Halloween Recap

Happy Belated Halloween! Is that even such a saying? Well it is now since I disappeared from the blog world long enough to miss one of my favourite celebrations… Or what used to be!

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Lottie’s pumpkin is her twin complete with a bow and soother since those are her signature accessories! 

I’m pretty sure I could still pass for a trick-or-treater but I gave up being greedy in grade 10 when I declared myself “too cool” to dress up. I was never the child with a pillow case (my mom always sewed me cute bags) but don’t be fooled I still collected my fair share of candy because it was a competition between my brother and I who could run the fastest and accumulate the most chocolate. Afterwards we’d sort and trade, organizing them in rows based on their colour and variety. 3/4 of my haul went uneaten considering most chocolate wasn’t nut free, but it was fun nonetheless. I still remember getting chocolate milk or pop from the house on the corner, gum from the dentist, and full sized chocolate bars from the family who worked at Mars. One year we gave out Dips bars because my Dad worked for Quaker, but nowadays we give out mini play-doh!

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I bet you could have guessed I’d carve an owl pumpkin! Thanks to my mom’s rubber gloves I finally didn’t react to the seeds!

This year the spark of Halloween was recreated since I took Lottie out trick or treating. As a child my costumes were always homemade by my mom and she continued the tradition by sewing Lottie her red cape. We called her Lottie Red Riding Hood and I think she stole the hearts of many homes that we visited. 65623_10151776202367950_1850942736_n 1426172_10151776201857950_146647149_n 1450170_359262524209532_100981362_n

… and then she got scared by the big bad wolf1414781_359390500863401_817863920_n

I celebrated Halloween as both Madeline (A throwback since Halloween was on a Thursday this year) and Eloise. While I didn’t attend any dances, on Tuesday our residence had a mini party with candy apples, punch and a pumpkin carving competition. It was a perfect ending after 6 hours of classes! I threw together a last minute costume (Thanks Kelsy for the suspenders) which had me looking pretty close to my favourite six-year-old character. Did anyone else use to envy Eloise who lived in a Plaza with her “rawther” British Nanny, cat-look-a-like pug Weenie, and turtle Skipperdee? I sure wish I had room service or at even just a flat in New York City. I also decorated miniature pumpkins with sharpie markers thanks to the Brescia student council. Definitely a good way to de-stress mid week and a perfect alternative to carving pumpkins since I get welts from the seeds. 536940_359393457529772_639104202_n 1381682_359393910863060_1026494725_n 1012711_359393924196392_1082952388_n 1394105_359394540862997_1963384993_n1395007_359390507530067_388802476_n

Western’s 2 day fall “reading week” could not have come at a better time. Although I have two midterms, a test and a Food handler’s certificate to study for next week, I look forward to catching up on some much-needed rest, family time, friend gatherings, blogging and coursework. It was nice to be home to celebrate Lottie’s first Halloween. Do you have any fond memories from Halloween? What was your first costume and what did you dress up this year? Do you get scared by Haunted houses or graveyards? ♥ Molly

What is a mummy’s favourite type of music? Rap music

What is a skeleton’s favourite instrument? The trombone

Where do movie stars go on Halloween? MaliBOO

What does a bird say at Halloween? “Twick or tweet”

What is Dracula’s favourite fruit? A neck-tarine

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5 Favourite Things Friday

Thank goodness it is Friday! I cannot wait until 8:30 p.m. when I have finished my first midterm of the year! It’s calculus so think positive math-y thoughts this evening for me! Despite this week flying by since I’ve been absorbed in studying course material, I’ve managed to participate in some extracurricular activities and better my relationship with my floor mates. For example…1368740_347525048716613_591684650_n

Meditation

Western Student Services offers workshops to promote healthy living so I took advantage of their drop-in mindfulness meditation class yesterday morning. It surprised me that I was the only female student (The instructor was female) that attended. We did 3 ten-minute tapes (Jon Kabat Zinn), one that focused on awareness of breath, one that focused on awareness of external noise, and one that focused on awareness of body as a whole. I personally prefer to lay down but it was meant to be a sitting session. What I took from it is that unwelcome thoughts will inevitably work their way into your mind. Rather than becoming frustrated or trying to control your thinking, acknowledge your worries and let them go until a later time when you can figure out their deeper meaning.1370293_347525055383279_1680521912_n

Study Session

I’ve always thought that I studied better individually but this week I was finding my concentration to be off in my room or in the library so I decided to study with a friend in our floor’s study room! I was reminded how beneficial it is to talk out loud about what you are learning or how a solution is reinforced if you teach a friend your method. Our RA also held a discussion where we talked about study tips, which offered suggestions for calming anxiety and staying on top of course material before and during the exam.1374700_347525052049946_1663818256_n

Mail

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, I love getting mail! This week my mom sent me a card with some stickers and a friend, Laura, sent me a homemade postcard. Simple gestures, or random acts of kindness, can really make a difference in your day! I found them to be extremely uplifting.1372919_347525042049947_1277531894_n

Gym

As if the 5 flights of stairs in my residence isn’t enough, I’ve been going to the gym about 4 times a week! I’m realizing how much more I enjoy weight lifting and strength training as opposed to cardiovascular activity. I typically do a 15-minute elliptical warm up followed by a Pilates or a Sweat and Sculpt class. If not, then I stick to a 20-30 minute elliptical session followed by some weight machines, a 5 minute plank and some other abdominal exercises.1371470_347525045383280_1660948070_n

Quizzes

I’ve officially completed two chemistry quizzes and tonight I’ll have also finished one calculus midterm. Test taking has always been anxiety provoking but I’ve felt surprisingly calm these past few days. With the help of my sister’s advice, I’m learning to set small attainable goals and move on when I complete them. I find that over studying can actually confuse me to a point where my confidence lowers.1379167_347525038716614_1541801768_n

What five things stood out in your week? Do you practise guided meditation? Do you have any techniques for studying? Have a great weekend! ♥ Molly

Fun Fact Friday: Did you know that 111,111,111 x 111,111,111 is equal to 12,345,678,987,654,321 !!

WIAW: Mercato Café

From sandwich bar to a variety of soups, wood fire pizza ovens to fresh baked healthier pasties, I’m definitely in a cafeteria catered toward food and nutrition students. How often do you find fresh smoothies or sushi in a dining pavilion? I suppose this only makes sense since Brescia is home to one of the few (and best) dietetic programs in Ontario.IMG_7844 IMG_8139

What I love about the cafeteria is that it is designed so that you are bombarded with fresh options as soon as you enter the cafeteria. The less healthy options are on the outer corners of the perimeter and tucked away from plain eyesight. What I don’t like is that those options are still cheaper than many of the fruits and vegetables, however nutrition is definitely worth my penny and I have to spend my meal card right? Not is it nutritionally beneficial to buy an apple, but you obtain “stamps” after purchasing fruit which add up towards free fruit.IMG_8056 IMG_8171 IMG_8105 IMG_8071Filled with a selection of typical fruits and vegetables, the salad bar is my favourite part of the Mercato Café within my residence. For a base of my salad I usually use quinoa or argula but they also offer romaine, spinach, mixed greens, bulgur wheat and even wild rice. I normally add plain tofu, lentils or tuna for my protein but others might prefer their hardboiled eggs, kidney beans, chickpeas, bacon, ham, chicken or shaved turkey. There is quite the selection of fresh premade salads such as potato, cucumber and tomato, greek pasta, macaroni and tuna, rice and lentils, coleslaw, almond apple, couscous and vegetables or even a Mexican corn and bean, but a lot of them aren’t guaranteed to be nut free. That’s okay though because within their selection of vegetables they typically have olives, golden beets, mushrooms, and pickles which allow me enough variety. For topings there are “superfoods” such as goji berries, pumpkin seeds (which I cannot have), chia seeds and flaxseeds not to mention dates, raisins and dried apricots for some natural sugars.

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If I am not eating at the salad, I tend to lean towards the soups, my preferences being the sweet potato soup, carrot ginger and apple parsnip.  I was adventurous and tried a Portobello quinoa burger which was a bit bland, but the side of sweet potato fries really hit the spot.IMG_7848 IMG_8102 IMG_8123

 There is always a “home cooked dinner” option which I’ve never tried but does look good. It is composed of a protein (usually chicken or roast beef, occasionally salmon), vegetable (green beans or broccoli/cauliflower/carrot mix) and starch (potatoes of some form). I always go for the Global Cooking Bar, which they prepare in wok’s in front of you which gives you more control of what goes into your meal. I enjoy the stir fry (tofu, chicken or beef over rice noodles, rice, egg noodles or quinoa), seafood soup (mussels, halibut and shrimp in a tomato broth), taco bowl (chicken, beef or bean in a whole wheat tortilla with vegetables, fresh cilantro, sour cream, homemade salsa and guacamole) but I’ve seen Macaroni Bar or Homemade Pizza bar as well.1373026_343724812429970_961238998_n1376063_343724805763304_1196948331_nIMG_7770 IMG_8147 IMG_8055 IMG_8028

The dining pavilion is great at accommodating allergies, intolerances and preferences by providing nut, gluten and meat-free dishes. They usually have a warm vegetarian dish such as ratatouille and baked tofu for each meal and not only is a salad offered in replace of a bun  (i.e. Chicken breast on Caesar/Greek salad) but there are gluten-free breads as well. IMG_8126IMG_7847

Breakfasts are also quite good although I’ve been cutting costs by making this meal in my room. I have tried their crock-pot oatmeal once which was unreal and I’ve also heard they have quinoa, home fries, hash browns, breakfast sandwiches, bacon, eggs and omelets bar.IMG_7754 IMG_7753 IMG_7756

There is always yogurt, whole fruit, cereal, toast, bagels, muffins and cookies if you are just wanting a quick snack, or if you wanted more typical cafeteria food there are burgers and fries, pizza and pre-made sandwiches for convenience. For the most part the café is fresh, but there is a selection of candy, chips, pop and ice cream novelties. They can’t expect the entire residence to want to eat broccoli pizza so it is thoughtful to make more traditional takes on pizza too.

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So while this isn’t a standard WIAW post, I hope it gives you a feel about what Brescia’s new cafeteria is all about. I do miss home cooked meals seeing as eating in a dining pavilion feels like I’m “eating out” and spending money that I could be saving if I purchased items in bulk. Regardless it is definitely convenient and I don’t think I would have time to balance school and healthy eating if I had to cook. I feel that there is enough options to suit a variety of needs and wants, but not too much that it overwhelms me. Did I mention I can use my meal card at our school’s Starbucks Kiosk? I’ll save that for another post. Happy Wednesday!  ♥ Molly

“Human beings do not eat nutrients, they eat food.” – Mary Catherine Bateson

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