Life’s A Balance Act

University is a big adjustment to say the least. It’s kind of scary to think that I’ve only had 2 days of classes and yet am already a bit overwhelmed. My first midterm exam is October 4th, which is less than a month away, and I have several following the week after!

It’s not so much the course material that I am having trouble understanding, but rather how to juggle the amount of work. I’m learning that I am not the best at deciphering between relevant and irrelevant facts, which is resulting in some pretty slow reading, long notes, and a tired brain from memorizing every bit of information. I suppose it’s a learning curve and I have been out of school so it’s only expected that I need to re-find my groove. I’ve found it particularly helpful to chat with my professors independently after class to get a sense of their exam layout so that I can start basing my studying habits on their advice. My chemistry professor informed us that for every hour spent in class you should invest 3-4 hours into your homework. Subtract my 20 hours or so lecture time and my 60-80 hours spent reviewing and I’m left with 68-88 hours in my week for sleeping, eating, exercising and hopefully blogging.1

Thankfully I am pretty good at managing my time but I do get a bit anxious when I start to number crunch! Thinking far ahead is only so beneficial. Dates in the distant future, such as exams I have in April, definitely do not need to be stressed about yet, if ever! In short what this all means is that I am forced to prioritize which can result in my wants and needs to conflict.

In a perfect world I would blog for an hour every night but lately I’ve found myself feeling under the weather (head cold) so I just want to fall asleep! I suppose I could take a break for “me time” but it’s hard to justify writing a blog post when I could be getting ahead. You know? I could substitute exercising in the morning for blogging but I’ve been enjoying my fitness routine and it wakes me up! I understand that I am blogging for myself, and that blogging is more about quality than quantity but I can’t wait until I get settled and have a better routine. I’ve said this for a few weeks now but my life, though enjoyable, has been pretty frantic! I have so many ideas and thoughts to share so hopefully I can pre-write some of my posts this weekend. I admire bloggers that can keep up with regular posts but I have to realize that this blogging realm is new to me and having infrequent posts isn’t the end of the world. I definitely don’t want blogging to become another “all or nothing” topic and as everyone has expressed before, it’s okay to take breaks once and a while.3

Speaking of taking pauses in life, did anyone remember that yesterday was World Suicide Prevention Day? If not I challenge you to take a moment today to reassess your mental health and to check that your brain is just as healthy as other organs within their body. Your thinking should be inline with the rest of your values, goals and knowledge. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem but in a moment of hopelessness, helpless or desperateness it often seems like the only option. In reality, suicide is not a fix and as much as I hate to associate it with shame or guilt, it has a lasting effect on anyone around you which isn’t at all fair. Too many lives are lost to suicide, in fact more than one million die by suicide worldwide every year and it does not discriminate based on gender, age or race so everyone is eligible. Yet even though suicide is so common it is rarely talked about. Please take today to make sure that your teacher, student, neighbour, friend, sibling, parent or even self isn’t hiding behind a smile. We all deserve happiness and it is possible for each and everyone of us to experience joy in our lives. Reflect on what it is that your life may be missing or why exactly you aren’t feeling yourself.   Asking for help is not weak, in fact it is an act of bravery. I myself know that therapy can be life changing if you find that right connection so don’t hesitate to seek out additional support. Even if it is just talking to a colleague about what is troubling you, reading a self-help book or picking up a pamphlet about a possible treatment, it is a step in the right direction. Each and every one of us cannot be replaced which is why it is important to diminish the stigma attached to Mental Health in hopes of inspiring others to seek support before it is too late.

I can’t stress how important it is to find a balance. You need to focus on a healthy goal and be satisfied once you achieve it. There is no sense in comparing yourself to others because they may have completely different circumstances than you. Once you commit to maintaining your values I can guarantee that your actions and behaviours will realign leaving you with more energy and a positive mood. ♥ Molly4

“Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.” – Thomas A. Edison

Myrtle Beach: Final Recap

Myrtle Beach’s warm temperatures and abundant sunshine left me spending most of my days by the pool or on the shore. No need to stay indoors since the weather cooperated leaving us without a drop of rain. Clearly we picked the week well because other vacationers complained that the days leading up to our arrival were dark and dreary.111111111 1333 133333

We stayed at the Sea Watch Plantation Resort located on a private beach with very friendly (and attractive) lifeguards. Our balcony overlooked the ocean so we frequently saw fireworks at nighttime. The resort was neither busy nor noisy, so I often fell asleep while reading in a reclined chair by the pool. I guess that is the advantage of traveling when summer holidays have ended for most Americans. 14 62

While I enjoyed lounging in the heat, my fair skin can only take so much sunshine so I did enjoy endless shopping, delicious dining, and plenty of tourist attractions. Some of my favourite activities included seeing salt water taffy being made, product surfing in Kroger and Lowe’s, go-karting, jet skiing, beachwalks by the pier, seashell hunting and of course card playing. I’d recommend stopping in at Barefoot Landing which had chain stores and one-of-a kind boutiques. I really enjoyed the “Natural Life” paper products at Ron Jon Surf Shop and the jewelery at Francesca’s. If you are looking for an afternoon adventure, try visiting Broadway at the Beach which is a combination of gift shops, eateries and kid-friendly activities such as Ripley’s Aquarium, Planet Hollywood, WonderWorks, MagiQuest and even Dragon’s Lair Mini-Golf. I really enjoyed “It’s Sugar” which was a candy shop with oversized Wonka products and a large assortment of gummies, M&Ms, jelly bellies, soda (I called it pop by accident) and other sweets. e2wwew 12212121212

The most entertaining piece of the trip was Pirate’s Voyage. The dinner show, sponsored by Dolly Parton, featured a combination of acrobatics, acting, singing, dancing and even performing animals such as dogs, sea lions and parrots. They did a great job rewarding and treating the animals with respect, which to me is very important. If you can get over drinking soup out of a cup or eating a quarter chicken with no knife, then you will really enjoy the show. They even got children involved in mini contests.144444 11111111 31312121185205_330724617063323_797455069_n

I would definitely recommend Myrtle Beach as a family vacation location, however if I returned to the Carolinas I might visit Charleston, South Carolina or Outer Banks, North Carolina instead. While the resort we stayed in was clean and updated, parts of North Myrtle Beach were a bit run down by tacky tourist shops. You know something is fishy when seafood buffets are only $6.99 for all you can eat. Overall I really enjoyed myself. Nearing the end I did miss my own bed and my family, but for the most part the time flew by and I was sad to say goodbye to the coast. I am so grateful to have been included in Caitlin’s family’s annual trip. I couldn’t have asked for a more welcoming group of people, although I did get laughed at for all of my food shots and selfies.

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I feel behind in blog posts and blog reading but it was nice to take a break from texting and facebook. I had many firsts for instance being stung by a jelly fish, seeing a pelican in flight, finding a lettered olive (South Carolina’s State seashell) and successfully running 2 miles on the beach without stopping. As I said before, there really is something for everyone whether that be golfing, playing tennis, riding the skywheel, visiting the theatre, or investing in some new clothes. It is an affordable destination and there really never was a dull moment. ♥ Molly

“To find a seashell is to discover a world of imagination.”  – Michelle Held

MIMM #5: Time Flies When You are Having Fun

Did last week go by in the blink of an eye for anyone else? Maybe it was because we had a long weekend so my Dad was home on Monday? Of course it could also be due to the fact that my schedule was jammed pack with marvelous moments!MiMM

I became a Healthy Living Blog, which was pretty marvelous. Amongst other things, they share some incredible tips, offer ways to promote your blog and build a sense of community. I really want to attend the Healthy Living Summit in September, but I know it’s not a good idea to leave for Minneapolis the second weekend of School just incase I have a mountain of homework. I suppose it gives me something marvelous to look forward to for next year!HLB

Does anyone else love back to school shopping? I have most of my residence décor from two years ago, however my sister Emma is moving into a new apartment so she needed to pick up items that she and her roommate were still missing. Ikea is our go to place for marvelous deals. I found these cute flower tea infusers that match my pink and green room decor. They also have really good frozen yogurt that I’m convinced is a greek variety.IMG_6696

Of course if you go to Ikea, you can’t help but fall in love with their interesting dishware. My goal is to improve my food photography and I am using that as a perfect excuse to pick out accent cups, marvelous mugs and printed plates. They are a bit mismatch to store, but hopefully they allow me to be more creative. Earlier in the week I also picked out some more latté and serving bowls from Anthropologie. I might be slightly addicted.

My Kobo is marvelous but having a hard copy of a book is pretty fun too. I’ve missed flipping real pages. Thanks Tammy for the new book! I’ve been to Me to We, read most of Craig and Mark Kielberger’s novels and also done volunteer work with Free the Children, so this book was right up my alley.IMG_6683

Year after year we have garage sales, claiming that it will be our “last one”. The trouble is we end up with extra antiques as my Nana downsizes or style changes. This year I learned that I am a firm bargainer, some customers look forward to our annual garage sale since we have “neat things”, what an angel food cake cutter is (a customer taught me), and that near the end discount like crazy because “everything must go”. It felt marvelous to donate the remaining items to goodwill, although to tell you the truth it was so successful we didn’t have that much! I did manage to find two retro lamps for my dorm room, and I also picked out a nutrition book that must have been my Nana’s because I had never seen it before.IMG_6688

After the garage sale Lottie came over but I was so tired I just wanted to have a nap. My time is limited with this little cutie, since soon I’ll be away in school, so I couldn’t pass up an offer to spend time with her. I scooped her into my arms and brought her on my bed hoping we’d both fall asleep, but she was too fascinated with my glasses, nose and lips to let me close my eyes. I don’t know where she gets all of her energy from?! She’s starting to get ticklish and it’s marvelous to hear her shriek and giggle when you touch her tummy.Lottie

Driving. Despite my driving instructor cancelling on me twice, I haven’t lost motivation to practice driving with my Dad. I’m getting more and more comfortable with higher speeds, although I am still learning basic tools such as parallel parking and three point turns. It’ll be marvelous to have my license so that I can drive myself to social gatherings.

I met up with an old friend of mine, Alexis, downtown Oakville. We opted to go for a walk along Lakeshore instead of sitting down for coffee because the weather was too beautiful to pass up enjoying. I took a few photos, since she is very photogenic and the sailboats were picturesque, we got frozen yogurt and then we even found our way to a park with sand. I love wiggling my toes through sand but I miss being able to swing without feeling motion sickness. Sometimes I think it’d be marvelous to be a kid again.IMG_6652 IMG_6662

Last night I concluded my weekend with a trip to Whole Foods. Chelsea C was home for the weekend and decided to venture into Oakville with her parents for dinner and a treat. I haven’t seen her parents in years so when she invited me to join I had no trouble saying yes. The food selection was marvelous as always and it was great to reconnect. We’ve been friends for 6 years but don’t see each other often enough. 1080233_323666541102464_1035833262_n

Every day seems to be falling into place. Sometimes I start the morning with no plans but end up with a full plate of activities. This week is going to be filled with packing and last minute marvelous get togethers because I leave for Myrtle Beach in 8 sleeps and will only have 3 days in between returning home and moving into residence. Time seems so precious these days, I hate when days slip away. Thanks again Katie for hosting MIMM! What was marvelous about your weekend, morning, or week ahead? ♥ Molly

“The bad news is that time flies. The good news is that your the pilot.” – Michael Althsuler

MIMM #2: Weekend Recap

This weekend was filled with some pretty marvelous events. I love going to the gym to swim, grocery shopping is always fun, and I treated myself to Ice Cream and Booster Juice which were both delicious. I am also proud that I conquered my fear of driving on “major” streets, since up until now I’ve only practiced in parking lots and on rural streets. My G2 will bring with it more independence, which is something I gladly welcome. This weekend my dad let me drive to the grocery store and I was rewarded with a venti coffee. The Longos I drove to is brand new, so in hopes of attracting customers, they offer one free Starbucks tea or coffee (any size) a day to “Longos Members” which is a free reward club. Starbucks launched a “True North” blend, which is the mildest roast, and it might just be my new favourite (I normally like a darker, richer blend). Check out this cute cart and amazing beverage holder! The cart is perfect for when you need to pick up a few times that are too heavy to carry! The layout of the store is beautiful and it reminds me a lot of Whole foods as it features beautifully arranged Salad Bars, Pastry Cases and Organic Produce!

photo-91Saturday and Sunday were great, but Friday was a bit more special. On Friday I got together with Joyce. She lives in Hamilton since she attends McMaster University, but was heading back to her family’s home for the weekend and offered to stop in Oakville for a visit. We find every excuse to get together as we share so many similar interests and values in life. Honestly, sometimes I think she reads my mind because she’s always finishing my sentences. Most of the time we just meet up for coffee in alternating cities, but since she wasn’t in a hurry we decided to switch it up and go downtown.

IMG_5929I met her at the go station and from there we walked down to the lake as it’s only about twenty minutes. I had planned on bringing her to the Marilyn Monroe Café, but I was in need of an immediate caffeine fix so Starbucks was a bit more convenient. As a treat, I got a Mocha Light Frappuchino (my only simple order at Starbucks), and later got a “True North” coffee refill since I am a gold card reward member (and loving that blend). We spent a good hour or so just catching up and to my surprise, she showered me with gifts as a pre-birthday celebration. Joyce just returned from a work conference that was in New York City. Look at what she picked up for me? I am a bit coffee obsessed and since I used to be a Starbucks Barista this gift was perfect.

IMG_5932 IMG_5936Neither one of us purchased anything, but it was fun to soak up the sun and enjoy the downtown scenery. Lululemon had some great sales but I didn’t really need any of my finds. Bluboho is a really cute shop that we looked in, but again nothing caught my eye as a “must have”.

IMG_5938 IMG_5939 IMG_5944We decided to head back to the go-station, but took a much needed detour for frozen yogurt on the way home. You’ll never hear me complain that I am too hot, but we both agreed that we wanted a refreshing treat. I was overwhelmed by the selection of new flavours and had trouble deciding what I wanted to try. I am always really impressed that Yogurty’s dedicates one machine to nut flavours, so that there is no cross contamination. S’mores caught my eye, but I decided to go for fruity flavours instead. I got Raspberry Sorbet and then Tart and Lime Frozen Yogurt. I topped them with mango, lychee and strawberry balls, fresh strawberry and mango pieces, and a few gummies. It was simply delicious.

IMG_5946 IMG_5948 IMG_5951IMG_0101I am looking forward to a lot of fun events this week. Today I am helping out with a room makeover, tomorrow and Wednesday I will be in Toronto, Thursday is my birthday and Friday is well, marvelous nonetheless. I’m even having a girls night/ sleepover on Saturday with two of my best friends from elementary school. It’s going to be busy, but it will definitely be exciting. There is nothing greater than surrounding yourself with opportunities and people that lift you higher, make you laugh and are enjoyable to be around.

MiMM

This post is linked up with Katie’s, Marvelous in My Monday weekly post. Be sure to read what others are finding Marvelous this Monday. Katie’s son Rocco reminds me of the days when Lottie was a newborn. What was marvelous about your weekend?  Any marvelous events planned for this coming week? ♥ Molly

“In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.” – Aristotle 

Defining Happiness

Happiness. By definition, it is the state of well-being characterized by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy (Source). While happiness is a human right that belongs to everyone, it does not mean that we each experience pleasure every moment of each day. In fact happiness can co-exist with any emotion. It is very possible to be happy and sad at the same time in situations including and similar to commencement. As promising as one’s future may be upon graduating, leaving behind friends and a known part of one’s life is undoubtedly emotional.

Yesterday was a day filled with happiness. I completed my first colour run, got to visit with a close friend whom I haven’t seen for over one year, swam in my own pool, spent time with my family and concluded the evening with a lovely dinner.

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Gluten Free Carrot Muffins that I made for race fuel. One of the girls on my team has a gluten intolerance.

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Left to Right: Leah, Larissa, ME, Will, Maude

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These sunglasses were so handy. No coloured corn starch got into my eyes. I’ll be reusing them as they really block out the sun.

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Slice of Tomato, Couscous/Red Onion/Red Pepper, Barbecued Salmon, Onion Tomato Relish, Cesar Salad! I haven’t had Cesar salad in so long!

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Look at that smile. She is learning how to “shriek’ it is oh so adorable!

Sometimes happiness isn’t necessarily about what we do, but instead comes from the people whom we do things with. Whether or not we feel comfortable in our environment is also a key factor into the outcome of an event. I don’t love to run (and definitely did not train for this race) but running 5km was invigorating as I was motivated by laughter, music, fellow runners and of course “Colour Bombs”.

We can put a conscious effort into finding happiness through activities such as meditation or painting, but happiness can also arise in unexpected moments. It is fundamental in relationships and friendships and definitely makes tasks more manageable. I can’t imagine being employed in the wrong company or even the wrong field.

Part of the reason happiness is so sweet, is because it isn’t always present. In Gretchen Rubin’s novel “The Happiness Project”, some of the controversial arguments about happiness are mentioned.

 “The belief that unhappiness is selfless and happiness is selfish is misguided. It’s more selfless to act happy. It takes energy, generosity, and discipline to be unfailingly lighthearted, yet everyone takes the happy person for granted. No one is careful of his feelings or tries to keep his spirits high. He seems self-sufficient; he becomes a cushion for others. And because happiness seems unforced, that person usually gets no credit.”

This reminds me to be thankful for what I have because although others may appear to have their life more put together than myself, appearance can be deceiving. It resonates with one of my favourite quotes that I have mentioned before “Comparison is the thief of Joy” first said by Theodore Roosevelt.

I want to leave you with one last personal thought before I conclude this post about happiness. Happiness is something that is different for each and every one of us. What brings glee into my life is completely different than the things that create pleasure for my family members and friends. We are each entitled to our own opinion and while it is fair to respect the input of others, it is necessary to take your own to heart. Just because others might question your values does not mean that they are wrong. You cannot sacrifice your own joys in fear of rejection. ♥ Molly

“One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats.” – Iris Murdoch

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

It’s definitely been a busy week around my house. From Father’s day to graduation ceremonies, small errands and appointments, I feel as though I haven’t had much time to dedicate to myself, let alone this blog! Let’s just say my meals haven’t been all that exciting (or have been eaten too quickly to be captured in a picture) and DIY projects are non-existent.

Much to my delight, yesterday was completely quiet so I managed to get some grocery shopping done with my mom. I needed to purchase ingredients since I had volunteered to cook dinner! I was pleasantly surprised when red peppers were on sale at Longos! The idea of creating stuffed peppers, something I have always admired, instantly popped into my mind!

This recipe is not only simple and affordable but it takes very little time! Prior to yesterday, I had never even tried stuffed peppers as I thought the preparation would be much too tricky. Boy was I wrong! This recipe is an all round win for a busy weeknight dinner and can be easily converted into a main dish with the addition of nuts or cheese! It’s also vegetarian!

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Quinoa Stuffed PeppersIMG_5045

Makes 12, Half Pepper Servings

  • ½ cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 6 bell peppers, whole
  • ½ cup parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 1 ½ cups baby spinach, shredded
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. olive oil for sautéing
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa cooked according to package in low-sodium soup broth
  • Optional: To make this into a complete meal, try adding ½ cup of slivered almonds and ½ cup crumbled feta.
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F and line a 9 by 13 inch baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Remove the stem and seeds from the bell peppers, slice in half lengthwise and place aside.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. While stirring, add onion and cook until transparent (approximately 6 minutes). Add in carrots, chopped peppers and parsley and cook until slightly softened. If using nuts, stir in now. Add in spinach, ginger, cumin and cinnamon cooking until the spinach is barely wilted. IMG_5000IMG_5008IMG_5015
  4. Slowly add the cooked quinoa into the sautéed vegetables, being careful as all the ingredients are extremely hot.
  5. Spoon quinoa mixture evenly into bell pepper halves, filling them to the edge of the pepper. Pack down the mixture ever so slightly. If using, sprinkle the cheese evenly onto the top of the pepper halves.IMG_5024
  6. Place the peppers onto the prepare baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 25 minutes or until the peppers are tender and juicy and a knife inserted in the filling comes out hot.
  7. Transfer to plates, serve and enjoy!IMG_5052

Note: If you have extra filling feel free to cook it in a casserole dish using the same temperature and time. 

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I hope you enjoyed this recipe as much as my family did. I’d say my first time making stuffed peppers was a success given I had never even eaten stuffed peppers before!! They are a delicious, filling, light warm meal perfect for summertime! I look forward to trying flavour, spice and grain variations in the future. ♥ Molly

Fun Fact: Did you know that Red Bell Peppers contain about ten times as much beta carotene as green or yellow bell peppers? Personally I like red bell peppers the most because they have the sweetest flavour!