Monday, 25 September 2017

Chocolate Loaf


K... first off, I know the picture is not the best, when I cut the cake it fell apart a bit (could've done with another 5 minutes in the oven, probably). I also know that nobody reads this blog, though, so I don't mind too much about having the odd post with less-than-fabulous photographs.

Second of all, this is the first time I have baked something in months. So, I tried something new.

I have had a recipe for a Victorian sponge stored on my phone for aaages and today I decided to alter it and make a chocolate sponge. The recipe is really very basic. To make the cake a little more adventurous, I sprinkled coconut on top... well, only on top of half the cake because I really didn't know how it would turn out, but it turned out really good. Next time, I will put coconut through the whole cake 'cos it works really well.

Chocolate (Coconut?) Loaf
(sorry, I've forgot where the original Victorian sponge recipe was from, but I've included the measurements of it and the method is pretty much the same)

Ingredients
110g (1 cup) self-raising flour
110g (1 cup) butter
110g (1 cup) sugar
50g (1/2 cup) cocoa
2 eggs, beaten

Method
1. Pre-heat the oven to 150ºC (my French oven goes from 1 to 10 and I don't know wtf this means but I used 5 and hoped for the best)
2. Sieve the flour and cocoa powder into a bowl, then beat in the butter.
3. Add the sugar and continue to cream the ingredients until you have a light, fluffy mixture.
4. Add the eggs, a small bit at a time, beating well.
5. Add the mixture to a greased tin pan. I used a ceramic because I didn’t have anything else but tin would work better for cakes.
6. Bake for 35-45 minutes -- until it's risen and firm to the touch. Once you take it out the oven, you can leave it to cool in the tin or take it out. I always leave cakes in the tin until they’re completely cooled, but apparently you’re supposed to take them out the tin right away. So it’s up to you what option you pick. 

Friday, 15 September 2017

Things To Know Before Travelling Europe


Hi everyone!

Today I wanted to talk about my travels in more of an advice way than a "look what I did" way. I also don't really know if I can be bothered to edit all the pictures I took and make more posts for everywhere I went. I might do one for Italy but I don't really know, I kinda want to blog about other things rather than just posting pictures of a holiday I went on.

So, yes.

I went into the trip feeling really nervous, and for the most part those nerves were valid. People were sketchy. People know when you're a tourist and will try to rip you off, overcharge you, and trick you.

Nothing happened to Orla and I because  we have common sense, but a lot of the people we met along the way didn't. Like the guy who got a $100 fine for drinking in a park in Poland, or the girl who believed random people who told her they were "subway police" (weren't in uniforms and didn't show her indentification) and made her pay a $50 fine for not having a ticket (with her credit card specifically. Jury's still out on whether or not all her money was stolen).

While a lot of things are avoidable if you have common sense, there are a couple of other things to note before going on a similar travel, which may have not even crossed your mind.


TO DO BEFORE
1/ Don't overplan
I was guilty of this. I wanted to plan the perfect trip, and guessed at how long we would need to see everything is the cities we went. This was a big mistake. I gave us five days in Berlin, which is a city you can see in one, to be completely honest. Later in the trip, we only had two days in Krakow (a city that wasnt even in our original plan) and I wish we had more. It's good to know the first couple places you're going, and have an idea of where you'd like to go, but your plan will likely change, so don't be too stuck to it.

2/ Take a quarter of what you think you'll need
Really, take as little as possible. When you travel, normal standards of cleanliness get thrown out the window. Gross but true. I hope you like the shirt you brought, because you'll be wearing it for a week before you find a washing machine.

3/ Be sure of who you're going with
Europe is safe enough to travel around it alone. Remember that. But If you don't want to travel alone, make sure you put a lot of thought into whether your friendship will survive after the trip. Me and Orla got in more arguments during that month than we probably have in the past 5 years. Bare in mind that we are sisters, so naturally we hate each other, but still. Arguments will happen.

4/ Figure out the phone situation
Just make sure you have data. Public wifi isn't crazy easy to come by and many will require you to log in with your Facebook, which might then get hacked. This happened to us twice.

MONEY TIPS
1/ Know the currencies
I remember it so well. Our train arrived at Budapest Keleti train station and quickly double checked out much our hostel would be, to discover that it was to be paid in the Hungarian forint, which I had no idea existed. Make sure you look up what currency the each country uses, and what the conversion is, so that you don't lose money.

2/ Do NOT exchange your money at the airport/train station
To build off the last point, take your money out at an ATM attached to a bank for better rates. And make sure you always pay in local currency. Many shops and restaurants will ask if you want to pay in your home currency (euro for me) or the local currency. But, again, these places will have terrible exchange rates.

4/ Ask for a menu in English and the local language
There are people in Europe who will try to scam money off of tourists -- this is the same with any country. In Eastern Europe, some places will have more expensive prices on the English menu. It's pretty smart, really. All you need to do is ask for the two menus and point out the difference.

5/ Avoid street vendors
An obvious one, but ignore them -- ignore them all. In Rome they were the worst. They just walk up to you, grab your arm and put bracelets on you. Or they stand in front of you and force you into conversation. I just started saying "no hablo" towards the end, because when I said "je ne parle pas," they started speaking French to me... so yeah that didn't work.


Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Luxembourg & Belgium

 Happy September, everyone!

So, my backpacking trip is officially finished. My sister and I arrived in Montpellier two days ago and we are now in a small town just outside the city until October. Then, my family will move again but I wont be there so it doesn't really matter lol.

LUXEMBOURG
So back to this post. Our first stop was Luxembourg, on the 28th of July. We only stayed there for one night which was enough time, as Luxembourg City is tiny. Luxembourg was such a random stop for us. We didn't plan to go there until a few days before we left, and it was just so we could avoid reservations on the train to Amsterdam. We stayed in one of the only youth hostels in Luxembourg, which was bumping. The rooms were all full when we were staying there, too. The breakfast wasn't up to much, but hostel breakfasts are never more than bread and Nutella to be honest.




Luxembourg is an expensive city. Even McDonald's is expensive -- fries were like 5 euros. We visited a coffee shop called Kaale Kaffi, which was on Rue de la Boucherie. It had a really chill vibe and the owner was really nice. I got a hot chocolate and Orla got a latte. Orla is the type of person who finds something she likes and sticks to it. She got lattes every time we went out, until 2 weeks ago when I told her lattes and cappuccinos are essentially the same thing, a cappuccino just has more foam. Plus, cappuccinos tend to be cheaper. So she ended the trip by getting cappuccinos instead.
I'm not a coffee person, though, so I mostly got hot chocolates. The few times I got a latte, I needed 3 packets of sugar before it tasted sweet enough to drink.


BELGIUM
Our second stop was Brussels, Belgium. We were here for 2 nights. Our hostel was sorta out the way, but within walking distance to most of the main sights. We didn't manage to make it to the European Parliament building, though, because we couldn't be bothered to walk that far. We did, however, eat lots of waffles and chocolate! (I can't believe I'm actually surprised that I've put weight on, I ate terribly during this trip). There is a whole street in Brussels that is just packed with chocolate and waffle shops. I think it was called Rue de l'Etuve, if you're ever in the area. It's right by Manneken Pis too!




Thursday, 31 August 2017

Happy Place


I take comfort in the idea that it is possible to have a happy place.  Somewhere you can go where you don't worry and nothing can make you upset, sad or angry. 

Maybe my happy place would be sitting in the treehouse I had when I was growing up. The tree house I threatened to move to when I was 7. I packed my bag and cycled my bike there are stayed til dinner time. At that point, the wagon wheels I packed were done and I was hungry. I moved back home after 4 hours. 

Or maybe it would be in the back garden of our Canadian home, in the summertime specifically, when we get the slip and slide out. Watching my brother and sister killing themselves laughing as they flew off the end of the slip and slide because we put it on too much of a slope.

Or maybe it's driving in the car singing along to ABBA. 

Lately, I've been craving these comforts. The places I feel safe, because I know where everything is and I know what to do. Backpacking is difficult, you don't have these. 

But even further, I don't have these comforts to even go back to. My treehouse was cut down long ago. My home in Canada is now someone else's. Oh, and I've also lost my ABBA CD somewhere along the way. 

So, right now, the closest I can get to a happy place is waking up an hour before my alarm. That feeling of having more time. Even if it isn't time in the right place, it's still more time, and I'll take it. 



Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Life & Pebbles



When I was younger, I used to believe that when someone passed away, they became a star in the sky, and they would be up there and watch over you for the rest of your life.

The first star was Sabrina, my first dog. She was a Schzauzer who my grandma got from a breeder in England. I got to pick her name and picked Sabrina after Sabrina the Teenage Witch, who had a black cat. It made sense to me because I now had a black dog.

The second star was my grandfather, who passed away when I was 9. I don't remember much about my grandfather, just that he was full of stories and had so many ghost stories -- which I loved when I was younger. Every church I go to, I light a candle for him.

-

I am in Trieste, Italy, and all I can think about is life.

If is so much life in the world (which there is) why is it that I feel alone? Why do I feel lonely?

I have two friends that I share everything with. In someways, two seems like enough, but in other ways, it doesn't.

Laying all of your thoughts on just one person feels like giving them a rock. It's this rock that is then always with them. And it doesn't even belong to them; because they have their own rocks too. But now they're also responsible for your rock.

That's why having more people to talk to is probably better, because you can just tell them snippets. You're giving them a pebble instead of a rock, and a pebble is a lot easier to handle. You can put it in your pocket and forget about it.

But finding people who want to hear about your problems, even pebble-sized ones, is actually pretty difficult.


- Iona

Monday, 28 August 2017

MONTHLY ROUND-UP: August

Hi everyone out there reading,

I haven't wrote in a while because life has just been so quick lately. My family and I boarded a plane on June 30th for Glasgow, Scotland. It feels like it was so long ago, because so much has happened since. This list is only a snippet of what I've been through, but more longer posts are to come! I thought I would do this month in numbers, because it's just an easier way for me to write it all down.


3 planes boarded
15 trains taken
2 times I have cried on said trains

14 hours spent on a bus to Krakow
12 hostels stayed at
100,000 (approx.) bug bites acquired

dresses lost along the way
30 times I ate my weight in cakes
40 posts on Instagram (mostly of the cakes)



Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Indre-et-Loire & Maine-et-Loire

Hi everyone,

So I am in Europe. France, to be exact. My sister and I are leaving for our backpacking trip on the 28th. So, until then, I am with my Mum, Dad and younger siblings, and we have been exploring a few places in the south of France.

GIZEUX
Our first stop with Gizeux, a small village 3 hours South-East of Paris. The village was very small and had some post-apocolypse vibes (as in, there was no one around, ever). It was really different from where we had just came from. I only have a couple pictures because I used this time to truly relax.


TOURS
We visited Tours from our little place in Gizeux. It was about 2 hours driving and once we got there we were all starving so spent probably another 2 hours walking around to find something. Tours was a nice little city, but, at this point, all the French cities look the same to me. We ended up getting some bomb Turkish food, though. I'll give them that.


SAUMUR
The third place we visited in the region was Saumur. Saumur was very medieval looking. There, we visited the Château, which looks across the whole town. The Château was torture, especially since it was about 31 degrees on the day we visited -- but the view was well worth it. The weather must've been perfect weather to go on a hot air balloon, though, because the sky was littered with them! Also, I didn't know until I visited, but this is actually the birth place of Coco Chanel. So that's cool.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

21



Exactly 1 week ago, I turned 21. 

I'm more comfortable with 21 than I was with 20. Like, I feel 21. But I didnt feel 20 when I turned 20. I low-key freaked out when I turned 20 and chopped off all my hair and bought expensive make up (which is still in my bathroom drawer, mostly unused) in order to feel older. 

I mean, I done those things when I turned 21 too but that's more speaking to my spending habits than the disappointing thought of how old I am (and how little I know). 

For fucks sake, I am 21 and I still don't do my own laundry. And it is 100% because I don't know how to work a washing machine. 

I can cook though -- just not beef, chicken, fish (excluding fish fingers) and rice. 
I can make a mean stir fry! ... But only with instant noodles because I haven't really mastered actual noodles yet. 

It's okay though. If this birthday taught me anything, it's that I have nothing but time. A whole year has passed since the last one and I still haven't learned these things. I have however watched all of The Mindy Project, Drop Dead Diva and Gossip Girl. 

I'll get around to doing the more important things next year. Or maybe when I turn 23? 

I think by 26 I should be a complete adult. That gives me 5 years to be lazy! Okay, well, 4 years, I guess. And by that time I will be living on my own and I will have a degree. I'll be absolutely fineee.

The moral of the story is that things will continue to happen, whether you stress about them or not. So if they're gonna happen anyway, what's the point in trying to plan every last detail? Bcause you'll just end up freaking out when things don't happen according to it. We should just let the things happen, and plan what to do at the time. 

Damn. 

If only I took my own advice. 



Photo above via here

Monday, 15 May 2017

Abbotsford Tulip Festival





Happy May, everyone!

Life has been busy lately. Our house got sold after a week of it being on the market. I also dropped my summer classes at university, after deciding to go to Europe with my family. We leave on June 30th -- and I will come back in early January to continue school.

Well, at least that's the plan right now. 

Anyway, that isn't what this post is about.

I went to the Abbotsford Tulip Festival last week. Thank god the weather was good the day we went, because the days leading up to it (and everyday after) the weather has been pretty shit. 

To be honest, the festival is a bit overrated. Basically, you're pay $10 for instagram pictures. I don't know why I expected more? It's literally tulips in a field.


I mean, I did get some nice pictures, sure. But was it worth the drive and the money I paid to get them? Maaaaybe not.



36737 North Parallel Road

Monday, 10 April 2017

I'm Writing This Instead of Studying



I have a final worth half of my final mark on Tuesday. Right now, I should be trying to memorize Aristotle's thoughts on democracy and identify the similarities between Marx and Rousseau's opinions on the sources of inequality.

But, instead, I am sat on the couch writing this instead. What even is "this"? I'm going to get personal with you. I'm going to fill you in on what has been happening with me lately.

So, on the 18th of April, my house will go on the market. My family is moving back to Europe, I'm sure I've mentioned it before. They're moving to France.

I got a new job to save up money for when I move out. Which will happen in July. I'm in my third year of university, so I still have about 4 semesters to do.

I work in a really hipster cafe. It's family-owned and the countertops are all wood and they serve vegan food. I love it, it's so freaking fun. I am also hoping that in a couple months I will start training as a barista, which has been something I have always wanted to work as. "Always" being since I was about 16 and found out Starbucks baristas make $12/hour and get benefits.

I've planned ahead. I've got my job, and I'm trying to find places to rent.

I've tried to act relaxed about everything that is happening. When people ask me what I'm going to do, I calmly reply, "I'm going to move out, maybe visit them at Christmas."

It sounds really easy and simple when I put it that way. In reality, I'm fucking scared. I'm not ready to move out -- but I'm also not ready to leave Canada. And above all, I am just so used to putting things off for "future Iona to deal with." But the future is not a year away anymore. My family are actually moving in 3 and a half months.

I have three and a half months to figure out how to live alone. How often do I have to buy bread? How much is internet? I have no clue.

This blog post wasn't intended to give me any answers, I just wanted to write my thoughts. I mean, I could buy a diary like most people do but I have this blog so why not write it all here. Oh, and I can add pictures when I write on a blog, so that's a plus.

Friday, 31 March 2017

MONTHLY ROUND-UP: March

Happy March.

There's still snow here in Vancouver. Winter ended on March 20th, Canada. Normally by this time, the weather is beginning to brighten up. It doesn't look like it will be anytime soon, though. We'll go a few days with no snow then it starts again. 


March was an okay month. It was a busy month.

I wrote three papers in the space of a week -- one of them being a group paper. I hate group projects. One of my members just never showed up. Didn't give us any work or message us at all, really, until the night before when he asked me to send him the paper so he could edit it and add his part. How about fuck off? His name wasn't on the project.

I also started a second job... and tried to quit a job but it didn't quite work out. So, I now have two jobs and attend university full-time. Why am I doing this to myself, you may ask? Well... I am coming to the realization that I am a push-over, and I am also easily persuaded. I did try to quit my job, genuinely. I printed out my notice and gave it to my manager two weeks before I was supposed to finish. Then, towards the end of the second week, she asked me if I could stay for one shift a month. So I said yes. I feel bad. She's always been so nice to me.

I also passed my driving test! Finally. I can drive! Not that I've done it much. We are a one-car family, so I'm third on the seniority list...

We also celebrated my parent's 9th wedding anniversary on March 1st. Fun fact: I need to use spell-check every time I type that word. I cannot spell it for the life of me.

All in all, it was an eventful month. April will be super chill, I have finals in the first couple weeks and then nothing. My summer classes don't start until May (I think?). I want to try and go out downtown sometime and, who knows, maybe I'll get a blog post out of it.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

9 Ways to Cheer Yourself Up



Hi everyone,

This post is sorta personal and different from what I normally write (I might delete it later too) but I wanted to write it anyway. 

I guess you could say 2016 was a bit of a rough year for me. Since 2014, I have been told by two doctors and about three psychologists that what I am experiencing is depression and anxiety. It ebbed and flowed between 2014 and 2015, but in 2016 it was pretty persistent.

I've done a lot of counselling classes, both individual and group stuff. I gave up being vegetarian, despite being a dedicated one for about two years. I also tried to incorporate working out into my daily routine, and trying to create new coping mechanisms to help me on my bad days. Today, I wanted to share them, ranked by what helped me most, to try and help anyone else who maybe is in my position, or anyone just having an off day.


1. Have a hot bath or shower.

2. Cry. Let it out because it feels so good.

3. Have a list of positive affirmations and say them to yourself in the mirror — or write a list of things you are proud of to remind yourself.

4. Write down how you're feeling — or draw it, if writing isn't your thing. We once done this in a therapy class at university and, even though my picture looked like a 5-year-old drew it, expressing myself in a different way felt pretty good.

5. Sing in the shower because everyone sings well in the shower.

6. Phone or even Skype someone who cares about you, and who you care about. 

7. Go through your closet and throw out (or donate) clothes you never wear. This always makes me feel like a new person.

8. Go for a walk. Skip around a forest all alone. You may feel a bit stupid doing it but it might make you laugh at yourself, too.

9. Take yourself out on a date. Get coffee or window-shop, but try not to let shopping become your coping mechanism (which I sort of did, not a good idea).

Friday, 10 February 2017

Almond & Strawberry Oatmeal



Hi everyone,

I hope February is treating you all well. Today, I wanted to share a recipe because I haven't done that in a while. My next recipe post will hopefully be a baking type of thing. I used to bake a lot, but sorta lost the motivation earlier in 2016 and then I didn't really bake that whole year... Oops.

Anyway, I want to try and bake/cook more things, so in the coming weeks I will be uploading more complicated/adventurous recipe posts.

Almond & Strawberry Oatmeal
Ingredients
1/2 cup oats
1 cup of almond milk
1 tbsp almond meal/almond flour
2 tbsp maple syrup
almond granola
strawberries (to top)

Method
1. Heat the almond milk (or any type of milk you want) and oats in a pot on the stovetop.
2. Once the oats are soft, add in the maple syrup and the almond meal to make it even more almond-flavoured.
3. Then, put the oatmeal in a bowl and top it off with granola, some brown sugar, and strawberries.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

This Week, Happiness Was...


Skipping a lecture to nap

Getting through a tutorial presentation with only one pause (and being able to answer everyones' questions about it afterwards

Splurging $5 for a hot chocolate and it becoming my new favourite drink

Hanging out with my best friend on a day I was feeling really down

Wandering around the bookstore and looking at all the knick-knacks

Leaving a midterm and actually feeling pretty good about it

Spending Friday with my favourite brother (... unless Milo is reading this, because then you're my favourite)

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

MONTHLY ROUND-UP: January

Honestly, January was a tough month for me. There's a few things that have been happening with me since I started university, and I've gotten worse at both ignoring it and hiding it in the past few months. So, through December and January, I have been attempting to deal with everything in a healthier way -- i.e. asking (the right) people for help. I've heard it works wonders. 
Anyway, this post will be about the happier things I was doing throughout January.




Beginning my newest semester of university on the 4th
Dropping one of my classes after the first lecture :)))
Celebrating my sister's 18th birthday on the 12th
Joining a Thursday yoga class at uni
Staying inside on friday the 13th
Visiting my boyfriend's house every week
Meeting up with high school friends on the 24th
Eating lots of pho, to stop any sickness before it starts
Declaring my major... or at least trying to
Piercing my ears (... and my belly button) on the 28th

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

The south of France

Hi again everyone!

I hope January is treating you all well. Here in Canada, it's still snowing. We had a cold winter, I think it was the snowiest in twenty years or something.

Anyways, this post isn't about the snow but it's about that time I went to the South of France. Yeah, nbd. Actually it was a big deal, it's the south of France, god dammit.






We went to a town/commune called St-Cyprien, which is in the Dordogne department. This is the area my parents want to move so we were sorta going to see what life is like there. My parents ended up not loving St-Cyprien as much as they thought they would. In their words, "there's too many English people."

The picture above is where we stayed. The south of France is actually exactly how you'd picture it. Lots of green, every house has the blue wooden shutters, and there's not a cloud in the sky. At least, that's how it was the whole time we were there in August. 






There was a market every Wednesday. Maybe a strange day, but it's France.

So, we would make it down to the market and buy random baked good and olives and eat them that day. I think my parents really liked that -- you know, the idea of buying things and eating it that day. You can do that here in Canada, sure, but it isn't the same as walking to the local boulangerie and buying a couple baguettes that were made just a few hours before.








The weather in France was amazing when we were there. It was high thirties everyday.

The heat resulted in my brothers and sister getting the most perfect, bronze tan. Me and my sister, Orla, on the other hand, came back as pale as we were when we left.

Milo, Coco and Enzo had a great time. They escaped the arguments over driving, directions, where to eat, etc. All they knew was the pool in the garden. Oh, and Orangina, which they tried for the first time in Paris and drank daily for the rest of the holiday.







© A Sweet Destination. Design by Fearne.