Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Budapest, a must see!

Growing up I always knew I wanted to do one thing, travel. Last year when the opportunity arose to back-pack Europe with a friend I was immediately booking my ticket for on the next plane overseas. I can't even begin to explain the amount of excitement I had about doing touristy things; seeing the Eiffel Tower, Vatican City, the Louvre, Venice, Big Ben. But I would've never expected my favourite place to be a city I barely knew anything about, Budapest.

Budapest is a the capital of Hungary, which is separated by the River Danude into two sections Buda and Pest. It has diverse history and absolutely breathe-taking views. I was extremely skeptical when it was suggested we add Budapest to our list of places to go, but eventually I agreed. I will admit that upon arrival I felt like I was going to have a heart attack due to the fact that the train station isn't in the nicest part of town. But as soon as we hopped on the tram and found our way to the most amazing hostel with the friendliest staff, CarpeNoctem, I could already feel myself falling in love.
The hostel staff were young-travel enthusiast who came from all over the world, from Canada to Australia. They were all knowledgeable about everything from history to direction in Budapest, and offered many recommendations of things to do that only Budapest has to offer:
  1. Ruin bars: A bar in old apartments buildings with different rooms and gardens
  2. Sightseeing boat cruise on the River Danude
  3. The Chain bridge which separates Buda and Pest (Katy Perry's video for Fireworks was actually filmed here)
  4. Shoe's on the Danude: memorial to the Budapest Jews who were shot by Arrow Cross militiamen between 1944 and 1945
Budapest is a city filed with diverse and dark history which you can learn about in the actual buildings and on the actual streets in which these events took place, and the River Danude at night offers amazing views. In my opinion, it's the undiscovered Paris.

It is a definite must on my travel recommendations! Whats on yours?
Word count: 374

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Haunting Halloween Ideas

Halloween is coming up! Dressing up this year? 

If you are thinking that you are too old for this, the answer is no! Halloween is fun for everyone, not just kids. The key is to ditch the classic Halloween costumes, and be creative. The classics; such as a princess, or a ghost, are still fun, but let's try something new. 

As I was looking around for new and fun ideas, I immediately went to Pinterest and was not disappointed. The best part of Pinterest is that they have DIY (do it yourself) instructions. So, as you are scrolling through all the pictures of cool costumes and thinking to yourself “I cannot make that!”, I am here to tell you “you will not succeed, unless you try.”

My last year's costume was awesome (I was Captain America)! But this year I vow to be more creative. 


Here are some of my favourite finds:


2. The DIY slinky dog costume 


3.The MONSTER energy drink 

Although these might take some time to make, they are definitely do-able! 

But, if my boyfriend agrees to dress up, then I am going to need your help deciding on what we are going to be!

Here are a few options that I found! 
1. The Cast-Away couple 
(Yes, I will be Wilson) 

2. The bar of soap and loofa couple 

3. Mr. And Mrs. Pacman 


What do you think? Have you decided what you are going to be? 

Good luck creating this year's costumes! Come back and post pictures! 
Upload to instagram and hashtag #clarescostumes, so I can see them all! 

If you are looking for all events Halloween, here is a list of fun things to do in Toronto: 

P.S. No one is ever too old to dress up for Halloween but we might be a little too old to go trick-or-treating! 

Hair Mask Disaster

A few weeks ago I found myself in a conversation with a friend about homemade and natural hair masks/serums.  She had found one online and had used it and said that it worked wonders for her hair; shiny, smooth, frizz-free. I decided to give it a try. Like most girls, I basically just want longer hair but the shiny, smooth and frizz-free part was an added bonus. 
I went on Pinterest and searched for DIY hair masks and found about 10,000 pages of different websites and pictures. I eventually found a blog that provided 10 easy-to-make hairmasks/serums
I tried the 4th one down, with the avocado, banana, egg and olive oil.
The instructions say to “puree” the banana and avocado, but who really has time for that? Not me.  So I just mashed the avocado and banana with a fork assuming I would be able to get rid of all the clumps. I was wrong. Clumps were visible but I, once again, assumed it wouldn’t matter.
Fast-forward about 45 minutes, and I’ve been sitting with this cold, wet, fruity smelling concoction in my hair for 20 minutes. I had to use cold water to wash it our or else the egg would cook in my hair. Strange mental-image
So I showered with cold water (not fun) and got out of the shower only to realize that all the tiny clumps of avocado and banana were still in my hair.
I had to shower 2 more times in order to get the clumps out, and my hair didn’t feel any different than it had prior to this extremely long and messy process.
This mixture didn’t really do the trick and I’m still in the process of cleaning avocado splats off the walls of my mother’s bathroom.
Does anyone know of any hair masks that you have personally tried and that work? If you do, PLEASE send them over. Much appreciated.

Possible Ingredients

Is this the season they make it?

Is this the season they make it?

A lot of people wrote off the
Toronto Raptors for the past couple of years now but all of a sudden they have gained some sort of interest from the Toronto faithful. In a season where the Miami Heat are ready to go three-peat and Derrick Rose is back from ACL surgery, most of the NBA is calling the season an end due to the 2014 NBA Draft lottery in June.

This year’s draft picks are supposed to be the best one’s since the
2003 draft, with the likes of Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and much more. While this may be a concern for fans who are part of the teams that are shutting down the hatch the Raptors are doing the complete opposite and going for the gold. With all the teams tanking and other teams loading up with veteran guys the Raptors find themselves able to cash in and go to the playoffs for the first time since 2007. When the Raptors acquired their star Rudy Gay and with the 5th year development of Demar DeRozan plus second season of their star center Jonas Valanciunas they look ready and able to make a massive splash in the Eastern Conference.  The Toronto Star thinks they have the opportunity with their article on the coming NBA season I guess the question boils down to if they can make the playoffs and when they do decide to make the playoffs will they make it next year and how far will they go?

is one of those cities where if you’re winning and can get championships the fans will come to but once that pattern decides to go south well then the fans aren’t so supportive. The fine line is can you play in a market where winning is virtually your bread and butter or are you one of those cities where you win, make it to the championship, lose in the finals and end up rebuilding once again or can you be the team which is developing young talent and using your old talent to push you forward to the playoffs every single year like the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics have set up. Only time will tell but until then I want your opinions on the matter, should they tank or make it to the playoffs?

Sunday, 27 October 2013

My Journey to Free the Glutens

My journey started after waking up one morning with a rash on my right forearm and underneath my eyes. It soon spread to my cheeks and nose. Besides the rash, I had other symptoms as well.
  • I was super tired- I would wake up at nine after getting a full eight hours of sleep and would be ready for a nap by 10 in the morning
  • I also had severe migraines
Thinking the rash was being caused by my skin being irritated by something, I changed every item I used on my face to products with more natural ingredients. Changing everything didn't work.

I decided to make an appointment with my doctor. At the appointment, he determined the rash on my face was a "butterfly rash". He prescribed some ointment and a round of a steroid called Prednisone.

This started my lovely  (note the sarcasm) trip on steroids ... by far the WORST medication I have EVER been on. The side effects were terrible!

For five weeks my life looked like this:
  • I constantly ate everything (and I mean everything) I would eat dinner and 15 minutes later I would be starving again
  • I was also on a roller coaster of emotions; one moment happy, the next miserable, then happy again
The combo of ointment and steroids did make the rash go away, however, after finishing the steroids the rash came back. Back to my doctor I went. This time he prescribed a stronger ointment and a trip to a dermatologist. My dermatologist appointment wasn't until August, so I had a whole month with this rash all over my face.

My mother was the one who suggested looking into the gluten- free idea. She was watching a TV show called Anna and Kristina's Grocery Bag, in the episode they were testing a gluten-free cookbook. The one host, Kristina talked about how she went gluten-free and listed her symptoms.

And so my research began, I spent hours researching celiac symptoms and gluten sensitivity symptoms. After four days of research, I came to the conclusion that I needed to cut out gluten.

July 21 = The day my gluten-free lifestyle began
  • It was very difficult, gluten is in everything!
  • I was very restricted in the foods I could and could not eat.
After a week without gluten, the rash was almost gone!! During my Dermatologist appointment, he declared the rash on my arm was hair follicle eczema most likely caused by gluten sensitivity issues.

After consulting with my doctor and a nutritionist, it was determines that going gluten-free was something I was going to have to do. To this day, I continue to free the glutens from my diet.

My gluten-free diet;
  • all vegetables
  • all fruits
  • all meats except lunch meat
  • diary items
  • rice
Instead of regular pasta, I eat rice pasta. Gravies and soy sauce are gluten-free.
The hardest part for me is eating lunch while at school. There are very few options for me and some options could still have gluten in it because I don't know what is in the sauce/dressing.

Would you ever consider going gluten-free? What would be the hardest gluten item to give up?

Thursday, 24 October 2013

I Am Canadian, I Swear !

When I was five years old my parents decided to uproot our lives and commence an adventure. We came to Canada on what was supposed to be a three-year living abroad experience. Well 16 years later we still here a country full of seasons and wonder.

My whole identity is based around this country; to me I am Canadian, to others not always. Every time someone asks where I’m from I say Canada and then they look exasperated. “ Where were you born, why can you speak Spanish?” they ask as I was stupid for not understanding the question. “Oh Colombia.” I respond thinking it was an honest mistake. The top answer I get after that is “ Oh, so you’re Colombian.” “ No!” I want to scream, “I’m Canadian.”

It’s not that I don’t like Colombia, I was born there and I am proud to have been. My family is there and I like to visit when possible. Yet the truth of the matter is that apart for those two things I have no ties to the country. To Colombians I speak funny (because I speak formally like my parents do and no like the young adults there do), I dress funny and I listen to funny music. I don’t like to salsa, dance or party like even the quite Colombian seem to like. I am the odd ball of the group and I never feel like I quite fit in.

In Canada, I experience the same kind of alienation but not to the same degree. My biggest pet peeve is New Years. Here New Years is a day to party with friends, where as in Colombia New Years is for partying with your family. As much as I love my family I always feel left out on New Years because it’s always spent with them.

I once saw this documentary about Generation One. It depicts how kids of immigrants feel and struggle in our society and for the first time I felt like I had found my group. The problem is I’m not Generation One, I am an immigrant.

I will be forever grateful to my heritage, but ultimately Canada is my home, and Canadians are my people. In the words of Joe from the CANADIAN beer commercial: I am Canadian!

Lorde vs. Selena: War of the Words

Last week, 16-year-old singer Lorde became the target of much scrutiny after making comments about Selena Gomez’s song “Come and Get It”. Lorde says the song has an anti-feminist message. Her comments even instigated singer Cher Lloyd to comment (she thinks that Lorde should learn to respect other artists.)


Criticism Lorde has received is that she is picking on a celebrity that isn’t likely to rebuttal in an aggressive way- which is a valid point. There are numerous other artists that showcase much more anti-feminist messages than Selena Gomez, why not criticize them?


 Rihanna, for example, glamourizes sex-workers in her recent music video “Pour It Up”. The song suggests that strippers will do anything for large sums of money. Rihanna’s attempt of glamorizing this subject can be seen as reinstating gender roles and objectifying females- something feminists have protested for decades. But Rihanna has a notorious ‘Unapologetic’ attitude. With more reason to attack someone like Rihanna, could it be Lorde’s just looking for attention?

When asked about the feud, Selena said, "in my opinion it's not feminism if you’re tearing down another artist”. I believe her opinion is exaggerated. Lorde criticized Gomez’s lyrics, not her personally. Many young fans that idolize Selena may now consider criticism to be negative, because their role model suggests that. This limits acceptance of different opinions.

Lorde also said, "I think there's a funny culture in music that's only happened over the last 15 years… [That] you're a hater, even if you have perfectly reasonable grounds for that critique." Though I do agree with her stance on criticism in the music industry, a 16-year-old’s opinion of music in the past 15 years may be a bit inaccurate. I agree with her view of “haters” though. Just last month Ben Affleck received a lot of criticism about his new role as Batman in the upcoming movie, Batman vs. Superman. This criticism was not considered hate, however in the case of Lorde and Selena’s feud, Cher Lloyd felt she had to defend Selena from Lorde's 'hate'.

What do you think about Lorde’s criticism of Selena Gomez’s lyrics? Valid and overdue, or just an attempt to gain more attention?

Eating Fresh

Eating Fresh

 I’ve been eating at Fresh for at least ten years and been working there for the last year. And really, I couldn’t be luckier to have this kind of access to such healthy and delicious food (especially as a student!). Fresh is a vegan juice bar and restaurant which is locally owned. There are four of them in Toronto. I work at the Spadina location, just south of Queen, as a cashier and hostess.  

 The food at fresh, well, is fresh, to say the least. They use unique ingredients to make balanced and flavourful dishes, that anyone, even carnivores can enjoy. My favourite juice is the Red Velvet, that’s strawberry, beets, pineapple and ginger. It’s hard to narrow down my favourite dish, but for now I’m going to go with my classic choice which is the Beach Bowl. First there’s a choice of brown basmati rice, or soba noodles, topped with roasted red pepper, sweet potato and zucchini, sun dried tomatoes, avocado, sunflower sprouts, olive oil, tamari, mixed herbs, lemon AND again your choice of grilled tofu steaks or chevre. I always go with the chevre, however, if I’m feeling extra peckish then I’ll treat myself to both!
And it’s just such a fun environment to work in. It gets crazy busy, but I am part of a fabulous team of young woman who run the front of house. My older brother works at Fresh too, as a cook, although because of school we barely end up having shifts at the same time. But we did meet up at the staff party this past weekend, which was at the Piston on Bloor. I love staff parties because you get to see such a different side to everyone!

Anyways, I love where I work, I suggest you come and try something new.

~ Michaela Woeller

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