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.