Walking Adventure: Spring

I’ve been meeting up with my friends and going out a lot these days — basically trying to cram a summertime’s worth of fun into the three short weeks between finishing my Winter 2016 semester and the second week of May, when I have to start looking for a summer job.

Today’s walking trip began at the Fran’s beside the Eaton Centre (previous review here!), after which we walked to the Sunday Antique Market, the Distillery District, and Cabbagetown, with a chunk of time spent exploring the Toronto Necropolis.  As you can tell by the very crude map I hastily threw together on Google Maps, it was quite a circuituous route. G, A, and I were walking from about 12:30 to 5:30PM, with two short snack breaks thrown in.

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I met A many years ago, in elementary school. We were both in the same grade, though I don’t remember if we were in the same class, and we went to high school together as well. Considering that I am now 25 (and just about finished my 2nd university degree, heading into a Master’s in the fall), A and I have known each other for a really long time. When she moved to Canada with her family, including her younger sister G, it was a rare chance for me to be able to reconnect with somebody who had been in my life since I was 9 freakin’ years old.

The three of us had made plans to walk around Toronto a couple of weeks ago, and when it finally happened I was so excited! While I’ve been mightily blessed to have Mikaius to share urban walks with, I’ve never really walked around with my friends, or honestly, even asked them if they would like to. Chalk up my hesitation to how long I can walk around and still enjoy myself compared to my friends having a car and/or preferring public transit to get around. The day’s adventures with G and A, however, proved that it was fantastic being able to have the experience of sharing each others’ favourite spaces.

We all purchased something that we didn’t plan on getting: I went home with two cards and an adorable keychain, G bought two gorgeous vintage purses from the SAM, and A finally caved and bought perfume as a treat for herself.

I would do this again in a heartbeat.

Sundate: Trinity Bellwoods

This past Sunday, Mikaius took me out on a walking date, which is my favourite kind of date. The sun was shining, it was a warm +22, and Torontonians were out in full force enjoying the first really good day of spring. It felt like summer.

First on the list was the Sunday Antique Market at St. Lawrence Market, at the Esplanade. I had so much fun, I forgot to take photos. The vendors were selling all kinds of interesting stuff, ranging from Canadiana, old postcards, jewellery, knives, to vintage TMNT and The Beatles action figures still in their packaging. It was a madhouse, but the kind of organized chaos that I truly enjoy. I fell in love with this obscenely large costume ring — a chunky gold number featuring a lovely purple gemstone and two CZs that I’m pretty sure are glued in. It was a fantastically gaudy number, and Mikaius, seeing how much I enjoyed the bauble and because (oh rare moment) it fit me perfectly, bought it for me.

Mikaius then decides to present the ring to me at the crosswalk, going down on one knee and saying, “Will you do me the honour of being my wife?” I had such a visceral negative reaction to this that Mikaius laughed his ass off and decided to hold the idea of a public proposal over my head for the rest of our lives. What made this even more hilarious is that (a) he and I are already engaged, and I was actually wearing my ring that day, and (b) I had thought that I would love a public proposal… but obviously I don’t.

Anyway, after lunch at A&W, we went to The Paper Place, which is one of my favourite stores in the city, and shopped around for wedding inspiration. We’ve decided on a “rustic winter vaguely Christmas” theme, which is going to be interesting as neither of us are religious, but my family is church-going. Weeeeelp. We found this gorgeous paper for invitations that he fell in love with – Tairei Ginfuri, cream speckled with silver – because it reminds him of mithril

We had also brought The Well Tempered Heart for me and Prisoner of Azkaban for him so that if we found a sunny spot we could sit down and read, and when we were done browsing we crossed the street to Trinity Bellwoods Park. It was bustling with people and dogs (there are areas in the park that are designated leash-free zones), and we had a grand time pointing out all the fluffy puppies that had come out to play. The tree we chose to sit under also had a nice comfortable curve, and instead of reading his book, Mikaius took a nap. He said that it was the most restful nap he’d taken in a long time, and it was probably made even better by the fact that the winter semester was over.

He then treated us to ice cream cones for the walk back to Bathurst Station (twist cones for us both, chocolate-dipped for him!), and that concluded a lovely day. The day didn’t end there, not really, we  watched The Prisoner of Azkaban as soon as we got home, but sunshine and warmth in Toronto means that summertime is just around the corner, and I cannot wait to see what it brings.

Valentine’s Date!

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Our “not-oranginary” day started at The Good Fork (quick review here!), where we had made reservations for 1PM. I can’t tell you how much making that reservation made me feel like a grown-up – maybe because we had never actually booked a table for a date before. Translation: our dates are usually inexpensive as hell, because we’re both students.

After that we headed to the 339 Roncesvalles location of The Kind Exchange to look for a present for my Mom. I hadn’t been at home for Family Day – blame all the schoolwork we have – and so I wanted to give her a little token of my appreciation for her Mom-ing. Mikaius and I found a really nice pair of Nine West heels and an H&M coat for her there, and as an added bonus, I got some nice Aldo Oxfords for myself that fit perfectly. All of that for really cheap, you guys. This is a big deal when you’re a student and can’t really blow all your money on treats for your family, no matter how much you want to.

With my Mom’s presents safely tucked into my arms, Mikaius and I decided to walk around the area. Neither of us had ever really been to Roncesvalles, so exploring it was great fun. We found two used bookstores, A Good Read and She Said Boom, and walked in hoping to find paperback copies of The Half-Blood Prince.  Apparently, according to the friendly neighbourhood bookseller, the last three books of the series in the editions we wanted were some of the hardest to find in the used book network. Challenge accepted! We’ll be making our way back to our usual used book haunts (Willow, Elliot’s, etc) and I’m sure we’ll find it. Eventually.

Then we decided we wanted to see the new Deadpool movie (review coming up!), but we missed the showing at the Humber Cinemas Theatre by about twenty minutes. We ended up taking the 505 to the AGO and taking a nice walk down to the Scotiabank theatre. Everything was lightly dusted in snow, and the trees stood out wonderfully against the urban landscape. It put us in a rather contemplative mood as we walked and reminisced.

We made it to the theatre with no time to spare, getting our tickets at 4:20pm to the 4:20pm showing! The theatre was 79% full, according to the guy who helped us at the register, so I wasn’t too hopeful about getting good seats, but we somehow still did. The movie was hilarious — if you’re seeing one movie this February, this is it. It was irreverent (a word that gets thrown around a lot when talking about this movie, but it is perfect for it), emotional, action-packed, and unexpectedly hits you in all the right places. Like Wade himself does.

All in all, it was an incredible day. For now though, it’s back to our regularly scheduled student life as we labour on our papers. Eight weeks to go before this semester ends!

 

Thank you, Woodsworth College!

 

I won an award! I’m so thankful for all the support and acknowledgement that Woodsworth College has given me in my undergraduate career — it’s been a rocky transition at times, but it’ll all be worth it.

My Financial Aid advisor, Yvonne Hilder, sent me an email about the Peter F. Bronfman Awards last year. I handed in my application in the middle of the Fall 2015 semester and promptly forgot about it, which is pretty much my defense mechanism for everything stressful in my life.

As it turns out, I became one of the 2016 awardees for the Peter F. Bronfman Leadership Award! I was considered for the award because of my work with Kapisanan and Kultura, as well as my overall academic standing as a UofT student. There was a lot of excitement around my win because I was the first recipient of the award who came in through the Seneca College Liberal Arts Program; I’m glad that I went through LAT, not least because it helped to ease my transition from science-driven learning (I have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing) to a humanities-driven perspective.

I was so psyched when I got that phone call telling me about my win, and immediately after hanging up I shot a text off to my Mom, who, of course, was my plus one for the Gala night. I think she was even more excited than I was, and honestly, being able to share a little bit of my world with her was a great thing. It was such a humbling experience to be honoured by having my small achievements read out to a hall full of people, and to meet the other awardees who are doing amazing things with their lives. Plus, the food was great, and I got to meet some of the people who set up the Bronfman foundation and learn more about them.

I think it’s also important to celebrate the small victories right now. I’m in a tough spot this semester, but having those golden moments where I had my Mom, good wine, delicious food, as well as the company of people who believed in me and celebrated my achievements was a nice respite from the stress.

 

 

Our Summer 2015 Part II: Mikaius

June 5th was a special day. During the summer of 2014, Dani and I had kicked around the idea of my vasectomy. We weren’t really sure of it happening at this point, but we realized it was covered under OHIP. With that, we set about making some plans. I was able to get a checkup in November, and in January 2015 a consultation with an urologist. With a three month “think before you leap” period, at the doctor’s behest, April saw the final consultation and June 5th was the day I made sure I wasn’t having little versions of myself running around this place, for good. The experience itself wasn’t a bad one — though it did cost me some people, and even now, three months after the procedure, my boys are fragile little flowers.

I spent the first month waiting out those stitches, and the first 10 days before I could use my parts again was perhaps the most frustrating period I’ve had regarding that. I mean, not using my stuff is fine, but not being allowed to? Well that is just torture! Second month saw me get back into a normal state, some more stitches to pull and all that goodness, but things are mostly healed. Haven’t been able to wear real pants since, mind you, but that may also be because I spent this summer eating my way through Toronto, and less because my boys need to breath more.

On June 11th, I went in for advisement regarding my first real semester at UofT. Put together a timetable and courses for the next year of my life; I was looking forward to actually starting to take classes in my real area of study, and desperately trying to flee from Classics.

When Dani and I first got together, there were so many things I had in mind. So many things to do, places to go, stuff to eat! Slowly but surely, we are getting to these things. After two years, I managed to take Dani to a cemetery over in Thornhill Village that I’ve wanted to visit with her the whole time. She loved it. It was wonderful! We got to a good few cemeteries this summer, and this was the first. (15/06/15)

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Sombre reminder at the bottom, delicious Golden Star on the left and lovestruck fools on the right.

June 21st marked Dani’s last day working for McDonald’s. Just short of five years, which is a long time to mark. For our two and a half years together, it’s been her place of work. I’ve picked her up a number of times there, sometimes for movies, sometimes just to go home and sometimes because she fell ill and I wanted to make sure she got home fast and safe. I had a bit of a moment recently (September, as of writing this), where it dawned on me I haven’t picked her up from work in a while. Last time I did was her last day, we sat down for a nice big lunch of nuggets and were going to see Jurassic World, but felt too tired and went home for a nap. It feels like its forever ago that she worked there, but it’s only been a couple months. This summer has been so big, so full. It’s been a good summer.

Might as well have been another cemetery, with me buried in it, on June 22nd: my first exam at UofT. It didn’t matter how easy the course itself was, I do not test well, and I am universally awful at assignments. Nonetheless, I killed the course and got an A. Before the exam, though, Dani and I enjoyed Kensington for a bit. After some mediocre sandwiches at the Grilled Cheese, we spent some time at the Blue Banana Market, which has come to be a bit of a place for us because we love kitschy things, especially kitschy kitchen things.

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The end of my first UofT exam! Where better to be jubilant than outside of UC?

The real doozy, the big bang for the summer, came for me on June 25th, during the time between the first and second half of the semester. It was my birthday earlier in the month, and on June 25th Dani treated me to Medieval Times! It wasn’t just Medieval Times, though, we went on an almost four hour walk from campus to Medieval Times. The first thing we did was get a little bit of frozen yogurt, but found it uncomfortable with all the little kids running around. We enjoyed it outside as we traded some Pokemon and back off we went! We went through Little Portugal, and we even passed through a small farmer’s market down Dufferin. We made sure to stop in a few places, a BMV there, an Midoco art store here, and another book store called Seeker’s. With a quick pit stop at Popeye’s to refuel, we kept our pace and got to Medieval Times just in time to enjoy yet more kitschy stuff! Their adorable gift shop full of crap only a kid or myself could enjoy! Dani got me a sword! I have a sword. It’s my sword. I love my sword! One day I will get the axe, the big sword, the dagger and the shield! One day! The ride home was even nice, it wasn’t a special ride, we just took a bus up from Medieval Times to Wilson subway station, but resting on her head as she rested on my shoulder and just traveling was great. We parted ways at Dufferin & Steeles, as we went up the 105 from Downsview. A beautiful night with a beautiful woman and I couldn’t have wanted more.

Medieval Times Summer
The big day! The real big day! Medieval Times!

Now came the second half of my summer. I had two courses, one of them I was great at, the other completely beat me down. Yet somehow I ended up with a B+ in both courses at the end! Bombed one assignment taking away my almost-90-something%, and I somehow pulled through my exam on the other to draw up from my 60-something%. What a strange semester!

On that first day my second semester, though, June 29th, Dani and I made for the Distillery District. Another great summer walk to remember! What a walk! We didn’t really anticipate the distance between campus and the Distillery District, but there’s nothing we love quite like a good walk. So we marched from campus on down, and marveled at the strangely clean streets in the ritzy areas we were walking through, and some of the old architecture the city has kept around. Dani loved a particular building, this little thing jutting into the intersection and separating two one-way streets.

We also stuffed our faces with some delicious Cinnamon Apple Pie popcorn from yet another kitschy kitchen-stuff place. I can’t remember the name, but we probably spent most of our time in it, giggling at silly little things. We went back up town and found ourselves at Kinton in North York, enjoying it for the first time. Remains the best I’ve had in Toronto.

Distillery District Summer
The best ramen I’ve ever had on the left, the tastiest popcorn in the middle, and the happiest two fools on the right.


We went on a grown-up (but not really) date: FNL ROM!

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Mikaius picked me up from the K after his Intro to Classics class – because neither of us had eaten lunch, and it was already 4 in the afternoon, we decided to head over to St. Andrew Poultry for a late meal. He had the Joy Fried Chicken, which he had been craving for daaaaaaays before we finally made it to the store. This delicious, delicious chicken was gone in a flash.
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I ordered the lamb shawarma – look at how beautiful that presentation is! I especially loved the eggplant and slaw, and the lamb was seasoned perfectly. We sat at the counter facing the chefs and made small talk; it was too beautiful an afternoon to be spent eating delicious food while facing a wall. We got to try free samples of the brisket, courtesy of the really, really friendly Chef Jomar.

Previous review of St. Andrew Poultry.

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We were so glad that we pre-bought the tickets for FNL: the line for those without tickets was incredible. We were one of the first to get in, and the only hassle was that I had to dump out my water. T___T I’m sorry guards, I was still on the tail end of a flu and needed to stay hydrated.
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We spent the night happily walking around mostly-empty wings like the kid’s section (where we played dress up!) and the Greek/Roman area. We didn’t really want to party, we just wanted to be able to have the place (mostly) to ourselves. It was fun! Seen here are my Jackson Pollock jeans, worn solely because Mikaius once said they make me look “artsy.”
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This really, really heavy headpiece was from the kid’s area – modeled here by Mikaius. Ain’t he purdy? This ended up as one of the featured photos of the night on the ROM site.
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That’s a kraken on a vase.
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And that is a ram-shaped vase.
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And this one is a pig-vase! How could I not take a picture of this incredibly adorable little thing? I wanted to buy a replica and take it home!
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In the end, we left the museum just as the party was getting really revved up because the crowds were getting loud – but we had a really good time, and would probably do it again. We wanted to go to the ROM at least once this summer, because this was where we went on our first date one cold February afternoon two years ago.

This is shaping up to be a summer of good memories. 🙂

 

Saturday Afternoon Walks

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It rained pretty hard this morning as I was headed to my shift as a fast food slave. Rather inconvenient, but makes for an interesting picture. This was taken at the Bathurst and Steeles bus stop at 7:45AM.
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James, Bryan, Kevin and I had dinner at Maroli’s, an amazing Indian restaurant near Bathurst Station. I had the chicken tikka masala, which is the one on the bottom of the photo. It was absolutely delicious  In fact, I am having the leftovers as I type this out. The other dish in the photo is butter chicken, which was Kevin’s pick.
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Afterwards, James steered our little group to Midoco because he needed a card for Mother’s Day, and I internally freaked out. I love notebooks! If I ever had a spare $100 it would most likely go to stationery.
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More notebooks! Although I love me my big Moleskines (whose covers I collage before using them), I do want to try other brands, as well.
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Multi-pack notebooks are my absolute favourite kind. Mikaius and I are definitely checking this place out. 
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We went to a park for a bit after eating and walking around. This is from the book I am currently (re)reading, Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber.


Kitchen Adventures: Overnight Oats!

Two of the days in my school week begin at 1PM and end at 8PM. My one hour commute means that I have to leave before lunch, and I come home so late that my appetite is gone. I’ve taken to bringing lunch, but nothing too complicated – fried rice made out of whatever was left over from dinner the night before is filling, easy, and super convenient.

A couple of weeks into the semester, I realized that I was going to need more food than that single packed lunch. There I was, sitting in my evening classes with a stomach so grumpy,  I could barely concentrate on the lectures! Being a broke college student, my food fund was also rather limited. I don’t really like sandwiches (I know, I know), and salads haven’t gone too well with me, so I wanted something that I could prepare the night before and just grab out of the fridge before leaving. I was also quite certain I didn’t want rice for that second meal/snack; a girl’s gotta have some variety!

This list of Overnight Oats from Buzzfeed gave me some much-needed gastronomic inspiration. I’ve now been bringing oatmeal as a snack for the past week and it is the perfect food to tide me over because it doesn’t need to be heated and it’s a breeze to change up!

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I even managed to find an empty jam jar that was the perfect size to pack in my bag!

This is my current favourite way of making overnight oats:

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 1/3 cup oats
  • 1/3 cup of milk
  • a dash of cinnamon
  • a dash of brown sugar
  • 1/2 of an apple, diced

Instructions:

  • Slice the banana into little rings, then mash them with a fork to whatever consistency you prefer. I like mine with little chunks – it makes for a mini flavour-bomb in my mouth while eating. Place the mashed banana first into an empty jam jar (or tupperware container!) so that it goes in the bottom.
  • Pour in the oats, then the milk.
  • Sprinkle cinnamon and brown sugar on top of the banana-oats-milk mixture. The amount depends on how sweet you like your oatmeal. Personally, I find that the banana sweetens it enough, but a little brown sugar gives it an interesting layer of flavour.
  • Sprinkle the diced apple on top – go crazy with your toppoings! You can add berries and nuts on top, or maybe even halved grapes!
  • Make sure the lid is tightly closed, then stick it in the fridge overnight to let them spend quality time with each other. 4-5 hours together really makes those ingredients play nice.
  • Wake up the next day and be happy, for you have made yummy, yummy overnight oats! Enjoy!

Uni Life

I am now officially in the second semester, third year of my undergrad studies at UofT. I also now feel like I am way, waaaaay in over my head.

I am currently taking Canadian City Planning as a class, and because I am not quite as interested in the City Planning side of my Urban Studies program, my interest is lagging. I have to force myself to get through the readings, and this is not a good sign. It’s gotten to the point where I need to turn Wi-Fi off in order to be able to concentrate, and it’s only Week 3.

Between working my weekend job, working at the K, going to school full time, and going to the gym, I’ve had a really full schedule. I already feel guilty about sleeping at night, I have that much to do.

I know I’ll get through this, I just have to grit my teeth and go against the wind. I will do this. I am capable. I need a case of Red Bull to get me through the next couple of months.

Today was a good day for me!

A day of free sweets, cheap books, and pasalubong

(1) The professor for my 10-12 Geographies of Gender and Migration class bought muffins for everybody during our seven minute break. Thanks Prof. Silvey!

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Cookie monster muffin!

(2) I meandered out to the Robarts Library to withdraw money for lunch, and happened upon a secondhand book sale! I got all three of these babies for $1! I’m halfway through A Year in Provence – I shall probably be posting a review sometime next month.

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(3) I went in to work and my supervisor gave me a canister of coloured pencils from the homeland! I was going to get markers to use while studying, but these will last me longer. Thanks Kat! 🙂

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It has been a rather hectic couple of weeks for me, but it’s the things like this that keep me going. It’s the little pockets of peace in the flurry of activity that allows me to catch my breath and gird myself for the onslaught of requirements that constitute the life of a student. Back to the grind now!