MIMM #9: Weekend Home

Early last week I started to miss my parents a lot. As beautiful as my residence room is, it still doesn’t feel like home. It’s not as though I haven’t made friends but our relationships naturally aren’t as close as those that I have back in Oakville. Thankfully the commute is only 2 hours and my mom was able to pick me up on Friday afternoon so that I could spend the weekend in my own bed.

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Coming home to parents who will cook you meals, clean up after you and chauffeur you around is pretty marvelous after living independently for 2 weeks. London is full of marvelous opportunities such as the Covent Garden Market but it is a bit of a trek to walk or bus everywhere and the rainy weather has discouraged me from venturing off of campus. IMG_8110

I had an incredibly marvelous weekend and it started out with some marvelous mail. Joyce knows my obsession with tea and owls too well which is probably she sent along this variety of David’s tea (there is an owl on the package). Joyce also wrote a beautiful card and enclosed it with Owl stickers and sticky notes. As well, I received my Vega One French Vanilla and Vega Sport Vanilla, Silver Drinking Straws from the Maine Drinking Straw Company and the book “Whole Foods to Thrive”. Charissa put so much work into hosting the Colourful Smoothie Contest and I am so thankful that I was able not only to participate but win a prize.IMG_8173

The marvelous-ness continued when my mom picking me up from Chemistry class. The fact that she didn’t make me walk up the Brescia hill was not kind but pretty good door-to-door service. We had so much to catch up on the drive flew by. I’m pretty sure I talked my mom’s ear off. IMG_8187

Marvelous is being given Moon Cakes to celebrate the Harvest Moon. Our neighbours, the same ones who gave us Lobster from P.E.I, surprised us with Moon Cakes on Friday evening. They are so generous and thoughtful.The flavour and texture is definitely acquired and I can’t say I’ve ever had anything quite like it before. The box they delivered the cakes in was beautiful.

554664_342894899179628_1807322675_nMarvelous is getting together with Chelsea because we seem to relate on so many levels. It’s pretty obvious Chelsea’s blog is one of my favourites so I never turn down an opportunity to meet with her. It’s also pretty evident that our preferred places to meet up include Kindfood and Whole foods so it should be no surprise that I tried my first quinWOW bowl and fell in love with the marvelous miso gravy.1234268_342894942512957_1400790597_n

Marvelous is also attending Yoga class with Chelsea. We wanted to add in an extra component to our usual lunch date but the weather forecast was not promising which ruled out our idea of apple picking, frequenting the farmer’s market or hiking. Thankfully Chelsea had heard Be Yoga and Wellness was celebrating their birthday by teaching free yoga classes. We weren’t sure how hard it would be so we decided to stick to Hatha 1, but neither of us were overly challenged so we agreed to try Aerial or a more difficult level next time. I could definitely tell that my Pilates workouts have helped strengthen my core because I found myself more balanced while holding the tree pose. I haven’t practiced yoga in ages which is probably why I woke up sore the next morning. Amanda, the instructor, had a beautiful voice and finished the class with a powerful chant. The class was accompanied by live music so you could really feel the energy waves and rhythm of the beat. I found it a bit distracting because I wanted to watch the drummer and singer, but it definitely made for a positive atmosphere.1260869_342894869179631_1096412141_n1239528_342894962512955_1285484907_n

Marvelous is also discovering new local bakers. Nourishing Nook was giving away free samples at BeYoga and Welless so I got to try my first Sweet Potato muffin. She had kale chips that I found to be quite good since they were had a bit of a spicy kick to their crunch. Chelsea and I each had a granola circle and tried to decipher the recipe but found ourselves finishing the last bite before we had identified all the ingredients. I guess that just means I’ll have to purchase some which is definitely not a complaint on my end since they were marvelous.1368914_342894759179642_443416321_n 1371409_342894762512975_659219238_n1375906_342894845846300_507576849_n

Marvelous is also meeting Caitlin for coffee or watching Lottie blow bubbles and giggle. It’s having my last ice cream cone of the summer and then huddling with a blanket because Fall is definitely not frozen dessert weather. It’s hugging Emma, seeing Nathan, getting advice from my Mom and grocery shopping with my Dad.  It’s waking up to the smell of breakfast food and a full stocked fridge and winding down the evening with a cup of tea and in the company of my family. It’s being given the opportunity to go to university and to study a subject I am so passionate about. It’s taking time for myself just to be and it’s finally catching up on blog reading after being so behind. It’s being able to participate in things such as Katie’s Marvelous in my Monday tradition. What was marvelous about your weekend? What is marvelous about this upcoming week?  ♥ Molly

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey 

The Beginning Of It All

I’m all moved in and boy what a change is residence from two years ago. I went from being in Ursuline Hall, an old, less air-conditioned residence with twin size beds and common bathrooms, to Clare Hall which is brand new, has an abundance of storage, queen size beds and offers semi-private washrooms. While the Ursuline Hall had character, I can’t say I don’t enjoy living in a more modern style room.IMG_6996 IMG_6989 IMG_6986 IMG_6988I left Oakville around 10:00 a.m. Monday morning and arrived in London just before noon the same day. Like Huron and Kings, Brescia is an affiliate college within the University of Western Ontario, the only difference being that it is all girls as opposed to co-ed. In the end I graduate with a Western Diploma but I chose to be part of the Food and Nutrition program, which is specialized and only offered at Brescia’s campus. The downside is that many of my science classes are on main campus, which is a bit of a hike since Brescia is at the top of a half-mile hill! The advantage is that Brescia’s classes are around 30 students in size as opposed to 500 like my lectures on Main campus!3 4

Despite barely lifting a finger since males from Huron and Kings helped Brescia Sophs (Upper year orientation leaders) move first year students like myself into their rooms, I was still extremely exhausted by the time I reached my room on fifth floor! The “movers” must have been exhausted by the end of the day because I wasn’t the only one who brought their entire wardrobe and a large selection of room décor. Thank goodness for the floor to ceiling built in storage cupboards! I am definitely going to need a step ladder since I can’t exactly reach all of the drawers and shelves.IMG_7004 IMG_7006With just my luck I am on the top floor, which is both good because I don’t hear noise from above and bad since the elevators haven’t been installed yet since there was a strike. I guess I won’t be gaining the freshmen fifteen since I’ll be climbing stairs and walking uphill everyday! The good news is my bathroom-mate shares a similar personality so we get along well.

10 9Some highlights of my time here in residence so far include Tie-Dying, Human Scavenger Hunt, Residence Mixer, Baking brownies and Brescia’s Opening ceremonies. I’ve learned many cheers and dances and I am working on remembering the names of many new faces. I also had the privilege of hearing a motivational speaker, Andy, who reinforced that University is what you make of it so don’t be afraid to answer questions, ask questions and most importantly volunteer. He agrees that University is 50% learning in class and 50% learning outside of class and you should never be afraid of putting yourself out there because equally passionate and academic students surround you.2 1

I ended yesterday evening by attending the opening Western Mustang Football game against Carleston. My phone died or else I would have taken more photos but I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the cowgirl ride around the track on a Mustang (Horse), watching the cheerleaders perform, screaming with every winning touchdown and dressing head to toe in purple.2 3I must say I am pretty tired but every event is too fun to pass up. I did skip out on “Yoga dance” which was glow in the dark because I am trying to get into the habit of going to sleep earlier. Despite the comfortable mattress, morning sweat sessions and receiving plenty of fresh air, all of which should tire me out, I’m having difficulty falling asleep. I guess all of the excitement is keeping me wired!IMG_6980 IMG_6983 IMG_7003IMG_6981

Can’t wait to share some of my cafeteria experiences in tomorrow’s post. I feel busy as a Brescia Bee so I am sorry in advance if my posts aren’t as frequently spaced as usual. ♥ Molly

July Favourites

It is hard to believe that it is July already, as it feels like June had just begun. This is by far my favourite month, as it contains 31 days, is usually the month for our family vacation, fosters reunions with friends that moved away for school, brings warmer weather, allows for beach trips, is the “in season” for fresh berries, encloses Canada Day and Independence Day and of course is the month my own birthday falls within! Here are some of the things I already love about July.

July Favourites1. Ivivva Double-Dutch Tank 2. Mini Latte Bowls 3. Nectarines 4.Sunglow Stripes Dress 5. Inspirational Quotes 6. “Word Art” Disposable Cameras 7. Clear Wayfarer Sunglasses 8. The Fault in Our Stars Novel 9. Rampup Wedges 10. iPhone Editing App. “A Beautiful Mess”

Since July is often very busy, I typically have less time for myself. While I love get-togethers, I don’t want to lose sight of my own goals.Along with a few academic and fitness aspirations (not mentioned), I have set five blog and five personal goals that are S.M.A.R.T.. This is what I am motivated to achieve for the month of July:

Blog Goals

  • Participate in Marvelous Monday and What I ate Wednesday at least once! I have been hesitant to join these movements as I am still unsure which direction my blog is going to travel in. I haven’t quite figured out my target audience, so I don’t know whether or not my readers will enjoy these types of posts. Regardless, both “link-ups” are great for earning new followers and I know they will enhance my blogging experience. I’d like to become part of the blogging community so that in future I can attend conferences such as the Blend Retreat, HLS and BlogHer.
  • Create at least 2 DIY posts. Right now my blog is more focused on recipes than my everyday living. I thoroughly enjoy crafts and I haven’t been sharing those that I do on a regular basis! I hope to feature more photos and less words, since lately my posts have been lengthy.
  • Comment on posts more often. I read my “blogroll” daily, however I don’t always take the time to let the blogger know I relate to his or her post. I know how much I appreciate comments, and I definitely want to recognize the effort bloggers put into their websites.
  • Try a new recipe each week and create a new recipe each week. I’d love to venture out from my cooking style by trying recipes that I can find off of pinterest, other blogs, cookbooks and the television.
  • Complete my first review. I’ve actually been sent some products to review, after a company heard that I am blogging. I’d like to feature my first giveaway this month! My only hesitation is that I still don’t have a ton of followers, but I guess that just increases everyone’s chance of winning!

Personal Goals

  • Try one new food each week. I love going to the grocery store and picking out products. This month I am going to challenge myself to cook foods of different ethnicities. I’d love to try new fruits and vegetables, especially those deemed “superfoods”. I’m currently working on exposing myself to more coconut since I am just beginning to like its flavour!
  • Develop a new hobby. My sister Emma is very talented at crocheting. So far I only know how to sew and knit. I’d love to learn how to crochet as well! I will also continue to improve my photography skills and baking techniques.
  • Finalize my summer plans! I have recently booked my flight for a trip at the end of August, but I want to work on some details for a family trip this July.
  • Read. I love reading but these days I seem to be too busy to spend time absorbing a good novel. The last novel I read was “Storyteller” by Jodi Picoult and it was so good that I finished it in two days. I hope to reincorporate reading into my bedtime routine so that I am spending less time exposed to bright lights, and more time winding down before falling asleep. It’s just one more thing that I can do for self-care and myself.
  • Be more easy going. Traffic, slow walkers and other things that throw me off of schedule, can really get on my nerves. I hope to become more patient and be less of a perfectionist. I want my summer to be enjoyable and relaxing, so I am going to try to go with the flow. This will include my appearance, as I want to spend less time straightening my hair and more time embracing its natural wave and frizz. While I am always optimistic, I do let others influence my mood, and I want to focus on finding the good in every situation so that I don’t take anything in my life for granted. There is always something to be thankful for!

What do you hope to complete this month? Do you take time off for holidays in July, or is it no different than April and June? What are your July Favourites? Have any inspirational quotes or tips that make you even more productive? ♥ Molly

Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value. – Albert Einstein

Whole Foods Trips

To be truthful, as much as I love Whole Foods, I can’t afford to shop there exclusively. If money was unlimited, I would buy only organic and local foods, but let’s get real, I am a student and supporting local farmers isn’t always possible. I wish I had brought my camera on this last trip (All my photos were taken using my iPhone) so that I could have captured the crispness of the fresh fruits, and quality in each of their home products. Typically before heading to grocery stores, I look at flyers to find what is on sale and where it can be found. Some places, for example the Loblaws Superstore, allow me to price match, so I do make the most of deals. As much as I love sales, I don’t limit my shopping to discounts or else I would lack a lot of nutrients in my diet. I am by no means an extreme couponer. One day I hope Trader Joe’s makes its way to Canada, since I have been once before in California, and absolutely fell in love.

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Source: Oakville Whole Foods

photo-77Don’t get me wrong, Whole foods is a great grocery store that offers so many interesting products. It’s excellent for buying supplements or finding “health products” that aren’t accessible at large grocery chains. I love that they place “featured” products at the end of each aisle, usually with a sample accompanying the display. They offer freshly squeezed juices, or “make your own” nut butters, which is pretty cool. The Whole Foods in Oakville also has a large assortment of meats and fish at reasonable prices.

photo-72 photo-75 photo-76 photo-70I could probably spend an entire day looking at their fruit bar, olive selection, hot foods and cold salad bar. I don’t let my nut allergies stop me from my occasional meals there, as their chefs are great at assuring no cross-contamination of ingredients happens in their kitchen. My only concern is individuals mixing up spoons, so I never grab items that are situated directly beside a recipe that contains peanuts, pecans, walnuts or sunflower seeds. While I don’t typically eat almonds, I find I am growing out of this allergy, because when touching them, I don’t react. Their combinations often inspire my own creations, as they list all the ingredients in each blend. Sometimes I wish they used less sauces when cooking certain items, but for the most part their choices suit my taste palette. Artichoke, Tempeh and Falafel are three of my favourites, as I never seem to cook those items on my own. This week, I went to Whole Foods for dinner with Joyce and Chelsea. I had snacked before hand (whoops) so I wasn’t overly hungry, but my meal still managed to add up in price! I got plain endamame, roasted beets, tomato/onion/basil/cucumber salad, tofu, radishes, kale salad in apple cider vinegar, black beans/corn/onion/red pepper salad, steamed broccoli, sliced mushroom, roasted yam, and two sautéed garlic cloves. My selection had enough flavour that I didn’t top it with any dressing or spices.

photo-73 photo-79 photo-71 photo-78 photo-80 photo-82Do you ever feel like grocery stores are great at “grabbing” your money? I always go with a few items on my list, and manage to leave with way more than I intended to. It’s a bit overwhelming to see so many delicious foods. To make the most of my shopping trips, not only do I plan ahead with “Flyer hunting”, I stick to a few rules that I have picked up over the years. Here are my tips for effective shopping!

  • Don’t go to the grocery store hungry! You’ll end up wanting to buy everything, including pre-packaged muffins or cookies that you are better off making from scratch.
  • Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. That is where the freshest foods can typically be found (meat, dairy, fruits, vegetables, breads). The inside aisles are where junk food is often hidden.
  • Try to purchase fruits and vegetables that are in seasons as they’ll be tastier and more affordable! You can always freeze the extras for later.
  • Convenience isn’t everything. Switch to whole oats instead of instant.
  • If you have trouble with serving sizes, buy pre-portioned packages. While it is more expensive, you’ll save money by eating less. Don’t hesitate to buy full-fat products, just make sure you have a smaller quantity.
  • Buy the basics and stick to the four food groups.
  • Don’t purchase foods that have unpronounceable ingredients. The less ingredients, the better. 100% fruit juices, 100% whole grain and foods with less additives tend to be better for you.
  • Choose the least processed foods that are made from whole grain, have less sugar and offer more fiber.
  • “Fat Free” or “Sugar Free” can be deceiving. Food companies know how to fool their customers. Just because it is ____ free does not mean it is healthier. GMO free, additive free, hormone free however, are usually great things to look for.
  • When possible, make your own soups to save yourself the sodium.
  • To save money, try and eat vegetarian protein sources (legumes, beans) several times a week.
  • Pick a rainbow of fruits and vegetables as the colours represent different vitamins and minerals.
  • What you buy is what you’ll have to eat. Choose foods that you genuinely like, not just those that are on sale.
  • Whenever possible, choose foods without added salt. Salt is often added for flavour in packaged items. Get unsalted butter, so that you can control how much you want to add when baking or cooking.
  • Try having tuna or fruit packed in water, instead of oil, broth or juice. Choose frozen vegetables without sauce and frozen fruit without added sugar. This will allow you to have more flexibility when adding dressings, because you can add fresh salt, sauce or sugar without worrying about the pre-existing dressing.
  • Keep staples on hand. Oils, Nut butters, Canned Vegetables, Lentils, Beans, Quinoa, Couscous, Oats, Vinegars can be kept in the pantry for prolonged periods.

photo-74What are your favourite grocery stores and why? Have you developed good shopping techniques? Some grocery stores now offer clothing or and house products. Do you enjoy looking in the home sections or does it distract you from the purpose of your trip? I love grocery shopping with my dad as it’s one of our weekly bonding activities. We bring reusable bags (At some grocery stores you save money, plus it is environmentally friendly) and a cooler bag so that none of our foods get squished or go bad. ♥ Molly

“I can spend hours in a grocery store. I get so excited when I see food, I go crazy. I spend hours arranging my baskets so that everything fits in and nothing gets squashed.” – Cameron Diaz