over half a kilogram! A note to the vegans and vegetarians out there: if you don't have meat in your stir fry, you qualify for the vegetarian 20% discount. This has never applied to me, ever. However, those water-laden vegetables can be some of the heaviest things in your bowl. I've tried in the past to create the most weight-optimized meal possible, but I think I got a little too obsessed. I eventually gave that up.

The finished productAfter a few minutes, you're presented with the finished product--a fine stir-fried concoction of your own devising.  Mine sure looks good, doesn't it? I don't think I've ever had the same meal twice here. You can vary the ratios of the different vegetables and meats and combine the sauces however your taste buds see fit.

I've come to this restaurant dozens of times over the past two years, and I think I've only had one meal that was a little over-cooked. Other than that, I can't say that I've had a bad experience. Kudos to the Mongolie Grill for being consistently awesome!

Mongolie Grill stir-fry @ 0.565 kg + coffee + tip: $24.00
Left to spend: $66.75

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Big Day Downtown (Part II): Cabin Coffee

So, since my first day of spending my free money consisted solely of a coffee, I guess I'm going to spend this money over a few different days. My second day of money-spending has, perhaps predictably, also involved coffee.

Cabin Coffee, to be precise. I've walked past this place on the corner of Salter and Hollis Streets many times. Sometimes I stop in after I've finished my first coffee of the morning from the Halifax Farmers Market, and I need that 11 am pick-me-up. This time, it was after a delicious chicken shawarma that I had from Venus Pizza; however that shawarma was not officially part of my Big Day Downtown, so I won't talk about it further except to say again that it was delicious.

At Cabin Coffee, I decided to get a cappuccino. This is a drink that I don't usually have; I prefer my caffeine to be shunted directly into my veins, not floating in a milk foam ether. In fact, the only cappuccinos I can remember drinking were those from Tim Hortons, and I don't think those count. I'm still not sure what the difference is between a cappuccino and a latte is (perhaps the more coffee-educated among you can tell me), but nevertheless it was very well-received by my palate. I think I forgot to ask for non-fat milk and I could definitely taste the creaminess I hadn't known since my last "double-double". I'm quite used to using skim these days.

The cinnamon bun was decent. I can't really give it a glowing review, because I have in my head a very high standard to which no cinnamon bun has come close since the closing of the Uncommon Grounds on Argyle Street. They made the best buns that I have ever had, and the remaining UGs make these weird cinnamon muffins that I can't even put in the same category. Some of the main strikes against it, in my books:
  • No frosting or glaze. A cinnamon bun's gotta have some glaze. Glaze is preferable to frosting, but just mixing some sugar with the cinnamon isn't enough for me.
  • Fell apart too easily. If I can't hold the thing in one hand and not have the layers separate before my eyes, invariably dropping onto my shirt or shoes, then how can I  be expected to enjoy it on the go? This is critical.
  • Not "doughy" enough. This one is nitpicky, and I think I may be in the minority on this one, but I like a cinnamon bun that is moist and chewy, not dry and crumbly like a tea bicsuit. This was a close call, but I think it fell short.

The ambiance of Cabin Coffee is certainly top notch. It's the quintessential laid back, neo-hippie vibe coffee shop. It actually reminds me of a place I know well: The Bridge Street Cafe in Sackville, New Brunswick. I think the service at Cabin Coffee is a little faster, but that's not really a feat of gargantuan proportions. Seriously though, how can you not like a place that has chandeliers that cast silhouettes of moose and bears across the establishment?

Overall, thumbs up to Cabin Coffee, but then, I've hardly met a coffee shop I didn't like.

Cabin Coffee large cappuccino + cinnamon bun + tip:  $6.50
Left to spend: $90.75

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

My (first) Big Day Downtown

Let's start this off with a bit of an explanation. I've been selected, amongst approximately 30 other personalities, to be part of the Big Day Downtown promotion put on by the Downtown Halifax Business Commission. They gave me a $100 Visa gift card that I can spend however I like, as long as I spend it in downtown Halifax. I spend most of my days in downtown Halifax, working here and everything, so I thought I could give this a run for its money, so to speak.

I have been musing about how I should spend the $100. Should I blow it all on something big? Should I make it last over a week (or more)? Should my purchases have some sort of theme to them, or should they have no commonality except that I made them all? I'm still not really sure what I'm going to do; there have been a few themes that have had a commanding presence in my life lately. 

One of those themes is fitness. I haven't written about it much here (actually, I don't think I've written about it at all here), but from January 2009 to March 2010, I lost about 120lbs. However, I think Scott over at Your Inner Skinny has that theme covered. As an off-shoot of the fitness theme, I also thought about spending my money as a cyclist. I've been commuting from Clayton Park to downtown on my bike since March. Yes, back then, it was really, really cold. In addition to Ideal Bikes, M.E.C. now has a bike shop, so I might be able to make a go of it, but it would probably fall more into the "blow it all at once category".

I ended up deciding to just try new things downtown that I wouldn't necessarily have tried otherwise, for no other reason than I couldn't decide to do any of the other ideas that I had. My first stop on the whirlwind tour that is Steve's spending of $100 downtown was Cafe Ristretto in Bishop's Landing. I got my standard large dark roast coffee. Wasn't the best coffee I've ever had, but it was only a drip coffee and not espresso-based. It certainly got me out of my caffeine-deprived funk. I had co-worker recommend the Trident as the best coffee in the city, so maybe I'll try that in the future.

If you've got any suggestions as to how I should spend my hard-earned free money, hit me up in the comments of this blog or on Twitter.

Cafe Ristretto large coffee + tip:  $2.75
Left to spend: $97.25

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Yesterday destroyed me

I realize I've been neglecting my blog. I just scrolled down the first page, and I got back to 2007. That ain't cool. Hrm...seems that was about the time that Twitter strolled onto the scene, and I guess I haven't really had much to say that was more than 140 characters since then :) Now that some of my friends have started blogging (again) regularly, I'm inspired to take up the challenge again.

As Sandy would say, yesterday was a large day. Warmest so far this year and blazing sunshine. Julie was over in Burnside at a nutrition course, so she had the car, but I had the day to myself. I had received a call the day before about some fenders for my new bike coming in at Bicycles Plus in Bedford. I'd been biking into work all week, so I thought I'd give biking out to Bedford a go. I got there with out incident (it's mostly downhill from Clayton Park, and the Bedford Highway has a bike lane along almost its entire length), but upon arriving there, I realized I'd forgotten something that I required while in Bedford.  I had to bike home, then back again.  Wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be, I'm pulling around a lot less weight than I was last year at this time, but still a workout was had.

After I got home for the second time, I had to prepare to go curling! This would be my the first time trying that sport.  My work's social committee had organized a group outing at the Halifax Curling Club.  We had the whole place to ourselves for about 2 hours. I now have a new respect for what all those people I watched at the Brier did. I had enough trouble staying upright on one of those sliders, let alone sending a 40 lb. rock down the ice to a specific location. Coming out of the hack also nicely stretches the groin muscles. A few people were taking photos; hopefully there are none of me :)

Following curling, a group of us went to Darrell's on Fenwick. [If you click on that link, watch out for the music.] I tried the peanut butter burger. Damn good, if I do say so myself.  It's no bacon-infused burger, but then, really, what else is?

But the thing that really set me on my ass, and put me in the state I am today, was the first 2am night I've had in probably more than 10 months, maybe more than a year -- The Thrush Hermit reunion show at the Paragon Theatre.  Great band, great show, great time, but holy crap I am tired right now.  I can't say for sure whether it was the previous activities of the day or the late night, but at noon the next day, I feel like I was run over. I wasn't even drinking! I have a kettlebell class at 7:00am tomorrow morning, and I'm just hoping I survive.

Cheers, folks.  Hopefully that's enough blogging to keep you sated for the time being.