Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Time

Wow, its been a while since my last post! This past month has been a little crazy though, for several reasons:

1. Ending my co-op term in Ottawa

2. Friends coming up to visit in Ottawa

3. Christmas time crafts

4. Getting ready for my exciting trip to Singapore!

5. And of course, CHRISTMAS!

Ottawa was a fabulous city to live in this past term, I was sad to say good-bye when my parents 
came to get me. It is filled with lots to do, many green spaces, and lots of ways to meet and make new friends(an essential when you come knowing no one, as I did). 

I enjoyed many nights of soccer games (our team got 3rd place!), vegan potlucks, yoga, art, and random events! It will be missed! When the snow began to fall it transformed the city into somewhat of a winter wonderland, although cold, and sometimes fairly challenging to walk through on my hour walk to work, it was beautiful. That is one thing I will miss when in
 Singapore, the beauty of snow, not the cold of winter, but the beauty of snow. If we could some how have snow without cold that would be amazing, but you can't have it all!

The holidays, although slightly slightly insaine, as I am running around like a crazy duckling trying to get everything together for my lift off to Singapore, has been wonderful! It's so nice to have down to time to see family and friends, sleep in, bake bread with dad, and decorate gingerbread with mom. Through a party with the friends and go out for coffee for chats, its all so important in life and I wouldn't trade it for anything! I had no idea what I wanted for christmas, but just being around all those that I care so much about, spending time doing nothing but being with one another is so important and so fabulous! We don't get enough of that with our crazy lives of running about hear and there getting everything on our to-do list tell you the truth, I even have a to-do list for the holidays, its horrible! But still, its nice to spend this valueble time I have right now with those I love, but before you know it I will be off on a plane to SINGAPORE!!!

So Singapore, yep another chapter of time. What to expect? I have no idea, and I like it that way. In actual fact I think I have formed too many expectations already, expecting the government to be crazy strict, school to be fun, and travel to be a breeze. All of these may prove to be false, but they may also prove to be true.

For those of you just stumbling onto my blog, I will be attempting to update it more recently then this past term with my adventures in Singapore. They may include more observations and less thoughts then my last posts, however it is hard to tell what the future will bring. I doubt the thought bubble will disappear completely!

As I type this it is foggy, slushy, rainy, and miserable outside. I dream of being in Singapore, where the sun is shining and sweat drips off my nose, but I am hear and will continue to enjoy it. With that said, I am going to go curl up with one of the many books I received this christmas, I love books! 

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tea, Singapore, and Christmas

I found a lovely tea room/shop today, its called “Tea Party”, it was great, big pot of yummy tea, and 100 teas to choose from. Granted it was slightly expensive, but well worth it. Pretty funny people there too. Tea is so wonderful, I just don’t know where the world would be without it. Its not a single culture thing either, every culture has it. There is Chinese tea and tea ceremonies, Japanese tea, chai tea from India, roubos tea from Africa, Russian tea, English tea, Moroccan mint tea, and so many more. It’s crazy endless! I can’t wait explore the tea world some more in Singapore, I can’t believe I am heading to Singapore, in 40 days I will be in Singapore, that’s crazy, and frankly a little nerve ranking, but in a good way. I have been told a bit of what to expect, but I also don’t like “expecting” too much, because that can lead to me forming these pre-conceived expectations, which are often wrong. I just want to go with an open mind and heart, experience their cultures and many others as I will have a chance to travel around. I am excited to not be here when its cold, however I hope I don’t die from the humidity! I am excited to be put into another culture though. Feel the excitement and challenges.


Two years ago I spent four months in Botswana, an amazing culture experience for me, which was both challenging and rewarding. Many of the reasons it was rewarding was because it was challenging. I had never traveled anywhere really by myself, so this was a big step. To this day I don’t know what drove me to it, I just felt a need, therefore I listened to this feeling and set off. The culture was not extremely different, but living so far away from any and all safety nets I grew up with was hard. I had to rely on me and trust that everything with be ok. With this experience in my back pocket, I feel more prepared to head off to Singapore and Asia for 8 months. It will be the longest time I have ever been away from home on my own, but I think that is good. No doubt there will be nights of homesickness and tears, stomach sickness and well…you know…but I’m sure I will also learn a lot. Learn a lot of what, I am not sure.


However, that is still in 40 days, and now it is Christmas season! Which means insane amounts of Christmas crafting(I plan on creating all my sexy gifts this year…hopefully they arn’t shitty), yummy baking, and hiding from the cold outside. I would say playing in the snow, except we still have very limited snow blessings here in Ottawa yet! Oh, and for all my friends in school right now, it means lovely exams too.

Check out this Indian recipe, its sounds weird but is actually quite good. If you have ever had pakoras it kinda tastes like those, except baked, not fried, and made in your own home, perhaps in your PJ's as you watch Christmas movie re-runs!

I have now purchased an advent calendar which officially indicates the beginning of Christmas! I can't to open that first door, discover the mysteries it holds! I'm so happy that I purchased one too, I was debating it, but I really loved opening the calendar at home, it was this sneaky small way of celebrating the fabulousness of Christmas all through the month of December even when life gets a little crazy. 

I remember those numerous mornings in December, the three kids up in the morning, racing to get ready for school in the morning, but always making sure we opened the calendar AND making sure the right kid opened it. My childhood was wrapped in fairness attempts, dividing cookies EXACTLY in thirds, dividing the couch space exactly in half between my brother and I with threats of tadling if the boundaries were crossed, therefore it only makes sense that the opening of the advent calendar would be divided into threes, each day the next kid in line opening the next door. Some would think buying three, one for each kid, would be easier, but NO! As kids we grew up being forced to share, as much as it pained us! Thanks mom and dad, I appreciate it now. Anyways, that advent calendar was an important part of Christmas, so I am glad to have found one in Ottawa for my month of December.

Wow, my own Advent Calendar, what a concept! I will definitely miss arguing who gets to open the last door, who's turn was missed, and who got the shaft because their doors were smaller! This Monday is the 1st day of December, I have yet to find the perfect pedestal for my beautiful, colourful, sparkly calendar! Muh-ha-ha!!! My advent calendar fingers are tingling!!!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

November the 11th

"Lest we forget", that's the tag line of this day of remembering. However, Remembrance Day is always such a struggle for a pacifist like myself. I have never really sat down with myself and decided whether or not I actually am a pacifist, but I believe I am. I do not see any justification, any way you swing it, to war, killing, and violence. I grew up attending a Mennonite church(pacifism is a strong part of the Mennonite beliefs), and therefore such beliefs and ideas were somewhat forced upon me as a child(in a gentle, loving way). However, as I grew older, I felt I couldn't simply mindless adopt these beliefs I had no choice in as a child, I had to find out if I agreed with them for myself, or find out WHAT I believed in. Long story short, I am a pacifist, and remembering those who fought and died in war for humankind everywhere is a difficult day to take part in.

Yes I do pay respect for all the lives sacrificed for my freedom, I have never experienced war, never felt the hardships or it, or morned over it, and for this I am very lucky. These many people died so I could have that, and I am extremely thankful. But, why did they even decide to participate in a war in the first place? What drives human kind to kill mother, sister, brother, father? We are all connected, whether we accept it or not, and so why do we kill each other? So often I believe it is ones dissatisfaction with oneself, greed for power, and an over competitive nature, but I'm not a psychology major, this is just me hypothesizing. Can human kind even live without war? When I think about war it fills me up with confused sadness, I just don't understand it. 

To be clear, when I refer to war I am not necessarily referring to battleships, bombs, and trenches, rather violence in general. War can be between countries, between family members, or between neighbours. It can be loud like the violent bombing that goes on in the middle east, but it can also be silenced, like the many unfortunate domestic wars that happen in homes that others are unaware of it. It can be used to scare us, like the war on terrorism, or hidden behind black curtains, like the violent killings in Sudan. War can be racism, sexism, rape, torture, and violence.

So let us remember not only those soldiers, but those millions of civilians that have died without any choice in the matter, in war. Let us remember those individuals which deal with war everyday without anyone noticing. Yet, let us also remember mother earth, who has, and still is, dealt with the many pains we have caused her. The many scars she has acquired which will never fully heal. We so often forget all the injustices nature has felt, so focused on the human aspect we forget where all us humans came from...the earth. 

Although it is important to take time and reflect on Remembrance Day, perhaps we need to treat ever day as a Remembrance Day. Love those around you, the earth beneath your feet, and the air you breath, realize that violence brings no victory, only pains and sorrows. 

If I smile, you will smile, then he will smile, which will make her smile, then maybe someone will laugh, and the angry man in the corner will put down his gun.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sundays' at the coffeeshop

I am currently sitting in Bridgehead yet again. I LOVE COFFEE SHOPS! They really do rock my socks, especially Bridgehead where everything is fair trade, so I can feel friendly as I drink my chai tea and transport myself to some far off land. 

Aside: Micheal Jackson just came on and this old man just starting bobbing his head to the song, I love it! haha

Well the land isn't that far off, since I do have to complete my course PDEng for school. So I am taking a break and writing a post, since I have been slacking. AND....a week has past! Time travel, yet still in Bridgehead.

This week has been soo beautiful outside, I have been loving it, yet I can't help but also be slightly concerned, the only reason it could be so warm (it was 19 degrees yesterday...this is NOVEMBER in OTTAWA) is global warming. Does anyone else feel overwhelmed these days?! Maybe its just me, but I feel like there is so much to learn and do now, and that there is no time to sit and do nothing. I feel like when ever I go home and just want to sit in front of my computer and watch tv, I really should be learning about the background of Diwali, what other countries are close to Singapore, or how our electricity grid system works. 

One reason I find the environmental issue so hard to tackle is because its not just an environmental issue, its a life issue. There is no simple fix, which we are so addicted to. Us western world kiddos have become addicted to finding the fastest and immediately easiest way to solve any problem: popping pills for any health issue, industrial farming to feed us, virtual friends to cure loneliness. But all these solutions fall apart, we become drug junkies, use land less efficiently, and become antisocial, only able to communicate with our digitally created friends. 

To start to change the way we treat the environment means to start to change our entire lives. We need to assess our food system, our tendency towards constant consumption of material goods, the way we design our buildings and our cities. In the past several years cities have been created with the car in mind, the main life lines to go from one area of the city to another were highways and roads. Residential pockets, often known as the infamous suburbs, were located so far from the actual city where children attended school, adults worked, and food was purchased, that it was near impossible to survive without a car. Our tendency towards spreading out as much as possible and using up space (since yes Canada is full of space!) has caused us to have a huge dependency on the automobile. Instead we need to create dense city cores, bring the housing back to the downtown area, and eliminate that ideal that the north American culture has breded that we should all own our own house.

The way we design our buildings also makes me want to cry. Not all buildings, but many, especially those suburbs, are built so quickly with little thought involved. Anyone could probably order a "Build your own suburbs" kit and put one together. We need to build with a frame mind that this building will be there not for 10 or 15 years, but at least 100 year! And how the initial costs are paid off over this period also need to be considered. Buildings produce 1/3 of the carbon emissions of the world, that's a lot eh!? And a lot of it has to do with our lack of effective planning when buildings are first established. Where will the sun hit the building? What renewable resource could we effectively harness in this area? Is there shading? What vegetation is going to be planted? Could a green roof/walls be installed? What material will best insulate the building to reduce the energy costs? And so on...all important questions to ask!

Then we get in to the food system...however, I think I'm going to stop, you've heard enough of my ranting, but if you want to quickly learn more...especially about the impacts of eating local, check out this list of 10 reasons why,, it gives you a QUICK summary! 

Time to enjoy this raining Saturday morning with  yoga, laundry, baking, reading.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Picture Time

It's hard to describe life with words all the time, so I thought I would post some of my pics, I am by no means a don't judge too hard. There is no encompassing theme, just life!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Thinking about Us and The World

This weekend I spent a lot of time pondering our existence, purpose, and impact on this fine world. The mission of any life is to be happy living it, while ensuring human kind lives in-sink with the rest of natural, after all we are just animals, correct? Just like any other animal its about survive and ensuring that survival is aligned with the rest of nature, which is what we have failed. Due to our intense hunger for MORE (especially in North America) we have made a mess of this sacred world. Which means its time to make changes. We can't just stand and watch all hell break loose, however what actions do we take? Is there a solid line of what is good vs bad? Or is this line dotted? Here is where I become confused, as expressed in a journal entry I wrote yesterday.

"Humans are such destructive creatures ehh? Garbage disgusts me and so does our over consuming culture in the West, but we can change this. I was at a "Flick off" rally this afternoon arguing the fact that we need to reduce our carbon emissions, stop global warming and rely only on the energy produced by renewables. Its possible! But we need to change now. No more disposable lifestyle, be conscious of our decisions and how they impact our world. With that said I did go to the Farmer's Market for local produce today. I wasn't planning on buying anything till later this week, but I can't walk past those beautiful rows of produce without buying something!! With bags full of vegetables I ventured over to the coffee shop to read my book "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle." She (the author) is discussing the morals behind eating meat and it really does challenge my vegan motives. She hits home when she says a lot of people become vegan because of the factory farming industry and its harsh treatment of both animals and the environment. TRUE! But then she explains situations where raising animals (as free beings) to eventually be consumed after a long, happy life can actually be beneficial to the environment(ie. goats in Piura, Peru). So what morals do I hold on to? I, personally, will continue to enjoy the vegan food-land, however perhaps I should not be so judgemental about family and friends eating animal products if those products are local-organic-free-range. Its not so much the physical eating of the meat that I am against, rather how the meat is raised and its impact on the world. Thoughts to ponder..."

Then I went to a vegan potluck and my thoughts got even more muddled up with the discussions I had with the people who I was sitting with. But good muddling, and amazing people, I need more of these types of people in my life, to understand and accept the views but also challenge them to make you grow and become wiser all in one foul swoop. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Its 6am on friday before thanksgiving and I can't sleep. I just am so excited about thanksgiving and going home! I think I'm crazy deciding to write a post now, but I don't think my body will sleep any longer, it could have bad repercussions for work, but we will see.

Thanksgiving is such a beautiful time of the year, its when all the leaves change colours, it gets just cold enough outside to snuggle up to your friends and family and drink tea/hot chocolate indoors after running around in natures confetti(leaves). However, everyday I am also so bluntly aware of how our world is changing due to human kinds follies. I hear of the global warming, do projects for PDEng on the growing "plastic soup" in the ocean, and work with energy charts finger pointing at all the wasted energy that is consumed everyday by buildings all over the place. 

What have we done? How did we get to this point? Believing that convenience was better then community, our health, and the worlds health? Our style of eating on the run and instantly has taken away from our craving for human interaction and community. Cooking is fun, its fun to create new inventions over the stove top, have pot lucks and swap compliments, recipes, and where has this all gone? Its coming back, perhaps that's only my jaded view since I am such a strong advocate of it, but I do see a come back with people being aware of our destructive lifestyles. I never really appreciate the excitements and stress release that can unfold in the kitchen till I became vegan, forcing me to be creative and cook most of my food myself. This has its pros and cons. 

Pros because, although initially my baking was not a big seller with the family, they all love the baked goods I make, which is a wonderful feeling. Secondly, I have come to appreciate the time, energy, and struggles that my mom put into every meal we ate growing up, and I am so grateful for that. 

The negative side is its hard (at least in any non-major city like waterloo) to go out for dinner where a vegan can actually eat something. This tends to lead to me spending lots of time in the kitchen, and always thinking up new fun things to cook, which can be time consuming when there are other things on your plate, especially in school, when, as I told my cousin one day, "I feel like all I ever do is cook, eat, and study!" However, this is no reason to stop being (some days falling and eating something I later realize had dairy, but dusting myself off and continuing on) vegan, it just means we need to keep strong, and encourage venues to become more veggi friendly. 

With all the scares around meat and dairy out there, I don't see why they wouldn't. Did you know that with all this controversy over using crops for bio fuels instead of food (since its argued that its contributing to the world shortage in food, which I don't disagree with) they never mention that SEVEN times that amount is used to feed animals in conventional livestock factories every day(VegNews Oct/2008 ed.). These factories also produce around 25% to 33% of the worlds greenhouse gases. 

I'm not proposing that y'all suddenly stop eating animal products, that would be somewhat wishful, but unrealistic thinking on my part. Rather take a step back and know what your decisions are doing, make educated choices, buy locally, and if you eat animal products try to make them local free-range, not just for the animals and the enviro but for you too! I know its more expense, HELLO I'M A STUDENT!, but the money is not a big deal when you think about how necessary food is!

Before I go any further, I want to share a beautiful quote I came across yesterday by the genius boy himself:

A human being is part of the whole, called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourself, our thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest -- a kind of optical delusion of our consciousness.

This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

Albert Einstein

I am so thankful for everything I have been blessed with. I went to the war museum in Ottawa yesterday after work, and first of all, that building is amazing, I love it! I didn't get to see it all, but its pretty awesome. Second of all, I went to the exhibit of Eugenics that was going on looking into the scientific history of the study of "perfecting" the human race both before the rise of Hitler and during his rise and fall. And wow, its pretty scary stuff. In a way you can see how people would believe it though, which I think is what is so scary about it. What there stopping it from happening again? Seeing the images of all of the gas chamber victims, and the children who were killed since they were deemed "Life not worth living" was so horrible. I can't even express the intense devastating feelings this brought up in me, and is bringing up again as I type. But there it was. How did all those physicians justify killing all those people? That's what scares me.

However, let the past be the past, let us learn from it so it may stay in the past! Now the weekend of thanksgiving is upon us, and after reflecting on all I have written I really do have so much to be thankful for! Happy Thanksgiving everyone (well at least all you Canadians)!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Fabulous Food

On Sunday I made food in the morning. I guess you could say the kitchen is my church. One of the dishes I made was "Gobi Fry", using the recipe from and I must say I'm pretty impressed. Dispite the fact that I was missing some of the spices, and added onion and chickpeas-- I felt very indian. Some times I wish I was indian, they are so colourful and their food and spirituality is beautiful. When I took it to work on yesterday I wowed the two Indian guys in my office--yea thats right this white girl's got some wicked indian cooking skills! 

Other yummys that have erupted from the kitchen this week include: sauted brussel sprouts(seriously guys they are soo good, I don't know why brussel sprouts get such a bad rep.), peanut butter molasses cookies, tofu "steak" with fried onions(recipe from, really garlicy-good humus, and spicy-molasses-roasted nuts. Oh and tonight after yoga I came home and had a second dinner of creamy squash soup and toast. Sorry about the lack of pictures...I have a few of the recipes though if you want them, a lot of stuff I just wing though!

I can't seem to be able to copy and paste my recipes...they are still to come...

Saturday, October 4, 2008


If any of you are stuck somewhere foreign, or far away from your friends I suggest you take a look around. Its fall, and my favorite season! No matter where you are (in Ontario) the colours of fall are blooming: Orange, red, yellow, even the browns are beautiful. I took photos today and I will be soon uploading! I have no doubt that people most likely thought I was a wierdo, but when you have no friends, what does it matter? 

Speaking of fall, I am attempting to be conscious of eating seasonally, due to strong influence from the book I am currently reading, "Vegetable, Animal, Miracle", therefore today I bought apples, onions, brussel sprouts, carrots, peppers, and squash...which are all so yummy and in season! I went to the market, where I normally go for the produce, so that is definately another plus! Anyone have a good recipe for squash though? I have this Japanese Pumpkin recipe, that I am just going to impose onto squash and hope for the best, but if anyone has good ones, let me know! Last week I bought squash and made soup and this yummy cake (adapted from VegNews' recipe in their Sept. 2008 ed.), I love the squash and pumpkin action! Well, tomorrow is cooking day, so I will figure something out!

Other then colours and vegetables, I went to this cute place on Bank St. "Nuts about Life" and bought dried strawberries...has anyone tried these?! They are soo good, superior to most candies!

They look kinda ugly though. 

Over and out (back to watching Big Bang Theory)