My TEA-rrific Obsession

Good Thursday morning! How are you all doing this morning?

My week has been pretty hectic, with four midterms in the next four school days, on top of lab reports, essays, and assignments. The summer semester is a couple weeks shorter than others, so all of the content has been condensed. I started to feel a little behind in my classes a few days ago, having missed several classes for interviews. With co-op interviews, you are not allowed to miss any interview at any cost, or risk getting kicked out of the co-op program. 😥

But, onto something more important and much less stressful – tea!

Sometimes, I think of myself as a “bad” tea drinker, simply because of the fact that I struggle to savour each sip. x-OyjIemMy idea of a good tea is something sweet, milky, and whether or not its organic doesn’t matter to me. Am I the only one?

In April, a good friend from high school send me a Facebook message – she asked if I’d like to try some tea from a subscription package from Amoda Tea (@AmodaTea on Twitter). I don’t know, I thought initially, I’m really not the right person for this. Tea isn’t exactly my forte. Hey, did you know that “forte” is pronounced “fort”, not “fort-ay”? I learned that this morning.

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Back to the tea! Faye, my friend, works with Amoda, which is dedicated to connecting people with superfoods, particularly organic teas and matcha blends. They make beautiful subscription (I just typed prescription… too much time at the clinic!) boxes filled with all kinds of flavours.

My aunt once told me that I should “never drink boring, regular tea.” Her reason? Preservatives. Artificial flavours. Leaching. Added sweeteners. Now, I’m certainly not a health nut – well, not a health nut to the point where everything I ingest must be #lowcarb, #vegan, or #organic. I just like good, preferably-healthy food, you know?

Funny story: I was living in Toronto for my 4-month work term at the Toronto Health Centre at the time Faye messaged me, preparing to move back to Waterloo. When I sent her my address, however, I forgot to add my unit number. I live in a student housing complex with four floors and a dozen units – the tea ended up getting mailed BACK to BC. After about a month of flying, it finally made its way back to Waterloo.

The Monthly Tea Box is priced at $20. Shipping is included in this cost. This is a great price, because you are getting 4 packages x 4 cups of tea each, which will make you 16 glorious mugs of tea; each cup comes down to just $1.25. Compare that to Starbucks, where a venti (large) tea latte will set you back $4.65. If I wanted 16 of those? A shocking $74.40. My #studentbudget doesn’t have room for that, that’s for sure!

Best of all, an Amoda monthly tea box can be purchased as a monthly subscription or a gift subscription, and you can add selected add-ons which I detail below.

The subscription box came with:

  • 4 packages of tea leaves, each package able to make around 4 cups of tea (the teas have different amounts of caffeine, but there is also the option of ordering the ‘Low Caff’, where all teas are designed for light sleepers and are low in caffeine)
  • clear steeping instructionsIMG_8562
  • tasting notes for each tea
  • a cute postcard

Possible add-ons include:

  • $5 tea spoon (I want one!)
  • $5 natural, biodegradable tea filters (25 total)

Let’s get brewing!

Let me tell you all about my favourite of the four teas in the subscription package. I’m a black tea lover, so I found MANASLU from Nepali Tea Traders to be incredibly delicious.

  • made from Nepalese black tea
  • reminded me of the many cups of delicious black tea that I enjoyed while living in Kathmandu, Nepal, over the summer
  • high in caffeine
  • rich scent, with a pure, fresh flavour
  • the name reminds of of a Cirque du Soleil production, but Manaslu is actually one of the top 10 highest mountains in the world (part of the Nepalese Himalayas)

I noticed that I needed a packed heaping 1 tsp of tea leaves to make it flavourful; the package stated “1 heaping tsp”, and I was unsure as to whether or not I should pack it loosely or heavily. I found that 4-5 minutes of brewing time was ideal for my taste, and I liked my tea with a splash of milk and a swirl of honey. I can’t wait to have another mug tomorrow.

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This photo is much better than mine. Aren’t the postcards (and the box) pretty? I haven’t mailed mine out yet.

From their site:

The Amoda Monthly Box is a premium tea subscription box. The Amoda tasting team scours the shelves of independent tea companies across North America to find unique teas, delicious blends and fun flavours. The Monthly Box offer a way to discover the hidden gems of the tea world, support the up-and-coming tea companies and taste the very best they have to offer.

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* Do you have tepidophobia? That’s the fear of a terrible cup of tea. Interestingly, I actually LIKE my tea not-too-hot and not-too-bitter (i.e. I prefer mine with milk and sweetener). Tea purists are probably cringing so much right now.

Hope everyone has a pre-tea spectacular week, and tea lovers – don’t forget to check out Amoda’s website for some serious aesthetics and good deals on tea. Perhaps it’ll put you in that Alice in Wonderland tea party mood, like it did with me! Hypnotic GIFs. I know.

Have a blissful, tea-infused week, everyone!

30 Things University ACTUALLY Taught Me

What did I really learn after 1.5 years of university?
  1. The few times you actually go to professor office hours – they won’t be there.
  2. How to breathe super quietly after walking up the stairs to my unit, so people don’t see that I’m actually winded.
  3. It doesn’t matter if caffeine is a placebo. It works. I like mine in the form of tea or hot chocolate!
  4. How to balance two full laundry baskets on my hips while opening a door.
  5. There’s nothing like making someone smile, whether that’s with a meme or… a meme.
  6. Having a car is a blessing. I’ve never been so grateful for personal vehicles.
  7. How to jaywalk so I don’t miss my bus.
  8. There is NOTHING better than daylight savings. (the fall one, that is).
  9. How to spot the closest outlet so I can charge my laptop or phone.
  10. 8:30 AM classes become 10x more difficult than they were in high school.
  11. “Classes will be cancelled on ____” is the most liberating sentence you will ever hear.
  12. How to say “hey, girl!” when I forget a friend’s name.
  13. Lists are saviours. Make lists. Checklists, shopping lists, to-do lists.
  14. How to survive without a dishwasher or a vacuum cleaner.
  15. How to carry coupons with me. All. The. Time.
  16. How to make tons of food one day, then store it in the freezer for future meals (especially during Finals season).
  17. Acronyms galore. AHS (applied health sciences). PAC (physical activities complex). OSAP (ontario student assistance program). AFM (accounting and financial management). SLC (student life centre). And way more.
  18. How to shop on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays to save 10% with student discounts.
  19. How to study without highlighting all over my textbooks so I can sell them for a better price next semester.
  20. How to always carry extra spoons and forks in my bag in case I drop or lose them.
  21. How to check my pockets before I get off the bus, every time, so I don’t leave my keys on the bus.
  22. My exact debit card number.
  23. How to email people and pretend to sound professional.
  24. Naps are the absolute best.
  25. Pay attention in class and ask questions. So cliche but I have solid evidence from my first semester of second year. The course I paid most attention to (math, surprisingly, because I thought I hated math and was terrible at it) – turned out to be my best course. On the other hand, I rarely focused in physiology and my grades paid the price 🙂
  26. Funny little things keep you going. Find humour. (I just typed hummus. Oh gosh.)
  27. How to go to any event that involves free food.
  28. How not to be disappointed when said “free food” is just pizza.
  29. Youtube is your best friend… and worst enemy.
  30. Having Starbucks and Tim Hortons on campus can be dangerous for the wallet!

Life of Pumpkin Pie

This is going to be a pretty lame post. It’s 8:15 AM and I have class soon! Speaking of classes, I can’t believe that the semester is nearly over. Just another four days to get through before classes are all done… wha?!

Anyways, Volunteering Solutions shared my Nepal paragliding photo as an ad! I thought that was pretty cool.

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And last night, I received my aerial silks photographs that were taken by Alexa Baker at Brass Butterflies. She took some great shots and you can see more on my aerial silks page. Normally the lighting in the studio is pretty horrendous, but Alexa had some cool lights that made the photos look shadowy and professional. 🙂

This is my tentative schedule for January – April, once I move to Toronto for my first co-op. I will be working at the Toronto Health Centre!

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Finals will be over in 18 days. The countdown begins!

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So many ideas for my first work term!

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I’ve still been keeping track of my finances. Last weekend, when I was in Toronto for the case competition, I definitely spent more than I should have. I will need to start saving this month.

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I’ve also been recording everything I’ve been eating. This was for the entire month of November. I did this to get an idea of how many fruits and veggies I eat every day. I knew I wasn’t eating as much veggies as I should, and this definitely helped to confirm. Any ideas on how to incorporate veggies into lunch?

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Here are some great pumpkin (maybe fall would be a better word) recipes that were a HIT to me recently!


The Best Vegan Pumpkin Pie Hot Chocolate

Serves 1

You’ll need…
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tbsp sugar (I used coconut sugar)
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1.5 tbsp vegan chocolate chips
  • 1 sprinkle cinnamon
  • 1 sprinkle pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tiny sprinkle salt
Cook all ingredients over medium heat on the stovetop, or in the microwave, until the chocolate chips have melted. Serve hot!

Vegan, Gluten-Free Creamy Pumpkin Pie Bars
Serves: 9
Ingredients
CRUST
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups (168 g) almond flour
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp (24 g) coconut sugar
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) maple syrup
  • 4-5 Tbsp (60-75 ml) melted coconut oil
FILLING
  • 2 3/4 cups (475 g) pumpkin purée
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup (48 g) coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60 g) unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp (18 g) coconut flour
  • 1 3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • sprinkle cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C) and line an 8×8-inch baking dish with parchment paper.
  2. Mix all crust ingredients together.
  3. Add crust to the parchment-lined baking dish and shake to evenly disperse, then lay down parchment paper on top and use a flat-bottomed object (such as a liquid measuring cup or drinking glass) and pressing down to pack the crust into place, making an even, firmly packed layer.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Whisk all filling ingredients together.
  6. Once the crust is baked, pour the filling into the crust and tap on counter to remove air bubbles. Bake for 50 minutes – 1 hour. The filling will still be just a bit jiggly, dark orange in color, and have some cracks on the top – this is normal.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool completely before loosely covering with plastic wrap or foil and transferring to the refrigerator to fully set for 4-6 hours, preferably overnight.
  8. Once cooled, gently lift bars out of dish and slice into 9 bars. I also sliced the edges off mine for appearance, but this is optional.
  9. Serve with an additional sprinkle of cinnamon, nutmeg, and/or pumpkin pie spice (optional). Store leftovers in the refrigerator up to 3 days, though best when fresh.

One-Bowl Healthy Carrot Muffins

Serves 12
INGREDIENTS
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or melted coconut oil
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • ground ginger or grated ginger (about 1/4 tsp, to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups spelt flour
  • OPTIONAL: 1/4 cup brown sugar
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Whisk all ingredients except flour.
  3. Carefully add flour, and mix just to combine.
  4. Divide into 12 muffin tins, lined or greased with coconut oil. Bake for 18 minutes.
  5. Let cool for 5 minutes, then enjoy warm or let cool for another couple of hours. Enjoy!

Before I sign out for today, remember my good blogger friend Rachel?

Today is the very last day for her campaign to raise money for children in Sudan. She is such a generous person, a great photographer, and a thoughtful friend. She is doing this instead of asking for birthday gifts 🙂

Check out her post here and definitely consider donating SOON! https://secure.hope-international.com/registrant/donate.aspx?eventid=209391&langpref=en-CA&Referrer=https%3A%2F%2Foutlook.live.com%2F

And that’s it! Happy December!

November Nibbles

Before every post, I always ask myself whether I want to start by posting the food or posting random life stuff. Since I normally go with food first (what a surprise), I think I’ll start with some posts and things that I stumbled upon in the Internet, this time!

I’ve been obsessed, recently, with list-making. Here’s a shopping list and a list of things to practice on the aerial silks, both of which I made a couple days ago.

I also love, love, love making tables. I use them all the time to compare things – like silks studios and co-op job positions!

Speaking of co-op jobs, I was matched with a job last week! From January 2017 to April 2017, I’ll be working full-time at the Toronto Health Centre, a physiotherapy clinic in downtown Toronto. In May, I’ll be going back to Waterloo for four months of school. 🙂

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My school days have been full of labs, tables, drawings, graphs…

… webs, classes, and meetings.

And study groups that turn into random draw-ourselves-on-the-whiteboard moments.

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I’ve been keeping track of my finances. It’s crazy how much a couple rides to Toronto and a few sessions of silks can really, really add up.

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Seline made this beautiful decoration for her room. I keep telling her that she’d make a brilliant interior designer!

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Pain du chocolat all the way.

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My aerial silks teacher was featured in Maclean’s magazine! For some reason this made me  so, so, so happy. She is not only incredibly smart, strong, and talented, but also so humble, funny, and a friendly, encouraging teacher. I want to be like Sara when I’m older!

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Yoga teacher training nowadays involves lots more teaching. I still get sore from too much time on my butt, though.

Onto the food! I bought some light rye bread from Vincenzo’s. Here, it’s topped with a mixture of maple syrup, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and PB2, to make a creamy spread with the texture of Kraft peanut butter. It tastes healthier (not as good as Maranatha), but good for the moments that you don’t have PB in the fridge. Tragic.

A Thai green curry chickpea mixture with snap peas and spinach was also enjoyed. I liked this with buttery, garlicky cayenne-spiced salmon.

Another day I headed to Seven Shores Cafe for lunch! Here, I had the chicken croissant with… okay, you can read. Yum, hey? Sadly, this gave me onion breath, but it was so worth it for the fresh (just-baked) buttery croissant and the incredible mango and sweet potato soup on the side.

I was stuffed after that meal, but you know me – I needed something sweet. This was chocolate hazelnut gelato with peanut butter cookie gelato. These are my favourite flavours!

Pumpkin pancakes were made! Check out all of that gooey, delicious peanut butter on top.

No idea why these photos are blue! The lighting recently has been funny. Waterloo’s weather is so unpredictable. Anyways, more of the pumpkin-maple-nut spread with granola on top. Crunchy!

Late night of studying ended with this plate of quinoa with frozen corn and spinach, with my frozen falafels and avocado hummus. Filling and really flavourful. Thank goodness for frozen falafel!

My friend Lily and I spent Saturday evening together. “Studying” started with a trip to Cafe 22 for tea lattes and key lime tart. She liked this key lime dessert and found it just-right in terms of sweetness/sourness. I loved my London Fog tea latte, as usual!

Half an hour later, we headed to Famoso Pizzeria. I had the funghi, which was topped with parmesan cream, all types of roasted mushrooms, onions, and cheese. I also had the Caprese salad with fresh basil pesto. The mozzarella cheese in the Caprese was incredible!

Lily decided on a spicy pizzetta with salami, cheese, and onions. Hers came with the tomato bisque and feta cheese, which she wasn’t a fan of. I loved it! Next time, I will order the tomato bisque as my side dish. Time to make another trip to Famoso!?

We were both stuffed from the meal, but let’s face it – can you really go to a restaurant and NOT order dessert? The answer is no. 😉 Our waitress recommended the Nutella calzone, which was chock-full of creamy, sweet chocolatey goodness and topped with chocolate sauce and vanilla bean gelato. This dessert filled me up to the max and satisfied my Nutella craving.

I cooked a huge batch of quinoa the other day and loved it as a breakfast with maple syrup and cocoa powder. This breakfast also involved frozen cherries, almond butter, and tons of granola.

Sweet potato pancakes made with just TWO ingredients! All you have to do is mash a small sweet potato (or 1/2 large one) and whisk it up with two eggs. I also added some cinnamon and salt, then cooked it in coconut oil. They are insanely tender.

Sandwich at Princess Cafe! This baby had brie cheese, apple, caramelized onion, smoked turkey, and spinach. The soup was a curried maple butternut squash! YUM.

Banana quesadillas with peanut butter are incredible. Have you tried that before?

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Thai green curry loaded with vegetables! I tried to plate it like a restaurant would 😉

More of those to-die-for quesadillas!

And some more of that chocolatey quinoa breakfast. It’s such a great alternative to oatmeal!

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Overnight oats with cashew butter on the bottom were devoured alongside some schoolwork.

And more curry was eaten. I adore Thai green curry so much! Especially with broccoli and sweet potatoes involved.

How has your week been? Did you eat anything delicious?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Budgeting FAQs

Good Sunday morning, everyone! How has your week been? We’ve had the sunniest weather ever here in Waterloo, and it was 30 degrees yesterday evening when I walked home from school. Yay for summer!

Today I am going to share a couple of budgeting tips with you. I wrote these tips back in April, for a lady called Ms. Cornell, a journalist writing for the Star, the National Post, and the Globe and Mail. She contacted me during finals season and I was more than happy to procrastinate and answer some of her questions. My budgeting mistakes and tips are possibly on Toronto Star’s Colleges and Universities supplement at the moment, but I wanted to post ’em on the blog nonetheless!

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Did you struggle in budgeting?
I was lucky in that I didn’t struggle too much with budgeting. My parents are quite understanding, and in my family, we never had strict rules about exactly how much to spend. My parents always encourage “mindful” spending, which means I can buy whatever I need and will put to good use. I always think carefully before purchasing the essentials and usually reach for the discounted items or no-name brands. Also, I love the dollar store for things like scissors, boxes, and organizers!
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Did you live in residence?
I didn’t live in residence. I knew at the start that I wanted a kitchen, and I wasn’t very fond of the idea that I would have to share a bathroom with an entire floor of boys and girls if I lived on residence. There are some residences on campus that do have kitchens, but my odds of scoring one of those were basically zero because I didn’t have anyone to sign up with! Instead, my mom helped me find a nice apartment just ten minutes from the school. Now that it’s beautiful outside, I can walk to school in less than 15 minutes!
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Did you have a meal plan?
I don’t have a meal plan, but many of my friends do, and find it quite frustrating because they underestimated the number of meals they’d be enjoying off-campus. Campus food is ridiculously overpriced – $1.50 per banana? Nope! At the food court in the student hub, it costs around $18 for an average lunch: a drink, a fruit cup, and a chicken pita wrap. Definitely not worth it, in my opinion.
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Did you find that adequate, or did you find yourself spending too much money on extras? What kind of extras?
Because I don’t have a meal plan and live off-campus, I do spend quite a bit on groceries  and other essentials. I purchase groceries once a week, which usually costs me $40 to $80. Huge range, I know!
Laundry costs $7 a week for washing and drying, since I usually do two loads – one for clothes and one for towels. Every week or so, I also see my physics tutor who charges $20/hour. I treat myself to special lunches in local cafés once a week, which costs around $15 a meal. As for the extras, I occasionally splurge on tea lattes, notebooks and binders, or clothes/shoes if I truly need them.
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What was the result (ie. had you run out of money by mid-year or month?)
Fortunately, I don’t have that problem! I tend to buy only things that I NEED and will definitely USE, rather than pretty things or things that I think will come in handy.
Do you have a weakness for chai lattes, or anything else that is a regular budget item for you?
I actually had an obsession with London Fog lattes, and I would purchase them once or twice a week from the local coffee shop. Then I discovered a milk frother for discount at Teavana, which I purchased instantly. Now, I make all kinds of homemade, healthier tea lattes in the morning for a fraction of the price!
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Was it an adjustment to live on a set budget? How did it differ from the way you lived when in your parents’ home?
For me, the only difference in living alone was that there are no voices telling me to buy something – or not to buy something! With my parents, I would always have recommendations and thoughtful suggestions, so I’m learning to make rational decisions about purchases without them.
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Can you tell me a story about your biggest budget issue and how you resolved it?
Before the harsh Waterloo winter hit, I spent $250 on a super warm, long, fuzzy winter coat and another $200 on high-quality winter boots. On the same day, I purchased around $80s worth of groceries, and my debit card was rejected by grocery store! It was a little embarrassing, with the entire line watching me frantically punch in my PIN number multiple times before realizing that my debit card would only allow $500 to be spent each day. I asked to sprint to the bank, but of course, it had closed five minutes ago. Since I didn’t have any cash on me (silly mistake!), I had to sheepishly put away my yogurt, squash, and some other non-essentials so that I could swipe the last $50 on my debit card. Lesson learned: plan what you are going to buy before buying it, know how much it will cost, and make sure it doesn’t exceed your budget – literally.
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What tips would you have for other students in terms of budgeting?
  1. Record finances on your phone. Every dollar you spend – make a note of it. I use the “Notes” app on my iPhone to keep track of how much I am spending, then make a monthly total. It really helps to see how much I’ve spent recently, where I can save a little more, and “when” I am doing the most spending (eg. weekends vs. weekdays).
  2. If you need it, buy it. If you don’t, don’t. If you aren’t sure, don’t buy it. If it’s still on your mind after a couple of days, buy it!
  3. I always go for cheap-o household materials like cloths, sponges, swiffer sheets, etc., because they get dirty, worn, and need to be thrown out anyways!
  4. Forgive yourself – being a student is tricky enough, and you are doing a great job balancing it all!
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Thanks for reading!
Tell me in the comments below:
  1. Do you have a budget? How do you keep track of how much you are spending?
  2. Have you ever had budget problems?
  3. What is your #1 tip for saving money?