I’ve been helping out a wonderful friend of mine, Ernest Morgan with a project called Science Everywhere. The idea is to show how science is all around us by using everyday materials to demonstrate different science principles.
The first video that will soon be up on Youtube demonstrates how air pressure is all around us . Using every day items like duct tape, garbage bags, a shop vac, we showed how you can use air pressure to suction yourself up against a flat surface.
Thanks to Goorin Bros Hat shop who graciously let us use their store front window for this experiment. Here are a few teaser shots of the day. Check out Science Everywhere’s facebook page and Youtube for the videos and full explanations.
Tips and tricks
lay the garbage bags down and the ground and tape them together first
you will need a perfect seal all around the plastic bag in order for this to work. Pay close attention to the legs and neck area.
never cover your face with the plastic bag! This is very important because if your face is covered when you suction out the air, YOU COULD DIE!
hold one hand over the vacuum hose to help control the suction. If you don’t do this, it will suck up the plastic bag
always have a buddy with you
if you are going to suction yourself to a window, make sure it will hold your weight!
it will get very hot under the plastic bags
We’ll be doing fun experiements across the city all summer. Follow us on twitter to find out when the next one happens so you can join in! @soundslikeknock @science__ninja
I feel confident that I was the world’s worst runner (ok , maybe my aunt might be worse). I could barely run a block without turning into a whiny baby who was certain that her heart was exploding and that she couldn’t possibly take another step. Year after year, I put it on my new years resolution to be able to run 5k.. and year after year.. I’d just “forget” about that one goal.
Well last year February, I got pressured into signing up for the Sporting Life 10K, and my pride refused to let back out so I started running.. for a week.. until I sprained my ankle. And then I conveniently went to Europe for a month in February.. which only gave me one month to train before the Sporting Life 10K. Now I’m still a terrible runner, but if you’re going to do a race, than the Sporting Life is the perfect one. Convinced that I wasn’t going to cross the finished line, I was justs beside myself when I saw the 1oK mark in the distance. Well I LOVED the whole experience. There’s just something about running in a crowd with people cheering you on that makes you feel like you can accomplish anything. As soon as I crossed the finish line, I knew I wanted my parents to join me the following year.
Growing up, I have never seen my parents do anything active. Well except for that one time I walked into the house and saw them both dancing to one of those step by step video lessons.. awkward. I knew that if i signed them up, that they would start being active and being healthier.
My mom is just so happy that she’s almost at the finish line!
It was the perfect way to kick off mother’s day and I couldn’t have been more proud of my parents! My mom’s already excited to keep training for her next race. My dad… lol I’m not so sure he loved it as much as my mom did..
I still am not the biggest fan of running… But I’m a total advocate of signing up for these races. Not only do you get to benefit a charity, you it also motivates you to get off your bum and start being active. Win-win.
After what felt like an eternity, we finally arrived in Amsterdam. After being lost for 3 hours, and not being able to get trains out of Amsterdam, I learned how valuable it was to just be flexible and just go with it.
Rach and I booked a room at the StayOkay hostel. This cute hostel is a little far from the action so be ready to take public transit every day. Though I enjoyed my stay there, I prefer a more social hostel.
Pretty clean. They have fresh packaged linens in sealed bags, so you know it’s clean.
We stayed in a 6 bed dorm and had our own private bathroom. Definite score.
Front desk staff was incredibly friendly and helpful.
free breakfast that was actually really good!
Good wifi signal
A little far from downtown, but there are little flea markets and farmer’s markets in the area which was nice
No lockers in the bedroom. You could rent lockers in the lobby for a fee.
Highlights and tips
Surprisingly, many of the locals don’t participate in legal recreational drugs. I got the impression that many viewed it in the same way that I view cigarettes. When Rach and I asked about it, the friendly front desk guy told us, “Just don’t do it. You will get sick and think that you are going to die.” And then he proceeded to call his coworker on his walkie talkie to get his opinion.. and his coworker also told us that we just shouldn’t do it.
This was where we went on our first European pub crawl. Rach and I were walking around looking for a quiet café to have a drink and a bite to eat when we walked by a promoter trying to get people to join their pub crawl. Completely exhausted and hungry, we looked at each other… both in comfy clothes, my hair was greasy from not showering for 3 days.. and thought.. YOLO! Still starving, we knew we had to get some food real quick or else the night would probably end in some disasterious vomiting. We looked around and saw a burger king right beside the bar, ran in and inhaled what must have been 10 bajillion calories. Neither one of us could have predicted the amount of dancing, alcohol, and random people that were in store for us that night. Our night consisted of impressions of the queen, pictures for wanted posters, sheep, being separated, rides on the bike of a random bike, and mr. clean. All stories that have to unfortunately stay in Amsterdam.
Those red paths that look like welcoming walking paths… DO NOT WALK ON THE RED PATHS! They’re meant for bikes… and those bicyclists whizz by you real fast and are not happy if you are in their way.
The Heineken tour was surprisingly fun. Though we probably shouldn’t have opted for this tour over the Anne Frank house… I guess that has to go on our list for next time..
The boat tours around the canals are a great way to get a quick tour of the whole city. You can bring on snacks and just hang out in the sun on a boat.. who doesn’t love that?
A lot of the younger locals speak English so it was fairly easy to communicate.
You will get lost. The streets and canals are confusing. In an attempt to go to this one restaurant that Rachel just had to try.. we ended up getting lost for 3 hours, only to end up starving and eating at a random mexican restaurant. I felt so bad for the random guy that decided to come with us.. he was not so easy going and definitely not pleased about being lost with absolutely no real end in sight.
If you do get lost, the locals are incredibly friendly. As soon as we got into Amsterdam and pulled out a map, we had two people stop and try to help us find our way.
Febo. Brilliant. It’s pretty much fast food from a vending machine. After 6 pubs, endless vodka and beer, nothing looked better than croquettes behind that little glass window.
If you are using the Eurail pass and want to go to Paris after Amsterdam, you should probably book your train in advance. We learned that you actually need a reserved seat for that train and it definitely wasn’t easy to get one. You have to pay an additional fee on top of your pass and when booking last minute, you have to be pretty flexible on your time lines. Most trains stop in Brussels so if you time it right, you can make a quick stop there for some chocolate and lunch.
Compared to the rest of my Europe trip, I found the locals in Amsterdam were by far the friendliest. Definitely on my list of places to visit again.
It’s been a year since my Europe adventure and I figured it was time to start putting together this scrap book that I’ve been putting off for too long. In the process, I thought I’d share some tips, memories, thoughts, and of course, photos of the trip that gave me the incurable travel bug.
I landed in Heathrow full of jittery nerves. An old collegue had graciously offered to let me crash at his place but he wasn’t available until late in the evening so I grabbed a map and figured out what metro line I needed to take to get into the centre of the action. Coming from Toronto with only 2 subway lines, looking the underground lines were a little over whelming at first. I picked up an oyster card and made my way to Piccadilly circus. It only took walking around for an hour before I realized that I had to do something with the giant backback that I was carrying. I popped into a museum and checked in my backpack, hoping that it would be ok for a few hours. I’m not sure if maybe people don’t leave their giant backpacks there often, or maybe I have a very distinct face, but the guys at the counter recognized me immediately when I came back hours later to pick it up.
My first 5 days in Europe was quite the start to my adventure. Here are some highlights, lowlights, and lessons learned from London.
London is an easy place to start if you’re nervous about travelling on your own. Everyone speaks English so you don’t have to worry about the language barrier as you try to figure out how to get from point a to point b. The metro system is very easy to use and they have some great apps that help you map out the most efficient route (Just search the “London underground tube map” in the app store). I was there for 5 days so I opted to get the oyster card for reduced fares.
Check the temperature before going. I don’t know why I assumed it would be warm there. The nights were 0 degrees and my friends flat was so cold that I had to sleep with hot water bottles as to not freeze to death.
Pubs close early and stop serving food really early. I was hungry so many nights and I typically like to grab some food while at a pub drinking.. but turns out many of them stop serving food quite early so plan on having a snack before going out.
I do not fare well with jet leg. I slept in until 11 almost every day for 4 days…and then wouldn’t be able to get to sleep until 5am. FORCE yourself to wake up early so that you’re exhausted and fall asleep that night. I wasted many mornings sleeping in.
Camden market is a great place to get little trinkets and souvenirs for people. Though if London is your first stop, remember that whatever you buy here, you will have to lug with you throughout the rest of your trip.
The overnight bus to Amsterdam is terrible. Unless you’re super fond of bus rides, avoid taking this bus! If you book your train in advance, you can get a really decent fare from London to Paris or Amsterdam. Since I left this all to the last minute the train was crazy expensive so I had to resort to the longest bus ride of my life. One of my besties, Rachel, met up with me in London on my last day there and we decided to head to Amsterdam next. Maybe we’re just incredibly unlucky when we’re together, but this ride…so it’s only 13 hours.. but on a bumpy bus that was cold and was full to the max… makes 13 hours feel like forever.We sat in the back row on either end of these two bigger men. It was freezing and the bus was really rocky. As we started to fall asleep, we were woken up to go through customs. And then woken up again to go on the ferry. This ferry… seemed so peaceful. We found this nice quiet bench and laid down and stretch our legs out… and it seemed like bliss.. for 30 seconds until the whole floor filled with more french students than I have ever seen in my life. And they were LOUD! It felt like I was inside of a vacuum. But somehow.. we managed to fall asleep on this ferry.. only to be woken up when one little french student got shoved by another and fell into me. All of a sudden, I’m in the middle of the cat fight with all these French students yelling out things that I don’t understand. And then after all that, we get off the ferry, to get back on our bus to drive for a few more hours. The whole experience was surreal and left me seriously sleep deprived.
The brits make some seriously good pot pie.
There is a lot of free wifi available everywhere so you can be fairly connected if you want to be.
A year ago, with one month off between my work contracts, I knew I needed to finally take my European adventure. Completely clueless about backpacking, hostels, and just travelling in general, I ignored my jittery nerves and decided that I was just going to jump in head first. So I booked a flight landing in London and flying out of Rome. And pretty much nothing else in the middle. I’m completely a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, do whatever feels right, and make decisions as I go along type of person in my personal life, so I opted not to book hostels, trains or make any concrete plans on what city I was going to be in, or what route I was going to take.
Thinking back on how unprepared I was for my European backpacking trip, I wanted to share some benefits to travelling alone, and tips that I have learned along the way.
Do whatever you want on your schedule. The great thing about not travelling with a specific person is that you won’t feel obligated to join anyone if they are going to a museum, restaurant, etc that you don’t feel like going to. You have the opportunity to set your own schedule without considering anyone else.
Alone but never lonely. It is incredibly easy to make travel friends. So many people are backpacking through Europe and taking similar routes so it’s really easy to make some new friends. The great thing about not having a set agenda was that I was flexible enough to spend an extra day in a city if I found people I really liked, or even changed my route so I could see another city with them. A few places that were great for meeting people were hostels (particularly the hostel bars), walking tours and pub crawls.
Hostels are awesome. Use hostelworld to find hostels in the area and make sure you read the ratings. I stuck to staying in places with a minimum of 80% and had nothing but amazing experiences. If you are planning your trip in advance, consider using airBnB to stay at a local’s house. I used airbnb for a Montreal trip and had an AMAZING experience.
My travel pillow saved my neck. The inflatable pillows from MEC was the best for long bus rides and train rides. They are lightly stuffed and are way more comfortable than the usual inflatable pillow, plus they are super easy to pack.
A smartphone to use wifi is essential for on-the-fly travelers. Since I didn’t have a set schedule for what country I wanted to go to and when, I often had to book hostels the day of. You can usually find wifi in Mcdonalds, or in hotel/hostel lobbies. If you’re planning on stopping in Venice, or Cinque Terre, there is very limited wifi so I’d recommend booking a place before getting into the city. I also downloaded some calling apps on my smart phone that let me call landlines for free over wifi. Those phone calls helped my mom keep her sanity. I listed a few apps that I used every day during my trip at the bottom of this post. That being said, it’s really freeing to just turn off your phone. So shut it off and just go explore.
It’s worth paying for a really great meal in every city. Look up reviews (I used trip advisor) and try going to one of the top 20 in the city. Or ask people at the front desk about hidden gems outside of the tourist areas.
Don’t pack anything you would be miserable if you lost. Everything is replaceable. Don’t let losing something spoil your trip. I’m a pretty easy going girl and packed 3 shirts and 2 pairs of pants. I bought insurance for my camera and brought several memory cards that I would switch out every few days. This way if my camera was stolen, I wouldn’t lose all my pictures. My friend Rach had her backpack stolen at the train station in Barcelona, and we were almost pick pocketed at the train station in Paris. Don’t leave important things in your jeans/jacket/shirt pockets or on the outside pockets of your backpack.
If something doesn’t feel right, then go with your gut and get out of there.
Locals appreciate when you make an effort to speak the native language. Learn key words like Hi, Bye, Thank-you, Please. There are a lot of great language apps that teach you the most common phrases.
Sometimes if you are really really really really sick. It’s worth wasting a day being sick, rather than pushing yourself so hard only to make yourself sicker and then having to miss out on way more.
Learn how to read a map. Unless you’re one of the lucky ones that can afford to use the data on your phone, you will probably have to rely on paper map to find your way around. I can’t even tell you the countless times I’ve “explored aimlessly” because I had no idea where I was or how to get where I’m going. TripAdvisor has this great app that loads the whole map onto your phone. You don’t have to use data to use the map and you can use the gps on your phone to figure out where you are.
Learn to be easy going and flexible. On more than one occasion, we’ve missed our train, found out that the hostel didn’t have any rooms for us, walked around for hours because we were lost, had things stolen, have your credit cards not work, etc. The key for me was to try to keep things in perspective and remember how lucky I was to even have the chance to travel. So suck it up, and find a way to solve your problem.
Here are a few apps that were incredibly useful during my trip
Tripadvisor – You can download maps and use your gps to navigate around without using data. They also have a great list of must eat restaurants in every city.
Nettalk – Let’s you call north american land lines.
Whatsapp – a lot of my new travel friends had whatsapp and it was a great way to keep in touch and send pictures during our travels
In the next few postings, I’m going to go into a little bit more depth about the cities I visited, the hostels I stayed in, and tips I learned specific to the city.
I’m so guilty of wanting to go to any restaurant that has appeared on the food network. So when I first saw the Brownstone on Restaurant Takeover, I knew I had to go! Unfortunately, I must have ordered all the wrong dishes the first time because my visit a few months ago was just ok. The space was beautiful with it’s exposed brick wall, uncovered overhead piping, and raw wood style flooring and tables, but the food wasn’t great enough for me to return. However, Yashy, from Dishcrawl toronto convinced me to go back and try their brunch. Let’s just say, I’ve returned 5 times within a 2 month period.
Brunch entrees will run you between 10 and 15 dollars. Fairly competitive for the quality and location. I had the grilled chicken and portobello topped with a poached egg. The side salad with nice and light and the chicken was lightly seasoned with just enough flavour. The whole meal was very satisfying and left me feeling ready to tackle the day.
We’ve also tried the salmone affunicato con frittele which is crispy potato topped with smoked salmon, mascarpone cheese, red onions and capers. The presentation of all their dishes was fantastic and since I’m living only a stone’s throw away, they will definitely see my smiling face on many more Sundays to come.
If you’re working in the area, you should definitely pop by in the summer during happy hour (4pm-6pm) to enjoy some half price appetizers on their great patio.
FABARNAK restaurant located in the Church and Wellesley Village is a 519 Church Street Community Centre initiative that not only serves delicious food, but is focused on doing social good. They strive to help people with employment barriers through their training and employment program. They offer people who have faced some kind of employment barrier the opportunity to receive training and job experience that will help them gain future employment or help them transition to school. Some of their participants have included trans youth undergoing a gender transition, newcomers to Canada with limited Canadian work experience and young people in recovery from addiction.
Their menu items are creative and unique and over 60% of their ingredients are sourced locally. Though the menu was small, every single item had personality and sounded delicious. We started with some Crispy Ricotta Gnocchi which was a perfect sharing dish.
Next up with some crispy KFQuail. Nice and crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside dipped in some spicy ketchup. Delicious!
We also had the Lambchetta which if you’re on a diet, the amount of fat on this dish may not be your cup of tea. It was tender and full of flavour but not a dish I could complete on my own. I’d definitely recommend ordering one for the table so everyone can try a small piece.
Overall, the experience was wonderful. Great service and amazing food means I will definitely be returning!
As the winter is finally passing and the warmth of summer is within reach, I wanted to share with my Toronto friends a wonderful volunteering opportunity that really changed my life. A few summers ago, when I was in the middle of so many life changes that left me a little bit lost, I knew it was time to make some changes in my life. I needed to stop thinking about just myself and I knew that if I started looking at how my life could help others, that I would eventually find my way again. I remembered my friend Julian had mentioned that the Disabled Sailing Association of Ontario was in need of volunteers so after work I dropped by their little office to see what I could do. This sailing club provides people living with a disability the opportunity to learn about and enjoy sailing.
I volunteered as a sailing companion and was able to learn how to sail, spend my summer surrounded by water, and hang out with some of the best company I’ve ever had. I met more inspirational and positive people that summer than I have in my whole life. They showed me that you can overcome any obstacle with the right mind set. One particularly amazing person that I met was Joseph Chessari who had both of his legs severed above the knee, a year earlier in a work place accident. You would have never known from speaking to him that the accident had been so recent. There was never any traces of anger or bitterness. Just appreciation for the life that he still had, and the determination that he was going to do everything that anyone else could do. And he really does! He now runs, swims, rock climbs, paddle boards and pretty much is just an awesome rock star! Visit his site walkingwithnewlegs.com and learn more about his story and his initiatives to support and encourage other amputees.
It was also at this club that I met a boy who’s genuine desire to help others, and unmeasurable understanding and empathy, still continues to push me to achieve more from my life. He truly is the best person I’ve ever met and I’m so lucky that he lets me be a part of his life. I promise you that while you volunteer here, you’ll meet at least one person that changes your life. You’ll be constantly surrounded by amazing stories, strong people, and open minds. I really couldn’t imagine a better way to have spent my first summer in Toronto and highly encourage you to get involved.
Roast Duck Poutine Pizza. There really are no words I could possibly say that these photos don’t already tell you. It’s glorious, and horrifying. Your stomach’s best friend, and perhaps your arteries’ worst enemy. But oh so worth it.
When it comes to moving, I am the ultimate procrastinator. The job always seems so daunting and I am always in disbelief at just how much junk I can actually fit in one little bedroom. Not to mention I have the arm strength of a 6 month baby and am completely useless when it comes to heavy lifting. The only good thing about moving day was that I got to have another meal in Peterborough.
My wonderful parents met me at 8am to get the party started. By 2pm, we had barely made a dent in the packing so we decided we needed a food break. Both of my parents are vegetarian so we went to this cute little vegetarian shop in downtown Peterborough called The Planet Bakery.
Every time I visit this shop, I can’t help but think of one of my best friends, Sam. The orange floors remind me of the bright orange walls in his old apartment and just everything from the minimalistic design, to the mismatched recycled chairs, to their openness and friendliness of the atmosphere just screams out Sam Robertson. I could easily see him working his chef magic here.
We were so hungry that we ate most of the food before I thought to take a photo to share with you guys. So the only thing I have pictured is their rosemary walnut burger. SOOO good! Moist and flavourful, it sits on a fresh Focaccia bun with basil mayo, melted cheddar, and a sweet and savoury cranberry-onion confit. YUM!
We also had their green apple & old cheddar sandwich, as well as their cranberry and brie sandwich. I personally preferred the crisp freshness of their green apple sandwich over the sweet tartness of the cranberry.
These flavourful dishes will make even the biggest meat lover opt for a vegetarian option every once in awhile.