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 about 1/2 cup of milk chocolate)
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

Simple 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.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

November



I've been living in Europe for five months... and I am so bored.

I've started watching the whole Friends series for a third time to give me something to do.

"I live in the south of France" sounds soo cool. I though it'd be cool. When I thought of someone who lived in the south of France, I imagined a perfectly tanned, put-together, typical French person. I thought it'd be sunny and warm everyday and I thought I'd be content.

But the truth is, it's cold as hell. And windy. I packed for summer weather. Not winter. I didn't think winter existed in this part of the world.

And I actually still have the same issues as I did in Canada. I'm not flawless or easy-going. I'm still the same. I get angry at people around me and my hair still never sits flat.

I thought living here would relax me. I thought I would appreciate being in the middle of nowhere and relying on a bike to take me from point A to B. But Point B is a three-hour bike ride away.

There's no real point to this post other than me pointing out the obvious: your life doesn't get better by moving country. Life is life, and it happens where ever you live. You can't run from your own internal self.

... Yeah, so that's what's happening in my life! What's happening in yours? Lol.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Things to do in St. Andrew's



 Hello!

I'm in Scotland to visit my family for a couple weeks with my sister. We took a visit up to Perth, Dundee and St. Andrew's this past week. We visited the latter at a suuuper busy time - the day we were there, there were actually a tonne of tours going on for next terms' students.

Regardless, I loved it. It was my first time visiting the town, and it wasn't what I expected!

I thought St. Andrew's pretty much only existed for the university and the golf course, but I found that there is other odd things and I thought I'd write a mini travel guide to St. Andrew's. But an alternative travel guide, not just "visit the golf course" because... doy.

Thrift shop on South St.
There are only two types of people that live in St. Andrews: students and old rich people. Therefore, the thrift/charity shops are fucking LIT. All the clothes are high-end brands, and since the charity shops in the UK tend to be kinda picky, they still have years of wear.

Have a coffee on Market St.
Market St. is the biggest street in St. Andrews. South St. is busier, but just because it directly links to the motorway. Market St. is full of coffeeshops, with big chains such as Costa and Starbucks but also unique place like the Old Union Cafe. Of course, they are each crammed with studying uni students.

Eat salmon 
I'm not biased at all saying this (lol), but Scotland has amazing salmon, it's like world-renowned or something. St. Andrew's, like most cities across Scotland, has heaps of restaurants offering fresh seafood straight from the Atlantic. Yum.

Walk along the golf course to the beach
Yeah, I know I said I wasn't going to go with the obvious things, but behind the golf course, there is a small beach with white sand and clear blue water. For a country with such shitty weather, it sure does make some cracking beaches. 


Talk soon!

- Iona

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Rome, Italy

Hey everyone!

I wanted to share some more bits from my travels. Italy was the final country we visited, and we spent the most time here as well. 

Our time in Italy started with a ferry from Split, Croatia to Ancona. The ferry was 10 hours long, and boy it was freezing. Thank god we got a cabin because there were plenty of blankets in the cupboards to keep us warm. 

Once in Ancona, we walked straight to the train station to catch our train to Rome!


ROME
We spent 4 days in Rome. We tried to hit as many of the "must-visits" as we could, but there's just so many. Our 4 days were still really packed. 

We also ate loads of food, I think we had about five meals everyday, and desserts to follow each! 
Not much gelato, we didn't find that many gelatorias and they were all artsy and therefore hella expensive. Everywhere sold affogato, though, and that's my new favourite dessert.


VATICAN CITY
We also visited Vatican City. I still don't know if you have to be part of a guided tour to get into the Vatican or not -- the guy selling tours made it seem like it was necessary, but then he was trying to sell us something. My sister really wanted to go, so on our last day, we walked from our B&B across the street from the terminus train station to the Vatican. It took us about an hour, but we were spending €50 each to get into the place, so we needed to save money somewhere...


- Iona

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.



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