Happy Nail Day!

I’ve never had a manicure in my life. Up until recently, I was always working with my hands and wasn’t willing to shell out money for something I would ruin so quickly. I always admire people with dainty, glossy, beautiful nails. Now that I’ve decided to deviate my career path, I can finally have pretty nails. My nails are wide and short, and my hands are always covered in eczema, cuts and weird wrinkles, so I’m a bit self-conscious of my hands. One of the first things I want to do post-quarantine is book a couple of manicures for my boyfriend and I.

That being said, today is nail day! Nail day was created in appreciation of acrylic and fake nails. Unfortunately, I don’t have any fake nail supplies here in my humble abode. I don’t even have nail polish, to be honest. But that won’t stop me from painting my nails today! Painted nails have a way of making people feel more put-together and confident. I don’t know what it is, but that small thing can make me feel really good about myself.

Using what I have, I’m going to give my nails a makeover. I have actual paint here and sharpies. I do a quick google search to see if putting sharpie on your nails is bad for your health. The general consensus seems to be that yes, sharpie contains bad stuff that can seep into your body, but the quantities aren’t large enough to affect your health. With that in mind, I carry on and gather my supplies.

Paintbrushes, markers, paint, and bottle caps for the paint.

Looking at the sharpies, I’m reminded of grade school. My friends and I would often colour our nails with sharpies and white out while bored in class. I would also draw pen tattoos on my fingers, my hand, and sometimes up my arms. I decide to do a nail art design based on that time, when we used to have fun with what we had.

You can see a healing eczema patch near my wrist!

I start with the best one, gold paint. It goes on way easier than nail polish. It’s smoother, and easier to make even. The coat feels a little delicate when it dries. Too bad I didn’t have a base coat to prime my nails.

A shiny gold coat!

I love the effect of the gold paint on my nails. It looks so pretty! Now for the fun part, I start doodling with sharpie. I draw whatever I feel like: tiny faces, lines, a cat, a heart… Before I know it my nails are covered with a zigzag of lines and shapes. Looking at them, I feel joy. Drawing on yourself is so fun and carefree! I end up only doing one hand, as my right hand is destroyed from scrubbing with steel wool earlier. It needs a little R&R. Here’s the finished product on my left hand though!

Looks like my high school notebooks!

I love it! I wish I had a topcoat to seal it in, but not all things are meant to last, I guess. I don’t think they’ll live the day, but I’ll enjoy them for as long as I can.

Happy Nail Day!

Happy Oatmeal Cookie Day!

Oatmeal cookies! I love oatmeal cookies! They’re my favourite cookie, and I don’t understand all the hate they get. A good, chewy, hearty and slightly sweet oatmeal cookie is the best treat ever. So of course I’m going to dive deep into my pantry today and make my very own perfect oatmeal cookie.

I go online and find this recipe by Two Purple Figs. It seems simple and the base ingredients more or less match what I have in my cupboard. For the fillings, I pull out anything I can find that could possibly go in an oatmeal cookie. Cranberries, hemp hearts, flax meal, pepitas, coconut, walnuts, dates… Whew. I hope there’s room!

Many ingredients, some of them unnecessary.

I start the recipe on step 3, mixing the dry ingredients. I just wanted to do the least messy part first and clear up some room on the counter. So I add a teaspoon of this and that to the filling. I have a stroke of genius and add a couple of teaspoons of chocolate protein shake mix. A bit of everything goes in there as I do the thing bakers aren’t supposed to do: eyeball the ingredients. I’m halving the recipe as I usually do, leaving me to estimate measurements like 1/8 of a teaspoon, and half of 1/3 cup. Living on the edge, am I right?

I move on to the wet ingredients. I use a hand mixer to beat the butter and brown sugar together in far too small a bowl, leading to butter and brown sugar flying everywhere. Instead of putting the mixture into a larger bowl, I carefully move the bowl into the sink and continue following the recipe. Before long, I have a sink covered in bits of buttery sugar and a smooth peanut-butter-looking soup. I fold in the dry ingredient mix, and it immediately smells amazing. The choco protein powder is really coming through. The finished batter looks so tasty, I can’t help but take a tiny bite. It’s DIVINE!

I cannot wait to put these cookies in my mouth. I gently mold the little baby lumps on the baking tray and put them in the oven.

I love them

Twelve minutes later, the apartment smells chocolatey and oaty. My mouth is watering as I set the tray aside to cool. I can’t help it, I grab a cookie and take a bite. It’s everything I ever wanted in a cookie. So warm, chewy, crunchy, not too sweet… I’m in heaven. I just love oatmeal cookies.

Look at this perfection!

Happy Oatmeal Cookie Day!

Happy Chocolate Covered Cashews Day!

Never have I eaten a chocolate covered cashew. I didn’t realize this, it never even crossed my mind, until I saw that today is Chocolate Covered Cashew Day. By all the luck in the world, I picked up a small snack-size bag of cashews from my mom’s house yesterday. So today, I’m going to have my first ever chocolate covered cashew.

But first, let me share some info I learned about the cashew. The cashew is originally from Brazil. The cashew tree grows these crazy looking fruit, and cashew nuts grow from under the fruit. When nuts grow that way, they’re called accessory fruit. Cashews as we know them are also contained in a shell that can cause reactions similar to poison ivy. The fruit themselves are called cashew apples and have been described as being sweet, bitter, acidic and with a chewy texture. I want to try one!

An illustration of the insane cashew apple

On to making the chocolate covered cashews. I had a lot of chocolate to choose from. I grabbed two dark chocolate bars and two milk chocolate bars from our stash. There were only two squares left of the sparkling wine bar chocolate, which might be the best chocolate I’ve had in my life, by the way. I decided to only use two squares of each bar, so I don’t overestimate the amount of chocolate needed.

From left to right – Milk Mint; Milk Raspberry, Apple & Elderflower; Dark Gin & Tonic; Dark Chipotle Truffle

I start up a bain marie and drop in the last two delicious pieces of elderflower chocolate. It takes a while to warm up, but once it does it’s easy work. I use two spoons to gently coat each cashew individually in the chocolate soup.

It went pretty fast after that. I just coated as many cashews as I could, and then I wiped the rest of the chocolate off the bowl before moving on to the next chocolate bar. I set the coated cashews down onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper. When I got to the dark chipotle chocolate, the melting was interesting. It looked like it had some milk chocolate inside between the truffle part and dark chocolate bottom. It looked cool so here’s a picture.

I felt compelled to take a pic of the fun colour mix!

When all was done, I had five elderflower cashews, eight mint cashews, three gin & tonic and nine chipotle.

I named them from left to right

I popped the tray into the freezer and came back twenty minutes later with some tasty chocolate covered cashews! The chocolate wasn’t the hardest, but these are going immediately into our stomachs anyways.


My boyfriend and I tried each flavour one at a time. The elderflower was incredibly delicious. It was flowery, and complemented the buttery cashew very well. The gin & tonic flavour did not go well with the cashew at all. I love the bitterness of the chocolate on its own, but it clashed with the nut. The mint flavour was my boyfriend’s favourite. Mint chocolate is amazing to begin with, and the cashew just made it better. The chipotle was mediocre, a lot of the spicy bite that made the chocolate great was lost in the combo somehow.

So here’s my verdict: Elderflower was the best, followed by mint, chipotle, then gin & tonic. It was interesting how the cashew changed the flavours. Normally dark chocolate is my go-to. Cashews will always be one of my favourite nuts.

Happy Chocolate Covered Cashews Day!

Happy Haiku Poetry Day!

Five, seven, and five.
This balance makes a haiku
We now celebrate

Such simple beauty
Beyond words and beyond rhyme
Found in just three lines

Of Japanese fame,
Haiku once was called Hokku
Preface to Rengu

Late 1800s,
By Masaoka Shiki,
The Haiku thus named

Then master of form,
Now Sainted of Poetry,
Matsuo Bashō

Language may falter,
Imagination translates
Where words reach and fail

行春や 鳥啼き魚の 目は泪
Spring is passing
The birds cry, and the fishes’ eyes are
With tears.

Matsuo Bashō

Modern Haiku can
Pull tradition to breaking
Snip a rule or two

life’s little, our heads
sad. Redeemed and wasting clay
this chance. Be of use.

Ravi Shankar, “Lines on a Skull”

So go, inhale life
Exhale beauty in slow breath
As words flit on page

Another day goes,
Another to celebrate,
Happy Haiku Day!

Happy Deskfast Day!

Did you eat your deskfast today? Probably not, seeing as it’s Sunday, but that won’t stop us from celebrating Deskfast Day! A deskfast is breakfast eaten at your desk as you work. It was founded in 2016 by A Better Breakfast to encourage people to not skip this very important meal.

The hallmark of a great deskfast is that you can eat it while you work. Smoothies, wraps, and sandwiches are all great options. Single-handed foods are ideal. But the most important thing is that you remember to eat some sort of breakfast , whether you’re one of the brave souls working at an essential establishment or working from home.

If you still go to work, you could take today to meal prep your breakfasts for the next week. An easy breakfast I love is oatmeal made with quick oats. If you pre-portion out the ingredients in thermoses or jars, you can easily heat some water in the morning and you have a healthy breakfast! You could also try overnight oats, but I personally dislike cold oatmeal. Smoothies are also easy to prep ahead of time.

But I’m not going to do any of that today. I watched a video the other day about 3-ingredient recipes, and one of the recipes has been stuck in my mind. It’s an egg omelette where the eggs are whisked to a souffle-like result. It looks so fluffy and fun, take a look!

Soooo fluffy

I’m going to build a deskfast around this souffle omelette. I think some avocado on toast will go well with this, and I’ll also make some veggies on the side. I like having calorie-heavy breakfasts when I can, as it makes me less hungry over the course of the day. So, as usual, I gather my ingredients.

All we need!

I start with the vegetables, quickly slicing up the spinach and mushrooms. I throw them into a pan on medium heat and start on the eggs. Instead of using the four full eggs, I separate three of them, and mix their egg whites in with the fourth full egg. I put the three yolks aside for my boyfriend’s souffle omelette. I’ll be making him one when I’m done with mine.

While the vegetables are cooking, I toast the bread and slice the avocado. When the veggies are done, I put them on the plate with the avocado and toast.

Halfway done!

Now I can move on to the omelette. I whisk the egg mix for what seems like forever, until it’s fluffy. It isn’t as thick as I would like, but it’s taking way too long. I pour it into the pan, and a few minutes pass. Then I realize I’m supposed to have it on low heat and cover it, so I do that.

The whisked egg mix before cooking

Ten minutes later, I gingerly poke at the edges with a spatula. Very, very slowly, I slide the spatula under the egg floof pancake and nudge it onto a plate. Just doing that is so satisfying. It’s so light and airy, folding it in half is magical.

The final product tastes just like a regular omelette, but the texture is really interesting. It’s foamy, and the bottom is a thin layer of tougher egg. I personally don’t think the effort of whisking is worth it, but it was a fun one off activity. It definitely isn’t an easy, quick deskfast.

So many colours!

Happy Deskfast Day!

Happy International Safety Pin Day!

Safety pins are so simple and practical. But before 1849, they didn’t exist. According to popular belief, Walter Hunt invented the safety pin because he owed his friend money, and turned to inventing as a way to earn some extra cash. And thus came into being the absolute safest method of pinning.

To celebrate today, it’s suggested to make some sort of invention. Now I’m no MacGyver, but I’m sure I can find something to improve.

Looking around, something immediately catches my attention. For the past few days, I’ve been hand-sewing fabric face masks for my boyfriend and I. The sewing material and masks are laying haphazardly all over the coffee table. The table is slatted, so I always have to be careful of dropping thread, pins and needles between the slats. I dropped a needle the other day and it took me twenty minutes to find on the wood flooring. I’m sure I can invent up some sort of sewing organizer thing.

First, I gather all the sewing material I use, to see what I need to include in the organizer.

Two spools of thread, fabric, elastic, a thimble, a pincushion, the working fabric, and scissors.
Doesn’t look like much…

Okay, so I need:

  1. A compartment to house the spools of thread
  2. A compartment to contain the pincushion
  3. Somewhere to put the thimble
  4. Somewhere to put the scissors
  5. A compartment for the fabric and elastic

That doesn’t sound too hard! I’m pretty sure I can make something janky with just cardboard and duct tape. Both of which I have in excess. So I start out by planning where each item will go.

So blurry in the low light

Then, I cut out the base and make the main structure. I add partitions and stuff too. At this point, I change the plan up a bit and put the spool compartments in the front. The duct tape is a bit hard for me to tear with my clammy, clammy hands, but we’re pulling through all right.

Finally, I add in some reinforcement and small details. I poke tiny holes into the front of the spool compartments for the thread. I also have the great idea of adding a small magnet for the working needle. If I had stronger magnets, I would add some on the bottom for the box to stick to the metal table. Just a bit more clammy duct tape on some edges, and voilà! All done!

I’m actually happy with how it turned out! It isn’t pretty, but it’s super functional and really makes the tedious work of hand sewing a bit easier. Here are some close up pictures of details.

There you have it! A simple sewing helper made completely out of cardboard, duct tape, and enterprising ingenuity. Now I’m going to put my new invention to work.

Happy International Safety Pin Day!

Happy Walk Around Things Day!

By Tobi on Pexels

Now this name is a mouthful. Walk Around Things Day is a multi-functional day. Figuratively, this day is to remind us we’re sometimes allowed to walk around problems and situations. If there’s a problem or challenge today, give yourself the leeway to walk around it. Not every issue is an emergency, and sometimes you need to let yourself put things to the side, if only for a day.

Another way to celebrate today is to literally walk around things, instead of taking the straight path. You can go out of your way to walk a circle around the park, or that weird statue in front of the bank. In the end, Walk Around Things Day is about seeing and doing things a bit differently, and breaking whatever cycle or routine you’re in.

Thinking about walking has me checking my health app on my phone. It automatically tracks my steps, and charts the amount of steps I take over a period of time. Let’s see, today I’ve taken… 21 steps. Not good, but let’s see how that stacks up to the past month.

Wow… you can see exactly when social distancing began. The little spikes afterwards are from grocery shopping days. Obviously I want to do my part and not go outdoors, but I wonder how difficult it would be to get my 10 000 steps in this small apartment? There’s only one way to find out: better start walking around things!

So I begin my 10 000 step quest. I start by walking around the coffee table while watching TV. Once noon hits, I march over to the kitchen and make myself some food, walking in place the whole time like a kid leading a parade. Before eating, I check my app, just to see.

148 steps

148 steps! That’s progress! Okay, I have to stop checking my phone every two seconds. I’ll keep walking around things and check back in at 3:00 pm. I walk my way around the apartment, walk in place while making food, and I even get a few steps in while cleaning the bathroom. Before I know it, it’s time to check my steps.

Not bad!

2000 steps! That’s actually a lot more than I thought. I must confess, I didn’t walk the entire time. Using my computer and marching simultaneously proved to be more than I could manage. But I know a one hour walk will get me to at least 8000 steps on a normal day, so I don’t feel discouraged at all. I just have to keep at it!

Halfway there!

By 4:30 pm, I have 5000 steps, and my calves sure can feel it. I had a good burst at 3:00 pm, but then I forgot for a little while at 4:00 pm. At this point, my boyfriend is home and reminds me we have to watch Wrestlemania at 7:00 pm. So now, my soft deadline is 6:30 pm, hard deadline 7:00 pm. Let’s do this!

Okay, 7:00 pm rolls around, Wrestlemania is starting, and I check my steps one last time:

7000… Not quite the 10 000 I wanted, but my calves legitimately hurt, and I feel like I gave a good effort. I’m going to call it a day. I found it really difficult to march while doing things, it’s not like walking from one place to another. Having to think about it is hard. But I’m glad I tried!

Happy Walk Around Things Day!

Happy Peanut Butter and Jelly Day!

Peanut butter and jelly is a food pairing as classic as eggs and bacon, fries and ketchup, milk and cookies. Paste made of peanuts dates back to the ancient civilizations of the Incas and Aztecs in South America. Fruit preserves have been around since the 1st century, but didn’t take off until many thousands of years later, due to the high cost of sugar. The perfect combination of peanut butter and jelly is said to have come from American soldiers in World War 2, who combined their rations to make the now-staple PB&J.

Today I’m happy to celebrate Peanut Butter and Jelly Day by making a lovely PB&J sandwich. It seems simple at first, until I realize– I don’t have any jelly or jam. I guess I should mention here there’s a difference between the two. Jelly is made of fruit juice, whereas jam is made of chopped fruit and often has pieces of fruit in it. The two are interchangeable in the context of peanut butter and jelly though, in my opinion.

No PB&J would be complete without the sweet goodness of jam , so of course I must make some.

I find this simple recipe online by Lord Byron’s Kitchen, and I gather the necessary ingredients. My boyfriend’s ex left three bags of the same frozen fruit mix in the freezer, so I grab one of those. There’s sugar in the cupboard, and I fish out a lonely two-thirds of a lemon from the fridge. That’s all I need!

A simple recipe with simple ingredients!

The recipe makes two cups of jam, but I don’t want to preserve mine, so I halve the recipe. It should keep for a few weeks, and hopefully I’ll remember to eat it by then. I pry apart the frozen chunk of fruit to get two cups of chopped strawberries. For sugar I use 1/4 cup, and I just squeeze out the rest of the lemon, as I clearly already used a bit of the juice. Everything goes to boil in the pot!

Looks goopey already.

The recipe says to bring the mixture to a boil and then simmer until it’s the right consistency, but I’m not sure what that means. A different recipe suggests freezing some spoons, then dribbling some of the jam onto a spoon. When you can draw a line in the jam without the jam running, it’s set. So, I throw some spoons into the freezer in preparation.

Two hours later, stirring every so often, the jam looks… jam-ish. I do the spoon thing, and it seems good!

The spoon looks like Harry Potter with a traumatic head injury.

Now, if I were making more jam, to preserve fruit over a long period of time, I would have to sterilize the jar and use a method called water bath canning to make sure the jams don’t grow mold, or the germ Clostridium botulinum, whose toxins cause botulism. That’s a really scary prospect, though rare. Luckily I only made enough for the next week or so. I have an old salsa jar, so I spoon the hot jam into that to let it cool.

One cup of jam

Now we get to the bread and butter of PB&J day, or should I say the bread and peanut butter? I grab everything I need:

My stomach is rumbling!

And I make the most beautiful, delicious, perfect, mouth-watering, glorious, amazing piece of PB&J I have ever tasted!

She’s beautiful!!

Let me tell you… putting all that effort and time into making my own jam made this simple snack taste so much better. Every bite was indescribably satisfying. The jam itself was sweet, tart, and very lemony. I always use too much lemon, and I’m not a huge fan of sourness, but I’ve overlooked bigger flaws in the name of love. This is definitely not the last time I make my own jam. I would be making banana jam for my banana-loving boyfriend right now if I had any lemons left. I’m already thinking that next year I might make peanut butter from scratch. We’ll see!

Happy Peanut Butter and Jelly Day!

Happy Pencil Day!

I am so glad the humble pencil has its’ own day. Graphite pencils are so reliable, universal, and did you know the shavings are compostable? In a world of fancy pens in every color imaginable, graphite pencils may seem mundane, but there’s a simple beauty to them. Sometimes we have to remember the simple things.

For pencil day, I’m going to keep it simple and attempt a pencil drawing. Now, it’s my birthday today, and my boyfriend has been doing so much for me all day. He’s been cooking, cleaning, doing the dishes… Really going above and beyond to make today excellent. So I’m going to make him a drawing of his beautiful cat, Alexandre. Here’s the picture I’m going to use:

Pretty baby boy!

In university, one of our required courses was visual art. I didn’t do too badly in the course, but when I expressed interest in continuing on that path, my professor told me very cleary– I needed to take a drawing class. I still haven’t done that, but I wish I had. Just knowing how to draw is such an undervalued basic skill. Being able to put down on paper anything I’m visualizing would have made a difference, in retrospect. It’s never too late to try!

I start with the reverse front cover of a lined notebook and trusty pencil. Then I add shapes, as I’ve seen other do.

It looks weird, I’m not sure about my technique, but I soldier on. It’s a good thing I can erase pencil. I erase some of the lines in between the shapes and add definition to what’s left.

Okay, now I’m going to do the bulk of the work. I continue shading in and adding elements. I draw pupils, whiskers, fur markings, and all the little details. I’m getting sleepy at this point, so I rush to finish. I’m done within an hour. It’s not perfect, but I’m not mad at how this guy turned out!

The final drawing!

Not bad at all! I go to close the notebook on my pencil day drawing, and I notice a fatal flaw– I drew the picture upside down. Oops!

Happy Pencil Day!

Happy World Piano Day!

When I was a teenager, I wanted to learn how to play violin. At the time, I had no clue about how expensive that hobby could be. With some gentle persuasion and heavy pleading, I reluctantly agreed to take up the piano instead.

My piano teacher tried her best, but I never truly took to piano. I barely practiced, my fingers couldn’t reach well, and I had zero natural musical ability. These days, I can play a single song: Falling Slowly from the musical Once, which took me over 6 months to learn from the sheet music.

I don’t have access to a piano today, but I have this handy-dandy virtual piano you can play with your computer keyboard. It isn’t too comfortable to use, but I’m just as uncoordinated on a real piano. I go and tap out some of Falling Slowly to get used to it, but I really want to learn a new song today. Where to start?

I dig deep into my memory and think of all the piano tunes I enjoy. The entry on Days of the Year about World Piano Day has this quote from American musician and mathematician Tom Lehrer:

Life is like a piano. What you get out of it depends on how you play it.

Tom Lehrer

This sparks something! I listened to Tom Lehrer a lot when I was younger. His songs are humorous, and often satirical takes on current events of the 50’s. I wonder why I never attempted any of his songs, so I search one up on YouTube. As New Maths, my favorite Tom Lehrer song, plays, I remember why I never tried it. It’s way too fast for me, and really stylized playing. His music is so enjoyable though, even after all these years. I can’t help but get sidetracked watching some of his videos. My boyfriend’s favorite song is Poisoning Pigeons in the Park.

I return to the search bar looking for something more classical. I remember one song my piano teacher tried to get me to learn, but I never got past a few bars. For a long, long time I hover over the search bar, trying to remember the title. I type in “that classical piano song that’s really springy-” backspace that. “classical piano tune that goes dadadadada dadadadada-” backspace. “classical piano songs on piano-” are my guesses getting dumber? All of a sudden, it manifests– Rondo Alla Turca! If any of you guessed that, you’re a classical music genius. I found a beautiful cover by Rousseau on YouTube.

It’s so pretty, but it would take me months to learn that. So I continued on my quest in a totally different direction. One of the best modern animated series, in my opinion, is Over the Garden Wall. If you haven’t watched it, the entire series is only about an hour and forty minutes from start to finish. It has songs interspersed throughout, each more charming than the last. One of my favorites is the opening, titled Into the Unknown. It’s a hauntingly beautiful piano piece. I look it up on YouTube and accidentally watch the entire first episode.

By the time I finish the episode, I know what I’m going to learn on piano. The nostalgia kicks in and I remember a video game I played a million as a kid. I still play it sometimes when I’m feeling down. This game is the virtual equivalent of a comforting hug. It’s happy injected straight into my brain. It’s the cartoon hamsters everyone know and love starring in Hamtaro: Ham-Ham Heartbreak.

This game isn’t for everyone, but it fills me with pure joy. In one part, Hamtaro learns how to play Moonlight Sonata on the piano, from a ghost ham.

This was my first-ever introduction to Moonlight Sonata. I remember how magical this moment was the first time I played the game. The tune immediately became special to me, always bringing me back to the feelings I had playing the game. So, without further ado, let me present my rendition of Moonlight Sonata!

It took me over two hours to learn just the opening, but I did it! The recording isn’t great, but I have to call it a day after many many screen recording attempts. And honestly, I’m really proud of myself!

Happy World Piano Day!