Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wonderful Weather for a Sleigh Ride Together

I'm back home in Mississauga after a whirlwind voyage home that consisted of:

A delightful dinner at Pizza Delight with Alex and my Grandparents
A night in Sackville watching a Man Versus Food Marathon
A 12 hour solo drive from New Brunswick to Ottawa
A fabulous weekend in Ottawa to visit Geoff, experience TJ's famous Vitamix ice cream and to see him and Lauren and their new place downtown
And then finally the 5 hour drive home.

Being home is lovely after being away so long. Unfortunately, no one else is home yet so I've been a tad bored out of my mind here. Since I got home on Monday night I've finished the 3rd season of True Blood (I had seen the first 4 episodes already), finished my Christmas shopping (and bought way to much!) and put up the Christmas tree and all the household decorations except for those in the elusive missing box. My sister and Geoff get home tomorrow which is super exciting since it means I'll have friends again!

I've also been training with the Mississauga Canoe Club which has been really really fun! I've missed that place! Tonight we did a 6 km run test. I had butterflies all day just thinking about it! I haven't done much running at all. A treadmill run here or there but that's about it since early June before I left for Kenya. And even then, I was running 6 km pretty consistently but without a watch and not trying very hard. Just running to run and enjoy it (at least TRY to enjoy it!) Anyways, I was really nervous for this run, even though it wasn't really even testing for me, no one cares how fast I can run 6km except for myself. All the other girls running happen to be in high school still, and are kids I coached back when I was in high school myself. I decided that it would be embarrassing if any of them beat me even though they actually train twice a day and have been running consistently since the fall. So I ran, and I ran hard, and I really really hurt when I finished. My time wasn't a personal best or even all that close to one, but I finished in 27 minutes and 55 seconds, ahead of all the other girls. It's a little bit pathetic that beating these high school kids concerns me, but in the end I got a run with a good effort out of it so it's all good I suppose.

Way back in the fall, my professor who accompanied us to Kenya found out about a new internationalization initiative that UPEI was working on. The school accepted applications for projects that would enhance the internationalization of the campus, and in turn, the winning applications would receive funding for the completion of these projects. My prof submitted an application to have Christina and I return to Kenya for three weeks in May with herself and the new nutrition students who would be spending the whole summer in Kenya, continuing the work on our research and projects we did last summer. we found on the the weekend that we were selected to receive funding!!!!

So I will be returning to Kenya in May for three whole weeks. I could not be happier! I want to live in Kenya forever, but getting a entirely funded three week trip is better than nothing and I am certainly not complaining. No details have been arranged yet, but our job while we are there is to help with the orientation of the new students, introduce them to our contacts, teach them what we learned last year and to help them adjust to life in Kenya.

I knew I would eventually get back to Kenya, I love it to much to think that I'd never be back, but I never thought I would I get a chance to go back to the exact same place and reconnect with the amazing people we met and worked with there. Not to mention we now get to go back and check up on all the schools to ensure they are working towards the goals we set with them and to talk with the community to see how our recommendations are being implemented.

We're actually going to get a white Christmas this year! It's been pleasantly snowing for the last few days so I'm loving life!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Exam Superstitions

The only problem with starting every day with advent calendar chocolate is that nothing tastes quite as good as the chocolate did for the rest of the day.

I've gotten really good at being distracted, distracting and at procrastinating this week. Here is a list of the best ways NOT to study!

1. Dear Blank Please Blank (Thanks a lot to Alex for showing me this gem)
2. Like a Little. UPEI's new online flirting site.
3. Nutrition Blog Network and the UPEI Twitter site. I've linked to these before, but I am addicted to it.
4. Facebook. No list would be complete without it!
5. E-mail. Obviously this needs to be checked every 3 minutes in case something really important has happened.
6. Youtube.
7.Cake Wrecks.
8. Any one of Perez Hilton's many sites....fitperez, cocoperez, perezhilton etc
9. Eating and cooking....mostly eating
10. Christmas music dance parties

I'm wondering how common it is for students to have superstitions going into exams. Lucky charms, lucky underwear, not shaving..etc. Bingo is a prime example, and not all that far from an exam atmosphere. You have people sitting at orderly tables filling a large room. Everyone is really concentrating on their own papers in front of them, you get yelled at if you're loud, there is always that one person coughing or sniffling the whole time and who is conveniently seated beside you every time, and you always leave feeling like you had just wasted your time and money since you didn't win anything (or do well on the exam). Bingo go-ers always have favorite dabbers, trolls and various ornaments covering their tables for good luck. I wonder what would happen if I walking into my exam, sat down and promptly began arranging a myriad of items out in front of me for good luck.

I don't have any lucky charms, but I do have this irrational thought that if I happen to use the same pen for all my studying, then maybe perhaps if I write my exam with that same pen, it will remember answers for me, or spark some visualization of me writing my notes with that pen and as a result remind me of the answers. I don't actually believe this enough to freak out if I can't use the same pen for my exam as I did for studying, but I do make a conscious decision to use said pen if I have it in my bag. I am currently using a black, blue inked pen that I sniped from a Delta hotel at some point in the last year. Nothing fancy, but for some reason my writing is a lot nicer when I use it.

I should have added blogging to the above list of ways to procrastinate hours before an exam....
wish me luck!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

Last Friday I went to a hot yoga class at Moksha. I can't remember if it was 60 or 75 minutes, but it was no different then any of the other classes at Moksha that I've done. The exception of course, is that I absolutely and completely sucked at this class. I had no balance, I couldn't hold the poses, I could barely even do savasana right. My brain wouldn't stop jabbering away and reminding my muscles how tired they were. Needless to say, I left class grumpy and much less relaxed then when I went in, which is precisely the opposite reason I like yoga.

The next day, taking advantage of the last Saturday of my 15 day pass at Dynamic, I went to an 8am spin class followed by a 10am hot yoga. I got myself all ramped up for class convinced that I would make up for my horrible class the day before by being a yogi extraordinaire. Turns out it was even worse than the day before. I sucked even more. I continued to get more and more rattled with every pose I couldn't do until I was sprinting out of the class at the end of the 60 minutes and stomping up the stairs in anger dragging my yoga mat behind me.

That is when I decided to break up with yoga. If yoga is supposed to make you relaxed and positive and happy, then why am I suffering just for the sake of doing it? At the beginning, by the end of class I felt taller and leaner and optimistic and productive and happy and relaxed and lighter and better than I had going into class. As far as I am concerned, I have enough to stress about already, I don't need to add yoga to that list. So I stashed my mat in my trunk and tried to forget all about our brief love affair.

Well, breaking up is hard. As hard as I tried to forget about it, there was this nagging at the back of my brain all week telling me I should be in class, or at the very least, look at the schedule to pick a class to go to later in the week. After a full 6 days of internal torment for simply giving up after 2 bad classes, I sucked it up, grabbed my mat and headed down to the studio yesterday afternoon. In my mind on the way there, I was telling myself that I would just take it easy this class, I could do the easier versions of each pose and just be happy to be there and relax instead of treating it like any other athletic endeavor and try really hard to be good at it. While I was swiping my card, I was told that the class got switched from a hot class to just a normal class. This made me happy because I was heading straight from yoga to the gym to meet the swim team so not being soaked in sweat before starting my 2 hour work out with the team sounded great. This yoga thing was already looking up!

After 60 minutes and about 20 poses, I remembered why I loved yoga in the first place. I actually rocked it hardcore! I did every pose better than I usually do! I guess maybe instead of a break-up, I just needed a few days off to recover from the 6 straight days of hot yoga I did last week. Either way, I'm looking forward to some solid yoga study breaks in the next week.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Cookies and Countdowns

It's officially December!!! The best part of December is waking up every morning to a mystery advent calendar chocolate. Will it be a chocolate snowman, or a chocolate Santa or a chocolate present or a chocolate nutcracker or a chocolate snowflake? The suspense is almost to much!
Every year my parents mail us advent calendars because they are the best parents ever. This years calendar is courtesy of Laura Secord and so far has been delicious!

December also means that it's exam season. I have a love hate relationship with exams. I'm not a stellar exam writer, so they normally bring my marks down which sucks, but it means no classes which is always a bonus. I get to sleep in and lounge around the house all day. In an attempt to be positive and ignore the impending hours and hours of studying followed by writing exams with sweaty palms crammed into a gymnasium with a couple hundred other students who are writing way more than you are which means they must know more than you do which makes you think you are going to flunk out of University for failing all your exams which in turn makes your brain go blank with panic, I am going to share with you a list of the 10 reasons I LOVE exam season. So here I go...

1. It's ok to wear the same outfit everyday....sweats.
2. I can finally justify cooking and baking instead of doing school work and since this is how I procrastinate, I eat VERY well during exams.
3. I get to sleep in past 6:30am on days I don't swim.
4. I can spend my whole day at Starbucks or Timothy's studying with java, and by studying I mean people watching and socializing with every person I know who comes in.
5. I learn all the cool things I should have learned throughout the semester which makes me hate the courses I chose a lot less.
6. I have time to catch up on all of the blogs I follow and celebrity gossip online.
7. Going to the gym or yoga is always a better choice than studying, so I finish exams a little fitter than I started.
8. I save money on my hot water bill because bathing takes a back seat. I can justify baking and cooking and yoga and the gym but somehow taking time to shower would just be too much time away from my text books.
9. I get to spend quality time with Earl since I'm home all day with him and study on the couch beside his tank.
10. I finally get my money's worth on the text books I paid hundreds of dollars for and never opened all semester.

Last year's Biochem cramming combined with too much coffee ended up like this:The plan for this year is to study less and cook more so it doesn't happen!

In other news the 12 days of cookies is officially underway! Here's a recap of the cookies so far:
Day 1: Paula's Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies
Day 2: Aarti's Gingerbread Cookies
Day 3: Barefoot Contessa's Coconut Macaroons
Day 4: Anne's Cherry-Almond Biscotti

I haven't made any of them yet, but I did make a batch of Chocolate Beet Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercreme Icing. I was under the impression that they would taste more chocolate and less beet but it was actually the other way around. I LOVE beets but I know that not everyone does, and since I don't really want to (well I actually would love to, but I would love for my clothes to actually fit more..) eat the entire batch by myself, I'm not sure I would make them again. Mostly I just wanted to use my pretty blue snowflake cupcake papers and I didn't want to study. The buttercreme was a success though! My last attempt at buttercreme was a total failure and after making it yesterday I have no idea how I screwed it up.

And now back to the books...discussing the evolution of hominids from 3 million years ago to Homo erectus. Yahoo!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The BIG 50!

Happy Happy Birthday to my Fabulous Father who turns 50 today!
He's the best ever...not even joking.


Tuck and I were interviewed by The Guardian a couple of weeks ago about our experiences in Kenya. The article was published today and it blew my mind a little! It's over a page long and has a whole bunch of different pictures from the many aspects of our trip. It's pretty cool!
The online version can be read by clicking HERE.
It's not nearly as awesome as the print version though. The words are the same but the pictures are key. Luckily I bought 5 copies (my dad told me to!) so I've got lots of copies to show everyone!

It's Better to Burn Out Than Fade Away

Burn Out - defined as: blow out: melt, break, or become otherwise unusable according to Google.

So maybe I have yet to melt, I've only had a minor mental breakdown and I'm not quite unusable YET, but I'm feeling pretty close. I can't even believe how incredibly lucky I've been to have had to opportunities I have had in the past year.

This time last year I was finishing up my Internship application and felt like throwing up every time I even thought about the interviews for internship and learning who was accepted and who wasn't. Not only did I get to intern all summer, but I got to do half of it in Kenya. I wouldn't trade these experiences for the world, but I have to admit, after a year packed with cool stuff and not a lot of time off in between them all, I am POOPED! It doesn't help that I always have a million things on the go which really means no down time ever, which of course is completely self-inflicted. Every semester I tell myself and anyone who will listen to me that it will be different, I'll be different, but it never is. I get bored to easily to not be doing something all the time.

I normally love school. I wouldn't switch programs if you paid me to, and I really loved my placements which I am hoping translates into eventually loving my job. But at this point in time, I don't even care about school. I don't want to do assignments, I can't be bothered to start studying for exams and I have absolutely zero motivation for anything. My brain had gone kaput and is rebelling against work of any kind.

So instead of working on the millions of things that I should have been working on today, my day ended up like this:

8am: 1 hour spin class
9am: Green Tea and a Newspaper at Starbucks
10am: 1 hour hot yoga class
11:30am: Farmers Market with Jess
12:30pm: Sushi lunch date with Jess
2:15pm: 2 for 1 double Americanos at Timothy's
3:40pm: Cooking pork tenderloin marinated in an orange/dijon mustard/ honey concoction
5pm: Walk to work through the Santa Clause Parade, work until 9.
9pm: Movie with the girls

That counts as productive right?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Side of Town

Things at school are finally starting to wind down, as evidenced by the fact that I actually went for coffee and brought with me a book to read for pleasure. It wasn't a text book, it wasn't a journal article about the effects of vitamin D on diabetes risk, it wasn't a paper I was writing or even someone elses paper I had to peer review. It was a book, like the type of thing a normal non-student type of person might read. I love to read, but sometimes school just sucks all the fun out of it. When you're reading hundreds of pages every week for various courses, it's hard to even think about reading anything else. Your eyes are tired, your brain hurts and you can't justify reading for pleasure when you know there is another 50 page text book chapter that needs to get read in the next day or two. I'm currently reading Ken Follett's Fall of Giants. It's the first in a new trilogy and so far so good! I'm only about 200 pages in (about a 1/4 of the way through the book) but I'm looking forward to having time to actually read more than 5 pages at a time without falling asleep.

I've had the same Michael Buble CD playing on repeat in my car for a few months now. The problem with the radio is that it sucks on PEI, plus I find that I'm always afraid I'm missing something better so I flick through the channels non-stop which even annoys myself when I do it, never mind any passengers I might be carrying. I'm normally rushing around in my car, so Michael is nice and chill and calms me down I guess, either that or it's because he's one of the only cds I actually own in PEI right now. This week was a little bit epic though because I bought a new cd and switched it up! Katie McGarry is in 4th year nutrition with me and released her first album in October called My Side of Town. I've been meaning to pick up a copy since the release date but I either never thought of it when I saw her or I didn't have cash on me. I finally bought a copy though and now have Katie's cd going on repeat in my car. Her album is quite good! You can buy it online and listen to a sampler by clicking here.

This week has been dedicated to two things: Stocking my freezer with delicious homemade ready to heat meals, and free fitness classes at as many places as I can get myself into. I bought a 40 day intro month to Moksha yoga and have been going about 4-5 times a week and absolutely loving it. I also got a 15 days for 15$ pass at Pilates Dynamic Fitness downtown. Age and I went to a Core Dynamic class on Tuesday and I can still barely breath my abs hurt so much! It's awesome and I will definitely be going back next week! They also have hot yoga, spin classes and group classes that I want to check out before the pass expires. Unfortunately I'm in Halifax for swimming Friday-Sunday so I miss a whole weekend of free (well almost free) classes at both places. I'm excited to race this weekend but I'm really loving being able to switch up my workout so frequently and trying all these new things in the various classes. If only I didn't have to go to school and could just go to different fitness classes all day instead!

I'm pretty sure if you tried hard enough you could get a whole semester or more of cheap intro classes and deals. I'm probably going to try to do that next semester. These classes get really expensive if you just pay as you go! At 15 ish bucks a pop they don't really fit into a student's budget.

I'm going to the opening midnight showing of Harry Potter tonight! I was going to go Monday but some swimmers decided that waiting was for suckers so we got our tickets and are anxiously waiting for midnight to come. I might need a nap this afternoon though...can't even remember the last time I stayed up that late!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Simon Says...

We met with the Kenyan High Commissioner today, Simon Nabukwesi. I wasn't exactly sure what the meeting would entail or what to expect from it. It was only supposed to be about 45 minutes and also in attendance were John the vet prof, Laura the vet student and the VP of academic research from the University (or something like that). It was fairly informal; we just ended up sitting around a table chatting. Simon wanted to know what our projects had been in Kenya, whether we enjoyed the experience, and what opportunities we saw for future students. Laura went first and Simon was really impressed and seemed really interested in her research. He has dairy cows on his farm in Kenya so her research was of particular interest to him. When Tuck and I began to explain our research and our projects, he interrupted us several times. We were explaining our data collection and analysis process at the schools and he asked us if we talked to the students directly...we had not...and then he spent 5 minutes telling us why we should have. We moved on to explain the work we did with the womens groups and he stopped to ask if we did any information sessions about family planning...we had he spent another 5 minutes telling us why it was important and why we should have taught the women about this subject.

It was pretty disheartening. It felt as though he was extremely unimpressed by everything we were proud to have accomplished this summer, and instead left wondering what the heck we were doing all summer. I wasn't exactly looking for his approval; I am proud of what we accomplished and of the ground work we were able to lay for future UPEI nutrition students. I'm proud that our research findings are being used in applications for further funding at the schools and that hundreds of students will be eating more nutritious meals everyday at school because of what we taught the staff and cooks. I guess it just would have been nice for him to have recognized how hard we worked and how much heart we put into everything we did while we were in Kenya this summer instead of making us feel like we didn't really do anything productive.

On the bright side, I got an e-mail notification that Food Network's Annual 12 Days of Cookies starts November 29th! This is 12 of my favorite days of the year. Everyday for the 12 days, Food Network emails a new holiday cookie recipe. Some of them are just meh, but there are a couple every year that are so delicious sounding and so pretty that I can't help but make a batch. I'm hoping this year lives up to previous years. I've got a good feeling that it will be spectacular!

Regis and Kelly are doing a week long Harry Potter extravaganza, with actors from the movies on every episode until Friday. I caught the tail end of Ron's interview this morning and will likely be tuning in everyday this week. It seems ridiculous that I still get so excited about Harry Potter, but I can't help it! I was in grade 6 when I read the first three books, and have pre-ordered every book that came out after that. The characters were my age or almost my age every time a new book came out, and the actors in the movies are 22 now just like me. I'm not really sure why I feel the need to justify myself. I will be in Halifax this weekend for a swim meet so I'll miss out on seeing it opening weekend but I'll be the first in line for Monday night's showing!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Hips Don't Lie

Long weekends are fabulous. Its only Saturday and I can't help but having to keep reminding myself that it's ONLY Saturday, which means two more glorious days of weekend left! Sam ended up heading home this weekend so I lost my partner in crime for the Christmas Craft Fair in Summerside but it's probably for the best anyways because I have a ton of school work to do and in retrospect, I have no idea how I ever thought it would get done if I spent the whole day in Summerside today.

I started my Saturday morning by sleeping in. I didn't even set an alarm clock which is pretty monumental in itself. I woke up at 8:30 pumped that I had slept in, and extra pumped because a) the sun was pouring in through my window, and b) the hot yoga class I wanted to go to started at 9:30 which gave me enough time to leisurely pack a bag and head to the studio. It was my first 90 minute class at this studio, and my first class with this particular instructor. The class was packed, as I expected it would be, so I was glad to get there early and get a good spot. I know it was only my third class, but I already kind of have a "spot" in the class where I always set up my mat. It's probably some other veterans spot too though, and I'm sure they were likely cursing at me under their breath when they walked in and saw my laying there. Either that or I'm the only one ridiculous enough to be territorial over a random spot on a floor in a room.

Class was soo hard! I was to excited and forgot to eat breakfast before class which likely didn't help, but by half way through the class I actually felt like I was going to vomit. I was nauseous, my whole body hurt and all my muscles were shaking with exhaustion. But the instructor kept coming over and readjusting me and catching me every single time I slacked even a little bit which terrified me into trying really hard despite my legs shaking beneath me in Warrior pose. I was physically really into the class today but I had a lot of trouble quieting my mind, letting go and relaxing. I'm not sure if it was because I went into it thinking it was a workout as opposed to just enjoying the class to relax, or if it was my exhaustion or if it was the instructor tweaking my position every pose. Either way I learned today that hip stretches make me really really grumpy. Particularly Half Happy Baby pose. There is nothing happy about it. They say that your hips hold a lot of emotion, and if today was any indication, then it's definitely true. Bluergh. I don't know how it's possible that a particular yoga pose can make you grouchy but it was like something just clicked and I was in a bad mood. As soon as we switched it up though I was fine.

I'm sitting in Starbucks right now working on a paper about the impact of adequate serum vitamin D status on the risk of developing diabetes (by working I mean blogging, checking facebook every few minutes, people watching etc) and I can't help but listen to the conversation that's going on at the table beside me. They're talking about Iron deficiency and Iron deficiency anemia and all this stuff that some hollistic nutritionist told them. All I want to do is jump in and answer the questions they are pondering. Is this incredibly rude? I don't really want to jump in and be like "oh by the way, I've been eavesdropping HARDCORE and can't help but jump in and give you ladies a quick little tutorial on the pathophysiology of iron, hemoglobin and how deficiency slash anemia occurs and how it can be prevented and treated." They've now moved on to B12 and I think I might be starting to twitch a bit sitting here listening, trying not to stare and open my big fat mouth. It's one of the many hardships of this profession. I guess I better get used to it....

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Too Soon?

Happy Remembrance Day! Here on PEI, it's actually a holiday, which means nothing is open and there is no school. This year we have a mini fall reading week so we have tomorrow off too. The timing is a little bitter sweet. It's perfect in terms of needing a break from school and getting a chance to get papers and assignments done on time, but it's horrible timing because it's too close to the end of semester to really be able to concentrate enough to actually be productive. My mind is in the Christmas gutter already! I'm fidgety, I can't concentrate in class and I have no motivation to do anything. My general rule is that as soon as Remembrance Day is over, I can officially blast the Christmas Carols and wear my Christmas socks. There are very few things better than putting on my Christmas socks for the first time of the year, and very few things more sad then having to pack them away until next year on boxing day.

I found my Christmas socks by accident in Value Village during my first year of University. I'm pretty sure I was on the hunt for either a) anything neon for our Ultimate Frisbee team uniforms, or b) an ugly Christmas sweater of some sort. They aren't even previously used...they are hand knit, have red and white stripes and have Christmas Trees on the sides made out of buttons. The description just doesn't do them justice. Unfortunately there are now holes in the soles from overuse though which is really quite tragic.

Adding to my inability to concentrate on school work is the yearly Christmas Craft Sales that are now happening Island-wide. This weekend alone there are about 6 different sales in various parts of the island. Jess, Sam and I went to one at the Civic Center this afternoon and Sam and I will be going to the epic TOSH craft sale in Summerside on Saturday. The booths sell everything, ranging from antiques to homemade crafts to baked goods to pottery to wooden snowmen to decorate the front of your house with. We mostly just wander around, rocking out to the festive tunes blasting from the loud speakers and look at all the cool stuff and occasionally find some fun gifts for people are a new pair of hand-knitted mittens. We got some sweet stuff this year though! Jess got an awesome sweater for her niece made my women in Peru, Sam got a delish chocolate covered caramel apple and I got some vintage Pyrex mixing bowls. Sounds lame, but I'm a sucker for anything kitchen related. In retrospect it was likely an impulse buy, but you can never have too many mixing bowls right?

Earlier this week, I checked out a newish (new to me, opened during the summer) hot yoga studio downtown. It's called Moksha and is right one the waterfront. I forgot how much I loved hot yoga until I went down for a class on Tuesday! I loved it so much that I decided to buy an introductory unlimited month so that I can go as often as possible between now and the time I leave for home after exams. I'm hoping that as school simmers down closer to exams I'll get to go almost daily. I'm also thinking it will likely be the ultimate exam study break.

With everything going on and the entire city slowly starting to become more and more festive (Starbucks and Superstore are already all decked out for Christmas and I'm loving it!) I can't help but sit here, starring at my list of things to do and wonder "Is it Christmas Yet?"

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Procrastination at It's Finest

It's November. I am a University Student. At this point in the semester, teachers all get together and decide how they can possibly make life miserable for students and pick a single date in which they are ALL going to have major projects, case studies, tests and papers due. So instead of actually do school work to try to make it through the next few weeks alive, I decided that baking would be much more productive. Whenever I have an overwhelming amount of work to do, I procrastinate by a) calling people with the most minute details to share with them because it makes me feel like I HAVE to tell them this so that by calling them I am in fact being productive because I can cross HAVING to tell them the random useless thing off my list of things to do, or b) I bake. After the excitingly festive trip to the grocery store, and since it's the middle of the afternoon and anyone I would typically call has much better things to do in the middle of the day, I Decided that baking would be the perfect mid-afternoon time waster. I also happened to rock out to Christmas music while I did so. Too early? Quite possibly, but I couldn't help it when the snow started falling outside the kitchen window.

I didn't end up having all the ingredients I needed so I turned to my trusty kitchen companion....The Food Substitutions Bible. This book is awesome, and I use it all the time. It really sucks to have to run out to the grocery store just for that ONE missing ingredient, and often discourages me from tackling the impromptu cooking or baking project. Specially when the one missing ingredient is something you know you will likely never use again or won't use again before it expires or goes bad.

I also didn't have any knives. Well that's a lie, I had butter knives and a bread knife. Age moved out today and I completely forgot I didn't own any knives when I picked a Pumpkin Apple Bread recipe. Have you ever tried to peel and chop an apple with a bread knife? It's not the easiest thing in the world. I mostly picked the recipe because I had pumpkin in my fridge and I bought a new loaf pan today that I wanted to break in. Unfortunately, the recipe made a MONSTER loaf and it's taking forever to actually cook and as such I will likely be late for swim practice. It better be delicious and worth the wait!

First Snow Fall

I had to brush snow off my windshield for the first time this morning! I was excited to see snow from the window of my nice warm house but as soon as I stepped outside I remembered why I love summer so much. I don't mind the cold, but PEI happens to be a wind vortex which makes the cold feel so much colder!

This morning I had an interview with a reporter from The Guardian, which is Charlottetown's local newspaper. She was interviewing Christina and I because she's writing a feature about the work we did in Kenya. I was a little bit nervous because I figured that I would likely say something stupid and then be quoted in the newspaper sounding like an idiot. I think it went well though and I'm looking forward to seeing the article. We took pictures with the aprons too which might end in disaster. We have more demand than we have aprons already, I can only imagine what is going to happen once they're in the newspaper! We could have probably brought back twice the number of aprons and still sold them all.

Tonight we have a presentation in front of the Farmers Helping Farmers Education Board. They want to hear our results from the school breakfast and lunch program evaluations we did. We had to spend the morning tweaking our power point presentation and preparing handouts for the audience with the data we collected on them. It seems as though this is never ending. As soon as we finish one presentation, we get asked to do another. It's great that people are so interested in what we did but it's been really time consuming! After tonight, I think we have about 3 presentations left, and a meeting with the Kenyan High Commissioner on the 15th, so we're in the home stretch!

I stepped into the grocery store today and it's already all decked out in Christmas! There are pyramids of Christmas baking supplies at the end of aisles, red ribbons wrapped around every fridge and shelves of Christmas novelty foods. I had to fight the urge to rush home to bake! My favorite seasonal Christmas food is white-chocolate mints. Unfortunately, it's only November 2nd and I think I may have already overdosed on them. Probably a good thing because it means I'll eat less of them from now until Christmas though.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The problem with never having time to write a new blog post is that by the time I do, there is so much that has happened that I don't eve know where to start. At this point I usually decide that it's too hard to figure it out and wait a few more days hoping that eventually I'll figure it out.

Last weekend my brother got married!! He's the first in the family to tie the knot so it was super exciting. I flew to Ottawa on Thursday for the big day. My sister and I got to be bridesmaids which was really awesome. I had never even been to a wedding never mind in one. TJ and Lauren are quite possible the best looking couple I've ever seen and they both looked amazing on Saturday. Congrats to you both! I'm still trying to figure out how TJ snagged Lauren but I'm glad he did. If I hadn't waited so long I could have written several long posts about how fabulous the weekend was.

In other news, the mice are back for a second year! When I got home from Ottawa on Monday morning, Sam and Age informed me that they had found some of the food chewed through in the cupboard but that they caught the little bugger already. Last year it took ab out a month just to catch the first one because we tried every humane mouse catching strategy known to man, but this year we went straight to the good ol' wooden mouse traps baited with peanut butter. We've already caught 2 mice, and I'm sure there will be a few more casualties before the end of winter. We have a new roommate moving in next week and I'm trying to decide if this is something he should know before he moves in? I doubt it would be a deal breaker...but you never know.

I haven't been tooo involved in mouse catching this year because I'm never really home. Between school and swimming and work I'm on the go all the time. I typically like being busy, and I promised myself this year would be different and I'd give myself more downtime. I was actually convinced that this year would be more chill, but apparently not. Oh well, only 6 weeks of this semester left and then I'll graduate after next semester. I'm already counting down for Christmas! I can't wait to go home, I've only been home for 6 days since last Christmas holidays. The Christmas Craft Sales, which are somewhat of a tradition for Sam Age and I, start next weekend, which means that it is officially ok to rock out to Christmas music from then on. I'm starting a play list already for my car. I don't think it's so much Christmas that I am excited about, but just being home and having no school for a few weeks. Since I was in Kenya working all summer, I haven't had a chance to just relax and have nothing to do since last Christmas. Not to mention there are a whole bunch of people at home that I've been dying to catch up with!

I'm getting a little ahead of myself...Christmas is a long ways off and this weekend is HALLOWEEN!! I like Halloween, but my favorite parts are seeing all the little kids dressed up, fun halloween baked goods and carving pumpkins. I didn't even get time to buy a pumpkin this year, let alone carve one. I'm working all weekend so I don't have a costume and am not going to any Halloween parties. It's fairly pathetic and a little bit tragic but you gotta do what you gotta do I guess.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Halifax Road Trip

Last weekend, Alex and I drove to Halifax to meet up with Mom who was there for some bank stuff. I had to work until 11:30pm on Friday night so I left Charlottetown at 5:30am on Saturday morning, swung through Sackville to pick up Alex and then headed off to Halifax in the Mary Kay. I wasn't supposed to leave until just after 6am but I woke up early and was to excited. I've been really lucky this semester and have gotten to see my family way more than I normally do all semester combined. It's been awesome!

We planned to stop off at Masstown Market on the way through Truro but since I was a little early picking up Alex, we got there before it opened and decided it wasn't worth waiting the hour until it opened. We ended up getting to Halifax just after 10 am which was perfect because it gave us the whole day to shop! And that's exactly what we did. We shopped and shopped and shopped. Took a break to get manicures, pedicures and lunch, and then finally headed back to the hotel, biceps aching from carrying around so many shopping bags all day. I'm not going to lie. Alex and I are spoiled rotten! Neither of us has any actually places to shop in the cities we live so getting a chance to shop in Halifax was kind of a big deal, and likely the only shopping we'll do between now and Christmas.

We headed down to the water front to Salty's for dinner. It was delicious! I had maple and butternut squash soup with a shared order of garlic bread bruschetta as an app, chili rubbed salmon for dinner and we split blueberry grunt for dessert. Yummmmm....

Alex had to work on Sunday so we left at 7am to head home. A short trip but it was well worth it! I got back to the island just on time to go for breakfast with Jess and Sam. We normally go to Linda's every Sunday for good ol' cheap, greasy spoon bacon eggs and toast which is always delish. This week, we decided to check out Rufus and Rory's, a new 50s diner downtown. I had eaten already so I just got some java and a strawberry milkshake (breakfast of champions obviously!). The milkshake wasn't the greatest and I probably wouldn't order one again. It was good, but not what I was expecting. To be fair, I had been warned by Age who is working there, but for some reason I was still expecting an old school shake made with vanilla ice cream, milk and real strawberries versus the strawberry syrup / strawberry ice cream variety. I would be willing to try the actually food there, but I am looking forward to going back to Linda's next week.

Sunday in Charlottetown was nuts! It was the annual PEI Marathon so University Avenue was closed from campus all the way downtown. There were people everywhere; cheering, running, and wrapped in foil blankets. Rufus and Rory's was right in front of the finish line so it was cool to be able to see people finishing. It was windy and raining, so I have to give mad props to those that ran.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thanksgiving and Oatmeal

It's another lovely, sunny fall day on PEI. In the last three falls I've been here, all I can remember about fall is rain and wind and cold. Although I did have to scrap the frost off my car for the first time this morning, something that I hate doing, especially at 5am. On the bright side, today is one of those days where I have a ton I could be doing, but nothing that HAS to get done. Which means I can afford to chill out for a bit before being productive.

Thanksgiving weekend was awesome! After apple picking on Saturday, I made my very first apple pie with the apples. Pie making was a little bit terrifying. Not because pies are so hard to make, but because I happen to come from a long line of superstar pie makers and living up to the family reputation was daunting to say the least. I ended up using a recipe from Michael Smith's Chef at Home cookbook. I haven't used this book a whole lot, but I've heard nothing but good things about it. Speaking of Micheal Smith, I won the first ever Micheal Smith Scholarship this year, and was really hoping he'd show up to present it to me at the awards night but unfortunately he must have had better things to do.

On Sunday, Sam and I went to Amherst to have dinner with Nannie, Grampi, Alex, Dave and Carole. We didn't have turkey but there was no shortage of food! Ham, turnip (my fav!), potatoes, peas, carrots, squash, coleslaw (I had to fight Alex so she wouldn't eat it ALL), lemon meringue pie and apple pie. My pie couldn't have been too terrible because everyone had a slice and seem to be still alive. Either that or they were all choking it down and were just to nice to say anything. I'm not sure I would use that recipe again. Personally I wasn't a huge fan of the crust; I found it a bit to chewy and not flaky enough. Not bad for a first try though! I ended up buying a pie plate since I didn't have one before so now I have incentive to bake more pies.

My First Pie!

For lunch today, I decided to take a break from pie and made up some Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal. I've run into this recipe a couple times online in the last few weeks so I figured I should try it. I love oatmeal, so I was pretty pumped about it and have been meaning to whip some up for over a week now. It was delicious, but very filling! I didn't follow the recipe exactly, and I'm not sure I would add as much peanut butter next time. The peanut butter I used was the all natural kind so it has to be kept in the fridge. As a result, I had to dollop it on the top which meant getting big chunks in one bite and none in the next. I would make it again for sure though, it's especially great to pack in my lunch bag for a quick breakfast in between swim practice and class.

The recipe:

In a baking dish, throw together the following ingredients and then bake at 375 for about 20 minutes.

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seed
  • 1 tbsp shredded coconut
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 3 heaping tbsp pumpkin puree
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • Pecans as topping

Saturday, October 9, 2010

How 'Bout Them Apples?

I love Autumn, It's my favorite season. You get the best of both's warm enough to do fun summery things like paddle, but it gets cool enough to be able to enjoy wintery things like hot apple cider and curling up on the couch with a quilt and a book. Today I got to enjoy fall in all it's glory. Thanksgiving is my all time favorite holiday. Not only is in it the fall, but it involves lots of delicious food, family and friends and fun outdoor activities. As a kid, Thanksgiving weekend meant gathering the whole fam jam together and heading to the Rockton Fair. In highschool, Thanksgiving weekend meant bundling up and freezing my butt off at Turkey Bowl Training camp in Ottawa. In University, I always get to go to Amherst to have dinner with my Nannie and Grampi and my sister and one year my mom. Although it's been WAY too long since I've been able to enjoy my Grandma's turkey dinner and sausage stuffing, I have yet to be disappointed by a single Thanksgiving.

To celebrate fall, and thanksgiving, a few of us girls headed out into the country for a fun filled day of fall festivities.

We started out at the Farmer's Market so Age could get some bread and we could get our Java fix. Then we headed to Wintermoor Orchards to pick some apples.
Ready to apple pick!

We got our stretch on trying to get the best ones.

Then Jess found a ladder!

Mission Accomplished!

We stopped to see some goats on the way to Vesey's for the GIANT PUMPKIN Weigh Off.

We made friends with a Pumpkin.
...and some scarecrows.

We went for a Tractor Ride around the Farm.

The winning pumpkin weighed 1075 pounds!!!

Then Sam and I went to The Dunes for a Farmer's Helping Farmer's Fundraiser lunch. All the menu items were made with locally grown ingredients.

I had Beet and Apple Soup as an appetizer.

Beef and Barley Stew with Roasted Vegetables as a main

And Frozen Maple Mousse with candied ginger for dessert! It looked to good to take a picture of before digging into it so this is just the empty glass.

Lunch was soo good! The perfect ending to a fabulous fall day! It wasn't quite the end...I had to go into work for 6.5 hours but I was so chipper from the great day that I quite enjoyed being at work.

Tomorrow Sambo and I are off the Amherst to have dinner with Nannie and Grampi and Alex, I'm excited already!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Shock Tactics

Should shock tactics be used in health promotion? The UK has just launched an add campaign against childhood obesity, and here is the ad:

Break The Habit - Spec TVC from The Precinct on Vimeo.

I haven't completely decided what I think about it yet. On one hand it seems really harsh and overly intense. On the other hand, it gets the point across. I can't stop thinking about it, which means it's done it's job. I think it would make me feel guilty as a parent, and the thought of eating a hamburger after seeing that makes me sick to my stomach.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Hunger Diaries

The foodie blogger world absolutely EXPLODED this past week after Marie Claire posted an article called "The Hunger Diaries: How Health Writers Could Be Putting You at Risk. (Six popular bloggers advocate healthier living, but are they putting readers - and themselves - in danger?)"

The article profiles "The Big 6"; writers of food and fitness blogs who have amassed thousands and thousands of daily followers. They are being torn apart for portraying unhealthy eating and exercise habits through their blogs and convincing their followers that these behaviors are healthy. The article's numerous consulted professionals state that although no diagnoses can be made based on the blog alone, these women are all at risk for eating disorders based on what they have written about their diets, body weight and health practices, and that their behaviors are being mimicked by die-hard fans and as a result, their followers are becoming injured or developing eating disorders.

Only one of the Big 6 is a registered dietitian and the rest simply have day jobs with blogs on the side. We have been cautioned since the invention of the internet not to trust everything we read online. Particularly with the current popularity of blogs, any one who has access to the internet (which is almost everyone on the planet these days) can go online and write whatever they want about any topic they desire. Why is it that we are treating these 6 blogs any differently? I can understand the outrage; these women are portraying themselves as experts on a particular topic despite perhaps not giving out the best advice. I haven't actually read their blogs, so I can't really formulate an honest opinion at this point, but I feel like the actual content of their blogs is completely irrelevant. Why are these six women being singled out when there are millions of websites and blogs that misrepresent a topic or encourage unhealthy behaviors? Why not pick on the pro-anorexia and pro-bulimia blogs to pick on?

Most people won't go out and try everything they see on YouTube or believe everything they read on Wikipedia, nor would either of these websites be harassed if someone did. I think it is the reader's responsibility to sift through the content they stumble across on the web and make informed decisions about what they read. I know many people don't, but the blog writer can't control what people do or say after reading what they have written. I don't think it was fair that these 6 women were singled out.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Loving Life

I swore to myself that this year would be different, that I wouldn't take on nearly as many commitments and that I would have all this free time to relax and love life. Not only had I promised myself I would do this, but I had actually even convinced myself that I would follow through.

Yes, I have committed to less. I removed the 5 or more hours of volunteering I did every week last year. Unfortunately, that's about all I cut out. I still haven't quite managed to learn to say no (although I did pass up a couple volunteer opportunities that made my heart break a little when I deleted the e-mails without replying with a big giant PICK ME!!!) and I don't seem to have any of this elusive spare time that I keep hearing about. Instead I have just become more hardcore about the things that I left in my schedule.

The difference is, although my schedule is still just as busy and hectic, I am actually loving life this semester. I don't have any more spare time, but I have filled the potential spare time slots with things I love. I have finally gotten into a really great groove, that although it is proving to be pretty exhausting, is making me excited to wake up each morning to head to the pool, gym or class.

One thing in particular that I've been loving lately is The Nutrition Blog Network. The Nutrition Blog Network is a collection of blogs written by registered dietitians. The blogs are quite often about food or food related topics, but some of the blogs are about fitness or sometimes they are completely random. I scroll through the news feed of nearly updated blog posts several times a day, which is probably another reason I'm so busy all the time...procrastination. For anyone out there who has time to waste and an interest in anything food related, I recommend checking it out!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Comeback Frustrations and Aches

I LOVE swimming! I absolutely love being back into training! The last year has been tough. I never really found the balance between training and sitting on my butt doing nothing. As hard as I tried to stay "active", I never figured out not to go big or go home. And then I went to Kenya, where I did little to no exercise and ate nothing but fried dough, beans and maize everyday.

But now I'm back to training! And it feels amazing! By amazing I mean that my whole body is sore and aching and stiff. It hurts to move. My legs are currently shaky and my muscles are spazing. I haven't quite figured out how I'm going to get up the stairs to go to bed once Glee is over but I figure I'll figure that out in an hour.

As absolutely fabulous as coming back to training has been, it's been really frustrating at the same time. It's hard to do the things you used to do and not be able to do them nearly as well. It really sucks to be incredibly out of shape. I'm probably still in better shape than a lot of the general public, but it's crazy how much taking a year off can affect everything! I keep expecting myself to be able to do the things I could do this time a year and a half ago before the whole heart drama began. It's hard not to be disappointed with slower times in the pool, fewer chin-ups and lighter weights at the gym. I know I need to patient but it's hard! I wish I could snap my fingers and be back into the shape I used to be in. If only it were that easy!

For now I'm just going to enjoy working my butt off and hope that I regain the use of my legs in the near future.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Atlantic Dietitians of Canada Conference

This past weekend, I road tripped to Moncton to attend the Atlantic Dietitians of Canada conference with Tuck and the Prof who went to Kenya with us. She was asked to speak about her experience supervising students in an international placement. We ended up spending the entire morning finishing the presentation before our 11:30 presentation. We had found out the night before that we would be in fact presenting along side our prof, and while we tried to prepare by figuring out what exactly she wanted us to talk about, she just told us not to worry and we'd be fine. Besides that one time I gave a presentation on Non-Diabetic Hypoglycemia in front of a handful of island dietitians as part of my clinical placement, I have never had the opportunity to speak in front of a large group of dietitians. This terrifies me a little. It's not so much that I dislike public speaking. Public speaking doesn't bother me at all, especially after giving so many presentations in front of 100+ people in Kenya, but it was the group of people I was presenting to that had me a touch rattled. These are people who will potentially be hiring me in 14 months (eek!) and people who will be my colleagues.

Tuck and I sat in the front row while our prof presented and occasionally asked us questions or to clarify certain concepts of the presentation. Eventually we found ourselves correcting her and adding comments to what she was saying (she asked us to correct her when it was appropriate and to add to her presentation whenever we could) so we just stood up and kind of took over. We had the whole conference room chuckling at our misadventures which resulted in lessons learned, and had them tearing up at some of the outcomes we were able to achieve. In the end, the presentation went way better than I ever would have imagined it would! We had a line up of dietitians wanting to ask us questions after our presentation and probably could have sold all 96 aprons right then and there.

High on life from the presentation, we skipped out on the last session and went to Costco. I bought some really awesome tupperware, and must admit that I enjoy my lunch just a little bit more everyday that I use them.

Dietitians are known to stereotypically all have the same haircut and sense of style. The profs at UPEI joke about it all the time but this was the first time I ever actually witnessed the phenomenon with my own eyes. When sitting in the back of the conference room, you look ahead and all you see are a sea of bob hair cuts and dangly earrings. I couldn't help but feel a little left out! I wonder how many other professions have a stereotypical look to them? I'm sure a lot, I just never noticed before. I can't decide if I want to run out and get a hair cut or keep my locks in rebellion.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Confederation Bridge Run 2010

I've been meaning to write about the Confederation Bridge run for a whole week now but it's taken until now to actually get around to it. And even now, I have a list a mile long of other things I should be doing right now, but I decided it couldn't wait any longer.[Waiting (and waiting!) at the start line]

Every runner was assigned a start time, I'm pretty sure we were all assigned the same start time, and then the walkers were supposed to start about an hour after us. My designated start time was 7:00am and it was advised to be at the start about an hour before the race in order to get registered and find parking. My parents and Alex parked over on the New Brunswick side and then took a shuttle bus to the PEI side, so I parked my car at Gateway Village in PEI and met them at the start line. I had to leave my house around 5am to make sure I was there on time, and I ended up leaving a bit early because I had no idea where my parking lot actually was. I had it in my mind that there were going to be several different parking lots and that I would end up going to the wrong one and would need a lot of extra time to figure everything out. I also was convinced that since this was a fairly big race and seemed to be well organized, I'd need to give myself time to get my bib number and maybe a chip timer or something. I was wrong about everything! The only designated parking was a giant grass field, registration consisted of bingo-dabbing my hand. I sat in my car for an hour before it was actually time to approach the start line.

I met the fam jam at the start line and got to see my dad for the first time since June which was awesome. My Dad and sister aren't exactly morning people, and it was pretty chilly out so I was met with a bit of disgruntlement. I was planning on spending the day in New Brunswick to see my grandparents and to watch Big Al play in Mt A's home opener soccer game against SMU. This meant I had to carry my change of clothes with me for the 12.8 km run. I was dreading wearing a backpack so I crammed everything into a neon fanny pack. I was pretty impressed with my mad packing skills, but I'm definitely not jumping at the chance to run with a fanny pack again any time soon. It conveniently bounced around right on top of my bladder the whole time. I got it at value village a few years ago so it was definitely not meant to run in.

The start ended up being an hour and a half late, so we all had to wait at the start line freezing our butts off. Fred Fox, Terry's Brother started the race by saying "on your marks, get set, go!" and ran the race with all the runners. It was really cool to be running across the bridge! Every few minutes you'd look around and see nothing but runners and water and realize, I'm actually running across the confederation bridge right now. I even got to peak over the edge of the railing, which was terrifyingly high up and made me a little dizzy. Driving over the bridge will never be the same!

I would definitely run it again, despite how unorganized it was. Next time I think I'll train for it though. Apparently my Kenya Treadmill regime didn't quite cut it.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Back to The Grind

I've managed to survive my first week back at school and have even completely caught up from missing the first three days of classes.

I don't have classes on Tuesdays so my mom and Alex drove over to spend the day. We spent the day wandering around downtown Charlottetown shopping. We got the bridesmaid dresses fitted and they are currently getting tailored as we speak and will be ready in a few days. We also went on a Cows Creamery Tour! I've been wanting to go on the tour since last spring. It's closed in the winter though, and hadn't opened again before I left for the summer. The tour itself was nothing all that special. It's a way smaller scaled operation than I thought it would be. All the t-shirts and ice creams are made on site in Charlottetown and then shipped to each location across the country. There are way fewer locations than I thought. Something like 6 island wide and 3 more across the country. I think the fact that it's so small scale, while making the tour less impressive, was what I liked best. It definitely made it impossible to turn down an ice cream cone after the tour!

This week was also swim team try outs. Each practice contained a test set or dry-land testing to measure where we are now compared to where we will be (hopefully) by the end of the season. I only ended up swimming a couple of times because only one practice a day was scheduled for the week so I guess we're easing back into the pool. It actually ended up working well because I used the extra free time to read the millions of text book pages that were assigned. I am really looking forward to getting back into training for real next week. I've taken almost a year exactly off of training, which has felt like much longer. I can't believe how much I've missed training and paddling, so I'm super excited to get back into the routine of multiple training sessions a day. There are a lot of new rookies on the team this year which is awesome. We've always had a really small team, but we've almost doubled this year. It's a lot easier to drag your butt to the pool at 5:30am when you know that 20 of your friends will also be there. Last year most of our morning practices only had around 6 people show up, which wasn't very motivating.

T-Minus 2 days until the Terry Fox run across the confederation bridge. I don't feel like I'm even close to prepared to run it, but I'll be running it with my mom, my sister and my dad which is awesome. Although my mom and dad are both out on the east coast visiting, my crazy busy schedule, and the ridiculously high cost of driving across the bridge has prevented me from seeing them as much as I would have liked. It'll be great to get 12.8 km of quality time in with them this weekend though. The picture on the left makes the bridge look a lot longer than 12.8 km, and I won't lie...I'm a little worried about the entirely up-hill first half of the run.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Home Sweet Home (almost)

Finally back on the island. The flights home were uneventful and I even all my luggage got back safe and sound.

I was greeted at the airport by the best surprise ever! My mom flew out and drove over with my Sister and Grandparents to surprise me at the airport. I had no idea at all they would be there! I Was expecting just my roommate and maybe 1 or 2 friends to show up, but in addition to my family, about 8 more friends came to see me. It was a little overwhelming, and combined with being in the same clothes and awake for the past 30 hours, I couldn't help but be a little bit (embarrassingly) emotional upon seeing every one. My mom went back to nova scotia with my sister and grandparents but she's coming back over on Tuesday to hang out with me which I am very excited for. My dad is even driving down on Wednesday so the whole family minus TJ can run across the confederation bridge together on Sunday. Should be really great! I love my family, and it makes me so happy that they will soon all be here to visit! I wish TJ was here to but I guess you can't have it all.

My kitbag with my laptop and phone charger accidentally went back to Nova Scotia in the car so I am without a phone and a laptop until Tuesday. It's a good thing I just spent 3 months without a phone and without reliable access to internet or I might be going nuts right now. I can't believe how addicting they are! My mom tried to drive my car but one of the back wheels doesn't move anymore so it had to get towed and will be at Canadian Tire getting fixed until Tuesday probably, but Sam has been nice enough to let me borrow hers to go grocery shopping and to do some running around that I needed to get done.

I planned on being super productive today to get ready for my last first day of school ever (well...for a while at least) but instead I just took it easy and procrastinated. I can't believe it's fall already. I thought I might get to squeeze in a day or two of sundresses or shorts before bundling up but no dice. Typical PEI I guess.

Swim Team try-outs start tomorrow so I went for a easy swim this afternoon to try to remember how. Feels great to be back in the water and I can't wait for training to get started officially next week after try-outs.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Great Mzungo Migration

It was surreal leaving Kiirua this morning. After wrestling everything into a very heavy suitcase, a jam packed back pack, a small duffel bag and a knapsack, I finally found a place for everything I'm bringing home. I hate traveling with twelve million bags. My general rule is that if I can't carry it myself then I have to bring less. I usually stubbornly refuse to use one of the airport trolleys and end up huffing and puffing my way from baggage claim to the car. As much as I would love to abide by my own rule for this trip, it simply was not possible. I tried really hard but I have accumulated a lot of stuff apparently. I even gave away the majority of the clothes I brought with me and still seem to have way to much stuff. I suppose I could blame the mass quantities of aprons I have packed but I haven't been able to convince my self that they are to blame yet. So for the first time in my memory, I will be traveling with more than I can carry by myself, and will be a trolley full of too much baggage yielding tourist at the Nairobi airport tomorrow night.

I don't like goodbyes. I usually don't really even acknowledge them, I just say goodbye to people as if I will be seeing them the next day. Although I go off to school for months at a time without seeing people, I see everyone again eventually. It's weird to imagine that the people I didn't say goodbye to here will likely be people I never see ever again. I'd love to say I'll be back, and I really do hope I will be eventually, but who knows where these people will be or when I will finally make it back to Kenya. I couldn't help but wonder if my hatred for goodbyes had an impact on the types of relationships I have built since arriving in June. Knowing that I was leaving in 3 months with the high probability of never seeing these people again, did I subconsciously distance myself and prevent myself from getting closer than I did with these people? I've been really lucky to have met some really great people throughout this trip, but I wonder how different my relationships to these great people would be if I had not known I would be leaving. How often do we limit ourselves because we predict an unfavorable outcome? Holding ourselves back may be a defense mechanism against failure, but it simultaneously eliminates any possibility of success. Although I am a believer in trusting my instincts, learning how to selectively shut off the voice in the back of my head may be a valuable skill to acquire.

I start my 24 hour+ migration back to Canada tomorrow night and am looking forward to catching up on my movie watching. The past 3 months have been like living in a bubble; although I was aware of what was going on in the real world, it didn't really affect me too much. Getting back to real life with bills and a job and classes and homework is going to be rough. Although it will probably be rougher on my friends and family who have to listen to me stressing out about it all than it will be on me.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


This time tomorrow I will be squashed in a car with all my luggage on my way to Nairobi. It seems crazy that it's been three months since I got off the plane in Nairobi for the first time.

The last few days have consisted of packing and repacking numerous times. I have an extra suitcase coming home that I didn't have coming here so I figured I'd have almost an entire empty suitcase and that packing would be a breeze. Somehow I seem to have accumulated a lot of stuff. A lot of heavy stuff apparently. To be fair the majority of one suitcase is aprons, we're each bringing home 40 some-odd aprons which takes up quite a bit of room and are surprisingly heavier than I thought they'd be. At the moment both my bags are jam packed and one might be over weight but it'll all work out one way or another, it always does.

Today is the first day of school at UPEI and although it would be nice to be able to start school with everyone else and not come back a week behind already, I am really not ready for classes to start. I'm not sure I have the mental capacity to sit still for a lecture and do homework every day. I am however, really really looking forward to swimming this year and can't wait to get back into the pool.

We've done nothing but watch Sex and the City and crochet for the last few days so I have nothing exciting to write about, but we're spending our last day in Kiirua at the Meru Sports Club soaking in our last of the equator rays by the pool. The entire time we've been here it's been freezing cold and rainy but the last week has finally been as hot and sunny as we were promised September would be. My fingers are crossed it's hot today too!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

C Sections and Waterfalls: My Last Full Week in Kenya

It's been a pretty uneventful week but it's flown by just the same. We were originally booked to fly home on September 3rd, but due to a technicality with the funding, our departure date got pushed back a week to the 10th. We had made our schedule based on leaving on the third, so last week was pretty chill and next week will be too.

Monday through Wednesday we just hung out on the compound and worked on some internship stuff and reports that are due when we get back. On Monday, just as we were about to start making lunch, the phone rang. There was a Cesarean section surgery about to start at the hospital and the nurses were inviting us to scrub in. We ran over to the hospital, got all geared up in scrubs and scrub caps and rubber boots and face masks and got to watch the procedure while standing right beside the doctor. While mom was getting all stitched up, I got to hold the healthy baby boy (2.7 kgs). It was pretty awesome. The nursing students here with us said that In Canada, nursing students wouldn't even be allowed to scrub into a surgery of any kind, so we were pretty lucky to have been able to scrub in. Never again will I be able to scrub in on a C section, but I'm glad I got to do it at least once. I definitely have no desire to be a nurse and do it everyday though.

While we were at the disco slash Guinness Football Challenge last Saturday night, there were video cameras everywhere. We assumed that the footage was simply being used for the big screen TV that was set up on location, but we got a phone call from Martin at about 10pm on Tuesday night saying that I was on TV at that very moment! We don't have a TV here so I couldn't actually flick it on to see myself but I'm pretty sure the footage was from a football (soccer) skills competition I entered and failed hard core at. All I could think of as I failed to dribble the ball between a couple of pylons was how much I wished my sister had been there to show all the Kenyans how it's done. Not only were Amy and I the only two girls to enter the competition, but we were probably the only two white people to enter as well. There were a couple of Kenyan guys that were showing off and doing fancy maneuvers but I'm still fairly confident Alex would have been able to dribble circles around them, which I would have very much liked to have seen.

Yesterday was our very last Saturday in Kenya! It blows my mind that it's September already, it feels like it was just last week that I was boarding the plane on my way here. I'm not sure whether I'm in bigger shock that it's September because it means leaving Kenya, or because it means the end of summer. I love summer, but I didn't really have one this year. I can't quite wrap my head around starting school the day after I get back, already a few days behind.

We wanted to make our last Saturday eventful, so Salome took us shopping in Meru, then to her sister's house for lunch, and then we went hiking to a couple of different waterfalls. She had mentioned that we would be driving to a waterfall so I mistakenly wore flip flops. Turns out we were driving to where we could hike down to the waterfalls. The first fall was only a couple kilometers from her sister's house. It was probably comparable to the size of Webster's Falls. The second was much bigger, and was a short hike from the side of the road. We met up with a couple of guys who knew the way and they lead us through the forest to the falls. To say that we went hiking is a bit of an understatement. We were literally climbing boulders and hacking our way through the forest. At the second falls, we hiked to 3 different spots to see it from different angles, but unfortunately, the second location was really muddy. I was impressed by how well my flip flops were holding up until I stepped ankle deep in mud. Wet flip flops are very very slippy, and not good for hiking. I ended up just carrying them and hiking barefoot. Good thing all my barefoot running had toughened up my feet! The last place we saw the second falls from was a giant rock in the middle of the forest. We basically had to scale the edge of it, griping on strategically sturdy vines, and rock climbed up it. Going up is always better then going down. Definitely worth the view, but getting down was a little bit trickier. We all made it down eventually with only a couple of minor slips and falls, but there were quite a few Danger Bush casualties. By the time we got off the boulder, my flip flops were dry so I was able to put them back on to hike back up to the road where the car was parked.

I only have 3 days left in Kiirua. We leave for Nairobi early Thursday morning and then fly home Friday night. I've packed one of my two suitcases and have realized how much junk I have here and how much more stuff I have to come home with than when I came. It's almost entirely full of fabric, aprons and yarn (I've developed an addiction to crocheting and am a granny square champ) and my fingers are crossed it doesn't weigh more than 50 pounds. The last 3 days will be full of packing and last minute shopping if I can find room for anything else.

Salome is coming over later today so we can teach her how to make Banana Bread and she is going to watch us make chapatis to ensure that we are doing it right. We've tried a couple more times, and although they're good, they just aren't Kenyan enough for our liking.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Fire Burning on the Dance Floor

Our infant sessions seem to be cursed. We thought that maybe it was just the hospital sessions that weren't going well, but then no one showed up at Ruuju. We had no expectations but were crossing our fingers for the first Muchui session since we had such great family sessions with them. 6 mothers came. Not ideal but it allowed us to explain everything a little bit further to make sure everyone understood everything and we got to answer a lot of questions. Once again the topic of giving raw eggs to kids came up.

We walked to the business center from the hospital in the morning before our session. It's pretty standard to share the road with herds of cows. Cows are everywhere here. Almost everywhere you look there is someone herding their 50 cows somewhere, presumably heading towards or coming back from a source of water somewhere. What we weren't expecting was to get caught in the middle of a herd of about 50 camels! I had dubbed it The Great Camel Migration. There were about 50 camels and 4 men wielding machetes all marching along the street together. 50 camels take up a lot of room, so as they approached Christina and I kind of looked at eachother not really sure what we were supposed to do. There was no where to go so I suggested we close our eyes and hope for the best. The camels passed by, brushing past our arms on either side as they went. Camels are huge, they were like 12 feet tall. Apparently in Isiolo camel meat is popular but the closest place to get them slaughtered is Nairobi, so these men were walking all the way from Isiolo to Nairobi. Not sure how many kms that is but it's like a 4 hours drive ish.

On the way home, instead of walking we took Boda Bodas home from the business center. Half motorcycle half dirt bike contraptions. On one bike was me, christina, 2 back packs and the driver and a 2kg bag of onions. We were probably the least loaded down boda boda in the history of Kenya. We were probably also the only Mzungus that this guy had ever driven. Salome told him to be extra safe and drive really slow so we wouldn't get hurt. Our driver kept getting thumbs ups and high fives from all the other drivers and the men at the Barrier Market. It was cheap and way better than walking 7 km home.

Saturdays are always the most boring days here. For something to do, we decided to make mandazi with apple and cinnemon in them (fried dough). Well the next thing we know a fire starts on the stove. The stove is propane so this is a little bit terrifying. Luckily we had turned the gas burner off about 1 minute before the whole pot burst into flames, but there were still 2 very large propane tanks about a foot away from the flames. And of course there isn't a single fire extinguisher in the entire compound. Next thing we know the flames are up to the ceiling. Amy's dad is a firefighter so she had the good sense to throw flour on the fire which probably ended up saving the entire compound from exploding when the flames eventually hit the propane tank. Meanwhile the entire hospital staff comes running because one of us ran over to the hospital to alert them that we were in the process of burning down the compound. Everyone laughed at us but the flour put the fire out so we were just really embarrassed. We'll have to repaint the ceiling as it is now black.

Saturday night Martin took us to the disco! It was the Guinness Football Challenge so there were all these tents set up and tv cameras and a huge screen showing what was being filmed. There were live performers and tons of music. For 150 kenyan shillings (about 2 bucks) we got admission, 2 free guinness, and a bottle of water. We arrived at like 7:30 pm and danced until 1 am. It was insanely fun and I'm so glad we went! We weren't going to since we were a bit rattled from the fire incident. We even got to talk to some other Mzungos from England which was a nice change. We basically had our own entourage with us though. Martin, Salome, Carole and Kinoti all accompanied us and kept a careful watch on us, making sure no gross drunk guys got to close.

Friday, August 27, 2010

CCA 2010

Although a million blog-worthy things have happened in the last few days, they will have to wait because at this exact moment in time I am more excited about National Canoe Kayak Championships that are currently taking place in Regina. It's the first time I haven't been at Nationals since I was a second year bantam (like 14 years old maybe?) so it's really strange having to check results online every morning instead of being there to witness it all myself. Because of the time change (9 hours ahead in Kenya versus Regina) I have to wait until the following morning before results are posted online. This means I fall asleep knowing that all my friends are racing and kicking ass while I sleep, which is really exciting. So exciting that I don't really actually sleep. I had planned on facebooking all my friends that won stuff on the first day of finals but there are to many people who have won to many medals that I gave up after about 7 people. So the lesson of the day is that my friends are awesome.

The other day I got stuck in the middle of The Great Camel Migration and rode on a boda boda (a dirt bike motor cycle hybrid used as taxis) for the first time, so I'll post pictures soon!