Organization 101

It isn’t easy being a university student!

I absolutely love my “new life” – living away from home and becoming more independent without a personal chauffeur, chef, and counsellor at my side (thanks, Mom). Unfortunately, there are moments where I feel stressed and overwhelmed with homework and quizzes, school events, and cleaning that needs to be done. 😦

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From exams to cooking and cleaning on your own, plus social events and school clubs – and, of course, the need to sleep – it is difficult to be organized in terms of  time and belongings. It might sound easy in theory (it certainly did when I was in Grade 12!), but I realized after a week of living alone that many of these tasks are incredibly time-consuming.

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Plus, with hundreds of deadlines, personal things to take care of, and piles of textbooks and papers, how is it even possible to stay on top of things? It’s difficult, but there are definitely sneaky little tips that work for me.

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I’ve compiled a little list of the top ten things I like to do to keep organized. Although I am completely scatterbrained at times (okay, 98% of the time), it really helps to find tips that work for you. 🙂

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My Top 10 Tips for Staying Organized

  1. Buy and use an agenda religiously. Record everything from the event to it’s time and location.
  2. In my agenda, I like using different colours for different things. For example, blue pen is for classes, green for yoga and fitness, red for appointments and meetings, etc.
  3. Snap a picture of your class schedule and use it for your phone’s lock screen! This tip was a lifesaver for my first and second weeks of class, when I was completely lost and confused on campus.
  4. Purchase some dollar-store organizers for books, notebooks, little things (labels, tape, erasers, etc.), and a good pen/pencil holder.
  5. Use folders. I like colour-coding mine according to different subjects.
  6. Make a meal plan, and then write a shopping list. I like grocery shopping once a week for big things, and then picking up little things (mostly fresh produce) at the farmers market during the week.
  7. Write To-Do lists whenever you are waiting for the bus or just sitting around. Add to it as you think of a certain thing that needs to be done. That way, when you have nothing to do, you can quickly check out the list for a new task. I use my iPhone’s Notes app at least fifty times a day… no exaggeration.
  8. Get some exercise! It sharpens your brain, improves memory, and keeps you awake… and organized! You all know that hot yoga is my exercise of choice. I’ve been doing it three or four times a week here in Waterloo – unfortunately my card is almost out! :O
  9. Buy dollar-store boxes to store little things that you rarely use, like locks, stapler refills, tape rolls, and so on. Dollar stores also sell adhesive labels that are super useful for labelling your boxes! Man, I love the dollar store.
  10. Stick to a weekly schedule. I use my Swiffer once a week (every Saturday night, while listening to Disney music – yup, while everyone else is heading off to cool parties 😉 ), give the bathroom a scrub every couple of days, and do my laundry and meal prep every Sunday afternoon.

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I love my new computer mouse and mousepad! They are my favourite colours, and I think the mousepad has the neatest design. 😀 Little things like that make me happy!

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I hope these tips come in handy for you – tell me, what do you do to stay organized?

Flashback to Freedom

Hi everyone! Are you having a nice week so far?

Today I’m going to share some of the meals I enjoyed before school started… AKA the glorious days of freedom! These meals are from the second week of September 🙂

I feel like I always start my posts with peanut butter and banana, so here’s to keeping that tradition going! Here’s another (I think it’s my FOURTH this week!) grilled peanut butter and banana sandwich on multigrain bread, with a side of Earl Grey tea.

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For this snack-style lunch, I packed…

  • A whipped sweet potato and goat cheese hand pie/empanada (?) from the Uptown Waterloo farmers market
  • Five organic wheat and flax crackers (Sobeys’s natural foods aisle)
  • Cucumber strips
  • Sweet potato hummus with black pepper
  • Balderson (WordPress autocorrects that to Bladders! 😛 ) aged white cheddar cheese
  • Red seedless grapes
  • Valrhona milk chocolate from Paris

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This dessert was Greek yogurt with flax and cinnamon topped with Speculoos (cinnamon cookie butter) and coconut chips. My go-to dessert! It’s so delicious. If you ever have the chance to try Speculoos butter, you MUST. It is the dreamiest nut butter I’ve ever had!

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Breakfast: a cranberry kamut bagel topped with Maranatha roasted almond butter, banana slices, and cinnamon. Plus a big mug of steaming Earl Grey tea! I had this brekkie before hot yoga, one relaxing Saturday morning. These gamut bagels are so good. I’ll have to go back to Healthy Foods and More to pick up another bag and freeze half of them for quick future breakfasts.

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This is the St. Jacob’s Farmers Market, which is open every Thursday and Saturday from 7:00 AM to 3:30 PM. You will see row after row of produce, shouting vendors, and massive buckets of peaches. There are also handcrafted goodies, baked desserts, bread, and prepared food. It is quite the scene!

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One lady who made lots of gluten-free treats let me try a nibble of each of her squares and brownies! I am so lucky. These were made with all-natural ingredients (ie. real brown sugar, dates, no xanthan gum or protein powder) and are 100% gluten-free. I could hardly tell that she used oat flour. These were GOOD! I had a hard time deciding between the brownie and the date bar, so I bought both 🙂

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Things I bought from the St. Jacob’s Farmers Market:

  • Local baby brown mushrooms
  • Thai green curry paste
  • Delicata squash (local)
  • Broccoli (local)
  • European-style poppyseed cheesecake
  • Gluten-free oatmeal date bar
  • Gluten-free chocolate ganache brownie
  • Organic sweet potato aioli
  • Pesticide-free grape tomatoes

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Yay for sweets! I froze half of the date bar and half the chocolate brownie so I can defrost them when I need a sweet fix 🙂

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I had a bit of a headache (probably from doing yoga for the first time since before going to Paris) so I thought some chocolate would help me heal. Any excuse for brownie!

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YUM. Do you like chocolate?

By the way, these are incredibly similar to my super-healthy black bean brownies. If you like moist, creamy and chewy brownies that are super rich and chocolatey, definitely take a look at my black bean brownie recipe! You will love them 🙂

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After dinner, I tried this poppyseed cake!

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The fluffy cheesecake part was my favourite. This tasted very fresh and didn’t have that refrigerator taste that some pre-made goods do. Awesome treat! 🙂

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I enjoyed my cheesecake with a side of warm milk and Iowa Girl Eats 🙂 She has always been one of my favourite bloggers!

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Alright, it’s about 9:30 in the morning here, and I just had a lovely pumpkin-ricotta stuffed French toast breakfast – I’m going to post a big breakfast compilation soon – and will head off to hot yoga in a little bit! Have a great weekend everyone!

Grilled Vegetable Sandwich {15-Minute Meal for One!}

You guys know how much I love Princess Cafe, and I tried to recreate their vegetarian panini sandwich the other day! I used zucchini instead of grilled eggplant, goat cheese and cheddar rather than brie, ditched the pesto, artichoke caponata, and roasted red peppers. I also added some sliced avocado.

The great thing about paninis is that you can mix-and-match to make a sandwich based on what you’re craving and what you have in the fridge!

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You will need…

  • 2 slices bread (I like multigrain or 100% whole wheat. Here I used sprouted flax and wheat)
  • Zucchini, sliced into wide and flat strips
  • Thinly-sliced tomato
  • 1/3 avocado
  • Cheddar cheese (I like Balderson’s aged white cheddar)
  • Goat cheese, crumbled

First, I “grilled” my zucchini by letting it soften and sear on a nonstick skillet with a small smear of butter. Once it was softened, I turned up the heat to let it turn slightly golden brown.

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Don’t forget to season as you go. I sprinkled a big pinch of truffle salt and black pepper on top of these juicy tomatoes. You can also use roasted red peppers in place of the tomatoes. I was just too lazy to open my jar 😛

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Avocado is called “butter fruit” in traditional Mandarin Chinese, and for a good reason. It adds mellow creaminess to this sandwich, as well as lots of nutrition! I put on another shake of black pepper here.

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Oh! Remember that cheddar is working as your “glue” here, so you’ll want some cheddar touching both sides of the bread to stick it to your fillings. Does that make sense? Plop the second piece of bread on top.

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Smear some butter into a nonstick skillet (my ceramic one is honestly the #1 cooking device in my kitchen – I use it for everything from omelettes to paninis) and  press the sandwich over medium-low heat until the outsides are crispy. I like placing a sheet of aluminum foil on top and then something heavy (oatmeal saucepan) to make the sandwich a little flatter. The crispy edges are the best!

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So… this sandwich was so memorable that I made a similar but different version the next day! If you know me, I am anything but a meal-repeater. But I wanted something warm, toasty, and loaded with veggies and cheese.

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This version also includes grilled zucchini, but omits the sharp white cheddar and tomatoes. I used a big roasted red pepper instead of the tomatoes, and I think I prefer the roasted red peppers. 🙂 The last of my goat cheese, too.

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I made this sandwich while Madhulika (the roomie!) grated cheese for the vegetarian lasagna she was making. Lasagna. I know. What a talented cook, right? She bought a massive pot – seriously, it barely fits in the sink – to cook the veggies before adding marinara sauce and layering it with sharp cheddar and lasagna noodles. It looked so yummy that I picked up a jar of kale-basil marinara sauce from Zehr’s (grocery store) today to make something like that. We I made a big mess in the kitchen. Don’t worry, Mom… I cleaned it up. After.

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While grilling the sandwich, I heated up some soup. This was from Healthy Foods and More. It’s called the Berkeley Butternut and is made with butternut squash, yams, and a bit of cream. This is one of the best soups I’ve ever had! Love squash.

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The creamy soup went very well with my sandwich, which was crispy and fresh with avocado, zucchini, and roasted red peppers. I added extra goat cheese today, so it was really creamy and flavourful. A sprinkle of pepper with the sandwich ingredients goes a long way as well.

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I brought my soup and sandwich into my room to eat so I could watch some videos and talk to Mom and Seline. Yum, yum, yum… a million times yum!

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Especially with that incredible soup. I’m so glad Mom convinced me to buy a pack (it was $3.00 off), even though it expires soon. Woo!

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Take that, Princess Cafe!

… just kidding. I’ll never beat their incredible sandwiches.

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Here’s the comparison, if you were curious! Next time I’ll have to pick up a jar of pesto and some brie cheese from Sobey’s. I think those two ingredients really made their sammie special. 🙂

Have an awesome week everyone!

University of Waterloo Farmers Market

Hi guys! How has your day been so far?

I have some photos to show you of the uWaterloo farmers market, which comes to the Student Life Centre (SLC) once a week. First, let’s walk out of Health Services (where I went for my TB skin test – a hospital volunteer requirement) and into the campus!

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Oh, look! Snails! This photo is awful, but snails are so cool even though they taste pretty good.

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There’s a lake! On campus! I don’t know why that makes me so excited. This one is so still that it totally mirrors the Health Services building.

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This is the Student Life Centre, or the SLC. Most of the school’s big events happen here, including volunteer fairs and information sessions.

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I like sitting here, by the windows, where I usually study eat.

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There were cupcakes for sale downstairs – these were made by a baker in the Village-1 residence.

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Muffins, tarts, scones, and bagels were also part of the spread. I managed to resist all the yummy-looking baked goods, however, in favour of some fresh produce.

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I left with four apples, four potatoes, a big bundle of super fresh green onions, a yellow pepper, a yellow zucchini, and a bag of spinach. One girl there told me that this was baby spinach, but it’s actually MASSIVE regular spinach. 😦 I miss my baby spinach and will have to pick up a package from Sobey’s this week.

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That’s it for today, everyone – I have a busy three days to go until the weekend. Hope you all have a happy half-week celebration 🙂

Roommate Rules

Good morning everyone!

Today I’m going to share some tips on being a good roommate. I’m super lucky that I have a great roommate who has taught me a lot about being a nice roomie, myself, and of course, Mom gave me lots of common-sense tips to share as well.


  • Share the duties. Both of you are responsible for shared places, like the kitchen and bathroom. You (or your roommate) shouldn’t be doing all the cleaning by themselves.
  • Be friendly! A smile goes a long way.

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  • Do some “roomie” things together if you have it in common. If you both like movies, why not visit the local cinema for a special Roomie’s Night Out? Or maybe cook a fun dinner together. The options are really endless!
  • Help your roomie out once in a while. If he/she is swamped with homework, offer to do the vacuuming or wash the dishes. Your roomie will really appreciate it, and will probably do the same for you when you’re stuck in your room, cramming for exams.

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  • Use common sense. Would you like it if your roommate blasted loud music at night? Or left water all over the counter around the sink? Or if he/she borrowed your things without asking? Nope.
  • Clean up after yourself. No need to become a neat freak overnight, but do keep in mind that your roomie lives here as well. This means putting your dishes away after they’re dry, wiping the table, and sweeping crumbs away once in a while. No one wants to live with a sloppy person!

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  • Respect your roomie’s privacy and personal space. Super important if you are sharing a little apartment unit, or even a room.
  • COMPROMISE! No explanation needed here.

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  • Be flexible and accommodating. If your roomie has a massive exam coming up, it’s a good idea to be respectful and quiet. Let he/she relax if they need to. Be a considerate person 🙂
  • At the same time, be firm on important matters. You want to defend what you believe in, and your roommate should (and will!) respect your principles.

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  • Communicate! Text messages, phone calls, even handwritten notes work well.
  • Be generous and forgiving. Everyone will have that moment where they just forget to take the hair from the drain or don’t have time to wash all the dishes in the sink. It doesn’t matter! A broken plate or a missed bus shouldn’t ruin a great friendship.

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5 Things to Know Before Grade 12

Hey everyone! How is your weekend so far?

This article introduction is one I wrote for Young Scholar, an Ontario-based scholarship organization. You can read it here as well, but this version is a little less formal. The tips are pretty much the same. 🙂


For many high-schoolers, the end of summer is a demanding time. With universities and scholarships to ponder and piece together, as well as looming deadlines and test dates (not to mention extracurricular activities, work, volunteer, and sleep!) – there is no doubt that the final year of high school is the most hectic. While the new school year marks a fresh start to yet another 190 days of homework and exams, it is also a moment to explore new opportunities and prepare for the thrilling months ahead. I wrote this article to emphasize a point that many high school students forget: for universities and scholarships, being organized, enthusiastic, inquisitive, and proactive are equally important as good grades. I’m thankful for knowing before grade 12 that post-secondary institutions value “special” over “smart”. In addition to volunteering regularly at children’s camps, the hospital, and teaching preschoolers to ice-skate, engaging in unusual activities, like aerial gymnastics, paid off.

Here are the top five tips that allowed me to navigate the seas of stress and senioritis.

  • Know your talents and take them one step further. If you are super organized, why not volunteer at a doctor’s office? If you are super enthusiastic, share your passions as a children’s activity leader. If you love teaching, why not get some work experience with a former teacher? Universities have lots of similar students – everyone will be smart and a good volunteer. BE SPECIAL! Do something extraordinary that most people don’t do. Volunteer at a morgue! Make and sell tea bags! Knit for the homeless!
  • Do your research. Know what requirements there are for EACH DIFFERENT SCHOOL. Every university has their own requirements. Everything can be found online! You can even do virtual tours of dorms to see which you like best. I would recommend applying to 3-5 universities, and five being the absolute MAX. Don’t waste time applying – you can only end up going to one university; there’s no point in applying for 15!
  • Start early! Plan ahead. Print off a calendar and record important dates, deadlines, etc. You certainly don’t want to miss a scholarship/application deadline. Give yourself plenty of time to work on assignments and essays – you’ll need it!
  • Do things YOU are passionate about. If you love painting and hate physics, don’t take physics! Take an art course instead, no matter how many people want you to take physics. It’s YOUR year. Do what you enjoy – you’ll get so much more out of it! For me, I absolutely hate law, business, and computers. I avoided those at all costs throughout high school, because if I took any of those courses, I knew I’d get a bad mark – simply because I’m not interested! So cliche, but listen to your heart and do what YOU like to do.
  • That being said, LOOK FOR OPPORTUNITIES. They aren’t going to fall into your hands. You need to be proactive and look for them yourself. Whether that’s online, with teachers, with other connections (parents’ friends, maybe?) – don’t rely on other people to tell you what to do and help you organize a schedule. Like I emphasized, have a good relationship with your counsellor. He/she can help guide you in the right direction.
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While hoping for the best and preparing for the worst is key to maintaining senior sanity, don’t forget to treasure your last year of high school – perhaps your last year of school in general. Grade 12 is an unforgettable roller coaster ride of endless paperwork, hilarious photos, and ominous due dates. Cherish this milestone year by spending time and making memories with friends and family. Do your best in everything, and remember, all’s well ends well.