Archive for May, 2012

What’s Up?

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

How is everyone doing?

Since my full-time school schedule has been over, I have been keeping very busy. You already know some of the things I’ve been doing, like: baking delicious cookies, hiking, and vacationing in Cuba, but that’s not all I’m up to…

I also got a bike! I’ve been enjoying the warm weather by cruising around Sydney. Sales on bikes are frequent, so pick one up too and we can meet up!

Proud new bike owner!

Aside from the “fun” stuff, I’ve been taking a spring course online. I have really enjoyed the course thus far. At first I was hesitant of the online format but my classmates and I are still carrying on discussions, and I haven’t had a problem finding motivation to do the work. I’d definitely recommend taking an online course over the spring or summer as it will free up your time during the year and it keeps your mind challenged.

Introduction to Folklore (FOLK1103)

From there, I have been studying for my LSAT. This is a 4-hour long exam that is necessary to write if you want to apply to law school. I write the exam on June 11. I am not totally excited, but it has been an interesting process and I look forward to finally writing it soon! I will make sure to fill you in on all of the details when it’s over.

My two best friends!

I’m also researching for my professor. Our research is winding down because the database we are working on is slowly reaching completion. As I’ve worked on the research for over a year, I don’t know what I’ll do when it’s over. Suggestions?

That’s all I’ve been up to! What about you?

Cookie Monster

Friday, May 25th, 2012

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m a healthy eater. What you don’t know is that I have a crazy sweet tooth! I’m of the mindset that dessert is the most important meal of the day… or at least the tastiest.

I’m constantly looking for healthy, sweet treats to bake and test, and after a professor’s recommendation, I made these delicious cookies out of Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook My Father’s Daughter. (Which is a fabulous cookbook for those interested.)

The cookies are uber-healthy and are a great go-to snack for those on the run. As well, the ingredients are not hard to come by, and will only set you back about $20.

Have these cookies for breakfast, with coffee, or following a meal. And as always: share the love! These cookies are sure to brighten someone’s day :)

Enjoy!

Lalo’s Famous Cookies (from My Father’s Daughter by Gwyneth Paltrow)

Prep time: 25 minutes

Total time: 45 minutes

Yield: about 50 cookies

Ingredients:

4 cups barley flour

3 cups raw whole almonds crushed in a food processor (about ten 2-second pulses)

1 teaspoon fine salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup canola oil

1 cup real Vermont maple syrup

Your favorite jam (blueberry, raspberry, and apricot are all very nice)

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Combine all the ingredients except for the jam together in a large bowl with a wooden spoon. Form into tablespoonful balls and space them evenly on cookie sheets. Using your index finger, make an indent in each cookie. Fill each indent with a small spoonful of jam. Bake until the cookies are evenly browned, about 20 minutes. Let cool before eating.

Long Weekend Hikes

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

Last weekend was beautiful here in Cape Breton.

The sun was shinning and the weather was warm – for days! Everyone was outside doing something: gardening, sun tanning, barbequing, or exploring in general.

I joined up with some friends to go hiking on Saturday afternoon. While there are tons of hikes around the island, we decided to start close to home in East Bay and Ben Eion.

Whenever I would talk to professors or students from away at CBU, they assumed I knew all of the places to go in the summer that they didn’t! I definitely have a long list of my “go-to” places, but I am still finding new local treasures too. Such was the case for these two hikes on Saturday.

The entrance to the East Bay Hills trail

We started off at the East Bay Hills. The trail isn’t exactly a hike. It’s a relatively easy and very beautiful walking trail of 3km just down from the East Bay sandbar. The trail is the perfect place to take young children, friends, family and even your dog for a stroll in the great outdoors. If you were looking to amp this trail up, I would recommend running it! (I know I’ll be back to do so soon.)

A look-out on the Hills trail to a small stream

The Hills trail and some wonderful trees

Next we drove a few kilometres to the Ben Eion Provincial Park. The park has many picnic tables set up if you want to have a bite before or after the hike. We didn’t, and got straight to work! This hike is straight up – as in just about vertical – to the top. We took two water breaks, and managed to make it to the lookout in just under 20 minutes. From there, feast your eyes! There is a stunning view of the Bras d’Or Lake. It’s worth it. The descent was quick, and we were back to the ground in about 6 minutes.

The view from the top: The Bras d'Or Lake

On the drive back into Sydney, we stopped at a convenience store for treats… It was a perfect afternoon!

How did you spend your long weekend?

Island in the Sun

Friday, May 18th, 2012

Last week I had the good fortune to fly to Varadero, Cuba for a vacation. The prices were right and after a year of hard work at CBU I couldn’t pass it up. I packed my bags and off I went.

It was my first time in Cuba, and I was oh-so pleasantly surprised! The weather was (not surprisingly) blissful: sunny and warm everyday. The beach was picture-perfect and the people were friendly and hospitable – much like Cape Bretoners! I soaked up the sun from 9-5 daily and floated happily in the Atlantic Ocean many times a day. All in all, it was a fantastic vacation.

Pure bliss!

I spent the week in Cuba, on an “all-inclusive” deal. These deals are quite popular for Capers like myself who crave sunshine after the long winter. For those who haven’t been on an all-inclusive trip, it basically means that all food and drink are included during your stay. The resort I stayed at had rooms filled with food! Even the pickiest of eaters (me!) could find something to eat. I also packed along some almonds and granola bars for beach snacks.

Resorts typically have a "make your own pasta" station.

Dine al fresco!

Each resort is different, but normally you can expect nightly shows in the evenings with different themes: Magic Show, Cuban Dance – etc. As well, most resorts have a disco on-site if you care to stay up later and dance. If you are looking for a resort with a “party” atmosphere: you should read travel reviews before you go. The resort I stayed at was relatively low-key, which was ideal for the vacation I was after – one spent relaxing.

Watching the sun set: ultimate relaxation.

A week in paradise may be indulgent, but it is incredibly revitalizing after a busy year. Leave your worries behind and simply enjoy a few days off the grid, on the beach!

If you’re looking to get-away, I recommend these sites:

Escapes

Expedia

Maritime Travel

Sell-Off Vacations

Travelocity

Trip Advisor (For resort-reviews.)

In the meantime, it’s back to the “real world” for me :)

Spring Recipe Round-Up

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

The weather in Cape Breton has been sunny and warm, making it the perfect backdrop for spending time outside and for kicking up your culinary pursuits.

With the endless supply of fresh produce in stores, now’s your time to get cooking!

Here are some of the recipes I’ve bookmarked to make over the Spring. (Caution: the recipes may make you drool.) :)

Restaurant Style Salsa

(Click here for recipe)

Crispy Salmon BLT Sliders with Chipotle Mayo

(Recipe)

4-Step Burrito Bowl

(Recipe)

Nutella Fudge Pops

(Recipe)

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

(Recipe)

Blended Iced Chai Latte

(Recipe)

What are your favourite spring recipes?

Bon appetite!

Class of 2012

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Congratulations are in order for all of the CBU grads of 2012!

My cousin who is also graduating said it best, “Through a series of miracles, family and friend’s support, and a tiny bit of work – I’m graduating!”

As an upcoming graduate myself, I must admit that his words aptly summarize my own experiences well. (Alas, earning a university degree is more than a tiny bit of work!) However, without the immense support of family, friends, and university staff I doubt any graduates of 2012 would be where we are today: with a bachelor’s degree and with the world at our feet.

The three of four years at CBU flies by, as any graduate will attest to. There are highs and lows, but in the end, they are unforgettable years that cement who we are.

So, to all CBU grads I wish you all the best and congratulations!

Now go show the world what you’re made of :)

Make May Marvellous

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

May is a happy month. Spring is in full swing and summer is on the horizon. The days are longer and barbeques are pulled out, flowers are blooming, and people’s smiles grow just a little bit wider with the sunny weather.

Planning your summer has begun, and no doubt you want to spend it outside: swimming, running, hiking… the list goes on. Good news for those of you who do, because it’s predicted Cape Breton will have a hot summer. I say: bring it on!

But, don’t get too far ahead of yourself just yet. Make your May marvellous with the following steps:

Indulge in seasonal fruits and veggies

(source)

Go crazy for spring fruits and veggies by adding them into your diet this May. Make fresh strawberry rhubarb pie or add grilled asparagus and artichoke to your barbequed meal. Delicious and nutritious.

Breathe life into your workout regime

Beach-bods aren’t made on the couch. Try something new in May, like perhaps attending a new fitness class (spinning, yoga, zumba). Finding something you enjoy will make you want to pursue your fitness goals all summer long.

Go somewhere new

As they say, “Adventure is out there.” So what are you waiting for? This May go somewhere new. Maybe it’ll be to Hong Kong or to Inverness. Enjoy it, near or far.

Eat out

(source)

Head to a patio to have a meal with friends, or pack a picnic and eat out! Everything tastes better outside, after all.

Minimize your stuff

Over the school year we accumulate a lot of stuff. Drop off used clothing, books, and footwear at a local charity. Recycle notebooks from the semester. “Spring Cleaning” feels great.

Relax

All year long we are constantly racing deadlines. Now that the bulk of classes are over, relax! Sit outside and let your mind wander, plug in your iPod and chill, or read. Relaxing is good for you, so don’t forget to “schedule” it in this month.

Those are some of the ways I’m making May marvellous. How about you?

Good Reads

Friday, May 4th, 2012

(source)

With the school year largely over, we can now read for enjoyment.

If you’re like me, at this time of the year you have quite a decent “To-Read” list forming. I rarely have time to read books that aren’t school related during the year, so, I go in overdrive all summer long to catch up.

Typically, I try to read books that have been suggested to me by friends and professors… or books surrounded with hype. (Hunger Games, anyone?) Nonetheless, that’s where my process of book selection ends. I don’t do too much research online – nor will I “judge a book by its cover” while perusing the library.

For these reasons, I was happily surprised to find out about Good Reads: a website dedicated to finding your next favourite book.

Good Reads is more than just a place to review and choose books. You can also find out what your friends are reading, making it the social-media must-have account for any true bookworm.

When you make your account, you’re asked what kind of books you’re interested in. From there, you are asked to rate the books you’ve read in several of the categories you’re interested in. After that? Good Reads supplies you with several book recommendations in each category, and links you to a summary and to reviews on any given book.

The process is simple, although, time consuming.

Good Reads has many advantages, but ultimately, I’m sceptical of its usefulness. Readers have such different tastes, so how are we supposed to trust their reviews? (Especially when books aren’t cheap.)

I am going to give Good Reads a chance, probably starting out with recommendations that I can take out at the library before committing to purchasing them at a bookstore. From there… who knows?

Simultaneously, I’ll work through my “To-Read” list and see which way works better for me.

How do you choose what to read? And, do you trust book reviews, or do you take them with a grain of salt?

Happy reading :)

Long-distance Love

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

(source)

Relationships are a huge part of the university experience. You develop new friendships, and perhaps, you may find that special someone.

There are highs and lows with every relationship; however, if you and your partner live in different cities or countries, things can become increasingly challenging.

Many couples that meet in university from out-of-town experience this situation and often are unsure of how to make it work. Nevertheless, you don’t have to ditch your darling because of a few hundred (or thousand) kilometres!

Here are some of my tips to help you keep the love alive, long-distance.

  1. Keep in touch. Designate time everyday to keep in touch with your loved one. Skype will become your relationship lifeline! Talking on the phone or text messaging are also good ways to connect.
  2. Be patient. Love stories teach us to throw everything away for that special someone – but it doesn’t have to be that way. Be patient that your relationship is strong enough to withstand the distance. When the time is right, things will fall into place.
  3. Remain optimistic. Positive thinking will help you deal with missing your partner, and will make the relationship stronger too. Look forward to your next visit with one and other, and dream of the fun times ahead together.
  4. Be trusting. In order for the relationship to work, you and your loved one will need to trust each other, and your relationship. This will often make or break a long-distance relationship.
  5. Find common ground. It won’t be easy to stay together if you and your second half are headed in two, completely different directions. Although opposites attract, it is vital to maintain some common ground. Is there a city to live in that works for you both, or even, when apart, is partying a good way to spend the time?
  6. Hangout. Even though you may live on the other side of the world from your sweetheart, you can still hangout. Watch a movie together, enjoy a meal – there are tons of ways to virtually spend time together.
  7. Visit. Long-distance love isn’t possible without seeing each other, even if visits are few and far between. Make time and save for visits: they are your reward for staying together!

Long-distance love isn’t always easy, but it’s definitely exciting. Apart from your loved one, you can maintain an independent lifestyle that allows you to pursue your dreams, and vice versa. As well, when you do finally see each other, you’ll remember why it’s all worth it.

Are you in a long-distance relationship? How do you make it work?