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!

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.

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.

Himalayan Food and Heavy Salads

Good morning, everyone! It’s a beautiful Sunday morning here in Brisbane. The weather’s been much for manageable recently. In fact:

The last few weeks, it’s been so hot that…

  • my Polysporin liquefied

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    Eat Street Markets (about an hour from my house) sells these ridiculous-looking donut fries, and I think I need them in my life! The chocolate looks perfectly melty, malty, and I love the combination of textures here. I should start planning my trip to Eat Street just for this!
  • must keep room door open to allow air flow
  • carry sunglasses everywhere
  • I chug more water than I have ever chugged in my entire life
  • I don’t even need to warm up before exercising because I’m alreadywarm
  • I get a tiny sweat pool where I wear my glasses or sunglasses
  • I love lectures because they are in AC-ed rooms
  • my legs stick to chairs and they hurt to peel off
  • I shower twice a day
  • I use ice-cold water which is not even ice cold (like room temperature)
  • 7am is already burning
  • shopping malls are now AC heavens
  • I make my ceiling fan spin so quickly that it’s going to fall offand kill me
  • food scraps are stored in the freezer
  • I put my face in the freezer and take deep breaths
  • if you step barefoot outside, you will get cooked
  • I choose iced smoothies over my favourite hot tea
  • I don’t want to cook
  • I wear whole-body sunscreen all day
  • bus stops need shade covers
  • I am actually desperate to go to the beach, and I dislike beaches
  • I put my water bottle in the freezer

Anyways, on Thursday night I went to a place called MADO Turkish Cuisine. For my main course, I was debating between the veggie casserole, the moussaka (eggplant lasagna), and the eggplant boat. I ended up with the veggie casserole, which wasn’t even a casserole – it was a veggie stew in a clay pot.

For dessert, I enjoyed the kunefe, which is a crispy, chewy, sticky, springy Turkish cheese pastry doused with rosewater syrup and topped with pistachios. A very unique dish with such bright flavours and a unique, indescribable texture. Have you tried kunefe before?

  • vegetable casserole in clay pot, 2 bites salad, rice with peas, 1 piece Turkish bread
  • 1 kunefe

I had this image saved to my phone for a long, long time, because I’ve been planning a trip to Himalayan Cafe for a while. Everyone knows I have a bit of a Nepal/Tibetan obsession, and my infatuation with Nepali food is no exception. Needless to say, I had to make an effort to visit this beautiful place for dinner one day…

And I did! This gorgeously-decorated restaurant reminded me of traditional Nepali homes, complete with floor pillows, lanterns, papyrus menus, and small side dishes full of aromatic lentil stew and beans. One of my favourite parts of the dinner was the pan-fried Sherpa bread, which was spongy, slightly sweet, and topped with savoury tomato sauce and a little cheese.

  • 1 small bowl kidney bean stew, 1 bowl yellow lentil dahl, 1 bowl chickpeas with potatoes, few scoops jasmine rice (took the rest home), apple yogurt with chopped apple, 1 large piece Himalayan tomato paste cheese bread
  • 1 Himalayan chocolate brownie with nuts, 2 scoops ginger and cinnamon ice cream

I’ve been into tracking my health lately, and spent a lot of time choosing my plant on Plant Nanny (a water-drinking app to keep hydrated!) and looking at Fitbits.

Then, I bought my own Fitbit! Mine is the Alta HR (Heart Rate), in black. I’m still figuring it out and haven’t mastered the device, but it’s been a wonderful, motivating tool so far. And, of course, much better than my iPhone’s Health app. I bought it on Saturday and spent a good amount of time exploring one of my favourite parts of Brisbane, the Queen Street Mall.

My Fitbit also tracks the amount of sleep I get, including how much REM, light, and deep sleep I have. I find it pretty accurate, but I’m also one to fall asleep seconds after my head hits the pillow.

On Saturday, I visited the Davies Park Farmers Market. It is, so far, my favourite market in Brisbane. The atmosphere was peaceful and charming, the people were friendly, and there were so many stalls. The produce was very inexpensive, and I loved the diverse spread of ethnic eats.

One vendor at a beautiful shortbread cookie stall recommended the crêpes around the corner, from Pascale’s Crêpes. How could I say no to crepes?

Wow. I am so glad I went for these, because not only were they super cheap and freshly-made by Pascale on the spot, but absolutely delicious. I’m a huge fan of buckwheat crêpes because I love their rich, roasted, grainy flavour and crispy texture. The spinach, mushrooms, and cheddar cheese inside were perfect!

Moments later, I got dessert from Pascale as well. My dessert crêpe was equally delicious, and the combination of vanilla ice cream, Nutella, and sliced banana (YUM) really hit the spot.

  • 1 buckwheat crepe with spinach, cheddar, mushrooms
  • 1 regular crepe with banana, Nutella, 2 scoops vanilla ice cream

Another day, I baked a farmer’s market almond bostock and made a spinach omelet for lunch. I’m such a fan of almond croissants that I find myself forgetting how delicious bostocks are. On a totally different note, the filter on these photos reminds me of Rachel’s photography – her food pics are always sunny and alluring.

  • 2-egg omelet with spinach and Manchego
  • 1/2 almond bostock

For dessert, some fresh berries (also from the market) with yogurt and nuts.

  • 1/2 container strawberries, 2 scoops Greek yogurt, some honey-roasted macadamia nuts and cashews

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I’ve said it many times before, but the UQ campus is just gorgeous. I’m in love with it!

In one of my courses, we spent a lab day identifying and examining different mosquitos. Being a Kinesiology (Exercise Science) major, it was a unique experience, and I definitely learned a lot.

Completely unrelated but exciting news! My sister and I will be travelling to Prince Edward Island (Canada), for the month of July 2018. I will be going there to volunteer at the University of Prince Edward Island, and we thought it would be an awesome opportunity to spend time together after she graduates from high school. Basically, it’s going to be a disastrous-hilarious Paris 2.0.

25 Reasons Why My Sister and I Will Visit Charlottetown, PEI

(I actually wrote this list to convince her, because Seline didn’t want to go to PEI initially. She thinks it’s going to be boring. Hope I will prove her wrong!)

  1. Lighthouses!
  2. Pretty much a vibrant seaside capital city
  3. Beautiful lawns and flowerbeds (like Jardin Luxembourg)
  4. Maritime accents
  5. People are known to be the nicest of Canada
  6. Parks
  7. Boating tours
  8. Incredible ice cream shops
  9. Basilicas, cathedrals
  10. Biggest fireworks in Canada (next to Ottawa)
  11. 500 historic buildings
  12. Flight is much shorter than London
  13. Beautiful harbours
  14. Mild weather, even in the summer (high is about 23)
  15. Modern and urban, yet beautiful old sights
  16. Huge transportation hub
  17. Victorian-era houses
  18. Lots of shows, performances, theatres, musicals
  19. Pretty much the birthplace of Canada (Charlottetown = “birthplace” of Confederation), AND we will be there during Canada Day
  20. Great summer festivals
  21. Golf courses where we can finally accomplish our dream of riding a buggy
  22. Very safe
  23. World-class shopping and restaurants

In my Health Psychology class, I’ve been looking at increasing vegetable intake for people with Chronic Kidney Disease.

I did my presentation last Wednesday, and it was probably the most scared I’ve been since arriving in Australia. I was the second person to present, and the student before me did a spectacular, entertaining, insightful presentation about the health implications of tinnitus. Before my presentation, I could feel my heart pounding! Fortunately, it went pretty well.

Delicious cauliflower rice has also been on the menu, usually alongside falafels and omelets.

  • cauliflower and broccoli rice, saffron rice, zucchini, carrots, tomato, red pepper, 1 falafel, 1 egg omelet with Manchego cheese

The beautiful Brisbane weather has made it super easy for me to walk around, soak up the sunshine, and see new places.

A new discovery: there is a tiny takeaway cafe in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley region called Botanica Real Food. They serve freshly-made salads, up to FIVE types in a medium container. The ladies there really pack it in, so this full-course-meal salad weighed a solid kilogram.

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From left to right:

  • pearl barley and broccoli with capsicums and parsley
  • vegan pesto and pearl couscous salad with red onions and spinach
  • shaved broccoli salad with cashew dressing and dried cranberries
  • chickpea and carrot salad with pickled red onions
  • potato, pea, and dill salad

I actually ended up dividing it into a few meals, served with other mains – like this awesome pumpkin quiche (also from Botanica).

  • pumpkin and red onion ricotta quiche, 1/5 Botanica salad box (broccoli salad with cashew dressing, chickpea and carrot salad, pesto and pearl couscous salad, pearl barley and broccoli with capsicums, potato pea and dill salad)

Packed up for lunch another day.

  • 1/5 Botanica salad box (broccoli salad with cashew dressing, chickpea and carrot salad, pesto and pearl couscous salad, pearl barley and broccoli with capsicums, potato pea and dill salad)
  • 1/4 ricotta and walnut streusel coffee cake, blueberries, Greek yogurt

This is what the inside of Botanica looks like. These photos were taken yesterday… because I went again. They are fresh, delicious, and so addictive!

Yesterday’s salad box was almost the same, with the addition of some cabbage and a freekeh and eggplant pilaf.

Another quiche! I am in love with quiche. Their crust has an amazing whole-grain flavour. I also ate the tastiest chocolate hazelnut dessert from Le Bon Choix, which I bought on my walk home.

Alright! I wish I had more to share, but this post is already long enough.

Have a beautiful and delicious week, everyone ❤

A Typical Day in the Life

Hey! Today I’m going to share what a typical Friday looks like, for me.

6:30: wake up and have tea

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Most mornings, I wake up naturally around 6:30. Since I have a big window in my room, the sunlight streams in every morning. I’m definitely a morning perso

n, and love starting my day with a mug of tea. I brought my own milk frother from home, so I can make my own tea lattes using Earl Grey or English Breakfast tea, milk, honey, and vanilla extract.

7:00-9:00: cleaning at Zama Yoga

I’m very lucky to live three minutes from a wonderful yoga studio called Zama Yoga. I’m volunteering there as a Karma Yogi, which means that in exchange for vacuuming, mopping, and dusting the studio for two hours each week, I get free yoga! It’s a great deal, especially because I’m a yoga fanatic… on a budget. For two hours, I wipe the kitchenette sink and counters, take out the garbage, and make sure the mirrors, walls, and floor are neat and tidy. My favourite part is rolling up the yoga straps, and making sure the bolsters (yoga cushions) and blocks are organized.

9:30-10:30: Hatha yoga class at Zama Yoga

After my cleaning shift, I do a yoga class. On Fridays, this class is Hatha yoga, which is a relatively gentle branch of yoga that combines strength-based asanas (postures) with poses that challenge my flexibility. After a series of sun salutations and other flow sequences, we reach the best part of class – the savasana. Savasana, or corpse pose, is normally done at the end of a yoga practice, and involves lying on the back, with arms and legs spread. It’s very restorative, especially with the use of a bolster. I’d hate to brag about this, but I’m pretty good at savasana.

10:30-11:30: prepare for school

After the yoga class, I head back home and get ready for my classes of the day. Sometimes, I have a snack, and other times, I catch up on some readings. Today, I focus on a sociology reading for a course called SOCY2179. This fascinating course focuses on the role of sex, drugs, and disease for human health. We recently completed a series of lectures on the history of sex; with the help of numerous intriguing readings, I can certainly say that my eyes have been opened with regards to sexually-transmitted diseases, social injustice, and how they have affected human health over the year.

11:30-12:00: go to school

Time to head to class! I quickly change my clothes, put on closed-toed shoes (once I wore sandals to school on a lab day, and had to go back home just to change into my sneakers), and pack my backpack. The ride to school is about fifteen minutes, but sometimes a little longer when the buses are busy.

12:00-1:00: Biology lecture

My only lecture of the day is called Arthropods and Human Health (BIOL3009). In this course, I learn about disease-carrying organisms, such as mosquitos, ticks, mites, and lice – and how they influence human health. I have a special passion for this field because I’ve spent long periods of time in Kathmandu, Nepal, and various cities in Cambodia. Prior to visiting these third-world countries, I did a lot of research into vaccinations for mosquito-borne diseases, such as malaria, Japanese encephalitis, and yellow fever. Before my trip to Nepal, I received six needles! Anyways, today we talk about a deadly tick called Ixodes holocyclus. This tick carries a bacteria called Barrelia, and can cause paralysis (and death) in its hosts. While it primarily targets bandicoots, I learned that Ixodes holocyclus is the most dangerous arthropod (insect) in Queensland.

1:00-2:00: lunch

Time for lunch! Today, I have cauliflower rice with some other veggies, and sliced chicken left over from the day before.

2:00-5:00: Biology practical

In today’s practical, I team up with friends to identify arthropods. We have to classify the insects, and then work on a report to submit next week.

5:00-5:45: study on campus

Next, I find a quiet area on campus. I’m particularly a fan of the Michie Building, which always seems to have comfortable, sunny spots. Today, I work on an assignment for my Health Psychology course. I am creating a presentation on an

intervention for chronic kidney disease, so I work hard to make the PowerPoint look organized and professional.

5:45-6:00: go to Harveys for dinner

Dinnertime! I hop back onto the bus and go to the valley, the suburb where the training centre is. I love walking in Brisbane, especially at this time, because it isn’t too hot, nor is it too chilly. It is also lovely to see the sun setting over the river.

6:00-7:00: dinner

Dinner today is at a restaurant called Harveys, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Their menu features snacks like pâté and charcuterie, as well as fancy soups, salads, and regal main courses. I also love their dessert listing, which includes figs with honeycomb ice cream, Catalan custard, semolina syrup cake, and more. I order the dark chocolate tart with caramel ice cream, dates, and crème fraîche after my main course.

7:00-7:30: go to CIRCA

After a quick walk down one of my favourite streets, James Street, I arrive at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Art. On the third floor of this modern, beautiful building is C!RCA Training Centre. I also change my clothes, putting on a leotard and capris leggings that protect the backs of my knees during poses that may cause rubbing.

7:30-9:30: training

I have been training in aerial arts for almost two years, mostly in the aerial silks (and a few months on the aerial hoop). My favourite apparatus is the straps, which requires a lot of shoulder strength, stability, and flexibility. While I’m very much a beginner when it comes to this challenging discipline, I’m very determined to improve my skills at the C!RCA Training Centre in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane. Every Sunday, I take a private lesson with a talented, encouraging straps instructor called Ben. This trick, which is called a meat hook, is one of my favourites!

9:30-10:00: take the bus back home

Pretty self-explanatory. On the bus, I like to listen to music and look out the window, which helps me relax as I head back to Toowong, the suburb where I live. Today, I’m really feeling the upbeat tunes by Maroon 5, which I haven’t heard for a few years.

10:00-10:15: take a shower

I have a special sponge that I bought at a convention in Brisbane, and it always makes me excited to wash my face. Since I slop on the sunscreen every morning, it’s helpful to have a gentle exfoliant to clear up my skin. A cold shower always makes me feel refreshed, even if I’m sweating again after towelling off!

10:15-11:15: study or do my assignment

I’ll be honest, I probably don’t do as much studying as I should at nighttime. In reality, I’m probably browsing social media or watching YouTube videos; in my head, I’m revising my notes on the social determinants of health. Well, it’s the thought that counts, and at least I thought about studying.

11:15-11:30: text my sister, wind down for bed

My sister, who lives in Canada, is currently in her senior year of high school – she is graduating soon! Seline is my best friend, and my number one favourite person in the world. We text each other way too much, whether it’s about books, movies, school, or something only the two of us understand.

11:30: sleep!

I fall asleep within ten seconds of lying down and closing my eyes. I actually tested this. Good night!

First Impressions of Brisbane, Australia

Before my direct flight to Brisbane (15 hours nonstop from Vancouver!), I had a lovely meal with my family: Mom, Dad, Seline, Grandpa, and Mimi (aunt) and Charles (uncle). My aunt and uncle had just returned from Kathmandu, Nepal, that very day, so I was very lucky to have a meal with them before I jetted off to the southern hemisphere.

I split a Joeys classic with mom: salmon, quinoa, veggies, radish, as well as a great pesto shrimp flatbread. For dessert, I savoured apple galette with maple ice cream, chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream, and a great caramel parfait with sponge toffee.

Not too long after, I arrived in sunny, beautiful Australia. I was welcomed by Margaret, my mom’s friend from several decades ago, and her friends Bill and Carolyn. Bill and Carolyn greeted me with a delicious vegan lunch, which consisted of noodles, bok choy, vegan “chicken” made of soy and gluten, carrots, and soy sprouts. On the side, we had corn soup, and then large mugs of green tea. What a great way to say hello to Australia!

I had the opportunity to check out my new room (very warm!), unpack both of my suitcases, and then take off for some exploring around the neighbourhood, which is called Toowong.

Brisbane is such a spectacular city. I feel like it has the charm of a quieter town, but the big-city excitement of places like Toronto. On my first night, I went to CIRCA, where I did a few hours of open training at the circus gym. I will share photos soon!

Saturday morning was exquisite. I enjoyed breakfast at The Corner Store Cafe, where I devoured:

  • 1 smoothie with banana, acai berry, coconut water
  • flatbread filled with lamb, hummus, pickled turnips, 2 fried eggs, 2 pieces halloumi

All I have to say is W-O-W. I’m not a huge fan of lamb, but this was hella delicious with the crispy fried halloumi, creamy garlicky hummus, and luscious runny egg yolks.

On Sunday morning, I feasted on a papaya boat topped with coconut vegan yogurt. The vanilla bean flavour in this coconut yogurt was absolutely divine, and I loved how the tanginess of the raspberries contrasted with the creamy flesh of the papaya and rich yogurt. While the vegan yogurt didn’t have the signature sour tang of regular cow’s milk yogurt, it reminded me of coconut whipped cream in the best way possible. I can’t wait to have more later today.

Aside from the deliciousness that is coconut yogurt, I got a Go Card. Although it’s not as convenient as flashing bus drivers a student card (like I do in Waterloo), the Go Card is much better than dealing with cash. Plus, as a student, concession fares!

I had my first aerial straps private lesson on Sunday. It was my first time touching a set of straps, and I had quite the workout. My wrists didn’t like it very much, though… as you’ll see in a moment. These are aerial straps. While I am nowhere near this skilled, I am very determined to improve the skills that I’ve been introduced to, and look forward to increasing my stamina, strength, and, sadly, my pain tolerance.

I was always confused when people talked about having a high pain tolerance for aerial straps, but I get it now. Both of my wrists are bruised, the skin has rubbed off in many places, and yesterday, some areas bled and leaked watery fluid. My fingertips, which you can’t fully see in the picture, also bled quite a bit (due to the amount of pressure in my grip). Then, there’s the muscle aches and pains, though the abrasion is much worse than muscle tension, in my opinion.

After my straps lesson, Margaret and I drove down to the Gold Coast, where we enjoyed a fabulous lunch. I ate:

  • summery smoothie with banana, mango, peach, passionfruit
  • small balsamic salad with grape tomatoes
  • melt on Turkish bread with mozzarella, ham, wild mushrooms

The beaches in Australia are truly something else. I was rendered speechless by the blueness of the waves, the warm breeze, and the soft, fine, powder-like sand. I could wander here for ages!

Sunday passed too quickly, and before I knew it, it was Monday, and I was at school for my first day of Orientation. The University of Queensland is easily one of the most beautiful campuses I’ve been to. I went to the school’s pharmacy, gift shop, and book store. I look forward to picking up one of the hoodies for Seline, who loves hoodies.

Speaking of Seline, the two of us are, again, slightly extremely obsessed with the Maze Runner series by James Dashner. I thought my obsession had been cured (hehehe) after seeing the final film of the trilogy and spieling all my thoughts into a Google Doc, but Seline’s newfound interest in the film caused my addiction to resurface. :’)

Back to Brisbane! Truly, truly, an incredible city. I had the opportunity to visit the museum, which was free (yay), and walk around some quiet streets like Bakery Lane. The Queensland State Library was also beautiful.

That night, I had dinner at Tartufo, an Italian restaurant where I devoured:

  • pasta with smoked mozzarella, Italian sausage, fried eggplant, tomato, basil, parmesan cheese
  • 1 chocolate fondant with mascarpone cheese, Belgian dark chocolate shavings, vanilla gelato
  • English breakfast tea with milk and sugar

Then, it was dark and time to go home. 🌃

Have a gorgeous day!