Archive for November, 2011

Treats you should be making…now!

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

In my spare time I love to read food blogs.

Since I scour every surface of the internet searching for the best of the best: I thought I would share some of the recipes I’m dying to make over the break.

The recipes are fairly simple to make, and the ingredients can all be found in grocery stores in Sydney. Also, most of the recipes are healthy and some are vegan… but don’t despair, you can easily modify them to suit your needs and taste buds!

Enjoy and leave me your favourite food blogs, and drool-worthy recipes in the comment section below.

Bon appetite!

Chocolate Covered Katie’s Homemade Gingerbread Spice Latte

Love, Veggies and Yoga’s Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

Happy Herbivore’s Carrot Cake Cupcake

Manifest Vegan’s Apple Nachos

Cookies and Cup’s Two Ingredient Pumpkin Cookies

Healthy, Happy Life’s Santa’s North Pole Special Shake

Remaining festive during the end-of-semester crunch

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

With Christmas less than a month away, I can officially tolerate hearing the odd Christmas song on the radio or walking through the mall and grocery stores.

Although I feel less than jolly with a to-do list larger than Santa’s belly, I have been trying to get into the festive spirit.

How, you say, does a student during crunch time make time for almost-holiday fun? Here’s how!

1. Watch seasonal movies.

Everyone's favorite oversized Elf!

Movies are a nice way to relax for a short time and to get your mind off the books and into the holiday season.

Movies I love are Elf, Santa Clause and the Polar Express. These movies are great enjoyed in PJs, with a cup of hot chocolate, and napping is of course optional and encouraged!

2. Indulge – a little.

Being really busy can make you a walking zombie, but with the proper motivation your end of the term crunch can be made much easier. Why not splurge on the Holiday Blend coffee at CBU? Or purchase a delicious gingerbread man from Caper Convenience?

Personally, I have my eye on an ultra-comfortable looking CBU hoodie. My goal is to finish all of my assignments, and then to buy it as a Christmas present and as a reward for getting through the busiest time of the year.

Little indulgences here and there make things less stressful, and can offer glimpses of the long, wonderful Christmas vacation that is oh so close.

3. Participate (even briefly) in holiday-inspired events.

Another way to get your mind off of your studies for a short while is to attend a holiday event in Cape Breton.

On my agenda are the “Holiday Spirit” event put on by the Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design ( on December 1st, and the local artisan market at CBU on December 5th in the Art Gallery – beginning at 11AM.

Spending an hour or two away from your studies is necessary, and will probably improve your mood and general merriment quite a lot.

4. Plan out your break.

Daydreaming the recipes you’ll cook and the cozy sleeps you’ll be able to sleep during Christmas break is surely enough to make you work a little bit harder on completing your December to-do list.

Make plans ahead of time that you can look forward to now. Invite friends you never see over for tea and treats, or start styling your New Years Eve party outfit.

The excitement of things to come will make you 100% feel better about getting things done, and as you cross things off your to-do list, you’ll be one step closer to your awesome plans.

That’s everything I’m doing to enjoy the festive time of year – while remaining focused on my academic deadlines.

How are you balancing work with play this holiday season?

Be thoughtful this holiday season

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Over the weekend I had to go to the mall to replace a piece of jewellery. I had been putting off the chore solely because I didn’t want to trek through the mall -for you see- I’m quite an online shopper these days.

However, convenience won out and off I went.

Well, although it was a Saturday… things were crazy! (This is coming from someone who worked retail there for close to four years.)

The parking lots were full, and the line ups at stores were unbelievable. A friend I was with remarked that it was because the day before, stores were closed… but I knew what it was all about: Christmas!

The holiday season can be infectious, fun, and for students it is a well-deserved break. However, sometimes our gift guzzling ways are overwhelming and deter good intentioned people from, well… doing good!

Last year on this blog, I suggested ways to spend more time with your loved ones, be ecofriendly, and purchase thoughtful gifts. I will consider that blog part one of my alternative gift-giving musings, and today: I have part two, just in time for the Christmas rush.

Thus, here are some of my favourite alternative-gift giving ideas for the 2011 holiday season.

1. Bake something delicious and share.

Baking can be a lot of fun when you put the time, thought, and right ingredients into it! This year, find a delicious recipe and purchase some decorative dishes to display it: like inexpensive mason jars and ribbon.

The gift is affordable, tasty, and personal. Plus, you don’t even have to set foot inside a mall (or a virtual foot inside a virtual store).

Make up large batches and share with everyone and anyone. Keep a few left over for visitors and yourself, too.

2. Make a donation.

In my previous blog, I listed countless charities that have great gift-giving options available. Make sure to check them out as well, but I have added a few more that stay within Canada, Nova Scotia, and Cape Breton this year.

Canada Helps offers gift cards of any value that recipients can then donate to the Canadian charity of their choice.

On Feed Nova Scotia, you can make a donation in someone’s name to help feed the many impoverished Nova Scotians who are more worried about their next meal, then getting or giving Christmas gifts.

Put your money into Cape Breton’s Two Rivers Park where tons of fantastic animals need food and support. You can even adopt an animal friend – which is the perfect gift for an animal lover.

There are countless more charities that offer gift-giving options online, do your research and get giving.

3. Purchase a gift that gives back.

If you do want to stick to traditional gift-giving, search for a gift where proceeds from the sale go to good causes: like Toms Shoes.

When you buy a pair of Toms, another pair is donated to someone in an impoverished place.

There are other avenues for gifts that continue to give, like the many Breast Cancer products available, and the UNICEF Feed program.

Be thoughtful.

4. Adopt a family.

In Cape Breton, you can adopt a family through the Every Women’s Centre.

This is a meaningful way to pool your money with friends, family or staff to make local children’s Christmas wishes come true when their parents cannot financially do so.

You will be given the wish-lists of the children of an anonymous family, and will shop for them and then drop everything off before Christmas at the Every Women’s Centre.

There are different family sizes, so choose one that you can afford to complete.

Call to adopt a family at 567-1212.

These are just some of the options you have to avoid the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season – especially on a student’s budget.

Be thoughtful instead of gravitating towards unconscious consumer goods that will wind up in the trash.

It’s a wonderful time of year! Spend it with those you love, giving back, and making merry!

Welcoming the CSEE at CBU

Monday, November 7th, 2011

The Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment (CSEE) was officially opened on Friday, November 4th.

I hurried over after class and was surprised to find the new building packed with observers listening to opening speeches and learning about how the building came to be. Despite having seen the building go up, and being familiar with the green design plans, I didn’t know much else.

Listening to the people that made it happen was really inspiring, as they all echoed the “dreamer’s” motto: “imagine the possibilities”.

The dreamer I speak of is Annette Verschuren, a Cape Bretoner who has had an awesome career as a business leader who focused her career on community investment and volunteerism. CBU is lucky to have her back as the Chancellor of CBU, and as a member of the CSEE Advisory Board which will propel the CSEE into the future of green technology.

The event was fantastic and I would have to say that everyone who attended left feeling refreshed about the future of CBU, Cape Breton, and the environment.

If you’d like to know more about the CSEE, click here. If you’re a student, I would highly recommend making the CSEE a place to study, especially with the bright, natural light and the great living wall: a wall filled with plants that ooze relaxation.

After the opening on Friday, I attended a conference at the CSEE on Saturday for CBU’s Centre for International Studies.

It was the perfect atmosphere for the conference that is a participatory forum, which simply means that chairs are set up in a wide circle, and presenters are allowed 15 minutes to talk about their subject. Afterwards, people can ask questions to the presenters – or the wider group. After the general discussion, smaller groups are formed to discuss the subject and to voice your opinions on it in a less intimidating way. It’s really fun!

This year’s conference theme was: Life After Capitalism: Imaging an Alternative World. There was a diverse group of presenters brought in from around the world – and the themes of the sessions were also varied, and interesting.

My personal favourite was session three, titled: “Food Sovereignty in an Alternative World”. Three presenters looked at food situations in Cuba, Vancouver and Cape Breton. It was exciting to hear about the initiatives in these places to grow organic, local food. My interest was especially peaked with regards to Cape Breton – and how it is possible to sustain a healthy, balanced diet only eating local food.

Most of our food is shipped over 4,500 KM to get here, which increases environmental pollution while decreasing the nutritional value of the food. Obviously, eating local makes more sense for yourself and for the environment. The presenters certainly had me planning my next visit to the Cape Breton Farmer’s Market next Saturday!

The weekend at the CSEE was really refreshing, as I mentioned above. It allowed me to “imagine the possibilities” of my own future, while seeing dreams come to reality: the CSEE being a sustainable, green building and with the presenters at the CIS conference, succeeding in creating alternatives to make the world a better place.

Follow your dreams, CBU students!

“Let go of the past and go for the future. Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you imagined.”

- Henry David Thoreau

Managing your money

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Rule No.1: Never lose money. Rule No.2: Never forget rule No.1.