First Meetup in a Loooong Time

Knowing very few people in Kitchener-Waterloo can feel lonely. I finally attended a Meetup, with a vegan potluck group.

After substitute teaching at a school all week*, I went to the local Indian grocery store**. Made a batch of chana masala using a recipe from Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen. To save money, I used canned tomatoes that I had purchased on sale a few weeks ago. Half the chickpeas are pureed and the other half are left whole. It was a pretty big batch, so I used half for the vegan potluck and the other half in small containers. The Dollarama lunch containers are about 300 mL each and I just tossed them into the freezer so I can eat 1 or 2 a week.

The party was great and pretty chill. I chatted with a few people and even met someone who recognized my name when I used to organize events around Toronto. The hosts actually lead a Bhakti yoga group and have meditations together every week. Bhakti yogi isn’t much of my thing, but I’d be curious to drop in for a Kirtan meditation just to experience it for the first time. Altogether, it was pretty welcoming. There was lots of good food and some blueberry pie and Soylicious ice cream to finish it all off. I was also pretty happy that the chana masala was eaten!

Hmmm, what to make next? Bhindi masala?

I’ll have to run back to Dollarama for more containers. It would be nice to have at least 4-5 curries to choose from, so that I’m not always cooking over the stove.



*Under Education Bill 274, I must work as a substitute teacher on a day-rate for the first year that I am employed by a public school board

**I can’t deny the fact that I’m over the moon that I live near two independent Indian grocery stores


More Bunz-ing!

Since August, I’ve been obsessed with bartering on!

It’s been super fun, taking stuff that is completely useless to me and turning it into something else I want. Unlike selling items on Kijiji, it also gives me some satisfaction of leaving a smaller carbon footprint; you’re allowing someone to use the item and you also get something that doesn’t require new production of it.

Since I’ve moved to Waterloo, I can’t barter as much. I still set up trades for my upcoming weekends in Toronto. On Sunday, I picked up these items over an hour and a half:


In case you’re curious as to how Bunz works, I’ll describe these three trades and the reasoning behind the negotiations, as well as why I choose these items:

  1. Fireproof safe – We had a late night fire scare a few months ago, when the compressor on the fridge heated up and we ended up calling the fire department at 3 a.m. The plastic casing had melted and while the potential for a fire was there, thankfully, we discovered it soon enough. Since then, I’d been planning on buying a fireproof safe, since the local bank does not have safety deposit boxes available. I was happy when I saw this posted a few days ago. I paid $10 for this, since I didn’t have anything in the other person’s ISO*. Normally, it would cost $36 at Home Depot.
  2. iPad case and one senior/student TTC ticket – Literally a few hours after I posted a picture of a beautiful hardcover Aesop’s Fables storybook, someone inquired about it. I got the iPad case – a lighter option if I’m carrying a briefcase to work – and the ticket was an additional freebie, which I passed it onto my grandmother.
  3. Graphic novel, Invincible – Volume 1: Family Matters: While getting rid of more books, I had multiple people ask me about an old hardcover Where’s Waldo book. In the end, I settled and negotiated for this graphic novel, even though I knew nothing of it. I read it cover to cover in the afternoon and loved it! The other person, who was a Grade 3 teacher, looking for ESL resources, was pretty happy with this trade. We agreed to stay connected, since we both work in the same profession and have similar interests.

I was happy with all of these trades. I have to say I am better at choosing items I want and need. I actually even made a list of everything that I’ve ever acquired from Bunz:

Screen Shot 2017-09-18 at 10.41.28 PM

All the highlighted items are ones that I have gifted to family and friends. Crossed out items were re-Bunzed or tossed out**; underlined items are ones that I’ve used currently or frequently. As you can see, there are still a handful of items I have not actively used yet. This feedback also gives me an idea that I need to be more careful about acquiring items. Of course, they may also be items that I can’t use yet due to other restrictions (i.e. I currently do not have access to squash courts).

The rest of my family have also been involved in The Great Purge too, which has become a shared activity the past few weeks. Lately, we’ve been dredging up boxes from the basement and going through everything bit by bit. It’s been fun to sit around and reminisce over old junk, but it’s also cathartic to know that you don’t need it anymore and are willing to toss it.

My mom has been going through a minimalism phase (while my sister and I just rotate through stuff, we are, by no means, minimalists). I know I can definitely toss more stuff out.

Have you done any bartering? Have you ever used Bunz in Canada?

*This is a list of items that someone “is [in] search of”
**The Tarte eyelash primer, I discovered, was not vegan.

Overdue Changes … 16 Years Later

The past weekend, I volunteered at the 33rd Toronto Vegetarian Food Festival, the oldest and largest food fair of its type in North America! It was soooo crowded yet I was so happy to be there again, after having missed out on it for the past 4-5 years. I did two volunteer shifts and took Sunday off.

Hanging out with vegan friends again and remember that I am back in the city, where options and accessibility to cruelty-free products is not an issue anymore, it made me realized that I am due for a change. I’ve been meaning to work towards being vegan for many years now, but made (reasonable) excuses while I was living up north. I was the only vegetarian in town. I did not have access to alternatives. I had very little social or moral support. I was often the only one in my position.

Now, having been vegetarian for 16 years, I feel as if I need to stop participating in exploitive products. I’ve watched Earthlings, I know the physiological changes that are involved in feeding baby cows designated for veal (and we have tons of them in Ontario), I have read Peter Singer. I have own rats, which are commonly used as lab animals, and could never imagine myself giving them up for animal testing. I know all these things in my head and my heart, and yet my lifestyle currently doesn’t follow through with my moral stance.

And finally watching What the Health two days ago, as well as listening to the American podcast The Bearded Vegans, reminded me of what I need to do. It may be a slow process and might take a few months, but immediately finishing the film, I chucked out a few things from the fridge and decided that I was not going to buy anymore yogurt.

Last night, I went to Sobey’s and replaced my yogurt with Soyurt. I threw out my brie (for real) and got some vegan provolone by Earth Island. The Daiya cream cheese – so yummy! – was on sale, so I grabbed a small tub, since it will last until November. Small changes for now. I’m not going to punish myself over honey or butter on a Tim Horton’s bagel, but I am transitioning and having conversations with friends who are supporting me through it.

Those are my thoughts for now and I’ll post more later on as I process how I am going to approach some other changes.

*Both of these documentaries are available on Netflix.

Monthly Goals – August

With the busy summer and going out with friends all the time, I admit that I’ve been slacking on the bullet journal. Not a lot, just that it’s not quite so up to date. Sometimes, I will end up jotting down my to-do list on ToodleDo, since I have a widget on my Android phone.

I’m hoping to get back on track in the next week, so I might as well just write my up my review of my monthly goals and get it over with:

Health and Fitness

  • Get my bicycle in working order (0/5): I was aware of this goal but just kept putting it off.
  • Work on floor sitting (2/5): Learned more about this while listening to more Katy Says podcasts. Was doing it here and there. Not so great.
  • Work on exfoliation (4/5): I bought a giant long handled brush and have been exfoliating regularly.

Teaching and Professional Development

  • Complete Queen’s free OT AQ course (0/5): Totally flaked out on this.

Finance and Auto

  • Get a will (0/5): Nope.
  • Discuss finances with family (0.5/5): I literally kept saying to my mom several times, let’s get together with my sister and do this. Ummm, didn’t happen.

Not a very productive month!!! Whatevs!!! Just enjoying my August, since I didn’t have the chance to the past 4 years.

Goodbye Party at D-Beatstro

Threw a little get-together on Wednesday, just before the move yesterday. Had a few friends come out to D-Beatstro, which is a vegan cafe / restaurant and community centre by Lansdowne Subway Station. It is wheelchair-accessible and queer-friendly, and formerly the space for Bike Pirates. Read about the BlogTO review here.

OMG! I love this place! I wish I had know about it before. Enjoyed a cheez and cauliflower soup with a buffalo-tofu wrap. The iced Americano was spot on too. Altogether 7 people showed up, and a few others weren’t able to make it. It’s nice to be see friends, even if it’s only once a year, and despite the distance and time apart, I feel honoured that they would come out to see me.


Just had a wonderful time and even got two stickers ($3/each) from the shelf at the back. They sell t-shirts, zines, stickers and buttons. This was my favourite one, so I stuck it onto my bullet journal!


Moving to Waterloo

Yesterday, I rented a cargo van from Discount for my move to Waterloo. This was my first time driving a cargo van, and while I was a bit nervous about a big vehicle, it was fine as I adjusted to it fairly quickly (also, everyone seems to move out of your way!). The coverage was:

  • 200 km inclusive, $0.20/additional km
  • Return with same amount of gas
  • Used my car insurance to cover for the rental

Altogether, the basic rental was $99.99 for a 24-hour period, returning the vehicle to the point of origin. I went over by 70 km, but since I had given them a bit more gas than there was to begin with, they didn’t charge me the extra mileage.

The move went fairly smooth. I asked a friend, B., to help me with the boxes. He was actually super helpful, because he was far more careful (and experienced) about packing the van than I was! I paid him with Indian food take-out – we had palak paneer, channa masala, basmati rice and some garlic naan ($19) and movie tickets to Dunkirk after we were done. I’d say that was a pretty good trade off to have a friend with the transition.

Brief Visit to the North

Back in Waskaganish briefly, as J. has finished his 5 weeks of vacation and is back at work. Yesterday afternoon, when we pulled in, we dropped by the supermarket. One of the mothers whose son is graduating came and gave me a big hug. She said that the diploma just arrived in the mail and that she’s planning on framing it. It was heartwarming to hear that from her.

After dinner, J. and I broke into his new copper mugs ($24.40) from Bath, Bed & Beyond. I gave them as his birthday present last week and we tested them out by making Moscow Mules. We didn’t have any mint on hand, but they were still pretty tasty! I also bought him a black Columbia rain jacket (on sale for $60.95), since he needed a new one. The next year will be long distance, but we believe we will make the best of it.


Today, J. has gone to work and I am just packing a few more boxes up, stuff that didn’t make it to moving truck. Tomorrow, headed back south towards Montreal to visit a few more friends.


Monthly Goals – July

Health and Fitness

  • Find a family doctor (0/5): Put this off to next month as I’ve decided it may be easier to find a doctor in Waterloo.
  • Visit Queen Street Yoga and apply for YTT program (5/5): Done and done. Got accepted into the program and even paid my deposit of $565.
  • Walk around parks (2/5): Looking to do more shinrin yoku a.k.a. “forest bathing”. This worked out really well at the beginning of July, when I was hitting up several parks around Toronto. It petered out when I started getting busy and meeting up with family and friends.
  • Learn about barefoot walking (5/5): Definitely knocked this goal out of the park! Got a pair of FiveFingers the first week I was back in Toronto and been wearing them an average of 3-5 times a week. Also tested them out on gravel in Waskaganish too.

Teaching / Professional Development

  • Reconnect with teachers in Ottawa (3/5): Ended up meeting with my former principal, who is still one of my work references. J. and I stayed over at her house and hung out with the family. As a thank you for her hospitality, I actually bought her daughter a couple of books – Wonder and Shaun Tan’s The Arrival – with some leftover Amazon credits, since she really likes reading. Was suppose to meet with a former colleague, but unfortunately, he never replied or confirmed getting together.*


  • Watch two Canadians Investor Conference videos (0/5): Never got around to it. Been busy.
  • Learn about tenant rights (0/5): Fell down list of priorities.
  • Learn how to barter on Bunz (4/5): This has been my obsession lately. I’ve made one trade so far, which was a copy of the card game The Resistance. I gave away a bottle of moscato and a Stella tall boy. This was a good first trade, because N. and I chatted a bit and she gave me lots of great tips to start! I might even have a new lunch buddy as she works out of Waterloo but lives in Toronto. However, I will be careful with trading and should only go for items I really want, as I don’t want to waste time driving around for something I don’t need.


  • Explore Car Mechanic Simulator 2015 (0/5): Fell down the list. No time since being so busy.
  • Learn OK Google commands (4/5): As I have been driving a LOT this month, it made sense that I finally start using some of the OK Google voice commands. This will come in handy when I am driving around Waterloo and Kitchener, so I need to start learning now! I need to also learn how to use it safely so that I am not distracted while driving on the road. There is a learning curve to all this!

*I’ve noticed this has happened with weaker relationships where correspondence occurred mainly on Facebook. I had just deleted my account back in early July after 5 years of being forced to use it in the north.

My Pusheen Box … Finally!

I loooove Pusheen the cat.

I use the Pusheen stickers on social media, bought the book by Claire Benton and last year, ordered a single Pusheen box ($42 USD + shipping*), as a treat for myself. I sent the order to my friend’s house in Albany, New York, hoping to receive it while I was visiting. However, the shipping went out later than originally scheduled and I returned to Toronto without the box.

Eventually, M.’s parents visited Albany and kindly hauled it back to Richmond Hill**. Since I was working in northern Quebec, I wasn’t able to pick it up. At Christmas, I ended up spending most of my time in Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Territories. At Goose (Hunting) Break***, I was trying to sort out my paperwork for the Waterloo Regional District School Board, research the Yoga Teacher Training Program and take care of my Gramma because of a fiery fridge incident.

Last night, I finally picked up my box! I was sooooo happy to see all my new toys and am really excited that I waited a year for it, since most of the stash was summer gear. In total, I received:

  • Sunglasses
  • Blow-up beach ball
  • Cup with straw
  • Beach towel
  • Iron-on patch
  • Ice cube tray
  • Flip flops
  • Duffle bag

I have to say that I likely won’t use everything. I’ve decided to give a pair of sunglasses to my best friend, B. and possibly post a few items on Bunz to trade. However, you can’t take this uber cute cup away from me!!!


*The shipping and the US-CAD conversion combined probably meant that I paid about $65 CAD overall.
**A city north of Toronto.
***The equivalent of March Break at the native school board I was teaching at.