a peek inside the fishbowl

To review: every other Tuesday is my day off and I’m determined to use this time to recharge my batteries. No work, no meetings, minimal errands. If you recall, on my previous day off I went on a lovely photo walk in the woods.

In the comments of that post, Judy suggested a trip to one of Ottawa’s smaller museums for my next Tuesday excursion. Great idea! But then I looked at the calendar and realized that it was March Break and I did not want to deal with crowds. So I decided to go swimming instead.

I used to swim competitively. It was no biggie, really. I did it for a handful of years starting in middle school. Here I am, on my high school swim team (I’ll let you find me in this photo):

Me and my high school swim team

I wasn’t the fastest swimmer on my team, but I really enjoyed it. I liked the fact that it was a team sport that depended on individual results. I liked the feeling of water moving through my fingers. I liked the shutting out the world while I listened to nothingness underwater. I liked stretching my muscles and pushing myself to improve my time. I liked executing the perfect turn. I liked the smell of chlorine.

Fast forward to today: We live near a pool and I haven’t been swimming in ages. We used to bring the girls when they were small, but they haven’t been small for a long time. Last summer, with the thought of returning to swimming, I bought a modest one piece for lap swimming and a pair of goggles. And then I abandoned them in my closet.

Today, on this Tuesday, one of the coldest and most blustery, I decided to give it another chance. It was time to stop wondering if I should get back to swimming so I checked the schedule, packed up my gear, and made my way over to the pool.

The last time I went for a lap swim is etched in my memory. I went for a swim at this same pool, only to be informed by the lifeguard that one of the other swimmers had complained that I was splashing too much. I was so shocked that my words left me. Of course, in hindsight, I have come up with all kinds of clever things to say, including: “THIS IS A POOL. GET OVER IT.”



I never returned. That is, until today.

This is where I confess that this post was practically writing itself on the way to the pool. I was going to wear myself out (in a good way) by doing a bunch of laps, and then I was going to linger in the hot tub until it was time to go. It was going to the great.

Well, I lasted 20 minutes. The pool was being shared by an aqua-fitness class, which was fine, but this only meant that there was one clear place to swim next to the lane. Other swimmers (well, they weren’t swimming, just bobbing, really) were constantly drifting into the lane, oblivious to anything around them (e.g., me). I was not able to achieve any kind of zen. When I used to swim laps I thought about everything and nothing. It was so meditative! This time, it was boring. And I was too fixated on the other people in the pool and my frustration with them.

Note to self: an adult swim is not a lap swim.

I hoisted myself out of the pool and into the hot tub. After a few minutes of boiling myself (which was pretty nice) I woozily made my way to back to the change room. And THAT is when I remembered how much I hated getting changed after swimming, even when I WAS swimming. The cold. The shower. The wet hair, sticky bathing suit, and damp socks. Ugh.

I am officially throwing in the towel on lap swimming. You know what kind of swimming I do like? Paddling around in a gorgeous lake during our annual camping trips. Cooling myself in my inlaws outdoor pool on a stinking hot day. And that’s it.

Was this afternoon’s swim a waste of time and money? No. I now know I don’t like to swim laps anymore, and that’s ok. I wish I liked it, but I don’t anymore. Why do we force ourselves to like something we don’t? Perhaps it’s important to take some time to reevaluate the things that no longer make us happy and find something that does. Maybe, for me, it’s tennis lessons. I can’t wait to find out.

I had the chance to try out the new reusable container program at Bulk Barn this past weekend.

I first heard about it about a month ago. The cashier popped a flyer about it in my bag and I was intrigued, for a few reasons:

1) We use an awful lot of plastic when we visit Bulk Barn and it would be nice to decrease this amount, even a little bit. If everyone decreased their plastic use a little bit, it would actually make a big difference!

2) By filling my own containers I have a better shot at buying exactly what I need. Take for example, spices. I always end up buying more than my small spice jars can hold and I’m left with little baggies of spices loosely rolling around my pantry. (It’s a first world problem, I know. But there it is.) Same goes for nuts, and nuts are not cheap, so I don’t like to overbuy (unless it’s on sale, of course).

3) I can put to good use a few of the jars I have squirreled away.

So I grabbed an old jam jar I had thoroughly washed and dried and went merrily on my way.

Trying out the Bulk Barn reusable container program!

My merriment came to an abrupt halt as soon as I stepped inside my local Bulk Barn. There were two cash registers open and a loooong line up at each one. Sigh. (Note to self: don’t shop here on Sunday afternoons.)

Here’s the problem: in order to use my own container I need to line up twice, once to get it weighed, and a second time to pay for my order. I got to thinking that this wait time could be eliminated if there was a scale available at the front of the store for customers to use for this purpose. Maybe it could spit out the weight of the container on a slip of paper a customer can then bring up to the register?

I waited in the shorter of the two lines and had my jar weighed. The cashier wrote the weight on a wee sticker and stuck it to the bottom of the jar.

My goal on this day was to pick up a half jar of smooth/natural peanut butter (which I had been seriously craving) but I was distracted by all of the things I could have filled up my jar with. (I’m not even talking about all the nuts and candy – just “wet” goods!) There were a couple kinds of honey, all kinds of nut butters including cashew, almond, pumpkin seed, sunflower seed, coconut oil, icing, molasses, shortening etc. And there was also a “grind your own” nut butter station. (I am totally saving this for next time.)

Grind your own peanut butter machines at Bulk Barn

This is what I eventually chose:

Bulk Barn

The big scoops are a bit awkward but I was able to avert any kind of peanut-butter-related disasters. There were also tissues nearby so I was easily able to give the rim of the jar a quick wipe before I put the lid on it. Mission accomplished!

On my way home I popped into Loblaw’s to pick up a couple of things and decided to check the price of their smooth/organic peanut butter while I was there:

PC Organic Peanut Butter

The price tags at Loblaw’s have a handy breakdown of cost per 100g, which in this case is .958/100g. As you can see, it’s cheaper than the same stuff at Bulk Barn, which was on sale at $1.22/100g. I was convinced the Bulk Barn brand would be less expensive, but I was wrong. Oh well. It was worth investigating, and it’s yummy, AND I’m happy that I was able to use my own container! And a glass one at that. I’d still call that a win, even though I spent a few extra cents:

Bulk Barn

What do you think? Do you see yourself bringing your own containers to Bulk Barn?

If you’d like a few extra details, you can read more about Bulk Barn’s Reusable Container Program right here. (Worth noting: not all containers are accepted, and they have to be cleaned before you get there.) Click on the link for Bulk Barn coupons too!

11 Mar, 2017

Weekend reading: March 11 edition

By andrea tomkins in Weekend reading


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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our two daughters Emma (17) and Sarah (15). I am the managing editor of our community newspaper, the Kitchissippi Times. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger, and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999... which makes me either a total dinosaur or a veteran, I'm not sure which! The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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