Simply Biscotti Eating, Enjoyment and Expansion #12

Best Laid PlansFears of Expansion

I haven’t visited Simply Biscotti every week as I’d planned when I left full-time work just over a year ago.  It’s a matter of only so many hours in a day and so many other things that can fill those hours.  It’s a matter of expansion too.  Visits that are frequent and always accompanied by eating would mean expansion to my waist line no doubt.  It seems I didn’t factor calorie count realities into my post-work dreams.  

No Fears of Expansion

We visited Simply Biscotti on a recent Saturday morning, we had a late breakfast and a little visit with Rosa, the owner.  Rosa is expanding.  There will be a second location in Westboro in Ottawa soon.  As Rosa put it “a bit of Little Italy will be moving into Westboro”.  Westboro is a bustling community west of downtown Ottawa.  There are many independent shops, outdoor stores and eateries in the area.  That doesn’t seem to faze Rosa.  She’s settling into the midst of Starbucks locations, Bridgehead (local independent coffee/bistro) locations and several restaurants.  Rosa has no fears of expansion by the looks of it-she’s ready to take it on!  It’s refreshing to see and I wish her all the best.

Saturday Breakfast

We enjoyed a late (which for me is any time longer than 30 minutes after you get up) breakfast on Saturday.  I dug into my Simply Biscotti dish with gusto and then thought “Ah, should have taken a picture”.  Here it is then-partially eaten.  It was a spinach-feta frittata.  And it quashed a good appetite.

And a question for you.  Have you seen/heard enough about Simply Biscotti?  Should I wind up the project and the goal of eating my way through the dessert counter at Simply Biscotti?  Or are you interested in what happens next…with waistline and location expansions?

Spinach feta frittata

A Year Away From The Day to Day

Life’s transitions and purpose

If you are fortunate, you are able to experience many transitions in life.  Infancy to childhood, childhood to the teenage years from there to young adulthood and so on.  In addition to the transition from one age to another, we have many other life transitions.  We start out totally dependent on others, move to complete independence and for some of us we may end up towards the end of our lives being totally dependent on others once again.

I have known some people who have had very clear ideas about their lives.  As  a child they knew they wanted to grow up to be a (fill in the blank), they wanted to buy a house, have 2 children, travel and so on.  Lots of things to do, lots of things to accomplish and not a lot of time to do it, it seems.  


My mother had many sayings.  They are all indelibly burned into my memory.  They should be burned in for we heard them over and over again!  One of them is “everyone has to have a purpose”.  It’s true and it’s plain speak for a life with meaning.  We may feel  we have more than one purpose but it or they are there somewhere swimming around in our conscious or unconscious selves.  That purpose may be re-focussed as we go through life.  While very young, perhaps our play was our work and purpose, then school, adult relationships, a family of our own and a career.   Then comes a time when full-time work ends-for some they choose to say goodbye and for some the end is decided for them.  There will be quite a bit of that in our city over the next few years as there will be downsizing in the federal public service.

So How’s Retirement, They Ask

I stepped aside from full-time, flat-out work just over a year ago. Here’s my take on this transition:

  • Rewirement is the word. We need to use a new word for this stage in life.  The word is rewirement.  Retirement might have started out as good term but now sounds too lethargic, too flat, too, well, too retired.  I’m not retiring, I’m rewiring.
  • Everything takes longer than you expect.  I thought I’d be a lot more organized than I am one year out.  Boy it takes a lot of time
  • You notice more things. Not flying out the door to work early in the morning and returning many hours later day after day you have a bit more time to look at things with new eyes.  How long has that bit of the house needed painting?  Have I ever cleaned that closet?  
  • Photos do not organize themselves.  If you avoided tasks before you left full-time work, you will avoid them afterward.
  • Time and freedom of choice.  Whether you take up some part-time work, immerse yourself in old or new hobbies, connect or re-connect with family and friends, the choice is yours.
  • The day in, day out routine.  Don’t miss it one bit.  The people yes, the routine of up and out the door day after day, no.  I am fortunate to be doing some part-time consulting and find the variety and flexibility to be wonderful.
  • Connections are the key.  Life is rich and purposeful when we are connected.  Connected to our loved ones, our friends, a community.  Connections can take many forms and they are what give us purpose.  If you think others care a great deal about what you do or that it makes you something special, another of my mother’s sayings ring true.  “The higher the monkey climbs, the more you can see his ass.”
  • A lifestyle to be highly recommended.  Yes work is important and yes we get tied up in careers and things, however I would recommend life beyond full-time work for anyone who is able.  It seems a bit backwards that when we are younger, perhaps raising young children and busy with so many things that we also may have full-time work in our day. It’s upside down, really.  I believe many people would like to work part-time but circumstances don’t allow it.  

Life can pass in what seems like the blink of an eye.  Make the most of it. 

Have you found your life stages unfolded as you anticipated?  Do you have words of wisdom to share?

Simply Biscotti and Betty’s Tea Room (Part II)

What do Betty’s Tea Room in York, England and Simply Biscotti, the coffee/bakery bistro in Little Italy in Ottawa, Ontario in common?

Since I visited both within the past three weeks, thought I’d do a bit of an account of each the two days-mostly done through photos.  This post is the Simply Biscotti visit last week. 

Physical activity and spending time in friendly company

A friend and I enjoyed a lovely bike ride through the Dominion Arboretum on the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa. The sun was shining, people were out enjoying a stroll and the sights of Canada’s Tulip Festival.  

The Experimental Farm is a jewel in the midst of a city.  There are five such research stations across Canada.  The farm I grew up on in Saskatchewan was about 50km from the Indian Head station.  Trees from that Experimental Farm stand on our now abandoned farmstead.  

The Dominion Aboretum is in its spring glory.  The collection comprises approximately 4,000 individual tree and shrub specimens from 56 families.

The Tulip Festival draws 500,000 visitors annually.  It is estimated that are one million tulips in bloom during the festival.   The colours and different varieties of tulips are amazing.

An afternoon treat
While Simply Biscotti doesn’t carry baking in tribute of the Queen of England’s Diamond Jubilee, they do have tulip cookies in celebration of the current festival.  A chocolate/black pepper and almond chocolate biscotti were ideal accompaniments to our afternoon tea and coffee.

Simply Biscotti and Betty’s Tea Room (Part I)

What do Betty’s Tea Room in York, England and Simply Biscotti, the independent coffee/bakery/bistro in Little Italy in Ottawa, Ontario in common?

Since I visited both within the past three weeks, thought I’d do a bit of an account of each the two days-mostly done through photos.  This post is the Betty’s Tea Room visit in York, England

 Physical activity and spending time in friendly company

A good walk from the Bed & Breakfast to and around the York City Walls that are mostly still standing and surrounding the old city of York.  York has more intact city walls than any other city in England.  The walls date back to Roman times.

Below is York Minster as seen from the wall walk.  The cathedral is being repaired as you can see.  A message inside the cathedral spoke to the daily cost of maintaining the cathedral-some huge number that (a) I can’t remember accurately and (b) made me happy I wasn’t in charge of fundraising for the parish.

As for Betty’s Tea Room, it is an institution apparently.  It has been around for almost 100 years (first opened in 1919).  Six of us met at Betty’s for tea one afternoon.  I enjoyed a Fat Rascal scone with preserves and clotted cream (of course).  I can see why they have named the Fat Rascal as they have-eat enough of them and you become one.

And finally thought you might enjoy seeing how the Queen’s Jubilee is being celebrated in baking.  We never did eat a Jubilee item.  They look as if they are more for show than eating.

Have you been to York?  What were the highlights of your visit?  The Jorvik (Viking) Centre?  The British Railway Museum?  A Fat Rascal with clotted cream?

An afternoon treat

An Excellent UK Adventure

There’s a song that begins with the phrase: I love to go a wandering

The reason things have been a bit quiet on this blog is the past 2 weeks I was hiking in England.  Four of us (women friends) teamed up and after a few months of planning off we went!  We hiked in Cumbrian counties (the Lake District)northwest England generally.  

On, not off, the wall. City of York

Two people in the group had hiked before and they gave the remaining two some great advice on what to pack and what not to pack.  If I was going to sum it up it would be: pack  light, take lots of things that can be layered, waterproof gear is essential and be prepared to wear the same things over and over again.  There were no fashion forward sightings on this trip. And as the lyrics state in the song above, we did have knapsacks on our back.

We stayed in and visited the city of York, the village and surrounds of Kirkby Stephen (pronounced Kirby Stephen), the city of Carlisle the town of Windermere and the city of Manchester.






We did our own booking and basically followed the motto:









I thought I’d do a few blogs on the trip.  

Stats and facts from our trip

  • Weather-wettest April on record (we did have many nice days too)
  • There is never enough room for luggage on the trains
  • Personal losses-one pedometer, one tip from a walking pole (in some awful muck going up a ‘fell’), one camera battery and no weight
  • Personal gains-getting to know people better, a new appreciation of waterproof gear, enjoying the hospitality and friendly manner of the Brits (speaking of hospitality, when I lost my pedometer Mary, proprietor of the Warwick Guest Lodge in Carlisle gave me hers to keep as she said she didn’t use it!), varied and beautiful scenery
  • We hiked a total of 157 km in 14 days-an average of 11.2 km/day.
  • Total steps 250,000!
And another thing that is important when traveling in a wet cool April/May in northern England is a hat that you can tie on!  One that will remain down and locked when the weather forecast calls for “gale force” winds.
Do you have any retrospective advice for hiking in England in late April/early May?  Or perhaps an experience to share?