October Five to Try Mini-Me

Those of you following me regularly here on the blog know that I’m engaging in one of my annual traditions of a regularly scheduled creative exercise. Last year, it was a photo-a-day blog – one taken every day to represent that day. It was much more difficult than it sounds here, believe me! For much of this year, I built a short story one-paragraph-a-day from scratch with no roadmap planned beforehand until I wrapped it up in September — out of necessity. It was just time. The no roadmap concept came through in the quality of the writing, admittedly, but it was an experiment, as all of these creative activities are meant to be.

Another creative activity of mine this year has been a monthly Five to Try experiment – to try, do, go to FIVE new things, places, activities, etc. every month, in an effort to get myself out and about and out of the rut that I and so many other folks I’ve met fall into when it’s simply more comfortable to stick with the familiar.

October ended up yielding just two new things. Last month, was a short version, too, though not for lack of trying. I’ll finish off this year attempting five every month but it’s led me to an aha moment for next year. Even though I’ll be concocting some new exciting creative exercise for myself next year – and I’ll be coming to you for suggestions soon, so stay tuned! – I have decided to make this Five to Try a recurring blog feature. In other words, unlike my photo-a-day experiment, this personal dare to myself to get out of my comfort zone once in a while and try, learn or do something new will not have an expiration date – it will continue, but because I really do want to keep the process organic, it will no longer be Five to Try next year but simply Dare to Try. And I’m not putting a quantity on it next year – if it leads to two new things – great. Ten new experiences – great! You’ll hear about all of them as I do them but without any confines pushing me when it doesn’t come natural or time doesn’t allow. Still, I’m glad that I put this process into play this year because I’ve not only gained by the experience – I’ve heard such wonderful feedback from many of you who have told me that it has inspired you too to get out there and visit those places and try those activities you’ve always talked about but never ventured out to before…until now.

And that’s why I’m also issuing this dare to all of you to join me in Dare to Try starting right now. Forego the familiar restaurant you know you love for the new one you’ve only heard about. Order the dish you’ve been eyeing but avoiding because you know you like that other one instead. Visit that museum you’ve been talking about but have yet to check out for yourself. What has it been – five years now you’ve been saying so? Then, get your proverbial ass over there, and that’s an order! You’ve always said that you wanted to learn how to make pottery? Then sign up for a class! Dare to Try something new. It doesn’t have to mean skydiving, a hot air balloon ride or climbing a mountain, although all of those qualify, too. It can simply mean checking out a new candy bar that you’ve heard about but had not yet sampled. Look at every new experience with as much interest, excitement and willingness to learn as you would a new hobby or skill set. Stay enthusiastic about everything you Dare to Try.

Speaking of new candy bars, let’s give our little rundown– and I do admit, LITTLE – for October Five to Try. (Rest assured, a busy November already will more than make up for a lackluster October!)

 

Five to Try for October #1 – Hershey’s Air Delight

First of all, you need to know two things about me. Number one – I love chocolate. And number two – I mean I really love chocolate. When I was about five years old, I fell in love for the first time. It was with an absolutely phenomenal candy bar that was called Choco-lite. Does anybody else remember that candy bar? It doesn’t exist anymore, but when I went to Europe on a humanities study tour at age 19, I not only discovered Heineken beer (and a little too much of it, I might add – as well as a horrible combination of Coke and Vodka), I also discovered Toblerone candy bars which for me, have come the closest to resembling this glorious candy bar from years past.

So when I first saw the light, bubbly, charming chocolaty family sailing through swoops of airy chocolate in the Hershey ads about this new candy, I was intrigued. So this was Hershey’s Air Delight?

Could this be a return to my youthful obsession? The other obsession…besides my unnerving infatuation with Parker Stevenson aka Frank Hardy of The Hardy Boys and Andy Gibb.

 So here it is, folks. In all its light, airy beauty.

  

Yes, it was smooth, creamy and quite tasty. I enjoyed it immensely.

It didn’t hurt that I hadn’t really had a candy bar since maybe early January. (Weight Watchers point calculating tends to dissuade you from even walking down that aisle at the grocery store…)

 

But here’s the painful realization: apparently these candy bars are not selling. How do I know this? Because it was like finding the lost ark trying to locate one of them in the first place! Then, when I did, they were being sold for an insanely low discount price at a drugstore which can only lead me to two conclusions: one, they aren’t the hit I was hoping they would be and two, I’ll probably find them in a Dollar Tree soon.

Oh, Hershey’s Air Delight. You bountiful, beautiful chocolate sensation, you were fun while you lasted, but something tells me that we probably won’t cross paths again. Thank you for the many moments of chocolaty goodness and Weight Watchers points you gave me, but we must bid adieu. Boo hoo.

Five to Try for October #2 – Café Hey

After my fiasco last month trying to check out a local vegetarian tradition that ended up closing its restaurants to go catering-only (Grass Roots), I was a tad skeptical to give it another go elsewhere. I had heard great things about veggie options available at a downtown Tampa establishment and met up with a fellow writer pal of mine for lunch. Cafe Hey.

First, I was told it was Bohemian by other friends previously, and they weren’t kidding about that. I half expected to see Allen Ginsburg rise from the dead right there in the café. Now, that would have been worth a column in itself.

I gave it a go with the VLT – the vegetarian or actually VEGAN equivalent to the BLT with a few strips of Vegan Bacon instead of regular bacon and they even used Vegannaise on it which I had never tried before either, all fascinating to me since I am not vegan but vegetarian instead, but hey, if you can make me a believer, I’m always willing to go that route when it’s possible.

I LOVED the sandwich. Very tasty. Highly recommend it! On the other hand, there was the iced Chai tea latte, which I didn’t think was possible to make poorly. They managed to tank in that department. I can’t speak for all of their coffee and tea products, but I found this drink positively hideous. Oh well, they can’t all be winners. Next time, I’ll go with my original thought and simply order a bottled water. Hard to miss there.

Not sure if I will be a regular visitor at Café Hey – it was a bit cramped, very busy when we met up and for my friend’s order, they were very slow on getting the order out to her (I ordered after her yet received mine at least five to ten minutes sooner!) However, I will add Café Hey on my growing list of “specialty dish” places – local restaurants where I find a particular sandwich or salad rocks my world and it might be a great place to pop in just to pick that up and then take it to a park to devour. So Café Hey does earn points for the sandwich! But maybe just a neutral on ambiance. I think for that kind of place, I much prefer the vibe of The Bunker in Ybor City. And they have a drool-inspiring vegetarian sandwich and one of the tastiest iced Chai tea lattes that side of the Hillsborough River.

Of course, the best news of all – is that I tried a new place. I never regret that, even when something goes amiss. It was still a new place, a new experience and a chance to catch up with a good friend, and for that, you can never go wrong!

Stay tuned…later in the week, I share some of my Anniversary Staycation week adventures which have already garnered four new Five to Try activities/places! More details soon! And as for you, my friends, time to get your own fanny out there and DARE yourself to try something new today!

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