40 things to do before I turn 40

A few months ago, a friend of mine who created This Renegade Love (which, if you haven’t checked out, you totally should!) wrote an inspiring article about 35 things she wants to do before she turns 35. While I’m nearly a year past my 35th birthday, it got me thinking about the things I’d like to do before I’m 40. So I made a list of 40 things to do before I turn 40.

40 things to do before I turn 40

Making this list was a lot harder than I expected it would be. I didn’t want to be negative or stifle my creativity, but I also wanted to be somewhat realistic about what I could achieve in four years. For example, there are some travel related things I’d like to do, like visit every continent in the world. This unfeasible in the short-ish time period and limited budget, so I included two of the four continents I haven’t been to, leaving the other two to visit before I turn 50.

So without further ado, here’s my list of goals for the next four years. I feel like I have dreamed big enough to make all of these a challenge to complete.


40 Things to do before I turn 40 - Wellness

1. Feed myself (partially) through a vegetable garden. Our apartment has a small outdoor space where I experimented (unsuccessfully) with container growing last year.

2. Run regularly. Which leads to my next goal:

3. Run a half marathon.

4. Meditate daily.

5. Eat vegetarian a minimum of one day per week.

6. Regularly practice yoga.

7. Get out into nature. I think the David Suzuki Foundation 30 x 30 Challenge is a great starting point: 3o minutes a day in nature should be possible, considering we live in a more rural part of the Netherlands. Now I just need to find a job in an office near a park…

Low-Impact Living

40 things to do before I turn 40 - Low Impact Living

8. Create a personal carbon footprint/sustainability report & aim for reductions every year.

9. Buy as much local food as possible.

10. Buy only high-quality items.

11. Make mayonnaise that RB likes. I like a challenge!

12. Bake bread rather than buying it.

13. Make yogurt rather than buying.

14. (Successfully) Make lip balm. I tried it once, and it was a disaster

15. Clean my house with home-made and/or non-toxic cleaning supplies.

16. Make a tasty tomato sauce from scratch. Stop buying it from the store


40 things to do before I turn 40 - Travel17. Go on a safari in Africa.

18. Visit the countries of my roots: Scotland and Wales.

19. Walk El Camino Santiago in Spain.

20. See the northern lights.

21. Take a last minute trip to a random location.

22. Visit the beaches of Normandy.

23. Experience Thailand.

24. Experience Greece.

25. Travel from Vancouver to Toronto (or vice versa) by train.

26. Surprise someone in Canada with a visit. I suppose by putting this on the internet I’m making the surprise part a bit harder…


40 things to do before I turn 40 - Learning

27. Speak Dutch fluently. I’ve signed up for classes that begin January 11th.

28. Earn a Masters degree.

29. Speak French fluently (again). I am a graduate of the French Immersion program, and it drives me a little crazy that I have so much trouble speaking French.

30. Read 50 books.

31. Complete 15 Massive Open Online Courses. I’m currently taking a few courses with Coursera and am enjoying them.

32. Start an Education Fund for my niece.

33. Listen to podcasts regularly. I’m a little hooked on Serial, Undisclosed, the TED Radio HourStartUp and PodQuiz. They’re great to listen to while walking or commuting.


40 things to do before I turn 40 - Other

34. Host a Halloween party in the Netherlands.

35. Go to an Ajax match (or another Dutch football match).

36. Ride a Segway.

37. Volunteer at a local charity.

38. Spend as much time as possible with my family.

39. Make a difference in people’s lives.

40. Live as if I am fearless. I know that picking up my life and moving overseas seems incredibly daring, but there are times feel like fear keeps me from doing great things. While I think a certain amount of fear is good, I don’t want it to stop me from living my life.


Do you have a list of things you’d like to accomplish before a certain time?
Leave a comment to let me know what’s on it!

Papa Kazmi Pure Cookbook Review

I have been intrigued by Indian cuisine ever sine my first visit to an Indian restaurant waaaaay back in university. So I was delighted (and a bit intimidated) when I was contacted by a member of the Pure Family to ask if I would be interested in reviewing the new English version of Papa Kazmi Pure Cookbook. I needn’t have been intimidated; it felt like Papa was right there with me while I was cooking!

Papa Kazmi Pure Cookbook

A big “Thank You!” to the Pure Family for providing me with the Papa Kazmi Pure Cookbook e-book. As always, opinions expressed here are my own. If you’re interested, you can read more about my disclosure policy.

The Papa Kazmi Pure Cookbook is filled with fascinating stories about Papa and his family! As an immigrant to the Netherlands, I am always interested in how other immigrants have ended up here. Papa’s story in the Netherlands began similarly to my own – he fell in love with a young Dutch lady on the beach in Scheveningen, then moved here to be with her!

There are five chapters in the Papa Kazmi Pure Cookbook, each dedicated to a theme: classic, day off, events, family and Hills & Mills. I found the page order in the e-book a bit odd at first until I realized that it was also a printed book, and meant to be seen two pages at a time. Once I figured that out, the layout made a whole lot more sense.

Thankfully for me, one of those chapters is dedicated to the ingredients, complete with drawings of the raw herbs and spices, fruits, basic ingredients and special equipment needed for the recipes. I loved this addition, given my complete lack of knowledge of ingredients in Indian cuisine!

Papa Kazmi Pure Cookbook Review

I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was able to find nearly all of the ingredients at my local small-town grocery store. There were just three items I couldn’t find: cardamon pods, kalonji seeds, and rosewater. I ordered these online from Pit & Pit. I was also pleasantly surprised that Pit & Pit shipped everything wrapped only in paper, rather than plastic bubble wrap or styrofoam peanuts!

While going through the book, I bookmarked no less than half of the recipes as ones I wanted to try! I narrowed down the list to these four; I couldn’t pick any fewer.

Papa Kazmi Pure Cookbook Review - Chai Tea
Chai Latte

Papa Kazmi’s Chai Tea was delicious! Now that I have all the ingredients, I will be making this regularly. The recipe calls for Assam tea, but I used some black tea that I already had. I used the main recipe, but there’s a long list of alterations to the spice mix that I would like to try.

Papa Kazmi Pure Cookbook Review - Aloo Kebab
Aloo Kebab

RB and I found the Aloo Kebab a little to peppery for our liking, but we loved the texture – the outsides were crispy and the insides soft and potato-y. I will absolutely make these again with just a bit less pepper.

Papa Kazmi Pure Cookbook Review - Chicken Korma with Naan
Chicken Korma with Naan

I was most nervous about making the Chicken Korma and Naan, but it was the one that I was happiest with in the end. It couldn’t have been better!

Papa Kazmi Pure Cookbook Review - Raw Coconut Chia Kheer
Raw Coconut Chia Kheer

The Raw Coconut Chia Kheer was such an easy little vegan dessert to throw together. And if you’ve been reading the blog for a little bit, you know how much I love coconut!

I will definitely be trying more of the recipes from the Papa Kazmi Pure Cookbook, especially now that I have a spice rack filled with the right spices! If you’re curious about making Indian food at home, I would definitely recommend trying this cookbook.


A walk around the Braassemermeer

About a month ago, RB and I got ambitious and decided to walk around the Braassemermeer, a large (by Dutch standards) lake that we live super close to. The walk, which includes two ferries, is about 12km, but we walked over 13 since RB lost the €20 he had in his pocket when he took his phone out. Pesonally, I think the sheep ate it!

If would like to take this walk, get yourself to Schiphol Airport and take the 365 bus (towards Leiden) or get yourself to Leiden Centraal and take the 365 bus (towards Schiphol). Get of at the Watergang stop in Oude Wetering. From there, walk east towards the oude wetering, then south along Kerkstraat. At the end of the Kerkstraat, you’re on the route! The ferry on your left is the 2nd one that RB and I took. The ferries cost less than 2€ each per person.





Making connections at bootcamp

When I was single, I remember reading that the best way to meet someone was to do things that you love, and that love will follow. Now that I’m set on the love front, I’m applying that philosophy to making friends here in the Netherlands! I haven’t found an ultimate frisbee team to join (yet), but I have joined two local bootcamp groups in the meantime. I’m enjoying them so much, I likely won’t stop!

On Monday’s, you can find me out and about with Back to Basic, starting at the Clubgebouw De Treffers. On Wednesday’s you can find me out and about with Monique’s Move starting at the Alkeburcht.

From our starting locations we run, walk or a little of both through the parks and parking lots in town. At each stop we do a combination of cardio and strength training. Jumping rope, squats, push-ups, lunges, sit-ups – you name it, we’ve done it!

Climbing stairs at de Kiem
Bicep Curls behind Snacksalon de Schelp
Bicycles by Cafe de Haven

It’s been a great opportunity to get outside, get moving, meet people, and learn the dutch words for body parts and exercises. Unfortunately burpee is the same in English and in Dutch – no feigning misunderstanding the language to get out of doing them!

A Hike on the Bruce Trail

When I was back in Canada, I told my mom how much I’d enjoyed RB and my hike in the Jura mountains, and being the great idea person she is, she suggested we go for a hike on part of the nearby Bruce Trail by the Forks of the Credit.

2015-07 Bruce Trail

The Bruce Trail is Canada’s oldest and longest marked footpath. It includes more than 890 km of main trail and over 400 km of side trails, and runs along the Niagara Escarpment from Niagara Falls to Tobermory. The main trail is marked by white blazes, and side trails are marked by blue blazes.

2015-07 Bruce Trail
Main Bruce Trail Blazes

I once again brought my garmin watch to record the trip.

2015-07 Bruce Trail

We parked the car on the side of the road in Brimstone, where it was obvious there were other hikers and fishers parked, and started on our way up the road to the head of the trail. Along the route, we passed over one of the forks in the credit river.

2015-07 Bruce Trail
Forks of the Credit

After passing through the small community of Brimstone, we got onto the trail, then immediately turned right onto a side-trail that seemed to go straight up!

2015-07 Bruce Trail

About halfway through our walk, we came to a Stile marking the Forks of the Credit Provincial Park, though none of us were sure whether we were leaving or arriving in the park! I’m inclined to think that we were arriving.

2015-07 Bruce Trail

2015-07 Bruce Trail

We passed through some amazing and varied landscapes.

2015-07 Bruce Trail
2015-07 Bruce Trail
2015-07 Bruce Trail
Credit River

2015-07 Bruce Trail

My dad, who loves taking pictures, asked about some of the settings on my camera. So naturally I had to play around to see if I could do what he was suggesting. It took a few (read: lots) tries, but I finally made it work!

2015-07 Bruce Trail

While I may never walk the whole Bruce trail, I would certainly like to see more of it. Especially when it’s so accessible to my parents’ house!

A Hike in the Jura Mountains

A few weeks ago, RB and I drove to France for a few days. Despite the over 35 degree Celsius days (and no AC) we had a fabulous time. I haven’t spent much time in France before, and this trip wet my appetite to see more.

Our first stop was Le Frasnois, where we stayed with two friends who had rented a cottage for two weeks at the Gites des lacs et des cascades. We arrived later in the afternoon, and our first order of business was to go across the way for a swim in one of the lakes. It was refreshing – just what we needed after spending 10 hours in the car.

2015-07 Jura
Nighttime photo of the view from our window

The next day, we hiked in Les Cascades du Hérisson (The Herrison Falls). Along the way we stopped at a lookout for a quick glimpse Lac du Val.

2015-07 Jura

I thought it would be fun to bring my Garmin watch to record the walk. In total we went 6.59 km and walked for about 3 hours, with many stops for photos, lunch and swimming.


RB’s friend had been there before and suggested we bring two cars and park one at the bottom and hike down, rather than hiking both down and up. On most days I’d like the challenge of the hike up hill, but it was 32°C that day, and I didn’t want to be a hot mess in front of new friends!

2015-07 Jura
RB is ready to go!
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Fun route symbols
2015-07 Jura
Beautiful Forest

The first fall we came to was Saut Girard. Because it had been so hot and dry, the falls weren’t particularly full, but they were still beautiful. There was a statue of an animal at Saut Girard, however there was no indication at the site nor have my searches on the internet yielded any story behind the statue.

2015-07 Jura
Mysterious statue
2015-07 Jura
Saut Girard
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Meandering river

The next falls we came upon were by the ruins of the  Moulin Jeunet. This mill was originally constructed in the 15th century for the villagers of Frasnois to use. It was ruined in the war between 1635 and 1639, and was ceded to Guillaume Grappe in 1663, since the villagers didn’t have the funds to rebuild it. The mill thrived under his direction until it was again destroyed in 1875. A year later, the mill was sold to a wine merchant from Lons-le-Saunier, and then to Seraphin-Francois Jeunet in 1882. It became the Moulin Jeunet until 1902.

2015-07 Jura

Next, we came to le Saut de la Forge, where we took some time to take some photos. As an aside – who chooses to wear white shorts on a hike through the woods?! Not my smartest move, though thankfully it didn’t end up being a big problem.

2015-07 Jura
RB & I at Saut de la Forge
2015-07 Jura
P&V at Saut de la Forge

After the Saut de la Forge, it became possible to walk in the water, so RB and I took off our socks, and P put his water shoes on, and we made our way through the water where it was possible.

2015-07 Jura
Cool feet!

My NB Minimus runners were a great choice for this hike! When we got back to the cottage I put them in the late afternoon sun, and they were completely dry by the time we went to bed.

2015-07 Jura

Some of us (i.e. not me) got adventurous and jumped into the pools below the falls.

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Jump at Le Chateau Garnier

We stopped for a lunch of baguette with cheese and ham (how French!) at Le Gour Bleu.

Not long after we set off again, we came to the top of Le Grand Saut (the big jump), which afforded a beautiful view of the valley below.

2015-07 Jura
Le Grand Saut from above
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View of the Valley
2015-07 Jura
Le Grand Saut from above

It was a bit of a treacherous hike to get to the bottom of Le Grand Saut, though I never unsure that we shouldn’t be going where we were. In looking at the trail maps after the fact, I realized it’s not part of the main trail at all!

2015-07 Jura
Le Grand Saut from below

P&V had been there before, and V built a beautiful tower that was still standing! What a beautiful structure!

2015-07 Jura
Tower of stones

Another short hike brought us to the top of L’Entretrail (the fan). At this point we had to come out of the water and back onto the trail, which were quite busy on this part, likely because it is the closest falls to the visitor’s centre and main entrance.

2015-07 Jura
Route to L’Eventrail
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Leaf in the water
2015-07 Jura

At this point we came to the visitor’s centre, where we all went to the bathroom and got in our car to go get the car at the other end of the trail.

Along the way we stopped and caught some trout for dinner that night. I struggle with feeling disconnected from where my food is coming from, and this was an excellent opportunity for me to come to terms with it a little bit.

That evening we put our shoes out to dry, and got to work bbq’ing the trout, which was delicious!

The next day we headed off to what would be my first Dutch wedding, but that’s another post.

Lange Galg Oost en Ryck Marathon Relay

Yesterday marked the kick-off of the local yearly festival, Kermis. Part of the reason I chose to travel when I did was so that I could partake in the festivities, seeing as R could not accurately describe them to me.

My original plan was to watch (and support R and his team) in the marathon, however one of his friends’ aunt’s team lost their team member and back-up, so they called R and asked if I was interested. I had done a bit of running earlier in the month, so I figured it would be much nicer to participate than to just watch, and boy was I right!

The weather was terrible – windy, raining and 16 degrees C. I seriously debated what to wear, and ended up bringing a few options with me.

We arrived at the designated meeting point, where I met my team, Lady Powe(b)rrr. The theme for this year’s race was Après Ski, which to the Dutch means dressing up like Germans or the Swiss. Thankfully my team just had tank tops made. Other teams had whole outfits, including wigs!

After we all got registered, they took each group’s picture next to the ‘chalet.’ They also took pictures of the individuals who ran the marathon as individuals.

Lady Powe(b)rrrr
R’s Team, Er lauft ein loel in my way!

I was runner #1 for my team, so I went to the ‘start’ line, where the proceed to escort us through a crazy narrow set of laneways, and over a bridge (the portion of the race in the water in the below image) to a bigger starting area.

The relay route
The Racers, looking enthralled

At the start, two people spoke for at least 10 minutes. I tuned them out because it was all in Dutch (naturally) but everyone else seemed quite put-off by their lengthy speeches. We were all so cold given the weather conditions and our attire.

The speakers

I know the speakers talked for at least 10 minutes, because I thought the race was supposed to start at noon, and we didn’t get going until at least 12:10. That was the last time I looked at my phone before moving to the stopwatch app.I noticed a bunch of cameras and go pros, but only found these two photos below of R and I. As more shop up, I will post them.
My first round was awful, thank goodness it was shorter than the rest! My official time was 12:17 for about 2.5 km. I had a stitch like nobody’s business!  The 2nd round was much better, I ran the full 2.66km in 18:46 and felt good the whole way. In the 3rd round my IT band started acting up, and I knew I was going to have to pull out. It took me 20:37 to get through the route, and I could barely walk afterwards. Thankfully one of my teammates’ daughters was on-call, and she was able to run the last 2 rounds for me. My team finished with a total time of 4:19:48.I think this would have been a super fun race to participate in if the weather hadn’t been so bad (rainy and windy). Everyone was so happy to be there, and had so much enthusiasm about the theme. Seriously, you need to check out the event photos! If I’m here at this time of the year again, I will definitely be looking for a team who can handle my slow pace as well as Lady Powe(b)rrrr did!!

Finally, we were off
R is so fast he’s blurry!
Me, realizing I should have started closer to the back

Running in the lowlands

I usually ride my bike to and from work, and I’ve noticed my activity level has dropped significantly since coming here and working from ‘home.’

I encountered a lot of fauna on my trip including:

Cows – They were looking at me like I was crazy
This little goat who came out to greet me!

There was another goat and a black sheep too!
I also saw a lot of dutch things including:
Water, boats and dutch flags
A windmill and lots of cyclists (who you can’t see)

Creative ways of dealing with water. Notice how the cars are going UNDER the canal…

I think I may sign up for the TCS 8km race associated with the Amsterdam Marathon. R says that, if he doesn’t have a football match he may also sign up! It’s crazy cheap compared to big races in Toronto (about $15) but that doesn’t include the race shirt, which I am tempted to buy.

Around the Bay Recap – 2nd Leg:15k Relay

On Sunday, Ali and I relayed the Around the Bay 30k race with spatulas in Hamilton. For those who don’t remember, Ali, Jamie and I ran the 3 person, 10k relay with spatulas! We were all going to do the full 30k this year, but due to Ali’s injury and my fear of the long distance, we were thankfully allowed into the relay. Best. Decision. Ever.

I was supposed to carpool with a friend from Toronto, however she got Sick on Friday and was unable to race.

Contrary to what everyone was expecting, I was up on time on Sunday, and out the forlorn as planned, with just enough time to pick up my morning coffee. I was a little nervous that I would take the wrong exit, but I just followed the mass of cars, and was fine. I parked in the same lot as last year, and made my way to Copps to meet up with everyone. I was there by 8:40, only 10 minutes past when I was aiming for!

I found Ali, Colin, Jamie and Mike easily enough once I got into the stands, and met a few other Daily Milers before going to the bathrooms. The line was long, but moved fast.

Shamelessly stolen from Running with Spatulas

We gathered our stuff, and I headed for the relay buses while the rest of the crew went to the starting line. We rode on the buses for what felt like a reeeeealy long time, and finally arrived at our destination.

The Canal Lift Bridge

 I realized when I got here that I’d made a rookie move not bringing any food or water! I had hydrated really well the day before, but I was feeling thirsty. I looked up where the nearest water station was, and thankfully it was just a short walk from where I was waiting! I stole took a few glasses, and am still glad that I did.

Water Station at the 15K mark

It always fascinates me how quickly the elite runners go! We had a really nice place to watch from! Though I wanted to watch everyone running, I knew it was important to use the bathroom, so I went, and I’m pretty sure that’s when Mike ran by, because I didn’t see him at all. I did spot a few Running Maniacs when I got back from the port-o-potties though!

Running Maniac!

I also saw Jamie, but I didn’t get her picture because I was fiddling with my phone, and only saw her because she yelled at me as she was going by. I’m glad she did! I also saw Colin, and managed to snap a pic as he was running by.

Thumbs Up!

I decided it was smart and was going to be less stressful for Ali if I stood right at the front of the line of the 2nd leg runners. After seeing a girl run up and down the changeover area yelling “Andrea!!” I knew I didn’t want to be a partner like that! I spotted Ali and her spatulas really easily, but my camera wouldn’t turn on before she got to me, so again, no photo. Sorry Ali!

After a quick chat and a handover of the chip and spatulas, I was off.

Shamelessly stolen from Running with Spatulas

I decided before I started that I was going to run 14 and 1s. I know that’s a little weird, but it’s what I did for my longer training runs, and it divided the time nicely into quarter hour sections.

I was feeling good!

I was feeling so good, that when I looked down at my watch, I had already run for 20 minutes! So much for my plan! I walked, ate one of my gummies, and facebooked…

At this point some jerk told me to get off my phone and get running. I wanted to tell him that he should get off his a$$ and into the race if he was going to say stuff like that. But instead I smiled and started running again, because my minute walking break was up and it was time to run again!

This is about the time my knees started to twinge. It was about the same spot in the race that it happened last year, except last year I only had about half a kilometer to go, and this time I had 11.5… I stopped in at the washrooms at the 19.5k relay handover, because I really had to go again (probably because of all the water I drank at the 15k water station!) and after that, my knees went from bad to worse. I ran up all the hills, including this one (which, it turns out, you can’t really see all that well…)

Valley Inn Hill
Just before the Valley Inn Hill.

I kept putting one foot in front of the other. There wasn’t much else to do at that point. I was really mad, because my cardiovascular system, which is usually what gives me trouble, was feeling great, but my knees, which admittedly have also given me trouble in the past, were having none of it.

It will sound strange, but I was very happy to see the Grim Reaper!! I knew he was coming up, and couldn’t wait to stop and take a photo with him!

Spatula Grim!

As we ran along York Boulevard, I was amazed to see where I had run from. Look closely, it’s hard to find!

From whence I came

I had a bit of a chuckle when I saw this 60km/hr speed limit sign, since I was already moving so slowly.

At some point, a girl behind me yelled “I can see Copps!” And she was right. It was visible, although still unbelievably far away!

It’s there, I promise
I ran the last kilometer or so, except the ramp down into Copps, which I nearly tumbled down!
Just before I nearly fell
I ran into Copps, and the announcer said I was running with Spatulas. I felt like there were a million cameras, and there are quite a few photos of my finish.
Finally done!!
I finished in 2:10:29, which is disappointing to be sure. I was really hoping for something closer to 1hr 50 minutes. Still, Ali and I managed to finish in under 4 hours, which is not so bad.

I collected my race food and medals, and met up with Ali, Colin, Jamie and Mike. They dropped me at my car.

My route

I wasn’t able to walk normally for 2 days, but I don’t regret it a bit! I want to prove to myself that I can actually do it, so I’ll be back again next year – hopefully in a relay again. I don’t think running 30km is a feasible goal for me right now.

I hate the gym

Since University I’ve been a pretty active person, but more with sports like Ultimate Frisbee. My old roommate was an avid gym goer, going nearly every day. I’ve had a few gym memberships over the years, but they’ve always ended up being a waste of my money, in my opinion. I always swore that I’d never get one again. I guess there’s a reason that people say ‘never say never’.

I couldn’t pass up this groupon for $22 for 2 months at the Wynn Fitness near my house. Seeing as I slacked big time with my running training, and I’d like to have an option to run on a treadmill when the weather gets to bad to go out. They also have some Yoga and Spin classes that work with my training schedule.

If you’re in the GTA, it might be worth checking out!