4 Ways to Use Your Phone to Make the Most Out of Your Commute

August 28, 2017

School is right around the corner, which can only mean one thing: commuting. As much as I love going to school in the heart of a city, I dislike commuting. Especially when it means waking up two hours earlier just to get anywhere on time, or if there are delays. But a girl has got to do what a girl has got to do. So, if you commute, whether it's too school or to work, or if even if you've got a long walk across campus to your first class, here's a few ways to make the most out of your journey.

Podcasts


iTunes is full of unlocked potential when it comes to podcasts. You can literally find a podcast on just about anything you're interested in. There's a real smorgasbord of talented storytellers and interests at your finger tips. The best part? It's free and there's no commitment. Just download one episode (or a whole season), grab your headphones and go.

And if you don't have an iOS device, fear not! Spotify and Google Play Music both have free podcast services as well.

My favourite at the moment is 2DopeQueens. It's literally run by two dope queens, who feature a hilarious line-up of comedians and other celebrity guests. Word of caution: you'll be smiling so wide that it will be tough to not look like a crazy person on the subway, but I assure you that the strange glances will be worth it because you'll be too busy laughing at how funny these two ladies are anyway.

Audiobooks/ Ebooks


I've never been quite the fan of audio books, but then again I never thought I would ever enjoy listening to podcasts and yet here we are. If you live in the 6, the Toronto Public Library has a great variety on their site where you can download and listen to free audio books to your heart's content. As for other cities, I would try checking via your library system to see if they have any offerings as well. 

Whether you like self-help books or fantasy adventures, I'm sure listening to the sound of your favourite stories (sometimes narrated by the authors themselves) will go nicely with the chime of doors opening and the sway of the subway down the tracks.

Then again if audio books really aren't for you, ebooks offer the ability to read while only using one hand, which is great if you're stuck in a crowded subway car.

Newsletters


I've really gotten into reading newsletters lately. Whether it's an update from my favorite blog or simply a few motivational words and pictures, somehow they always manage to make my day. One of my favourite newsletters is Clover Letter , but I also have a few others that I'll share with you in a later blog post. So, stay tuned!

One Note/Audio notes


Microsoft One Note is my life. I literally use it to catalogue everything, from blog posts to recipes, to exam notes. With the app, you can keep everything extremely well organized, color-coded and grouped according to the appropriate theme, so you can find what you need in a jiffy.

It's definitely been a life changer and life saver because it syncs across all of my devices. That means that I can type up my essays, read my exam notes, write blog posts and make to-do lists on the go even when I'm offline. You can even record audio notes! So if you really want to go hands-free, record it and listen to it when you're on the move.

~ Alexandra XO

Alex in Wonderland: Adventuring Through the Allan Gardens Conservatory

August 21, 2017
Alex in Wonderland: Adventuring Through the Allan Gardens

This place is literally magical. The outside looks like what I would imagine the Taj Mahal to look like if it were a greenhouse. The inside houses a jungle and a desert, and there are turtles, koi fish, and the occasional friendly squirrel. My sister and I spent the whole time with our mouth's open wide either in awe at everything we saw or in order to help us breathe better because it was extremely hot and humid in there.

My suggestion, other than going there and having a look around for yourself, is to bring lots of water with ice and an extra camera because there will be so many interesting species of plants and unusually vibrant colors that you'll probably want to capture all of it on camera. I know that I certainly felt like one of those old explorers who wear khaki colored vests, bucket hats, and Bermuda shorts, big Timberland looking boots with white socks bunched around the ankles, and a necktie. I even brought binoculars (which we never used)!

It was quiet and peaceful and whimsical, and I totally felt like I was Alice in Wonderland, ducking underneath giant talking flowers and dodging the words that the pipe-puffing caterpillar wrote with his smoke. And just like Alice, it all felt like one long dream, but one that I can't wait to go back to again soon.

Alex in Wonderland: Adventuring Through the Allan Gardens | Ms. Tiger Lilly

Alex in Wonderland: Adventuring Through the Allan Gardens | Ms. Tiger Lilly

Alex in Wonderland: Adventuring Through the Allan Gardens | Ms. Tiger Lilly

Alex in Wonderland: Adventuring Through the Allan Gardens | Ms. Tiger Lilly

Alex in Wonderland: Adventuring Through the Allan Gardens | Ms. Tiger Lilly

Alex in Wonderland: Adventuring Through the Allan Gardens | Ms. Tiger Lilly

Alex in Wonderland: Adventuring Through the Allan Gardens | Ms. Tiger Lilly

Alex in Wonderland: Adventuring Through the Allan Gardens | Ms. Tiger Lilly

Alex in Wonderland: Adventuring Through the Allan Gardens | Ms. Tiger Lilly

Alex in Wonderland: Adventuring Through the Allan Gardens | Ms. Tiger Lilly

Alex in Wonderland: Adventuring Through the Allan Gardens | Ms. Tiger Lilly











For the 'Peculiar' Adventurer: Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs

August 14, 2017
This book took me a while to read mainly because I didn't want it to end! In other words, there were too many feels and I was too emotionally attached to Jacob and his friends to lose them to whatever horrible fate their adventure might lead them to next. Click here to read more or pin and save for later.


Before reading this review, make sure to check out what I wrote about the first installment of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children as well as for the second installment Hollow City.

This book took me a while to read mainly because I didn't want it to end! In other words, there were too many feels and I was too emotionally attached to Jacob and his friends to lose them to whatever horrible fate their adventure might lead them to next. 

In this final installment, we cross and brace ourselves as we follow brave Jacob, Emma, and Addison through high or hell water to save their friends. Picking up mid-fall off of the cliffhanger ending where we left off in Hollow City*, the trio is hot off the trail of kidnapped Miss Peregrine, a few other ymbrnes and the rest of their wards, as they've been taken to the heart of their enemy's lair. Together they try to stage a rescue plan, all the while fighting for their lives as they hop loops, make friends in those who they thought were enemies and enemies in those whom they believed were their friends in order to save what's left of the peculiardom

Library of Souls* was great because we got even more creepy pictures and we were introduced to more about the history and legends that make up Ransom Riggs' strange alternate world. All this in conjunction with his vivid imagery only helps to add suspense and intrigue (and a little fear) to the already action-packed story. So that even as Jacob, Emma and faithful Addison, hop from the frying pan into the fire and back again, you're continually enthralled by the multifaceted villains and abysmal locations they have to confront in order to end the madness that threatens their kind as well as our own. 

If you like anthropomorphic bears, ancient monuments housing even more ancient curses and treasures, and portals suspended in time and space, then this series and its finale are definitely for you. But even if it's not, I'm just glad that the book answered all the questions I could have had about this world and its characters' futures together. Leaving me feeling happy and sad (and honestly, still a little bit spooked. The pictures can really catch you off guard sometimes, especially if you're reading it at night.) to be finally putting a close to this fantastic adventure.

Favourite Quotes


“An opportunist disguised as a friend can be every bit as dangerous as an outright enemy.”
― Ransom Riggs, Library of Souls

“She had this amazing capacity to turn sadness into anger and anger into action, which meant nothing ever kept her down for long.”
― Ransom Riggs, Library of Souls

“Doubt is the pinprick in the life raft.”
― Ransom Riggs, Library of Souls

“There was, in fact, a street sign to that effect—the first I’d seen in all of Devil’s Acre. Louche Lane, it read in fancy handwritten script. Piracy discouraged.
“Discouraged?” I said. “Then what’s murder? Frowned upon?”
“I believe murder is ‘tolerated with reservations.’ ”
“Is anything illegal here?” Addison asked.
“Library late fines are stiff. Ten lashes a day, and that’s just for paperbacks.”
“There’s a library?”
“Two. Though one won’t lend because all the books are bound in human skin and quite valuable.”
― Ransom Riggs, Library of Souls


*Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links, meaning that as an Amazon Associate, I will earn a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you click through and make a purchase. 

For the Sweet Tooth: Choco Madeleine (Cup)cake

August 07, 2017

I originally made this for Mother's Day, but it works for any occasion or for whenever you're looking for new ways to combat your sweet tooth. So, I dreamed up this little treat because I had been thinking about Madeleines earlier on in the week and because I really wanted chocolate mousse.

I mainly eat cake for the mousse part anyway so, by breaking it up and putting it in a cup it...
A) saves time,
B) looks nicer,
C) allows you to have any ratio of mousse to Madeleines you want.

The citrus flavor from the Madeleines balances the sweetness of the mousse and makes for a truly tasty cupcake (pun intended).



To Make the Mousse

I followed a Martha Stewart's Chocolate Mousse recipe which you can follow here

To Make the Lemon Madeleines

Adapted from Ricardo's Cuisine recipe here

Ingredients:


  • 1 1/2 cup of flour
  • 1/2 tsp of baking powder
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of unsalted butter (melted)

Steps:

  1. In a big bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest for 5 minutes or until ribbons form when the beater is lifted.
  2. Mix in the flour, baking powder, and salt in another bowl, and then fold it into the egg mixture using a whisk.
  3. Fold in the butter until everything is well combined. Cover and leave the mixture in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  4. In the last 15 minutes, preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C), and butter a rectangular-shaped pan* and set aside. 
  5. Pour the batter into the mold and bake for approximately 40 minutes or until the top is a light golden brown (and a knife inserted comes out clean).

*Note: I don't have the Madeleine molds, and so used whatever pan I had on hand at the moment. You can decide the size/length of the pan depending on how thick or thin you want them to turn out, but be careful because this changes the cooking time too. (If you do have the molds, follow the link I provided for Ricardo's Cuisine and go on from there).

Putting it Together


  1. Once the Madeleines have cooled and the mousse is set, take a glass, a mason jar, or even a bowl, and make a layer of Madeleines at the bottom of the container. 
  2. Top if off with a few dollops of mousse, and you're good to go! Grab a spoon and start munching.

07/17: Beats and Bites

August 01, 2017

The longest a treat has ever lasted in my house is 3 weeks. In my defense, that was only because it was so bad, that nobody other than me wanted to eat it (I only ate it to prove how bad it really wasn't). But typically we're looking at a few days, if not hours (but we haven't made that mistake in a long time). And so, the days and weeks of the month can be measured in terms of pastries; how long it takes to make them (2 days for croissants) and how long it takes for them to disappear (1 day is the record for cookies so far and 2-3 for cake).

The longest a song has ever been stuck in my head is about a month. The song was TLC's Waterfalls and I was in the 8th grade. I had a habit of singing wherever I went and somehow managed to get the song stuck in a few of my classmates' heads, who then proceeded to sing it whenever they felt the urge. This was much to the dismay of my teacher, because it turned out that he absolutely hated that song and proclaimed that "The next person who sings that song will be sent to the office!" Unfortunately, that "next person" just-so-happened to be my friend, who accidentally blurted out the first line of the chorus and just before we could all join in, she was immediately ejected from shop class to the principal's office upstairs.

In starting this series, I was inspired by Hannah Morgan's own blog post about her own attempt to be present each month in a valiant effort to counteract the unstoppable force that is time. As you can see, my life so far is a mix of moments revolving around snacks, music and other (mis)adventures that characterize each month. So enjoy my own version of timekeeping via the songs (you can find the playlist below), the food and (occasionally) the words that have added some spice to each month.














@itsalamb