Dundas Square

Esther‘s sister came down from Montreal to visit a couple of weeks ago. On Saturday night, I took the girls out on a walking adventure downtown. Dundas Square is such a lively place on weekends. We had a few amusing interactions and also snapped some funky urban photos.

Anne and Laurence

Anne and Laurence

Dundas Square

Anne and myself


We have known Anne and Esther for longer than I can remember. I treasure their friendship greatly. Anne is now almost fifteen! It was fun hanging out with her and my sister now that they are older. It’s a whole new ball game and, from the looks of it, it’s going to be a fun one.

It is so important to have long term friends that know everything about you and with whom you are completely vulnerable, completely yourself.

We didn’t (and don’t) always all get along. After all, we’ve known each other through the hormonal mess that is puberty… But we pull through and let me tell you, it is worth it. What I am trying to say is that if there is someone in your life that you have known for a very long time but no longer speak to for whatever reason, maybe it’s a good time to accept them back into your life. It might just be the best decision you’ve ever made.

Moonbean Coffee Company

Before my Statistics final exam, I spent a number of hours studying at Moonbean Coffee Company, located in my favourite Toronto neighbourhood. Even though school is now over, I still visit weekly for a warm cup of tea (usually Milky Oolong or Genmaicha), which pairs up nicely with a good book.

Laurence decided to join me the other day. She studied for an English test. I took these photos and read The Hobbit.

Moonbean Coffee Company

Moonbean Coffee Company

Moonbean Coffee Company

Turned a Cheap File Box into a Funky Bookshelf

paint brush

I turned a cheap plastic file box into a funky bookshelf. I found the box in the Home Office section at Value Village for $2. I desperately needed  some space for school books above my desk, and brand new shelves don’t exactly fit into my budget at the moment.

maple cinnamon latte with almond milk

Before starting any project, it is important to ask yourself these two questions:

1. Do I have music playing? – Having great music to set the mood will help time pass by faster. This is especially important for big projects that require dull, repetitive actions.

2. Do I have something delicious to drink as I slave through this? – This will act as a mini reward/pat on the back every time you take a sip. I made a Maple Cinnamon Latte with Almond Milk, though the possibilities are endless. Tea, coffee, juice, water, pop, hot chocolate, wine, rum… Your pick!

turning a cheap plastic file box into a funky bookshelf

turning a cheap plastic file box into a funky bookshelf

The first step and trickiest part of the entire project was drilling holes through the plastic to be able to hang it on the wall when painted. I am proud to say that after some time, my perseverance was rewarded.

turning a cheap plastic file box into a funky bookshelf

turning a cheap plastic file box into a funky bookshelf

I found some leftover wall paint hiding in the basement. “Special paint for plastic” is probably available at hardware stores but, since the shelf only cost me two dollars, I didn’t see the point of investing in special paint when I already have some at home. And there’s the budget thing. Do, however, feel free to get yourself the right kind of paint for your file box, if you decide to try this project.

One thing I learned about myself during this project is that my paint skills are rather lacking. I managed to get paint everywhere on the tarp, my hands, and my clothes. I am embarrassed to admit that when I went to clean myself up while the shelf was drying, I noticed in the mirror that I even had paint in my hair…

Point is if I can do it, so can you. It is worth the effort in the end. Check out the final result:

turning a cheap plastic file box into a funky bookshelf

I love my folding stand-up desk.

Let’s Get Personal

What do I want, really?

I want a big library with books and books and even more books. I want to live in a city in a loft with high ceilings and windows and brick walls and wood floors and a living room that is also a studio where I can paint and my husband can play music. I want to travel and work in orphanages and see the world and the many beautiful cultures. I want to document my travels and mainly just write all the time about everything. I want to go to Ecuador or Nicaragua or somewhere to teach English or French or art or anything else for a year as I perfect my Spanish. I want to graduate university with new and better work habits where I am organized and don’t wait until the last minute to get things done. I want to live in real life: where Facebook isn’t the first thing I think of when I take a picture or accomplish something or a major event occurs. Instead I’ll think of printing the photo to hang it on my wall, and I’ll think of calling my grandma or friend to tell the news. I want to act with love, patience and compassion towards everyone. I want to write letters and mail them to my friends for their birthdays. I want to take a stranger out for coffee and learn from him and be inspired. I want to collect music and tea and have tea-drinking-music-listening gatherings. I want to learn guitar and write a song and sing it to someone I love. I want to live.

I want to really live.

What do you want?

St-Lawrence Market


Charis is finally here and we have a fun week ahead of us! Yesterday morning we took a stroll through the wonderful St-Lawrence Market. Here you can find everything from fresh vegetables to grass-fed meat. You can even buy coffee that has been roasted on location.

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It is in my nature to take photos everywhere I go, and it can sometimes lead to interesting interactions. As I was snapping photos of Charis near some lovely colourful fruits, one of the “Fruitists” (guy working in the fruit stall), spontaneously requested to be in one of the photos. He even took off his work coat and struck a pose!

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Good Morning!

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Happy Monday everyone! I would like to share two things about my morning.

The first is my absolute favourite summer drink: Almond Milk Iced Latte. Bonus points if it’s in a mason jar, like mine today.

Second is my marvellous hair. I guess it’s humid in Toronto today. At least Monica understands.

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English Bay

English Bay sky; interesting building by the water

English Bay sky; interesting building by the water

When we visit Vancouver, we usually stay at the Sands Best Western in English Bay. It is a beautiful neighbourhood for casual morning walks (obviously accompanied by casual photo-taking) and it is an area dense with cute boutiques and restaurants. There are always new shops to explore. The ocean and gorgeous mountains may seem like minor details, but they truly make all the difference.

The Red Umbrella; dad and his omelette; my beautiful latte

The Red Umbrella; dad and his omelette; my beautiful latte

One morning I was really craving eggs so we decided to try out The Red Umbrella, only one block from the hotel. One must not be fooled by the mediocre exterior and the cafeteria-style tables and layout, because the food was delicious and –most importantly– the coffee was up to standards. I would go back there for breakfast any time.

English Bay beach; The Boathouse Fish & Chips

English Bay beach; The Boathouse Fish & Chips

After our breakfast, my dad had to go back to the hotel to finish some work. I decided to go walk around for a while. At one point I turned a corner and saw The Boathouse Fish & Chips Restaurant. Though I am not a fan of fish and chips, I love this place. The deck offers a beautiful view of the bay, but I mostly love it because of the great memories it has hosted. When turning the corner and seeing The Boathouse, I couldn’t help tearing up.The last time we ate there was last summer, during my grandpa’s last visit from Quebec before he passed away. That was a wonderful evening: enjoying the sunset from the deck while eating our fish & chips and laughing and bonding as a family. Because of great memories, I love The Boathouse. I love English Bay.


UBCO: Starbucks Coffee

tia starbucks-2tia starbuckstia starbucks-3tia starbucks-4

Although the famous company has never been my coffee shop of choice, I have sincerely enjoyed studying and meeting friends at the Starbucks located at UBCO. It has been the main destination for our Tuesday and Thursday get togethers that were followed by our 11 a.m. psychology lectures throughout the semester. The pictures above are of the lovely Tia and were taken on the last day of classes. I met Tia in calculus class at the start of the year. She is so open-minded and fun, she made math lectures more tolerable.

Bean Scene Coffee Works

Bean Scene 274 Bernard Ave, Kelowna

Bean Scene
274 Bernard Ave, Kelowna

A hidden fissure along Bernard Avenue; one will easily walk past without giving the coffee house any attention. However, anyone who sets foot inside will most likely fall in love at first sight or at first sip.

Every coffee shop has its regulars –those clients that visit often enough to be recognized  by the baristas and perhaps even called by name– but only once have I seen regulars that drop by so routinely as to get to know one another in addition to the employees. It is no surprise that this is a common sight at Bean Scene, who gives customers every reason to come back.

Great decor, art, and overall vibe.

Great decor, art, and overall vibe.

In North America, coffee shops are a common meeting place and hang out destination. This means that furnishing and decor should be given important attention. As shown it the picture above, Bean Scene has taken this into consideration when creating a inviting and cozy setting to enjoy a coffee and good company. The beautifully decaying wood floors and brick walls are an homage to antiquity and a homely welcome to customers. The soft lighting creates warmth while the diversified artwork pleases the eyes and promotes creativity. Most importantly, the seating is comfortable. It is true that the couches above are not only fashionable but also conveniently pleasant to sit on, which is the most important.

Decor is certainly critical, but it can not keep customers coming back if the coffee is not of good repute.  It is called a coffee shop after all. The ultimate strategy to diagnosing a respectable coffee house from a mediocre one is simple: ask for a cappuccino. If you are asked to pick a size –usually between 12 oz, 16 oz and 20 oz– and are given the equivalent of an overly foamy latte, you are sitting in an amateur coffee shop. A traditional cappuccino should be served in a 7 to 10 oz cup, with approximately half of it being espresso and the rest steamed milk.

Benjamin drinking a traditional 10 oz cappuccino.

Benjamin drinking a traditional 10 oz cappuccino.

Now with every worthy topic comes various opinions by various people of various expertise. I would not go about calling myself a coffee specialist as I have much to learn, but I wish to share my background, so that you may determine how seriously  (or lightly) you wish to consider my opinion.

Thanks to my open-to-experiences coffee-loving mother, I drank my first Starbucks Vanilla Soy Latte when I was twelve. If you have ever drank anything from Starbucks, you know that they make their drinks ridiculously sweet unless specified otherwise. My tastebuds were enthralled with the first sip, which helped me form a positive opinion on coffee. My passion for it began to grow when I was fifteen and hired at a coffee shop. I quickly got sick of overly sweet, specialty drinks as the sugar distracts from the taste of the coffee. I began focusing on the basics. I loved learning about coffee, and I now find it easy to tell an evil shot from a heavenly one as I have drank so many bitter espresso shots (mostly my own when training at the coffee bar). I am now eighteen and I have worked in three different cafes in the last three years, I have over one hundred volunteer hours at my hospital’s coffee stand, and I still love to read and learn about coffee. I especially love to drink it.

You can always find latte art on Bean Scene's cappuccinos.

You can always find latte art on Bean Scene’s cappuccinos.

To me, a worthy cappuccino is just like the ones offered at Bean Scene. It is served in a 10 oz cup that is preheated with hot water before pouring the espresso shots, followed by the formation of latte art with velvety micro foam. Latte art is not a necessary step to a good drink, but a clear distinction between the steamed milk and crema on the surface of the drink is always a good indication that the cappuccino will taste honourably. I apologize if the terms I just mentioned were jargon to you and I hope that it will inspire you to learn more about coffee. It’s easy.

In any case, may I suggest that even if you disagree with my opinion on the ideal cappuccino(I respect critical thinkers!), you should still go down to Bean Scene and try one for yourself. Perhaps you will feel inclined to leave a reply to this post.

Who is in the photos?

Benjamin is my respectable uncle who is currently living in Paris, France. He shares my love of coffee and I was thrilled to take him to Bean Scene (274 Bernard Ave Kelowna) and hear his thoughts on the place. He approves.