Sweet Jesus

I was very very excited about Sweet Jesus coming to Ottawa. In case you haven’t guessed, I like ice cream, a lot. And Sweet Jesus has been taking over Instagram with all of their crazy pimped out ice cream cones that look just oh so good!

They opened in the Byward Market area mid-August, but every time I walked by, the line was out the door and onto the street, so I decided to wait out the craze a little.

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We finally returned on a rainy Sunday afternoon, and figured the line wouldn’t be as long.. and it wasn’t! Hoorah! Talk about patience..

Something that Jethro and I didn’t figure out until we were already inside the shop (and a line started forming behind us), is that the flavours are not up on the wall as you might have expected. They are listed on a menu that you need to grab before getting inside. We didn’t do this, so we held up the line a little bit. We somewhat hastily chose the “Sweet Baby Jesus” in a cone, because we figured that must be a signature flavour. It had caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, and nuts. Tasted a bit like a Drumstick, if you ask me.

After trying it, I was a little underwhelmed. The ice cream was good, and the toppings were good. But it’s just not for me. I’m glad I went, but I don’t know if I will be back.

Sweet Jesus | 97 Clarence Street, Ottawa
http://www.sweetjesus4life.com/

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Ottawa as a tourist

I grew up in Ottawa, and don’t often visit the tourist spots unless I have an out-of-town friend visiting. I do however LOVE playing tour guide. I’m full of random fun facts that I love to spew whenever I have the chance to. Over the August long weekend, I got to play tour guide to both visiting friends AND Ottawa natives who had never really explored downtown before!

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Our tired smiles after a 2-hour walking tour of Downtown Ottawa

We started our tour from Centretown, and walked down Sparks Street (a street that is closed to vehicle traffic all year round), where the annual Buskers Festival was happening (no photos, sorry!). I always forget how incredibly talented buskers can be! We saw short bits of a couple acts, and stayed longer for one guy who was hilarious. He did a lot of typical busker type acts, engaging the audience, juggling, miming, fire, etc.

We walked past the Rideau Canal locks (one of my favourite places in Ottawa!), pointed out the place where the Rideau sinkhole was a couple months ago. Did you know that a truck fell into the sinkhole and because it was too dangerous to get it out, they cemented around it? That means it’s still in the ground!

We then made our way through Major Hills’ Park — great green space, by the way. Ottawa is full of green spaces throughout the city. We made it past the American Embassy on our way to the National Art Gallery to see the giant spider sculpture (Maman). You can see the marble eggs in the spider’s sac. It’s a little eerie, but also an awesome fixture in Ottawa.

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One of my favourite views, with Bourgeois’ Maman sculpture framing the National Art Gallery

Turning around, and heading back South, we weaved our way through Byward Market, pointing out local pubs as well as fruit and vegetable vendors. I also found the location of Sweet Jesus (an ice cream shop) for the first time, and I CAN’T WAIT to try it! It wasn’t yet open, but you’ll be sure to see a review once I go.

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On our way back to Centretown (where we left the car), we finally went to Parliament Hill to end our tour with the most famous tourist attraction. We didn’t have the foresight to nab any tour tickets of Parliament, but I think our feet were tired enough at this point. So we just called it a day.

On day 2, we went for a short hike around Pink Lake at Gatineau Park. If you’re looking for an easy hike, this is it. It’s the closest to Ottawa (only ~30 minutes away), and the shortest/easiest trail. Lots of families with young kids were on the trail while we were there. Since we were so tired from our 7km tour the previous day, this was a good trail for us.

Did you know that the lake is blue in the spring, and green in the summer? It’s because of the algae content. It’s never pink, but the lake is called Pink lake after the Pink family who settled in the area in the 1800s.

We also toured Old Chelsea a bit and went to the Visitor’s Centre to learn more about Gatineau Park as a whole. It is very large, and there are so many things that you can do – hike, bike, swim, boat, camp, beach, etc.

And because we all know how big of an ice cream fanatic I am, I wanted to go to La Cigale, but my company didn’t. So I guess I’ll just have to go back another day. That’s okay!

Then we decided to tour Embassy-land, and drive past the Prime Minister’s residence at 24 Sussex Drive on our way to Rideau Hall, the Governor General’s residence.

We didn’t go inside, but we wandered the grounds (another beautiful garden and green space!). We visited the ceremonial guards at the entrance of the grounds, and wondered how they were managing the heat in their elaborate uniforms. Sorry I really didn’t think to take photos since I was tour guide-ing, not tourist-ing!

And with that, our tour ended.

Anyway, I love Ottawa. And it’s a great place to visit. You can usually hit all the major spots in a day or a weekend. If you stay longer, I would recommend the museums as well. Ottawa has some pretty great museums – my favourites being the War Museum, and Nature Museum, the National Art Gallery, and the Mint.

Piccolo Grande

With a super colourful interior space, and bright selection of gelato.. the best word I can think of to describe Piccolo Grande is vibrant.

I had heard great things about Piccolo Grande, and have walked past it many times in the Market, but had never stopped in to try the gelato. So when my friends and I were on our way home from our church’s picnic, we decided that gelato was the perfect thing after a day of fun on the beach and in the sun.

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I didn’t count, but there had to be more than 30 different flavour selections of sorbet and gelato. I settled on two flavours in the smallest size (piccolino). Their sizes are deceptive, because they fill the cups and cones up AND THEN SOME.

I got Maple Sugar and another flavour I can’t remember the name of, but tastes like Ferrero Rocher (YUM). I love love loved them, and they paired well together. I have learned that you can’t just choose two flavours you like.. you need to think about how they go together. Too many times I’ve had something rich and sweet with something tart and refreshing, and they taste great separate, but not together.

I definitely loved the gelato, and the portion size at Piccolo Grande. So I will definitely be back!

I haven’t been to the Bank Street location, but I’ve heard from some friends that the Byward Market location is better. And I can attest to the fact that the Market location is absolutely great!

Piccolo Grande | 55 Murray Street, Ottawa

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Sansotei Ramen

Sansotei, a ramen shop from Toronto, opened its doors to Ottawa diners in June 2016. My dad went in the first couple of weeks it opened and couldn’t stop raving about it. After all, ramen is his favourite comfort food. I waited until the craze died down a little, and visited at the end of July.

Jethro and I arrived at 11am on a Saturday to a mostly empty restaurant. But in the next 10 minutes, it quickly filled up.

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I got the Tonkotsu ramen with thick noodles (pictured below), and Jethro got the Tonkotsu Black ramen with thin noodles.

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The broth was rich, the egg was runny (in a good way), the pork was melt-in-your-mouth good, and the noodles were oh-so-fresh. Basically, it was delicious. I don’t usually drink the broth in my noodle soups, but I almost emptied my bowl. Unhealthy, but delicious :D

Great for lunch, or for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. Ramen isn’t just a poor college student’s food. Ramen at Sansotei is full of flavour that you just want to soak your taste buds in. I can’t wait to visit again.

Sansotei Ramen | 153 Bank Street, Ottawa
http://www.sansotei.com/

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How are you doing?

If you’re like me, you probably have many answers to the question, “how are you doing?”

  1. I’m doing well! And you?
  2. It’s alright. Maybe not the best week, but that’s okay.
  3. Not bad! Can’t complain.

And these answers are fine, especially if you’re seeing someone in passing. But if these are the only answers you ever give, you are closing off your heart, and denying the fellowship of others.

In high school, my drama teacher didn’t allow one word answers. When asked how we were doing, we had to tell how we were doing, and why. It was annoying to most, and painful to many. But he taught us such a valuable lesson in communication and relationship building. You get to the heart of the matter, and engage the other person by talking about the why.

Trust and relationships are two way streets. And this is where I struggle the most often. Vulnerability means exposing yourself — your true self. But vulnerability also means inviting someone into your life. And the latter is worth the former. Yes, you might get hurt. Yes, you might embarrass yourself. But if that happens, then that person isn’t the type of person you want in your tribe anyway.

By closing off your heart, you are denying fellowship with others.

Since moving back home after 6 years away for university, I have had to make new friends and find a new normal. When meeting new people, there isn’t the same familiarity that I have with old friends, so it can be hard to open up.

I’m not pointing my finger at you, I’m pointing my finger at myself. I am guilty of keeping my guard up more than anyone. I have mastered the art of sharing more than a one word answer, but less than a full response. Because of this, I feel like I am stuck in a world of in-between. I crave more from myself, and I want to go deeper with friends.

Live authentically and invite others into your life.

There are some things that are worth guarding, but my pride isn’t one of them. I wonder what it would be like to live life as an open book, to put it all out there and live authentically and invite new friends into my life.

Let’s have a real heart-to-heart. Send me a message, let’s meet up for coffee. I’d love to share what’s on my heart, and know how to pray for you. I may be mega socially awkward (hi!), but I genuinely love connecting.

Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
– Hebrews 10:25

By inviting someone into your life, you are allowing them to encourage you, and to pray with you. You allow them to know you, the real you.

If you see me on the street and ask me how I’m doing, and I say “I’m doing well, and you?”, you have my permission to ask me how I’m really doing. I will most likely be taken aback. But give me a moment (and let my introvert mind process for a second), and I’ll get back to you on how I’m really doing, and why.

I love hearing life stories, and I want to challenge you (and myself) to live authentically and share your life’s stories.

xo,

stephkoanie