Life Back in School

Good afternoon! This week has been a good one, and since I’m back in school, busy. Good thing I like school.

Last night, I made applesauce baked oatmeal that I could bring with me to school as a yummy lunch. I like this recipe because it isn’t too sweet, but has great flavour from the applesauce, cinnamon, and vanilla. I ate this today during lecture, topped with Greek yogurt and PB2.

Applesauce Baked Oatmeal

Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups quick oats
  • drizzle honey
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 heaping tsp salt
  • 1.5 cups milk
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips (optional)
  • 15 prunes, chopped (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Grease pan – 8 x 10 up to 10 x 10 are perfect sizes.
  3. Mix all ingredients and pour into pan.
  4. Bake for 35 minutes.

Over the weekend, I went to the MaRS Discovery District in downtown Toronto, where I had fun reuniting with friends from universities across Ontario. I loved the challenges, mini competitions, jobs fair session, and inspiring talks.

 

With all of the University of Waterloo people!

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(Photo credit: Giordano Ciampini)

Few things from recently:

  1. Cute message from Mom
  2. Incredible sunsets from our home on the 18th floor
  3. Seline’s typical dinner: pan-fried chicken breast with Minute Rice
  4. Yoga poses and skating poses that I think are so beautiful

 

Back to skating! I skated a few times last week, early morning. The sessions start at 7:00 and end at 8:30. Afterwards, I like to have a hot tea latte and do schoolwork while eating a snack. This time, I had pumpkin oat bread with yogurt and almond butter. Here is the recipe.

Healthy Pumpkin Oat Bars with Chocolate Chips

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/3 cup quick oats
  • 2/3 cup buckwheat flour
  • 2/3 cup almond meal
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 heaping tsp salt
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree from a can
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix together all ingredients.
  3. Bake 45 mins.
  4. Serve!

 

I love skating so much, even though my jumps aren’t here any more. It just feels nice to be on the ice.

 

More things from recently:

  1. Seline’s academic schedule for this term
  2. Powerful tweets
  3. University of Waterloo Warriors Recreation app menu
  4. frsh, a vegan restaurant that just opened up at our school’s health building

 

More randy stuff.

 

A great recipe I made some changes to – they turned out firmer than I’d expected, still absolutely delicious when heated up and served with nut butter and/or yogurt. I love this recipe so much, and it doesn’t hurt that you only need ONE bowl.

Chocolate Banana Cake Squares {Vegan}

Serves: 1 9×9 pan

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 1/4 CUP HONEY
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • 1/4 CUP WATER
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 TSP LIME JUICE
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • HEAPING ¼ tsp salt
  • Sprinkle cinnamon (optional)
  • ¼ heaping cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 CUP ALL-PURPOSE, 1/2 CUP BUCKWHEAT, 1/4 CUP ALMOND MEAL
  • 1/2 CUP CHOCOLATE CHIPS

INGREDIENTS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. LINE 9X9 PAN WITH PARCHMENT PAPER.
  3. BLEND BANANAS WITH WATER AND APPLESAUCE IN A BLENDER. ADD OTHER WET INGREDIENTS AND MIX UNTIL THOROUGHLY COMBINED.
  4. Stir in flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt just until combined.
  5. MIX IN CHOCOLATE CHIPS.
  6. Pour batter into prepared dish.
  7. Bake for 35-37 minutes or until toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean.
  8. Let cool, slice in 16 squares, and serve.

Another day last week, I made a massive batch of vegetable chili. This made a TON of tasty, healthy, hearty chili. I love serving chili with sweet potato (roasted) or rice cooked in chicken broth, and of course, freshly-grated cheddar. Fresh lime juice on top also makes a big difference.

Cindy’s Ultimate Pumpkin Veggie Chili

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 5 small chopped carrots
  • minced garlic
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 chopped yellow bell pepper
  • 1 carton mushrooms
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes, no salt
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • juice of a lime
  • toppings?
  • SPICES AND HERBS
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • black pepper
  • cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • garlic powder
  • 3/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 3/4 tsp dried basil

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat oil and saute all vegetables with chili powder. Add salt.
  2. Stir in all other ingredients, except lime. Season with remaining spices. Stir in pumpkin.
  3. Boil, then reduce heat to medium.
  4. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  5. Stir in lime juice and serve.

Every Wednesday, Seline and I have a sister’s dinner out. This time, we went to Bauer Kitchen. The dessert sweet board was the highlight, including warm chocolate cake with chocolate fondue sauce and chocolate gelato, pear cheesecake, creme brûlée with blueberries, and carrot cake with pistachio sauce. I liked all of it and had no problem eating it all by myself because Seline doesn’t like dessert. 🙂

 

Couple of aerials things! I played around on the hoop for the first time in a very long time yesterday.

 

And reviewed a couple of old skills, like this one, on the silks.

 

That’s it for today since I’ve got a busy weekend!

Brackley Beach

I can’t believe we’re already a week into August. This summer is going by so quickly! Last week, my sister and I revisited Brakish, where I enjoyed the arugula salad with feta, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, cucumber, tomato, raw broccoli, barbecued Atlantic salmon, and raspberry vinaigrette. It’s such a fresh, flavourful, delicious salad, and I’m glad I ordered it again. The salmon was perfectly cooked.

There was some salad left over, so I ate it for lunch the next day, alongside a banana-oat muffin smeared with peanut butter, some blackberries, and delicious sweet and salty trail mix. My favourite parts of trail mix are always the cashews and pecans.

Seline and I were so lucky, because we had the opportunity to go to Prince Edward Island’s beautiful Brackley Beach. Brackley is about fifteen minutes from Charlottetown, and “offers miles of pristine sandy beaches and majestic dunes with various nearby attractions to enthrall all guests to the region“. Seline and I enjoyed wading in the water, reading in the sand, and biking around the area.

For dinner, we biked to the Dunes Studio and Gallery, where Seline had lamb shank in Massaman curry, veggies, and rice. I had two appetizers – one massive seafood chowder with chives, and an incredible cashew pesto flatbread with caramelized apples, brie, vodka-infused cranberries, and scallions (incredible). I also ate so much of their daily bread, which was studded with chillies, cheddar, and chives. It tasted perfect when dunked into the creamy broth.

For dessert, we shared the strawberry shortcake and their daily special, the sticky date pudding. The macerated strawberries tasted awesome with whipped cream and biscuit, and as usual, the sticky date pudding was to die for. It was lovely served alongside fresh vanilla ice cream and berries.

Some things:

  1. Looking at the Dunes menu before going – Seline had the third option, the lamb shank
  2. PEI schedule
  3. List of requirements for a cool scholarship that Seline found

Few more things…

  1. I made a virtual poster for the Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children
  2. List of things to do in New Glasgow, another area of PEI. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the opportunity to go
  3. Thank-you letter for our landlord

Our beautiful PEI home. Goodbye, lovely house on North River.

Seline and I have an obsession with Leonhard’s Cafe and Restaurant. I normally eat their salmon and avocado eggs benedict, which is absolutely delicious, but since we went later in the afternoon yesterday, I felt like something more lunch-y. I ordered the beet and goat cheese tart, which was topped with candied pecans. This is the most delicious tart I’ve ever eaten.

A completely different note – Sal and I love Small Print Board Game Cafe. Our favourite games are kind of lame: Quoridor, Guess Who Disney Edition (!!), something about funding the expeditions, Word on the Street, and Last Word.

Another day, Seline and I went to Piatto Pizzeria. It reminds me of Famoso Pizzeria in Waterloo, which I’ve been to quite a few times. I think I still like Famoso’s pizzas better, because they are more generous with their toppings. At Piatto, I ordered the arugula salad with gorgonzola, candied pecans, dried cranberries, and balsamic. In terms of pizza, Seline had the barbecue chicken pizza with caramelized onions, and I liked my goat cheese, proscuitto, and pear pizza. It was on the salty side, with the goat cheese and proscuitto, so I wish there was more sweet pear.

For dessert, Sal had vanilla bean ice cream, and I had a mason jar of creamy, flavourful tiramisu.

Another evening, Sal and I dined at the Pilot House. It’s one of our favourite PEI places. This time, she had the chicken gnocchi, and I ate the warm Cajun seafood salad again.

Pear and cream cheese pie with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream for dessert. This pie was great, but I’m not a big pie fan.

Yesterday afternoon, Seline and I went to COWS Creamery for our last dose of delicious Charlottetown ice cream. Seline had a scoop of vanilla and a scoop of chocolate, and I enjoyed my Cow-nadian Moo-ple ice cream (maple with swirls of syrup and crushed maple cookies) and pumpkin patch.

One of my favourite lunches was from Mavor’s Restaurant, where I ordered an award-winning grilled cheese sandwich. It was smeared with pear compote and stuffed with ricotta, cheddar, Gouda, and bacon. The bread was also a superstar – it was potato rosemary bread with plenty of butter. I loved this lunch, as well as the little side salad.

For dessert after lunch, Sal and I shared the chocolate lava cake with two scoops of vanilla ice cream.

Dinner from Lobster on the Wharf – I had the seafood pot pie with green beans and boiled new baby potatoes with butter and sour cream. Seline had their striploin with mushrooms and onions, plus coleslaw. I also had a lemon-poppyseed salad, which was a little boring.

Dessert was amazing. I’m a huge carrot cake fan, but don’t find good carrot cake very often because I’m a cream cheese icing snob. The cream cheese icing has to be perfect! And this one was. The cake was actually served warm, with the creamy, cheesy icing slightly melted. YUM!

Last but not least, a peaceful lunch at the office, starring peanut butter and banana, croissant, a banana-oat muffin, yogurt, more peanut butter, blackberries, and awesome trail mix.

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Seline and I are flying back to Vancouver (actually, Toronto first, then Vancouver – we have a one-hour layover) TOMORROW! We loved our time in C-town but are excited to come home, too.

Two Days in Cavendish 🐟

Good afternoon! I hope you are all having a great day so far. Lots to show you today! First of all, take a look at this lovely breakfast from Leonhard’s Cafe and Restaurant. Seline and I have gone here three weeks in a row. We love their eggs benny – she gets the bacon, and I get one with guacamole and one with smoked salmon. Their bennies are served with roasted potatoes and a refreshing green salad. I always get a chai latte, and then we share a vanilla roll.

Seline and I spent Friday and Saturday in Cavendish. Cavendish is a resort area on the north shore of Prince Edward Island, in Canada, famous for beaches and cultural sites. The park’s Green Gables Heritage Place, which inspired L. M. Montgomery’s “Anne of Green Gables” novels, includes the Green Gables house and several museums.

Seline and I never “got into” the Anne novels, so we were just excited to see the amusement parks and do other fun things.

We arrived midmorning on Friday, after a 50-minute bus ride, and spent the morning at Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum. Some highlights:

  • a mirrored mirage
  • a mirror which was actually a WINDOW!?
  • Ellen Degeneres made of coffee beans
  • pieces of the Berlin Wall
  • statue of the reptile man
  • shrunken heads
  • wax model of the tallest person in recorded history, Robert Wadlow (reached 8 ft 11.1 in in height and weighed 490 lb (220 kg) at his death at age 22)
  • a tunnel with moving walls that made us lose our balance

After that, we ate at the Ship’s Pub and Galley. We shared a platter of cheesy garlic bread (DELICIOUS!) and a seafood flatbread with roasted potato and feta salad.

Afterwards, Seline and I visited the wax museum. There were plenty of wax figurines, including Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Shrek, Mila Kunis, Halle Berry, Celine Dion, and more.

Then, we mini-golfed. I am an awful golfer, and it took me about ten tries to putt the ball into the hole. Seline, on the other hand, attempted some shots with her eyes closed and got a hole-in-one. We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing at Mariner’s Boardwalk, then walked down to the real Cavendish Boardwalk.

For dinner, we ate at Chez Yvonne. They serve plenty of homey cooking. We shared a bowl of seafood chowder, which was sadly heavily potato-based, a roll, and a plate of haddock and lobster sauce, with mashed potatoes, roasted veggies, and coleslaw.

For dessert, Chez Yvonne had a daily special of molten chocolate lava cake. This dessert is a dream come true, served with two silky scoops of vanilla ice cream. I loved the filling in this decadent, but simple chocolate cake.

Two completely unrelated things:

  • our motel room – Silverwood Motel, which is near Ripley’s Museum and Chez Yvonne
  • I got to see a little piece of the Titanic! For some reason, ten year-old me was morbidly obsessed with the Titanic – I just found the voyage to be so fascinating and remarkable. I was so thrilled to SEE, in PERSON, a real piece of the RMS Titanic. What an unbelievable opportunity.

On Saturday morning, I woke up earlier than Seline and went on a short walk to Avonlea Village, where I devoured a chocolate croissant-ish pastry and a big cup of chai. Avonlea Village has seven restaurants, including Piatto Pizzeria, Moo Moo Grilled Cheese, and Samuel’s Coffee Shop. I brought a strawberry-banana smoothie home to Seline.

Then, we checked out of Silverwood Motel and went back to Chez Yvonne, where Seline had their smallest breakfast, which consisted of one egg, two pieces of toast, roasted potatoes, and bacon.

We debated between the beach and the amusement park, then decided to try walking down to the beach.

Bad idea! The beach was an hour away, and people are meant to DRIVE to the beach. Walking down there was quite a challenge, especially with the humidity. We never made it to the beach, but sat in front of a very serene pond to watch the ducks, before we headed back.

The daisies were beautiful, and there was a massive stretch of flowers. Since the road was quiet, we took plenty of photos in the middle of the road.

The walk made us want to EAT! We headed to Island Favourites, where Seline ordered a small green salad with grilled chicken and balsamic vinegar. I had the Sailor’s Sampler – which was FOUR mini lobster rolls, one of each flavour. We shared the potato wedges and coleslaw on the side.

  1. Lobster with mayo, dill, chives
  2. Lobster with mayo, celery
  3. Lobster with garlic aioli, lemon
  4. Lobster with melted butter

In the afternoon, we did an ESCAPE ROOM, died in the escape room (it was hard!), and then took the bus back to Charlottetown. I slept through the entire bus ride, and before I knew it, was back in downtown C-Town.

For dinner, we ate at the Gahan House, where Seline and I shared chicken quesadillas and a bowl of chowder with focaccia. The quesadillas were served with roasted potatoes and green beans, plus salsa and sour cream. Seline loved the chicken quesadillas! We ate some COWS ice cream before walking home – I had a scoop of PB Cup and a scoop of Moo Malt.

On Sunday morning, the two of us went back downtown. We sipped on chai (me) and iced black tea (Seline) before browsing the Sunday Market and heading to Dave’s Lobster. At Dave’s, Seline ate the lobster grilled cheese, and I had a combo of the simple mayo + celery lobster roll and the melted butter + garlic lobster roll. Both were great, and served with pickles, salt and vinegar chips, and iced water.

Finally, I had another scoop of COWS! This time, Fluff ‘N’ Udder (chocolate with marshmallow and peanut butter cups) with PB Cup.

We relaxed at the boardwalk…

And did another escape room in the afternoon. Seline loves escape rooms! I think she’s addicted.

For dinner, I cooked a piece of herbed Atlantic salmon with carrots, zucchini, and broccoli. Dessert was a lovely piece of blueberry crisp, from Receiver Coffee Company, served with yogurt.

That’s pretty much it! I’m still working on figuring out my Fall 2018 schedule, but here is Seline’s. She is taking some great courses, like Mythology and Anthropology.

On an entirely different note, I’ve been eating the same ‘ole tasty meal every day here at work – toasted bread with a smothering of peanut butter and sliced banana, alongside yogurt and some kind of baked treat. I LOVE IT!

Bye for now 🙂

 

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.

Giant Chai Bowls, Deconstructed Desserts, and PB Hot Chocolate!

Hello! I was really tempted to start this post with ‘Chai there’, but… I resisted. Well, without further ado (this is such a weird word), I visited Three Monkeys Cafe yesterday. It’s described as the most atmospheric cafe in the city, and boasts the biggest mug bowl of chai.

According to The Urban List: “Where else can you get a tureen of chai at 9.30pm on a Wednesday night? When it comes to serving sizes, Three Monkeys knows what’s up. Their yawning bowls of chai have garnered such a rep that a recent stigma has developed towards anyone hoping to ‘nip in for a small one’. To be fair, Three Monkeys’ largest vessel is probably more than most people can handle, but chai addiction is as real as it is harmless and I’ve never known a fiend to hold back when that flagrant spice display hits the table.”

It was delicious, and a perfect serving size for me because I can never get enough chai. It came with a single packet of honey, which was perfect, but I think two packets would’ve made my sweet tooth even happier. Next time, I’ll come back for some of the cakes – I was bewildered by the number of cheesecakes, tiramisus (is this how you pluralize it?), mud cakes, and more. It was amazing. I’m actually very tempted to stand up, get dressed, and leave my house right now to go back to Three Monkeys.

After I spiced up my life with the chai (pun stolen from the Urban List), I went to Botanica! I talked about this place in my last blog post, so you all know already how much I love this place. Gluten-free treats, a massive variety of vegan salads, incredible quiche – everything made with fresh ingredients. If this place was any closer to my home, I’d be bankrupt.

I went for a walk yesterday to Brisbane’s awesome West End! When I leave Australia, I will really miss the beautiful river walks and early sunsets.

The river walk and the Go Between Bridge took me to the Boundary Street Markets! The markets run every Friday and Saturday evening, from 4:00 to 10:00 pm. There were about eight to ten stalls, all selling unique ethnic eats. Ones that stood out to me include a Malaysian satay vendor, an Italian waffle ice cream vendor, Dutch miniature pancakes, Korean barbecue, and Nepalese momos (steamed dumplings). I had dinner plans, so unfortunately I didn’t get to grab any of the treats.

Some funny things – a tweet I saw and a street sign that someone improved. 😉

On Monday morning, I felt like going for a nice walk. Since it’s getting cooler in Brisbane, to a much more comfortable weather, I love going for refreshing, sunny morning walks. One morning, I headed straight ti John Mills Himself, a trip I’d been looking forward to for so long. Finally, finally, I got my hot chocolate! They offered hot chocolate in every flavour imaginable, and you can choose between two levels of chocolatey-ness: milk chocolate or dark chocolate (70%). The lady behind the counter informed me that while the milk chocolate is sweeter, the dark chocolate is richer. Then, you add a shot of flavour! These are some of the flavours I remember:

  • lemongrass
  • bergamot (the citrus from earl grey tea)
  • chai
  • peanut butter
  • peppermint
  • lavender
  • rose petals
  • and about four or five more… that I can’t remember! But don’t worry, I’ll be back to double check 😉

I originally came for the lavender, but was so tempted by the peppermint – and ended up choosing peanut butter. If I see peanut butter, anywhere on a menu, I need it! Next time, I want to try the peppermint or the lavender, though I’m sure the chai would taste wonderful with hot chocolate as well. In the end, my 70% chocolate peanut butter hot chocolate was topped with a heap of chocolate shavings, freshly-cracked sea salt, and… it was divine. Honestly. From heaven.

Also, love the double-walled (is that what you call it?) cup.

Today, I felt… celebratory? For no reason. Why not? I celebrated my Tuesday morning by visiting the Gunshop Cafe, where I had a spectacular and memorable brunch. I’ve always loved the West End, an area of Brisbane which is known for hundreds of trendy and hip cafes and restaurants, but I hardly ever go there. Don’t ask me why because I don’t know why.

Well, I went! I finally went!

Thanks to this incredible picture on Instagram posted by the Gunshop Cafe, showing their famous gnocchi with blue cheese sauce and mushrooms. Doesn’t that look amazing?

I went for brunch, so the gnocchi wasn’t an option, but I was exhilarated to order the raisin and walnut toast, which was topped with – get this! – grilled camembert cheese, sautéed mushrooms, crispy sage, and red onion jam. Is this real life?

For dessert, the deconstructed carrot cake was calling my name. This came with a parsnip puree and a scoop of nutmeg gelato, garnished with carrot-coconut chips and walnut crumble. Even better, the carrot cake itself was warm! One of the dreamiest desserts I’ve enjoyed in a long time. It was also such a photogenic dish that I took a million photographs, and had a hard time narrowing it down to three images.

Some other little bits and pieces:

  • I had a chai latte from Merlo’s Coffee (on campus) this morning. Merlo’s, to me, is the Aussie version of Starbucks – they sell breakfast goods, plenty of drinks, and have snacks to-go. Their chai latte was mediocre: not hot enough, overly sweet, overpoweringly milky. I’m 99% sure that it was made with chai syrup rather than real spices (in other words, the chai latte didn’t even have tea in it). Thankfully, I got it for free because everyone who signs up for a Merlo’s card gets two free drinks!
  • I have the most serious internal debates when I’m trying to figure out which restaurant or cafe I want to go to!
  • In the suburb that I live, it’s so easy to go to the “busy part” of Brisbane, or the “downtown” area, by walking! It’s not a long walk, and there are plenty of water fountains, benches, flowers, and areas to rest along the way.

On Saturday evening, I had tickets to see a spectacular one-woman show called Invisible Things. Before the show, I chatted with some friends from aerials, and they recommended a different show to me. Kelsey and I share a lot of mutual friends, though I haven’t met her in person before, and I’ll probably pick up tickets for her one-woman show as well.

Invisible Things was created by Alex, who coached my old aerial straps instructor, Ben, and his partner, Maddy. Alex’s show was described by reviewers as an “emotionally-charged performance [that] journeys to an intimate inner world. In the show, Alex fuses dance, theatre, and circus arts.

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According to the site, Alex designed the show to reflect on nearly two decades of her personal journals, where she battles with her identity, and the dark voices in her head. I’ve never met Alex personally, but I have heard incredible things about her athleticism and creativity. All my friends who saw the show before me told me about how the powerful storytelling and gorgeous hand balancing made up an amazing show. They were right! This was super cool. I was amazed by how one woman, without even using words, could captivate an audience for 45 minutes.

That’s all! I’m not sure if I have anything else to share with you guys today, so I suppose I will leave it at that. Wishing you all a wonderful last week of May!

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Seline’s first ice cream of 2018!

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!