Monday, 25 July 2016

Perfect for Summer!: Rosehip Green Ice Tea with Lemon and Mint Recipe

It's summer here in Toronto, and while I usually don't mind not having air conditioning in my apartment, there have been a few days where it is been hard to handle the heat.

I like to drink ice water to keep cool, but sometimes you want a little sugary, sweet, summery something-something, yah know?

This homemade iced tea recipe is the result of some improvisation, but it turned out so delicious I had to share it!

Things you'll need:
  • Electric or stovetop kettle
  • Large glass bowl or any metal pot (anything that is heat resistant should work)
  • A juice jug
  • 4 green tea bags
  • 2 tbsp loose rosehip tea leaves
  • 1/2 cup of white sugar
  • 5 mint leaves
  • 1/2 lemon (or 2 tbsp lemon juice)
  1. Fill your kettle with as much water as it will hold and let it boil
  2. While waiting for your water to boil, slice your lemon into semicircles/half wedges, like you would find in a restaurant.
  3. Once the water has boiled, pour it into your large glass bowl or pot. I used a regular stovetop pot because I knew it would be able to handle the heat of the boiling water
  4. Throw in your tea bags, loose tea leaves, sugar, and mint.
  5. If you are using a real lemon, squeeze in the juice before adding the lemon wedges to the pot. If you are using lemon juice, add them now. 
  6. Wait. I usually leave the pot to cool down before I'll transport it into a juice container and then put that container in the fridge to get nice and cold. If there is not enough tea to fill your juice jug, don't worry! Just add some cold water from the tap. 
  7. Wait some more as the tea becomes icy cold in the fridge.
  8. Get out your favourite glasses, toss in some ice cubes, a straw...maybe a drink umbrella, and enjoy your homemade summery drink!

My boyfriend likens this iced tea to fruit punch. It's a great way to get that sweat sugary drink you crave in the summer without hundreds of calories. We both highly recommend adding a splash or two of gin, or vodka, if you're in a festive mood. 

What is your favourite summer drink? Is it oppressively hot where you are too? How are you handling the heat?

If you make this tea, please let me know what you think!

Stay cool, everybody! 

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Tunesday: Harriet - "Irish Margaritas"

Shout out to Abbie Paulhus for the super cute lemon sketch.  

Will there ever come a day when I stop singing the praises of Spotify's "Discovery Weekly" playlist and it's uncanny way of introducing me to songs I can't get enough of? I really hope not!

Lemme introduce you to this sweet sugary beverage: the Irish Margarita.

The music video kinda looks like something you would find in the graduating show of an art student, but if that kind of 'narrative' isn't your thing, open a new tab and enjoy this poppy synth song and it's tight vocals. The melody is so catchy, I find myself listening to it over and over just for the pleasure of singing along with the "but we're better off alooone" part.

What do you think is in an Irish Margarita? A shot of whiskey topped with lime? Does it have a salt rim? Does it have a zest of Catholism with a hint of peat smoke?

Take a listen! What did you think?
Was this week's Tunesday a hit or a miss? Let me know down below.

Have a great Tuesday everybody!

Monday, 18 July 2016

Take a Free Instant Vacation in Two Simple Steps!

It's summer and you want to go someplace fun and new... but you're super broke, or you're in summer school, or you need to work as many hours as you can in order to pay for university next year. Sound familiar? That's my life right now. I've been feeling totally overbooked and drained from work and school recently and have been craving a vacation hard core.

Never fear, I have found a solution.

All you need is:

  • a computer/phone/tablet (whatever device you are reading this blog on should work)
  • headphones

  • a yoga mat, blanket and/or a soft pillow 
  • a sunny spot (preferable!)

Step one:
Plug in your headphones and pop them in/over your ears.

Step two: 
Go to Choose a location of your choice. A lakeside cottage up north? A cosy ski chalet in the swiss alps? Close your eyes and poof! You're on vacation!

It's just that easy! 

Right now I'm writing to you from a sun-kissed beach in Cancun... or at least I'm there in my head!

Earlier today I rolled out a yoga mat in the sun on my balcony, set a "self guided meditation" timer for ten minutes (you can find one on - Just click "begin" and scroll down.), popped in my earbuds, lay down and magically found myself transported to paradise.
I used to use to help me study during my undergrad. I find putting on nature sounds really helps me focus and puts me in a good head state to get work done, which is really helpful when you have assignments and readings you don't want to do. I've used nature sounds to help me fall asleep after a stressful day. I find adding nature sounds to bedtime reading makes getting lost in a good book extra luxurious. 

This post was not sponsored by in any way (I wish it was!), I just recommend it because the website is so clean it's really nice to use. You can use any nature sound website/app/youtube video, whatever works for you! also has a pretty great body-scan meditation that's not "new age-y" and overly spiritual in the way other guided meditations can be. In fact, this site was my gateway into meditation! (I feel a post brewing about meditation, so stay tuned!)

Are you craving a vacation just like me? Where would you go right now if you could drop everything and go on vacation? Have you ever used nature sounds before? If so, what did you use them for? If this post inspired your first time, please let me know what you thought! Where were you transported to? 

If you take a little mental vacation, please don't forget to send me a postcard!

Bon Voyage,

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Tunesday: Get Low by Lil Jon and the East Side Boyz

Here's a throwback to grade seven.

This little ditty came to me in the shower this morning, and has been stuck in my head ever since. Don't ask me why. It was immediately followed by cringes and furrowed brows at the thought of any 11 or 12 year old kid listening to it... and then grinding at the local dance with a boy she just met. *facepalm*

Funny. My tweens were much more promiscuous than my 20s... (shout out to erotic fanfiction and diiiirrrrty rap songs like this).... and I'm okay with that. Ha ha!

What kind of memories does this song bring back for you? I clearly remember my friend hijacking my computer, putting this song on, and being so worried about my mom hearing it... after all, the song does say "balls" in it! How uncouth!

As a bonus, here's Usher's "Yeah" just for good measure. A good workout has a few sets to it, right? So consider this the mid two thousands throwback workout. Better yet, throw this video on and follow Usher's sweet dance routine and get your sweat on!

Thursday, 7 July 2016

I dunno, just book stuff: Michael Ondaatje's "Divisadero"

"I dunno, just book stuff" is (for lack of a better word) a series where I just write down my thoughts after finishing a book. It's not quite a book review, it's .. just book stuff.

Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje

My rating: 3/5

This book had been sitting on my bookshelf for a long time. I am a huge fan of the English Patient (both book and movie) because it evokes such a sense of orange sandy desert. I just feel warm and all alone when I read it. I know it's rare to enjoy a book forced upon you in a high school English class, but I loved it, even with its annoying ambiguity and "penis sleeping like a seahorse" descriptions that send classrooms into waves of snickering. I picked up Divisadero with the hopes of finding a similar, all encompassing reading sensation. While engrossing, I would not say it hit as big of a punch as the English Patient did.

It seems like this sense of loneliness pervades Ondaatje's writing. His characters seem to have an inability or a complete lack of desire to become close to anyone. They all seem so lost, so not of this world. They inhabit places abandoned by war, out in the unpopulated countryside, or live in a past where everyone was anonymous.

Ondaatje has a tendency to get a little flowery at times. A friend of mine likes to describe his writing as very "purple". I'll admit that there were times when I would zone out but those were mainly in the sections where characters would muse about their pasts. The sections that were focused on card houses and Californian farm life were much more grounded in reality.

This story centres around a pair of sisters and a farm hand who grew up together in California as part of a family of circumstance. Ondaatje has us follow Anna and Claire and Cooper as they become adults. The thing about Ondaatje's stories that has me coming back time and time again is his exploration of how certain events in a person's life can effect them forever. It is something I worry about for my own life: Will I experience something that will destroy me? Will someone's death change my outlook on life? Will I forever be haunted by a lost love? All of his characters survive their lives, but I don't know how many of them thrive in life.


Please let me know in the comments below:

Have you read Divisadero? What did you think? Are you a die hard Ondaatje fan or can you not stand writers who get a little flowery?

What should I read next?

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Tunesday: Mr. Mistake by Nevermen

Another great song shown to me by my music bff, Spotify: Mr. Mistake by Nevermen.

Simply put, I like this song's wacky vocal overlapping and whimsical way of talking about heavy things.

What do you think: Was this week's song a hit or a miss? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday, 4 July 2016

5 Lessons from Marie Kondo and Madam Chic

I've been reading a lot of non-fiction recently in this round-about way of searching for (for lack of a better/more apt term) mindfulness. This unconscious quest has led me to read "Quiet" by Susan Cain, a book about introverts. I wish I had found this book as a child; it would have put me at such ease to know that wanting to stay home and read, or just have solo time, instead of going out was okay... that I wasn't lame, or a loser, or had no friends, etc. I love this book so much I asked for it for my birthday just so I could always have a copy. I plan to have a copy in every one of my classrooms so it can potentially fall into the right hands and help someone out.

"Quiet" is not what I wanted to talk about today (wait until I re-read it, then I'll write a post about it). In my quest to become a fully functioning adult, I came across Marie Kondo's "Spark Joy" which, Konmari Methodhype aside, is a wonderful book. Not only did her advice radically improve how I organize my house (yay!), but the way she writes is so cute and so calming, I took to reading it when I was stressed out by assignments just to calm down.

I don't know how I came across the "Lessons from Madam Chic" series by Jennifer L. Scott, but I quickly devoured all three of them in a week, searching for tips. While I do not 100% agree with everything Scott writes -- as much as I'd love to believe it, I know for a fact that no apron, regardless of how pretty, would protect my clothes from getting paint on them when I paint. There is paint on all of my clothes somewhere -- both Kondo and Scott come down to the same points:

  1. Today is a special occasion!

    I really like this principle. Both Kondo and Scott talk about making every moment count. Do you have dishes or fancy cloth napkins that you dream about using one day? Use them today! Make today that special occasion because it is a special occasion!

    Special Meals: According to Scott, French people always sit down for a meal; C'est n'est pas chic to eat breakfast on the go! Whenever possible, sit down when you're eating and enjoy it! What we put into our bodies has a huge impact on our health and well being, so we should take a moment to even recognize what we're eating.


  2. Only keep things that are in good condition.

    As a poor student, I struggle with this one. It can be really hard to not hold onto things when you never know when you might need it, or you tell yourself that you'll fix it one day, or use it in a project. There are lots of ways you can figure out what you do not use: the flipped hanger method, the box method, or just plain old reflecting on your daily life. If you haven't used it in 6 months, give it away. Relax! If you find you need it again down the road, you can buy another one new, find one at a thrift store, or maybe even trade something for one.

    I'll get into this more in item #5, but if you have white shirts that aren't so white anymore, or socks with holes in them, or shirts with paint on them (guilty!), or face clothes with mascara stains, if budget allows, get rid of them and replace them. Or set a goal to mend those socks by the end of the week, or else toss them. To put it in an extreme way, part of viewing every day as a special occasion means valuing yourself and respecting yourself enough to only give yourself the best.

    I find this step is really helpful for making you feel more like a real adult with a real adult home. I was at a friend's childhood home recently and scoured it to find out what exactly about this house made it feel like a real, accomplished adult home? The answer: things in good condition that matched! Something as simple as hand towels that match makes a big difference.  


  3. Only keep what you love.

    Marie Kondo's whole book revolves around this idea: Only keep things that "spark joy" within you. This principle definitely motivated me to donate some of those articles of clothing that I have hauled from apartment to apartment but never wear... and when I do wear it, I hate how I feel in it. Why would anyone keep clothes that make them feel like that?

    I think that if you follow Kondo's message and only surround yourself with things that make you smile, things that you truly love, then your home will be your favourite place in the world. I gave Kondo's "Spark Joy" to a dear friend as a Bon Voyage present when she headed off to Korea to teach English for a year because I think that creating a home-away-from-home that is full of things that bring you joy would really help with homesickness. (Also, Kondo's way of folding clothes makes your suitcase fit WAY more items than before. Not only that, if you only have clothes that you love, it's a lot easier to decide what to bring in the first place, I find).

  4. Think of your future self!

    Think about future you. I don't mean five years into the future you, but tomorrow morning future you. When I am dead tired and just want to go to sleep, I force myself to make lunch for "Future Leslie" and in the morning, I say "Thank-you, Past Leslie!" My boyfriend always laughs at me when I do this, but it really works for me. I'm really appreciative of my past self, because no matter how much I try, Future Leslie will be running out the door and is so thankful that Past Leslie made lunch the night before.

    Kondo promises that a decluttered home will make cleaning a joy (huh?). Scott talks about adding a 15 minute tidy into your pre-bed routine. I haven't quite got the tidying down yet, but I do see the benefits. A clean home makes me so happy and I try to remind myself of that whenever I shy away from tidying up the living room, or am tempted to let my clean laundry sit there instead of putting it away. I like to think about Future Leslie, waking up to a clean house, which I find make mornings feel that much sweeter.

  5. Put your best face forward.

    What's that old adage: "Always wear clean underwear in case you get hit by a bus"? As odd as it sounds, it's a good way to live your life. Always be the best you can be. Don't panic! That doesn't mean spending hours on hair and make-up before leaving the house, it just means a little easy upkeep. Figure out what works for you. I for one never leave the house without quickly wiping on some eyeliner and mascara. You never know who you will meet! The man of your dreams, you future boss, your mortal enemy from high school... Think about what you would want to be wearing in those hypothetical situations, and then figure out how you can make it a daily reality. I'm not saying that you should become horribly vain and primp all the time... it's just that life's too short not to be fierce on a daily basis. ;)

    I think this idea is super important for someone who is in their 20s, but can benefit everyone. You never know who you will run into, who you will meet, and when you will meet them again (or have to work with them again!). Be kind, be courteous, be polite, and don't leave the house in your pyjamas! 

While there are some things that I don't quite jive with in both books --- like Scott's belief that you should make your home less comfy and more like a nicely furnished waiting room to discourage slumping, slouching and snacking --- I will say that I am glad that I read them and the change they have inspired really has made a difference. I'm not quite where I'd like to be as far as maintaining balance and happiness, but I feel like I'm getting pretty damn close.

Have you read Lessons from Madam Chic or Spark Joy? What did you think about them? Have they changed your life? Have the habits and organizational techniques stuck?

If you have any self-help/life-hack type books that you love, please share them in the comments below! I'm a sucker for these kind of books and am dying to read more.

Have a great day everyone!