An Interesting Start to my 18th Year

This post was thisclose to being titledย a bunch of other things: A Series of Unfortunate Events, A Surprise Birthday, The Best Birthday Present of All, Twists and Turns, or All’s Well That Ends Well.


The Best Birthday Present of All would’ve been a pretty good title, actually. No, it wasn’t a new laptop or a new jar of nut butter. It wasn’t from a friend or a family member, or even my roommate…

The best birthday present I received was actually given to me by Customer Service at the Charles Street Bus Terminal in Kitchener. Long story – let’s start from the beginning.

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I had a lovely Friday night and Saturday leading up to my birthday on Sunday, December 13. I have three more exams (three down, woo!) and a little over a week until I can see my parents again. In the meantime, I’ve been studying by myself and with friends.


On Friday night I made a massive tray of roasted cauliflower – that’s the entire HEAD of cauliflower – and ate over a third of the tray. Freshly-roasted cauliflower with salt and pepper is addictive, guys! Caramelizing veggies in the oven always takes them up a notch.

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I had more oatmeal. This bowl is one of my favourite combinations – chocolate banana base, with nut butter and pumpkin muffin on top! And chocolate chips. Can’t forget those ๐Ÿ™‚

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On Saturday I made a plate of super-veggie quinoa topped with goat cheese and lots more roasted cauliflower with garlic, peas, and sweet potato aioli.


We still haven’t gotten to the crazy birthday present story, by the way.

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Dessert was enjoyed – pumpkin ricotta muffin slice (I froze a whole bunch last time), microwaved with a square of chocolate on top and enjoyed with some peanut butter. Delicious.

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Butternut squash tomato pasta with asparagus, zucchini, red peppers, mushrooms, and spinach, topped with pine nuts and parmesan. This pasta wasn’t bad, but could’ve used a little more zing.

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Sunday morning – my birthday morning – started with a big bowl of pumpkin oatmeal with all of my favourite toppings: cashews, hemp hearts, nut butter, chocolate chips, yogurt, and berries. It was so good! While I enjoyed this bowl, I typed out a new post and shared it with you guys before going to the hospital. Then things started going wrong – I missed my bus and had to walk 20 minutes, wait 15 before taking the next one. Once I got to the hospital, I had about 600 sheets of paperwork to clip and file and organize. Don’t ask me how I managed to do this, but I dropped the entire stack. Twice.


Lunch was definitely on the simple side. I usually go to Princess Cafe after hospital shifts on Sunday, but I had a meeting with my study group so I thought I’d come home and have some eggs in a pita instead. These cheddar-spinach green onion eggs tasted so good in a whole wheat pita with avocado and pepper. Yum! Before I headed out to meet my friends on campus, I clipped my mailbox key onto my lanyard so I could check my mail. Grandpa emailed me earlier and told me that he’d sent a handwritten card, and I couldn’t wait to see it.

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So after studying with my study group and having leftovers for dinner, I found out that my cycling class was cancelled. Boooooo. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I thought that was the worst part of the night, until another disastrous event happened.

So we studied a little longer, and then I decided to get on the bus and go home to study by myself. By now, it was 10:00 PM and my back was aching from carrying my laptop, textbooks, binder, and dinner containers. As soon as I got off the bus (a two-stop ride that takes only 10 minutes!) and walked into the unit, I reached into my pocket to grab my keys to the apartment – and realized they weren’t there. I left my keys, identification card, and shoe tag all on the lanyard, which was now on a bus going to downtown Kitchener. I was so frustrated because I ALWAYS zip my pocket, no matter what – except this one time.


What do I do?! I paced around the “lobby” of my apartment for a minute (not even a lobby – it’s just a room with a mailbox and a heater). I didn’t have the keys to get into my apartment, and obviously couldn’t get into my unit or room either. My mailbox key was on the lanyard too, as well as my identification card which I needed to write final exams. Normally, I don’t panic in situations like this, but I think I was so overwhelmed by finals, and the anxiety my friends radiated was rubbing off on me subconsciously. Stress is contagious!

Anyways, I called GRT (Grand River Transit) and told them what happened, but the lost and found was closed. Then, I gave a quick call to my housing manager, who told me to wait 50 minutes while he drove over from Kitchener to unlock my doors. I waited, and waited, and waited – he didn’t arrive until 11:00 PM, and meanwhile I was so grateful that I didn’t lose my phone! Thankfully, his keys worked and he let me into my unit. I’d never been so happy to see my room! He charged me $50 for that, though. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ


The next morning (Monday morning, or yesterday), I called GRT several times with no luck. No one turned in my lanyard. I decided to call my housing manager again to see if I could get replacement keys, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to lock my doors – or unlock them!

Get this:

  • Replacement keys: $200
  • Replacement mailbox key (this was the only time I’ve EVER had my mailbox key on me): $60
  • Replacing my roommate’s key: ?? I didn’t want to know!
  • Replacing my University of Waterloo identification: $20
  • My shoe tag: $25
  • Grand total: over $300

My mom was NOT satisfied to hear that. While stressing over the $300 I might have to pay, as well as the missing identification card that I needed to write my final exam, I tried to study but kept getting distracted. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ At around 10:30, I gave GRT one final call – someone turned in my lanyard! It was safe and sound in the Charles Street Terminal, in downtown Kitchener. I cried happy tears a little bitย a lot when I spoke to the man on the phone and he sounded super confused, so I explained that I had finals coming up and didn’t want to pay $300 for replacement keys, etc. He wished me luck on my final exams and told me to come pick them up anytime. ๐Ÿ™‚

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I hopped on the next bus right away and had to pay the $3.00 fare that I usually don’t need to (students can just show bus drivers their ID for a free ride in Waterloo!) and settled down in the bus to read my notes for the fiftieth time during the half-hour ride downtown. Sure enough, my lanyard was there, with my keys, mailbox key, shoe tag, and ID on it. Since my room and unit door were unlocked, with all my belongings at home, I had to rush home to lock the door.


My mailbox key was used immediately to check out what was in the Unit 11 box – cards! Grandpa did send me a card, and so did Mom, Dad, and Seline. The adorable Starbucks baggie had an iced snowman shortbread cookie inside. That was a kind gift from my friend Maddy last night. It was so kind of her to think of me and to buy me a dessert ๐Ÿ™‚ Stephanie, it was the SAME shortbread snowman you shared in a previous post of yours!

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The new cards were taped onto the wall above my bed so I can be constantly reminded that my family won’t forget me! I love my room. ๐Ÿ™‚


It was starting to rain, and by now it was way past noon so I decided to celebrate by going to Princess Cafe for a belated lunch ๐Ÿ™‚

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Their sweet potato and dill soup was fantastic – a little bit on the dilly side, but delicious nonetheless. As for the sandwich, I ordered the curried tuna with seasoned tomato and cheddar, on a multigrain bun. As usual, this baby did not disappoint! I enjoyed my meal with a side of cellular respiration.

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I asked for the sandwich to be pressed extra long, so it would be crispy and the cheese fully melted. Amazing! I can’t wait to try recreating this curried tuna sandwich at home.


After the lunch, I tried to study but started getting sleepy. I didn’t get much sleep the night before with the missing lanyard on my mind. Anyways, I was getting sleepier and sleepier and wasn’t able to focus on boring cycles anymore – so I went up to the front counter to order some desserts. Sweets always wake me up! This coconut cream puff was a new addition to their menu, from a brand-new bakery. It was a massive round dessert, so I asked for it to be cut into thirds and have some packed up to go. I enjoyed a big third of this dessert along with some whipped cream and cinnamon. This coconut cream puff was one of the best desserts I’ve had – the shortbread base was buttery and fresh, the coconut cream layer rich and decadent. Coconut desserts are either delicious or disgusting in my book, but this was a solid 9/10 in the world of desserts! What a pleasant surprise ๐Ÿ™‚

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Zumba, flow yoga, and studying were done after that, and I came home late – after 8:00! – and made a super-quick dinner of curried coconut tofu with spinach, asparagus, peas, and mushrooms, topped with cashews. Couscous cooked in veggie broth made a tasty base.


I really enjoyed this dinner ๐Ÿ™‚ It took just 10 minutes to make because I’d prepared the veggies, chopped the tofu, and had the sauce defrosting in the fridge.

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Madhulika and her boyfriend came back from Mississauga with a plant for me! And a beautiful card that she drew herself. And she brought some black bananas so chocolate banana cake squares will be made soon! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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They are such lovely people.

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My weekend, and the Monday, sure wereย eventful – it’s Tuesday morning now and I’m going to wash my dishes, study a little bit, and then clean up around the house before heading off to write my Biology final exam. I can’t wait till that’s over – then there will only be two left ๐Ÿ™‚

All’s well really does end well!

Have a lovely week, everyone, and make sure you zip those pockets.