An Outstanding October | Baking and Life

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Breakfast this morning – roasted butternut squash with cinnamon, truffled green beans, 2 scrambled eggs with truffled Gouda, 2 pieces halloumi, roasted brussels sprouts with parmesan // homemade almond milk hot chocolate

This month has been really lovely so far. I am pretty busy with my classes, and have a lot of school work and communication to keep up with. Now that midterms are over, I am happy to have some time to relax and get a head start on studying for the second round of midterms.

Yesterday, I baked chocolate chip banana squares. Since there were five ripe bananas calling my name, I settled on this recipe, which featured five bananas. I adjusted the amounts of flour and added some oats. They turned out AMAZING – I ate two this morning for breakfast after scrambled eggs and veggies. These banana chocolate chip squares are really tender, and satisfy my sweet tooth without being too sweet. I hope you give the recipe a shot!

Five-Banana Chocolate Chip Squares

Inspired by this recipe

Makes 16 squares

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 overripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 3/4 cup almond meal
  • 1 heaping tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Put parchment paper on a 9×9 pan.
  2. Place bananas, honey, butter, eggs, and vanilla in a blender. Blend completely and pour into large bowl.
  3. Mix in dry ingredients and chocolate chips.
  4. Bake 30 minutes, until a knife comes out clean.
  5. Cool completely. Cut into 16 squares.

When I found myself with an extra baked sweet potato, I took off the skin and pureed it, then used it in this great recipe for sweet potato baked oats. They turned out fantastic, and had so much flavour. I’m having fun modifying this base recipe (1.3 cups oats, 1 cup liquid) to try different things. I recently tried this with pumpkin puree instead of sweet potato puree, and steeped the almond milk in chai tea leaves for a great pumpkin-chai fall baked oatmeal.

Healthy Sweet Potato Baked Oatmeal

4 servings

  • 1 and 1/3 cups quick oats
  • 1 heaping tsp cinnamon
  • scant 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup sweet potato puree (1 medium sweet potato)
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 tbsp melted butter (optional)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix all and bake in 8×8 pan for 25 mins at 350 degrees.


One final baking adventure – I had lots of leftover carrots from making Thai green curry, and thought it would be really nice to bake them up into squares. These turned out great – just sweet enough, and loaded with fall flavour. They froze very well.

Apple-Carrot Squares

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 heaping teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 3 single-serve containers of unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Whisk all wet ingredients.
  3. Whisk all dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
  4. Whisk wet mixture into dry mixture.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the top. Bake the loaf for 45 to 50 minutes. Place the pan on a cooling rack, then let the bread cool in the pan. Gently turn the loaf out onto the rack to cool completely.
  6. Store leftover pumpkin bread in an airtight container lined with paper towels for up to 4 days at room temperature or 7 days in the refrigerator. It can be frozen, wrapped tightly and placed in a ziptop bag, for up to 3 months.

Things from recently:

  • trying to get tickets to Corteo, which is coming to Toronto soon
  • shopping lists
  • choreography ideas
  • recipe for chocolate quinoa breakfast bowl, which I have yet to make
  • new Netflix show on figure skating
  • study schedules
  • ways to learn

Seline and I had lunch at Taco Farm one day, and I had a lovely plate of enchiladas with Mexican rice, arugula salad with pineapples, and sour cream. Seline enjoyed her brunch poutine – a lovely dish of chorizo, veggies, and a fried egg.

Afterwards, we spent some quiet study time at Seven Shores Cafe, where I had a great pumpkin spice chai latte and a vegan chocolate chip cranberry muffin. Seven Shores has the best creative baked goods, and I cannot wait to have their sunflower butter cookie. One day…

 

Another day, another brunch – here, Seline and I savoured meals at Sole. I had the vegetable crepe, which was loaded with spinach, kale, mushrooms, and goat cheese, then topped with a vodka spaghetti sauce and zucchini/squash ribbons. The best part? Fresh pastries – banana bread and pumpkin seed muffins – before the meal. I love pastries as you can see.

 

Random things from here and there:

  • spaghetti squash with Thai green curried vegetables
  • Mom’s homemade cranberry chocolate cookies
  • drew some anatomical structures on Seline!

 

Seline and I LOVE Red House, a restaurant in Uptown Waterloo. Here, I had a beautiful turkey sandwich on potato chive bread (butternut squash aioli was to die for) and a bowl of caramelized onion and golden beet soup. For dessert, I enjoyed the deconstructed lemon meringue pie, which had white chocolate mousse, berry compute, sugar cookie – which I believe should’ve been puff pastry – and lemon curd. Seline had the truffled lamb spaghetti.

 

Snapshots from aerial silks recently.

 

Attending a fun conference at the University of Waterloo!

 

And bits and pieces of volunteering, the fall term with cooler weather, and school stuff. Plus EYE MAKEUP (?!) that my sister experimented on me, for my aerial silks showcase performance.

 

Things from my Notes on my computer.

 

And a couple tasty meals.

 

That’s all I have for ya – wish I could share something more exciting, but every day has just been school, home, school, home, etc. Have a lovely rest of the week!

10 Questions for Seline

Hey!

My sister, Seline, is graduating from high school in a few weeks, and will be attending university at the University of Waterloo in September. Here are some of the things she is looking forward to, dreading, and more.

CW: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Semester 2 High School Grade 12 Seline? What classes are you taking, what time are you getting to school, and who are your teachers? nah What are you learning?

  • SW: I get to school at 8:25 after waking up at 8:00. I’m currently taking Psychology, Economics, and English. I have two off blocks so I go home to finish homework and often nap. I’d classify this semester as one of the chillest ones since grade 9.

What do you think you will miss the most about Centennial? What will you be sad to leave behind? On the other hand, is there anything that you will certainly NOT miss?

  • I will probably miss the easy courses because most of the teachers at school are pretty lenient and as long as you try hard, you’ll do good. I’ll be sad to leave behind all the good memories I made in my four years of high school. But I will not miss some of my classmates, oops.

Are you excited about prom and commencement? Which parts are you excited about? Why?

  • I’m actually not excited for either. It’s a lot of work. Prom (grad) was so tiring with all the planning and caused numerous miscommunications and unnecessary hassle. Commencement will be four hours of sitting in a hot auditorium listening to speeches and watching people I don’t even know walk across a stage and get their diploma. I guess I’m excited at the fact that after that, high school will officially be over.

Which classes are you taking in the fall term? Can you tell me something that you are looking forward to in each class, or why you chose the class?

  • I’m taking Anthropology, Classical Studies, Psychology and Sociology. I chose these classes because I’ve never had the opportunity to explore this area and they all sound pretty interesting. I like psychology so despite taking it right now, I’m also going to take it again in the fall.

Which classes are you taking in the winter term? Can you tell me something that you are looking forward to in each class, or why you chose the class?

  • I’m going to take Japanese, Greek Mythology, Pathopsychology and History. Again, I never took these courses before (except Japanese but it sounds fun) so I wanted to try them out. Also, since it’s first year, nothing is decided or official so I’m just taking the courses that sound fun. I might even want to change out of my psychology major by the end of the year, who knows.

Are there any classes that you are scared or worried about? Why?

  • I’m scared about Japanese because I heard it’s hard but I think I have an okay understanding in the basics of the vocabulary and grammar. I’m also scared about the courses I’ve never tried before like Anthropology and Classical Studies because I have no idea what to expect from them besides a huge workload and tons of reading.

Do you think you will have a favourite course? Which one?

  • I think my favourite course will be the Greek Mythology one. That one sounds super fun and interesting to look into. I’ve always been interested in ancient mythology and it’ll be exciting to learn more about it in the Winter.

What are your prospective majors, and why did you choose them?

  • I chose Psychology and Classical Studies. I chose Psychology as my first because I wanted to be a form of therapist ever since middle school so I want to explore down that field and learn more about it along with its possible career choices. I chose Classical Studies because I think I have a genuine interest in those classes. Also, getting a major in this sounds like it could lead to some potentially really cool jobs.

Aside from classes, what are you excited about when it comes to university in Waterloo? Are there any clubs, organizations, or extracurricular activities that you want to be a part of? Here is a link of all of Waterloo’s clubs (remember to select a category, otherwise there will be too many pages!).

  • I don’t think I’d want to join any clubs or extra-curricular activities just yet; I know I’m going to have a lot of trouble keeping up the pace with all the new courses and workload, so I don’t want to bombard myself with more commitments just yet. Once I’m comfortable with the new schedule and way of living, I’ll consider it.

What is the biggest difference that you think you will face, comparing high school to university? Are you ready for that change?

  • Probably moving out of the house and living alone with Cindy. Ever since kindergarten my mom always drove me to school, picked me up, cooked my food, and did tidying around the house. When I move out, it’ll all be up to me. Unless Cindy wants to be a roommate and a maid. I’m ready for this change because if I don’t learn to become more independent now, what other time would I be able to have this opportunity?

Bonus question: I want you to vividly imagine a typical day in the life of First-Year University Seline. What time do you wake up, and which classes do you attend? Do you engage in any fun extracurriculars? Where and when do you study? Do you like to cook, and do you spend time with friends?

  • Depending on my schedule, I hope the earliest time I wake up at is 8:30. I have a super hard time waking up, but then again, I don’t recall ever being late for a class so I should be okay. I can see the day consist of transportation, school, study, eat and sleep. I’ll probably study at home because I’ve never been able to focus in libraries or cafes. At home, at a desk with some music in the background would be just fine. I’ve learned a few new recipes recently that I’ll take with me to Waterloo that I can see myself making. Pasta, egg, bread, pizza, salad, fruits, green beans, mashed potatoes, chicken, noodles are all pretty doable. And I hope to make lots of new friends in my first year so we can hang out and study together! Nothing too much or else I’ll get stressed with all the major changes and duties I have to do. I want to take on the first year with little to no stress so hopefully that happens.

Bonus question #2: Be 100% honest. How do you feel about your upcoming English provincial? Do you have any predictions?

  • I hate talking about this topic because it stresses me out but I’ll just hope for the best and pray I write the provincial well with the knowledge I know. I try to study a few literary devices everyday or so to prepare myself for the test. I don’t want to make any predictions because I’ll definitely jinx myself.

Three Unbelievable Brunch Dishes 👌

Good afternoon! Hope your weekend has been wonderful so far. My week has been absolutely amazing, much better than I could’ve imagined – and I’ll show you why!

First, one of my favourite authors, Victoria Aveyard, came to Canada for her book tour! She visited Chapters Metrotown in Burnaby. Of course, I’m in Australia until the end of June, but my sister Seline had the opportunity to meet the lovely Victoria, get her books signed, and listen to Victoria’s Q&A. Victoria Aveyard is the author of the Red Queen quartet, and her newest book – series finale! – War Storm was released recently.

Also: another massive bowl of chai from Three Monkeys Cafe. I’m addicted.

In case you haven’t noticed, I am on a MISSION to try as many chai lattes as I can. This morning, I hit up Northey Street Farmers Market, an organic market, which is known for a cozy shack called Chai Cafe. There, I had a very enjoyable mug of chai, one of the spicier ones in Brisbane. The owner told me that she adds fresh vanilla beans, turmeric, and a plethora of other spices, to create a recipe she learned in India. This chai was one of the top two I’ve had so far… and by that I mean it’s the second-best. 🙂

The Northey Street Markets are lovely! Quite a bit busier than the other markets, perhaps due to its size, with lots of friendly dogs and children. It’s a very family-friendly place and I wish I came with the intention of grabbing a sandwich and doing some people-watching.

After my walk at the Northey Street Markets, I went to the Green Edge Vegan Market and Grocery Store. I’m on the lookout for some enchilada sauce (without too many additives or preservatives), and after visiting two or three different specialty grocery stores – I still haven’t found any.

From there, I tried to take the 450 to go home, caught the 150 bus instead, and ended up in South Bank! It was a wonderful accident, because I’ve had Pourboy Espresso on my bucket list for the longest time. It was destiny – I had to eat here!

Mainly, Pourboy Espresso has been on my must-visit list because of their famous Belgian hot chocolate, made with Callebaut dark Belgian chocolate and organic milk. I love how it was served in this little kettle with extra chocolate chips. It was flavourful and sweet, but the chocolate and milk were not mixed together very well. The first 1.5 cups were milky, but near the bottom of the kettle, the chocolate was much more concentrated and un-melted.

For my brunch dish, I ordered the cheesy jalapeño waffles, which were topped with mashed avocado, grilled cherry tomatoes, and two poached eggs. I was worried the waffles would be too spicy, since the waitress said they were quite spicy, but it turned out to be okay. I loved the generous scoop of avocado, since I haven’t had avo for a while, and the eggs were poached very nicely. The entire dish was fresh and flavourful, and it was sprinkled with some coarse salt that boosted the taste of everything. Overall, a solid brunch dish that I would recommend!

The table to my right savoured a slice of lemon sour cream pound cake with lemon curd, and it looked delicious. On top of that, my server talked about how much she loved this dessert. For those of you who have read my blog for a while now – you know that I’ve never been a fan of citrus desserts. In fact, I hate lemon. I think orange ruins chocolate. Grapefruit desserts should be called breakfast. I’m all about the nutty desserts. The chocolatey desserts. The richer, the more decadent, the creamier – the better. So, ordering this fresh and fruity LEMON dessert was out of character!

But it was good. Really good. Paired with that lemon curd, this slightly-warm, crumbly, buttery cake with blasts of flavour from the toasted walnuts, this was a fantastic way to end my meal.

“We noticed the lady to our right, munching on this cake and gushing about it,” the man beside me had mentioned, “so we had to order it, too. It’s just a ricochet of lemon pound cake.”

A couple days ago, I spent my morning at Corner Store Cafe. I’ve been to Corner Store Cafe a couple times before. Literally, a couple. The first time, I had a lamb flatbread and a smoothie. The second time, I enjoyed the polenta waffles with smoked salmon and a mug of chai. This time, the chai was calling my name again.

For my main dish, I knew I wanted the mushroom quesadillas. These quesadillas were filled with gorgonzola and stracciatella (Italian buffalo milk) cheese, sauteed mushrooms, and spinach. It was set on a bed of pumpkin puree, and topped with two fried eggs and pebre salsa. According to Wikipedia, pebre salsa is a Chilean condiment made of coriander, chopped onion, olive oil, garlic and ground or pureed spicy aji peppers. The dish was a blast of flavours and textures, incredibly filling, and I was in love with the cheesy centres and doughy tortilla.

For dessert, I wanted to try their daily special – a middle eastern fruit bread pudding topped with sliced fruit, and two scoops of orange marmalade ice cream. This was much bigger than I’d expected, and the giant slabs (yes, there were three slices) of bread were layered with figs, dates, raisins, and bananas.

Every bite was fruity and paired well with the zing of the ice cream. I liked how some parts of the fruit bread were crispy and caramelized, while the middles were creamy and pudding-like.

You can probably imagine, that after a mug of milk tea, a veggie-filled quesadilla with two eggs, and then a massive loaf of bread pudding with two scoops of ice cream – that I was very full. 🙂

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Photos of South Bank, Brisbane! Gotta do the touristy stuff here, too.

  • L: a dessert restaurant in South Bank that I want to try!
  • R: photo from the bathroom of Banneton Bakery that took me right back to my summer in Paris, France. I remember all of these stops, and miss Paris so much. Thinking about my time there always makes me happy – and simultaneously leaves me in disbelief. I can’t believe that the 16 year-old me took my younger sister to live in Paris for a month.

Another amazing brunch happened at Pearl Cafe. I’ve wanted to visit Pearl Cafe for ages, and it’s been at the top of my food bucket list for months. For some reason, I thought it would be far away, but it was only a 30-minute bus ride from home.

Here, I didn’t think twice before ordering the crepe, which was filled with fried egg and spinach. It was such an easy choice because the server told me that the crepe was her favourite item on the menu, and she eats it every single day after her shift. Can’t argue with that! The topping is saffron and radish, with fresh prawns and a zingy marinade. Honestly, a spectacular dish, and it was exceptionally tasty with freshly-cracked black pepper and a squeeze of lemon. I can see why Pearl Cafe is so popular!

For dessert… you guys. You guys.

“Tea cake”, to me, sounds boring. I just think of some plain old yeast bread, maybe studded with a couple raisins. Pearl Cafe’s tea cake, however, is on another level. This massive slice was buttery, had incredible crumb, and was loaded with caramelized rhubarb. Yes, caramelized rhubarb! Even better, there was a big scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. I devoured every crumb, as usual, and would eat this a million times. I’m already planning my next trip back to Pearl Cafe.

Back to the chai! I stole this paragraph from a popular Brisbane food and travel website called The Urban List:

There’s a lot of chat being thrown around by a bunch of heathens trying to tell me that flavoured sugar powder is a worthy substitute. Where’s the LOVE? Where’s the AUTHENTICITY? Nothing compares to the spicy aroma of a freshly brewed pot of proper chai; you feel that shit in your soul, and Brisbane’s got it on lock.

Couldn’t’ve (had to google how to spell that!) said it better.

Anyways, the award for the #1 chai I’ve had in Brisbane so far goes to… the Baker’s Arms! Their chai is a homemade blend, steeped in organic milk and honey. It was rich, had excellent tea flavour, and had subtle sweetness from the honey. I enjoyed this tea with a side of sunshine, before grabbing a tasty meal next door. My only complaint about this chai is that there wasn’t enough. I can’t wait to go back for this!

No, you aren’t having deja-vu; I posted about this incredible peanut butter hot chocolate on my last blog post. It was so good that I had to go back for another mug. Look at those chocolate shavings! That foamy milk! Those granules of sea salt!

Another place I’m dying to visit, and a quote that hit me yesterday. I haven’t been performing very well on a couple recent exams and essays, and surprisingly, don’t feel too discouraged. It’s a weird feeling because I feel like I should be angry or upset about the grades, but I’m not. Interestingly, I’m not in denial about it either… I’ve just accepted it and feel okay with it. I know I didn’t study as much as I normally do, and my grades reflected that, but I’m trying my best. I don’t know – it’s so strange!

Plus, most of my time has been going to – you guessed it – aerials. 😉 I revamped the page, by the way, so y’all should go check it out.

Couple other things – my friends and I are having lunch at Wordsmiths, a cafe on campus, tomorrow. I’ve starred all the items that I think would be delicious, but I haven’t decided which one I’m going to order. I’m leaning towards the soup of the day, depending what it is, but the baked ricotta (it has pumpkin in it!) and vegetable lasagna also sound delicious. Wish I could find photos for all of them, though.

And… I’m back to studying!

By that, I mean I am going to start now, though I should’ve started days ago.

Bye!

Black Garlic Dessert Bread?!

Good morning, everyone! Today’s a crazy rainy day, and the next few days in Brisbane aren’t looking much better. It’s 24 degrees, and just pouring. We have thunderstorms planned for the next few days – until next Thursday. What a disappointment!

Anyways, this week was my first week of school, and I loved it. Here you can see the schedule that I had for the first week. I had to dip out of a lot of yoga/fitness classes because I didn’t feel like going. Getting there is always half the battle! And, unfortunately, I sometimes lose that battle.Schedule (13)In light of all the events that have happened over the last couple of weeks over in the US, this tweet really stood out to me. What powerful words. I’ve been following the incredibly articulate, thoughtful, patriotic, and compassionate students of Stoneman Douglas High School since the event, and every day I am impressed by the momentum they’ve gained. What an incredible group of young leaders.

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Here are some of my class notes! I am taking four courses this semester, and they are:

  1. BIOL3009: Arthropods and Human Health
  2. SOCY2179: Sex, Drugs, and Disease
  3. SWSP2211: Individual Development and Health Care
  4. PSYC3132: Health Psychology

I don’t know if I have a favourite yet, because they all differ from each other quite a bit. I am trying to link the courses together as I work through the material. For instance, in Individual Development (a Sociology course), we discuss marginalized populations and how people in third-world countries are susceptible to diseases such as malaria. Then, in my Arthropods course, we discuss the mechanisms behind malaria, and how exactly it is transmitted.

I am getting a personal trainer! I felt that it was more “worth it” to get a 10-class personal training class rather than a fitness pass. Starting Tuesday, I’ll be working with a lovely woman called Amy to meet some fitness goals. On the right side, you’ll see my academic to-do list. I’ve only been in school for a week and there’s already plenty to be done! I love it.

I don’t have much stuff in my room, so it isn’t too hard to keep it tidy.

L: Here is one of my lecture classrooms. I really like it because it isn’t extraordinarily big. The entire classroom will seat about forty students, so I think that’s just right.

R: Toowong Village is the local mall. I love this place!

Some eats:

  • broccoli, cauliflower rice, squash, tomatoes, red pepper, cheddar and gruyere, 1 fried egg, 4 pieces fried halloumi

And again:

  • cauliflower rice, squash, 6 pieces fried halloumi

Some things that I really want to make include crepes with brie, apple, and turkey (or flatbreads, using the same ingredients), stuffed peppers, or spaghetti squash with veggies and cheese.

I did end up making something like that, using a hearty whole grain bun from Baker’s Delight, creamy brie, and some sliced turkey.

  • 1 medium cucumber, truffle dip, smoked salmon dip
  • 1 whole wheat grain bun, 4 medium slices turkey, 1/2 triangle of brie

Deliciousness – one for dessert, and one for breakfast. I recently discovered how tasty it is to crumble up a LARABAR and serve it on yogurt. Love this!

  • plain Greek yogurt, 1/2 peanut butter LARABAR, 2 squares nougat chocolate
  • plain Greek yogurt, 2 peaches, 1/2 peanut butter LARABAR

One afternoon, I visited a restaurant called Gauge. When I looked at the menu previously, I was 99% sure that I wanted the cavatelli, cashew cream, zucchini, black garlic dish. However, upon speaking to one of the kind waitresses, who recommended the pan-fried mahi-mahi with caramelized cream, tomato, and dill, I changed my mind. This was good, but not worth $32. I was also surprised by the very long wait (surprising, because I normally dine alone so food comes to me quite quickly) of approximately 40 minutes and the little serving size. Was expecting… a little more for $32 – at least some bread or greens on the side.

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For dessert, I had a very unique dish: the black garlic bread with brown butter, burnt vanilla. It sounds weird. It was weird. I’ll try my best to describe this:

  • First of all, I’ve never tasted ANYTHING quite like this. It was like the time that I tried mushroom ice cream at the Sunshine Coast – I didn’t have any expectations, but was full of curiosity.
  • This had the texture of banana bread, but a little less ‘crumbly’. As if it were a banana bread crossed with a yeast bread. I feel like I wouldn’t be able to crumble this between my fingers – I’d have to tear it. Perhaps the texture was like a banana bread made with oil rather than butter.
  • The flavour was sweet, but not overwhelmingly sweet. Of course, I had the rich brown butter on the side. The cake itself was a bit like a toffee or date cake in flavour, with rich notes of garlic.
  • The garlic flavour didn’t really shine through until after each bite, when you get a garlicky aftertaste. Black garlic, to me, tastes just like regular garlic.
  • Definitely an interesting experience. Do I regret ordering it? Not at all. I finished every crumb on the plate, and kind of wanted more. But would I order it next time? No.

I had the opportunity to attend a cool convention called the Mind Body Spirit convention, where there were hundreds of vendors selling things like essential oils, yoga mats, yoga attire, turmeric, vegan treats, and so much more. I saw lots of unique things like pumpkin seed meal, and vegan coconut-cashew ice cream (which I got a delicious sample of). It was a lovely experience, though most of the products were too expensive. Yoga mat for $150? No… I’ll stick to my $5 mat, thank you.

Brisbane is so lovely. Every time I come to the South Bank and West End area, I am bewildered by the beautiful buildings and sunshine. It’s so nice to live near a river.

Another day, another yogurt snack. I love these! This time, it was a chopped pear on Greek yogurt with a crumbled peanut butter LARABAR.

Also, I just realized later this week we’ll be in March. WHAT!?

For dinner one day, I went to A Night in India (they do takeout as well, but I’m so glad I didn’t do takeout because I wouldn’t have had the DESSERT), where I devoured a bowl of palak paneer. Palak paneer is hands-down my favourite Indian dish, ever. I love it. The spices, the creamy-but-firm cheese, the rich sauce and the spinach. I could eat this every day for the rest of my life! Alongside – some saffron rice and a big garlic and cheese naan. This dinner was one of the highlights of my week.

Dessert, of course, was just as stunning. Get this, my friends: a chocolate haven cake on a sizzling pan (literally, the chocolate was sizzling). Oozing with milk chocolate from TWO layers, which became warm and gooey on the sizzling pan, and topped with dark chocolate ganache. Vanilla bean ice cream on the side. As I was eating this, I was so mindful to savour every bite, and I’m pretty sure I went to heaven?! This was unbelievable. Easily one of the top three desserts I have ever eaten. It was amazing, and words just don’t do it justice.

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Finally, a huge spider web I saw (!) and my new, updated class schedule. This is the one I’ll be sticking to, from now on, because it includes lectures and tutorials.

That is… pretty much it for today, friends ❤ I hope you all have a lovely, lovely rest of the week.

The Tiniest Asparagus

Hello! Lately, my agenda has been full of exciting activities. This week is O-Fest, which means there are plenty of introductory sessions that welcome students to the University of Queensland. Next week, it is CONNECT Week, so there are free fitness sessions and other activities designed to help students find friends with common interests. You can see my trusty planner (a kind gift from my sister, Seline) along with my morning cheddar scrambled eggs with mushrooms. Also, my laptop stand is truly a gift!

I got to see some cool animals. Check out this dwarf crocodile, which is ten years old, and this male owl. I had the opportunity to pet both of them, and they are really cute. This was organized by the QUEST Society at UQ. QUEST stands for the Queensland University Exchange Student Society.

The UQ campus is really beautiful, complete with museums (art, geology, and more), a Great Court, and so much more. I love it. Even though I get lost on an hourly basis.

There’s a grocery store called Fruity Capers in the local mall, and they sell the most amazing little vegetables I’ve ever seen. Check out these teeny tiny asparagus, which were about the length of my wrist to fingertips. They are so cute, and cooked in a minute. I put them in my scrambled eggs, which you can see below. I like these tiny asparagus more than large (regular?) asparagus, because they don’t have stalky ends and cook much quicker.

Another afternoon, I happened to pass a place called Noosa Chocolate Factory. They are famous for a massive selection single origin, single plantation & blended slabs delivered fresh daily from the Noosa Chocolate Factory, fine specialty coffee, and rustic hot chocolates. Of course, I had to try one of their renowned drinks! The 35-degree temperature, however, gave me the opportunity to try their iced chocolate drink. This one, which was 56% cocoa, was sweet-but-not-overly-sweet, icy, and had such a rich chocolate taste. No phony stuff here!

In other words, I’m in love. Can I live here? And eat chocolate for the rest of my semester?

Afterwards, I went for a little stroll around this lovely area of Brisbane. There were plenty of souvenir shops, and I loved looking at the lit-up bridges as I walked down the river.

At this grocery store, there are always fresh fruit samples. Next time, I want to try their homemade banana bread! Banana bread is, and always will be, one of my weaknesses. I just want to toast it up and smother it all in peanut butter.

On Friday, I had a day off! No orientation events, no classes, no commitments, nothing. The day before, I created a detailed plan of activities and events that I wanted to attend, but when Friday rolled around, I was so tired (and hot!) that I didn’t want to do anything. I ended up relaxing at home, cooking, and spending time in the downtown area.

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More eats:

  • 2 plates of buffet food: coleslaw, pasta salad, goat cheese spinach salad, melon, cheese, carrots, gratin potatoes, omelet with squash, onion, vegetables, roasted squash and sweet potatoes, crispy fried pita bread (a wonderful Chinese New Year feast with my landlord’s family)

  • breakfast on the bottom right:
    • 2 scrambled eggs with broccoli, cheddar and gruyere
    • vanilla Greek yogurt with 1/2 container blueberries, 1/3 packet pecan butter

I spent the next day strolling around one of my favourite parts of the city, and had the opportunity to visit Morning After Cafe. My dish was absolutely spectacular, and I added halloumi on the side. I’m in love with halloumi!

  • red pepper, eggplant, and onion sauté, cucumber with labneh and dill, fried egg, halloumi, paprika oil

Dessert at Gelato Messina was quite eventful. Their menu was enormous, and you can get three scoops of three flavours in one cup. How could I resist that? After sampling a few, I decided on:

  • 1 scoop pistachio praline, 1 scoop white chocolate hazelnut, 1 scoop milk chocolate peanut butter fudge gelato

All together in a large-sized cup, this dessert was an absolute dream. To be honest, the flavours were on the sweeter side (thanks to the white chocolate, praline, and fudge), and I would’ve preferred the sweetness to be dialled down a little. Nonetheless, delicious!

Few things from recently:

  • This beautiful post by Bucket List Tummy discusses reasons why one should never diet, and is worded in such a clear, inspiring, beautiful way.
  • One of my favourite pairs figure skating teams (Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany) won the event. I was super happy because their performance was flawless, and this was Aliona’s fifth and final Olympics. Are you following the 2018 Winter Olympics in Korea? Which events are you interested in?
  • 56 different names for sugar – interesting!

That is pretty much all I have for today. I hope the rest of your week is wonderful!

17 Great Things That Happened in 2017

  1. My sister and I spent the summer together, doing ridiculous stuff and making memories that would last a lifetime. One of our favourite activities was spending time at the University of British Columbia, where we had sushi and ice cream and visited several museums.
  2. My family travelled to Salt Spring Island with family friends, where we paddle-boarded, ate goat milk gelato, and enjoyed some of the best seafood on Earth.
  3. I attended a medical school conference that made me look into MCAT details, interview tips, med school vlogs, and more. Now, I am fully invested in the idea of medical school. I can’t wait.
  4. I had the opportunity to have coffee with the author of When They Fade, one of my favourite fictional Young Adult novels: Jeyn Roberts.
  5. Speaking of authors, I was thrilled to meet R.L. Stine, a childhood hero, who came to Toronto for a talk in November.
  6. After being denied twice, I finally obtained my Australian student visa and will be travelling to Brisbane, Australia, for a five-month semester.
  7. Dad, Grandpa, and I planned a trip to Cambodia, China, Taiwan, and Macau for January 2018. Coming up!
  8. I worked a full-time internship from January to April in downtown Toronto, where I was a clinical assistant at the Toronto Health Centre.
  9. From September to December, I had a wonderful internship placement at Centennial College, where I tutored nursing students in human anatomy and human physiology.
  10. I spent most of the summer in Waterloo, where I did a summer term. Hands-down the hardest, but most rewarding, term of school that I have ever endured. Enjoyed. I meant enjoyed. 😉
  11. I moved out of a wonderful house in Waterloo that I’d lived in for over two years.
  12. Got a LOT of coupons, and even a large box of twelve jumbo-sized popcorn bags from BOOMCHICKAPOP popcorn, mailed to my house!
  13. I got to give a speech at my old high school about travel, volunteer work, and more.
  14. I practiced lots of aerials at Cirqueability in Toronto, then Brass Butterflies in Waterloo, and finally, Vancouver Circus School in New Westminster, BC. What a lovely way to spend my spare time. I miss it!
  15. I had the opportunity to meet some fascinating, hardworking, intelligent, wise people like Vivian Tsang and Shanna Yeung.
  16. My sister and I watched KURIOS, a Cirque du Soleil show that I once saw in Montreal back when I lived in St-Eustache, Quebec, one summer. I added some more details about the show below, at the end of this post.
  17. Seline and I discovered that we had a strange interest in baby names. I know… what?! We share a lot of the same opinions on which names are wonderful, and which names we strongly dislike. My mom sent me this list below, which involves the top baby names of 2017.

 

Some of the aforementioned popcorn!

 

Had the opportunity to go to a public skate with Seline yesterday. It was my first time skating in a very long time (haven’t been on the ice for figure skating since Grade 11ish of high school!), so it was a lovely experience. We had a lot of fun.

 

I am very excited about taking this course in Australia next month. 🙂

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Like I mentioned, Seline and I were exhilarated by Cirque du Soleil’s KURIOS. The duo straps act was my favourite part. 🎪

KURIOS

  • beautiful and creative fusion of art, physics, and technology
  • charming and comedic
  • interactive with audience
  • live band with spectacular singing
  • nautical steampunk theme
  • exciting, imaginative, daring, nerve-racking
  • stars a scientist/inventor and his exploration of the dream world
  • intricate stage
  • stunning, mesmerizing acrobatics and choreography

Happy 2018, everyone!