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Taking my ‘Single-Self’ off the Shelf


I just got back from a fabulous business trip to Ottawa which I extended to go hang out and visit some friends in Montreal.  I had a wonderful time but also feel very happy to be back to my Halifax routine.

Although I was only gone for a week, I feel as though I’ve just come back from three or may even four trips.

Chapter 1 of my trip was spent in Ottawa attending business meetings and also attending a great conference.  I learned so much in just 3 days and met so many great people.  I even met a few people from Halifax. Yay – new friends!  While in Ottawa, my parents came to see me from Toronto, so I was able to spend my evenings catching up and spending some quality time with them.

Chapter 2 was spent with my good friend MC.  As former roommates, I always find it neat how when we visit each other, we like to slip into our old roommate habits.  We planned to spend our Sunday afternoon the same way we did when we lived together: lounging around in our pj’s with our laptops and the TV on, playing music and chatting periodically.  When we visit each other we also have a traditional meal that we like to cook for old times sake. I will save that recipe for another post, but I can tell you this: it is one GOOD pasta dish!

Chapter 3 of my trip was spent visiting my friend Kristin who I met last year, but who I feel like I have known for so much longer.  Kristin and I  had the good fortune of working with a group of wonderful women (there were about 5 guys in our group of 30 clerks), whom I feel so blessed to have gotten to know.  Anyhow, visiting Kristin and her roommate Kia was a lot of fun.  I spent my days working in coffee shops around Montreal (Kristin made a very detailed walking tour of the city’s coffee shops for me, which I absolutely LOVED).  In the evenings, we would visit with friends or just hang out in their charming Plateau apartment.  Before going to bed, we chatted over a scoop of Kristin’s delicious coffee ice cream with a cup of tea on the side.  That is a bedtime routine I could definitely get used to!  A highlight of this chapter was visiting the new Bota Bota, which is a posh Scandinavian spa built into an old boat! If you are planning on making a trip to Montreal anytime soon, you MUST save som time for this activity!

Chapter 4 was my trip back to Ottawa where I spent the day catching up with my in-laws before taking a flight back to Halifax.

Overall, it was a perfect trip! Thanks to all of my wonderful and gracious hostesses!

Thought it was only a week, this is the longest trip I’ve taken alone since getting married.  Coming from a very traditional background, I have to be honest, I was a bit unsure as to whether it was ok for me to leave my husband and go gallivanting by myself.  Since J is toiling his way though exam season right now, he really encouraged me to go.  We agreed that this time would be good for both of us.

Funnily enough, the day after I got to Montreal, MC and I watched a season 4 Sex and the City Episode where Carrie ponders the question “to be in a couple, do you have to put your single self on a shelf?”.  In that episode, Carrie is engaged to Aidan and finds herself missing her single life.  A few episodes later, they are broken up.  Though my situation is different, I can definitely relate to Carrie’s question.  In fact, I pondered it a lot myself while travelling last week.

I think everyone’s answer to this question is probably slightly different depending on who they are, who they are with, and what exactly it is about their single life that they miss.  For me though, I think the answer is definitely no.  I’ve learned (in my ever so long 1.5 years of marriage), that having time to “my single self” can make me into a better partner.  Taking trips like the one I just took, allow me to re-connect with myself and with my friends, which I think is very healthy for me.  Before I got married, I got to do my share of travelling and one of the things I loved most was exploring a new city on my own.  I also love hanging out with my girlfriends and having sleepovers.  When you get married, of course you get to do a lot of amazing things with your partner, and one of the best things about it is that you no longer HAVE to do stuff alone! Despite this, I think it is always important to make time, when you can (obviously don’t abandon your partner and kids!), to check-up on how your ‘single self’ is doing.

What do you think?

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Maritime Colours


One of my favorite things about living in the Maritimes so far is the splash of colour that I get to see all over the place.  Here are some pictures that I took on a recent visit to Lunenberg and Mahone Bay. Coming from Ontario, I find the architecture here to be so different and interesting to look at!  I especially like this house – wouldn’t it be fun to live in a pink house?

 

Exploring Halifax


We’ve been able to get away from the boxes and the house work over the past little while and have gone out and to enjoy Halifax – we even took a road trip to Cape Breton to see the Cabot trail!

Last week-end we went to check out the Al Fresco Film Festo which is an outdoor film fest on the Halifax Seaport. It was so beautiful to be sitting outside with about a thousand other people watching “What about Bob?” (Did I mention that the theme of this year’s festival is “Bill Murray”? So random but amazing at the same time. They are screening a Bill Murray film every Friday!). We felt so Atlantic as we watched a few sailboats pull up next to the dock to watch along with us.

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The next morning we checked out the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market which we also absolutely loved. Lots of vendors selling fresh, organic veggies as well as a variety of things from home cooked ethnic foods to pies to jewellery. It was fun to be out early exploring the market and tasting the yummy pastries. Once the market started getting a bit too crowded for our liking, we headed to Point Pleasant park for some Yoga by the ocean. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know by now that I am all about the outdoor Yoga. Having loved “Yoga on the hill” this summer, I was pleased to see that I could now join up something just as beautiful here. To me, there is just something special about being outdoors and in community with others. Anyhow, I thoroughly enjoyed the class and will be going back for sure.  For such a small city, this place has a lot going on!

To make a great week-end even better, we checked out a local Pizza place called Salvatore’s that was recommended to us by a friend. We weren’t really in any particular mood for pizza, but it was the only place we could find that was open late so we decided to try it. I don’t even know where to start about this pizza. We got the “Pomodoro” – sun-dried tomatoes, black olives, feta cheese and fresh garlic. It was a perfect pizza. A ten out of ten. I’m not sure if I should be happy or concerned that we discovered this place at the beginning of our time here…


Cape Breton has been a big highlight for us too…I will have a post up about that trip soon!

The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree


So we have been here for about a week – and I have already found a place to buy candied chickpeas!

Lucky for us, there is a Middle Eastern grocer about 5 minutes away from our home and, though it’s relatively small, it carries everything I would have wanted to find. Besides the candied chickpeas, I was hoping to find some Pomegranate molasses (and I did!). The Lebanese use this a lot in their cooking and I’ve been meaning to try it out because the few times that I have tried it, it was just so good. My mother in law makes particularly good use of this stuff and I’m hoping to follow in her footsteps. Once I’ve had a chance to try a few recipes with this little secret weapon, I will report back.  Expect greatness.

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J and I found ourselves feeling particularly at home in this shop and as a result we bought a lot of items simply because they were comfort foods, and not because we had any particular craving for them (though they will not be going to waste, I can tell you that). Its amazing how just having certain items in your fridge can make your little abode feel like that much more of a home. Here is a list of what we came back with:

  • Labneh: a soft Lebanese cheese made by straining yogurt
  • Pickled turnips (or in Arabic “lift”): you might have had these in a shawarma sandwich
  • Macedonian feta cheese: this is what my dad always has in the fridge at home.  J and I are hoping that the kind we bought will be just as good
  • Za’atar: a mixture made up of thyme, sesame seeds and sumac.  It can be used as a seasoning or can also be eaten with lebneh.
  • Mango juice: reminds me so much of my visits to Egypt
  • Halawa: a sweet crumbly spread usually eaten with bread at breakfast time but it can be eaten in a variety of ways any time of the day
  • Candied chickpeas: these were not freshly made in-store as they are in the roastery in Ottawa and as a result they are quite expensive here!

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The funniest part about this list is that the majority of these items are not ones we are accustomed to buying.  They are tastes and flavours which we are usually fed when visiting family, or which our parents will just pick up for us when they go to the Middle Eastern grocery store. In fact, save for the chick peas, this is probably the first time I have ever purchased any of these items for myself.

The outing was special to us though.  Though the Middle Eastern grocery store is not a regular stop for us in Ottawa, we naturally gravitated towards it here.  I think it might be because we both have an unspoken desire and need to preserve our cultures and  to integrate them into our new home.  When we live close to family, we really don’t need to put any effort into this.  Now that we are further away, it seems to have happened organically.

Picture of the week – My Halifax identity thus far


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I don’t think I’ve mentioned yet on this blog that the reason J and I moved out here is because J will be starting law school here in September. We heard that Dal is a great school and that Halifax is a great city and so we figured this was our chance to see what living on the East Coast would be like. So here we are.

A few days ago, we attended J’s first law school function – a welcome BBQ. As is often done at such events, name tags were handed out in order to facilitate mingling. People were asked to indicate what year of law school they were about to enter by putting down “1L”, “2L” or “3L”. I fit into none of these categories and instead indicated that my place at this party was as the “wife of Jad”.

Though this comes as nothing new, I smiled to myself as I put on my label. There is a little part of me that always gets a thrill out of being in a new place where no one knows anything about me except what I tell them. In this day and age where the Internet makes it so easy to find out so much about someone just by conducting a basic search, I find peace in those moments where you are still in control of what people know about you.

In this particular case, I liked simply being “wife of Jad”. At a time in my life where I could potentially define myself in so many different ways, I found this particular definition to be simple and comforting.

We made it!


Since my last post we left Ottawa, drove through 4 provinces, and made it to Halifax – our new home.

Our trip over was long but a lot of fun.   For a long time I’ve felt like it was almost wrong to have seen so little of my own country.  Making the drive fulfilled that desire to see what the rest of Canada looked like.  Though you can’t really get much of a taste for how the rest of the country lives by quickly driving through the cities and towns, I still feel as though I’ve gotten a little sampling of what’s out there.  Sort of like flipping through a magazine before going back to read the content. I hope to get to see more soon.

Another major highlight of the trip was that I got to drive a UHAUL truck for the very first time.  I absolutely loved it. I felt like I was queen of the road!

For J and I, this move is a big one.  It is our first time moving away to a new and strange new place by ourselves and it is also our first time being home owners.  To add to this, we sort of kind of bought our place without having actually seen it in person (we did our due diligence, but still).  You can imagine the build up to finally getting to see it in person when we arrived.  Thankfully, we absolutely love our new place and are so excited for the life we are going to build here.  I’ll post pictures once everything is up and ready.

Our first few nights in Halifax were met with much rain.  In fact, within only a few hours of being here we took out the rain jackets that we were advised to buy before coming out here.   Here we are in our new snazzy matching jackets.

We experienced what was apparently one of the biggest rain/thunderstorms that Halifax has ever gotten.  We’re finding that the weather here is very different from what we know coming from Toronto/Ottawa.  The weather here generally just seems to be more temperate – which is fine for us.  We are told to expect a little less heat in the summers and a little less cold in the winters.  Sounds good to me.  They are forecasting lots of sunshine for tomorrow – so we plan on taking advantage of that and enjoying our very first Saturday in Halifax!  Happy week-end all – wherever you may be!

 

Taker no more


I am writing this post on one of our many road trips between Toronto and Ottawa.  Road trips have always been a good time for me to think and reflect on whatever is on my mind on that particular day.

I am realising  that a major theme in my life this year has been that of transitioning from being a “taker” in society, to a “contributor”.  For all my life, I have been a taker.  Though I have given of myself and of whatever resources I had in many ways, the net of my existence, if you will, was definitely taking.  I lived with my parents and went to school.  At home, I was in a position of “taking” from my parents, and outside of home I was taking from society by being educated (despite giving back large sums of tuition in return, but this was arguably still “taking” since I was mostly paying by way of loans or money graciously given by my parents).

Getting called to the bar - the day the transition from a taker to a contributor began

Last year was my first year of full-time work.  I opted to live with my parents, putting my student loans and my upcoming wedding as my financial priorities.  As a result of this, I would say that this past year has been my first real year on the “contributor” side of things.  I am now living like a “real” adult – living on my own and working full-time. It’s about time since I’m 28 years old.  In any case, this transition has made a difference in the way I now view the world.  Contrary to the way I thought when I was a student – being told that we were “the leaders tomorrow”, I now believe that this world belongs to my generation, and that today’s students are “the leaders of tomorrow”.  With the recent federal elections in Canada, I felt a lot more involved and affected by the issues than I had in the past.  And nearing the end of a one year contract in my professional life, the idea of getting out there and making my own contribution to society is becoming more and more appealing and exciting to me. At a crossroads in my career, it feels as though it is finally time to make my dreams come true.

This realisation of having become a contributor is also a little scary.  My husband and I have discussed lately the fact that we are inheriting a world that comes with the mistakes (and good contributions) of the previous generation.  In a few years, my generation will be taking over major positions of leadership and the generation above us will be retiring.  Our generation will be making decisions in tough areas like the Arab-Israeli conflict.  I feel as though our generation has been so privileged and had so much more access to education and travel than previous generations.  Because of this,  we arguably have a greater responsibility.  It is all so amazing and scary at the same time.  Definitely a unique place in life.    Generation Y, let’s not disappoint!

How do you decide what city (town) to live in?


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how one goes about choosing where to live.  Perhaps this is because I have been moving around a lot in the last few years, and I am preparing for another move in a few months.  Now that I’ve lived in a few different cities (Toronto, Ottawa, Barcelona, Nice, Cape Town) and have experienced different lifestyles, I’ve realised that some lifestyles and cities work better for me than others.  Although I always thought I would end up in the city where I grew up (Toronto), now I’m not so sure about that anymore.  How does one go about making the decision about where to live? I mean, other than the obvious factors such as family/friends and jobs, what other factors can help guide this decision? Should we just decide to live where life takes us? Or should this decision be a more intentional one?  Even if one decides to live “where life takes you”, one is still often faced with the choice of what neighbourhood/suburb or type of home to dwell in.  So, keeping this in mind, what factors can we use to make such a choice? Again, you can choose to go with obvious factors such as what you like and what fits within your budget, but what I’m trying to get at, is that I think the decision involves a little more than that..


In fact, more and more, I’m starting to believe that one’s core values should really play a (big) part in this decision.  The more I think and read about this question, the more I am drawn to the conclusion that where you live should reflect your values and priorities (as much as possible anyway).  I also note that my internet search revealed that Ottawa is the best city to live in (in Canada), and Halifax is the second best (at least as of 2008: http://howtoliveincanada.com/best-places-to-live-in-canada/)! I guess that means we must be doing something right.  But I digress.

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