Montréal, Canada | Travel Diary

Hello all!!!

At the end of February, I was lucky enough to attend the Golden Key International Honours Society Leadership Summit in Montréal, the largest city in the Canadian province of Québec. While the summit itself went from the 23rd to the 25th, I arrived on the 21st and stayed until the 26th so I would have time to adventure around the city.

This trip was extra special in that it was the first time I had travelled completely by myself and arrived in a place where I didn’t know anyone. I arrived in Montréal late on the 21st, got checked into the Marriott Château Champlain where the conference was to be held, and then headed to the hotel restaurant for some dinner. I decided on poutine, a classic French-Canadian dish of french fries, cheese curds, and gravy.

I don’t know whether it was the time difference, exhaustion from travelling, or mental fatigue from recent life stress, but I slept for most of the 22nd before venturing outside with a peppermint mocha from Starbucks in hand to wander the city.

What I wasn’t smart enough to clue into was that -4 degrees is really cold, especially for a West Coaster like me who is always cold. After wandering for about two hours without a hat or a scarf, I returned to the hotel and indulged in some ravioli and wine to warm me up.

Friday morning I set my alarm, got up early, and embarked on a mission to find the Notre-Dame Basilica in the heart of Vieux-Montréal. It was absolutely gorgeous inside and I arrived just in time for the hourly English tour of the Gothic Revival structure.

By the time I got back to the hotel, I had just enough time to freshen up before heading down to the lobby to check in for the summit.

At check-in, we received swag bags and then were randomly grouped with student representatives from other universities to embark on a city-wide scavenger hunt. I ended up in a group with two people from Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta, and they were both so nice. That night was a scheduled networking night so all the people registered for the summit went out to Thursday’s Pub for drinks and appetizers.

Now, this is where things got interesting. One of the two people from Mount Royal University with whom I did the scavenger hunt was a boy, and not just any boy, but a really nice one. He walked back to the hotel with me so I wouldn’t be walking alone in the dark in a strange city, and we ended up talking basically all night about anything and everything.

Saturday was filled with interesting keynote speakers and workshops delivered by professionals from a wide variety of backgrounds. That night, everyone went out for dinner at Weinstein & Gavino’s, where I had one of the best chicken dishes I have ever eaten.

Sunday morning I headed out to wander Vieux-Montréal and the Old Port, but about 8 minutes in, freezing rain started pelting down. Most people probably would have turned back, but not me; I just kept walking, letting the rain hit me in the face, determined to see Vieux-Montréal and the Old Port. There definitely wasn’t much to see in the pouring rain, but the city was still beautiful to be in. When I arrived back at the hotel, I got changed, hung my drenched clothes to dry, and met up with Scavenger Hunt Boy to visit the Musée Des Beaux-Arts. The museum has these really neat red heart statues out front, which were one of the scavenger hunt items that our group didn’t find but I wanted to see. Plus I wanted to spend as much time with him as I could.

For dinner, he and I found an Italian restaurant called Monza, which offers family-size portions at the individual portion prices on Sundays, so we feasted on a massive bowl of mushroom pasta.

After dinner, we found the hotel pool and went for a nice swim to work off some of the pasta. And then at around midnight I got hungry again so we heated up the leftover pasta and realized too late that we didn’t have any forks so we ate it with coffee stir sticks from the coffee set-up in my hotel room.

Monday was bittersweet as I packed up all my things. I was looking forward to being back at home, but it meant I had to leave Scavenger Hunt Boy behind. It may sound silly that in three days I grew so attached to someone, but I did. He and I have talked every day since we met, and I am planning to head out to Calgary to visit him soon.

I know this travel diary is extremely late, but I still wanted to share this trip on my blog and to showcase some of the amazing sights in Montreal, as well as share how I met the most incredible person.

The only upsetting part of the trip was that it didn’t snow once!!! I was all excited to play in the snow and all I got was freezing rain. Not only that, but apparently it snowed back home the day I flew out. Clearly me and the snow just weren’t meant to be.


Chocolate Soufflé

Good morning all!!!

It has been WAY too long since I published a post on this blog, so to begin, a little life update:

First off, I am enrolled in two summer classes. The first, neuroanatomy, is online and is wickedly difficult, spanning the entire four months of summer. I just did my second online midterm last Wednesday and my self-esteem still has not fully recovered. The second class is cultural psychology, which is condensed into one month with lectures three times each week. I love the content and the professor is such a lovely person. I had the first midterm for that class last Friday and I feel pretty good about it.

I am also working full-time at the same job I have had for the last four summers. While it varies across countries, full-time employment is defined in Canada as working 30 hours or more per week at one's main or only job. Well, from July 1-15, I worked just over 97 hours.

Balancing school and work has been a real challenge for me, and while it means I will only have one more university term to go before I graduate and I can start saving up for graduate school, I have not had much time for anything else.

That being said, a few weeks back, my friend Travis and I got together to celebrate his 29th birthday and tried our hand at making chocolate soufflés. I think they actually turned out pretty well.


  • Unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 large egg yolks, 4 large egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Step One
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter a 1 1/2 quart baking dish. Lightly coat with sugar, tapping out excess. Set dish on a rimmed baking sheet.

Step Two
In a large heatproof bowl set over a pot of boiling water, combine chocolate, vanilla, and water. Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Takes about 10 minutes. Then remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes.

Step Three
Separate egg whites from egg yolks. Then stir egg yolks into cooled chocolate mixture until well combined. This is your soufflé base. Set aside.

Step Four
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on high until soft peaks form, about two minutes. Then gradually add sugar and beat until stiff, white peaks form, about five minutes. Do not overbeat.

Step Five
In two halves, fold egg-white mixture into soufflé base. To do this, use a silicone spatula to gently cut through the centre of the base and lift up some from the bottom of the bowl. Turning bowl, continue to cut down and lift up base until just combined.

Step Six
Transfer mixture to baking dish, ensuring none gets on the top edge of the dish. Smooth top.

Step Seven
Bake soufflé until puffed and set, around 30-35 minutes. DO NOT OPEN OVEN during first 25 minutes of baking. Then SERVE IMMEDIATELY.

Baking Notes

  • Travis and I actually made two smaller soufflés in baking dishes I gave him as part of his birthday present, thinking they would be about the right size for individual soufflés. They were bigger than I thought, but any size or number of baking dish(es) would work for this recipe as long as the mixture reaches just below the top edge.
  • Do not be fooled by all the talk about how difficult they are to make. It was actually really easy and we had so much fun.
  • We only ended up eating one soufflé right away, and by the time we finished, the second soufflé was a perfect example of why recipes say to serve them immediately: they really do collapse.

Have you ever made soufflé before??? Let me know in the comments below!!!

65 Years

Although my blog is mainly book- and beauty-related, I like to throw in a few life posts too. I love being able to preserve special moments in photographs, and I really wanted to share this one here 🙂 🙂

On March 15th, my grandparents celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. That’s right, 65 years, over 34 million minutes. On March 15th, 1952, at ages 21 and 22, they got married. My grandmother wore her best friend’s wedding dress, my grandfather had to get permission to leave the Navy ship, the ceremony was small, and they honeymooned in Vancouver for a weekend. 65 years is such a long time to spend with one person, and it is definitely something to have a little party for.

We brought in a cake and had a few family members around. We are going to have a giant shindig in the summer when all the family can come out to celebrate with us. Plus, hopefully the weather will be better and we can have it outdoors. 

I hope one day I can look back over years of marriage and still be as happy as they are. Ha, but maybe not 65; I would have to get married within the next year or two to even come close to hitting that milestone. 

(As a small side note, I asked my grandparents’ permission before posting this, though neither of them are still 100% confident that they know what a blog is. My grandmother though did wonder if any of you would ever see her down at Sears, so if you do, be sure to say hi) 

Picture 19

My Holiday Budget for Happiness 

As a university student, I take budgeting pretty seriously. While I was fortunate enough to receive a four-year scholarship for my undergraduate study, I still want to make sure I have an emergency fund, and that I am spending responsibly. Particularly around the holidays, my spending can get a little out of control as I go on the hunt for Christmas presents for family and friends, but I have a holiday gift guide/budget plan that minimizes overspending and maximizes happiness.

Setting Limits

Each month, any incoming money is divided into separate accounts for living, saving, and emergency. It is important for me to set an overall spending limit of my savings on presents, as well as price caps on gifts for each person so I know going in how much I am going to spend.

Resist the Call of the Red Starbucks Cup

This one is so hard for me, especially around the holidays when the Christmas cups come out and my favourite drink, the peppermint mocha, is officially back, but this is an easy cost cutter. While I am by no means a daily drink purchaser, I still think that saving money in little ways like this can amount to big savings at the end of the year. That being said, I do treat myself to the odd one though, and maybe even a frosted snowman cookie.

Gift Experiences, not Items

Something new I have been doing the past few Christmases is gifting someone an experience like a travel voucher for a weekend getaway, a certificate for an adventure like camping or zipining, or even something simple like a dinner out together. This really helps with coming up with gift ideas, plus I find the memories last longer than giving someone an item that won’t last as long.

Homemade Presents

The past month or so, I have fallen in love with Pinterest and all its Christmas knitting patterns. One in particular that I think is just adorable is for little stocking christmas tree decorations. I have made about 7 so far in various colours and patterns and I am planning to give them to my family members, particularly my grandparents who, at ages 86 and 87 don’t need clutter but would love something sentimental.

Homegrown Gifts

While I am not much of a gardener myself, people like my grandparents gift jam made from raspberries they grew themselves and small spice plants, and other people I know gift handmade candles from backyard bee hive wax. I think this is such a nice way to gift something special and useful while not having to go out and battle the shopping malls.

Essentials and Splurges

Instead of trying to think of unique gift ideas for people, think about what they use on a daily basis like a particular beauty product and gift that. Some might say this is unimaginative, but it is guaranteed that the gift will be loved, appreciated, and used. Another great gift idea is purchasing something that you know someone would like but would never buy for themselves. These splurge purchases make such nice surprises and show that you were paying attention, plus stores usually have really good sales going on so you can scoop up splurges at fractions of the original price.

Gifts From All of Us

I remember as a kid thinking that a group present was just a way for people to get off the hook for finding someone a unique present, but really it is genius. Luckily my grandparents don’t have Internet so I don’t have to worry about ruining the surprise for my grandfather, but my mother and grandmother and I all pitched in and bought him a DVD recorder that he can use to convert his 800 or so VHS tapes to DVD format. While this item was more pricy and well over the price cap the family set for presents, pooling our money and getting him a nifty gift like this that he will get so much use out of is a great way to save money and give a gift someone will love.

What are some ways that you budget for the holidays while maximizing happiness???

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas . . . 

Goodness me, I have been a real naughty and haven’t published a single post in December thus far and it’s almost half over!!! Ha, looks like Blogmas isn’t happening this year. 

In my defence, school ended on on the 2nd, and then I had finals on the 5th, 7th, and 10th. But now I have a bit of a reprieve until the 19th when I write my last exam. Regardless of what courses I take or how much planning I do, I always, always, always end up writing an exam on the last day of exam period. Does this happen to any of you???

Christmastime this year was heralded by something that hasn’t happened in my city for years: snowfall. And not just the old 1cm light dusting that is washed away by rain the next day. I am talking about 10cm, covering the ground, people driving like right fools on the roads despite the ice and snow warnings, and snow people on everyone’s front lawns. Despite the fact that I live in Canada, snow is not common in my city, so this was a lovely surprise to wake up to. I wish I was a more artsy photographer but I am hoping to learn some tips and tricks in the new year, and I had to snap a few pictures of the gorgeous white blanket:

snowfall December 2016 1

snowfall December 2016 2

snowfall December 2016 3


Is it snowing where you live???

Turning 21 . . . 

Birthday cake 2016So as of Wednesday morning, I am 21 years old. 

It’s scary to think that not all that long ago I was still in high school, and now I am almost finished university. I’ve always been intrigued by the way that time can feel as though it passes at a glacial pace one moment and then at warp speed the next.

Being the planner that I am, I read numerous articles and blog posts about what 21 was going to be like. Well, most of the articles must have been written from an American perspective because all the exciting things had to do with drinking. I drink socially, but certainly not enough to have a go-to drink, an alcohol budget, a preference for getting drunk on decent versus cheap liquor, or having a preferred bartender.

The other main thing mentioned in the articles was being able to travel to Vegas. I am actually planning to head to Vegas for the first time in early 2017 as a belated birthday celebration (spoiler alert for future travel blog posts!!!) but I already have my gambling cap set at $50 (talk about living life on the edge).  

Turkey Casserole November 2016
Grandma Pearl’s Incredible Turkey Casserole
As I do every year, I celebrated my birthday at my grandparents house, and my grandmother just so happened to have my favourite meal stashed away in her freezer: turkey casserole. Essentially it is all of the leftovers of Thanksgiving dinner combined into one culinary creation, and it is my ultimate comfort food. 

Last year I shared 20 facts about me in celebration of my 20th birthday, but this year I wanted to do something a little different and open up the comments section to questions. 

Birthday cake 2016 unlit
13 opened boxes of Smarties and one giant pink candle later, and my grandmother created the most epic pink birthday cake.

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Pumpkin Carving

October 2016 pumpkin carving lit upYesterday, my boyfriend and I got together and carved pumpkins. Halloween is his favourite holiday and neither of us could remember the last time we had carved a pumpkin so I insisted we carve up a few this year.

I don’t know about other places, but in Canada we have annual field trips in elementary school to a local pumpkin patch where we can pick out a pumpkin, and then take it back to school and carve it. That was one of my favourite field trips as a child because we were allowed to scout out pumpkins for as long as we liked; I could sit down and just have a chat with them if I wanted to (I was an odd youngster; still an odd person now). The only rule was you had to be able to comfortably carry your pumpkin back to the school bus. And no, it doesn’t count if you can roll the pumpkin to the bus. My friend and I tried it one year, and it turns out you have to be able to get it off the ground and keep it that way. 

I live just up the road from a local farm with rows and rows of pumpkins, but my boyfriend lives quite far away from me, and neither of us were too fussed about it so we picked up two pumpkins from the grocery store. 

October 2016 pumpkin carving 1October 2016 pumpkin carving 2

Initially, it was meant to be a pumpkin carving contest, but the competitive element never really panned out since I needed help carving the top opening and then dislodging a knife from the mouth of my pumpkin. 

He went for more of a classic pumpkin face with an eclectic flair of diamond eyes and parallelogram-like top opening, and I went for a Jack Skullington-esque pumpkin.

All in all, I think they turned out quite lovely, and this definitely got me excited for Halloween 🎃🎃

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Summer Wool Haul

The last major shopping spree I went on for knitting supplies was way back in December during Blogmas. Since then, I have been working on several knitting projects and found myself in need of some more wool to add to my now dwindling collection.

In the centre are Drops Design circular knitting needles in sizes 5.5mm, 6mm, and 6.5mm. They are all 40cm long and are absolutely adorable and coloured pastel pink, green, and blue, respectively. Plus they were 50% off so I couldn’t resist adding them to my needle collection. Besides, small circular needles can come in handy.

The Patons Decor in Oceanside Variegated 100g was a bit of a treat to myself because I loved the blend of dark blue, light blue, and gray but then, lo and behold, a girl I work with is having a baby, and this will make the perfect baby sweater of blanket (not sure what to make out of it yet).

The Filatura Di Crosa Charly Print Melange 50g balls were also on sale and with autumn just around the corner (yikes!!!) I wanted to infuse some rich dark colours into my wool selection. They are a little on the small size, but I am hoping to use three of them to make an infinity scarf or some mittens.

reversible cable knit scarf
shameless picture to show off my most recently completed project
revesible cable knit scarf close-up
Just look at how cozy and soft this wool scarf looks!!!

Finally, I purchased the Berroco Ultra Alpaca Chunky 100g in the colour 7245, which is one of my favourite wools to work with. I love how thick it is yet it is also easy to work with. I have made toques, mittens and, most recently, a scarf out of this wool and I am so happy with how my projects turned out. This wool works equally well with small and big needles, and the final product is a cozy and luscious garment. One day I would love to knit a sweater out of it but then I wouldn’t want to wear anything else during the winter because it would keep me all warm.

What have you been knitting lately???

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Canon EOS Rebel T6 DSLR Camera Unboxing 

Happy August all!!!

On Sunday, I popped into the post office and picked up a giant package that I had been expecting. If you follow me on Twitter, you will have seen my tweet about ordering the new Canon EOS Rebel T6 DSLR camera. I have wanted to get into photography for years now and, after comparing lots of different cameras and saving up money, I finally took the plunge and ordered one (plus it was $100 off!!!). This DSLR package came with an 18-55mm lens, a UV filter, and a tripod.  I am so excited to start taking pictures with this, and perhaps even filming some videos (still not enough courage to put anything up on YouTube yet). My mother and I are planning a mini getaway at the end of August so this will be a lovely way to document the trip. I have wanted one of these for so long and I am elated that I now have a camera that can do so much more than my little old faithful Canon PowerShot SX230 HS. I still love the little camera though because it has been everywhere with me, is much more transportable than this new Canon, and still takes a great picture.  Blog logo

25 Facts About Me

I always like reading these posts because I get to learn random little facts about people, but it is much harder than I expected to come up with facts off the cuff. Nevertheless, I give you 25 random facts about myself:

  1. I have to read the entire menu at a restaurant before I can order, even if I already know what I would like. 
  2. I love mailing and receiving handwritten letters. 
  3. I have a typewriter collection. 
  4. My first stuffed animal was a teddy bear named Duffy. I still have him to this day, and he has the VIP seat on my bed. 
  5. I enjoy fancy social gatherings wherein I am required to dress accordingly.
  6. I almost never answer the phone. I don’t know how to deal with phone calls.
  7.  My hands and feet are always cold.
  8. I dressed up as Elmo for my first Halloween. 
  9. I prefer Macs to PCs. 
  10. I am a Scorpio, and I read my horoscope almost every morning, if not every morning, just to see what it says the day holds. 
  11. I am an only child. 
  12. I always seem to be years behind on trends. 
  13. Beauty and the Beast is my favourite Disney movie. 
  14. I like ketchup, but not tomato soup. 
  15. My perfect day would be sitting in a comfy chair next to a fireplace reading a book aloud to my best friend, with my cat curled up in my lap and a cup of hot chocolate on a nearby table. 
  16. I don’t drink alcohol all that often; only sometimes at holidays or out with friends. 
  17. I did not learn how to drive until I was 19 years old. 
  18. I want to take classes for so many different things: sign language, spoken languages, Braille, art, and yoga teacher training to name a few. 
  19. I love buying new and used books whenever I travel somewhere new. 
  20. I want to go on a road trip through the US, hitting up states like Ohio, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Kansas, Texas, Tennessee, New York, and so many more. 
  21. I have a box for each one of my friends, inside which I keep little items from my time spent with them like movie tickets, wrappers, rocks, etc. 
  22. I always organize my shopping cart at the grocery store. I detest a haphazardly loaded cart. 
  23. My phone is an iPhone 4, and I have had it for over 6 years now. It still works most of the time, except on occasion the home button gets stuck. 
  24. I can’t have different foods touch on my plate. 
  25. I am left-handed. 

I’d like to get to know you better too. Tell me a random fact about yourself in the comments 🙂 🙂