10 Questions

Name the number one thing on your bucket list.

  • Scuba diving or snorkeling!

Go-to exercise routine?

  • Long walk in the park, or yoga.

Would you rather repeat the same day for a month, or repeat every single day twice for the rest of your life?

  • This is trippy – is “neither” an option? I think it would be neat to repeat every single day twice, so you can make things right. But for the rest of my life? Does that mean I can live until 160? Whoa.

What are your three most important components for optimal health?

  • Self-love, good spices (so you can make veggies taste good!), and clothes that motivate you to move.

Do you prefer spending leisure time with friends or by yourself?

  • By myself. Interesting Wikipedia articles, here I come.

Have any secret talents?

  • I can fold my tongue into a flower with three petals! I gotta show you guys some pics one day.

Weirdest food combination that you think surprisingly works?

  • Some people think tea with milk and honey is weird, but I always found it normal and absolutely delicious. I also love seafood with cheese, like in Hong Kong style baked seafood rice with béchamel sauce and broiled with cheese. Another one – toast topped with nut butter, sliced banana, cinnamon, and get this – chopped prunes!

Describe your perfect vacation getaway!

  • Thinking about vacation makes me so happy, but it is really impossible to choose. At this moment, I’m envisioning a couple of weeks in Casablanca, Morocco, or Tunis, Tunisia. I’d give away half my belongings to visit Carthage, in Tunisia! You must google Essaioura, and Sidi Bou Saïd, right now, because they are so stunning. Oh, and French Polynesia. I’d love to see the Baie d’Along.

If you had your own garden, what would you grow?

  • I would grow strawberries and green onions. Strawberries because I love them, and I think they look cute when growing, and green onions because they are super easy. It would be neat to always have green onions at your fingertips for a good ‘ol stir-fry.

Where would you go during a full day of restaurant hopping?

  • Chocolate almond croissant and a rich hot chocolate from a French patisserie for breakfast à all kinds of sushi for lunch à a London Fog (Earl Grey tea latte) from a café in the midafternoon à variety plate of Indian food for dinner (palak paneer must be involved!) à freshly-made ice cream sandwiches from a food truck for dessert.

In your honest opinion, do you believe in good luck, or is hard work the only component to success?

  • I definitely believe in good luck. Success depends on who you meet, when you do things, where you do things. You need to be at the right place at the right time for success in certain cases. Though, I know that the harder you work, the luckier you get. J Maybe hard work comes with luck, but luck can’t stand alone?

Thanks, Cassie, for these questions! It only took, eh, three months for me to get around to it…

 

A Different Kind of Summer

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

As for summer 2017? School.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BC, I’ve Missed You ❤

I’ve missed having big, fluffy blueberry-studded pancakes topped with the creamiest nut butter and a smattering of more fresh blueberries.

So much, in fact, that I had this breakfast three days in a row. Half a mashed banana in the batter makes quite the difference for texture and subtle sweetness, in my opinion.

I made banana pancakes another morning, bunny-style. Pretty proud of how these turned out, in terms of taste and presentation!

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Seline is a fabulous artist, and she persuaded me to do some doodling with her. We drew the same picture of a goddess character from her favourite anime, Seven Deadly Sins. My rendition is on the left, and hers is on the right.

My mom cooked Hainanese chicken rice another day, which we enjoyed with braised broccoli and carrots.

We played with the aerial silks at the Vancouver Circus School, went to the Kaleidoscope Arts Festival in Coquitlam, and looked over LaFarge Lake.

More delicious Hainanese chicken rice was devoured. This is one of my favourite versions of chicken + rice. I love Chinese bok choy, stir-fried with garlic.

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There is always a plethora of cookies and baked goods in the Wei family home. Here, I have dessert: yogurt with a blueberry-banana muffin top, lemon poppyseed muffin, cream cheese pound cake, and a coconut cookie.

Mom is looking so cute here as she cooks. Seline put a removable tattoo on my wrist, and I think it’s fun to look at.

Mom makes a great winter melon stew with krill, as well as braised chicken drumsticks with taro chunks. I adore taro. Do you like taro? Have you tried it in sweet and savoury dishes?

More dessert: I made an Earl Grey cake on my second day home, and that was super flavourful and crumbly. On the right: cream cheese pound cake turned into French toast for one breakfast, topped with a generous smear of Nutella.

This morning, my breakfast consisted of a large mug of unpictured English Breakfast tea latte, and a big plate of two scrambled eggs, baked treats, a chopped peach, and creamy honey-flavoured yogurt with flaxseeds and blueberries. Breakfast was followed by a little too much nibbling on shortbread cookies.

The family doggie turned nine a few weeks ago, but he is still full of energy. He loves the park!

Yesterday, met up with the grandparents in Burnaby, where we ordered lots of great sushi. My favourite rolls are the Aburi flame-seared ones.

This is completely out of place, as it’s from back in Waterloo – Famoso Pizzeria, where I savoured this great Cavoletti pizza with (get this!) toasted walnuts, chopped dates, honey, crispy prosciutto, brussels sprouts, and gorgonzola. For my side, I chose a salad topped with Caprese ingredients – mozzarella, tomato, and pistachio pesto.

With tiramisu and a scoop of salted caramel gelato. Yummmm. Tiramisu is amongst (among?) my top five favourite desserts.

Rouzao rice is a Taiwanese specialty that my mom cooks once in a while. It’s essentially a stew of ground pork and pork belly, spiced with soy sauce, star anise, onions, and garlic.

A couple nights ago, my family and I went to the Richmond Night Market, where Seline and I shared a carton of takoyaki (deep-fried octopus balls), and I had a bag of sesame bubble waffles and a taiyaki (Korean fish-shaped waffle filled with red bean).

Recently, I’ve been spending a lot of time working on our vacation plans. My family is going to Salt Spring Island in two weeks, so I am very excited about all the activities we’ll be doing.

With a mug of tea, I spend some mornings designing the activities of each day. It’s such a short vacation (~3 days total), but so much to do there.

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I can’t wait to go to a public skating session. Skating is great in the summer, in my opinion.

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Yesterday, I feasted on the most delicious homemade crepe I’ve made. Here’s the super simple recipe:

Easy Nutella Banana Crepes

Serves 1

Crepe INGREDIENTS

  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Topping INGREDIENTS

  • 1 banana, sliced thinly
  • 3 tbsp Nutella

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Whisk together all crepe ingredients.
  2. Grease pan with butter or coconut oil. Pour batter into large pan and rotate pan in circular motion so batter coats the surface evenly.
  3. Cook over medium-high heat. Cook for 2 minutes, until bottom is cooked. Flip and cook the other side.
  4. Place crepe on a cutting board and generously spread Nutella on the entire crepe. Top with sliced banana, fold, and place on a plate. Decorate with more banana slices.

NOTE: You can place banana slices on the center third of the crepe and then fold the two sides over, or place bananas on 1/4 of the crepe and do two half-folds.

I also baked up a storm!

These lopsided round-ish treats are muffin tops that I found via Evangeline on Nutrition with a Mission, who discovered them on Athletic Avocado. I made a couple small changes here and there:

Blueberry Banana Muffin Tops

Makes 6 large, 12 small

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 packed cup almond flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup nut butter (I used a mix of brazil nut and cashew nut butter)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/3 cup crushed nuts (I used a mix of roasted nuts from Costco, like cashews, almonds, brazil nuts, peanuts, etc.)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Combine almond butter, egg, maple syrup, vanilla, and banana in a bowl. Whisk until well-combined. Add a splash of water or milk if needed.
  4. Add almond flour, cinnamon, and baking soda. Mix in blueberries, and combine.
  5. Mix all topping ingredients together.
  6. Spoon batter into 6 large or 12 smaller muffin tops.
  7. Bake muffin tops for 20 minutes, or until done.

I also made these tasty lemon poppyseed muffins.

Vegan Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 flax eggs (2 tbsp flaxseed meal + 5 tbsp water)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil or grape seed oil
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1.5 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1 cup flour

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Grease or line a standard muffin tin.
  2. Prepare flax eggs. Allow to rest.
  3. Add applesauce, lemon juice and zest, oil, almond milk, maple syrup, sugar, baking soda, salt, and whisk for one minute. Foaming will occur as the lemon juice reacts with the baking soda.
  4. Add flour, almond meal, and oats. Stir with a spoon until combined. Do not over-mix. If batter appears too thick, add more almond milk. It should be thick and not pourable. Stir in poppy seeds and whisk again.
  5. Divide batter evenly between 12 muffin tins.
  6. Bake for 17-22 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Cool for several minutes in the pan. Remove from tins, and let cool on a cooling rack. Will keep, covered, for several days.

The muffins, and the muffin tops, were both incredible. If you have a day in the kitchen, I highly recommend giving them a shot!

Another recipe I tried, adopted heavily from Allrecipes to reduce sugar (original was 2 cups), and swap 75% of the oil for unsweetened applesauce.

German Apple Cake

Serves one 9×13, can cut into 12 medium-sized pieces

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 4 heaping cups apples, peeled, cored, and diced (I used 4 gala apples)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour one 9×13 inch cake pan.
  2. Toss diced apples with a scoop of flour to coat (prevents sinking).
  3. Beat oil and eggs until creamy. Add sugar and vanilla.
  4. Add cinnamon, baking soda, then salt.
  5. Add flour, and mix until combined. Fold in the apples.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 45 minutes, until cake tests clean.

Have a beautiful week, everyone ❤

Week of Quotes VI

  1. You fail when you stop trying.

  2. The one who falls and stands up is stronger than the one who never fell.

  3. Don’t tell people your dreams. Show them.

  4. Holding anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.

  5. Dreaming and doing is the difference between failure and success.

  6. Define success by your own terms. Achieve it by your own rules.

  7. Sometimes, the most productive thing to do is relax.

Week of Quotes V

  1. Don’t believe everything you think.

  2. Sometimes you win. Other times you learn.

  3. Close some doors. Not because of pride, incapacity, or arrogance. But simply because they no longer lead somewhere.

  4. Enjoy your own life without comparing it with that of another.

  5. People who say “you can’t” and “you won’t” are afraid “you will”.

  6. Be somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody.

  7. Hope is the only thing stronger than fear.

Week of Quotes IV

  1. Never confuse people who are always around you, with people who are always there for you.

  2. Don’t call it a dream. Call it a plan.

  3. The harder you work, the luckier you get.

  4. Good things don’t come from comfort zones.

  5. Confidence is not “they will like me.” It is “I will be fine if they don’t.”

  6. You can’t make everybody happy.

  7. You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.