Cake pops for the festivities!

Alright so I’m a huge fan of desserts and I do bake a little–as evidenced by my Best Brownies Ever! recipe. But I’ve always shied away from anything too complicated. Cake pops look complicated and therefore must be seriously hard to make right? Nope, easy as 5min mug brownies! Follow along below for a no fuss, easy to follow Cake Pop recipe that is sure to win over any Scrooge this holiday season.

Ingredients:

~ Instant cake mix (whatever flavours you like)

~ Frosting

~ Candy chocolate melts (bought at Bulk Barn or Michaels)

~ Sprinkles

~ Cake pop sticks

~ Styrofoam/Egg trays

Method:

Start off by making your instant cake. Follow the box instructions to build the easy cake. You can of course make your own cake from scratch but what’s the point? It’s going to be crumbled up and masked with frosting anyways. If you’re anything like me I’d recommend taking the easy way out.

 

Next let your cake cool down completely. Then begin the fun process of crumbling it in a bowl. Don’t use the crusts of the cake at all! It’ll ruin the structure of the cake pop.

After you’ve successfully crumbled the cake, begin dolling out the frosting into the bowl and mix it all together. Then pick up small sections of the mixture and roll them into small cake pop shaped balls. Then start sticking the cake pop sticks into about a quarter of the pop. No more no less! After you’ve made the amount you want, stick them into your fridge overnight or for an hour so it hardens.

Next you’ll want to melt the chocolate while the pops are in the fridge. I was baking for a baby shower which why it’s all pink and white. I recommend red and green for a Christmas vibe.

Dunk your cake pop into the bowl of chocolate carefully, holding by the stick and not losing your cake in the chocolate. Going slowly and swirling is key to this step!

Drizzle on whatever sparkles, sprinkles or dusting of whatever over the wet chocolate and stick it on the styrofoam. Repeat steps for forever and before you know it you’ll be done.

When you’re finished stick it into the fridge and relax until the party. Pull them out and serve to resounding applause.

Pro tip #1: Let your cake pops warm to room temp. before covering with chocolate or else the chocolate starts to crack as the cake cools down.

Pro tip #2: stick your cake pop(ulated) styrofoam into the fridge while you re-melt the chocolate to make sure your cake pops don’t start melting on you.


Enjoy and let me know in the comments how it goes!

Until next time,

Rochelle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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10 Tips for Exam Season | Survival Guide

Its December, so it means… Christmas season. WRONG! For university students like Rochelle and I, it means exam season. Although Rochelle and I had our exams early on and are basically all done to enjoy a month of festivities, I thought I’d share with you some tips for conquering exams and minimizing stress. This year has been the easiest in terms of exam studying mainly because I changed up my routines and found what worked best for my way of learning. Here is my take on de-stressting during exam season.

 

1. Scheudule- while agendas and planners are the first thing on everyone’s list for getting organized, I like to implement my planning system differently. While setting daily goals is a wonderful idea for staying on track, giving yourself more time than you actually need will have greater benefits. That way you prevent cramming and you feel more satisfied when you are able to move on to the next item on your to-do list faster than planned.

Example: It takes me half a day to review my lecture notes, but I give myself a day to get that done. This way, I can move on to the next task the same day and feel accomplished. I also don’t end up cramming in case I have an odd day where I am not feeling up to the task.

2. Switch it up- I used to be a fan of getting everything done in order from readings to memorizing to reviewing. I figured if I can catch up on the readings I’ve missed first then I can spend the rest of the time studying. Little did I know, this strained my eyes (even eye drops wouldn’t help) and my head could no longer comprehend what I was reading. By alternating between doing the readings and then memorizing for each class was far more effective.

Sad Fact: I would wake up with my eyes hurting from so much reading. So be smart, switch things up. The minute that I did, the pain disappeared!

3. Highlight- taking your study notes and reviewing 100 pages worth of notes is a pain. I have now implemented a system where I highlight only the most importance points from the condensed study notes I make from my readings etc. This way you aren’t studying unnecessary facts/info.

Example: in a sentence, highlight only the key words that convey a message. Try to compartmentalize information to see the bigger picture.

4. Reward- do not stay in the same place while you study, switch it up. I started to dread my room because my desk = exam studying = dreadful. By switching up where I studied, I was able to feel more refreshed and motivated.

Fun Fact: I have studied in the living room, my bedroom, my sister’s room, the kitchen, and my tiny walk in closet (on the floor). I really made use of all the space I’ve got around the house.

5. Review- I reviewed all of my notes every morning after breakfast. This kept things fresh in my mind for longer. The more you review, the longer you can remember the ideas and the easier it becomes to see the relevance of what you are learning. You might be afraid that the information from all of them classes will start to jumble up, but its important to find parallels between all of your classes to bring in unique information in the exam sometimes.

 

6. Time off- aside from switching up your study space, don’t forget to take breaks. It might feel like you have no time or that you can’t possibly be enjoying yourself during exams, but a bit of fun can actually do you some good. When I was studying, I made time to go skating and hang out with a friend on several occasions. These short breaks took my mind off of the stress and the studying. Its good to come out of the study hole and feel human again hehe.

Example: I took a week long break to study for exams. In the mean time, I had time to go skating in the evening and bake some cookies with my sister. I felt much happier afterwards and reenergized to keep studying afterwards.

7. Take the week off- best way to get into exam mode is to just take a week off to yourself. This way I was able to wake up studying and go to bed studying. This sounds slightly unfortunate but I really pushed myself to focus on studying. Not everyone has the ability to put a long pause on their life, but if you find that just dedicating a chunk of time to quiet study, then this might be the way to go.

8. Extra research- one of the most helpful tips have been to do my own additional research. This might be a good idea if you have a professor that wants you to be very specific in your writing or just a wonderful way to piece together what you are studying. The information is also easier to understand than scholarly journals. This is an additional bonus to your reading notes, not a substitute though.

Example: for one of my classes, I researched all the Prime Ministers of Canada since WW2. I had the readings done, but doing my own Google search filled in the exams in my statistical information about each figure and added something unique to the exam.

9. Study group- if you have a chance to share notes with a friend and vise versa than take advantage of the opportunity. Chances are that you both have interpreted the information in your own unique way and may have missed something in general.

Example: I like FB groups for classes as everyone is able to pose their questions and the whole class together can piece an answer. You are helping yourself and everyone else out.

10. You’ll get through it- Yes you will. I know it feels like exams are the end of the world and yes, sometimes I convince myself that they are, but once you are done, Netflix is there to cheer all of us up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tips for a Cozy Evening | Evening Route

After a long work day and an even longer day loaded with classes, all I really want is to just sit back and enjoy feeling of a blanket over my legs as I sit comfortably on the coach working on an assignment (so nerdy of me), write a new blog post, or catch up on missed YouTube videos, The Mindy Project, and PLL. Since we are transitioning into the real season of cozy (aka winter), I wanted to share with you some ways that I like to unwind.

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My evening starts of a with a cup of tea or a glass of almond milk. I need some form of snack too, be it slices up apples, a sandwich, or anything that I’m craving that evening. Now, I am not a person that hates eating food on her bed or the coach, so I go ahead and make myself super comfortable. Food always just tastes better when you eat as far away from the table as possible, doesn’t it?

It wouldn’t be cozy without a fuzzy blanket and PJs. Sounds like a recipe for a lazy day, but I try to remind myself to indulge in the simple pleasures such as having a blanket over me before the rude awakening the next day.

Personally, I am not into candles, so instead I dim the lights if I am getting ready for bed, or I snuggle up with a book/school reading. By the end of the day, the last thing that I want to be doing is homework, but all is well when you have a cup of tea in one hand. I have also noticed that after doing my class readings, reading a normal book has become so difficult. I find myself skimming lines, looking for valuable information rather than enjoying the book for what it is.

My next step is to unplug and do some cleaning up around my room before I head over to the washroom to start with my beauty night routine which is quite simple. After brushing my teeth and showering, I cleanse and moisturize my face, that’s it. If I am feeling fancy, I will apply a face mask and a blackheads nose strip. I also enjoy moisturizing my body in the mean time as I wait because #WinterisComing. While many people like to plan their day before bed, I find it most productive to do that early in the morning.

Lastly, considering that I have unplugged from social media, I fill out my Q&A journal and decide to snooze shortly after.


Hope you enjoyed these tips for a cozy, lazy evening. Let me know what you like to do to relax in the evening.

~Kisses, Kvitka~

 

 

Holiday To-Do List

Its officially the holiday season, well technically it already started (you know it when the stores change their theme from Halloween to Christmas literally the next day). Although my Christmas celebrations are not until January 6th and 7th, I do like to decorate the house in time for the December 25th celebrations. Today I want to share with you 8 awesome winter activities to keep you busy during the holidays and to make sure that you are making use of everything Toronto and the GTA has to offer. From the Toronto Christmas Market down to pictures with your furry friend and Santa Claus, I got your back.

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1.Toronto Christmas Market- this is perhaps my most coveted thing on the to-do list. I have been meaning to visit the Distillery District during the holidays for years now and I never get around to it because of exams. However, this time around, I will be making use of the mistletoe photo-booth, the Marshmallow Waffles, hot chocolate, the beautiful decor and the festive vibes, and of course all the goodies sold by vendors.

  • Entry: FREE but $6 on weekends after 5pm
  • Open: November 18th- December 18th

2.Winter Festival of Lights at Niagara Falls- This is another soon to be holiday tradition for me. Every year, Niagara Parks are decorated with 2 million lights and holiday decorations creating a truly illuminating show to capture those holiday feels. This is an 8km route, filled with fun activities along the way. Don’t forget to catch the light show of the falls themselves at night.

  • Entry: FREE
  • Open: November 19th- January 31st

3. Brampton skating ring of lights- although this is not a particular event, the Gage Park in Brampton is decorated every year much like the Nathan Phillips Square for outdoor skating. The cool thing about this particular location is that the skating rink wraps around the park, making loops between the trees. It sounds so magical to be skating under decorated trees outdoors.

4. 12 Trees of Christmas- the Gardiner Museum really feeds into my love for Christmas tree decorating with this event. Artists have been invited to take part in the holiday scene by designing Christmas trees. From modern to traditional styles, this event is so perfect for anyone interested in decor and unique design.

  • Entry: $15
  • Open: November 18th- January 8th

5.12 Beers of Christmas- quite on the contrary is this event which is perfect for all beer lovers. With a small admission fee, you get a chance to indulge in 12 beers to find the perfect one. Don’t forget to bring your ugly Christmas sweater to this event and taste away.

  • Entry: $10
  • Open: December 13th

6. Second City Holiday Comedy Show- I am a huge fan of Second City. I have been to two shows and both were some of my best and funniest experiences. Since its holiday season, Second City got your back with themed comedy shows. I am looking forward to checking out “Eat, Buy, Repeat: the Second City’s Guide to the Holidays” and “What the Elf.”

  • Entry: $25 (if you are student, you have a discounted rate)
  • Open: November 21st- January 1st

7. Cavalcade of Lights- the first lighting of the Christmas tree in the heart of Toronto at the Nathan Phillips Square. Enjoy the fireworks show but don’t forget to bring something or someone to snuggle up with because Toronto gets so cold this time of year. You can rent some skates too, enjoy a night of performances, the Spectacle of Lights, a skating party with a DJ, and of course try out the holiday photo booth.

  • Entry: FREE
  • Open: November 26th

8. Ugly X-Mas Sweater Party- as a bonus, why not host your own holiday party at home. Recently, I have been on the hunt for an “ugly Christmas sweater” but the price point is beyond what I want to pay for one time wear. So why not make your own with your friends? Take some old sweaters, pick up arts supplies from the dollar store and let your creativity soar. Here is a post I’ve written about hosting your own “ugly Christmas sweater party.”


I hope you enjoyed these ideas and will be trying out some of them. Let me know in the comments below what you are excited about for the holiday season.

~Kisses, Kvitka~

Dance to Stay Fit & Healthy

This week I attended a ballet class, an elementary ballet class. As someone who has been doing ballet for 15 years of my years professionally, this was a unique experience. I went with a new friend of mine and it was amazing! Getting back into ballet was all kinds of emotions. From nervousness to pure joy and excitement. The biggest changes were all the mirrors and the  floor which I miss so dearly. Today I want to talk about getting more involved in these initiatives. The class I took was 1.5h long and cost me $13.50.



Personally, I am not a gym goer. I find it boring and I walk away all cramped up and too tired to continue conquering the day. On the other hand, ballet trains every muscle of your body but it also teaches you grace with how you carry yourself. Ballet isn’t for everyone but with amazing drop in programs like these, you aren’t committing yourself to a full year program which gives you a chance to find something you love doing to keep active.

Being more into creative forms of keeping active such as following YouTube videos or joining classes, I found these drop in programs such a wonderful way to keep in shape not only for physical health but for mental health too.

Movement:

  • Gets your body going
  • Conditions your muscles, strengthens bones
  • Increases flexibility
  • Clears the mind from unnecessary worry or stress
  • Improves mood


What I’m Looking Forward To Trying:

I have been meaning to try barre fitness classes which is a mixture of stretches to upbeat music to increase body strength and flexibility. This definitely sounds like a more fun version of your ordinary stretching session.

As well, I am excited to give meditation a try. As someone who is always running around and studying or working, meditation seems like a mindful way to detach myself from the city buzz and enjoy peace and serenity of my mind. Free classes are offered at my university and I am looking to make use of this before exam season.

Another idea for getting involved, is to try zumba or adult fitness classes. Exercises and repetitive dance steps in a series of different variations is such a great way to get your exercise in while also enjoying the company of others and really letting go of the awkwardness.

How are you getting your exercise in? 


I hope you enjoyed these ideas for ways to get active without going a gym. These are somewhat dance related but they are also loads of fun. Hope you can join me on this adventure.

~Kisses, Kvitka~

 

5 ways to Save this Holiday Season

So it’s November 9th, and while the focus has been on the US election, something else has creeped up on us all: the holiday season. Some of you might say that there’s more than a month left but have you seen Walmart? Costco? Visited Pier One Imports? It’s apparently already Christmas! In my ideal world the holiday season season doesn’t start until the weather is in the negatives but in the consumer world, the holiday season begins the minute the clock strikes 12 marking the end of Halloween. 


So with Christmas season looming and panic setting in because we all know we have to buy presents for practically everyone and their mother, what can we possibly do to save our bank accounts and ourselves? I hope my 5 tried and tested tricks help you survive this holiday season!

#1. Make a list! Pull a Santa and make a list to figure out to whom you need to gift. Making a list eliminates the stress of the unknown and having a physical list of people allows you to formulate a plan of gift giving.

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#2. Budget: This may seem slightly callous but I actually give gifts based on expected return. Don’t pour out the hate just yet, this is actually a well thought out idea. For a while I used to gift small and expected to receive small as well, but that wasn’t always the case. When you receive a Michael Kors bag after gifting a box of chocolates, it’s just embarrassing. But if you start gifting big while the other person gifts small, it can be embarrassing for them in turn. There’s really no winning so it’s best to read your audience and budget accordingly. But when in doubt, just gift a meaningful gift from the heart with no return gift expected: big or small they’ll appreciate it! Isn’t that what the holiday season is all about?

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#3. Buy early or buy late: Paying full price sucks. Kvitka and I practically never do! We hold out for sales and clearance because it really makes no difference when the product remains the same whether you pay full price or 60% off! The in-between season is the worst because that when everyone gets their shopping done and price rocket upward. Shopping late is badd too because price get raised since suppliers know their customers are desperate! So be on the look out for sales and shop early! Subscribe to store newsletters to stay in the loop for random sales. Or if you can, organise an after Christmas holiday party and shop boxing day sales!

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#4. Secret Santa: My favourite gift giving method! You set a budget, pick a name from a draw and gift only to that person. What a wonderful way to save money and not waste effort on gifting meaningless presents to a large number of people. This way we all win when you a meaningful present to one person and receive one in return too! I find this works best among a large group of friends and within the workplace as well.

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#5. Potlucks: Thinking of hosting a Christmas/New Years party this year? Make sure it’s a potluck event. Simplest way to save your money and make sure everyone is satisfied because most people bring what they enjoy. You can relax from the stress of cooking for everyone and appealing to all tastes. Plus, you get to enjoy your own party for once without being stuck in the kitchen!


Let me know in the comments below, your own holiday survival tricks! Love to hear from you all. 

Until next time,

Rochelle

Q&A Journal | 1 Year Later

Last year, Rochelle gave me a Q&A journal for my birthday. The purpose of this journal is to answer one question a day for 5 years. I was so excited to start filling out the journal because I am not a fan of simply writing my thoughts on paper but I could definitely manage answering one question to fill out 4 lines. That is not to say that some days I would either forget or feel lazy, but on the whole I am so impressed that I have kept with it for over a year now. Today I would love to share with you my journey with the Q&A journal and totally entice you to start your own.

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The cool thing about the Q&A journal is the range of questions which spam from light hearted ones like, “What are you wearing today?” to some deep ones like, “Where do you see yourself in the future?” The questions are really fun and definitely unique while other ones make you sit there for a few minutes and reflect.

Q&A excerpt: ” What’s the craziest thing you’ve done for love?” 

I fill out the Q&A journal every day before bed so that I can reflect about the day. It is also a good idea to avoid using any brightly lit devices for a good nights rest. Therefore, my general rule is that I do my beauty night routine (washing up, applying moisturizers etc.) which is followed by the journaling session. This strategy has had a really positive impact on my quality of sleep.

Q&A excerpt: “Write down something that inspired you today.”

Initially, I was really hesitant to start writing in the journal without taking a one year gap. I thought to myself that there was no way that I changed that much from one year to the next. Now seeing that the journal is so integrated into my life, I couldn’t put it aside for a year. As I am filling out the same round of questions for the second year now, I am reading my responses above and I notice how much I’ve changed. Even the simple question of what famous person would you like to meet over coffee has changed dramatically. (Last year I said: Taylor Swift and this year it was Hillary Clinton). This goes to show that we are never stagnant, we are always learning and moving ahead.

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I am also very surprised by some of my answers to be honest. For some days, my answers actually haven’t really changed dramatically. (For example, what is your greatest expense, ohhh its definitely still university education.) Sometimes, I am shocked by the things that happened that I totally forgot about such as my bizarre Halloween adventure last year. Overall, I am so pleased with this find. I am committed to sticking to this journal. It has become such an essential that the thought of missing a day gives me a deep sense of guilt.


I hope you find a way to reflect on your day to see how much you have grown over the years. It is amazing how much a year can do! If you are interested in this journal or other themed journals, check out this link.

~Kisses, Kvitka~

 

 

 

 

Fall Trends to Carry into the Winter

Fall is my favourite season and not for the reasons like Pumpkin Spice lattes, cozy sweaters, and candles. Personally, I enjoy the transition into the cooler weather while the sun is still out, its almost deceitful actually. Aside from that, the crisp air that wakes you right up is a blessing and a curse in the morning. Now another thing I like about fall is the fashion that moves away from shorts and tank tops to oversized sweaters and my must have- trench coats. Today I will share with you 5 style trends that are fall appropriate and will carry on into the winter months. Living in Toronto, I got your back covered for the colder winter months.


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1.  Trench Coat: this is a piece that I have wanted to add to my closet for 5 years now. I have finally found the one that fits just right from Zara. A trench coat is such a timeless piece, it immediately adds sophistication and professionalism to your look. Its a structured jacket and very warm to carry on into the early winter months.

2. Sweater Scarves: I wear scarves all year round except in the summer. I swap them out for fall and spring. My favourite one is the sweater scarf because it feels soft and warm like a blanket but it also accessorizes your outfit.

3. Over the knee boots/booties: I have not been too attached to the over the knee boot trend but it will transition well into the winter because its an extra layer of warmth over your legs which is perfect for winter. Booties on the other hand are a must have.

4. Tights: this is always an underestimated fashion staple. Not only are these perfect for wearing underneath your in winter, but just because winter will be arriving soon, doesn’t mean that you have to stop wearing skirts. I have recently purchased the warmest pair of tights I could find and have been pairing them with all of my summer dresses and skirts shamelessly.

5. Makeup/Polish: the nail polish shades that I find appealing for the winter time are maroons and nudes. As for makeup, I go for warmer tones that from oranges to gold and browns. These are warmer shades that take the cold and dread out of your makeup routine.


Hope you enjoyed this run down of items that will be staying in my closet for the winter time. Let me know in the comments below what items are your staples for fall and winter. 

~Kisses, Kvitka~

 

 

 

Chilly Days | Fall Photography Book + Fall Tag

lastWe are into the first week of October and I am already feeling the air get colder and crisper in the morning. As a roundup of the fall season, I finally took my Canon camera out of its dusty shelf and took some photos while the leaves are still turning colours and the son hasn’t entered its hibernation state for the winter months. It felt so lovely to be able to take photos again, I actually felt kind of out of shape with it. I haven’t used my camera in quite some time, so I am looking to get back into photography again. As for today I wanted to do a round up of what fall looks like to me by sharing some photos I took around the UofT campus. To spice up this post, I also answered some questions for the #FallTag.

Halloween Costume: Daenerys Targaryen          Fav Fall Nail Polish: 248 Manhattan by NYC
Fav Thing About Fall: Scarves and the balance between cool and sunny weather
Fav Halloween Candy: Coffee Crisp and Twix
Fav Fall Fashion Trend: trench coats, oversized sweaters, and my plaid purse

Part II: Travelling Solo in London

As promised, I’ve decided to trace out my travel plans from this summer. I hope my post inspires some of you to explore and seek out adventures solo or not! I took a flight from Toronto Pearson to Gatwick Airport with one stopover. It was the perfect redeye because I slept through both flights and arrived in the UK refreshed and ready to start my adventure at 8 in the morning.

The second I got out of baggage pickup (quick and painless since I only had carry-ons!), I searched for the Visitor’s Centre. It’s the best place to stop at as a tourist. I picked up an Osyter card, topped it off and received a bunch of instructions on how to access the airport wifi, travel maps, a step by step guide on how to get to my hotel, an essential Tube map and instructions on how to use the Osyter Card. I definitely recommend stopping at the Visitor’s Centre before starting your trip!

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I somehow navigated the Tube and took a double decker to the Kensington House Hotel right next door to the Kensington Gardens. I scored a CAD $110/3nights through the hotel website which isn’t bad at all for a 4 star place!  I dropped off my stuff, put stars on my Google Maps and looked up directions by public transport to a bunch of places and off I went to explore London. Here’s a link to how I planned out my entire trip: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Lthx158Nuaz2BZhRFYUjX78bw6c&usp=sharing!


Day 1: I decided to take the bus to Portobello Market, a must see in Notting Hill. It was so quaint and busy and lovely. I wish I had extra space in my luggage, because my biggest regret is not buying the vintage Enid Blyton I spotted at a roadside bookstall. The colourful houses of Nottinghill are actually gorgeous in person and the Nottinghill Bookstore from the Hugh Grant/Julia Roberts movie is actually adorable. I somehow got a kind Korean tourist who spoke no English to take a photo of me at the bookstore (it didn’t look like the kind of place one take selfies in).

I passed someone who looked like Bansky spray painting a Bansky-like teddy bear on a wall, which was beyond cool. I then took a bus to explore Kensington Gardens, Kensington Palace and Hyde Park all in the steady downpour for which London is known. I also explored Harrods and then decided to watch a play in the evening. The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie (my favourite mystery novelist) was fantastic and the St. Martin’s Theatre is a must see even if you don’t like plays.

I finished the day by grabbing a meal from Stick and Bowl (the BEST asian restaurant) and a few French macaroons from Harrods.


Day 2: Going off of the maps I’d created in Toronto, I started off my day at Buckingham Palace, where I decided to save my money and not explore the interior. The exterior itself is lovely and since the flag was raised, I heard the queen was actually at the palace–I did not see her unfortunately.

Not discouraged by the rainy weather, I continued onwards through St. James Park to see the gorgeous Westminster Abbey, the Palace of Westminster, Big Ben, explore Somerset House where I took a break with a well deserved chocolate and lemon polenta.

The British Museum was my next stop where I stopped by the Rosetta Stone and bought a few souvenirs. I walked through the Sicilian Avenue with its lovely archway and quaint shop lined street.

I also visited the Harry Potter Shop at Kings Cross and a lineup which I avoided. Instead I bought a Deathly Hallows pin, a Hogwarts notebook and a keychain which I will forever treasure. I ended my day by stopping off at the Coca Cola London Eye, seeing the line up and deciding that the view couldn’t possibly be worth the wait time or the cost!

I recommend walking along Westminster Bridge to have the most amazing view over the Thames of both the Westminster Palace and the London Eye on the opposite sides. A complimentary beer at my hotel’s bar concluded a tiring but wonderful day.


Day 3: This was my most relaxed day since it was my last in London. I started off by attending an Anglican service at the St. Paul’s Cathedral and relaxing after, taking in the view of the stunning ceilings.

The architecture, the painting, the atmosphere is all worth the cost and more in my opinion. I climbed to the very top of the dome which gave me incredible views of the city (made me feel better about skipping the London Eye). After, I took a circuitous route through Saint Dunstan in the East, a haven with gothic ruins from WWII, to get to the Tower of London where I got the classic fish and chips before entering.

I must say I was slightly disappointed by the Crown Jewels and I’d say if you have something else you’d rather pay for, do that instead of paying for entrance at the Tower of London. It was still nice enough and the architecture was cool. I found the exterior to be worth my time spent there. The Tower Bridge is a must! It looks like a Disney bridge, colourful and something out of Cinderella.

The views of the Shard and the city are pretty cool too. I walked over to Tate Modern which was a bit of a hike and explored the paintings and the collection. The building itself is nothing special but the collections are worth it, especially since it’s free (donations are welcomed). Plus, the Shakespeare Globe is close by and the bank has a great view of St. Paul’s Cathedral.

I decided to end my evening exploring Covent Garden and taking in the theatre scene with some gelato and then grabbed dinner with I proceeded to enjoy with a book in Kensington Gardens.


Overall, London was fantastic. It was worth every penny I spent. I met several wonderful people and I experienced so much I had always read about or watched on TV. It is absolutely possible to see at least 80%-90% of tourist spots and more in 3 days. I didn’t feel rushed at all and I enjoyed everything at my own pace. A lot of this trip was done foot, saving me bus fare and also allowed me to see the city the way a local does. I’m definitely going back for a longer trip because London has so much more to see. But if you have three days, I hope my guide helps you see the finer points of London without feeling like you missed out!

I’d love to hear from you in the comments on things I missed out on during my trip and any recommendations you have from experience! Part III will encompass my solo adventures in Switzerland–stay tuned!


Until next time,

Rochelle

USA Presidential Debate | Op-Ed

Although I am Canadian, I cannot help but be intrigued by the American Presidential debate. As the last round of debates took place, I was able to make some observations that I can’t help but vocalize. When a presidential election takes place in a country as large, developed, and internationally integrated as the United States, the interest in the election is drawn from audiences around the globe. Attending lectures at my university following the first two debates, I noticed the buzz around campus. The conversation led to the latest memes that have been created and opinions as to whom was a stronger candidate for the position of President.

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I have watched all three Presidential debates and I was taken back by the amount of blaming back and forth not so much the candidate’s policies and goals as much as their personal self. What I was hoping to see was greater insight into valid solutions and a course of action for pending problems in the economy, security, healthcare, etc. After all, the future of the United States dictates where Canada (whose only geographic neighbour is the United States) will be heading. Although it would be idealistic to think that a debate has the potential to sway the opinions of those who are already committed to a leader, this series of debates will most certainly go down in history for swaying the electoral body tremendously.

Therefore, the Presidential debate was not a very effective way of displaying where each candidate was hoping to lead the United States as it was overshadowed by allegations. Going back to the first question of the second round of debates, no, the debates are not very appropriate for children to watch and learn from. The questions posed by the moderator dealt with core issues such as cyber security, human rights, the healthcare system, migration, the economy, and political/economic alliances, which hit on the key areas that the future leader should foresee. I think the questions were spot on and equally challenged each candidate.

As a university student, I was hoping to see more attention dedicated to student debt and the lack of student employment, something which was not discussed in its entirety. The issue comes from the falling voter turnout from lack on interest in politics. How can an issue be of priority if those effected by the outcome do not vote or knowledge themselves. It is wonderful to see how celebrities are promoting that youth vote because the voice of youth does help shape the political agenda. With voter turnout falling, student solutions are not becoming priorities for the future leader. This means that it is time to think of viable solutions in order to encourage groups to cast their ballots. Greater social media involvement and publicity from celebrities is a great start.


Keeping up with recent events in the United States, I am looking forward to the elections in the United States on November 8th.

~Kisses, Kvitka~

 

 

 

Work Lunch Ideas: Quesadillas | Veggie Mushrooms

I used to dread making lunch for school or work simply because of time constraints. It was easier to put some leftovers from the night before into a container and voila. However, I have recently started making a fresh meal in the morning before my class on Thursdays. The class isn’t until 1pm so I have all the time in the morning to experiment with ingredients and Pinterest the recipes. The food tastes fresh and its also a little triumph for the week. Today I’m going to share with you what I made last week and this week which looks like complicated stuff, but it really shouldn’t take more than 20-40min to make.

Stuffed Veggie Mushrooms

Stuffed mushrooms sounds like a complicated recipe already but I was so happy to learn that it’s basically impossible to mess this one up (which is golden for me). Although I list the ingredients below, you can really customize the recipe to your liking. The mushrooms also shrink when you put them in the oven so its always a safe bet to make more than you think you’ll need.

Ingredients:

  • 6 Mushrooms of your choice
  • Parsley
  • 1 Pepper
  • 1 Green onion
  • 1/4 cup graded cheddar cheese
  • Meat of your preference: I used steak
  • Olive oil

Step 1:

Finely cut up the pepper, onion, and the meat. Carve out the stem of the mushroom and cut it up as well. Place some butter onto the skillet and let it sit until it begins to lightly sizzle. Place the cut up ingredients onto the skillet and saute.

Step 2:

Peal off the outer layer of the mushrooms and rub olive oil over the outer layer. Place them on parchment paper and the cooking sheet.

Step 3:

Stuff the mushrooms with the ingredients off the skillet and sprinkle the graded cheddar cheese and parsley. Place into the oven at 400C for 20 minutes.

Step 4: Take it out of the oven and let the mushrooms sit for a few minutes before serving.


Pepper Quesadillas 

I really enjoy getting quesadillas whenever the opportunity arises but I’m usually disappointed by the amount of oil that rolls down my hands and the explosion of vegetables that fall out. So instead I decided to make these myself. After a 10pm Shoppers Drug Mart run to get some tortillas, I was ready to try this out myself.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tortilla
  • 1 Pepper
  • 1 Clove of garlic
  • Meat of your preference: I used kovbasa
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup of spinach

Step 1:

I started off by cutting up the pepper into thin strips, the kovbasa and garlic into small cubes, and cutting thin slices of cheddar cheese. Afterwards, I threw the pepper, garlic, and the kovbasa onto the skillet along with the spinach. Saute for 5-10 minutes.

Step 2:

Fill half the tortilla with the sauted ingredients and cover with cheese. Fold the tortilla in half and place back on the skillet for 3-5 min on medium heat before flipping it over for another 3 min.

Step3:

Remove the quesadilla from the skillet and while its still relatively warm, cut it into three triangles. I found that while its fresh off the skillet, it is easiest to cut and nothing comes out of the quesadilla itself.


And there you have it! Minimum ingredients and time. Let me know if you will be making these recipes at home. Also, I would love to read about your favourite work/school lunch ideas. Always looking for some inspiration. 

~Kisses, Kvitka~

 

 

 

 

 

20 Facts about Me

I have recently celebrated by 20th birthday, turning the big 2.0 and I decided to do something fun and spontaneous on the blog with a “20 Facts About Me.” Initially I was going to do a “20 Things I learned in my Teens,” but to be honest my ‘wisdom’ currently doesn’t expend past things like high school isn’t the best time of your life and your eyebrows do matter. So I hope you enjoy reading these 20 quirky things about me. I would also love to learn a bit about you, so feel free to leave a comment sharing a bit about yourself.


 1. Where I’m from: I was born in Ukraine and I now live and study in Canada at the University of Toronto.

2. Middle name: My first name is Mariya and my middle name is Kvitlana. But I go by the short form of my middle name- Kvitka. Kvitka means flower in Ukrainian. So yes, my name is flower.

3. Favourite hobby: I have done ballet from the age of 5 and I continued until first year university professionally. I am also a Ukrainian character dancer, something that I continue to do now as well. I also love to go hiking!

4. Languages: English, Ukrainian, Russian, and a bit of French.

5. Favourite travel spots: I have been to Washington DC, NYC, Boston, Warsaw, Lviv, all over Eastern Canada, and Barcelona. My favourites by far have been Warsaw and Lviv (my hometown).

6. Favourite blog: hands down, Cupcakes and Cashmere, I check it twice a day and my favourite posts are the Coffee Talks.

7. Favourite tv shows: The Mindy Project, Pretty Little Liars, The Game of Thrones, and Last Man on Earth.

8. Favourite stores and sense of style: H&M, Dynamite, and Mendocino (although I never bought anything there). I dress business casual all the time, sophisticated chic.

9. Most daring thing I’ve done: swam and kayaked in the Mediterranean despite being scared of deep water. And let’s be honest, having virgin hair, I freaked out when I was getting a balayage.

10. How I start my morning: snoozing my alarm, splashing my face with water, light breakfast, and checking social media/emails.

11. Love language: quality time and acts of service.

12. Last movie I watched: does the US 2016 Presidential Debate count? If not then it would be “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” I know, I know, how basic.

13. Tea or coffee: I don’t drink coffee [cue gasps] but I do enjoy lattes as well as black tea with lemon and honey.

14. Favourite memory: Winning a gold medal at the UofT Science Fair with Rochelle despite our endless doubts. We learned to not underestimate ourselves and to take risks.

15. Bad habit: Checking my phone the minute I wake up in order to wake myself up.

16. Zodiac sign: Virgo. A 13th sign has been added to the horoscope so check if you are still the same sign as before.

17. 3 Things I hold close: Family, friends/relationships, education.

18. 3 Things I literally hold close: laptop, my necklace that I got as a gift 3 years ago (wear it all the time), and my planner.

19. Favourite song: “Georgia” by Vance Joy.

20. An Embarrassing moment: Falling asleep in the sun and getting a shorts tan that’s visible from a mile away when I wear my swim suit.


Here you have it! It was surprisingly really hard to think of witty and interesting points to put down. I hope you found this tag interesting and got a chance to learn more about me. I’m also super curious to learn a little bit about you. Feel free to answer some of these question below!

~Kisses, Kvitka~

Group Travel vs Solo Travel

This summer while Rochelle flew to Europe on her own(!), I headed to Spain with a group of 49 people. To say that Rochelle’s and my experiences were different would be an understatement, not only because we visited completely different countries but mainly because solo vs group travel has so many pros and cons attached to them. Rochelle also has a 3 post series (you can check the first two posts here), today I am sharing with you my time in Spain and some hefty tips I picked up along the way.


Although group travel is fun and entertaining, it can also be inefficient. This summer I travelled with my dance group to Spain to perform in Barcelona and Lloret de Mar meaning that I was surrounded by familiar faces and I was bound to enjoy all the company. Unlike Rochelle who had a harder time convincing her family and friends that solo travel was happening regardless, my family was eager to have Canadian-Ukrainian representation in Spain. Furthermore, although its a big group of people, everyone has a warm group of friends surrounding them with similar interests so it never really feels like you are being dragged around.

While with solo travel you are planning for one person, meaning that you can get your tickets 8 months in advance, book multiple layovers, and generally save money, this is not the case in a group scenario. You may get group rate discounts but the savings do not always balance out solo travel savings, especially when your group takes up half the plane seating. Keep in mind though, that if it is a large enough group, you might get “VIP treatment.” To give you an example, we had 49 persons travelling so when we took a yacht trip, we had the whole yacht to ourselves because of the size of our group. However, I did have an immense peace of mind as everything, literally everything was booked for me, even the excursions. Needless to say, I had no use for the travel books I had taken out of the library.



Following Rochelle’s post format, I was also not scared of group travel because traveling in a group is a cushiony experience where “one for all and all for one.” However, I also cannot leave out some major downsides. Because you are in a foreign country, in a non-English speaking environment, you are asked to always stick together which is reasonable. This becomes an issue if everyone’s interests of where to go, what to eat, or where to shop don’t intersect. You are also less likely to get the full experience of seeing every corner of the city as a coach bus is most likely taking you to your destinations. Generally, you miss out on walks in the city, discovering a cute market or boutique, and experiencing the city first hand. You are also less likely to see everything you were wanting to see.



Although group travel is tough and a lot of scheduling goes into it, I would not change the experience that I had. Not only was I able to share memories with some amazing people but I also had no need for a selfie stick… We loved the experience of looking at photos from the trip and laughing at our derp faces. Its great being able to share in the experience with someone else who will understand the inside jokes and remember the time you had. All jokes aside, when the touring part ends and you are all in the hotel, its fun having company to hang out with and go on adventures with during your “free time.”

So here you have it! Some pros and cons of group travel. Let us know if you are planning on traveling anywhere and wether you prefer group or solo travel.

Looking forward to your replies!

~Kisses, Kvitka~

Trying out Kdramas!

I decided to test out kdramas this summer, just see what all the fuss was about. A friend was watching the show, Descendants of the Sun and was raving about it so I started with that. Unfortunately it hasn’t stopped because the k-world  is really a rabbit hole that once you get sucked into you can never escape. So unless you have immense self-control (a characteristic I have no claim to whatsoever) be warned.


First let’s start off with an explanation. Kdramas work like mini-series with 16-20 episodes per show on average. So it’s really easy to get hooked. Some kdramas are pre-filmed which means they’re fantastic since they have a solid storyline and have been well edited. Others are filmed while the show is still airing so they alter the storyline based on viewer reviews. I prefer pre-filmed ones but they have bigger budgets which means there are fewer of them

Secondly, the shows are legally free for the world to watch with people volunteering to subtitle each episode in various languages. There are two popular sites Dramafever and Viki where all kdramas are listed. Some shows are exclusive to the site so don’t except Viki to offer all the same shows as Dramfever or vise-versa.

IF you do want to start kdramas read on for my recommendations because I have watched quite a few by now (time and kdramas are a deadly combination):

  1. Descendants of the Sun: watch this as your first drama! I did and I’m hooked. It came out in 2016 so the effects and action sequences are pretty top notch. It was pre-filmed so the editing is great too! It’s a military/medical drama, romantic with hilarious and touching moments. It also helps that literally every actor on the show is beautiful. 9/10
  2. It’s Okay that’s Love: I adored this drama. It touches all the high points with fantastic acting, an excellent script and the best soundtrack. It’s a show about psychologists and mental health. Don’t worry, it’s a romantic comedy! 10/10
  3. The Master’s Sun: This show has the same actress as It’s Okay that’s Love. She’s a great actress and the main characters really pull this show together. It’s a mix of comedy, inspiration and murder mystery. It works well and I highly enjoyed the ride. 8/10
  4. Oh My Venus: my favourite drama tbh. It wasn’t overly dramatic or soapy. It handled real issues about self-love and health. It inspired me to start working out which says a LOT! The acting is again top-notch and it never dragged. 10/10
  5. Healer: A satisfying ending with flawed but hilarious characters and an awesome action driven plot makes this drama a win in my book. I really liked it so watch it if you’re into relatable characters and a fun ride! 9/10
  6. W: this one recently ended and wow, I will never not recommend this show. Wow. Honestly! It has fantastic effects, wonderful acting and a complex plot which sucks you right in. 11/10
  7. Moonlight Drawn by Clouds: This one is still airing. It is a period drama and I have no idea how it’ll end but I enjoyed all the episodes thus far. Once again, the acting sells the show. The filming and great costumes are a bonus. 10/10
  8. Scarlet Heart (Ryeo): Words cannot describe how I feel about this show. It is a period drama which may or may not be a turn off. It was pre-filmed which explains the beautiful filming and a mostly good soundtrack. The acting is superb and the plot…I’m on tenterhooks wondering how it’ll end. It’s the only show I’m okay with watching as it airs because I actually eagerly await each episode. 12/10

I have watched a lot more than these but I wanted to share the ones that actually stood out to me. I hope you enjoy them. Let me know in the comments how you feel about kdramas and if you’ve watched any!

Until next time,

Rochelle