Friday, 5 January 2018

Back in Canada



Hi everyone!

I am now back in Canada. I left France on the 29th of January. This was the first time I travelled alone. I got lost a couple times, and cried in the middle of Charles de Gaulle airport but hey what can you do.

So far, things seem sorta normal. I am staying with my boyfriend, so sometimes its easy to imagine we're just having a sleepover, and my family is just a 30 minute drive away and not half way across the globe.

I have skyped home everyday, and it's helping a lot with the distance. When I call, I'm just starting my day and they're having dinner -- it's a pretty good time, we always have things to talk about.

I have also been looking for an apartment so hard. My friend and I have visited 4 so far, with no luck. Moving out of home is so expensive. I gotta find a job too, but I didn't want to do that before I had a place to live, because I don't know where I will be living.

My classes have started too. I've been to one seminar already. And can you believe that after 3 years of university, I am still too scared to talk in class? Terrified. I had to do it today and I was almost peeing my pants.

These pictures above are from Scotland. I visited just before Christmas to say goodbye to everyone over there. I love the UK at Christmas time. I don't know how to explain it, Christmas is just all over. Like, here in Canada, there aren't decorations in every shop and there isn't Christmas music playing everywhere. Plus, the UK has Christmas specials of everything.

So, yeah, my life has been a bit busy lately but I'm doing good. Everything seems to be going preeeetty smoothly right now, so I'm not complaining.

I hope you're all doing well and enjoying the first week of the year!

- Iona

Monday, 1 January 2018

2018 Resolutions


Happy 2018, everyone!

I hope you had a good New Years. I spent mine sleeping. I slept from 9pm to 11:55pm - woke up and had a glass of Prosseco, then went back to bed 20 minutes later.

This will be the third year I have posted my resolutions on this blog, but I wanted to do it differently this time. It's an open letter to myself. I thought it worked better with these resolutions, because they're pretty much all related to mental well-being.

-

Iona, in 2018, you need to change some habits that have formed. I don't know when you developed such a low opinion of yourself, but this year, you are going to change that.

You have got to stop criticizing yourself. You are not fat and you are not ugly.

And stop doubting how smart you are. You're in university, goddammit. It isn't easy to get into university, let alone last 3 years. This is your last year and you can do it.

You gotta start loving yourself, too, and give yourself the same pep talks you give to your friends. You are worthy, and you need to start believing it.

... Oh, also, try to take pictures of yourself. You don't have many of those and it's sorta weird.

Friday, 15 December 2017

Homemade Hot Chocolate


Hi everyone, happy Friday!

Tomorrow, I am flying to Edinburgh, where I will be until Tuesday. I'm going over to Scotland to see my family one last time before I leave Europe and return to Canada.

Only 14 more days until I leave! I'm so nervous, it will be the first time I'm not living at home. But I am 21 so I guess I'm a bit behind other people my age?

So, since we are leaving the house, we are trying to use up all the stuff we have in the fridge. And of the stuff in the fridge, there is 2 pints of milk. I wanted to make some hot chocolate, but we don't have hot chocolate powder... so I decided to make some from scratch and WHAT THE HECK IT'S SO GOOD


Homemade Hot Chocolate Recipe
Ingredients (makes 4 cups)
3 cups milk
grated chocolate (I used 2 squares of a Cadbury's bar)
2 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 tablespoon icing sugar

Method
Put everything in a pot (over a medium heat) and whisk to combine everything. Keep watching the milk so it doesn't burn. It should take about 5 minutes for it to be ready, you'll know when because bubbles form on top.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Do I Have Anxiety or Is This Just Me?

Hey

This post is gonna be very depressing. SO, heads up. The next post will be lighter - I promise, okay. I'll make cookies tomorrow and write the recipe or something.

With that out the way, I'm just gonna get right into talking about my thoughts and stuff.


I've always been a worrier, and I was always fidgety. That was just me, I was constantly worrying about everything from schoolwork to my mum dying. Every time I see an ambulance, I still think it's going to someone in my family. Obviously it's not - they're all fine, even when I can't see them. I know that... but I also don't.

I know my little brother is healthy, but what if he chokes on a carrot or something and he can't breath, and I wasn't there to get it out his mouth? I know my boyfriend will be fine driving home in the cold weather, but what if he slips on black ice and gets hurt?

When I was younger, I never slept in the car. I would look out the window because I was terrified a car would crash into us, and I would keep tabs on the petrol dial in case we ran out. My dad still jokes about the petrol thing. I never let him drive if it was below 1/3 full - I would make him fill up.

Damn, talking about all this is making me feel uneasy lol.

So... it's normal for me to worry. I didn't think this was anxiety - I still wouldn't say I have anxiety, even though about 3 doctors and 2 psychologists have said I probably do. Everybody has anxiety, right? How can you "have" something everyone experiences? I just happen to worry a little more often than some other people.


Anxiety and depression go hand-in-hand.

I'm on anti-depressants, but they're also prescribed to people with anxiety. So they're supposed to help both of my issues.

I've been on my anti-depressants for a year now. They've sorta helped. I don't feel hopeless and blue all the time, just most of the time. Lol... I want to be able to say that was a joke but it kinda wasn't.

It's annoying, to be honest. I do what the doctors say. I eat a balanced diet, I try to sleep only at night, I exercise, I write my thoughts... and I still feel the same way. I felt generally like a piece of shit for the past three years - since leaving high school.

Which makes me question whether I can be "cured". Am I just destined to be like this forever? Permanently sad, crying for no particular reason, feeling worthless? Cool. It sounds like a super fun time.

Don't worry, though, the one symptom I don't experience is suicidal thoughts. So at least there's that!!

-

This was super umm disjointed. Sorry for that. Thank you if you actually read this, you must really have some time to kill, lol.

Like I said, the next post will be happier. 

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Simple Apple Pie

Hi everyone!

It's only 16 days til Christmas, can you believe it? December is one of those months that seems to come out of nowhere. I know that's kinda dumb to say, since all the months last the same amount of time lol, but December seems to start and end in the span of two days.

I like Christmas, though. I like to bake at this time of the year, because it makes me feel productive - even if I've stayed in the house all day.

Normally I make pecan pie because my family really loves it, but I haven't made it this year because I haven't been able to find corn syrup in the shops. So I've been making fruit pies instead.

Today I wanted to share a suuuper simple apple pie recipe, it takes no time at all and a very little amount of ingredients!

Oh, also I just wanted to say that I am aware my pie isn't a perfect slice and looks more like a... mountain of apples.

There is a reason: I underestimated how hot the dish was when I was taking it out the oven, and I unfortunately dropped the pie. And then I cried for 5 minutes because of it.

So, be careful and you can avoid tears!


Apple Pie Recipe (makes 1 small pie)

Ingredients - Crust (from here - it makes 2 pie crusts)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 sticks chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
iced water

Ingredients - Apples
2 medium red apples
1/2 cup melted butter
1tbsp cinnamon
brown sugar (I never measure this exactly)


Method
To make the dough for the pie crust, mix the flour, sugar and salt in a medium-size bowl. Then cut the sticks of butter into pieces and work it into the flour. You can use a blender, however, I do not have one so I just used my hands. After the butter, you'll want to add some iced water to form the dough - I used about 4 tablespoons this time, but you can add more of less depending on if you need it. 
Divide dough in half, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
For the apples, I firstly cut the apples into slices and sprinkled the sugar and cinnamon on top. Then, I melted the butter in a mini egg fry pan (those things are great) and mixed everything together.

So, after your pie crust has chilled, you can bring it out and roll it into your dish. I put a layer of crust on the bottom of the dish (and poked holes in it) and then I tried to do a design for the top, just to make it more festive! I wanted to do little leaves, because I saw that on Pinterest and it looked cute - but circular snowflakes are easier.


At this point, you'll want to bake it for 15 minutes. I used thermostat 7 which I think is 180 degrees? I really don't know, it's a French oven. You can probably use your normal oven heat, it'll be fine. Just watch it so it doesn't get burnt.

And that's it! I use this pie crust always, I think it's really great - it's almost foolproof. But it isn't  because it's baking. And nothing is actually foolproof with baking, because even a different room temperature can change the outcome of a cake. Or is that just when I bake?

- Iona

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Marseille, France

Hi everyone!

This past weekend, I visited Marseille. It was my first time being in the city. I was a bit surprised, to be honest. It was quieter than I expected, it didn't feel like a big, busy city. Montpellier seems to have more people -- but maybe it's because the area we were staying in, or the time of year.

Regardless, it was a good time. As always, my sister and I tried to explore as much as the city as we could, and I wanted to share a bit of what we done and what I would recommend other visitors to do!


Places to See
Le Vieux Port 
The old port has been in use since the 7th century, making it a popular tourist attraction. Therefore, the area surrounding the port is full of restaurants, bakeries, shops, and, in the winter time, markets. There were two Christmas markets on while I was there; one featuring local artists, and a typical one that sold everything from soap to churros! 

Marseille Cathedral
This is one of the biggest cathedrals in France, and is only about a 15 minute walk from the old port. It's an amazing piece of architecture, and is decorated inside and out with marble. It just is soo luxurious. 

Notre-Dame de la Garde
You can see Notre-Dame from all over the city, as it is built on the highest point of Marseille. Like the cathedral, Notre-Dame also has free entrance -- but it is further out of the city. However, once you finally get to the top, you'll find the most amazing views!


Places to Eat
Bar de la Marine
You may know this bar if you have seen Love Actually (and if you haven't, it's already December 5, WHAT are you doing with your time??). This is the restaurant where Jamie confesses his love to Aurelia. Awww. To be honest, this was sorta the reason I wanted to visit Marseille so badly, lol. To me, it was a must-visit.

Rue des Trois Rois
This street is full of food from around the world. You'll find Ukrainian, Greek, Pakistani, Italian, Japanese... oh, and French. We had the most amazing palak paneer here, it was the bomb . com. The buildings were also decorated with lots of street art (just like most of the city!) and there were paintings on the ground too


- Iona

Monday, 4 December 2017

Minestrone Soup

OMG a recipe that isn't sweet? How diverse am I? Lol.

If you read my last post, you'll know that it is very very cold here right now.

Therefore, my mum has constantly been making soup. Actually, in our house at the winter time, there is always at least one pot of soup on the stove.

So we've been eating soup for lunch and dinner everyday for the past few weeks! And with a fresh baguette everyday (except Monday because the baker's is closed). I gotta be honest, it's actually been really great. I've also been enjoying France a bit more since my last post. I guess I've became a bit sentimental.

Anyway, back to the point of this post. I made some minestrone soup last week using a very simple and basic recipe, and I wanted to post it here for not only everyone reading this blog, but also my own future reference. lol.


Minestrone Soup
Ingredients
2 cubes vegetable stock
1 cube herb stock
1 can of tomatoes
whatever veggies you want to use

Method
In a pot, you first gotta soften the veggies. I used cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, potato, and onions this time. I also added haricot beans at the end, because they don't need much time to cook.
So once the veggies have sorta sautéed a bit, add in the 3 stock cubes with boiled water.
Then, I add the tomato paste/can of crushed tomatoes and let the whole soup simmer for a couple hours. And then eat! With bread and butter, yum yum.

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