Explore Montreal: Day Four & Five

Thursday, April 20, 2017

So today was my last full day in Montreal. My aunt had been telling me about a brunch place at the base of her work building so I decided to check it out. First off, I love a good pun so this restaurant made me crack up! (yes, pun intended). Eggspectation definitely met my eggspectations! I ordered the Waffle Bacon Benedict and oh. my. gosh. guys. try. it! I thought it would be a weird sweet and salty mix but the hollandaise sauce brought it all together. The waffle itself was crispy and not traditionally sweet which helped to complement the eggs benedict. Their special hollandaise sauce was a little different than traditional hollandaise sauce. It was a little sweeter than most hollandaise sauces which tied the entire plate together. On the side, this dish was complete with fruit and their Lyonnaise-style potatoes. Paired with my morning coffee and then finished off with a morning mimosa, this breakfast/brunch plate really hit the spot.

Eggspectations was definitely one of the best breakfast places I’ve been to. They’re located around Montreal and have a couple other locations across the country and in the States as well. If possible, check out their locations and try out some of their special dishes.

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After breakfast, I took a stroll back to Rue Sainte-Catherine to shop at Simons again. I am so in love with Simons and it is unhealthy! I left with more clothes and a soft wool jacket that was on sale. I had seen it earlier this week and decided that I could not leave without it. I spent some time around the McGill campus, checking out restaurants and coffee shops around the perimeter.

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I ended up at Lola Rose Café which was a suggestion made by one of my close friends. It was an interesting little vegetarian comfort food restaurant. Not sure how this happened, but I ended up ordering an avocado quesadilla. Barring from the fact that I’m actually allergic to avocados, I definitely liked the quesadilla. I was not a huge fan of the rice and the salad that came with it though. Maybe I should have ordered the burritos, but I felt like my choices were limited and although it may be a great choice for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike, I personally would probably not come back here.

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By this point in my trip, I had pretty much exhausted all my monetary funds so I made a sad trek back to a Starbucks outside my hotel to catch up on some blog posts and lecture videos. For dinner, I picked up some dumplings from Qing Hua Dumplings in Chinatown and watched the Raptors game in my hotel room before crashing into a food coma.

Friday, April 21, 2017

So… I missed my train back to Toronto. I woke up probably 10 minutes before my train’s departure so I guess that was that! For someone who loves travelling, I have a reoccurring problem where I will almost miss my flight or bus, but this was my first time completely missing my departure. Fortunately, I was able to get booked onto the next train out of Montreal which left two hours after my original train.

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By the time I arrived in Toronto, it was noon and I was getting hungry. On a previous trip to Toronto, I has asked for sushi restaurant suggestions from my roommate’s sister, Sincerly KN (p.s. check out her blog and Instagram if you are in the Greater Toronto Area) and she had suggested Mi-Ne Sushi. I did not have time to check it out last time but I was closer to the restaurant this time around so I stopped by for a quick bite to eat before catching my next train back to London, ON.

I absolutely love house green salads from Japanese restaurants and theirs was no exception. It was amazing! Everything from the dressing to thinly sliced avocado on top. How much did I love it? I loved it so much that I ordered a second one to bring with me onto the train. I also ordered one Unagi Roll, which is probably one of my favourite things to have when I’m craving sushi. Did not disappoint! The only downside to this restaurant was the price for the quantity given, but given its location and quality, it is a price that I am willing to pay for if I am ever around here again.

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All in all, I had an amazing week in Montreal and I would love to go again to try all the places that I was not able to check out in my short time there. Thank you for following me on my little trip and I hope these have been inspiration for helping you plan your own trip to Montreal!

If you have not already done so, check out day one, two, and three!

tiffany sign off

Explore Montreal: Day Three

Oops! I didn’t forget about the rest of my Montreal trip…I just had to face reality and the fact that I still had exams. So I am now back to finish my travel series!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Today was one of those “figure it out as you go” kind of days. I had planned on checking out the shops on St. Lawrence Boulevard (Boul St-Laurent) but hadn’t figured out how to get there yet so first thing this morning, I pulled up Google Maps and made my way to the subway station. As I stood there looking like a total tourist, trying to figure out the ticket prices for the subway, a really nice man tapped my shoulder and offered to give me the remainder of his day pass. Blessing number one of the day! I was very grateful because that meant I could stop looking super lost, and get to check out a lot more places than I had planned for.

First on my list: breakfast. I was determined to settle the “bagel war” that divides Montreal. Okay, it isn’t that dramatic but it is apparently a big deal. Montreal bagels are unique because it is handmade, and always baked in a wood-fire oven. They’re sweeter, smaller, and thinner than the regular (New York-style) bagel. In my opinion, they are a lot tastier than any New York-style bagel just because they don’t taste as dough-y. I set out to try the two “main” bagel shops in Montreal to see which one had the best experience, taste, and selection.

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My route may not have been the most efficient but my first stop was the Fairmount. Fairmount Bagel is said to be the best bagel place in Montreal. But then again, ask different people, get different answers! It is, apparently, the first bagel bakery in Canada, so that’s pretty cool! Fairmount Bagel is hidden away on Fairmount Avenue and Rue Saint-Urbaine in what seemed like a little residential neighbourhood. However, it is located two blocks south-west of the main road, Boul St-Laurent. Walking through the neighbourhood, I almost missed the small shop, filled floor to ceiling with shelves of bagels for sale. It’s a very small shop with no seating and a narrow entrance that led to a counter where you could order your bagel. Behind the counter was all the inner workings of the bagel shop. It would have been great to be able to watch them make the bagels but there was barely enough room for two people to order at the counter. I ordered a plain bagel (because I am a bagel purist) and cream cheese. Boring, but so delicious!

Experience: 1.5/5 Just because it is an on-the-go bagel place without seating. I felt very rushed to make a decision of what bagel to get and what toppings to choose and did not get a chance to fully experience the process. I ended up sitting on a colourful bench outside to eat my bagel.
Taste: 4/5 Tastes like a Montreal bagel (duh)! I gave it a four just because it was a little tough to chew on, like it had been out of the oven for a while.
Selection:
4/5 They have a wide variety of bagels with spread choices of jam, peanut butter, and cream cheese. I was a little disappointed in the lack of spread choices, but since it wasn’t meant to be a sit-down dining cafe, that was understandable.

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Once I finished my Fairmount bagel, I hopped on a bus to find my way to St-Viateur Bagel. The bagels were not very filling so this made my day pretty easy! I found St-Viateur after a bus ride and walking a couple blocks. Back when I talked to the woman on the train, she told me that I had to try the “bagel and lox” which is a Montreal bagel topped with smoked salmon and cream cheese. So since Fairmount did not have those options, I ordered it here at St-Viateur. Fittingly, it was named Traditional on the Bagel Sandwich menu. As you can see, the sesame bagel is topped with cream cheese, smoked salmon, tomatoes, onions, and capers. It was DELICIOUS and very filling, paired with a perfect cup of drip coffee.

Experience: 4/5 While seating was a nice way to experience the bagel without having to eat it outside, the service was just okay. It took a while for them to take my order and refill coffee. All-in-all, a much better experience than at Fairmount.
Taste: 5/5 Oh. My. Goodness. So much going on but in a good way. Smoked salmon and cream cheese are a match made in heaven! The bagel itself was a lot softer than the Fairmount bagel so I had to give it to St-Viateur.
Selection: 5/5 The variations and the ability to choose from bagels, spreads, a variety of bagel sandwiches, and non-bagel menu items, was a lot more appealing than just having bagels with spreads. Check here for a rough idea of the menu.

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I’m not sure how I found my way to La Banquise but I think I walked so I could work off some of that St-Viateur bagel! La Banquise is a 24 hour diner for Quebec eats, specifically poutine. I think I went with the classic poutine to see how it went against all the other poutine I had tried outside of Montreal. You can’t really argue with Montreal poutine. Afterall, it is where it originates from. The gravy had a sweet taste, not salty like the gravy used elsewhere. All-in-all, La Banquise’s poutine is a must try and it shows the uniqueness of Montreal poutine compared to other kinds of Canadian poutine. The flavours itself are very different.

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By the time I finished my “lunch” at La Banquise, it was pouring rain outside. Armed with a semi-defective umbrella, I waited under the doorstep of a random shop before hopping onto a bus towards Boul St-Laurent. When I got off the bus, I was not in the mood to get soaked so I ducked into Café Code Noir. In attempts to keep my spending at bay, I ordered a regular drip coffee and spent an hour and a half working on blog posts. I had hoped that the rain would die down but alas it would not. Code Noir did request that you purchased a drink for every hour you stayed there and used their resources (e.g., wifi, electricity, etc.), which I found to be a unique practice, but reasonable considering they were a small coffee shop and not a large chain store like Starbucks.

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After I spent some time at Code Noir, I decided to check out Café Imagine. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I walked into Café Imagine because the layout was similar to a regular coffee shop but the bar looked different. To my surprise, Café Imagine actually charges by the hour! The rate (for a student), was three dollars an hour, charged to a maximum of nine dollars. So after three hours, you would just pay a flat fee of nine dollars for unlimited drinks. Seems reasonable because if a ‘specialty’ drink such as a mocha or a latte was to be made in another café, they would charge you somewhere between $4-5 and it would take you approximately an hour to finish (or at least it does for me) if you were doing work. After staying for three hours, it would actually be cheaper than elsewhere. It was a unique set up that I found to be very practical. Even their drinks were high quality. I ordered a hot chocolate which was made with real cocoa. It was amazingly rich and if I lived in Montreal, this would probably be my go-to study spot!

After spending some time at Café Imagine, I left to check out a thrift shop, only to realize that a) it was pouring outside and I should not have left shelter, and b) I really don’t like thrift shops. So I popped into Juliette & Chocolat for a quick peak since a friend of mine had suggested the place to me. It is an adorable dessert shop and I wish I had more time, money, and appetite to spend there. I made my way back to Café Code Noir before meeting up with my aunt for dinner.

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Well, one can not go to Montreal without trying Montreal’s smoked meat! My aunt and I both ordered Schwartz’s smoked meat sandwiches. It was filling and delicious, but beware of the grease! Even without full fat, the meat is juicy and tender. I hate pickles but paired with the sandwich, it was not too bad! There is not much to say about Montreal Smoked Meat because it speaks for itself. It is just a must try! The lineups are crazy long and there isn’t a lot of seating so get there when you can so the wait time isn’t too long. However, they only take cash so make sure you have that on hand.

So that was day three of my Montreal adventures. Full bellies, coffee in my blood, and rainy days make for the perfect chill day. Even though I did not get to explore more of Boul St-Laurent, it was a great day and that just means I will have to return another day to spend more time on the boulevard!

tiffany sign off

Explore Montreal: Day Two

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Day two was shopping on Rue Sainte-Catherine. Original, I know. At one point, I thought Ontario HST was bad…and then I came to Montreal and realized that they have a ridiculously high tax rate of approximately 15%. I quickly grabbed breakfast and a coffee from an Asian pastry place called Pâtisserie Cocobun in the underground food court. Instead of eating in the food court underground, I awkwardly maneuvered my food out of the bag and stood to the side of La Maison Simon’s main doors and watched people hurry through the busy downtown intersection. On the train to Toronto, the woman sitting next to me recommended a book called Quiet so after eating my pastry, I went to check it out at a nearby bookstore. I got through part of the first chapter while finishing my coffee and then ordered the book off Amazon to finish when I get back home to Vancouver.

I spent the first part of my afternoon shopping in Simon’s and then just browsing through random stores. Around 4:30 pm, I realized how hungry I was becoming and decided to check out Le Warehouse. If you are ever in Montreal and want good, cheap, pub food, Le Warehouse is the place to be. The entire menu (minus drinks) costs $4.95. The portions are smaller but filling. I got Le Warehouse Poutine: peppered fries, maple bacon, cheese curds, and gravy. Welcome to poutine heaven! Le Warehouse isn’t supposed to be a “famous poutine place” but, let me tell you, it was still amazing. The fries popped with bits of peppercorn on each bite. I’m not a huge fan of peppercorn so I picked off large pieces of the pepper to make sure it wasn’t too spicy. The peppered fries, mixed with crispy maple bacon, gave it an incredible crunch. I love crispy fries so even if the fries themselves were not the crunchiest, the peppercorn and maple bacon made up for it. I paired it with a Tennessee Lemonade (Jack Daniels, fresh squeezed lemon juice, and Coca-Cola) for a whiskey infused Coke. A little strong to start off, especially on a relatively empty stomach, but it got better with some mixing.

After Le Warehouse, I got lost (again) looking for C’ChôColat, a desert place just a couple blocks south of Le Warehouse. One of my good friends from high school suggested it to me since she had connections at McGill from her undergrad years here. C’ChôColat is kind of a hybrid coffee shop and dessert shop. They make drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), mason jar milkshakes and smoothies, sandwiches, waffles and other desserts including fondue! Check out their menu here. I almost ordered a fondue for one but decided against it for a “King Kong”. Literally a King Kong of a dessert: Vanilla gelato wrapped in a chocolate bubble waffle  with banana slices, salted caramel, whipped cream, crumble, and pecans. Probably one of the best things I have ever had and 10/10 would recommend. There is not much I can say about it because my taste buds were literally assaulted by its sweetness and I was in awe, so this picture will say it all for me.


After I finished at C’ChôColat, it was getting close to 6:00 pm. I headed back to meet up with my aunt to head out for dinner. I’m not sure how I fit all that food in my stomach without getting sick! I was pretty full by the time I got back to the hotel but I shoved that feeling aside and headed to dinner. We went to Le Robin Square, a small French cuisine restaurant run by the Robin Family. Their menu is unique in that their ingredients are, for the most part, locally grown and the menu items change daily. The chef comes in every morning to prepare the menu items for the day. A frequent menu item that the restaurant makes is their specialty Mac & Cheese. I don’t really know how to describe this dish because it has such a unique taste to it. The cheese sauce has a maple sweetness to it, creamy, topped with Hawaiian salt and sweet pulled Christmas ham. I completely regret not taking a photo of it but just thinking back at the dish is making me salivate. We also ordered their appetizer pizza. It had sundried tomatoes, fresh little tomatoes, and a large block of Italian cheese they have imported each week. I thought it would be rather heavy because of the pizza crust and creamy cheese but it was surprisingly light, a perfect appetizer. Unfortunately, the flavourful Mac & Cheese overshadowed the pizza so if I get a chance to come back to Montréal, I will definitely try the rest of their menu, one item at a time. I even ventured out of my comfort zone to try La Saison du Tracteur, a beer stocked from a local micro-brewery called Le Trou Du Diable. I’m a terrible person to drink beer with because I usually stick to what I know so this was a new experience for me and I was surprised at how much I liked it! The delicious meal was topped with a unique pistachio creme brûlée. I slipped into a food coma not too long afterwards. Given how much I ate today, I was stuffed.

I think I learned a lesson today. Don’t try to fit a whole day worth of food into two and a half hours because the food coma will be very real. Other than that, I have zero regrets because my stomach was VERY happy.

tiffany sign off

Explore Montreal: Day One

You would think that with only three exams, I could finish my third year of university early and go home right? Wrong. The university seems to have scheduled my last exam for one of the last days of exam period. Left with two weeks in between my first two exams and last exam, what was I supposed to do with my time? It has been two years since I last visited my Aunt and her family in Toronto so I thought, why not pay them a visit? This is how I ended up in Montreal. My aunt seems to frequent Montreal for business trips and invited me along this time since going to Toronto to visit them just means being stuck in a suburb for most of the week. In Montreal, I am flying solo and getting lost on my own. It’s quite exciting actually! So this is what I have been up to!

Monday, April 17, 2017

My day started at 5:00 am. I stayed up until 1:00 am packing the night before so I am surprised I even made it up in time to catch my train! Once I got on the train, I was ready to go back to sleep which I think I managed to do for 10 minutes before the coffee cart passed by and I had to borrow some change from the lady next to me to afford the $2.25 coffee (yeah. I’m poor and cash doesn’t exist in my wallet. sorry pickpocketers!). The lady next to me happened to be headed to Vancouver from London, but raised in Montreal so we spent the rest of the train ride to Toronto exchanging tourist tips on our home cities.
Once in Toronto, I changed trains and was on my way to Montreal. The whole trip took around 7 or 8 hours so I made it to Montreal around 2:00 pm. I immediately got lost after getting off the train. Very typical of me! Google maps probably saved me from landing in some dead end corner on the other side of the city. I finally found my hotel and settled in before heading to Vieux-Port (Old Port) and Vieux-Montréal (Old Montreal) in the borough of Ville-Marie. First stop: Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal. 

The Basilique Notre-Dame was only a short walk away, not even 10 minutes. There was a large line-up outside so I chose not to go inside. Maybe I will get a chance to get take a look around inside but today, I was pretty hungry so I went to find some food down by the St. Lawrence River.

Next stop: Maison Christian Faure. Not really a meal place but dessert can be a meal right? It took me while to make up my mind but I finally settled on a slice of flan and three macarons (mangue passion, caramel, and pistache). The flan was a lot tougher than I thought it would but it was creamy, delicious, and just the perfect amount of sweetness. The macarons were tangy, with vibrant flavours. The mangue passion really hit me at the first bite. I didn’t expect it to be so sour and strong. The pistachio macaron had a creamy texture with a mild flavour in comparison to the mangue passion macaron. The caramel was rich and dark, more so than most caramel macarons I have tried. All three were very, very sweet. If you have a sweet tooth, this is the perfect place for you! The macarons are rich in flavour, and have the perfect crunch. Pricing, however, is on the steep side. Each macaron cost $2.50 so I had to choose very carefully.

After dessert, I strolled down Rue de la Commune and grabbed a coffee from Magasin General before making my way back to Rue Saint-Paul. Rue Saint-Paul is pretty much the oldest part of Montréal and true to its reputation, it is rustic with cobblestone roads. It is almost like being transported into a miniature version of Europe. I just walked around and took pictures before heading back to my hotel to meet up with my aunt for dinner. We ended up checking out a Chinese noodle restaurant located in Chinatown called Nudo. The noodles are hand-pulled in house, making them pretty special, but the noodles were starchier than I would have liked. I got the dry noodles with BBQ pork…the pork was AMAZING though. It has been such a long time since I have had good BBQ pork. London needs to step up their BBQ pork game (and all things Chinese cuisine, honestly).

It had been a long day by the time we finished dinner so we headed back to the hotel. I spent some time by the poolside before retiring to bed VERY early in the night. All in all, it was a chilly but productive afternoon of exploring Vieux-Montréal!

tiffany sign off

The Tea Life

Have you ever wanted a tea that tasted great, with lots of health benefits, and not ridiculously expensive? I have the perfect tea for you. Propolis Tea!

First off, what is Propolis?

Propolis, in simple terms, is essentially bee glue. Honeybees collect resin from flowers and sap flows, tree buds, etc. and mix with waxes, saliva, pollen, and balsams. Sounds a little gross but hey, we eat weirder things right? Well, with everything that honeybees produce, propolis is one of the most versatile and most beneficial to the maintenance of your health. Propolis comes with a whole host of properties that can help to boost your immune system. These properties include anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and much more. Seriously, propolis is extremely cool and if you have the time, do a little research and find out what it can do for you!

Okay, now what does that have to do with tea?

Well, my friends, I was given the opportunity to try out some of this fabulous tea before the company, Propolis Tea Co. was officially launched. An old friend of mine, Jonathan Piechnik, started this company to incorporate propolis and its health benefits with something that is easily consumed, tea. All over Asia and slowly being introduced in North America, propolis has been finding its way into various beauty and wellness markets such as in cosmetics, personal hygiene products, and overall health. He wanted to give the audience a product that can be easily consumed without the chore of downing pills every day. Tea was a great idea because the market for tea is huge, however, propolis in tea is a whole other story! You can reap the benefits of propolis just by brewing yourself a cup of tea, something that many people do on a regular basis.

I was so excited when I got my first bag of Propolis Tea. I had received Gunpowder Green Tea back in the summer and let me tell you one thing: the smell of propolis is delicious and amazing. It never really goes away once you open the tea bag, but you won’t even be mad. It is packaged as loose leaf tea, making it incredibly flexible to however much tea you want to make. The gunpowder green tea is quite bitter if over steeped so do be careful if you are not a fan of strong tea. I was not a fan of green tea before but this has really changed my mind. Honestly, I am pretty hooked on green tea now, especially this one with its hint of propolis.
Smells amazing: 10/10

Propolis doesn’t have a strong flavour despite its smell. It doesn’t take away from the tea’s original flavour, nor does it change it in any noticeable way. I have sensitive taste buds so there is hint of propolis in the tea. I personally believe it enhances the tea’s flavour and adds a smidge of sweetness. Typically, green tea has some bitterness to it, but the tea is such great quality and mixed with propolis, the bitterness is savoury and not at all a turn off for those like my boyfriend who don’t enjoy tea. As mentioned before, steeping time and amount of leaves used are very important in making sure the tea turns out perfectly and not too bitter. I am pretty lazy and forgetful so I tend to leave my tea for too long. Despite that, I have never disliked a cup of tea I have made with these tea leaves.
Tastes great: 9/10

In January, my boyfriend and I alternated being sick for most of the month. He is a huge anti-medication type of person and refuses to take meds of any sort unless it was absolutely necessary. About two days into him being sick, I suddenly remembered that I had this bag of tea still sitting around. How I hadn’t finished it before then is a wonder to me! I made him a cup of propolis tea and was surprised I didn’t have to force him to drink it. Even as someone who doesn’t like tea, he drank it all and even asked for seconds. The next day, his throat hurt a lot less and his cough was a much less severe. Between the two of us being sick all month, this tea was a lifesaver and made the entire time more bearable. Whether or not you believe in propolis’ health benefits, I have to say that they work and they work like a gem. Imagine if propolis tea was in your daily routine. I bet that in no time, you would see an improvement in your overall health. So head over to Propolis Tea Co. to grab a bag and see what it can do for you!
Health benefits: 9.5/10

To find out more about propolis and the company itself, check out their website!

 


Header photo courtesy of Propolis Tea Co.

I Don’t Like My Bullet Journal Anymore?

Recently I have realized that the weekly/daily method of bullet journaling I was using last semester was no longer working for me. This made me a little sad because the system I had established worked so well and suddenly I had to quickly find a new system for the new school semester. Here is what I have come up with so far…

For Christmas, my parents gifted me an iPad Mini 2 and shortly after, my iPhone 5s broke down so I had to get a new phone. I opted for the iPhone 6s to keep with the Apple family for the time being. I realized that using the calendar that synced to my computer, phone, and iPad was actually very efficient and helped me to plan out my time. By seeing the week at a glance and being able to see what blocks of time I would not be available actually helped me sort out my events quicker. In addition, putting reminders into my calendar helps me remember what I need to do since writing reminders down in my bullet journal was fine but I would forget 50% of what I needed to do if I did not consult my bullet journal on the spot.

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This is just an example of what my calendar would look like with all its events and colours.

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This is something that I did in high school but did not work for me in the first couple years of university. For some reason, it is now becoming helpful once again. I colour coordinate events to distinguish between their nature (school, appointment, reminder, etc.). So what does that leave my paper bullet journal?

I had considered using my iPad to move my bullet journal into digital format but found that it was not something I could figure out how to do quickly. There would have to be a lot of trial and error with stylus’, apps, features, and layouts, all which I would not have time to do.  In the end, I decided to ditch the weekly layouts for a more flexible daily system with a section for ongoing to-dos, kind of like a dump page, and a monthly view instead of a weekly view of what readings I need to have done and when. The specifics have not been set in stone so pictures and a new post will be made once it was been officially set up. I’m pretty excited to see how this system works out for me!

Stay tuned for updates!

tiffany sign off

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Christmas Holidays

This past Christmas break felt like it was extremely short. Finals week for me this semester did not end until 10 pm on December 21st, and my flight left the following afternoon. In total, I spent eight days on the West Coast and two days on a plane. It was definitely as short as it seemed.

Did you know Netflix added a new update that allows you to download shows to watch offline? This was a lifesaver. In total, to get from my home in London to my parents in Vancouver, it takes approximately 10 hours. 10 hours, with either really bad airport wifi or no wifi at all, is a long and boring time. In addition, the ability to download shows and movies is getting increasingly difficult without reliable torrent sites, and paying for them is too much and too impractical for a student like me who is not able to afford that luxury. So what did I do? I loaded an entire season of Naruto on Netflix to keep me company!

When I landed in Vancouver, there was some misunderstanding as to where my parents were to meet me because they did not want to pay the outrageous airport parking fees. After an unnecessarily long time of trying to figure out where to meet, we finally found each other and headed into town for some Chinese food. Ironically, my parents were hungrier than I was! After a late dinner, we headed home and I spent my first night back in my old room.

The next two days consisted of running errands, getting to appointments, having food and spending time with extended family, and a nice Christmas Eve banquet at my home church. It felt great to spend time with the people I had been away from for four months and to catch up with people who I had not expected to see. All my friends’ children are growing up and getting so big. Each time I go back, they are always doing something new and looking bigger than before. It is a little sad that I miss that growing period but at least I can see pictures and videos on Facebook these days.

On Christmas Day, my family and I went to our morning church service and then left in the afternoon for the States. My family is pretty funny. For some reason, my parents love to travel on Christmas Day. However, most establishments and businesses are closed except for the occasional McDonalds or some random fast food restaurant. I think they tend to forget this because always we end up spending half an hour trying to find somewhere to eat. We drove all afternoon to get to our hotel in Portland, Oregon and turns out, my parents booked a separate room for my brother and me! We usually make do with one hotel room but I guess my mom got fed up with having all of us in one tiny room.

The next morning, we drove into Downtown Portland to check 2016-12-26-14-16-45out a cafe that my brother had wanted to have breakfast at but found that most places were closed due to Christmas Day falling on a Sunday and thus taking Monday off to observe the holiday. Starbucks was still open so we ended up giving up our search for a breakfast place and buying croissants and coffee. My dad drove us around Downtown until we found the small mall there. We checked it out but ended up heading to Powell’s Books’ headquarters, dubbed Powell’s City of Books. It was HUGE! I have always been a bit of a nerd so I savoured my time in the store. My high school history teacher was a huge fan of the store and I knew I would have to check it out to its full extent. I did a quick walk through of all the different sections just to see what they had to offer before digging into the History section. I had a chance to quickly skim the Psychology section before it was time to go.

2016-12-26-12-22-12After Powell’s, my brother led us to check out the food trucks stationed in what seemed to be a central area of downtown. It was only one or two blocks away from Powell’s. My parents grabbed food from a Thai truck while my brother and I chose a Korean BBQ truck. I guess we were craving some Asian cuisine after all our fast food meals on the road. The food was amazing! I think I’ve always been a little skeptical
about how good food from a food truck could but this really made me a believer of food trucks. The food was hot, it was fresh, it was also delicious and well made. The proportion sizes were perfect, however, with anything other than a sandwich, most of these servings seemed a bit difficult to eat on the go or standing without a table. My family ended up eating our food in the car before dispersing so I could go into Powell’s again to raid their Psychology section. I think I ended up leaving that day with five or six books, each under $10!red-panda

That evening was the Portland Blazers game versus Toronto Raptors. This was the main reason that our family had headed down there. I guess my brother had wanted to see a game so this was his Christmas gift and the whole family got to enjoy. It was an extremely close game. Both teams played horribly but it was exciting and fun to watch. It was the first time any of us had been to an NBA game. We had to teach my mom some sports etiquette along the way but she caught on quickly enough. Although outnumbered by Blazer fans, we cheered for Toronto and were relieved when they won the game. LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING! The halftime show was SICK! Red Panda was an acrobat act on Season 8 of America’s Got Talent and now performs at NBA halftime shows.

After leaving Portland, we spent some time at the Adidas employee store and the Woodburn Outlets before heading north towards Seattle. We spent the night at an amazing hotel in Tukwila, Washington and did some shopping at Nordstrom Rack, DSW, and the Westfield Southcenter Mall the next day. We also made a quick stop off at Seattle Premium Outlets for dinner before heading towards the border.

On the 29th, it was back to get stuff done before I left. After a much-needed massage, my dad and I went to T&T to stock up on all the yummy Asian snacks that I wouldn’t be able to buy while I was away at school. We came home with four full shopping bags and I somehow got it all to fit in my suitcase without going over the weight limit! I’m really hoping this supply will last me the semester (and if not, please help send more yummy Taiwanese/Asian snacks! lol I’m just kidding…but not really).

The 30th was finally my “chill” day. I slept in and spent the remainder of my morning packing up my suitcase. By mid-afternoon, I headed over to my best friend’s house for a little get together with the squad and the boyfriends. It was pretty sad to have this be my last day at home and the only time I could see everyone but it was a fun night, filled with drinks, food, stories, Cards Against Humanity, and lots of laughter.

On the 31st, I left bright and early for the airport. Once again, with Naruto keeping me company, I braced myself for another long day of traveling. This time, my plane wasn’t full so there was more room to spread out. I finally got back to London and got to spend New Years Eve and New Years Day with Alex so it was a great holiday from beginning to end!

I hope everyone had a great holiday as well! Stay tuned for more in the new year!

tiffany sign off

Twenty things…

I recently celebrated my twentieth birthday. My little brother, along with my family, sent me a birthday card. He had written that he was “still trying to comprehend [me] being 20 years old because that’s insane”. I agree. It is insane. While it felt no different than any other day (besides for the unusual number of notifications lighting up my phone),  I thought it would be nice to sit down and reflect on what I had learned in the past two decades of my life. So here it is. Twenty things I learned by the age of twenty.

  1. While your family may be annoying, cherish them because once you move out, you realize how much they really love you. Even if they have a weird way of showing it.
  2. It is never too late to strengthen connections with those around you. It wasn’t until recently that I started talking to my brother rather than only dropping in to say hi when I went home for the holidays. While it is still strange, it is nice to really try to connect in some ways as siblings.
  3. Having a disorder is not something that you should be ashamed of. Being able to wake up and go about your day, even while wearing a mask, shows that you are so incredibly strong.
  4. Never be afraid to ask for help. Whether it be searching for ketchup in the grocery store or seeking medical attention for physical or psychological problems.
  5. It will take some time to move on from the past. It might hurt and it might be frustrating but it won’t last forever.
  6. Get rid of people in your life who are toxic. It may seem frightening, having to make new friends or cut long-term ties, but it is worth it for your happiness.
  7. Do not let your parents dictate your future. Respect them and their opinions but you are free to pave your own path and choose your own career. They will come around eventually because, in the end, they love you and just want what is best for you.
  8. Being comfortable in your own skin is being free. Be confident in yourself and don’t let your insecurities keep you from enjoying life.
  9. You can be comfortable in your own skin and still wear makeup or dress up. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise.
  10. You don’t have to be the best at school or your job. As long as you work hard in all you do, you can be proud of yourself.
  11. Harmful coping methods are never the answers to your problems. They are merely temporary solutions to your current situation.
  12. What people think of you and your work should not matter so much. Unless it is constructive criticism. Then you should take that into consideration and learn from it.
  13. Take responsibility for your actions. It may not be fun to do but to take responsibility is to learn from your mistakes.
  14. Keep striving to be a better version of yourself. You are only so many years old. Don’t cut your life short because you are not who you envisioned yourself to be.
  15. Take control of your future. Work hard to make it happen. Don’t give up when a door closes in front of you because you will never be stuck, boxed in, with no options to turn to.
  16. Do not assume your common sense is the same as everyone else in the world.
  17. Some days you will feel 10 years older than you really are, and other days you will feel like a 5-year-old again. Embrace it.
  18. Procrastination is inevitable. Learn to accommodate for that to avoid the last minute panic attacks.
  19. Look up from your phone once in a while. The world is so interesting and you’ll miss it if you never look away from your phone. Don’t let your phone take you away from meaningful conversations and building relationships. Those connections last longer than the satisfaction you get from the likes on your latest profile picture.
  20. Take care of yourself. Keep yourself healthy: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. There is only one of you. There is no replacement.

I could go on, but I’m only twenty years old.

tiffany sign off

P.S. I hope this was interesting and offered some helpful advice. Thank you to my family, friends, and wonderful boyfriend for being there for me and sending love and well wishes on my birthday. I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for the people who always loved me and believed in me. I love you all ♥

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Plan With Me: October

I love October and all things Fall because I get to wear cozy sweaters and look at all the pretty leaves. I also hate October because midterms are always scheduled around my birthday so it leaves little time for me to celebrate with my friends. I guess that’s just life of a university student!

This month, my set up hasn’t changed too much. I did a monthly review page to see what worked and what didn’t for me last month and found a few things that didn’t work. If you saw my September Plan With Me, you will notice the differences.

october-monthly

What worked for my monthly spread:

  • The October page with the mini month view!

Here is what what didn’t work for me for my monthly spread:

  • Splitting up my calendar into academic and others. I found there wasn’t enough room for my appointments and sometimes I wasn’t sure if something fell into academic or others.
  • The to-do and notes sections stayed fairly empty because they were so big and I didn’t have much to write in them. I minimized them into two smaller boxes because I knew they would still be big enough to fit whatever I had to write in them.
  • I had a small expenses box that I didn’t use so instead I made it into a food budget box for the October spread.

This is what I added:

  • I added an upcoming box for November events so I wouldn’t have to keep flipping to the future log to quickly see if I had to prepare anything for November
  • The goals box is especially for this month because I have three exams this month so having goals about how I am going to do on those exams have really been a great motivation.

For my weeklies, I have been modifying it slightly each week to make it more efficient. My weeklies tend to be a one page spread on the left consisting of a weekly overview, a tracker, a to-do box, an upcoming box, a mini month calendar, and an empty box that kept changing until I found the best thing to put there. In September, I started with trying a meal planning box but found there wasn’t enough space and I didn’t use it to plan my meals. I then changed it into a readings box for all my class readings I needed to do, which worked, but as I fell behind, I found that I needed more room for all the readings I missed, and I needed to separate those from the readings I needed to do for the next week.

What worked for my weekly spread:

  • Weekly overview! One of my favourite parts of my weekly spread.
  • Mini month overview calendar
  • Upcoming events box
  • Dailies on the right page
  • tracker box worked for the most part (I sometimes got lazy ~ hehe)

What didn’t work for my weekly spread:

  • Meal planning boxes
  • Certain habits I was tracking
  • To-do boxes still were too big with a lot less things to put on there
  • Reading/homework box worked but was a little small with the increasing workload

october-3-9-weekly

What I added:

  • Split the readings box into two columns (this week and next week)
  • Made the readings box bigger and the tasks/to-dos box smaller
  • I tried the picture habit tracker…I love it but I can’t draw at all haha
  • Instead of using washi tape for my headers, I switched to just a strip of highlighter. I don’t know if I will switch back or not, but I love both styles.

october-10-16-weekly

This next week’s spread is probably one of my favourites. I know it doesn’t look any different than the last week’s spread but the colours are so pretty and I am just overall very happy with it. I think I have finally gotten over my bullet journal craze of trying to make everything colourful and pretty and have instead embraced the simplicity and minimalist bullet journal style that still reflects my own personality. I think this is an important lesson to learn. Everyone’s bullet journal is a reflection of what works for them and it is easy to get caught up in the craze of trying to make yours as pretty as others’.

Hope this is helpful and inspirational for you!

tiffany sign off

P.S. In the next couple of weeks, I hope to start some of my other sections in my blog. Send me any of your suggestions of what you would like to see me post about!

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Bullet Journal 101: Choosing a Notebook

A major component of Bullet Journaling is…well…a notebook of some sort. While I will continue to stress that the notebook you choose does not have to be special in any way, expensive, or look a certain way,  I also understand if you want a good quality notebook so that your bullet journal experience can be documented and kept for years to share. You may choose to start off in an inexpensive notebook to see if the bullet journal system is for you before making an investment in a more expensive notebook.

Whether you choose a $2 notebook from Target or a $30 notebook from a specialty stationery store, here are some things to consider when choosing a notebook:

  • Size of your notebook (A6, A5, A4, B5, etc.)
  • Paper type (lined, grid, dotted, plain)
  • Paper quality or gsm (grams/square meter; the higher the gsm, the thicker the paper)

Size of Notebook

The size of your notebook is based on your personal preference. An A6 or pocket notebook is small and can fit in your pocket. However, if you are wanting to fit a lot of information on one page, it may limit your abilities to create spreads to your liking. An A5 is the most common size. It is small enough to stick in your purse but large enough to give you the room to fit your creative spreads. A4 and B5 are larger, more like the size of printer paper or loose leaf lined paper. This may be good if you want to use your bullet journal for school or you are always carrying a backpack with you. Since they are large in size, they may not be as convenient to carry around and use day in and day out. The balance is to find a size that is large enough for you to fit what you like and small enough that its size won’t hinder you from using it every day or bringing it out.

Type of Paper

Lined, plain, dotted, oh my! There are so many choices. You would think that the easy option would be to go with the most commonly available type of paper, lined. Surprisingly not! Dotted paper is common in the bullet journal community due to its flexibility and invisibility. The dots can be connected to create the shapes and spreads you like and are easy to make straight lines with. The unconnected dots fade into the background and can become unnoticeable. The same can be said about grid paper with the exception of the invisibility factor. If you like structure, lined paper would be your best option. It doesn’t have the flexibility of grid and dotted paper but is still a popular choice among those who like to keep their BuJo designs quite minimal. The only downside is that you will need a ruler if you plan on making spreads that go against the grain of the paper lines. Plain paper is for the creative cats who like to freely create and draw their designs. In many cases, those using plain paper opt for thick sketch paper or watercolor paper so they can use different mediums to decorate their bullet journal. Try them out and see which type of paper is best for your needs!

Paper Quality

Will ghosting or bleeding irritate you? Ghosting is when you can see the previous page’s information but it is not clear enough that the page is deemed unusable. Bleeding is when the pen’s ink has bled to the other side of the page, either disrupting the next spread or making the next spread unusable. If ghosting bothers you, opt for higher gsm paper. The Moleskine is approximately 71 gsm so there is a fair amount of ghosting when using fineliners and darker pen colours. Leuchtturm1917 and Rhodia both have 80+ gsm and have shown to have less ghosting. My personal favourite is the Personal-Planner Notebooks. These are 140 gsm and while mine has a lot of bleeding, it is mostly due to my tendency to press really hard when using more liquid inks.

While there are so many choices and many recommended notebooks out there, it all comes down to your own personal preferences and how much money you are willing to spend on your notebook. Now go forth and experiment!

tiffany sign off

PS. Sorry for missing two weeks of posts 😦 School work finally caught up to me and so my mental health came first…and then I got sick so I had to take care of my physical health as well. I hope everyone is doing well and I will try to go back to posting consistently! Love you all!