Starstruck: 2017 Schulich Leader Scholarship Get-Together

Saturday was SLxON, a special networking event for Schulich Leader Scholarship recipients across Ontario. It took place, like last year, at the MaRS Discovery Centre in downtown Toronto. This year, it was extra-special because the event was Canada-wide.

A post from the 2016 SLxON can be found here!

Here are some photos from the event.

We had a great time, especially during the Instagram challenge.

How does SLxON make you feel? Wish I had thought of the word starstruck. These people amaze me.

SLXCA… with our bodies! The floor was pretty comfortable.

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There were some fantastic speakers and a wonderful presentation by Dr. Julielynn Wong, who was incredibly passionate and inspiring.

Selfie!

❤ ❤ ❤

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More ❤ ❤ ❤ at the post-event, at Prenup Pub where we had snacks and drinks.

Then it was off to Scarborough for a restful night at home!

Adventures with Seline: UBC

Flashback to mid-summer 2017 ☀☀☀

Today, I don’t feel like writing will let the pictures do the talking.

Mom Meal

PNE at Playland

False Creek Caravan Show

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Backyard and walking my dog with Mom

Beaty Biodiversity Museum at UBC

Seline and the legendary whale fossil

One More Sushi (UBC Campus) and Rain or Shine ice cream (also on the UBC campus)

Nitobe Gardens

Museum of Anthropology

UBC Campus Bookstore/Gift Shop and gardens

Miss you, Seline! I can’t wait for another one of our fun outings.

 

Chocolate Day + Scarborough Tour!

My flight back to BC is already booked for December 16th! I can’t wait.

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That being said, I absolutely l-o-v-e it here.

This is my new bedroom. It’s more spacious than I’d expected, and I love all the shelves. These photos were taken on my first night, but now everything is cleaned up and sorted out.

My kitchen looking simple. Not bad for a basement suite!

House!

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On my first night in Scarborough, I had dinner at Fratelli Pizzeria, where I enjoyed the most delicious ravioli I’ve ever had in my life. Portobello mushroom ravioli with rapini and gorgonzola cream sauce, to be exact. Dessert was a homemade tiramisu, which was much larger than it appears in this martini cup.

After this mouthwatering meal, I’ve had to resist the urge to walk to Fratelli (it’s a 15-minute walk from my house) every night. I can’t wait to try their oven-fired pizzas.

Dad and Mom on the left, and my landlord and myself on the right. I locked myself out of my room by closing the door too hard, and she had to come rescue me.

This is my office at Centennial College, where I’m working as an Anatomy and Physiology Tutor.

On Saturday, I spent the afternoon in downtown Toronto (about 40-minute drive or 1 hour + 10-minute bus/subway). I had a snack of spinach and feta borek, which is like a phyllo pastry, and my #1 favourite London Fog – both at Moonbean Café in Kensington Market.

This is my favourite London Fog. Ever.

On Sunday night, I heated up some store-bought cabbage roll and boiled some broccoli, which I then sauteed with salt and pepper. The cabbage roll was really tasty! The meal was followed up with a great dessert that I also purchased from Pusateri’s.

Frittata ❤ With fresh zucchini. Surprisingly, I made this in the rice cooker!

This is my “usual breakfast” – pumpkin puree stirred into oatmeal, with nut butter, chopped prunes, hemp hearts, pumpkin seeds, and cinnamon. It tastes like fall to me.

Today was National Chocolate Day! This morning, I stirred in 1-2 tablespoons of cocoa powder and added extra honey. This bowl was extra decadent and incredible, especially with that salty sunflower butter.

My new backyard looks like a campground.

On my walk to work. Isn’t this beautiful?

My office again. 🙂

Notes and things:

Plus there’s a Farmer’s Market! I bought curried butternut squash soup, Thai green curry paste, three scones, a zucchini, and a quiche. Can’t wait to feast tonight ❤

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Lately ✿

The last smidge of summer was filled with bittersweet (mostly sweet – literally) moments.

Exhibit A: this dessert plate that featured chocolate banana “ice cream” à la Tom Daley, peanut butter tofu pie, and chocolate almond banana bread (on my Recipe page) with coconut yogurt and nut butter. Mmmmm.

Tofu haters – I promise you won’t taste the tofu. This is a super satisfying dessert that’ll be sure to cure any sweet-salty cravings. One of my all-time favourite recipes, and it’s a hit with guests, too!

Vegan Peanut Butter Cup Pie

Makes 8 slices

NOTE: requires chilling coconut milk overnight, requires 30 minutes out of freezer before serving

INGREDIENTS

Crust

  • 1.5 to 1.75 cups of crushed graham crackers (about 10-12 crackers)
  • 4.5 tbsp melted coconut oil, or more if needed

Pie

  • 12 oz silken tofu
  • 1/2 cup creamy salted natural peanut butter (125 g)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
  • 1 14 oz can of full-fat coconut milk, chilled overnight so the liquid and cream separate (do not shake)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • salt, if needed

Topping

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (175 g)
  • 1/3 cup milk (almond, dairy, or coconut are fine)
  • roasted salted peanuts, chopped, if desired for decoration

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Lightly oil glass pie pan.
  3. Process graham crackers until you achieve a fine meal. A little texture is okay. Add melted coconut oil and pulse to combine.
  4. Press the crust into the pan and push down to flatten.
  5. Bake 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Set aside.
  6. Add tofu, peanut butter, maple/honey to a blender. Blend until smooth. Scrape down sides as needed. Add more maple/honey for added sweetness, or more salt if the peanut butter is not salted enough.
  7. Scoop out the cream from the coconut milk can. Whip into whipped cream in a large, chilled mixing bowl. Add vanilla.
  8. Fold peanut butter-tofu mixture into whipped coconut cream.
  9. Pour filling over cooled crust. Freeze to chill. After one hour, prepare ganache.
  10. Add chocolate chips to a bowl. Heat milk to a simmer. Pour over chocolate chips. Do not touch for 5 minutes, to allow it to melt.
  11. Stir gently with spoon until a smooth ganache forms. If it doesn’t melt, heat it in microwave for 10 seconds until smooth.
  12. Spoon over top of pie. Spread evenly with knife. Work quickly. I drizzled mine on, then swirled with a knife.
  13. Top with peanuts, if desired. Cover with plastic wrap. Freeze to set.
  14. 20-30 minutes before serving, remove from freezer and serve.

The last bit of summer was filled with Mom’s incredible cooking. This is my favourite type of fried rice, which is made with dried and rehydrated scallops, green onions, egg white, and more. Shiitake mushroom chicken broth, too. Isn’t that a colourful salad on the side?

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This was my last meal in Coquitlam, BC, so Mom made all my favourites! Tomato scrambled eggs with shrimp, red bean pancakes with sesame seeds, broccoli-carrot stir-fry with mushrooms and cloud ears, and leftover scallop fried rice.

Something similar, but this was on a totally different day: peri peri chicken, the same tomato scrambled eggs, stir-fried veggies (this time with chestnut) and plain rice.

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I love Mom’s cooking so much. More of those red bean sesame pancakes, along with cauliflower and not-too-spicy mapo tofu for my pathetic spice-wimp taste buds.

This meal, actually, was followed by an MRI to screen my pituitary gland. Lying completely motionless inside the little pod (for ~50 minutes) was eerie and unsettling, yet strangely meditative. Except for the needle, it was a neat experience.

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Another day, Mom and I made spaghetti bolognese with fresh ground beef, mixed it with al dente shells, and layered/topped it with an entire log of mozzarella cheese.

Served with garlicky green beans, this dish was a massive hit in the Wei home! I credit that incredible fresh mozzarella.

This summer, I challenged myself to bake a whole bunch of things. Most of the “whole bunch of things” never got baked because of busyness laziness, but these flaky feta-chive scones did! I think you’ll like them as much as my family did.

Flaky, Buttery Feta Chive Biscuits

Makes approx. 12 small scones

Recipe inspired by Joy the Baker

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (360 g)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly-cracked black pepper
  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes (170 g)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp very cold water
  • 3/4 cup cold sour cream, or cold plain yogurt
  • 1/3 cup chopped chives
  • 3/4 cup large crumbles of feta cheese
  • 1 beaten egg for egg wash, with a splash of milk if needed
  • coarse sea salt, cracked black pepper, and paprika for topping

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Place rack in centre/upper third of oven.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
  4. Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and black pepper. Use two knives/forks, or a pastry cutter to cut in the cold butter, until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Dough should have buttery pea-sized chunks throughout.
  5. In another bowl, lightly beat egg, sour cream, and water, with a fork.
  6. Add wet mixture into flour mixture all at once. Stir enough to make soft, shaggy dough. Use fork to scrape from bottom to top of dough.
  7. Add chives and feta.
  8. Dump mixture on a clean counter to knead dough together. Mixture should come together in 10-15 kneads.
  9. Roll or pat out into a 1-inch thickness. Cut into 2-inch rounds, using biscuit cutter. You can also roll the dough into a rectangular shape, and cut the biscuits into triangular shapes. Reshape and roll dough to create more biscuits with excess scraps. Place on prepared baking sheet. Brush with egg wash, and sprinkle with coarse sea salt, black pepper, and smoky paprika.
  10. Bake for 15 minutes. Serve warm. Biscuits are best eaten on the day they are made, but will last up to two days.

We froze some of them!

These prune blondies were also whipped up. My mom enjoyed them, and I really liked the chewy texture that reminded me of glutinous rice.

Prune Blondies

Makes 12 blondies

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup pitted prunes, softened in 2 tbsp boiling water
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar (150 g)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp mixed nuts, toasted/chopped

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line 8×8 pan with parchment paper.
  2. In blender, combine prunes and water. Process until smooth. Add brown sugar, oil, egg, honey, and vanilla. Set aside.
  3. Sift flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry. Fold with a spatula until just combined, then pour batter into prepared pan. Top with nuts.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes, then cool in the pan on a wire rack before cutting/serving.

I also made a large list of books that I can’t wait to get my hands on (some of them, for the second time). Have you read any of them?

Books to Read

  • Boo
  • The Female of the Species
  • Unnatural Deeds
  • With Malice
  • And the Trees Crept In
  • A Mother’s Reckoning
  • What Happened to Ivy
  • Red Rain
  • Burning
  • The Cellar
  • Confessions About Colton
  • Run
  • The Letter
  • Her Fearful Symmetry
  • The Hour I First Believed
  • The Little Friend
  • My Name is Memory
  • Mystic River
  • She’s Come Undone *
  • We Were the Mulvaneys
  • White Oleander *
  • The Shipping News
  • Change of Heart
  • Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
  • The Book of Ruth
  • Mystic River
  • Black and Blue
  • Everything I Never Told You
  • Visitation Street
  • The Vanishing Season
  • Elsewhere
  • The Afterlife (cool)
  • Shine
  • Before I Die
  • Where I Want to Be (cool)
  • Falling Into Place (cool)
  • The Age of Miracles
  • The Virgin Suicides
  • The Giver
  • A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
  • Eat When You Feel Sad
  • To the Lighthouse
  • 300 Million
  • 1 Dead in Attic
  • An Invisible Sign of my Own

Seline, my sister, also wrote a special poem inspired by the stunning rocky hills on Salt Spring Island. She actually has her own poetry blog, which, by the way, looks a lot prettier than my unplanned collages of unfiltered (i.e. ugly) iPhone photos.

Rocks

The rocky path

Illuminated by a simple

Ray of sun

No one beside

In front

or

Behind

As I glide down the hill,

wood chips sticking in my shoes.

I trot

down

the trail.

I jump

Left

to

Right,

Hopping from one rock,

to another.

Finally reaching my destination

on top of

the rock

for all to see.

And that’s it, everyone! Have a glorious rest of the week.

A Different Kind of Summer

In summer 2014, I spent an exciting two months working full-time in the French-speaking village of St-Eustache, Quebec. In summer 2015, my sister and I lived in Magny-le-Hongre, near the awe-inspiring city of Paris, France. Summer 2016 was spent in Kathmandu, where I volunteered in the surgical ward of Nepal’s only paediatric hospital. Needless to say, my previous three summers were not only invigorating, but also filled with learning and creating fun memories.

As for summer 2017? School.

Because the Kinesiology co-op program at the University of Waterloo follows a school-work-school-work pattern that alternates every four months, I had to spend the months of May, June, July, and a large chunk of August, in Waterloo, where I lived in lecture halls and my ant-infested apartment. Every day was a blurred cycle of study time, lectures, study time, labs, and more study time. The most important thing I learned this semester? It’s probably not the best idea to take six courses and two labs in a shortened semester. Especially if Biomechanics is involved.

In August, I had two year’s worth of furniture and useless junk that I’d accumulated – to either throw away or take home. Fortunately, people came and bought all my furniture, printers, mattress and air mattress, and others. For five nights, during final exams week, I slept on the floor in a furniture-less room, used scarves for a blanket, and studied at Menchies (which, by the way, has great wifi). Moving in the midst of final exams was a nightmare; to make it worse, I live on the fourth floor and we aren’t blessed with an elevator. I didn’t think things could get any worse until my mom discovered that my September house, for my work term in Scarborough, was a scam. Not only did we lose our deposit, but I also had to urgently search for a place to live. Before my flight home, my suitcase ended up being fifty pounds overweight, so I had to purchase a new suitcase and re-pack on the spot.

You can probably tell that this summer didn’t quite live up to the others.

The day after my last final exam and a disastrous apartment inspection, I said a bittersweet (mostly sweet) goodbye to my bare apartment and hopped onto the plane to go back to British Columbia. I hadn’t been home since summer 2016, since I did my first term of second year from September to December in Waterloo, stayed in Waterloo during Christmastime, then worked in Toronto from January through April, and started my second term of second year in May. Over a year without my dog, over a year without the cozy bedroom that I shared with my sister, over a year without Chinese buns from my grandparents, and over a year of spotty FaceTime calls that meant to serve as a virtual replacement for my flesh-and-blood family.

I must’ve been really happy to be home because I cried a lot of involuntary tears that night. Had I subconsciously been missing my family that much? Or was I truly just grateful for good Vancouver sushi? Or, maybe I was simply thrilled to be sleeping on a surface that wasn’t hardwood floor. We’ll never know.

28 days. That’s how much time I spent in Coquitlam with my family. I normally dislike using clichés, but the four weeks seemed to fly. My sister, Seline, turned my summer from a hectic, stressful time into a hilarious, though restful, month that included Elf Bowling, Barbie princess movies, audiobooks and naps, and pimple stickers.

Seline taught me how to dab, and though I’m about a year late, I’m glad she finally helped me onto the bandwagon. She taught me how Masterchef and The Bachelorette work. She showed me how to play with kinetic sand, and how to whip on any bass drop. She showed me how to hashtag, how to speak robotically, apply face masks with an oil painting brush, and how to caw like a crow. She taught me how to beat all the Survival levels on Plants vs. Zombies using downloadable cheats. Seline taught me how to use words like “conspicuous”, “rebound”, “low-key”, “pompadour”, and “injudicious”. She also taught me that I should never sleep facing her, otherwise I may wake up with tiny blobs of lotion applied systematically on every square inch of my face.

We got our nails painted, window shopped, watched plenty of dystopian/apocalyptic movies, ate incredible sushi, and made the stickiest homemade slime. We sang. Les Miserables and too much Whitney Houston, to be exact. If I sang back in Ontario, I’d be evicted from my student apartment because I can’t carry a tune. At all.

We watched America’s Got Talent, vlogs, and diving championships. Seline, who studies Japanese in school and lived in Japan over the spring, introduced me to her new favourite anime. We practiced talking in British accents (she’s mastered it). We had coffee and tea with several of our wonderful high school teachers, and even spent a day at the University of British Columbia, where Seline and I browsed the fascinating Beaty Biodiversity Museum, the Museum of Anthropology, and the picturesque Nitobe gardens.

We explored restaurants in Vancouver, one of which was a trendy vegan dinner joint, where Seline and I munched on falafels with the wise and organized, yet humble, Vivian Tsang (UBC Schulich Leader). We felt so honoured to have had the opportunity to chat with Vivian before she started medical school.

Seline and I read books. Despite being picky, I’ve always been an avid reader with a love for straightforward YA novels packed with character development and plot twists. Seline introduced me to Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, an unpredictable and intricate cross between The Hunger Games, X-Men, Game of Thrones, and 1984. I also rekindled my love for the hauntingly beautiful When They Fade by Jeyn Roberts, a creative paranormal novel about the afterlife that had me intrigued for months. It’s been a while since I’ve fallen heads-over-heels in love with fictional characters, but I was so completely infatuated that I contacted the author, who was living in Vancouver at the time. One of the highlights of my summer was having coffee with Jeyn Roberts herself, the thoughtful and talented author who was kind enough to answer our questions about her richly-imagined characters and the writing process.

My family spent three days on Salt Spring Island, where Seline and I wrote terrible poetry, ate goat milk gelato, collected sand dollars, and attempted to paddleboard. We savoured many long and bumpy car rides while blasting Despacito (apparently, my dad’s all-time favourite song) and trying to sing Russian opera.

Thank you, Seline, for turning my summer around in four short weeks. You were absolutely a glittery glimmer of joy in what I’d expected would be a serious, solely-school, empty shell of a summer. I wish you a spectacular first semester of Grade 12, and I can’t wait to learn more from you – in precisely 101 days.

Salt Spring Island Getaway

Sunday, August 27th to Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Plenty of delicious food was consumed, from the crispiest cheesy yam quesadillas to goat milk gelato to decadent breakfast Bennies and incredible chocolate tortes. And, of course, tea every morning.

Beautiful beaches included Southey Point Beach, St. Mary’s Lake, and others. The entire island is a 40-minute drive from one end to the other.

Paddleboarding at St. Mary’s Lake, which was a 5-minute walk from our chalet. This was my first time on a paddleboard, and I thought it was harder to balance than I’d expected! Nonetheless, my sister and I had so much fun wading, waiting, and sitting in the sun.

This was Mount Maxwell. It’s a 25-minute drive (or 2-hour hike, but we drove) to the top, on the bumpiest road imaginable, but the view was spectacular. We could see all the Gulf Islands!

These are some of our favourite photographs, and we are lucky to have had such a clear and sunny day.

Evening strolls, afternoons by the park, beachcombing, and so much more.

I love the islands. ❤