🎪 c i r c u s 🎪

“Cindy, what do you do in your free time?”

This question used to be easy to answer. Read. Sketch. Go shopping with friends. Cook and bake (fortunately, this one still holds true).

Throughout high school, I committed every conscious moment to competitive figure skating, whether it be daydreaming about ice dance test days, stretching at home, or scrutinizing the routines of my favourite athletes. When I wasn’t in the science lab, I was gliding, stumbling, and twirling at the ice rink next door, or working as a skating instructor. Starting university in a different province, and leaving my skates in the storage room back home, undoubtedly left a hole in my heart.

Revisiting the rink, my home away from home, for the first time after 2.5 years away

Without skating, my days felt free, yet empty. An alarm clock no longer woke me up at 6:00 AM for morning ice time, I didn’t need to discreetly create skating lesson plans during class, and I didn’t have to lug my skate bag, full of children’s report cards, to and from the rink. At the same time, I missed the commitment, the community, my coach, the thrill of competition, and most importantly, the sense of accomplishment that would surge through me after each successful landing.

My first year of university consisted of sporadic dabbling in various activities: Zumba, Pilates, yoga, even ballet. On a side note, shoutout to the University of Waterloo’s fitness and recreation program for the impressive variety of student budget-friendly activities! First of all, I probably astounded fitness instructors with my dancing skills (nonexistent) and spectacular ability to dance (three beats behind). Zumba took my breath away, literally, in three songs, and I didn’t feel challenged by Pilates or yoga.

I received a yoga teacher training certification that year, in a beautiful Waterloo studio, a 200-hour commitment over the course of ten months. I received my training in Ashtanga yoga, and have since led gentle seated yoga at the local retirement home, and explored yoga-inspired movement with children on the spectrum at KidsAbility. Thanks to my anatomy and physiology courses in Kinesiology, I became more and more confident in teaching scientifically-backed exercises and referring to anatomical terminology for advanced students. I also spent a year with the University of Waterloo’s Acro Yoga club, where people partnered up to perform circus/dance partner acrobatics.

At the same time that I was beginning to experience restlessness, I was saved by a pole dance studio. Last May, a Kitchener pole dancer and businesswoman opened a brand-new pole studio in Waterloo – and she installed aerial rigs. Complete with hoops, a few trapezes, and plenty of silks and hammocks, Brass Butterflies became a new home. The sense of community in the circus world was incredible, and I cannot even begin to name the talented, creative, kind, encouraging, and hilarious people I’ve met, both at Brass Butterflies and Cirque-ability, the Toronto studio where I trained during my co-op term.

While aerials have certainly given me the opportunity to develop strength, coordination, grace, and balance, the most important thing I’ve gleaned from joining the circus was confidence. Courage. I am no longer self-conscious about making mistakes that offer the possibility of looking silly in front of others. I’ve also developed a newfound sense of appreciation for the master circus artists, like the superhuman athletes at Cirque du Soleil.

Up until recently, you have to be born into a circus family, or attend professional circus school, to learn to fly. Now, to the delight of many normal people, recreational circus classes are popping up in most cities for adventurous workout seekers. Perhaps most people try recreational circus classes for a fun workout, but circus has truly become a home, a mentality, a way of life. Plus, it’s always fun to take a break from studying by dropping my schoolwork on the ground, literally. Note that aerials are not a workout that can be DIY-ed, even for former dancers or gymnasts, and safety should always be emphasized. A few weeks ago, paramedics were called to the studio when my classmate broke her wrist after a fall from the silks. Another time, one woman slipped out of the hoop, and later discovered at the Grand River Hospital that she had broken three bones in her neck.

Regardless, for a year, I have been completely infatuated by circus, experimenting with aerial silks, hoop, Spanish web, corde lisse, and even contortion. Understandably, starting aerials in my late teens, my chances of performing professionally are virtually next to zero. My goal, however, is to continue living my dream at dizzying new heights – by becoming a sports medicine physician for Cirque du Soleil, or perhaps Disney on Ice, another lifelong dream.

I’d love to end with this – if you have any questions about skating, yoga or yoga teacher training, or aerial arts, please don’t hesitate to shoot me a Facebook message, or an email at emailcindy@shaw.ca.

And, if you have any circus connections, sports medicine connections, or something that you think might give me a hand, well, you know what to do.

Things That I Can’t Wait to Eat in Cambodia!

Traditional Cambodian Foods to Eat

Tons more info over at my good friend, Wikipedia.

  • prohok ktis (traditional fermented river fish, pork, coconut milk)
  • num banh chok (breakfast, thin noodles with green fish gravy)
  • Cambodian Khmer red curry with baguette bread
  • bai sach chrouk (grilled sweet pork, broken rice, broth with onions on the side)
  • lok lak (stir-fried beef in brown sauce of oyster/soy/palm sugar)
  • ang dtray meuk: grilled squid
  • kuy teav (pork broth rice noodle soup with garlic, scallions, shrimp, lettuce, etc.),
  • kdam chaa
  • lort cha (stir-fry noodles with greens, bean sprouts, egg)
  • fish amok (curry in a banana leaf)
  • bread with cream cheese
  • coconut milk dessert in the food stands
  • fried crickets
  • omelettes
  • bobor congee
  • samlor korko (pumpkin soup, pork ribs)
  • tropical sour fruits
  • Ah Ping
  • beef saraman curry
  • kaw (braised chicken or pork, topped with egg, sweet sauce)
  • Cambodian sandwich
  • tai krolap tea
  • lemon tea (tai kdao kroich chhmaa) with sugar
  • mango salad
  • Cha houy teuk (sweet jelly)
  • grilled and fried bananas
  • Num sang khya l’peou (pumpkin custard with coconut milk on top)

All in all, I’m super excited for 2018!

Snakes and Stew Ideas

Hey guys!

Hope all is well this sunny week ☀️ On my end, everything has been fantastic. Last Saturday, I met my coworkers Rikki and Erin at the zoo. The walk was pretty long, but so rewarding.

The fall scenery was stunning. I’m surprised by the sheer number of trees here in Scarborough. It’s so different from the concrete jungle we call Toronto, but I’m definitely not complaining about this beautiful foliage.

The zoo was awesome. I was pretty disappointed because I paid the $23 entrance fee – but I had a library card that would’ve allowed me to enter for free. 😢 Tragic.

But the animals were neat, and the weather was fantastic for the long walk around the zoo. I loved the bats and snakes.

That day, I enjoyed vegetable biryani that I made previously. I topped the butternut squash and onion biryani rice with crushed cashews and sautéed carrots with red peppers.

Another day, I loved this Thai green curry with butternut squash biryani.

I’ve still been doing lots of learning, teaching, learning, and teaching.

It. Is. So. Much. Fun. It’s like I’m being PAID to go to school. Which is pretty sweet.

Here are some images that I found while searching for amazing fall dinners. Don’t these look amazing?! I’m picking up some ingredients to make a pumpkin lentil stew later this weekend.

The sky during the evening is spectacular around here. It looks like a pastel piece of artwork or some kind of watercolour painting. It was mind-blowing to see in person.

The old classic, my favourite African peanut stew with sweet potatoes. This time, I made couscous instead of rice, and added mushrooms and a baby spinach/kale mix into the stew. Topped with crushed peanuts, as usual. This is my #1 favourite meal prep of the fall, apparently.

Another day, I went to the Scarborough Town Centre, the mall. I had Naan and Kebab again, where I nommed on the best basmati rice, creamy chickpeas (I need this recipe), charred tandoori paneer with zucchini, and fresh salad greens and a side of naan bread. I am head-over-heels in love with this place. Can I have more?!

Dessert? Chocolate almond croissant from Brioche Dorée. I asked them to heat it up for me, and they did, so it was warm but not crispy. I like my croissants crispy instead of soft, which makes them feel oily/flimsy. The chocolate was abundant, however, and the filling was damn delicious. I think you guys know how picky I am about these chocolate almond croissants…

Recently, we started a website as a resource for our students. It’s called Anatomy Academy. It’s still a work in progress.

Have a happy weekend, everyone!

Australia Adventures: Restaurant and Cafe Bucket List

Brisbane Must-Try Restaurants

  • Aria (lunch or dinner: roast rack with lab bacon, sweetbreads, peas, buttermilk) *****
  • Gerard’s Bistro (laham nayyeh, lime, shallot, pickled cucumber, egg) ****
  • Esquire (lamb with cardamom, anchovy, basil) ***
  • Ecco Bistro (field mushrooms on toast, Milly Hill za’atar spiced and herb crusted lamb shoulder, shiraz salad, smoked eggplant, mint garlic, black onions) ***
  • Gauge (breakfast, sourdough bread, Spanner crab, chestnut, pomelo) ***
  • GOMA (fish, scallop, cauliflower, lime, oyster mushrooms) ***
  • The Wolfe (sheep’s milk sorbet, picked muntries, tofu skin, nashi) **
  • Tartufo **
  • Rogue Bistro (waffles with chicken) **
  • Urbane (wagyu, celeriac, juniper) **
  • Stokehouse *
  • Sono *
  • 1889 Enoteca *
  • Black Hide Steakhouse *
  • Julius Pizza *
  • Miel Container (burgers) *
  • Anouk brunch *
  • Otto Ristorante (spaghettini with smoked ham hock and pecorino) *
  • Trangs *
  • Shouk Cafe Middle Eastern Breakfast (Belgian waffles with strawberries and ice cream, vinegar and caramelized pecan powder) *
  • Blackbird Bar and Grill *
  • The Balfour Kitchen (breakfast menu) *
  • Bacchus *

Brisbane Other Restaurants

  • Many more restaurants, unlisted on this document can be found at this site: http://www.mustdobrisbane.com/eat-drink/restaurants
  • This site also has many options: https://www.bestrestaurants.com.au/qld/brisbane
  • Public
  • The Foraging Quail
  • Char Char Yiros
  • Puopolo (ricotta gnocchi with sausage, onion jam, pumpkin)
  • Gambaros Seafood Restaurant
  • Polish Club (pierogies)
  • Summit Restaurant on Mount Coot-tha
  • La Vue Waterfront Restaurant
  • Il Centro
  • Puttia
  • Madame Wu
  • George’s Paragon Seafood
  • Libertine Restaurant
  • Fogata Latin Fusion
  • MADO Cafe and Restaurant
  • Longtime
  • Storehouse Q (fish and chips: grilled barramundi, veggie tempura, caesar aioli)
  • Fresh Sushi Co.
  • The Yiros Shop (halloumi fries)
  • The Burrow
  • Mu’ooz
  • Caravanserai
  • Mondo Organics
  • Tukka
  • Lefkas Taverna
  • Archive Beer Boutique
  • Lock’n’Load Bistro
  • Little Greek Taverna
  • Il Centro
  • Kwan Brothers
  • Corbett and Claude

Brisbane Must-Try Cafes

  • Pearl Cafe breakfast (red fish croquette with celeriac and apple remoulade, timeless fancy breakfasts, cakes, pork and fennel meatballs with passata, beans, pecorino, anchovy, fried egg, ricotta pancake with mascarpone cream) ******
  • King Arthur Cafe (coffee, breakfast, organic sandwiches, and cake) ****
  • Billy Kart Kitchen (pancakes, homemade almond milk) ****
  • Jam Pantry breakfast (omelet) ****
  • Scout Cafe breakfast (breakfast bagel, rissole sandwich with tomato relish) ***
  • Let Minnow (jaffles, waffles, and milkshakes, black forest waffles) ***
  • Morning After (refreshing breakfast like truffled scrambled eggs, corn fritters, sweet corn pakora with fried egg, halloumi, avocado, corn, tahini yogurt) ***
  • Naim (middle eastern breakfast, halloumi pumpkin toast, flatbread, green shakshuka) ***
  • Cafe O Mai (banh mi breakfast, breakfast pho) ***
  • Wild Canary (gardener’s breakfast, organic seasonal dishes with cakes) ***
  • Sourced Grocer (neighbourhood shop with rye crumpets with honeycomb, housemate leek ash spaghetti with black garlic, egg yolk, bottarga) ***
  • Plenty (mushroom, ricotta, pecorino, smoked eggplant sandwich) **
  • Pourboy Espresso (croque monsieur/madame) **
  • Putia (Italian breakfast donut) **
  • Strauss FD **
  • She Bangs (coffee, juice) **
  • Lady Marmalade (gringo eggs, vegan gumbo, corn waffles, vegan okra, black-eyed pea gumbo on sourdough with tofu and dukkah, LM Gringo) **
  • Harveys *
  • Goodness Gracious (steak, pumpkin, veggies, cloud eggs) *
  • Merriweather Cafe (brunch, caramelized onion potato hash with lamb merger and poached eggs, cakes) *
  • Marchetti Cafe (eggplant parmigiana) *
  • Gettin’ Place (simple breakfast menu) *
  • Double Shot New Farm *
  • Bear Bones Espresso *
  • Single Guys (salad with braised eggplant and heirloom tomatoes) *
  • My Mistress (French toast, smoked bacon, baked eggs with spiced beans and sourdough) *
  • The Gunshop Cafe (breakfast, potato feta hashcake) *
  • Neighbourhood Roasters (garden in the back) *
  • Priory Kitchen (brioche French toast with blueberries, pistachio gelato, honeycomb, nuts) *
  • Atticus Finch Cafe (eggplant jaffle, pecorino on sandwich) *
  • Elixir Coffee (corn cakes with poached eggs, salsa, avocado, dukkha) *
  • Pawpaw (Asian omelet, nutrient bowl with sweet potato, edamame, veggies, sesame dressing) *
  • Gertrude and Mabel (housemate crumpets, fresh baklava, mushroom potpies, ricotta hotcakes, 3-cheese sandwiches) *
  • Pablo (green – pesto and goat cheese – eggs and ham)*
  • Banter Coffee House (vanilla cream rice with pistachio crumble poached pear) *
  • Locavore Cafe (heart of palm) *
  • Reverend’s Fine Coffee *

Brisbane Other Cafes

  • http://www.mustdobrisbane.com/eat-drink/cafes
  • http://www.gourmandandgourmet.com.au/best-breakfast-in-brisbane/
  • Nitrogen ice cream
  • La Dolce Vita
  • Chocolate Moments (can take a chocolate making course)
  • Gun Shop Cafe (toulouse sausage, sweet potato hash cake, tomato jam, poached egg, rocket)
  • Monty’s Chocolate
  • Gonuts (croissant donuts)
  • Miss Bliss
  • Moore and Gibson
  • Three Monkeys Coffee House
  • Shady Palms
  • Little Genovese
  • Lola Coffee
  • Flour and Chocolate Patisserie
  • Bunker Coffee
  • Nana & Da’s (smashed avocado)
  • Dovetail (baked eggs)
  • Day Made
  • Lonely Boy
  • Ben’s Burger (breakfast burger, get extra special sauce)
  • Pod Espresso
  • Pompidou
  • Abode Cafe (ham and cheese toast the Dulcie)
  • Taste
  • Southside Tea Room (breakfast burrito, milkshakes)
  • Spring Hill Deli
  • John Mills Himself
  • Kettle and Tin
  • Sassafras
  • Choquette (buttery pastries)
  • Shutter and Brew
  • Sarmic Artisan Provisions and Cafe
  • Kin&Co (potato roost with mushroom medley)
  • Florence St. Coffee
  • Cafe Grenadine
  • Republic Coffee Traders
  • Hawkes and Crosby
  • Jacu Espresso
  • Coop Espresso
  • Felix
  • Kettle&Tin
  • Creme and Cream
  • Waterfall Cafe
  • Little Larger (halloumi breakfast burger)
  • Lokal&Co
  • Anouk (croissant French toast)
  • Au Cirque (sweet potato hash, smoked haddock Croque Madame)
  • Bakers Arms
  • Botero
  • Brewbakers
  • Campos Coffee
  • Corner Store Cafe
  • Dandelion and Driftwood
  • Delicatezza
  • Foxy Bean

Simple Guide to Nutritional Yeast

What is Nutritional Yeast?

  • a type of inactive yeast
  • flaky, powdery texture
  • has a savoury, cheesy flavour
  • vegan and gluten-free
  • can be found in most health-food stores

Why You Should Try “Nooch”

  • tastes like parmesan cheese, so it’s absolutely delicious
  • loaded with B vitamins
  • contains 6 grams of protein in each quarter cup
  • plenty of zinc and fibre

Creative Ways to Use Nutritional Yeast

  • add it to pasta
  • add to popcorn
  • use in Tex-Mex or Mexican dishes as a sub for cheddar
  • sprinkle some on buttered bread
  • use in lasagna
  • make an Alfredo sauce
  • topping for vegetarian chili
  • use in tofu stir-fries
  • sprinkle on salad
  • use to top salads or breadsticks
  • use in French toast batter to add richness
  • in place of cheddar in vegan broccoli-cheddar soup
  • use to make vegan omelettes or quiche
  • add to mashed cauliflower
  • use it to make cauliflower dishes
  • add to stuffed peppers
  • the easiest mac and cheese ever: 1/2 cup nutritional yeast with 1/4 cup warm water, oil, salt and pepper
  • mix into scrambled eggs for eggy flavour and great yellow hue
  • add to casseroles, whether they have rice or quinoa
  • toss it into the blender with cooked/canned beans, olive oil, and lemon for a great cheesy dip
  • add to burritos
  • sprinkle on shakshuka
  • add to scalloped potatoes
  • blitz to make a mock parmesan
  • mash into baked potato with garlic
  • blend to make creamy cheesy sauce
  • stir into pesto
  • top sautéed vegetables
  • use to top pizza or flatbread
  • use to make vegan hollandaise sauce
  • make a cheese spread with it, then use it for grilled cheese
  • stir it into vegan gravy
  • use to thicken stews, sauces, and soups
  • use in vegan mac and cheese recipes
  • whisked into salad dressing for thickness and unami flavour
  • use in vegan baking, like for savoury biscuits
  • add to scrambled eggs (adds a great sharp flavour, and enhances the yellow hue of your eggs)
  • stir into soups
  • add to curry mix
  • stir into risotto
  • sprinkle on chips, like kale chips
  • stir into sweet treats, like peanut butter cups, to add rich flavour (melt 1/2 cup chocolate chips OR cocoa powder with oil, then layer with a mixture of peanut butter and nutritional yeast, chill to set)
  • sprinkle on top of avocado toast
  • use in tofu cheesecakes, to add cream cheese flavour

✧ Lately ✧

Does anyone have a cool human body project idea?

A walk back home, taking the scenic route. What an interesting place, right? In my opinion, this doesn’t even look like Canada.

A trip to the library = six new (to me) books. I. Can’t. Wait.


Deliciousness in the form of Thai green curry and biryani rice.


Vegetable Biryani

Serves 4


  • 1 small squash, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 large carrots, quartered and cut into 5-cm  segments
  • 1 small red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • S+P
  • 2 cups yellow onion
  • 1 chopped jalapeno
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in two
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp golden raisins or currants
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 cup roasted cashews


  1. Preheat oven to 425. Toss squash, carrots, and bell pepper with 2 tbsp oil, curry powder, and salt.
  2. Roast vegetables until tender when pierced, 20-25 mins.
  3. Warm 2 tbsp oil over medium heat. Add onion, jalapeño, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and cumin. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions begin to brown, 6 minutes.
  4. Add garlic and ginger. Cook until aromatic, 1 minute.
  5. Stir in rice. Cook 1 minute.
  6. Add broth, raisins, and turmeric. Simmer.
  7. Reduce heat to low. Cover. Simmer gently until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, 10-12 mins.
  8. Remove from heat. Keep covered until vegetables have finished roasting.
  9. Fold in roasted vegetables and cashews. Season with S+P. Serve.

I went for the most enjoyable walk on Monday evening.

The beach at East Point Park was quite nice. I’m looking forward to a jaunt to Guild Park soon!

Who knew Scarborough could be so pretty?

The sunshine and superb blue skies made a huge difference. This walk really brightened by day, literally and figuratively.

Another day-brightener: I had pizza twice. One slice was ricotta and olive, the other was poached pear with ham and brie. Completely in love with both.

2018 Winter Olympics! Did they come fast or what? The Olympics make me realize that the years go by FAST. I’m looking forward to figure skating! Also, I finished reading the Maze Runner, and now I’ll have to see the movie 🎥

Tonight, I had chili! Topped with cheddar and lime – the best.

Healthy Pumpkin Chili

Serves 4


  • 1/2 cup broth
  • 1 large chopped white onion
  • sprinkle garlic powder
  • 2 chopped bell peppers
  • 28-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 15 oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup broth
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • cayenne pepper
  • 1 lime
  • desired toppings


  1. Sauté the onion and garlic powder until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the bell peppers, cook another 5 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes, beans, pumpkin, broth and spices (excluding the lime until the end). Stir until well combined.
  3. Bring to a slight boil, turn down heat and cover to let simmer about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Turn off heat and stir in the fresh lime juice.
  5. Serve with your favorite spices and toppings.

Have a glorious rest of the week, everyone!