Ommm….macarons.

I was thinking about blogging earlier, but I haven’t really had much to say – it’s been pretty homework-filled over here. That beautiful sun hasn’t been all so helpful in this regard, as all I want to do is lie in a puddle of sunlight and fall asleep. Preferably in a way that allows me to get a nice all-around tan.

The other thing that’s been taking my time has been sweating it out on my mat. I’m on day 22 on my 30-day yoga challenge. It’s been a really interesting and enlightening experience, which I honestly didn’t expect. I’m the kind of person that feels fat a lot, no matter my activity level or health-food ingestion. I can run for 10k, come home and eat a salad, and still feel obese. I’m finding that yoga is helping, though, in teaching me to just breathe, focus on how I feel in the poses, and try to forget about who is the skinniest in the room and whether I’m working as hard as the person beside me. It was a difficult thing to do at first, and I still succumb to the temptation to peek at other’s warrior 2s, but after 22 days of yoga even I have to admit that I feel healthier – which leads to me feeling better about myself. It also helps with the homework stress. How can you tell I’m a Vancouverite? Obsessed with yoga, sushi, sun and sky…

The other thing I did this past week was make macarons with my mom. We took a macaron making class a few weeks ago, and this was our first crack at them.

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We decided to make lemon buttercream and chocolate macarons. They came out pretty well for our first try, but we agreed that we probably overbeat the egg whites because they were a little crispier than we wanted. Macarons are tricky little buggers.

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I think it’s definitely a practice makes perfect type of thing, but here is attempt number 1. I am determined to become a macaron queen. In my moments between essay writing.

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The Prodigal Sun Returns

Well, after a mostly disappointing June, summer has finally arrived in Vancouver! It has been hot hot hot for the last few days, which I have taken as a glorious change. To make matters even better, I just had a lovely four-day weekend as a result of Canada’s birthday (the first one I’ve been at home for in a while!). I spent it sweating it out in hot yoga (it seems redundant, somehow, to go to hot yoga in the heat), shopping, cooking and eating, and then belatedly realizing I need to do more homework…six more weeks until this ball and chain I call my undergraduate career finally ends.

I think one of the highlights of my weekend – other than the three pairs of shoes I unexpectedly purchased on Saturday – was taking a macaron class. I love these scrumptious  and wickedly expensive cookies, so it was really interesting to see how they’re made. It turns out it’s this complicated procedure of whipping for a million years and then squishing with great care, and includes buying a bunch of equipment I don’t have, but I think I’m going to have a go this upcoming weekend. Mine will probably look like malformed blobs, but that’s okay. I’ll just close my eyes as I eat them.

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That evening, I went for dinner with my sister at Banana Leaf, where we devoured a nine-course tasting menu and then took a walk along beautiful English Bay.

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I live in such a beautiful city. I celebrated my favourite country’s birthday yesterday by wandering around a very crowded downtown, eating gelato and a smoked salmon taco and laughing madly at the huge amount of pot-dealing vendors in front of the art gallery. Only in Vancouver could you find multiple varieties of pot cookie all in the same place.

It’s back to the grind this week, unfortunately, but perhaps the sun will make it a bit more bearable. I’m currently in the midst of a 30-day incredibly sweaty hot yoga challenge that’s simultaneously making me feel super healthy and giving me spaghetti legs. Day 12, here I come!

Oh, and I had to write poems for an English class. I thought I’d publish my feeble attempt at a sonnet. I have so much more respect for Petrarch and Shakespeare now – sonnets are bloody hard.

Summer (I know, so inventive)

At last the summer days are here: the heat
Caresses cheeks, warms rain-chilled hearts, the days
Stretch long, slow and languid: yet still they beat
Their breasts and moan for dark to keep at bay
The sweat upon their skin. Always they sigh
For cold, forgetting summer will soon leave.
Forget instead your sunburned face: pass by
The sand tracked in: embrace the short reprieve
From dark. Trail watermelon down your chin,
Abandon raincoats for the touch of sea,
Count freckles on your lover’s nose, let in
The calm of blue and cloudless skies, and be.
Summer is the sun’s kiss, who loves you well –
So peace, hush now – and melt into her spell.

Return of the – Jedi? King? Nah, it’s not nearly as exciting.

Well, it’s been a while. My usual response to this is to let out a flood of apologies for my absence, but I’m sure you don’t want to hear it. Suffice to say that taking five 400-level courses is enough to throw a girl off her game for a semester, and I attribute the remaining quietness to the same reason I take three hours to wake up in the morning. These things are inexplicable. Nevertheless, I think it’s time to kick my own butt a little and resume blogging about my relatively mundane and occasionally exciting life.

I’ve been pretty busy in the last while. Between my last post in Berlin (and I definitely had a nostalgic moment leafing through that) and now, I have: survived the previously mentioned courses from Hell and moved into my final semester of school, taken trips to California (again), Portland, New York, and Maui, booked flights to Greece and Turkey as a grad trip, attempted to change hair colours and failed, created the glory of lemon cheesecake ice cream, rediscovered my great love for Vancouver in the summer and consequentially been disappointed that we’ve turned back to rain, eaten a ton of food (of course), and taken up creating puddles of sweat on the floor in hot yoga. Wow, when I put it that way, I don’t feel so bad.

Things have somewhat settled for the meantime, though. Currently, it’s just plugging along with this semester and looking forward to finishing my undergraduate classes forever on August 16th (yes, it’s a count down) and hopping on a plane to Europe once more. In October, I officially graduate, move to California, and become a real person – eep! I thought it was far off in the future, but it’s creeping up on me much more quickly than I intended. Four months to go…I predict some panic brewing in the future. On the bright side, a long-distance relationship will then become a gloriously normal short-distance relationship, so there’s that to look forwards to.

Speaking of which, my boyfriend did visit me recently, and he brought the sun – it was beautiful and we were able to do a lot of exploring, which was great.

Italian Day on Commercial Drive

Italian Day on Commercial Drive

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Making meatballs!

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Quarry Rock

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Perhaps I’ll go back and update this with some of the other adventures I’ve been on – we’ll see how exciting my life is in the next while. Probably not very. However, I’m determined to return to frequent updates, even if it’s only posting a picture of my Wednesday lunches out and rants about how I dislike the lengthy assignments of my computer networking class.

“Packing” is “Panicking”, abbreviated.

Ah, packing. Possibly the worst part of travelling ever.

I’m a pretty awful packer. I put it off, I pack too much, I leave my clothes in the suitcase for forever because I don’t want to unpack … I love travelling, but I would pay a lot of money to be able to just wave a magic wand around my bedroom and magically place everything I need neatly into a bag. To make matters worse, whereas normally I at least have two huge suitcases to shove all of my things in, I’ve been trying to fit two and a half months worth of stuff into one backpack already half-filled with textbooks. It’s not a pretty picture.

I’m supposed to fit this and more on my back? Ha. Ha. Ha …

I’ve decided to go with a travelling backpack rather than a suitcase because it seems easier to avoid dragging wheels along the cobbly unpaved roads of Europe, but I have to admit it’s pretty entertaining when I put it on. I literally look like a turtle. A turtle with lots of straps and zippers. I’m what the cool turtles wish they could be.

I’ve definitely been avoiding putting the last things in and trying to hoist it back onto my back, though. (I fear that I will tip over). The big day is tomorrow! It’s crazy but true. I was telling a friend last night that I can’t believe I’m going again, as I feel like I just got home. It’s kind of hard in some ways, as I feel really nomadic, but I am so excited to be returning to Europe. Castles! Churches! Art I don’t understand! Languages I understand even less! It’s going to be awesome.

My last few days have been full of crazy essay-writing (that I’m avoiding doing right now), seeing people, and eating all the Asian food I won’t get in Italy.

Dim sum, I will miss you. Not enough to stop me from going, though.

Six days to takeoff

Oh god it’s coming so fast! SIX DAYS!

This last week has been a blur of essay-writing and trying to remember all these little random things to do. For someone who’s only in the third week of school, I am getting more and more sleep deprived. I thought this wasn’t supposed to happen yet.

My weekend was relatively unexciting – I spent most of Saturday writing a paper. Sunday I went to Jethro’s, where I ate obscene amounts of French toast and pancakes, and then I went to a girlfriend’s birthday party. It was a “crafternoon” (adorable, I know), so we decorated our own mugs. I used mine the next morning when I made my smoothie.

This particular girlfriend is extremely inspiring: she’s such a go-getter in every area of her life and does it all with a giant smile on her face. She also has her own knitting business, where she knits mug cosies (https://www.facebook.com/OnanaKnittedAccessories), so having a birthday that involved making something was totally up her alley.

I also got my brand new iPhone 5! The top button on my old iPhone was getting really sticky, so I’ve been so glad to actually have a functional phone. I do really like it (and I love the new screen size!) though I’ve been noticing that the battery life is pretty pathetic as compared to my old phone. I’m hoping that it’s something temporary with iOS 6 and that they fix it soon, because having to charge my phone as soon as I get home is pretty annoying. It’s also a huge pain having to switch all of my charging cables, as I must have at least four of them lying around and now none of them work! Grr. This is what I get for being a techno-geek that must have all the new shiny things. Also, this phone was bloody expensive, so it better last me a while. (Ha. Ha. I’m so funny.) Other than those complaints, though, I’m completely in love. It’s a little sad, really.

I’ve been trying to distract myself, because Google is supposed to call me very soon and let me know about whether they are insane enough to give me money to work for them. It’s nerve-wracking waiting, but it would definitely be a big life milestone if it came through. It would also mean a lot of changes, which can be pretty scary to think about. Though I travel around a lot, I’ve never permanently left my beloved Vancity, and so it would be pretty huge for me to move. The start of real life and all that jazz. Yeesh. I don’t even want to think about it too much, it gives me the shivers.

Six days, and so much to do. It’s almost like I should be doing them, and not writing this blog instead…

Two week countdown, commence!

Exactly two weeks today until I leave for Europe! People keep on asking me if I’m excited, but I don’t think I am yet – even though it’s coming up quickly, I still feel like it’s a million years away. I’ve been planning this for so long that I can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that it’s almost here.

However, what I can wrap my head around is the fact that I am definitely feeling a time crunch. Classes are really starting to ramp up, and I’m starting to wilt a bit underneath the huge mountain of reading that I’m supposed to be doing – which is a different experience for me because normally I welcome reading as a break from my programming. It’s a bit odd not taking any computer science courses this semester. I almost feel like I’m missing a limb or something. I have this weird voice in the back of my head that keeps on whispering “Shannon, why aren’t you coding anything?”

The falling-behind situation isn’t helped by the million things I need to accomplish before I leave, such as getting to the bank, organizing my travel, the dreaded packing (something I am notoriously horrible at…) But I did get to take a break and go to Seattle this past weekend and visit one of my really good friends. I’ve been to Seattle often, but usually for a very specific reason – we’re passing through to the airport, we’re hitting up the outlets, whatever it is. Consequently, I’ve never actually done a lot of the “touristy” things so the combination of that and good company made it a lot of fun.

Chihuly Glass Museum

Seattle Space Needle

Down by the Olympic Garden

I think my favourite was the Space Needle – there was a bit of a line to get to the top, but the view was beautiful. I could’ve sat there and stared at the ocean all day (and in fact did spend quite a bit of time doing that). We also ate at some pretty good places, including a really cool place called Poppy. Dishes were served in platters called thalis, which consisted of seven small plates of different foods, so you were able to try a bunch of things. I think the best was the duck leg with peaches – I’m drooling slightly thinking about it.

I think that was my only break between now and when I’m sitting on the plane, though – I can just feel the whirlwind of things-to-do-before-I-go coming. Time to go tackle some medieval literature. Fourteen days!

Back from the dead

Er, so I may have taken an unanticipated hiatus. Sorry about that. Life got a little insane, I went a little more insane, and before you know it – poof! A month and a half goes by.

Well, no point bemoaning the inevitable. I’m back in school now, my internship being donecompletefinito and put behind me. I never have to think about statistics. Ever again. (Now that I’ve said that, the stats gods will come down and smite me with their wrath and I will discover that I actually have to take a missing stats course or something). Looking back, my summer was a good one – perhaps busy and stressful, but also one in which I made some good friends and learned a ton. It all works out in the end. Of course, it’s much easier to say this now than when I was working away at 2 AM, cursing my choice of major. Everything is nicer in retrospect. It has definitely been refreshing, though, to not be working full-time. I took a few weeks to relax a bit, see my friends and family, and just unwind before everything started up again. I went camping, I made some food, and I let the little workers in my head rest. Temporarily.

It seems weird to contemplate, but even though I’ve only been home for a few weeks, I’m already in the midst of organizing my next trip – this time to Italy! I am actually really excited for this, as I’ve been planning this for almost two years. I’m visiting Prague and Vienna for a few days each and then spending two months studying in Prato, which is located near Florence. We learn Italian, we read amazing things like Dante’s Inferno, and in general I get to immerse myself in literary geekdom for a while. It’s going to be fantastic. I’m a little apprehensive about travelling by myself in countries that speak another language, but I think it’ll be a really good experience. Plus, apparently there’s a hugeass castle in Prague that has my name written all over it. (Not literally. Though that’d also be pretty cool). I had my first Italian class today, where I learned how to tell people what my name is and how I’m feeling. Useful things to know, right? I can’t ask directions to the best pasta place, but I can tell people who I am.

I’m going in three and a half weeks, though, so there’s lots of preparation to do before then. I’ve been a bit conflicted – simultaneously extremely excited and rather melancholy as I’ve been travelling so much this year that it’s been stopping me from seeing the people I love. But now’s the time to do it, before I get chained to a desk for the rest of my life, and I’ll be better for it. Travel does so many things, but I honestly believe it opens up your mind, heart and soul, and gives you the capacity to appreciate what you have even more. It’s one of the best things in the world. I travel because I’m passionate about it, and I just have to trust that when I come home those who love me will still be there.