Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Billy's Bakery and Crumbs

The NYC Cupcake Tour 2010 continued on day two of my travels with two new stops. Billy's Bakery (on Martha's list of favorites!) and Crumbs Bake Shop which is actually right here in Hoboken.

I started my day off with a Crumbs cupcake and a coffee; breakfast of champions. While in Crumbs, I met this guy named Leon who I was chatting with while I planned out the rest of my day. I had made a lot of plans for the day, all on foot. It was raining cats and dogs out, but I am a firm believer in the theory that there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear so I was determined to stick it out. After breakfast, with detailed game plan in hand, I took the bus into the city and ventured out into the rain. It was right slippy out, like 'go-go gadget rubber boots" wet. I was only wearing sneakers, which didn't take long to become drenched right through. I kept telling myself I would stop on the next corner and buy myself an umbrella but of course by the time I got to the next corner I would convince myself I was being a wimp. I am convinced that it's never safe to leave the house without rubber boots from now on.

My first stop in the city was Macy's. I had never been before and this one is seven floors! It was almost to big to shop in. Where do you even start? I tried my hardest but had some issues so after wandering around each floor somewhat aimlessly for a while, I decided to move on and continue on my grand adventure. Next stop: The Empire State Building. It was pretty cool, and tall...not sure what else to say about it though. I got there and was kinda like ok, now what? ooo, ahhh...? I didn't go up to the top of it because I had already been to the top of the rock (good thing because it was super foggy day two). So I took a couple of pictures and then carried on once again. My next plan was to hit up the Annex Antique Fair, but it was all closed up for some reason, so I just wandered around and window shopped a bit.

I was particularly excited for my next stop, at Big Cup Tea and Coffee house. Lonely Planet promised it was a perky, beautiful-boy meeting place with biscotti. By this point I was pretty soggy and the wind was starting to pick up so I was especially looking forward to an Americano and warming up with my book. Unfortunately, it was yet another bust. I'm pretty sure it no longer exists as it was no where to be found. I even double checked my map! And yes, I am aware that I am a huge looser, but I'm ok with that. I keep sneaking into coffee shops or little shops to check my map discretely with out being a total dork with my map out in the middle of the side walk. By now I was getting a little bit grumpy-it felt as though the entire day was becoming a bust.

Billy's Bakery was the next stop, and I was really crossing my fingers that this place was a) in existence, b) open and c) delish. It was everything I hoped for. It's just a little place with a couple tables, mostly take out, and they were baking when I got there so as soon as I opened the door a wave of warm, dry, delicious smelling air swept over me and I was cheered right up. The hardest part of the cupcake tour is deciding what type to eat. Do I pick the same basic cupcake at every bake shop so I can compare and contrast? Or do I just got for it and pick whatever is looking good at that exact moment? I decided variety is the spice of life and chose a Red Velvet cupcake with cream cheese icing. I had never had one before but Sam talks about red velvet cake fairly often so I figured I'd give it a shot. It was delicious, and the green tea I got with it warmed me right up and gave me a chance to dry off a bit. I lingered longer than I normally would have dreading going back outside. Of course I could have hoped on the subway, but no, I was determined to walk.

The next planned stop was the World Trade Center ground Zero, but someone I ended up at City Hall and the New York City Courthouse and got turned around. In an attempt to find my bearings, I ended up in Chinatown which was really cool. By now I had been walking for about 6 hours, and had never actually bought an umbrella. Every other person in the entire city seemed to have an umbrella though. The sidewalks are crowded enough, add to that people walking with giant umbrellas and their heads down avoiding the windy rain means dodging people left right and center. I'm pretty sure I almost lost an eye or two several times. Chinatown is not for those with a weak stomach. I couldn't identify even half of the edible food products in the shop windows.

It was at this point that I conceded defeat, and hopped on the subway to go back to Hoboken to dry off. Once I got to Hoboken, it was kinda early-about 5:30, so I decided I would change into some dry clothes and go out for a nice dinner. Stuffed mushrooms, wine and pasta..yuuummmm. Definitely felt judged eating alone at a restaurant, but I got over it pretty quick and enjoyed the meal!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I am pooped! I know that I wouldn't be able to do the day justice if I sleepily blogged right now but I've been keeping notes in my notebook whenever I think of something worth sharing. Tomorrow is my last day solo and then Rach gets home from Texas, which according to her blog, sounds pretty awesome. Look forward to a double whammy of a post tomorrow!
Actually-I have had to take my plans for today's trek and sight seeing and split it into two days because I got a little carried away and over estimated my time and my ability to not get lost, so really it'll be like I accomplished it all today!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Magnolia Bakery

At long last, I finally got to taste a Magnolia Bakery cupcake! I am still wondering why I have been wanting one so bad for the last few years. I think it must be because I saw it on Martha Stewart at some point and decided I have to go there. Either way, it did not disappoint. I am already looking forward to the next time I get to have one. I felt like a little kid on Christmas morning when I saw the bake shop ahead in the distance. It helped that I was super hungry. The real question is how do you choose what to get once you're there? Everything looks so delicious and everything is so pretty! I choose a purple vanilla cupcake with sprinkles and splurged on a t-shirt. I wasn't really sure how to eat it; do I just dive in and go for it? Or do I take my time and truly enjoy it? I opted to take my time but it was so good that the second half went down pretty quick. Yummm...

After Magnolia, I wandered around the Rockefeller center and past the NBC theaters and then sauntered up to the Observation Deck, aka the Top of The Rock. I was the only person who was there alone, but I decided today that I kind of like traveling alone. For selfish reasons; I can do my own thing on my own time in my own order. But I also realized that the crappy part about traveling alone is never having anyone to take pictures of you doing cool stuff. The stretch your arm out to take a pic of yourself is lame, and not very effective.

I basically spent the rest of the day shopping, I went into about a million shops and tried on a bagillion things and am happy with my purchases thus far! It's exciting because I am mostly shopping for internship clothes, so I get to try on clothes that I would have never ever even looked at before. Another nice part about traveling alone-shopping! Not feeling guilty for making your friends wait while you try stuff on, and not being tainted by their opinions. It also means you don't get input, but I often find myself asking randoms in the shop so it's all good.

I went for dinner at Hale and Hearty Soups, and had a delish curried cauliflower and chick pea soup and half a spinach and goat cheese wrap. It was about 6pm by now, and I had run out of plans for the day so I decided to head back to Hoboken to check out Carlos' Bake Shop (made famous by TLC's Cake Boss) for an apparently famous canolli. It was decent-I had never had one before so I had nothing to compare it to. I've seen the show but am not a HUGE fan so I mostly went because friends at home love the show so much. Plus I'm here, so I may as well!

I walked back to Rach's place along Washington Street, which is covered in little shops and a million cool restaurants. Made me really hungry despite having just eaten! I am looking forward to checking some out in the next few days, lots of ethnic food that doesn't exist in Charlottetown so I'll have to take advantage of it!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

En Route

It’s funny how we seem to rush through the travel portion of our vacations or trips in a hurry to get where we are going, often dreading the drive, flight or train ride. I am guilty of this myself; the hurry up and wait mentality of the airport isn’t my favorite. As per usual, I was excited to get to New York but was not looking forward to the two flights, going through customs, being on a cramped airplane for hours and then reaching my destination tired, clammy and likely a bit grumpy. A friend drove me to the airport (Thanks Jess!), and I reluctantly got outta the car knowing that the endless cycle of rushing to the counter, than waiting at the gate, rushing onto the plane just to sit and wait on it for hours, rushing out of the plane to get your baggage, then waiting at the carousal for it to come was about to begin.

I began to wonder though, why I always dread the actual traveling portion of the trip so much. Ya, everything I mentioned above holds true, and it does kind of suck, but airports can be really entertaining and interesting places. For anyone who enjoys people watching, Pearson is the place to do it. There are your typical business travelers, in their suits and brief cases, power walking through the terminals; there are the exhausted parents, lugging small children, Dora the Explorer back packs, well equipped with snacks and wet wipes; and at this time of year, you have your spring breakers, pumped to spend the next week on a sandy beach with a drink in their hands. I can’t help but wonder where people are going, where they are coming from and the reasons for their trips.

It occurred to me while sitting on the plane on the tarmac in Toronto, waiting for boarding to finish, watching the seemingly nervous, jittery man beside me open up a book written in a language I don’t even recognize nor could I begin to decipher, that if someone were to really take the time, imagine how much they could learn by simple boarding a plane and talking to every other passenger. I think that’s what I like so much about people; you never can know what to expect, as much as you think you have someone nailed down, they always manage to shift your opinions of them and make you wonder why you were so quick to judge.

I am currently sitting on my plane somewhere between Toronto and New York City, and after napping the entire way between Charlottetown and Toronto, I am wide-awake and pumped to finally arrive. I booked a ticket on a bus from the airport to Port Authority online yesterday, so I’m a little nervous about figuring out where to catch this bus, but at the same time, not actually worried. It’ll all work out…it always does. This trip so far has already been a lot different than any other trip I’ve taken. I am obsessive compulsive when it comes to lists, normally I would have had about 3 lists in preparation for the trip-what to pack, what to do before I go, what to do when I get there etc.

I am proud to say that I actually didn’t even have a list on paper anywhere that had to do with the trip. I just threw some stuff in a duffle bag this morning, and figured I’d spend my first day in NYC bumming around downtown and stumbling across cool things. I think my goal for tomorrow is a running tour of Hoboken, maybe stopping in at Cake Boss for something delicious mid-run, then probably the Rockefeller Center because there is a Magnolia Bakery in there. Cupcakes for lunch? Yes Please!

I’m reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma right now by Michael Pollen. I’ve read one of his books before, and I’m a fan. What I like about his writing is that it’s super informative, and he is passionate and clearly has strong opinions about food, the industry and the raising of the animals we eat, but he’s not preachy. I recommend this book for anyone who wonders what it is they are blindly putting into their mouths. It’s crazy when you think about it, we know SO little about the agricultural industry, yet it’s one we rely on for survival, and depend on for our health. There are very few other things that we are so willing to trust despite not knowing anything about. I think in my next life I will be a farmer, or maybe for some portion of this life. I would love to have a giant vegetable patch, some chickens and a beehive one day. I am going to try to get a job on a farm this summer, or do some volunteering as a farm hand in an attempt to learn more about what goes into the production of the foods we take for granted every meal.

In other news, I JUST arrived at Rachel’s in Hoboken and it is such an awesome spot, I love it already. Her roommates are super awesome. At the airport the bus attendant guy called me perky, and in the same breath asked if I was in the military. Until now I was unaware that a correlation existed between those two-but maybe this means I look assertive and therefore people won’t mess with me. It must because I'm badass.

The entire plane ride from Toronto to NY was full of people talking about the Canada versus US hockey game that’s on right now. I heard about 6 different groups of people say they were going to the bar Tonic to watch it as soon as we landed. I think it really just started with one person saying it and being over heard until eventually the entire plane decided it was THE place to go to watch the game. As soon as we landed, 60% of the passengers had cells phones in hand immediately, dialing friends to find out what the score was, who was scoring, which goalie was in net etc. I couldn’t always tell if there were more Canadian fans or US fans but given the enthusiasm and sense of urgency in knowing, I’m guessing Canadian.

Driving on the bus through the city to get to the bus station I couldn’t help but notice how bright the city is (I know, anyone who has never been here could have told me that!) and of course the first thing I wonder is how many of the light bulbs in the city are energy efficient? I’m crossing my fingers but not holding my breath that the majority are. It actually mostly reminds me of the CNE-there is so much cheap crappy food being advertised on street corners and in little hole in the wall shops, people everywhere and everything is on sale.

I was initially worried about being a dork with a map in one hand and a camera in the other, but I quickly realized that the mere fact that I’m not wearing a scarf, nor did I even bring a scarf is a dead give away that I’m an outsider. First stop tomorrow? Scarf shopping.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Cafe Culture

About a month ago I read a story in the paper about Cafe culture, and how it is disappearing. Instead of going to cafes to be social and converse with others, the modern cafe is now a place to do work and sit on your lap top for hours. I must admit, I am currently sitting in Starbucks with an Americano blogging on my mac book. Cliche? Extremely. But sometimes you just need to get out of the house. ( I love my roommates, but sometimes too much of a good thing can be bad news bears.) I think one of the things I like most about Charlottetown is it's sense of community. This translates into it's coffee shops, and maintains "cafe culture." Very rarely will you see more than maybe 2 laptops at a time in a coffee shop, and no matter who is here and who comes in, someone in the back of the line will know someone in the front of the line who knows someone in the middle of the line who is waiting for someone who knows the barista's brother. It's a lot more exciting going for coffee knowing you will probably run into someone you forgot you knew and haven't talked to in ages. It helps that this particular Starbucks is Charlottetown's first and only, and has only been here since October so the place is still buzzing with excitement and filled with perplexing looks on the faces of new comers as they try to decipher the menu.

I went to see the internship coordinator a few days ago to discuss placement options because I was stressing out big time. I am so glad I did, she is quite possibly the most helpful person I have ever met. Here I am, wigging out and a bit frantic barging into (well I knocked...) her office talking a million miles an hour about all my conflicting ideas about what placement I want this summer and the pros and cons of each option and spazing out hard core. Meanwhile, she laughs at me and calmly asks me what I would want in an ideal world, regardless of the pre-set placements we were given, and proceeds to figure out how to make my ideal possible. Just like that. I left her office feeling a lot better about some new placement combinations she created for me and feeling extremely high maintenance. But on the bright side, this summer is looking better and better everyday; mostly because it's getting closer and closer.

So as of right now, I think I'll be doing a normal 2 month placement, finishing June 25th and then going home. BUT I think I'll be coming back to the island a month later at the end of July for one week to do the Diabetes Camp that I really wanted to do. I love camp, camp is great. I suppose it means I'm doing one extra week of free interning but it'll be worth it to get to be home a month early AND go to camp. I'm crossing my fingers that everything works out.

The hardest part about this whole internship thing is having to compete against all your friends. First we were competing to get an internship, now we're competing to get the placements we want. If two people pick the same one, it'll come down to luck of the draw, and I don't want to be the person to take away someone's first choice.

Last night, I got home from work in time to catch the men's Skeleton finals. Oh man, so exciting. First of all, the idea of sledding head first down a giant ice ramp at 140 km/hr is awesome, and something I really want to try. The Canadian Jon Montgomery, was in second after the first two runs, but was slowely chipping away at the lead with each run. When it came down to the leaders last run, he slowely got further, and further behind but it was hard to tell until he actually crossed the line that Canada was going to take it. Jon Montgomery quickly became my new favorite person. Mostly because his helmet has a giant turtle on it, but I suppose winning a gold medal doesn't hurt either. Skeleton in general was pretty intense this year, with Mellisa Hollingsworth falling short in her last run. My heart broke a little when she gave a tearful interview after her race worried about letting down her entire country. But like she said, she made a mistake that could have been made anywhere; in practice, at world cup etc, and it was just unfortunate it happened at the Olympics. My next blog post will likely be from either New York City or on route to NYC. So stayed tuned!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Pancakes and Summer Camp

Yesterday was our very first meeting all together as interns with our coordinator Linda. It was long overdue, as we had all heard rumors and were questioning exactly what was going on this summer. Turns out that our schedule has had some changes and I will now be dunzo as of June 25th! That's about a month earlier than I thought, which means a whole extra month at home that I am available to work and be with family and friends, and maybe get in a paddle or two. Sounds absolutely fabulous right? Well it is...but there's a catch.

We were presented with a list of our options in terms of placements. There are two placements this summer, one in a clinical setting and one in food service. Each of the 10 options has a placement for May and a placement for June, and we have to email Linda notifying her of our first and second choices. The problem is choosing. For many of the options, one placement sounds fabulous but the accompanying placement for the opposing month is not so much ideal. I am particularly torn because the one placement (of all 20) that really jumped out at me as something I would love to do is a one week long overnight summer camp for kids with diabetes. The kicker is, the placement that accompanies the camp is two months of part time work instead of one month of full time work. This would mean being on the island for an extra month and home only for August. I am also really interested in gerontology, and many of the other combinations include one placement in a long term care facility, however the summer camp combo doesn't. But that being said, the summer camp option's clinical portion is doing home care visits with a dietitian, which interests me more than some of the other clinical options.

I keep flip flopping in my head, I'll convince myself I have made up my mind and log into my UPEI email account to e-mail Linda and then I'll pause, and my brain will get all mixed up again and I'll second guess my decision. I have asked basically everyone I know their opinion but I still really can't choose. Is one week of camp worth a whole month of groceries, bills, inability to work full time, and not seeing my family and friends from home? I have been reminded by a couple friends that it's really a win-win situation. Either I stay here and get to work at the summer camp, and experience a true PEI summer for the first time, or I get to go home a month earlier than I expected.

Before I was faced with this decision, I was able to enjoy a free pancake lunch on campus for Pancake Tuesday. Pancakes are one of those foods that I don't eat very often, but every time I do, I wonder why I don't eat them for every meal. How could you not love carbs drenched in butter and maple syrup? It's probably best that I am not eating them everyday for that very reason. It made me excited to go into the sugar woods with my sister and grandparents at some point in March. Might be my car's first trip across the bridge!

Side Note: the half pipe snowboarder from France drew a french mustache onto his face with a sharpie. It makes me laugh but I'm wondering if it's offending anyone from France. I am also wondering why I keep getting the urge to add lame little clip art pictures to this blog (exibit A and B above) thinking that they are in fact sprucing it up. I will attempt to add actual photos more often from now on.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Awfully Familiar...

Upon reading the Globe and Mail this morning, I came across an awfully familiar story.

It seems as though I'm not the only advocate for humane mouse traps. This story, however, ends happily ever after and the mouse is set free into the wild... most likely to quickly find it's way back into this guy's house. Our humane trap didn't work, but I would not have set the little guy free across the street; I was planning on driving out to Summerside or Cavendish or as far as I could get. Heck, if the bridge didn't cost 41.50$ to cross, I would have dropped the mouse off in New Brunswick. As it turns out, we are hosting an army of mice and not just one so the humane trap might not have been the best option. Weekly trips to Summerside would, quite frankly, take way more time than I have. But it made me feel better that I wasn't the only one initially having so many issues with the wooden mouse trap. I am looking forward to an update and will be checking back in anticipation in a few days.

In other news, the USDA is taking action to improve the quality of organic dairy. Since 2002, in order to label a dairy product 'organic' the cows simply had to have access to pasture, there were no regulations stating that they had to be fed on pasture. The USDA has just issued new rules that will become effective starting in June. Check out this post from Marion Nestle on her Food Politics blog (you can find the link to the blog to your left). Our food system is so messed up, but I suppose it's nice to see at least a minor improvement taking place. Hopefully it leads to more substantial regulation and policy changes across all sectors of the industry in the near future. It's a start though...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Olympic Fever

Despite being absolutely buried in school work due in the next week, I can't help but be sitting in front of the television as much as possible watching the Olympics. I keep telling myself I can be a multitasking super star and get to watch and study but we all know that's not happening. I really don't mind though. The winter Olympics only happens every four years, meaning that for only two weeks of my entire University career I can be a slacker without feeling guilty. Speaking of Olympics, we won another silver medal today in the Mens Snowboard Cross. Exciting race, I've seen the replay about five times and still cheer out loud every time he comes second.

By the phrase 'we won' I really mean Mike Robertson, but somehow at the Olympics singular identities become more elusive and all of a sudden everyone takes responsibility for our athlete's triumphs. This is true for the majority of the medals, but the more epic performances launch the athlete into super stardom and their names are never forgotten. I find my self flipping through the channels trying to find coverage and getting frustrated at Access Hollywood even being on during the Olympics. Who could possibly even care about the latest celeb gossip right now? And Jeopardy, I love that show but unless every episode is Olympic themed for the next two weeks it is quite frankly a waste of a channel that could be broadcasting one of the many sports that we only ever get to witness during the Olympics like luge and skeleton and bobsled and snowboard cross and moguls and biathlon and basically every other winter Olympic sport other than hockey.

However, with productivity at an all time low, my spirits seem to be an an all time high. Funny how that works. I am starting to get extremely pumped for my trip to NYC. This time next week I'll be strolling around downtown New York undoubtedly doing something amazingly awesome. I've been asking around to find out what I should do, see and eat in NYC and so far it seems as though I will be eating A LOT next week, and I won't lie, I am completely ok with this. I am still looking for suggestions though so feel free to keep em coming! I think I might have to outfit myself from head to toe in team Canada gear while I am there though. Unfortunately if I want to do fun things in NYC, I will have to sacrifice couch time. Not the greatest timing but I'll make it work and somehow manage not to miss too much. On the bright side at least the time difference works in my favor.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Olympics have been underway for a few days now and I have already watched more TV in the last few days than I have all semester. 3 days in and it's already been epic. Unfortunately we don't get CTV so we haven't had the chance to literally sit in front of the TV 24/7 watching; we catch some on OLN, some on TSN and some on NBC so it works pretty well. I definitely have olympic fever, and am pumped to watch again tonight!

I had a really great weekend. Unfortunately though, the social aspect meant I missed Jenn Heil win her silver medal on Saturday night. It was a friends birthday so a bunch of us got together, ate cupcakes, cookies and jello, and then went out dancing. We ended up going to the sketchiest bar in Charlottetown and I was reminded of why I haven't been since I was in first year, but I was with a super fun group of girls so it kind of made up for the horrible DJ, the 50 yrs old cougars and the major creepers.

Last night was Valentines day, and I spent the day at work. Pizza doesn't really attract to many love birds so we were pretty slow and I got to do an extra good job sweeping the dining room while watching biathlon on the restaurant television. The Canadian Jean-Philippe Le Guellec came 6th in the 10 km sprint, a best ever result for Canada in that sport. After work, Sam and I went over to Cindy's for some fajitas and frozen peanut butter pie and to watch more olympics. Cindy is an awesome host, and had an entire feast for us when we got there, with everything down to the salsa made from scratch. So good.

We watched history be made after dinner when Alexandre Bilodeau won Canada's first gold ever on home soil. Cindy, Sam and I were literally jumping off the couch when he won. So exciting! Moguls are super fun to watch to begin with, and team Canada kicked ass, with a 1st, 4th, 5th and 11th. Not to shabby eh!
After dinner Sam and I continued our rounds and stopped by Lexy's for some wine and to share the left over dessert from Cindy's. It was low key and chill and we all just chatted for an hour or so until we decided it was late enough that we were allowed to go home. Today is Islander Day so we get a long weekend and have no school which is fabulous because we also have a quiz and a midterm tomorrow. Which I have yet to even open a book for. It doesn't really seem fair that life still must go on as normal during the olympics. I think it should be declared an international holiday and the whole world should just shut down for two weeks in celebration.

Friday, February 12, 2010

I'm Likin' It

I came across this video on one of the blogs I read and it made me laugh. With the 2010 Vancouver Olympics opening tonight (yahoo!!) I thought it was appropriate. I believe the video is from This Hour Has 22 Minutes.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Revenge of the Rodent: The Sequel

This JUST in!

Mouse # 2 has been detected. But we suspect that this one may be hungrier, bigger and more bad ass than the first. That's just the way sequels roll isn't it? This time we're not messing more of this trying to be humane and giving him three chances. We're setting the real trap right away this time...tonight. Maybe they used team work last time to escape from the humane trap. Maybe there is a whole army of mice back to avenge the death of their fallen comrade. The one we've detected tonight is just trying to lure us into the cupboard by loudly munching cereal boxes and sweet potatoes, and then, as we peak into the cupboard to try to catch the rascal, BAM, the army is unleashed!

I suspect we'll be stocking up on traps tomorrow in preparation for war.

All work and no play makes KP happy...but quite possibly extremely dull

The Friday before a long weekend is always the best. You still have classes to go to so you end up being productive for at least part of the day, but classes usually end early and are less work than normal because profs know that no one is focusing. Plus knowing you have 3 full days of weekend ahead make it that much more ok to accomplish absolutely nothing Friday afternoon. The best part about this coming long weekend is the reason: Islander day. It's the PEI equivalent to Ontario's Family Day, so it's not even a real holiday, just a good excuse not to go to class or work.

This week, I learned that the more time I have, the more time I waste. I think this is why I choose to be so busy all the time. If I didn't have a million things to do all the time, nothing would get done. I am fully aware of how ridiculous that sounds, but this week proved my logic perfectly. Swimming is officially over for the year and one morning of volunteering got cancelled so I was left with a lot more free time. It also happened to be a week with a much lighter work load for my classes than I've had in the past few weeks. One would think that all this extra time on my hands would make me more productive, and allow me to get caught up and ahead in school / sleep or accomplish fun and exciting things that I normally don't get the time for. In addition, I also had a car this week for the first time, which could essentially be referred to as a time saving device. So here I am, fewer time commitments, a new time saving device and less to get done. The problem with free time is that it's addictive. Once you take a break it makes getting going again that much harder. I wasted so much time this week doing nothing. At the time it seemed as though I was being productive somehow, but it was just on silly little time wasting things that didn't actually need to get done. So here it is, Thursday night and there is nothing more crossed off my weekend to do list than there would have been if I had been my usual crazy busy self all week.

Luckily, the swim coach sent out a list of swim practices we can attend every week. It means swimming with the younger club swimmers who kick my butt, but on the bright side it means I can add an hour and a half to two hours of swimming to my daily to do list. Not only is this awesome because it forces me to get a good workout in 3-6 days a week, but it will also force me to be more productive the rest of the day. Knowing you have no time makes you a lot more efficient. I happen to like being efficient. Efficient makes me happy.

There's that saying "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" I wonder if I am making myself super dull by being so convinced that I have to be super productive all the time. It's not that I feel that I HAVE to be, it just feels a lot nicer than stressing all the time and depending on the last minute to get things done. My problem is that I love too many things, and I get really excited about too many new things and try to squeeze it all into my schedule somehow. Maybe instead of trying to be productive I should be trying to learn how to prioritize instead of doing everything.

University presents you with so many new opportunities that it's hard to turn any of them down, and even harder to admit you just can't handle more things to do. There was a request for volunteers from the Family and Nutritional Sciences department (thats me!) this week to volunteer with the Diabetes Association of PEI and it took every fiber of my being, and some stern talking to from Sam, not to reply and say "Pick Me!" Even as I sit here, I find myself figuring out in my head how and when I could make time for more volunteering.

I am crossing my fingers that this obsessive busyness is just a phase and that I'll eventually out grow trying to do everything, but I am also crossing my fingers that I never outgrow the passion I have for my profession and willingness and enthousiasm to try anything and everything.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Fired Up!

This week is Diversity Week on campus and today I had the opportunity to attend one of the diversity week events; a luncheon on Quality Access to Food. I am soo happy I went! First of all they served a really delicious curried carrot and peanut soup, yummy oatmeal raisin cookies, and fair trade coffee. The discussion was led by one of my professors, and included a panel of 3 local farmers from PEI. One was an organic pig farmer, originally a chef from north of Toronto who moved here 2 years ago to start a pig farm. One was a young women who started volunteering on organic farms as a cheap way to travel across the west coast of the states, she ended up falling in love with organic farming and came back to the island in 2008 to start her own farm. The third was a fair trade advocate who has done a lot of work with Via Campesina.

I feel like I came away from the lecture with renewed passion for my profession and the acquired knowledge of where to source more local, organic food here on the island. We talked about a couple things that I have really been interested in but haven't been able to devote the time to figuring out for myself such as Community Supported Agriculture. I've been really interested in participating in a CSA for a while now, but haven't really been able to source any farmers offering the service near me until today. Very exciting stuff! I look forward to digging a little deeper into the resources I learned about today in order to find more delicious food. I am hoping to be able to visit some farms, be able to see exactly how they produce their products, and then buy directly from farmers come the summer when everything is in full swing. Having a label say 'free-range' on a package of chicken just isn't enough anymore. Industry has found so many loop-holes to be able to market their products as organic or 'natural' in order to increase sales. My goal is to become a lot more connected with what I'm eating, to know first hand exactly where it came from, what went into its production and the nutritional and environmental impact the product has. I feel very fortunate that I will be on PEI for the majority of the summer because I feel that this is one of the only places where it's possible to learn all this first hand and have direct access to a wide variety of farmers.

I also got a job today! UPEI has a program called SNAP that collects dietary data from elementary school kids in order to evaluate policies and trends and such. I got hired as a student research assistant and will hopefully be traveling to local elementary schools starting in the next few weeks to help out with the data collection. I am really really excited for this project, and would probably even do it for free. I have yet to participate in any research initiatives, and this project is in my field of future practice. It'll be great to have some research experience before embarking on my research based honors degree next September (which I will hopefully find a prof to take me on for) and for any grad school applications when I decided to get my masters/phd. So much exciting stuff coming up!

Monday, February 8, 2010

This weekend I got my first car. It still hasn't quite hit me yet that I will now be able to venture beyond walking distance of campus and explore the island. I only have one picture at the moment. I actually thought they were on my computer already but somehow I plugged the card reader in (thanks dad!) but never actually uploaded them to the computer. Sadly, I'm not even surprised I did that, totally a kp move. Part of my charm I suppose.

I came across a really neat fund raising project for the disaster in Haiti. Food bloggers have united to create a cookbook called Blogaid. What I like about this cookbook-at least what I've read about it- is that there are all sorts of niche foodies involved in the project. There are bloggers with celiac disease, those who are vegetarians, and even the Island's own Micheal Smith has contributed. I am seriously considering buying a copy. There's just no such thing as too many cookbooks.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Birds

Yesterday was a strange day. I was woken up not by my alarm clock but by crows. Crows are to PEI what raccoons are to Toronto. They are absolutely everywhere and rip apart your garbage bags and make a huge mess. Except here, the crows are out all the time, not just at night. Usually you see them everywhere but just like anything you become desensitized to them and ignore them. but yesterday morning, they were impossible to ignore. First of all they were so loud that they actually woke me up. It sounded as though the entire house was surrounded, and sure enough, when I looked out the window to figure out what the heck was going on, we were in fact completely surrounded. The trees looked as though they were fully leaved, except instead of being pleasantly green and leafy, they were black and noisy and pooping everywhere. The trees all around the house (out my bedroom window and the bathroom window) were saturated with crows. It was so erie and I couldn't help but remember two things: the movie The Birds, by Alfred Hitchcock, and the incident I had walking to school in November.

I was walking to either school, work or the pool, I can't remember where but I was walking up University Avenue. It was fairly chilly out because I was wear my UPEI Panthers toque. So here I am, minding my own business just strolling along (oh wait, I remember now, I was headed to the farmers market to sell raffle tickets for swim team, hence why I was dressed in Panther attire) minding my own business. I was walking just past the Harley club, and there is a crow sitting on the sidewalk. I notice it but think nothing of it and keep on walking. A few meters later, out of no where, all of a sudden I feel something hit my head and I look up, startled, and see my toque flying away down the sidewalk! Before I could even figure out what happened, the toque thankfully lands about 100 meters in front of my on the ground. This stupid crow had actually snuck up behind me, snatched my hat with it's razor sharp talons and flown away with it!! I picked up my hat and put it back on and kept walking still not fully understanding what had just happened, and thinking to myself that if I had witnessed that scene from a car driving by I would probably be laughing hysterically at the sight of some girl running down the street chasing a crow carrying a hat. So the lesson of the day: beware of hat stealing crows, or all crows on the island if you want to be safe.

Also when I woke up yesterday, it was unusually cold in our house. I thought nothing of it since it's -30 outside and our house is old and poorly insulated. Sam checked the oil the other day with our landlord when he was here filling potential mouse holes with tinfoil, so I knew we had oil. I went to the pool for the first session of AUS Swim Champs, followed by a lunch banquet kicking off the weekend, and then came home around 130. When I got home, it was really cold in the house. I checked the thermostat and it read only 11 degrees! It was still set as it usually is so I put two and two together realized that our heater must be broken again. Big Bummer. Sam and I sat in a 10 degree house for a couple hours while we waited for the landlord to come fix it, and then we had to get more oil delivered to be sure that we would have enough, but they couldn't come until Monday, which would be way to late. So 50 bucks later, we got oil right away. Oil is a huge pain. It's super expensive and if you need it within a 4 days of actually requesting it, they charge you a million dollars extra. But there wasn't much we could do other than that. So we left the landlord fixing the heater and bleeding the lines as we went off to work crossing our fingers that the house would be withing the double digits when we got home.

We had a little mini dance party in celebration of heat when we got home from work. Yahoo for working heaters! We watched a movie and made smores in the oven and had a marvelously chill night here at home and then went to bed in preps for my big day of swimming today! I haven't raced since first semester of last year, and I am very excited! I've done some personal best times this year in practice, and while I know I am not as prepared to race as I have been in the past, I'm just so excited to actually race that I know it'll be super fun either way. Racing is fun, and it's the reason we train twice a day so I'd be more worried if I felt 100% prepared and wasn't excited about it.

As for now, I have to go get all my swimming stuff together; I'm in the pool warming up in 30 minutes! The panthers did awesome yesterday, we had a whole bunch of people in consoles/finals and I think almost everyone had either a personal best or a seasonal best in the prelims. I'm hoping everyone will feed of the awesome energy from yesterday and kick some more butt today. I am hoping to contribute to this butt kicking. I'll try to find a link to the results page to post tomorrow!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

And Then There Were Three...

Exciting news! Our fourth roommate, who happened to be eating all of our food in the middle of the night is now officially dunzo. We eventually had to resort to a real mouse trap because the humane trap failed miserably on several occasions. So in one try the good old traditional trap worked like a charm. I think we're going to set another trap tonight just in case there are more, but I'm hoping we don't find another mouse belly up tomorrow morning.

This week has been ridiculously busy at school. It's been one of those weeks where I feel like I've been in a rush to do absolutely everything and as a result everything has suffered. I got everything done, yes, but not very well, at least not to my standards. This is the first semester I've ever been forced to settle for that and it really isn't easy. But sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.Something I am trying to and am having issues with accepting.

My Dad is in town (well on the east coast) this week to do some car shopping for my sister and I! It's very exciting for several reasons: a) This time next week I will have my very first car, b) I get to see my dad! It's also exciting because having a car will make it a lot easier to go visit my siter and my grandparents in Amherst and Sackville. Although it's only a hour and a half away, I only realy ever make it over the bridge once or maybe twice a semester. It will also make it a lot easier to get to swim practices and the grocery store and to run errands etc. I'm still not sure what I did to deserve a car but I appreciate it!

The past three years have been spent walking everywhere by lack of choice, and while this can be annoying and time consuming, at the end of the day it's kind of nice. I always resent it a bit while I'm piling on the layers but once I'm out walking I'm (almost) always glad I am. I am really hoping that having a car will allow me to do everything I have yet to be able to here on the island, but at the same time won't make me lazy. I still hope to walk to work and downtown (when it's not too bitterly windy) but I know it'll take a lot of will power not to just jump in the car. It's so easy to just rely on the car all the time for little tasks that are just as easy to walk to or bike to. Every summer I come home and tell myself that I will walk to the grocery store when I'm home but I never end up actually doing any more walking.

It's been freakishly cold here on the island so I opted for a treadmill run today between class and lab. I was in the second row of treadmills and the girl running in front of me was too funny. She was listening to an ipod and not only was she running, but she was busting mad moves at the same time. She had her hands pumping, her head bobbing and was loving her life. It made my day for sure. I was a little envious actually. I was not having nearly as much fun as she was as I was dripping and huffing and puffing. Whenever I do get the urge to dance up a storm at the gym, which is often because my ipod is magic and always plays exactly what I want to hear at exactly the right time, I am always way to self conscious to actually throw a fist pump or two in the air. But I have officially added dancing on the treadmill to my list of things to do before I die.

Tomorrow morning is the first session of Atlantic University Swimming Championships hosted by UPEI and although I don't have any races tomorrow, I am very excited for the meet to get underway. We got our new team jackets today and they look really sharp on everyone, they're nice black soft shells with UPEI Swimming, the panther logo and our initials embroidered on them. I haven't raced yet this year because of my ticker and it's potential to malfunction but I decided I would race at AUs. I race on Saturday morning and Sunday morning and since my dad is here, it'll be the first time he's seen me swim since I swam Esso swim when I Was like 5. I like racing in the pool because since I'm just quasi starting and learning, the improvement rate is huge which is always fun. Plus I don't really have a ton of expectations going into races. Obviously doing personal best times and swimming well is always the goal but there's no pressure to perform, no teams I'm trying to make and no one (including myself) has any preconceived ideas about how fast I should be, who I should be beating etc. It makes racing so much fun! I haven't been this excited to race in a really long time.

As for now I need to hydrate and get lots of sleep before the big weekend, And also attempt to contain my excitement about seeing my dad and getting a car! I may have to learn how to drive standard, which will be quite the adventure since I have major spastic tendencies. Either way I hope to update this blog more often than I managed to last week so it will be a well documented learning experience!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Fabulous February!

Yahoo for February!

February is an exciting month for many reasons, particularly this year with the kick off of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver a mere 12 days away. It's one month closer to spring, home of valentines day, and the month I will be going to New York City for the first time. Lots to look forward to for sure!

Also in February are the Atlantic University Swimming Championships that are being hosted for the first time ever here in our home pool at UPEI. It's going to be a jam packed weekend; we swim prelims every morning and finals every evening. Unfortunately I have to work both Friday and Saturday night so I am going to miss finals but I'll be cheering for my fellow panthers from afar. To get pumped up for AUS champs, I hosted a team spaghetti dinner and poster making party last night. There was sooo much food and we made a whole bunch of giant banners and posters to adorn the pool walls next weekend. Every one is getting amped up and we're tappering for the even as you speak. My schedule this semester has somehow managed to be even more jam packed than usual so I haven't really been swimming very much, only 3-4 times a week so I am really just craving some hard practices when I go to the pool, but I'm sure I'll be glad of the extra starting, diving, turning practice come Saturday morning for my first race.

A lot to do before the weekend though! Quizes, midterms, assignments, oh my!