Category Archives: Life

New Year’s & Maple Banana Bread Recipe

With 2015 gone and 2016 here to stay for a year comes one of the most common new year resolutions that are usually long forgotten by February: eat healthier. Let’s face it, even if you’re not a new year’s resolutions kind of person, you’ve thought about it at least once in the first few days of 2016. And like all of us, the determination to consume healthier foods slowly fades as the days go past, our lives get busier, the $3 slice of pizza looks a lot more wallet-friendly than shelling out big bucks for fresh fruits/vegetables at the grocery store, or when all the holiday chocolates go on sale after Christmas.

I think the key to maintaining the determination of eating healthier is to be realistic and honest with yourself. For example, salads are the bane of my existence and I know that. So it doesn’t make sense to try and plan out kale salads for lunch every day of the week for me. To put it simply, I easily stay determined to eat foods I enjoy and contrary to belief, there are foods out there that taste good and are healthy at the same time. I found this amazing Maple Banana Bread recipe from The Heart and Stroke Foundation (http://www.heartandstroke.com/site/c.ikIQLcMWJtE/b.9277763/k.8449/Recipes__Maple_banana_bread.htm) when I was baking for a bake sale and was surprised by how delicious it was, considering the super healthy and nutritious ingredients. I will definitely be making this recipe throughout the year! Without further ado, let’s get baking:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (250 mL) whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup (250 mL) large flake oats
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) wheat bran
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp (4 mL) baking soda
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed well
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) plain 0% Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup (75 mL) maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup (50 mL) canola oil
  • 1 egg

Also: feel free to add extra ingredients into the recipe to customize your own banana bread. Some great add-ons would be nuts, seeds, cranberries, raisins, etc. For mine, I added in about 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts.

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Directions:

1.Mix together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl: flour, oats, bran, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda.

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2. Blend the bananas until they have an even consistency and pour into a bowl.

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3. Add the yogurt, maple syrup, canola oil, and egg and mix well.

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I got a little carried away and tried to make a heart barista-style, kind of an epic fail 😀

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4. Once the wet ingredients are whisked well, pour into the bowl of dry ingredients and mix together.

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It doesn’t look the most appealing pre-bake, you know you did the recipe right if it looks like lumpy oatmeal!

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5. Pour mixture into a parchment paper lined and sprayed 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches (1.5 L) loaf pan and bake in a preheated 350° F oven for 40 minutes. You can also insert a toothpick in and if it comes out clean, the banana bread is done.

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6. Let the banana bread cool for 10 minutes before turning it out of the pan and serving it.

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I hope you enjoy this recipe and let’s all stay inspired and motivated this year to eat clean and think consciously about what we put into our bodies, but also equally important -to treat yourself every now and then! 

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Designing a New Space: How to Make a Small Space Look Bigger

With the moving-in process coming along slowly but surely, the biggest challenge I’ve come to realize is finding furniture that fits into small rooms without making the space look overly crowded. There is no bigger frustration than finding a furniture piece you absolutely love, but your measuring tape delivers you the bad news of exceedingly large dimensions. Instead of mindlessly searching for furniture to fit our small spaces, why not help the situation by also making our rooms look bigger? For all of us small-room occupiers, I’ve found some clever tricks from blogs and from my own experiences to compile this list of tips to help make your space look bigger than it actually is:

1. Glass/lucite furniture is your friend. Opaque pieces look as if they take up a lot of space to the eye and abruptly break up a room. Transparent pieces create a wonderful illusion of occupying minimal space and give a continuous feel to the room.

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2. Incorporate hidden storage and multi-functional furniture pieces into your room. My condo does not come with a lot of storage space, so purchasing a bed with multiple drawers made sense.

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3. Use light/neutral colours for the walls and floor to open up a space.

4. Mirrors help reflect light and expand the room.

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4. Take advantage of natural light by keeping your windows clear.

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5. Use furniture with exposed legs. When searching for a sofa, I definitely noticed a difference in the space occupied by a sofa with a skirt vs. a sofa with legs!

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6. This may not be practical in some cases, but try and keep traditional doors to a minimum. Instead, sliding doors make a space look more expansive, because really, you’re technically connecting two rooms together!

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7. Don’t fill up every shelf in a room, leave some empty space on a shelf to give your room a more airy look to it.

8. Don’t go overboard with room accents/accessories! This is one of my greatest weaknesses as I’m currently designing my place. Isn’t it so easy for something to catch your eye as you’re browsing the aisle and become instantly convinced that it’s destined to be in your room all along? Let’s all walk away from those room accents that beckon for us, let’s remember -less is more!

9. Say yes to wall-mounting! Whether it be anything from lighting to shelves to a TV set, try to keep your floor space as free and open as possible.

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10. Most importantly, declutter your room! Yes, we all have at least 10 things in our room that we haven’t used in a year that simply take up wasted space. It’s difficult to say goodbye to things that have gradually grown to become a part of your room, but you’ll thank yourself later once your room doesn’t look like a cluttered thrift shop/garage sale anymore.

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Vancouver, BC Part 2: City Adventures

In my latest trip to Vancouver, BC, our family visited my brother who lives there, and he was our quintessential tour guide for our entire trip there! We visited a mixture of tourist and local areas in Vancouver and we also took a ferry to Victoria for a few days. My time in British Columbia was so incredible that I definitely know I want to move and live there for some time in my life! The people, food (refer to my post, Vancouver, BC Part 1: Food Diary), and the atmosphere made me feel right at home. I absolutely loved how no matter where you were, there was always a perfect balance of soaring skyscrapers and city life, local shops, and a breathtaking view of the North Vancouver mountains. And with that, let’s embark on my city adventures in BC!

First thing we did when we arrived? Ate lots of food, but after that, we took a relaxing stroll in the city and also near the water.

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On our walk, we passed by the torch that was lighted for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics!

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My personal favourite part of the trip was when our brother took us on a bike ride along James Bay. I think it’s the best to enjoy the view while bonding with family and getting some exercise (let’s ignore the fact how the bike ride was mostly downhill).

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The next day, we travelled to Victoria, BC via ferry. I quiet enjoyed Victoria -it was a quaint, beautiful place to spend a few days and unwind. We spent the day walking through the town.

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At night time, this building really stands out from the lights!

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Our hotel was right at the shore, so my sister and I spent a quiet morning on the rocks taking in the serene view.

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The last stop on our Victoria trip – Bouchart Gardens:

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When we returned to Vancouver, we decided to take on the challenge of climbing Grouse Mountain early in the morning! I’ve done hikes up a mountain before, but I was not prepared for what was to come! The Grouse Mountain climb is composed of 2830 steps, and by steps, I do not mean casual walking-up-stairs-in-the-house stairs, I mean really having to shift your body weight forward and work those quads in order to climb up the next step. It’s called “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster” for good reason.

I admit that I was the one holding up my entire family in the climb. Let’s just say my fitness level is not up to par with the rest of my family as I found myself having to constantly stop for a break every 10-15 steps. Even before we hit the 1/4 mark, I was ready to give up!! But with the wonderful motivation from my family, I made it up and the climb felt easier as you kept going up.

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Okay, I lied before. The Grouse Mountain climb might actually be my favourite part of the trip. No matter how grueling and physically/mentally challenging it was, the view at the top was spectacular. The view at the top is 853m high and overlooks Vancouver city in all its beauty. After taking a few minutes (actually half an hour, yes, I was exhausted!) to rest and regain my strength from the climb up, I took in the breathtaking view and stared in awe. And here I impart my cliche phrase of the week, but it’s true – the view at the top truly makes the climb all worth it!

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I’m already planning a future trip back to Vancouver -I’ve completely fallen in love with this city! I highly recommend venturing over to Vancouver & Victoria if you love good food, beautiful scenery and nature, warm people, and an overall wonderful atmosphere to surround yourself in.

This concludes my Vancouver & Victoria, BC travelling posts -I had an incredible time and will definitely be back! I hope you all are enjoying your day wherever in the world you are! Cheers!

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31 Things to Do This Summer

It’s that time of year again- yes, remember those long -20 degree-can’t feel your face winter days where you longed so very much for a warm summer day? Well that time is now and while it’s here to stay for only a few months, let’s not waste it! I’ve scoured blogs all over and also came up with a few of my own ideas to compile a list of things to do this summer. Break up with your bed and Netflix for a while and immerse yourself in the fresh air, warm sun, and free spirit summer has to offer!

31 Things to Do This Summer:

1. Find your summer theme song.

2. Try 5 new restaurants you wouldn’t typically go to.

3. Wake up early and watch the sun rise.

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4. Make a new friend.

5. Beach day.

6. Lie outside on a summer night and stargaze.

7. Plan a board games night with friends/family.

8. Read a book.

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9. Go on a bike ride with friends.

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10. Eat too much watermelon.

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11. Spend an afternoon of quality time with each person in your family.

12. Rollerblading.

13. Brunch with friends.

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14. Bake something.

15. Have a picnic in the park.

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16. Don’t complain for a day.

17. Get rid of a bad habit.

18. Gain a good habit.

19. Improve your vocabulary and learn new words.

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20. Get a new haircut.

21. Listen to a really old childhood song and have a 1-person dance party.

22. Discover an amazing summer drink.

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23. Actually clean your room, like you said you would several times before but never did.

24. Go on a hike or run a marathon.

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25. Dance in the summer rain.

26. Do one touristy thing in your own city that you’ve never done before.

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27. Watch a movie you’ve been meaning to see but haven’t gotten around to yet.

28. Watch the sun set with friends.

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29. Try a new sport.

30. Tis’ the season for ice cream/sorbet/frozen yogurt/popsicles.

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31. Plan a you day. Unplug from electronics, clear your schedule and spend a day to just be you and do something that you love/have an interest for.

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Designing a New Space: Dream House?

Ever imagined what your dream house would look like? Or if you had a million dollars and could create the most extravagant, innovative space for yourself? I thought it would be interesting to search through catalogues for quite novel, fun designs, even though I could never realistically include them in my own place. Although some of these below may not be the most practical, I was inspired by the inventiveness and thought behind the concept. As it appears that I am not a millionaire, I guess I will just have to make do by living through these photos vicariously for now. A girl can dream though, right?

http://www.designswan.com/archives/how-cool-your-home-can-be-27-innovative-ideas-of-interior-designs.html

Love this idea of having the couch and living space ground level, somehow makes it look a lot more comfier and opens up the room more!

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This would be an innovative way to turn an old, non-functional piano to a place for storage with great aesthetics.

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Talk about saving space! Wouldn’t it be SO cool to have a kitchen table double as a pool table?!

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2 words: INDOOR SLIDE.

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Love the chalkboard wall! It’d be great if friends came over and could draw/write all over it. Makes it look a lot like a cozy cafe!

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Being a bookworm, this would be an absolute dream come true!! A 360 degree ceiling/wall of books complete with a ladder!

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Really like this idea of lying literally right next to a window, using natural light for reading.

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This is probably my favourite (and if I actually did have a million dollars, I would add this to my house without a doubt): I mean, who else has an underground pantry/wine rack accessed by stairs leading downwards?!!

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Just looking at this picture makes me feel relaxed.

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Maybe not for people afraid of heights, but I think this would be great, especially if there was a large window right above so you can take in all the natural light from outside.

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Because it wouldn’t be a dream house without a secret door leading to a hidden room!!

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Designing a New Space: Intro

Greetings Blog World!!

It has been quite a while since I’ve posted, but in light of finishing my 2nd year at university and also getting my first place, I’ve decided to document the adventures of the interior design process -everything from the colour scheme, furniture, upholstery, appliances, to accessories/decorations! I’m a huge interior design junkie so I had already been thinking about all these aspects for quite a while before even seeing the place, but when I finally was able to visit my place a few days ago and saw the dimensions, angles, and overall layout, I realized I would have to make some big changes to my original vision. Thus, with this new “Designing a New Space” blog series, I am starting from scratch and threw out the majority of my ideas. I’m not anticipating for this process to be a quick one, so I’m not really sure how long this series will extend till, but I do have all summer to work on this project, giving me some hope! After seeing my place recently and thinking more about how I want to go about this entire process, I’ve laid out some new ideas of how I want the place to look -clean, warm, and slightly rustic. This theme might change over time as I continue to design the place, but that’s just some basic guidelines to start me off. I’m really excited for this project and will definitely enjoy blogging this series! Although I’m very passionate about interior design, getting a new place and actually designing it is a whole new experience for me, so I would also love it if I could get any advice/input for any of the steps along the way! I’ve included some interior design photos I just browsed through to provide some inspiration (if only my place could look that nice, sigh). Okay, that’s enough rambling on my part, I’ll be updating this blog any time I’ve made some progress in this design project! Cheers to the beginning of summer!

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Introducing Me

ImageHi everyone! I was just looking through my blog and I realized that I haven’t done a post just about me yet! So this is just a little introduction about me 🙂

For all those who don’t know, my name’s Julia and I’m 17. I think I’m 5’6 as of now and I like to laugh a lot. I’m a Christian! God is awesome and is my ultimate guide in everything! When I talk, I have horrible grammar. My writing isn’t all neat and girly, but actually, really messy! I appreciate good photography and wonderful food. I am on a never-ending mission of exploring all kinds of tea. I love cooking and baking (even though I’m not very good at it!! :D).

My favourite weather is lots of sun, blue skies, and just a little breeze, preferably 20-25 degrees celsius 🙂 I appreciate good weather..a little too much. If you talk to me, you will hear me talking about the weather a loooot! My favourite time of day is sunset. I can never wake up in time for sunrise anyway and I just love all the rich colours you get to see at sunset with all the reds, oranges, pinks, and purples! Sometimes, I just like to go outside my house and just stare at the sunset, doing nothing else. I like the smell of rain. I like biking in good weather and I like going to my neighbourhood park and just sit under the shade of a big tree and read a book.

My favourite colour is purplish red…or reddish purple haha anything that is a mix of purple and red is good with me 🙂 My favourite all-time fruits are mangoes and raspberries. My favourite study-snack is dried cranberries and kettle corn mmm I actually think they help me study so much better hehe 😀 I don’t really have one favourite food because I love everything! I really like Thai, Indian, Japanese, Italian, and Taiwanese food. I really like sushi and pasta too much for my own good. And I guess my comfort food would be chicken noodle soup or some really good curry 🙂

I love music. I admit, I constantly sing around the house and blast the music in my room too loud. I really don’t have one favourite genre of music -I love everything!…except rap music and heavy metal. My music taste always seems to veer towards general rock music. Oh, and I also really love classical music, especially the ones in movie soundtracks!

Hmm..now what are some of my pet peeves and dislikes? Oh, ask anyone! I’m really uncomfortable when I’m at a gas station or convenience store -I have no idea why! I usually love all types of food, but I really don’t like raw tomatoes. I like cooked tomatoes-just not raw haha. I also don’t like Mexican food that much. Tangled earphones really bother me. I really hate the sound of chalk on the chalkboard and the sound of velcro. I find cats really scary. I cannot tolerate really spicy food. I’m terrible at multi-tasking or making decisions on the spot. Oh, I’m also really messy. Just ask anyone in my family -my room and closet always looks like it got hit by a really bad tornado. Usually, I’m pretty neat, but my room is the exception. I don’t like the smell of coconut-scented things and I don’t like bananas. I can occasionally eat them, but I cannot have them on a regular basis. I refuse to believe that salads are counted as a meal. And I really don’t like birds. Especially seagulls and pigeons creep the living daylights out of me!!

It takes me a really long time to fall asleep. Even though I’m Asian, I am absolutely terrible at math! Some things I want to do in the future are: go on a Ferris wheel, ride in a helicopter, go to Africa, go parasailing, and actually go on a roller-coaster.

So those are just some random facts, introducing me 🙂 Happy Friday!!!