Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Monthly Favourites - May 2017

May has, by far, been the best month of the year. I think we all know that has to do with my travels this month (don't worry, I'll go back to those posts next week). However, I have a couple other things on this list that has to do with practicality. So let's get right into it!

1. Canon PowerShot SX420 IS 
I know nothing about cameras. I don't know what constitutes a good one. All I know is that I wanted a camera that was good enough to take travel pictures and is a step above my iPhone. I had a gift card, found a flash sale, and fate happened. I love this camera. It ended up being so much smaller than I expected. As in, it's slightly smaller than my hand. I love it. Again, I don't really know what makes a good camera, but this works for my purposes. From here on out, hopefully all of my pictures will be higher quality. Let me know what you think for the next three pictures.

2. Haworth

I have written nothing about this yet because it was my favourite trip in England. It was an extremely nerdy thing to do, and I loved it. That's all I want to say because if I start talking about it now, I will not stop gushing. You will have to come back here on the 10th to find out what this trip was all about.

3. Fanny Pack

I am a huge fanny pack advocate. During o-week at the beginning of the year, I wore one the entire time. It was so convenient to have everything right there. I also always felt my phone vibrate which does not happen when it's in my pocket. I decided to use it to as a little camera bag for my adorable camera. As you can see, it worked out perfectly. This picture is from Spurn Point, and it shows off just how short I am.

4. England

I was going back and forth on which picture I was going to choose to encapsulate two whole weeks of travelling. I think this one's the best. It shows off my three favourite things about England; castles, scenery, and Matt. This trip wasn't just about England. It was about our relationship. As of tomorrow, we've been long distance for a year. It's had its tough moments, but having two full weeks together made everything worth it. Soon enough, we'll be closer together (more hints!).

5. My Cousin's Wedding

I have not been to a wedding since Marlee's last year. And boy, am I happy! My cousin got married this past weekend, and it was quite the event. The ceremony was beautiful (I cried), and the reception was awesome. All of the cousins got put at the "kids table," where we proceeded to drink a lot of champagne and get increasingly drunk. We were on a first name basis with our waiter who just kept filling up our glasses. We danced all  night, and I think we even made some friends! I talked to so many of her friends, and they were all so kind to me. It was definitely a night for the books!

My May was certainly eventful. I'm not too sure about the big events happening in June, but it will certainly be busy with work. 

What was the best part of your month? What are your upcoming events in June?


Saturday, May 27, 2017

Eyam, Spurn Point, and Potteric Carr

This is a full blown post about the three day trips I went on. I’m excited to share, so I’m just going full steam ahead!


Eyam is what is called a plague village. It is the only place in northern England where the plague was recorded. It was spread by a cloth that came from London. Once there were a few cases, the town ended up closing itself off in order to keep the disease contained. They lost many of their citizens, but it did not spread any further than that. This is the location of a gravesite for a family. One of their relatives had to bury too many of them in one week.

The surrounding area is stunning. It’s so hard to believe what happened there. There are so many stories about the plague and how the village got by. They have stories about the people who lived there and how they got supplies to their people. I’m a huge fan of history, so this was a great mini trip that took only a few hours.

Spurn Point

This is one of the places that Matt works with. Spurn Point is a major geographical area. The lighthouse was fun to explore. The stairs are quite steep, but there are some cool exhibits within the rooms. There was an art exhibit which was an unexpected surprise.

Spurn housed army barracks, so it was interesting to learn about that history. We went on the Unimoq tour which was really fun. The tires were almost as big as me! The tour guide told us some interesting things about the location. I had a great time on this trip. It’s not something I would typically do, so it was a nice change of pace.

Potteric Carr

Similar to Spurn, this was all about nature. It was pouring down, so we chose to take a shorter walk. This wildlife reserve is full of birds and bugs, so we came on the worst possible day. The birds and bugs aren’t what we’re interested in, but we enjoyed the scenery.

This is a great place for a walk. There are so many routes to take that have varying times. We would have loved to take a longer walk, but it was nice to do a short one. I would love to go back to this in the future on a better day when we can see more nature and not worry about getting soaked.
There are my three day trips. I have regularly scheduled posts for next week, but the week after will be sharing the two big trips.

What do you prefer on vacation – nature or more tourist-y things like museums and history? 


Tuesday, May 23, 2017


I’m going to start this off by saying you should be impressed that I kept up with all of my regular postings while I was gone. My original intention for these travel posts was to split things up by week. However, I had a great time. I need to dedicate more posts to match up with that amount of pictures I took! I went to so many places – some new, some old – and I am excited to share everything with you all!

Most of my trip was based in Sheffield. First of all, just look at how pretty it is. I went on a lot of walks with stunning views like this. I got to meet one of Matt’s friends, and we went to a great pub and the guys played pool.

One day, we had a little tourist day and went to Kelham Island. There is a cool Industrial museum there that outlines Sheffield’s history from the beginning of time (pretty much). For anyone who doesn’t know, Sheffield was a major steel city. It was heavily bombed during wars. There was actually a room that had the sounds of airplanes flying over. It was realistic, and I was actually scared. There were some other cool things in there like cars and bicycles that were manufactured in Sheffield.

The most interesting part of the museum was the River Don Engine. It is the most powerful still working steam engine in Britain. There are a couple other ones in different parts of the world (Russia and China maybe?), so it’s lucky that we got to see it. We also got to see it go. I was so surprised at how fast it went. It was a really cool experience.

Matt really enjoyed the museum because he got to learn more of the history of where he’s from. I really enjoyed the experience as well. The museum seems to be out of the way from where we approached it (we took the tram in). There were also volunteers around that were friendly and informative.

If you’ve ever been to Kelham Island Museum, let me know in the comments!


Sunday, May 21, 2017

Pinterest Challenge - May 2017

I forgot how great Pinterest is. I’ve been seriously neglecting the app on my phone, and I miss doing stuff like this. The silly thing is, all of my Pinterest challenge posts tend to lean towards recipes and such. What can I say? I love food. Maybe I’ll start branching out a little more but no promises.

1.       Eggless Cookie Dough For One

This is as incredible as it sounds. The recipe from Community Table is simple and so good. The title of it sounds very sad. Maybe it is but I won’t judge you. Sometimes, you need a little snack to indulge in. I didn’t change anything about this recipe. It tastes so perfect exactly the way it is. It also tastes like cookie dough but without the fear of salmonella. It’s also quick to make which is a bonus for those cravings.

2.       Banana Apple Muffins

I made these for my sister when she was here. I loved this recipe from J Perry Fitness, but she thought it was too plain. The way she put it, “I like my muffins as actual muffins.” This recipe is meant to be healthy, so there is no sugar in it. My mom also thought the combination of banana and apple was odd. I did not use almond flour because of my allergy, or Himalayan salt (because what?), and I opted for normal butter over “grass fed butter.” I’m trying to be healthy, not precocious. I thought it was a great breakfast, but that was not the overall opinion in my family.

3.       Triple Berry Smoothie

Look how fancy I am with my little kiwi garnish! The Pretty Bee website says this is supposed to be immunity-boosting and can act as a remedy when you’re sick. I simply thought it was delicious. I didn’t follow the recipe perfectly. I used the triple berry mix of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries from Costco and put in 1 ½ cups of that. I did add the strawberries and kiwi though. I loved this. It was tart and great for first thing in the morning.

4.       Apple Pie Smoothie

I saw an article on The Greatist floating around Pinterest for the five best smoothies, so I decided to try one. This Apple Pie Smoothie sounded ridiculously appealing. Once again, I did not use almond milk, and I couldn’t find any dates to throw in. It tasted delicious all the same. I never thought about blending apples, but it worked out. I would suggest adding more milk though. By the end of the smoothie, it was kind of chunky and difficult to suck up with a straw.

5.       Vanilla Affogato Dessert

I have simplified the title of this from My Recipes. Out of everything on the list, this is absolute best. Since I can’t have gelato, I used vanilla ice cream. Other than that, this is perfect. It tasted so amazing. The only problem is deciding whether to drink it or eat it with a spoon (Marlee and I did a bit of both). This dessert somehow gets better as it melts. It’s perfect for a girl’s night.

I’ve decided I need to start writing these recipes down. I love all the things I’ve been trying, so I need to save them for later!

Let me know if you have tried any of these pins.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

I Am Terrified About My Future - And That's Okay

Life is about change. You can't ignore it. You can't avoid it. As the saying goes, "can't go over it. Can't go under it. Have to go through it." And go through it I have. Recently, life has been a matter of setting myself up for the future. Namely, I finished applying for Teacher's College. I have applied to six different schools in two different countries. Each time I pressed the submit button, I felt like I couldn't breathe. Now my future is in the hands of people I don't know. I'm questioning everything. I've know that I wanted to be a teacher since I was eight years old, but is that enough? Does my passion come across on paper? Have my experiences been enough? Am I good enough for this? Everyone I know tells me I would be a good teacher. Even people I don't know like Aquafitters and random acquaintances have pinpointed the characteristics that would make me a good teacher. However, the people that are deciding my future don't know me. They don't know how much I love teaching. They don't know how much strength and energy I draw from it. Are these institutions going to see that in me?

There's another major element in this. I have applied in two different countries. I have applied in Canada, and I have applied in England. Both of these options have major positives and negatives. Choosing one over another closes doors. It may alter the most important relationships I have in my life. I find myself worried that whatever decision I choose to make will result in some not so pleasant consequences. I know what I want to do. I know what my ideal situation is. In that ideal, I don't have loved ones that are disappointed in me. At the moment, I feel like if I choose to do what I want to do, then I will become a disappointment. I don't know if I can live with that. Both choices will put strain on relationships. Both choices will result in sacrifices. Both choices will result in a period of unhappiness. I'm concerned that the choices I make will alter relationships as I know them. I was listening to a podcast a while ago where Josh Radnor from How I Met Your Mother said something along the lines of "the decisions I make now are all shouldered from the decisions I made at that point in my life." Well, I am at that point in my life. This feels like a lot of pressure.

Here is what I need to remember: I cannot live my life to make other people happy. My loved ones will love me no matter what. I have to worry about one thing at a time. I will become a teacher. It is okay to be scared. I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels this way. For anyone else who is getting ready to graduate, you need to know that you're not alone. I was in a conversation with my dad about this a while ago. He has his own hesitations about what is to come for me. However, he told me this is an exciting time. I have some really cool opportunities ahead of me. I had a friend once who was nervous about going on exchange. I told her it's daunting in the beginning, but all you have to do is put your big girl pants on, take a deep breath, and do it. And that is what I shall do.


P.S. I wrote this in a very difficult time. I am now in a completely different position from where I was when I wrote this. Lesson learned: there is hope. 

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Lessons Learned - Fourth Year Edition

These are my favourite posts to write, and I haven’t done one since last July. This year has been a difficult one – and not just for me. I managed to pull off some pretty great marks, and I also got into some amazing schools in two different countries. Ultimately, it’s been pretty up and down. I already mentioned my weight problem, but some really great things have come out of it as well. I have no complaints here. I think my experiences have shaped me into a stronger, more mature woman. Here is what I learned this year:

1.       Bullies truly are the ones who have more insecurity – especially in adulthood.

It’s another year that I’m shocked to add bullying to my list. This happened right at the beginning. It was online bullying, and it was done by someone who bases their story on being bullied. The worst part is that this individual has a large presence in my school. They are known and adored all around campus, and I had the unfortunate luck of seeing their true side. However, our grad ball showed me the difference between the two of us. At the end of the night, they were put in a cab by their friends because they couldn’t stand up properly. As for me, I had the most fabulous time with my friends, and while I indulged in multiple glasses of champagne, I can remember everything. There’s a difference here. I am happy with the legacy I have left.

2.       Setbacks are not failures.

This has been something I’m trying to really get into my head. I’ve mentioned it before – I’m not good at routine. When I have a bad day and get off track, I tend to let my entire life fall apart. I come across setbacks like a bad day when I don’t get everything checked off my list and see it as a failure. I need to stop doing that because it holds me back. This is something I’ve learned but not put into place yet. It’s a work in progress.

3.       Eight hours of sleep is a whole new world.
I mentioned this a while ago, and, for a short duration, it actually worked. I was doing so well on eight hours of sleep at night. I was journaling and reading before bed, and I regret the time I let myself stop doing that. There is a significant difference in myself on eight hours of sleep and myself on less than eight hours of sleep. Try it – trust me.

4.       Adjusting to returning home is harder than adjusting to a new country.

This has played a major role in the difficulties this year has brought me. I mentioned this in an earlier post, but it seemed to increase in severity when I got back to something that was supposed to be normal. Life went on without me. I lost some friendships along the way. People had changed. What got me through this was an article from Elite Daily and the most amazing friend who understood exactly what I was going through. Reverse culture shock is a real thing. It’s okay to feel bad about it. It’s okay to struggle. Find your resources, and reach out to people when you can.

5.       Disagreeing with your friends’ decisions doesn’t make you a bad friend.

This has been something that I’ve been struggling with a lot this past year. I think it’s also a major part of growing up. When we all grow up, we start to go in different paths or walk further ahead. That’s not a bad thing, but it leads to thinking things like this. There have been so many times that I see friends doing things I don’t think they should be doing. I always wind up feeling like a bad friend because I challenge them on their decisions. I know that some friends really appreciate that. With others, it’s a mystery. I know that challenging questionable decisions may seem like you’re being a bad friend, but it’s okay to do that. You may be the only one who is causing them to pause. And who knows? Maybe they’ll take your advice later down the road.

6.       Senioritis is a real problem (and a real word, apparently).

Senioritis hit me so hard. I think I was “over” school around Christmas. I don’t think I was caught up at any point this year. I think maybe this was a combination of senioritis and returning from a year abroad. The good thing to realize is that you are not alone. So many people are going through the same thing as you. I had a friend who went the Dominican and had a similar experience as me. She put it like this: “we have seen bigger things. We’ve done bigger things. We’ve realized that the world is so much bigger than us and so much bigger than King’s.” That’s what made this year trudge on. It’s been tough, but, again, you’re not alone.

7.       Alcohol will make any tiny issue seem like a bigger one.

Yes, it took me this long to figure out. The thing to remember about alcohol is that you are not really yourself. I’m never one to cause drama, but I found myself being the centre of drama. When I’m sober, I’m an emotional person. When I’m drunk, that is exaggerated. So I reacted to situations in inappropriate and oversensitive ways. It caused a lot of issues with my friend. Things were said about me when they thought I couldn’t hear them. We turned on each other. There is so much danger in over-drinking in general, and I’ve learned that losing friends should not be one of them.

8.       Good friends can pop up at any time.

This year, I have been truly blessed. I have been brought to the most amazing friends in the world. I connected with my English gang. They are ones that have been my rock in classes we’re all struggling though (cough, Middle English, cough) and the ones who are always there when I’m having a bad day. It’s been the best group, and it absolutely breaks my heart that we have had only one year together as a group. These are ones I’m not willing to let go. I am so lucky to have them in my life.

Well, I can’t believe I’m done. I’ve finished my undergrad. I’m almost at my dream of teacher’s college. I guess another lesson learned is that four years is not really a long time. What I’m really looking forward to is being able to read for pleasure (and reviews, obviously). I have a cool summer coming up with some possible big life changes (again, sorry for not revealing more) at the end. I graduate in June, and I cannot be more excited for the final fling with the friends I hold so near and dear to my heart. The past four years have been amazing. I’ve learned a lot, I’ve grown a lot, and I’ve accomplished a lot. I’m so proud of myself.

What has been your major accomplishment recently?


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Book Review - The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

If you’re following me on Twitter, you’ll know that I finished my first novel since finishing my undergrad. The last book I read was in the summer (find the review for it here), and it was so exciting to finish another one. In fact, I stayed up until two in the morning reading it, and I was so excited that I couldn’t get back to sleep. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce was a great book to start off my summer of reading. It starts with a portrait of Harold Fry as a timid, observant, and absent man. The novel outlines the average, mundane life he leads; Harold is stuck. One day, he gets a letter from an old friend named Queenie. She is dying. With this, Harold sets off on a pilgrimage in the hopes that his faith will save her. On this walking journey from Knightsbridge to Berwick-Upon-Tweed, we see a change in Harold. His faith seeps out in every step. He becomes so sure of his purpose. Meanwhile, his wife Maureen has been left at home, and we see her struggle through pain to make sense of her life. The story becomes not only about Harold but Maureen and the story of their son and how to set things right. This is a novel about the power of faith, will, and determination.

The writing in this novel is excellent. Joyce reflects the story in her writing. The moments of spontaneity is written with a sense of a whirlwind. Everything is a reflection of something else. Physical pain is met with a reminder of emotional pain. I am typically not a fan of novels that switch narrations between two characters, but Joyce managed to set it out in a way that served the text perfectly. Maureen and Harold hold two different plotlines, and together, their stories are critical to a full understanding of Harold’s pilgrimage. As well, the narrative differences between Harold’s sections and Maureen’s sections show who they are as people. This style is brought out in every aspect of the novel. As readers, we are dragged along the text when Harold’s feet are dragging. We rush along, practically skipping, when Harold finds a new source of strength. Not only was the writing indicative of the plot, but Joyce managed to connect to the readers. There were moments where I was moved to tears.

What was fascinating to me was the idea of a pilgrimage. Now, I read the Canterbury Tales in Middle English this year, so I had a specific idea of what a pilgrimage is. This was a different kind of pilgrimage. Yes, Harold is walking towards something, but his pilgrimage goes beyond that. In going forward, Harold is also looking back on his life. Those skilful connections Joyce makes between physical and emotional pain serve as a reflection on the past. Harold wants to fix everything he has done wrong in his life. He goes through an emotional pilgrimage as well as a physical one. This is likely thanks to the people he meets. The chapters are set out like fables, and Harold learns something from everyone he talks to. The wide cast of characters represent many things but most importantly, the diversity of humans themselves. In learning about other people, Harold learns about himself.

I give this book a 4.5/5. I can’t quite place it on my coveted favourites list, but it’s also so much better than a simple four.

Have you read this novel? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.


Saturday, May 6, 2017

Things To Consider If You Want To Try Hot Yoga

As a part of my health track, I decided to try hot yoga. I have always liked doing yoga in my room with Yoga With Adriene videos, but I needed to step it up. A friend of mine has been helping me out with my healthy activity, and she was considering getting a membership to a local hot yoga studio. I had my hesitations. For one, my body doesn’t handle heat very well. I’m very susceptible to heat exhaustion, and I wasn’t sure if my ability was up to snuff. I tried it, loved it, and I got my own membership. These are my suggestions for anyone considering hot yoga.

1.       Try it first.
Like I said, I had hesitations about getting into hot yoga. Most workout places give potential members a chance to try it before they commit. I went with my friend and got a free class. I wanted to see if it was going to be too hot and if I could keep up with an actual class. Whatever your reason is, try a free class out first, and don’t feel obligated to buy a membership if you don’t like it.

2.       Bring a towel and LOTS of water.
I cannot stress this enough. I’m not super into this, so I don’t have that micro-something towel that every serious yogi seems to have. A small cotton hand towel has done me wonders. I always bring a towel because there is nothing worse than getting sweat in your eye. It also gives you a chance to step away from an exercise if need be. Also, make sure you bring water. I almost passed out a couple weeks ago because I was dehydrated.


3.       Consider mirrors.
When you’re scoping out yoga studios, it’s important to consider mirrors. It seems so small, but it makes a big difference to me. I typically go to the studio that’s close to my house, and it’s big with huge mirrors on two sides of the walls. When I’m in that studio, I tend to feel more self-conscious and also judgemental of other people. That is a major faux-pas in yoga! The smaller studio does not have mirrors, so I find myself focusing on myself more. Yoga should be judgement-free, so do what you need to do to make that happen.

4.       Find a class you like.
If you do decide to get a membership, great! Try out as many classes as you like and pick one that makes you feel really good. I, personally, love a yang/yin class. The first half is tough and works you hard while the other half focuses on deep muscle stretching and relaxation. It’s the best of both worlds. I’m not a fan of power flow which is one long and tough sweat session. You may also find teachers you like in the process.

5.       Days will differ.
Just like any other workout, some days will be better than others. One day, you might be killing it with all the planking and take minimal breaks. The day after, you might need some extra time in child’s pose. Sometimes, you may feel like pushing it. Sometimes, you may need to stick to a simpler version of poses. All the instructors I have had been supportive of your ability and needs. Everyone is different, and you don’t need to catch up with the person next to you. If you find yourself getting frustrated, one of the things that helps me is knowing that your mind wants to give up before your body does. When I’m feeling disappointed in my efforts, this thought pushes me to go beyond my mindset.

6.       Mantras are important.
Yoga has a distinctive spiritual element to it, but that’s not a prerequisite. However, I like setting mantras. Most of my instructors invite their students to set a mantra or intention for their practice. Personally, I love it. This doesn’t have to be intense or serious. My favourites in the past have been “I will return” and “I can do it.” I like having mantras because it starts your practice off in the right spot. I also come back to it when I have moments of frustration.

Overall, I have loved my experience with hot yoga. I find it to be emotional sometimes (I’ve cried twice during the final relaxation pose). Unfortunately, my membership will be expiring soon. I still plan on doing the $5 community classes when I can (another option if you don’t want to commit), but I think I’ll get an actual gym membership for the summer since I need the 24 hour flexibility with work. My final note is on the one thing everyone fears –farting in class. Have I done it? No. But, my body, WITHOUT fail will ALWAYS become gassy right before a class starts. I think half of my workout comes from holding it in. And that is okay, my friends.


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

My Fitness Journey - Reboot

My last fitness thing did NOT last long. I was genuinely trying for a while, but I’m not good at routine. I faltered and then I gave up. I’m working on that aspect of my life. After that, I had a bit of a wakeup call. I’ve mentioned my problems with my tonsils in a previous post. Well, I went to my doctor to see if I can get them out, and I was told that I need to lose 40lbs. I was told that being overweight puts me at a greater risk for complication during surgery. I was told that “I would be hard-pressed to find a doctor that would be willing to work on me since they would be too worried about doing a good job.”

As you can imagine, this threw me for a loop. I barely made it into the car before I started crying. I was told to eat a low-fat diet and come back in a couple weeks. The problem is that I don’t eat a high-fat diet. My problem is that I binge-eat and I often don’t eat lunch. I got the support of family and friends. My mom and I started the 21 Day Fix diet. That was NOT good for me. I was putting so much pressure on myself to stick to a plan that was totally different from what I was used to. I started getting worked up to the point where I had a panic attack. It was scary, and I am very thankful that I was on Skype with Matt when it happened. I stopped that diet (and became anti-diet soon after).

Since then, the mental health aspect of this weight loss has improved. I’ve fallen off track in the past few weeks, but I’m not letting it get me down. I’m trying to making healthier choices. I want to eat more protein and learn to cook healthier meals on a daily basis. For the activity side, I’m getting into walks with my dad after dinner and I got a hot yoga membership with a friend. I’m slowly getting into this. I’ve realized that this isn’t even about the 40lbs anymore. I need to think of the future. I want to be able to run around with my kids!

Let's consider this my reboot. This is where I am now, and I’m sharing it all. 


224 lbs.
37.5 cm.
Left Arm
41.5 cm.
Right Arm
43 cm.
97 cm.
122.5 cm.
128 cm.
Left Thigh
78 cm.
Right Thigh
78 cm.
Left Calf
47 cm.
Right Calf
41.5 cm.

If you have an tips or similar experiences, please let me know in the comments. I know I'm not the only person who has this experience. If we can work together, we can only make each other stronger.