Montréal, Canada | Travel Diary

Hello all!!!

At the end of February, I was lucky enough to attend the Golden Key International Honours Society Leadership Summit in Montréal, the largest city in the Canadian province of Québec. While the summit itself went from the 23rd to the 25th, I arrived on the 21st and stayed until the 26th so I would have time to adventure around the city.

This trip was extra special in that it was the first time I had travelled completely by myself and arrived in a place where I didn’t know anyone. I arrived in Montréal late on the 21st, got checked into the Marriott Château Champlain where the conference was to be held, and then headed to the hotel restaurant for some dinner. I decided on poutine, a classic French-Canadian dish of french fries, cheese curds, and gravy.

I don’t know whether it was the time difference, exhaustion from travelling, or mental fatigue from recent life stress, but I slept for most of the 22nd before venturing outside with a peppermint mocha from Starbucks in hand to wander the city.

What I wasn’t smart enough to clue into was that -4 degrees is really cold, especially for a West Coaster like me who is always cold. After wandering for about two hours without a hat or a scarf, I returned to the hotel and indulged in some ravioli and wine to warm me up.

Friday morning I set my alarm, got up early, and embarked on a mission to find the Notre-Dame Basilica in the heart of Vieux-Montréal. It was absolutely gorgeous inside and I arrived just in time for the hourly English tour of the Gothic Revival structure.

By the time I got back to the hotel, I had just enough time to freshen up before heading down to the lobby to check in for the summit.

At check-in, we received swag bags and then were randomly grouped with student representatives from other universities to embark on a city-wide scavenger hunt. I ended up in a group with two people from Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta, and they were both so nice. That night was a scheduled networking night so all the people registered for the summit went out to Thursday’s Pub for drinks and appetizers.

Now, this is where things got interesting. One of the two people from Mount Royal University with whom I did the scavenger hunt was a boy, and not just any boy, but a really nice one. He walked back to the hotel with me so I wouldn’t be walking alone in the dark in a strange city, and we ended up talking basically all night about anything and everything.

Saturday was filled with interesting keynote speakers and workshops delivered by professionals from a wide variety of backgrounds. That night, everyone went out for dinner at Weinstein & Gavino’s, where I had one of the best chicken dishes I have ever eaten.

Sunday morning I headed out to wander Vieux-Montréal and the Old Port, but about 8 minutes in, freezing rain started pelting down. Most people probably would have turned back, but not me; I just kept walking, letting the rain hit me in the face, determined to see Vieux-Montréal and the Old Port. There definitely wasn’t much to see in the pouring rain, but the city was still beautiful to be in. When I arrived back at the hotel, I got changed, hung my drenched clothes to dry, and met up with Scavenger Hunt Boy to visit the Musée Des Beaux-Arts. The museum has these really neat red heart statues out front, which were one of the scavenger hunt items that our group didn’t find but I wanted to see. Plus I wanted to spend as much time with him as I could.

For dinner, he and I found an Italian restaurant called Monza, which offers family-size portions at the individual portion prices on Sundays, so we feasted on a massive bowl of mushroom pasta.

After dinner, we found the hotel pool and went for a nice swim to work off some of the pasta. And then at around midnight I got hungry again so we heated up the leftover pasta and realized too late that we didn’t have any forks so we ate it with coffee stir sticks from the coffee set-up in my hotel room.

Monday was bittersweet as I packed up all my things. I was looking forward to being back at home, but it meant I had to leave Scavenger Hunt Boy behind. It may sound silly that in three days I grew so attached to someone, but I did. He and I have talked every day since we met, and I am planning to head out to Calgary to visit him soon.

I know this travel diary is extremely late, but I still wanted to share this trip on my blog and to showcase some of the amazing sights in Montreal, as well as share how I met the most incredible person.

The only upsetting part of the trip was that it didn’t snow once!!! I was all excited to play in the snow and all I got was freezing rain. Not only that, but apparently it snowed back home the day I flew out. Clearly me and the snow just weren’t meant to be.

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65 Years

Although my blog is mainly book- and beauty-related, I like to throw in a few life posts too. I love being able to preserve special moments in photographs, and I really wanted to share this one here 🙂 🙂

On March 15th, my grandparents celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. That’s right, 65 years, over 34 million minutes. On March 15th, 1952, at ages 21 and 22, they got married. My grandmother wore her best friend’s wedding dress, my grandfather had to get permission to leave the Navy ship, the ceremony was small, and they honeymooned in Vancouver for a weekend. 65 years is such a long time to spend with one person, and it is definitely something to have a little party for.

We brought in a cake and had a few family members around. We are going to have a giant shindig in the summer when all the family can come out to celebrate with us. Plus, hopefully the weather will be better and we can have it outdoors. 

I hope one day I can look back over years of marriage and still be as happy as they are. Ha, but maybe not 65; I would have to get married within the next year or two to even come close to hitting that milestone. 

(As a small side note, I asked my grandparents’ permission before posting this, though neither of them are still 100% confident that they know what a blog is. My grandmother though did wonder if any of you would ever see her down at Sears, so if you do, be sure to say hi) 

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Turning 21 . . . 

Birthday cake 2016So as of Wednesday morning, I am 21 years old. 

It’s scary to think that not all that long ago I was still in high school, and now I am almost finished university. I’ve always been intrigued by the way that time can feel as though it passes at a glacial pace one moment and then at warp speed the next.

Being the planner that I am, I read numerous articles and blog posts about what 21 was going to be like. Well, most of the articles must have been written from an American perspective because all the exciting things had to do with drinking. I drink socially, but certainly not enough to have a go-to drink, an alcohol budget, a preference for getting drunk on decent versus cheap liquor, or having a preferred bartender.

The other main thing mentioned in the articles was being able to travel to Vegas. I am actually planning to head to Vegas for the first time in early 2017 as a belated birthday celebration (spoiler alert for future travel blog posts!!!) but I already have my gambling cap set at $50 (talk about living life on the edge).  

Turkey Casserole November 2016
Grandma Pearl’s Incredible Turkey Casserole
As I do every year, I celebrated my birthday at my grandparents house, and my grandmother just so happened to have my favourite meal stashed away in her freezer: turkey casserole. Essentially it is all of the leftovers of Thanksgiving dinner combined into one culinary creation, and it is my ultimate comfort food. 

Last year I shared 20 facts about me in celebration of my 20th birthday, but this year I wanted to do something a little different and open up the comments section to questions. 

Birthday cake 2016 unlit
13 opened boxes of Smarties and one giant pink candle later, and my grandmother created the most epic pink birthday cake.

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The Versatile Blogger Award

The Versatile Blogger Award logoOh my goodness, this nomination completely took me by surprise, and added a lovely bright spot to a day of studying in the library for round two of university midterms. Incidentally, I have just got through this round of tests, so now I can actually write the post without fear of sneaking little linguistic facts into it to show my learning progress.

Thank you to Nicole Ilene at Sorry, I’m Booked for nominating me for this award; if you haven’t read her blog before, I would recommend having a gander. She is such a lovely person and writes about so many different things.  The rules of this award are:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Share the award on your blog.
  3. Share seven random facts about yourself.
  4. Tag 10 bloggers with less than 1000 followers and let them know they have been nominated. 

Thinking of facts about myself on the spot is always so strange because people can point them out quite easily but I cannot for the life of me come up with something interesting. 

  1. I am terrible at coming up with ideas of what to do with friends when we hang out. 
  2. I talk a lot. Like a lot. A. Lot. 
  3. I really like watching documentaries. 
  4. I treat the R and L on my headphones as law. 
  5. I can, and do spend countless hours organizing things.
  6. I love watching movies with subtitles, even when they are in English. 
  7. My favourite punctuation mark is an ellipsis …

And now for my nominees:

I’m sure some of you have been nominated before, but I have discovered so many amazing blogs recently and I have some favourites that I wanted to highlight 🙂 🙂 

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Pumpkin Carving

October 2016 pumpkin carving lit upYesterday, my boyfriend and I got together and carved pumpkins. Halloween is his favourite holiday and neither of us could remember the last time we had carved a pumpkin so I insisted we carve up a few this year.

I don’t know about other places, but in Canada we have annual field trips in elementary school to a local pumpkin patch where we can pick out a pumpkin, and then take it back to school and carve it. That was one of my favourite field trips as a child because we were allowed to scout out pumpkins for as long as we liked; I could sit down and just have a chat with them if I wanted to (I was an odd youngster; still an odd person now). The only rule was you had to be able to comfortably carry your pumpkin back to the school bus. And no, it doesn’t count if you can roll the pumpkin to the bus. My friend and I tried it one year, and it turns out you have to be able to get it off the ground and keep it that way. 

I live just up the road from a local farm with rows and rows of pumpkins, but my boyfriend lives quite far away from me, and neither of us were too fussed about it so we picked up two pumpkins from the grocery store. 

October 2016 pumpkin carving 1October 2016 pumpkin carving 2

Initially, it was meant to be a pumpkin carving contest, but the competitive element never really panned out since I needed help carving the top opening and then dislodging a knife from the mouth of my pumpkin. 

He went for more of a classic pumpkin face with an eclectic flair of diamond eyes and parallelogram-like top opening, and I went for a Jack Skullington-esque pumpkin.

All in all, I think they turned out quite lovely, and this definitely got me excited for Halloween 🎃🎃

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Back-To-School Supply Haul

back to school 2016Good afternoon all!!!

Today is my first day of my fourth year of university. One of my favourite parts about getting ready to head back to school is shopping for supplies. I don’t know why, but I am weirdly at peace in stationary and office supplies stores. I think it has something to do with how all the products are nicely stacked on shelves according to size and colour, appealing to my need to have everything just so.

Something that I learned about myself while shopping for school supplies is just how picky I can be. For instance, if someone hands me a pen, I write with it, regardless of the brand, ink colour, ink type, or grip configuration, but when it comes to picking out pens for my exclusive personal use, I know exactly what I want and cast aside all other pens as inferior writing utensils.

While perusing my school supplies drawer, I noticed that some of my favourites were dwindling, so I hit up a Walmart to replenish my stock, and I wanted to share the supplies that I love using.

school supplies 2016 pencilsMy writing utensil of choice is a Dixon HB pencil. Yes, it must be a Dixon brand pencil. They are easy to distinguish from other pencils because the eraser islight pink, as opposed to white or dark pink both of which smudge the pencil when erasing. I do use mechanical pencils on occasion though, particularly during a multiple-choice exam where the professor uses those Scantron sheets that necessitate a completely filled-in bubble to recognize the correct answer. Each have their own pros and cons: regular pencils require sharpening and the shavings can be messy; mechanical pencils need to be refilled with graphite of a certain size. Personally, I like to stick to regular pencils as much as possible.

school supplies 2016 pensLast year I strayed from my classic pen choice (Pentel R.S.V.P. medium line) and gave erasable pens a try Well I fell in love. The only trouble is that they run out of ink so quickly, so I picked up the ones that come with a refill. They write really smoothly and evenly, and have that gel pen quality to the lines. However, the ink does not always dry instantly and, for a left-hander like me, this means that I may end up smearing the ink with the side of my hand. The savings on white out tape though neutralize that con, and the smears can easily be erased away.

school supplies 2016 splurgeEach year I treat myself to one splurge purchase and this year it was the Bic Marking Permanent Ultra Fine 8 pack. I love using permanent markers for labelling and all through concept maps, and these colours are just so lovely and diverse. I hope they don’t bleed through to the other side of paper too much but I am really looking forward to using these. I didn’t notice until I got home but my package contains two green pens, so I wonder if it is just a coincidence or if all packages come with two greens.

school supplies 2016 highlightersAlso, I picked up a ton of highlighters because I go through them like nobody’s business. I have a strict system: yellow for words that are defined, pink for headings, blue for information, green for names, orange for processes, and purple for stats. The purple rarely gets used but the blue is always out halfway through teterm so I am planning ahead. These are also great for sectioning parts of concept maps into related topics.

school supplies 2016All the school supply goodies:

  •  Pilot FriXion Point 0.5mm Extra-Fine needle point Erasable Gel Ink Pens in blue and black
  • Bic Brite Liner Grip highlighters 
  • Post-it Notes in Rio de Janeiro colours (3 in x 3in) and Miami colours
  • Post-it Notes Cube (1 7/8 in x 1 7/8 in) in pink, blue, and sea foam green
  • Bic Marking Permanent Ultra Fine 8 pack (pink, blue, green, yellow, orange, red, black)
  • Bic Gel-osity Retractable Gel Pens 
  • PaperMate Replay PREMIUM Vibrant Gel Ink Pens (Pink, turquoise, orange, purple)
  • Bic Wite-Out Correction Tape 
  • Dixon HB/2 Pencils 
  • Bic Extra Precision Mechanical Pencils

What school supplies are you using this year???


Summer Wool Haul


The last major shopping spree I went on for knitting supplies was way back in December during Blogmas. Since then, I have been working on several knitting projects and found myself in need of some more wool to add to my now dwindling collection.

In the centre are Drops Design circular knitting needles in sizes 5.5mm, 6mm, and 6.5mm. They are all 40cm long and are absolutely adorable and coloured pastel pink, green, and blue, respectively. Plus they were 50% off so I couldn’t resist adding them to my needle collection. Besides, small circular needles can come in handy.

The Patons Decor in Oceanside Variegated 100g was a bit of a treat to myself because I loved the blend of dark blue, light blue, and gray but then, lo and behold, a girl I work with is having a baby, and this will make the perfect baby sweater of blanket (not sure what to make out of it yet).

The Filatura Di Crosa Charly Print Melange 50g balls were also on sale and with autumn just around the corner (yikes!!!) I wanted to infuse some rich dark colours into my wool selection. They are a little on the small size, but I am hoping to use three of them to make an infinity scarf or some mittens.

reversible cable knit scarf
shameless picture to show off my most recently completed project
revesible cable knit scarf close-up
Just look at how cozy and soft this wool scarf looks!!!

Finally, I purchased the Berroco Ultra Alpaca Chunky 100g in the colour 7245, which is one of my favourite wools to work with. I love how thick it is yet it is also easy to work with. I have made toques, mittens and, most recently, a scarf out of this wool and I am so happy with how my projects turned out. This wool works equally well with small and big needles, and the final product is a cozy and luscious garment. One day I would love to knit a sweater out of it but then I wouldn’t want to wear anything else during the winter because it would keep me all warm.

What have you been knitting lately???

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Canon EOS Rebel T6 DSLR Camera Unboxing 

Happy August all!!!

On Sunday, I popped into the post office and picked up a giant package that I had been expecting. If you follow me on Twitter, you will have seen my tweet about ordering the new Canon EOS Rebel T6 DSLR camera. I have wanted to get into photography for years now and, after comparing lots of different cameras and saving up money, I finally took the plunge and ordered one (plus it was $100 off!!!). This DSLR package came with an 18-55mm lens, a UV filter, and a tripod.  I am so excited to start taking pictures with this, and perhaps even filming some videos (still not enough courage to put anything up on YouTube yet). My mother and I are planning a mini getaway at the end of August so this will be a lovely way to document the trip. I have wanted one of these for so long and I am elated that I now have a camera that can do so much more than my little old faithful Canon PowerShot SX230 HS. I still love the little camera though because it has been everywhere with me, is much more transportable than this new Canon, and still takes a great picture.  Blog logo

25 Facts About Me

I always like reading these posts because I get to learn random little facts about people, but it is much harder than I expected to come up with facts off the cuff. Nevertheless, I give you 25 random facts about myself:

  1. I have to read the entire menu at a restaurant before I can order, even if I already know what I would like. 
  2. I love mailing and receiving handwritten letters. 
  3. I have a typewriter collection. 
  4. My first stuffed animal was a teddy bear named Duffy. I still have him to this day, and he has the VIP seat on my bed. 
  5. I enjoy fancy social gatherings wherein I am required to dress accordingly.
  6. I almost never answer the phone. I don’t know how to deal with phone calls.
  7.  My hands and feet are always cold.
  8. I dressed up as Elmo for my first Halloween. 
  9. I prefer Macs to PCs. 
  10. I am a Scorpio, and I read my horoscope almost every morning, if not every morning, just to see what it says the day holds. 
  11. I am an only child. 
  12. I always seem to be years behind on trends. 
  13. Beauty and the Beast is my favourite Disney movie. 
  14. I like ketchup, but not tomato soup. 
  15. My perfect day would be sitting in a comfy chair next to a fireplace reading a book aloud to my best friend, with my cat curled up in my lap and a cup of hot chocolate on a nearby table. 
  16. I don’t drink alcohol all that often; only sometimes at holidays or out with friends. 
  17. I did not learn how to drive until I was 19 years old. 
  18. I want to take classes for so many different things: sign language, spoken languages, Braille, art, and yoga teacher training to name a few. 
  19. I love buying new and used books whenever I travel somewhere new. 
  20. I want to go on a road trip through the US, hitting up states like Ohio, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Kansas, Texas, Tennessee, New York, and so many more. 
  21. I have a box for each one of my friends, inside which I keep little items from my time spent with them like movie tickets, wrappers, rocks, etc. 
  22. I always organize my shopping cart at the grocery store. I detest a haphazardly loaded cart. 
  23. My phone is an iPhone 4, and I have had it for over 6 years now. It still works most of the time, except on occasion the home button gets stuck. 
  24. I can’t have different foods touch on my plate. 
  25. I am left-handed. 

I’d like to get to know you better too. Tell me a random fact about yourself in the comments 🙂 🙂 

7 Tips For a Better Night’s Sleep

20160317-152626.jpgGood morning everyone!!!

Although, perhaps not as good of a morning for some of you who did not have the best sleep last night. Poor sleep can be the result of many things, such as stress as the end of term approaches, anxiety about a project or test the next day, issues of personal or family physical or mental health, or just not being able to get comfortable. 

After three years of Psychology courses during which each professor would share some groundbreaking research findings about how to improve the sleep of university students, and my own battles with insomnia, I have compiled my notes into this post of 7 tips for a better night’s sleep.

1. Take a Technology Break

 Now don’t lie: how many of you sleep with your cell phones??? I don’t just mean on the nightstand; I mean resting on your bed or something. A 2013 study found that 39% of students sleep with their cell phones just in case they get a text or call during the night. This percentage peaks at 51% in 11th grade, but even 20% of 4th graders say they do the same thing. Now, for the time being, I am going to ignore the fact that 4th graders even have cell phones because that just baffles me. The point of this is that most people sleep with their phones because they are afraid they will miss something important. But sleep is of top priority between the hours of say 10pm and 7am. Anything someone has to say can wait until the morning. With a phone in bed with you, the brain expects to be woken up, and thus you remain in sleep stages 1 and 2 so you can easily respond to the lighting up of your phone when you receive a text or call.  

2. Exercise Before Sleep, But Not Right Before

I have heard people say that if they go to the gym or run on the treadmill before they go to sleep, then they sleep better. This is true, to a degree, but exercise should be between 2-4 hours before you sleep and no sooner. Otherwise the body is left pumping adrenaline and laying in bed wondering why it can’t fall asleep. 

3. A Bed is for Sleeping

Back in high school I always used to do my homework and studying propped up in bed with my reading pillow. As comfortable as this may be, a bed is for sleeping, and thus should not be used for any other purpose. The brain forms an association between studying and laying in bed, and if you fall asleep while studying, this association is strengthened until the brain is not able to easily fall asleep. 

4. Pick a Spot, and Stick to It

This is a simple matter of classical conditioning. You have probably heard of Pavlov’s dogs. When the dogs saw food, they salivated. But after many times of the food being presented after the sound of a bell, the dogs salivated in response to only the bell, especting that food would follow. Well, the same is true for sleep. When it gets late, you get tired; a natural response. But after many times of sleeping in the same place, the body will get used to sleeping in bed, easier than if it tries to sleep elsewhere. 

5. Pick a Time, and Stick to It

This one doesn’t sound so bad, but here’s the hard part: waking up at the same time even on weekends. I love having a nice lie in as much as the next person, but this messes up the body’s circadian rhythm. I like to think of this as the most temperamental alarm clock because there is a host of things that can put it on snooze like light, jet lag or shift work, anxiety, stress, and the list goes on and on. Going to bed at the same time each night helps your internal clock regulate your sleep and wake phases, meaning you sleep better and wake up easier. 

6. Good Food, No Caffeine

Never go to bed hungry. Denying the body of a physiological need like food is bad enough, but then expecting the brain to forget about nutrients and go to sleep is just malarkey. And we’ve all heard about the repercussions of caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant that most people use after waking up in the morning or to stay alert during the day through their daily cups of coffee, tea, or even some soft drinks. It is important to note that caffeine is not a replacement for the feeling of well restedness that follows a good night’s sleep, but it can make one feel more alert by inhibiting sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain and increasing adrenaline production. Caffeine can have a stimulating effect as soon as 15 minutes after consumption, and will persist for several hours, with only half of it eliminated after 6 hours. While caffeine is safe to consume in moderation (about 250mg daily), it can negatively affect nutrition by replacing nutritious liquids like water and reduce food consumption because it is an appetite suppressant. 

7. Let Things Cool Down

If you’re like me and are always cold, then this one will be a little more difficult, but definitely worth it. As much as I love cranking up the heating in my room, snuggling up in blankets, and getting all warm and cozy, this actually makes it harder to sleep. Melatonin is a hormone whose secretion plays an important role in sleep, yet melatonin production decreases with increasing temperature. Thus, sleeping with the heat turned down, and even a window open, can really help getting to sleep. 

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