Allergic to… Spices?!

Super short post today because I need to work on something for work. Recently…

  • infographic created by the University of Queensland, about a med student’s typical schedule
  • forms of self-care
  • North Rustico things to do
  • extracurriculars that I will and might get involved with during Fall 2018
  • list of places that I loved in Montreal – recommendations for my coworker, who will be in Montreal for Osheaga, a music festival
  • Mom is selling a bunch of things

A Bitmoji that Seline made… of me! Wearing my usual white t-shirt, black shorts, and thinking about cake and tea.

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The other day, I made the tastiest snack – a thick slice of toast topped with peanut butter, caramelized nut chocolate bark, and blackberries. This was such a great snack.

Breakfast from the farmer’s market: focaccia topped with pecans and maple syrup. It’s the best yeast bread I’ve ever eaten.

More of the same stuff – toast, PB, banana, and a side of yogurt with blackberries and chocolate caramelized nut bark. Really delicious.

Dinner from Merchantman Restaurant – Seline and I enjoyed a great meal with steak and Caesar salad, with seafood linguine and sticky date pudding. I ate the entire sticky date pudding with vanilla ice cream, all by myself. It was so memorable and tasty.

I think Seline is allergic to spices?! We ate at Himalayan Cuisine, where she had the butter chicken and I ate spinach palak paneer. We shared rice and naan. Interestingly, her throat felt itchy, swollen, and there were likely no NUTS or KIWI (her normal allergens) in the food.

For dessert, I had a mug of chai and some gulab jamun. Gulab jamun, according to Wikipedia, is a “milk-solid-based South Asian sweet, originating in the Indian subcontinent, notably popular in India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, as well as Myanmar.”

Another day, we played board games at Small Print Board Game Cafe (we like HIVE and WORD ON THE STREET), and had dinner at Water and Prince lobster pound. I ate a lobster roll with potato salad, and Seline had a bowl of clam chowder. I also had a cup of clam chowder, and I ate both of our biscuits. For dessert, chocolate torte cheesecake. ❤

On Saturday, we watched the Young Company dance show and ate at La Sazon de Mexico. I had the green enchiladas with vegetables, rice, and refried beans. Seline ate the cheesy chicken quesadilla.

After lunch, we had Chatime bubble tea and walked around the park. We saw Victoria Park and walked into Dead Man’s Pond, a small pond rumored to be bottomless, with spooky legends surrounding its name & spotted salamanders. Interesting tale:

Apparently, Dead Man’s Pond is the gate way to the residing place of a great, but vengeful, Indian Spirit. Sometimes, the spirit would take offense at those who invaded the solitude of his pond. Rising from the deep, he would grasp all who swam in the water or even wondered close to the shore. Pulling them down to where the denizen so the deep lurked in waiting, he would steal their very souls, before spewing the body back up to act as a warning to others to stay far from the shores of the pond.

A second version deals with treasure. Seekers had determined that pirates put into shore just at the point of land that is Victoria Park, and buried their riches in the woods. Years later the site was founded, and treasure hunters began to dig a huge hole in hopes of finding the chest of gold. When they got down so deep the sky was just a pinprick above them, the side of their hole suddenly burst and water poured in the Gulf. Storytellers state that this was the curse of the pirates working to protect the treasure.

There is another version which may be a little more believable. In the early days of settlement on the Island, the Governor threw a gala New Year’s Eve ball. A woodcutter, a poor, but honest and trustworthy man, loaded his sleigh with the best burning wood and drove it to the Governor’s house to ensure the warmth for the revelers. The Governor, grateful for the thoughtfulness of the woodcutter, gave him an extra stipend of gold as an award. Unfortunately, he was murdered and robbed for this gold and his body was thrown in Dead Man’s Pond.

Dinnertime! Seline and I ate at the Lucy Maud Culinary Institute of Holland College, where we had an amuse-bouche to start. There was a sliver of scallop, cilantro, and proscuitto.

Then, we nibbled on plenty of fresh focaccia with cultured butter. For our entrees, Seline had the chicken stuffed with spinach, and potato gratin. I ate the brown butter hollandaise arctic char with crushed hazelnuts. Both entrees were superb.

For dessert, we shared the glazed chocolate cake with ice cream, coffee soil, meringue, and toffee, and a fresh strawberry shortcake.

The next day, we went up north to Rustico. For lunch, we ate at a beachside eatery called Blue Mussel Cafe, where Seline had a haddock “burger” (really, a sandwich), with roasted potatoes on the side.

I ate the creamy bubbly seafood bake – a delightful bowl of seafood tossed in a decadent butter sauce and smothered in cheese. A fresh farmer’s salad on the side, with candied pecans and beets.

For dessert, I kind of wanted the peanut butter ice cream cake, but I’m so glad I ended up choosing the chocolate potato cake. It was served warm with ice cream and whipped cream – this was so delicious.

Few more things…

And other lunches that I’ve eaten at work. Toast with PB and banana, along with yogurt, fruit, and trail mix, are my go-to’s. Another day, I ate a lobster quiche with microwaved sautéed veggies.

And that’s it for today!

Have a beautiful rest of the day. 🙂

A Week in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

Good morning everyone. I hope you are all having a lovely week so far. I am certainly having a great week.

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Mom’s homemade banana muffins, to which she added chocolate chips. I wish I could eat some of these muffins – they’re my favourite.

My friend’s mother is the dean of Applied Human Sciences at the University of Prince Edward Island (I told her that I was interested in trying a research job), and she recommended that I speak to a researcher who focuses on physical activity/sedentary behaviour (main focus), food intake, health, responses to exercise, and metabolic risk. That’s why I’m here!

I volunteer an average of seven hours per day. Normally, I start at 9:00 and finish at 4:00, but have a shorter day on Wednesday and a longer day on Thursday. There will be 24 or 25 work days in total, and I will end up with approximately 170-175 volunteer hours. I have been tracking my hours on an Excel document.

 

I’ve only done a few days here so far, but I have been helping to design banners, posters, and a new website for the Active Living Lab. I am also reorganizing the informational sheets for biosafety, standard operating procedures, and emergency response plans. I will be supervising a Breast Cancer Walking Group program every Thursday evening on campus. As you can see, I have been doing a variety of different tasks, and every day is exciting because there are plenty of new things to learn and do.

In our free time, Seline and I like going to the library (I recently read The Clearing by Heather Davis, which was a beautiful tale of two lives in different points in time), walking around downtown, and enjoying the sunshine.

We had lots of COWS ice cream – here, she had the Messie Bessie and the Wowie Cowie. I can’t quite recall what was in both, though I know there were chocolate flakes, toffee, and caramel swirls involved. I had the Peanut Butter Cup-Cup, and a scoop of Moo York Cheesecake. Both were divine! Maybe one of the best ice creams I’ve ever eaten?

Seline and I joke that we’ve been in Prince Edward Island for about a week, but we can already navigate downtown Charlottetown without Google Maps. The downtown area is not as large as the downtown areas of Montreal, Vancouver, or Toronto, but has a special charm that I can’t seem to explain.

The colours here are so vibrant (these pictures are unfiltered!), and I can’t stop snapping pictures of Seline.

We stopped by the Charlottetown Visitor Centre, to take a look at things to do nearby, and Seline picked up this escape room brochure. I booked the escape room for this Sunday, so I’m looking forward to giving it a shot with Seline.

Mmmm, seafood. You guys! I’ve always wanted to come to SIMS Corner Steakhouse and Oyster Bar, and YAY, we finally did.

  • spicy and creamy seafood pappardelle for Seline (she generously donated all of her mussels to me, and they were unbelievable)
  • lobster rigatoni with garlic-herb crust for me (the massive chunks of lobster in here were top-notch)

For dessert:

  • sticky date pudding topped with a massive scoop of caramel ice cream from COWS creamery, and plenty of luscious toffee sauce

On Saturday (or was this Sunday? I have no idea because I wore the exact same outfit), we went to the Charlottetown Art Museum. There was an exhibit called Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience. It was very powerful and thought-provoking.

One of my favourite exhibits was a video that showed various forms of snow, paired with a voiceover that discussed the role of these different types of snow in Indigenous culture. The museum, overall, was larger and more intriguing than we’d expected, and we liked it a lot. To enter, you can donate however much you want.

  • Me: What do you want to do for dinner today, Sal?
  • Seline: We’ve been planning to cook at home for a week already, so…
  • Me: You’re right. We should cook at home. We have some ingredients in the fridge to use up.
  • Seline: But I kind of want to eat at another restaurant.
  • Me: Me too. I know a place called RedWater Rustic Grille.
  • Seline: But shouldn’t we cook at home?
  • Me: We could, and we probably should…
  • Seline: Let’s just cook at home tomorrow.

Then we walked into RedWater Rustic Grille!

Here, Seline had a steak with garlic mashed potatoes and baked radishes, and I ate two apps instead of an entree. I had the lobster ravioli with beet pasta, and a platter of seared scallops with pancetta. Both appetizers were delicious! To follow, Seline and I shared a gorgeous chocolate torte with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream (we got two extra scoops after!), and a smear of cinnamon chocolate. We inhaled this dessert because it was truly so good – rare in my book, because most of my favourite desserts are a warm/cold combo, while this torte was served cold.

Another day, Sal and I went to Leonhard’s Cafe and Restaurant. I had a chai latte to start, and Seline ordered an iced tea. I debated between the salmon eggs benny and the guacamole eggs benny (seriously, how do you choose between smoked salmon and avocado?), but the kind waitress offered to give me one of each. Served with flavourful crispy potatoes and a fresh garden salad, I enjoyed this brunch so much. For dessert, we shared their famous vanilla roll.

Some random things:

  • UPEI fitness schedule
  • apparently now Seline likes macarons?! I’m very confused about that.
  • I made scrambled eggs with cheddar and spinach one day, cooked in plenty of salted butter, and they were lovely!
  • homemade chai latte, which I will drink more often. I like making chai lattes at home because I can control how much milk/tea leaves/honey go in.

Last night, Sal and I went to a place called Brickhouse Kitchen & Bar, also in downtown Charlottetown. Seline ate the steak frites, which came with beautifully-flavoured Grana Padano garlic fries and chimichurri (garlic and parsley) sauce.

I had a unique dish called the seafood pot pie, which was topped with the tastiest, most comforting biscuit crust. Buried underneath? Cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, haddock, and scallops, swimming in a creamy butter sauce. This was one of my favourite meals so far.

For dessert, we shared a pecan pie. The pecan pie was topped with homemade vanilla ice cream and served with a scoop of freshly-whipped cream. Another incredible dessert.

That’s it for now! We still have plenty of places that we want to go to, and hopefully will soon be able to check ’em off our list.

Have a wonderful rest of the week.

Bites of Life and Things I’ve Been Loving!

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Good morning!

I really wish I had something interesting and thought-provoking to share with you this lovely Monday morning, but I really don’t.

It’s almost winter here in Australia, and the weather is getting noticeably cooler. Fortunately, I can still wear shorts and a t-shirt since we are around the mid-twenties for most of the day. This is my favourite kind of weather – warm and sunny, but not overwhelmingly hot. It’s such a comfortable temperature that I wish it could stay like this year-round.

On Mother’s Day, I had a lovely brunch with my landlords (husband and wife) and her daughter (my housemate). We savoured brunch at a cafe called Café 63 in New Farm. Their menu was very extensive, they had quick service, and it was great to sit out in the patio. I ordered the mashed avocado, multigrain toast, two poached eggs, and smoked salmon. I haven’t had avocado toast in quite a while, so this was incredible. The black pepper and lime juice took the flavours to the next level.

I’ve been neglecting my blog a little bit with only two posts in the last three weeks. It’s because my schoolwork is getting busier. Final exams begin at the start of June, so many of my exams are less than a month away. When I have a lot to do, I genuinely enjoy making to-do lists – the longer the better! – and feel so much satisfaction checking off the tasks.

I haven’t been taking many pictures of my food, mostly because I feel like I eat the same thing every day. It’s always a combination of store-bought salad from Botanica Real Food (check out their Instagram, seriously), alongside some homemade quiche or omelet, and sometimes fried halloumi or bread from the farmer’s market.

Broke my record for steps! In contrast to… sitting on my butt for hours at a time to study.

I love Brisbane! At night it becomes such a colourful, vibrant place when all the bridges light up and illuminate the water. I learned yesterday that swimming and rowing in the Brisbane River is highly advised against, because there are bull sharks in here!

After my term in Australia, then July and August, I will be moving back to Waterloo, this time with my sister! Seline was accepted into the University of Waterloo, so we are very excited about being able to live together. I’ve been choosing my courses, and we have been working together to find a nice and affordable place at a convenient location in Waterloo.

Now, for something completely unrelated to school and housing:

Here’s a list of my favourite side dish salad combinations, inspired by Botanica!

  • potato, peas, dill ⭐FAV
  • brown rice, squash
  • pumpkin with seeds and cumin hummus dressing
  • Israeli couscous with spinach, red onion, sweet potato, pesto dressing ⭐FAV
  • roasted cauliflower with dates and parsley ⭐FAV
  • shredded beet with orange and goat cheese, mint
  • purple cabbage with mayo
  • chickpea, spinach, carrot with creamy curry dressing
  • broccoli slaw with dried cranberries
  • carrot and quinoa
  • currant, quinoa, green/brown lentil, red onion, parsley, sliced almonds, pumpkin seeds, cabbage
  • roasted potato with capers, dill

My sister asked me for a list of foods rich in B12. Here you go, S!

Food sources of vitamin B12

Meat-based Vitamin B12-Rich Foods

  • fish
  • milk
  • red meat
  • eggs
  • fish (trout, salmon)
  • crab
  • cheese
  • chicken
  • oysters and clams
  • yogurt

Vegan Vitamin B12-Rich Foods

  • almonds
  • soy milk
  • carrots
  • papayas
  • squash
  • sweet potato
  • peppers
  • mangoes
  • avocado
  • melon
  • peaches
  • apricots

Now, for a little note on things that I’ve been loving recently:

  1. Cirque Physio, a website by physiotherapist and circus artist Dr. Jen Crane. She provides all kinds of excellent tips and tricks (that I get on FB!) about recovery, injury prevention, and healthy habits – all targeting aerialists and acrobats.
  2. Along those lines, I downloaded The Artist Athlete Podcast by Shannon McKenna. I’ve never been a big fan of podcasts, but her podcast has featured interviews and conversations with high-level performers, occupational therapists, riggers, and a variety of artists. Her voice is so easy to listen to, and she brings up some excellent points. One of my favourite episodes was one from May 7, where she spoke with Anton Belyakov, a professional hand balancer born into a circus family.

That’s pretty much all I have for today, but I’m going to some great cafes today and tomorrow, and an awesome show that I’m very excited about. Have a great day!

Lately: A Lotta Brunch!

Good morning! Today is Monday, May 7 – Labour Day in Australia. Since it’s a university holiday, I don’t have classes today. Normally I have two classes and a tutorial on Mondays, which would go from noon to around 5:00. So, I’m glad that the entire day is mine to relax, catch up, and sit at home. It also happens to be rainy today, so I’m glad that I don’t have to catch the bus or walk to school with an umbrella.

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Spamming my sister with comments about the book – I want her to read it so badly!

Over the weekend, I went to Dymocks, the Australian version of Coles/Chapters/Indigo/Barnes&Noble. It’s a lovely bookstore in the heart of the city, and I picked up a book called Small Spaces by Sarah Epstein. I was immediately captivated by the synopsis, which I’ll paste below. I thought I’d flip through the beginning of the book, and it was so fascinating that I sat on the ground and read it until a bookstore employee told me to go sit in the back. So I did… and devoured the whole book!

I don’t have enough good things to say about it. I’ve always been a fan of psychological thrillers that are more creepy than gory, diverse characters, lots of action, suspense, and plot twists. This one checked all the boxes, and I would highly recommend it. Truly a remarkable novel – I can’t believe it’s her debut – that I’m probably going to purchase next time I go to Dymocks. Since it’s an Australian book (author is currently in Melbourne, and note the spelling of words like ‘traumatised’ and ‘realises’ below), I doubt I’ll be able to find it in Canada later on.

Here’s the summary, which I pasted from Goodreads. Interesting in a haunting, thought-provoking way, right?!

We don’t pick and choose what to be afraid of. Our fears pick us.

Tash Carmody has been traumatised since childhood, when she witnessed her gruesome imaginary friend Sparrow lure young Mallory Fisher away from a carnival. At the time nobody believed Tash, and she has since come to accept that Sparrow wasn’t real. Now fifteen and mute, Mallory’s never spoken about the week she went missing.

As disturbing memories resurface, Tash starts to see Sparrow again. And she realises Mallory is the key to unlocking the truth about a dark secret connecting them. Does Sparrow exist after all? Or is Tash more dangerous to others than she thinks?

I need to recommend it one more time – if you’re a reluctant reader who loves action and intense scenes/dialogue, this book is the way to go. Check out the author’s website, too! It’s beautifully-designed.

Speaking of books, my sister is rereading the Red Queen series. She’s jotting down all the new-to-her vocab words to define and incorporate into her vocabulary. This will be super helpful for her English provincial exam, which is coming up. Go Seline!

Switching gears…

Brunch with my friend, Grace! Grace and I travelled to Byron Bay for a weekend getaway together, and we reunited at She Bangs Coffee for a lovely brunch. I had the Italian smoked salmon with poached eggs on a beet puree, with dill cream cheese. The eggs were poached perfectly, and I loved all the sharp, tangy flavours from the red onions to the fresh cucumber. The salmon, however, was a little too salty for my taste. I loved the chai latte that I enjoyed before the meal, which was heavily vanilla-scented.

Afterwards, I headed up to the Albion Peace Centre for Brisbane’s Urban Yogi Retreat! Yes, after a very long time of not doing yoga… I did yoga. The event, which I discovered on Facebook, was promoted as “the perfect time out – stress, anxiety and worry melt away and leave you feeling uplifted and rejuvenated and ready to face the world again in just a few hours”. The retreat was suitable for all levels of experience, from the first timer to the seasoned yoga practitioner.

The program was from 11:00 to 3:00, and during that time, we did the following activities.

  • Pranayama: yoga breathing
  • Yoga asana (posture) class
  • Plant-based cooking class, where we learned to make tahini rice balls
  • Plant-based lunch of tofu, cucumber, red peppers, Thai noodles, and soy dressing, plus two spring rolls
  • Introduction to meditation class, with chanting (yoga chanting meditation is called Kirtan)
  • A discussion about yoga philosophy and yoga wisdom
  • Yoga nidra (yogic “sleep”, for full-body relaxation)
  • Tea and the best peanut butter brownies I’ve ever eaten! I asked Yasmin for the recipe, and can’t wait to make them myself.

The food was simply amazing, and the people were so kind. One of my favourite parts of the day was sitting in the grass outside the Albion Peace Centre, barefoot, with the sunshine streaming through the leaves of the trees above us. The four hours went by quickly, and I left feeling emotionally cleansed and ready to get back to schoolwork.

Another day, I had a remarkable brunch by myself. I started with the large chai latte at Corner Store Cafe before diving into this polenta and jalapeño waffle topped with creamed corn, sour cream, poached eggs, and smoked salmon. I’d eyed this on the menu for ages, and it certainly lived up to expectations. Delicious!

Since I had aerial silks practice yesterday, I had an energizing breakfast at home. I had half of a quiche made with pumpkin, spinach, and parmesan, some yogurt topped with cinnamon, and the bottom of a pistachio-raspberry muffin.

After practice, I walked around the area and found a place called Little Loco Cafe. I’ve always wanted to try their – you guessed it – chai latte, so I stopped in for a sip. This was great!

Meanwhile in Canada, Mom was cooking dinner. She made mussels with spaghetti in a spicy basil tomato sauce, topped with parmesan cheese. Her cooking is always so inventive and tasty-looking.

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I asked Seline the same question, and she picked American, Japanese, Vietnamese, Greek and Italian.

That afternoon, I also did a survey for the University of Waterloo’s Food Services. This was one of the questions. How, how on Earth, am I supposed to choose only five of my favourite? Only five cuisines?! I ended up choosing French, Indian, Japanese, Lebanese, and Thai. French because I genuinely love the quality/freshness and richness of French cooking, Japanese for the incredible seafood, Lebanese because I’m a huge fan of garlic, onions, eggplant, and saffron, Indian for and Thai because

If you had to pick five, what would you select?

Last but not least, this is a restaurant that I really want to go to! My Brisbane list of cafes and restaurants continues to grow and grow. If you were to order from this menu by Merriweather Cafe, what would you select?

I would probably get the freshly-baked sourdough topped with avocado, poached eggs, beet hummus, dukkah, and add smoked salmon and halloumi to it. Or – how delicious does a free-range eggs benny with truffle hollandaise sound?! From the brunch menu, the quinoa fritter on a brioche burger looks awesome! I would also order a hot chocolate, a chai latte, or their banana, honey, cacao smoothie (and add peanut butter).

Last but not least, podcasts! I’ve downloaded the bolded ones and have listened to a few. It’s a little daunting to have so much information at my fingertips.

Pre-med Podcasts

  • The Premed Years *
  • PreMedLife
  • Accepted
  • The MCAT Podcast
  • MedStud Memoirs
  • Dear Premed *
  • Academic Medicine Podcast
  • Medical School HQ
  • Pritzker Podcast
  • Sawbones
  • Quackiest
  • Andrea Tooley
  • Kevin MD
  • Medical School Admissions Doctor
  • Get into Medical School
  • Skeptics Guide to the Universe
  • Skeptoid
  • Audio Osmosis
  • The Short Coat Podcast
  • OldPreMeds Podcast
  • Tailing Admissions and Med Student Life

That’s pretty much it, for today. Hope you all have a lovely rest of the week.

I Walked More Than 20,000 Steps a Day for a Week

Good morning!

I got this idea from Cassie over at Super Fit Babe, who, man, inspires me so much. I was pretty curious about how many steps I could take, and ended up purchasing my own Fitbit. I love it, and find it more reliable and versatile than my cellphone’s health app.

So let’s take a look at my progressively-lazier notes!

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DAY 1 – WEDNESDAY

  • great weather, quite humid, and very sunny
  • walked to the farmer’s market in the city, shopped at the market, then walked home
  • came home to a very distinct tan line!
  • walked home from school in the evening
  • I took two showers today
  • felt limited flexibility in my hip flexors and adductors in yoga today
  • left ankle, the one I sprained as a kid, felt a little ‘off’ (not discomfort or pain, just different – maybe tightness?)

DAY 2 – THURSDAY

  • rained in the morning, didn’t feel like walking in the morning so I did a slow yoga class instead
  • during the yin yoga class, I noticed that I was less flexible in the hips like yesterday
  • rained sporadically in the afternoon, cutting my walk a little shorter
  • walked at a slower pace than normal
  • bottoms of feet were a little sore at the end of the afternoon
  • it was difficult for me to push to 20,000 steps today
  • I wanted to eat all the carbs on Earth today, and did end up having an extra pumpkin and spinach scone, plus a brownie for dessert (amazing)
  • not yet 20,000 at night, so I paced around the house until I reached 20,000 then went to bed

DAY 3 – FRIDAY

  • cleaning in the morning took up a lot of steps
  • felt hungry in the afternoon
  • ate lots of carbs at lunch again, and loved every bite
  • easy to hit 20,000 steps, though the bottoms of my feet were a little sore
  • needed to take sitting breaks during my afternoon outing

DAY 4 – SATURDAY

  • felt energetic today
  • good weather
  • got to roll out my feet with a spiky massage ball at the end of the day, which felt very nice
  • this is the most I’ve walked in a day so far in the challenge
  • didn’t actually feel HUNGRY, but once I started eating, I couldn’t stop eating
  • fell asleep every quickly at night (writing this on Sunday morning)
  • forgot sunscreen in the morning

DAY 5 – SUNDAY

  • woke up at 6:45, feeling pretty energetic
  • great weather just a little windy
  • felt like I had a lot of energy throughout the day and wanted to walk
  • increased pace in the evening since the temperature was just right

DAY 6 – MONDAY

  • ton of energy today
  • very, incredibly hot
  • when I get tired and feet get sore, I walk even faster so that I can get home sooner and relax

DAY 7 – TUESDAY

  • so tired
  • groggy
  • not really that much to say

I like how my notes eventually got shorter and shorter out of laziness.

PROS

  1. I slept really well. Normally, I fall asleep after a few minutes of lying in bed, but this time, I felt like I fell asleep even FASTER. Even if I wasn’t sleepy, my body was overall a good level of ‘tired’, and I needed that sleep. On top of that, I ended up waking up (naturally), later than usual. While I typically roll out of bed around 6:45 or 7:00, I found myself lying in bed until 7:30 or 7:45 most mornings.
  2. Walking is almost meditative. I don’t spend much time (AKA I don’t spend any time) meditating, or doing something simple like visualizing/listening to music. However, when I walked, I got to play some of my favourite tunes and focus on the beat and the lyrics. I think this was quite beneficial for my mental health, as I came back to studying feeling a greater sense of concentration.
  3. I felt refreshed. I loved the feeling of wind in my face, and being able to see the river. Since Brisbane has beautiful pedestrian walkways right next to the Brisbane river, I felt so lucky to get some great scenery while walking.
  4. I got a tan! A pretty bad tan, to be fair, complete with some strange tank-top tan lines, but I’ve always wanted to be a little golden.
  5. Vitamin D from all the sunshine!
  6. Made me appreciate music.
  7. A sense of pride and accomplishment.

CONS

  1. It’s not as easy as it looks!
  2. It is quite time-consuming. I felt as if I didn’t have sufficient time to do other tasks, like
  3. Easy, free, transportation.
  4. Less time and desire to do resistance exercises.
  5. Decreased flexibility in my hips.

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Overall, I enjoyed the walking and learned a bit about my mind and body. Now that classes have resumed, however, I don’t see myself continuously reaching 20,000 steps a day anymore. It was a great experiment to dabble in, and I feel more aware, more conscious, of the mild cardiorespiratory activity that I should take part in, on a regular basis. 

Walk on, everyone!

I Tried Vegemite!

Good morning, everyone! Hope you are all having a fantastic week so far. I’m writing this on a Monday morning, and I have one more week of no school (yay!) before classes pick up again. I’m loving my restful mid-semester break.

I actually have an essay to work on right now. Which is why I’m blogging instead.

On a much more positive note, I am head-over-heels in love with a place called Noosa Chocolate Factory. They make the richest, most chocolate-y hot chocolate using 56% cocoa. It’s a cross between milk chocolate and dark chocolate, so it straddles the line between sweet and bitter. I adore it, and downed two cups last week. With extra chocolate while I was browsing the store.

Recent meals have been healthy and tasty. For lunch yesterday, I ate:

  • 1/5 Botanica salad (potato, pea and dill salad, kale with tomato sumac, grains with seeds, Israeli couscous with pesto, chickpea and carrot with curry dressing)
  • 2/3 spinach goat cheese egg tart
  • 1-egg omelet with provolone
  • 1/2 vegan Lamington from the farmers market (dessert unpictured)
  • 1/2 vegan cookie dough cheesecake from the farmers market (dessert unpictured)
  • 1.5 scoops light Greek yogurt, honey-roasted cashews

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Similar but different: I had two of the spinach and goat cheese egg tarts. I’m really proud because I made them myself. I heat them up on the stovetop instead of the oven, so the bottom gets nice and crispy (okay, burned, because I don’t watch the heat). Either way, this is one of my favourite lunches. I love the salad combo, especially the vegan pesto couscous salad, and it tastes great with the buttery tart shell with spinach and goat cheese.

I’ve been looking at planning a trip for the mid-semester break. Originally, I thought about booking it with a tour, such as Adventure Dudes or something like that, but I ended up finding a friend who was equally interested in travelling to a local beach town called Byron Bay. We ordered bus tickets and reserved spots in a beachside hostel. I’m pretty excited! We leave on Friday morning and come back Sunday afternoon, so I’ll be sure to take plenty of photos.

I really want to visit this cafe, called Anouk, but I don’t know what I’d order! The apple stuffed french toast sounds divine, as does the breakfast masala. Truthfully, I’d be happy ordering any one of these dishes. What would you order from this renowned breakfast place?

These photos are from a place called the Roma Street Parklands. It’s a beautiful botanical garden.

I took so many photos, and loved watching the water dragons and birds. The plantlife (and wildlife!) here in Australia is drastically different from that of North America. It’s almost miraculous how differently flora and fauna react to existing in different biomes. I love it.

Another day, I went shopping in the downtown area of Brisbane. There, I contemplated buying a new tank top, but I already have quite a few shirts. And this was expensive. Why does Lululemon, and other recreational sportswear brands, have to be so pricey? Like, I’m a student. I’m poor. Must be nice to own a couple $150 leggings though. :’)

A couple random snippets of my life:

  • walking beside the river into the main part of the city
  • a note written to me from an Apple store employee who helped me connect my devices to Bluetooth (she gave me recommendations for places/restaurants in Brissy)
  • April 1st joke by Google Maps – Waldo!
  • King George Square at sunset

One day, I visited Sourced Grocer. It’s an organic grocery store and cafe, famous for their simple but delicious brunch dishes. I dined al fresco, which I adore.

Here is my cabbage pancake, which is topped with a smear of goat cheese, heavily roasted garlic broccoli, a poached egg, and parmesan cheese. On the side, I had a slice of sourdough bread with vegemite, and a rye crumpet with honeycomb and whipped butter.

First of all, the crumpet was divine. Perfectly airy, sweet, buttery. I’d eat this one thousand times. The honeycomb was exquisite, and the flies outside agreed. The cabbage pancake was perfect – crispy, yet tender pancake, beautifully-flavoured charred broccoli that added crisp, and creamy cheese. Of course, the egg was also poached to perfection and added lovely flavour to the other ingredients.

But most importantly! The vegemite. I thought:IMG_7922

  • it wasn’t as bad, or as powerful, as I’d expected
  • I’d really braced myself for the worst-possible tasting condiment, so when I tried it, I was pleasantly surprised!
  • I think people might make the mistake of smearing the entire glob onto their toast (like I would with Nutella or peanut butter), which would make it far too potent, but I used plenty of whipped butter and just enough vegemite
  • definitely something that you start off with a little of (like spicy condiments), and build your way up
  • in terms of flavour, it is rich and salty – reminding me somewhat of condensed, thickened soy sauce with a deeper, slightly bitter aftertaste

Afterwards, I had another typical Aussie treat: vanilla ice cream with milo! Milo is a malted powder (like Nestle hot chocolate mix) that you’d mix with milk or water. This came with crunchy milo cereal pieces. Interestingly, this ice cream was made with nitrogen, making it super creamy and gelato-like – which I love. I prefer the texture of gelato to the texture of ice cream any day.

More photos of Brisbane’s astonishing plantlife ❤

I guess that’s it! I’m going to go wash my tea mug – I’m obsessed with chai lattes. I’ve had a chai latte every morning, religiously, for the past two weeks. I actually shared the chai latte recipe on my last blog post if you’re curious. But let me say it again. I. Love. Chai.

Have a delicious week!