Sunday, 31 August 2014

My School Day Morning Routine | Back To School

The alarm sounds and you crawl out of bed, sleep deprived and getting ready to head out for another day of school. Don't we all love the sound of that? Nonetheless, there's no use in preventing the inevitable, so you go about with your morning routine mechanically and half asleep. So, I thought I would share my school day morning routine with all of you!

During the beginning of the school year, I take the bus to school. Not a yellow school bus or anything, no, I take the public transportation kind. Not to mention that my school is completely across the city from me (about a 1 to 1 1/2 hour bus ride). So, my morning starts at 7:15 when my dad wakes me up. 

I usually drag myself directly to the bathroom from my bed. The reason I do this is because I hate when I'm washing my face and the water gets onto my outfit of the day, so it's much easier to risk getting my pajamas wet instead. I usually start off with brushing my teeth. The specific toothpaste I use changes all the time, but my family and I usually stick to using Crest toothpastes. After brushing my teeth, I use THEFACESHOP's pore brush to apply the Cetaphil face wash all over my face, using a circular scrubbing motion. I then wash it off and apply my Aveeno SPF 30 moisturizer, and if I'm especially tired and have very prominent dark circles, I'll follow up with applying the Maybelline concealer in my under eye area.

That's usually all I do in the washroom. I then return to my room and find the clothes I'll be wearing. Sometimes this takes a very short amount of time if I was feeling very efficient the night before, and already laid out the clothes. Otherwise, being indecisive, it takes me forever to pick out my outfit. Side note: Here are some outfits I picked out for the first week of school.

Hopefully, after getting dressed, I can just pick up my bag and head downstairs, but most of the time, I haven't packed my bag the night before. Even if I have, I tend to pull my agenda out every morning to double check that I have everything I need for the day in my bag.

All that's left before heading out the door is to eat breakfast. I'm a pretty lucky person in the sense that my dad always wakes up earlier than me, so breakfast is usually on the table by the time I get downstairs, but I'd love to try and make some of the breakfasts I posted on this post myself this year. Breakfast is usually pretty rushed for me, and then I'm out the door by 7:50.

So there's my morning routine during the school year! Once again, apologies for missing a day again, I completely forgot that my entire Saturday was booked full with events, leaving me with no time to write out a blog post. Only two more to go, and one day left before school starts!

What's your school day morning routine?

Friday, 29 August 2014

2 Quick & Healthy Breakfasts | Back To School

 There's nothing more important than having a good breakfast to start off your school day. You've all probably heard this many times already, but your brain and body really do need some good nutrition to maximize its performance during the day. So here are two breakfast items that I have been eating a lot during the summer, and probably will continue eating for breakfast as school reenters my life.

Fruit Smoothie

My family recently bought ourselves a magic bullet and have been making smoothies like crazy. The one in the photos above is probably my favourite smoothie so far. It's simply a mixture of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries with a banana and some yogurt. In this case, I used vanilla-flavoured yogurt, but we have recently purchased plain yogurt to make the smoothie even healthier.

The best part about this smoothie is that you end up eating an incredible amount of fruits. Though I love fruits and all, I usually tell myself that I'm too busy to prepare fruits when I get home from school. Since I'm one to never skip breakfast, adding some fruits into my breakfast has brought the fruit consumption in my house to its ultimate high.

Oatmeal & Berries

One downside to having a smoothie for breakfast is that there is no wheat products. Of course, you could easily add flax seeds or something, but not all of us have those at home. Oatmeal is also super easy to make. Just pop the pot of oatmeal on the stove to cook and wash and cut your fruits while waiting for it to be ready. Another perk to having oatmeal is that it should definitely keep you full until lunch time. There's nothing worse than starving yourself in a class where the teacher doesn't let you eat.

So this is a pretty short post, but these two items are what I have been genuinely eating for the past two months at home. However, I tend to go for bigger breakfasts and eat less during the other two meals of the day so that's why I have a slice of homemade bread with my oatmeal in the last photo (which definitely isn't quick to make). So that brings me to suggest that if you happen to find a little extra time on the weekends, it definitely helps to do a little baking ahead of time so you have essentially prepared enough breakfast to last you through the week. Of course, full credit goes to my parents for all the baked goods, seeing as the baking I like to do is far too sweet for breakfast...

What's your go-to breakfast on school days?

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Organising My Desk | Back To School

I'd like to say that I'm pretty good at keeping my desk organised. Of course, this might have to do with the fact that I have a very short attention span so any amount of clutter can distract me from doing work. Oh, and pay attention to the 'pretty' part in pretty organised. To get seriously organised, I've noticed that it usually requires loads of space and essentially, I would have to remodel my entire room. So this is the best I can do with what I have. :P

So starting off on the right side of my desk, the very first thing you'll probably notice is my desk lamp. It's actually super cool and you can find it at Costco. It has a really sleek and modern design to it, and the stand is very flexible, you can literally bend it front to back or side to side. Near the base of the lamp, I have two pretty quirky little green items (don't know if you've noticed, but my room is very green lol). One is a little googly-eyed guy that I can put my glasses on and the other is a (very magical) no staple stapler. Though I wouldn't recommend using it to hand in assignments since the papers fall apart pretty easily...

Right next to my lamp, I have a little 2 rack black shelf. I like to use the top shelf for notebooks so they are easy to grab if I happen to be going to a meeting or a school trip where notes need to be taken. I also keep a week-long schedule note pad in the pile where I make a little to-do list for each day of the week. That's usually how I keep up with blogging during the school year. On the bottom shelf, it's pretty much just the basic lined paper with some miscellaneous pieces of paper tucked underneath that I use for rough jot notes or for rough work when doing math homework (fun...).

This is the point where I admit to my obsession with notebooks. My house is probably about to collapse from the sheer weight of the notebooks we own, but I always want to buy more. I find that they're just super handing in organising your work, writing, or just your thoughts in general. That's why my two little special notebooks get a special place upright, next to my mini shelf. Those to notebooks are my Quotes Book and my Blogging Book.

Right next to those, I have a little box that secretly has a bit of a mess inside it. I'm just going to say that I am a strong believer in, what I like to call, 'organised clutter'. I like to keep little squares of paper to use when jotting down notes. They'd probably be pretty useful for creating shopping lists as well. My box is looking a little more put together recently, however, since I recently bought two new stacks of flashcards for school and three tiny little composition notebooks to carry around in my bags. (See? More notebooks...)

Skipping the tissue box... I also love pens. As you can probably see. Yes, I have two full pencil holders and I am not ashamed. Okay, maybe just a little ashamed... But I find that keeping most of my stationary at home and taking less with me in my pencil case really helped me keep my pencil case clean and organised. I actually didn't lose anything last year!

Finally, there's the little corner that I just finished today. With the way classrooms work today, we all spend waay too much time in front of our laptops. I found near the end of the last school year that my neck had been becoming more and more tense. I thought that resting my neck for a while during the summer would help loosen my muscles a little, but so far, it's just been getting worse. So, I finally decided to lug up this monitor from our basement and give it a shot. Not to mention that I think it adds a very nice touch to my desk, and room as a whole, and I'm really loving the big screen.

So there's my desk as it is! I hope it'll be staying like this for the rest of the year... or at least until December when I'll have a chance to clean it during winter break, haha... Also, side note. I'm sorry for skipping out on the post yesterday! I was planning to post it at night after spending the day outside enjoying the last few days of summer, but I ended up covering for someone at work for a last minute emergency. Finally! I have a legitimate excuse, haha. Anyways, I'll see you all tomorrow! xx

(Another note: I woke up at 7 today and it's almost 12 here, so I haven't read this over and I apologize for any typos :( )

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Five Outfit Ideas | Back To School

For me (and probably many, many others out there), summer is the season of shopping. Whether it be full out shopping sprees or little purchases here and there, I'm sure all of us somehow end up with a pile of new purchases by the end of summer vacation. And what could be more exciting than finally being able to wear all your new clothes to school? It definitely tends to be one of the more positive things to look forward to during the back to school season. Now on to the outfits!

Outfit A: Modern-Boho

Floral Bralette from Garage
Skater Skirt from H&M
Brown Sandals from Sketchers
Floral Heart Sunglasses from Aldo

Outfit B: Monochrome with Pop of Floral

Black T-Shirt from H&M
Acid-Washed High-Waisted Denim Shorts from Garage
Floral & Black Platform Flip Flops from Aldo
Floral Baseball Cap from American Eagle

Outfit C: Sweet & Girly

Cream Lace Dress from Forever XXI (China)
Pink Flip Flops from Old Navy
Pink and Black Polka-dot Scrunchie from Ardene
Bow & Small Heart Mid Finger Ring from Aldo

Outfit D: Girly & (a little) Sporty

Floral Tank from Garage
Denim Lace Shorts from American Eagle (China)
Coral and White Polka-dot Sneakers from Vans
XOXO Snapback from Taobao

Outfit E: European Chic

Wink Crop Top from Garage
Grey Maxi Skirt from Zara
Black Flip Flops from Adidas

I tried my best to find links to these items so you could find them online. Unfortunately, most of them don't have a link since I either bought the items quite a while ago or because all my items were purchased in stores, so I'm sorry for that! I hope I was able to achieve what I was aiming for by providing a different outfit idea for all sorts of different styles out there. However, you'll probably notice that I still struggle with getting a little colour into my outfits, but monochrome clothing seems to be winning me over so far...

Which outfit was your favourite?

Monday, 25 August 2014

12 Must-Have Apps for School (All Free!) | Back To School

It's finally back to school season! If you're anything like me, you're probably both excited and stressed out at the same time. I find that there's no better way to make the excited part of me dominate than to get organized and buy new things for the upcoming school year. And let's face it, these days, an essential part of our school and classroom experience comes from our phones... so without further ado, here are 12 apps I have found essential to my daily school life.

1. Doze
Doze is an app I actually used quite a lot last year. Listening to music is a must for me when I study, but when it comes time to do some straight-up memorization, I find that certain songs can be distraction. That's when I usually use this app that both tunes out the noise around you and calms your mind. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find Doze on the iTunes App Store, so I found a substitute weather app for only $1.

2. 8tracks
As I mentioned before, different songs create different reactions and moods. However, every body will also react differently to the same song. I love that 8tracks is made up of user-created playlists. This way, all you really have to do is search the name of an artist or a genre and you'll find entire playlists that are made by someone with the same music taste as you. Another plus is that you hopefully won't have to constantly be skipping songs!

3. Songza
As you can probably already tell, music is really important and influences my mood, productivity and positivity. So here's another music app. Much like 8tracks, Songza consists of playlists as well. However, these playlist are not just randomly created and posted, instead, they are carefully made by the people at Songza. They allow you to choose different playlists based on genre, artist or even based on whatever activity you're doing at the moment.

4. Calm not only saved my grades, but also my sanity near the end of the last school year. The stress tends to pile up, and when I discovered this website, I found that I was able to control my stress a lot better. At the end of every school day, right before starting on my homework, the first thing I would do is pop in my earphones and run through their 5-minute exercise option. Of course, there are longer ones to choose, there's even a 2-minute session if you're really in a rush. I was so excited to find that they had finally come out with an app when preparing for this post, meaning that I can do this on the go, fully clearing my mind on the bus ride home so I can scrape up a little extra time and start my work as soon as I get home.

5. Quizlet
My classmates and I have tried so many different sites and apps for virtual flashcards. After going through multiple different sites, I have found Quizlet to be the easiest to use. The design and animations used in Quizlet are extremely attractive yet minimal, and though it doesn't seem like an important factor, I'm sure I would be much less patient with study on a sketchy, poorly designed app. You can also share your flashcards with your classmates so you'll be able to split the work and maximize your study time.

6. OverDrive Media Console
I mentioned this app already in my book post, however I thought I'd bring it up again here. I used to go to the library all the time in elementary school, but with the intensified school schedule, I barely go to the library at all anymore. This app allows you to checkout eBooks from your library's website and download them onto your phone so you can read them anywhere, even when there's no Wi-Fi connection. Another selling factor is that you won't have to add another weighty book to your already overflowing backpack.

7. Calendar
Android Apple
So this is pretty much a default app in every store. Just use it wisely, as I know many people tend to through their school agendas aside and never use them. Hopefully this app and its notifications will remind you of deadlines... and if you slacking off, that flashing LED notification light might do the trick in giving you a little push.

8. Feedly
If you're really passionate about a certain subject in school, or even an activity that has nothing to do with school and you would like to do a little reading on it, I would recommend the Feedly app. It's essentially just an RSS feed that let's you subscribe to your favourite online blogs and magazines so you can keep tracks of all the sites in one app. All you have to do is categorize your subscriptions into folders and scroll through the articles to choose which ones you want to read, or save for later.

9. Khan-App Pro
This app is a lifesaver. Let's be honest, you're pretty much never going to get an all-around amazing list of teachers for the school year. I'm pretty sure everyone has that one teacher who no one in the class can understand. Khan Academy is mainly focused on math, but the creator also constantly records new videos explaining concepts in pretty much every subject you could learn at school. He goes at a super slow pace so everyone can follow along, and if you're a faster learner, you can speed up the video with the option in the settings button on the bottom right corner of every YouTube video.

10. TED
I'm sure you've all heard of TED Talks. If not, it's simply made up of hundreds of videos where intellectuals from all around the world give lectures on very interesting subjects. All of these videos are hilarious, entertaining, eye-opening and extremely influential. This is simply a pocket version of the website.

11. Duolingo
If you want to learn a new language, this is where to go. It even allows for those who do not speak English to learn languages from their mother tongue. Though the options are still slightly limited, it's still an outstanding app, I might even try learning some Spanish.

12. WordReference
Ever since grade 4 when I started French Immersion, this website has been a life saver. It's one of the best translator sites out there. Sadly, it doesn't provide translations for phrases and sentences, but it does give you several precise translations for each word and explains the context of when the word is used. It's always pretty awkward when you get an assignment back and your teacher has a word circled saying that it's anglicized and translated wrongly, haha...

I strongly recommend getting all these apps. Their useful not only for school, but for recreational days and learning new things out of your own interest. I'm planning for this whole Back To School thing to be a week-long series, so I'll see you tomorrow!

What are your must-have apps for school?

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

A Day Trip to Almonte

After waking up extra late on a Sunday morning, my family and I found ourselves on a spontaneous road trip to a little town 30 minutes away from Ottawa, which goes by the name of Almonte. I expected that we would arrive at a typical small town with cute buildings, small gardens and wooden porches, but what I wasn't aware of was that we had arrived in a town known for its overwhelming amount of quirky antique stores.

Even with the hours spent browsing through the various antique stores, I wasn't able to visit all the nooks and crannies of the few antique stores I had the chance to visit, let alone every single shop in town. I did, however (and unfortunately), add multiple items to my wishlist... It's not my fault okay? The stores just had shelves and shelves of old glass bottles and jars, vintage toy cars, cute china deer and rotary phones.

When we finally managed to walk away from all the shops, we just happened to arrive at the small concrete dam at the edge of the town center. This lead to a relaxing walk down their iconic Riverwalk, which was mostly made up of a long winding wooden bridge. Along the walk, I couldn't help but be captured by a daunting message sprayed onto the wood railings of a staircase.

"That sense of home you lost when you left last year."

Who is this 'you'? A parent? A child? A boyfriend or a girlfriend? Is this 'you' someone who left the town behind? Or are they dead? I found it so incredible that this one sentence unleashed such a large number of questions in my mind.

So that's my super deep analysis right there, ahaha, let's move on. Following the Riverwalk, we bumped into a sign with an arrow pointing towards the "Almonte Flea Market". By following the arrow, we found ourselves walking along an empty and vast street which could have easily been used for the set of To Kill A Mockingbird.

Though the flea market itself had shut down quite a while ago (it's primarily open in the morning), we managed to find a couple of vendors still open for business. Most outdoor vendors had already packed up and left, leaving a few stands situated in the small barn near the entrance. This is where I found what I saw as the ultimate jackpot. Rows and rows of old vinyls, comics and books jammed tightly into milk crates, cardboard boxes and wood shelves. I'm definitely going back there once I find myself a record player.

The most shocking event of the day must have happened when we were just about to get on the car and leave. My dad had noticed a bronze statue of a man and a basketball in the middle of the sidewalk. That's right. Almonte is the home of James Naismith, THE  inventor of basketball. Up until now, I never knew that basketball had pretty much originated from my backyard!

I find these little spontaneous day trips to be so quirky and interesting. Though we all may know the stories and historical events of cities such as Paris, London and Rome, most of us hardly think of all the stories contained in the small towns around us... perhaps even of the place we live in. Who knows? Maybe you're living in the backyard of where one of the most iconic historical events took place!

Do you have any travel destinations which left a unique impression on you?