Year of the Ox

Chinese New Year starts on February 12th this year, and we are celebrating the year of the ox! Whether you are a believer of zodiac signs and all the associated traits and symbolism, or not, we can all appreciate the legacy of this Chinese tradition. (Read more about it here: LINK). To get myself prepared for the holiday spirit (in the safety of my home), I made a quick doodle using Procreate and turned it into a wallpaper for my phone.

This year I also decided to (be basic and) make a vision board. Noted – the term “vision board” is loosely applied given the COVID-19 pandemic in its current rampage. Some of my hopes of 2021 include travelling to Japan, road trips, and simply having the luxury of reading in a cafe. Albeit, I will accept if none of these things manifest if it means maintaining the health and safety of our communities, country, and globe. In that case, I won’t mind changing the “2021” into “2022”!

My loosely envisioned “vision board” also features my ox!

I have more posts planned to come. In the meantime, how you are planning to celebrate Chinese New Year in 2021? 🤩

Year in reflection

The new year is around the corner, and I assume most of us are anticipating it’s beginning with greater hope and optimism. A reflection of 2020, for me, entails a bittersweet recollection. Whilst this year did not go according to plans, nor did I expect such turn of events, I think I made the best of the situation, along with my family and friends. In fact, some of my favourite memories might come from this past year.

To recap my year, I spent a lot of time with my mom and dad going on hikes and supporting local restuarants/cafes by ordering takeout. We truly had some amazing food memories this past year. One of my fondest memory is having outdoors picnics after ordering seafood pizzas from Steveston Pizza Co. (any of their Castle pies are delicious!). Other honourable food moments include doughnuts from Mello, poke bowls from Pokerrito, and biscuit brunches from Chewie’s Chicken & Biscuit. I also loved taking strolls around Vancouver (while adhering to regulations and when it is allowed) and discovering new things about the city I grew up in. My mom and I frequented Mount Pleasant to discover all the hidden gems from the Vancouver Mural Festival. Another huge part of my 2020 was volunteering at a rabbit shelter. With the insidious presence of COVID, I could not continue to volunteer at the hospital or with community members. Diverging my time to the rabbit shelter in lieu of my pre-COVID commitments (which have been halted by the pandemic) has helped my mental health immensely. Over time working at the shelter, I also rediscovered my pure and utter love for bunnies. Perhaps because I see many similarities between myself and these friendly, reserved fluff balls.

I wanted to comment on the challenges that the pandemic has imposed upon our relationships with friends, family, and other people we love. 2020 has truly tested our abilities to maintaining long-distance relationships. I am beyond lucky to have such supportive friends and people who continuously show their love through countless hours spent over Zoom meetings, phone calls, and other creative and safe sources of communication. (One highlight being sent flowers 🥰). These people have made my 2020 brighter and brought me so much joy, and I am forever grateful ❤️

I am incredibly thankful for the safety and health of my friends and family. If I ever need motivation to get through another day, week, or month of quarantine, I think about these people, as well as the people in my community. If you ever need the same motivation, think about the people you care about the most. I encourage everyone to stay home as much as possible and to adhere to your local regulations (for the Ontario peeps, here is the provincial lockdown guidelines and restrictions). We are all in this together! And together we can make 2021 a better, brighter year ✨

‘Tis the season

Happy holidays! Merry Christmas! ‘Tis the season to light holiday candles, drink hot cocoa, and watch terrible Christmas movies on Netflix. 2020 has changed everyone’s life and what we determined to be “normal”. I wanted to document how we managed to regain some of this “normal” throughout this holiday season (while staying safe). I am so grateful for the wonderful people around me, who have inspired and motivated me to bring holiday cheer to others around me.

We sent out holiday postcards to community members! One of the clubs I am involved in volunteers and advocates for a local support group. In times of COVID, this support group has not been able to gather for the last year. I designed this postcard, which my club mailed out to all the members of this local group in hopes of bringing folks some holiday cheer! What makes this postcard extra sentimental is that it is a depiction of our local city hall (though not a super accurate one I’ll have to admit – I tried my best, haha!).

“A Jolly Time in Kingston”. Procreate. 2020.

Making holiday cards! During COVID, many of us have to rely on the post office to mail gifts to family and friends. Mailing out parcels can be extremely slow and costly. If you are on a budget but you still want to let your friends and family know that you are thinking of them this year, you can always mail them a handmade card! There is something so special about receiving a card that has been meticulously crafted and tailored just for that someone special 🥰

Cards I made for family and friends. (In hindsight, a collage is not the best presentation of these cards due to the clutter but you get the gist!)

Our core bubble made a holiday feast! As long as you uphold your local COVID precautions and rules, there’s nothing that holds you back from still enjoying all of the delicious foods associated with Christmas and the holiday season. My personal favourites have to be vegetarian stuffing and mashed potatoes 🤤 You can still feast, even if it’s just within your immediate household. If you wanted to share your feast with others outside of your core bubble, you can always coordinate with them to drop off/exchange dishes at a safe location and safe distance. Afterwards, you can enjoy the meal together over ZOOM, Facetime, or other modes of virtual communication.

Our holiday feast❤️ (done within guidelines established by Ontario and Kingston). Peep the stuffing and mashed potatoes made by meee!

As an university student, I am ecstatic for this winter break. I can finally celebrate and rejoice in the wonderful things in life – big or small. For me, the small things include my morning coffees, painting my nails, and reading a good book before bed (I’m currently reading “When Breath Becomes Air”- very good so far!). The big things are finishing my second last semester of undergrad and applications to graduate schools! I am privileged to enjoy and experience all these things. And I have immense gratitude and appreciation for others in our community who make this holiday possible for the rest of us (e.g. store employees, frontline workers, etc.). I hope you can also rejoice and appreciate all the big and small things in life. ‘Tis the season to be grateful and to spread the jolly spirit! Happy holidays everyone ~ 🎄🎁☕️

Giving Thanks

Give your thanks to the autumn season and all the thanksgiving dinners (in Canada). I made thanksgiving dinner not once, but TWICE! Perhaps I watched too much of The Chef Show on Netflix… But it was so great to reconnect with family and friends (while following COVID-19 precautions: limit your social bubble and keep indoor gatherings small) – and for this, I am extremely grateful.

Here are some of the recipes I “followed”. Peep the outcome in the photos above 👀

Stuffing: (10/10) I skipped the eggs but it still came out delicious!

Mashed potatoes: (8/10) I added parsley, dill, and parmesan for more flavour.

Zucchini, eggplant, tomato gratin: (9/10) I thought this dish would be quite bland – plain roasted vegetables – but it actually turned out great!

Italian roasted cauliflower: (11/10) Yummm…Don’t underestimate cauliflower 👅

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on most people’s mental health, mine included. If anything, thanksgiving has taught me the value of reconnecting with family and friends. If you are ever feeling down, reach out to a friend or family member, whether it is meeting them at a local park (safely) or scheduling a Facetime call. Give thanks to the people who mean the most to you, or make them a wholesome meal to express your gratitude. Just be sure to follow the COVID protocols specific to your location while doing so. Here are the BC guidelines for my BC peeps. Happy Thanksgiving from Canada! 🥳

Tangent: Cetaphil

I recently ran out of my holy grail cleanser Tatcha Deep Cleanse, and I was forced to use my mom’s Cetaphil cleanser. This only brought back all the things I despise about this cleanser. If you have oily skin (really oily like me), this cleanser does absolutely nothing. I still feel a layer of oil sitting on top of my skin even after using the facewash 3x times in a row. I started to question if the cleanser even has any active ingredients. Are they just trolling us? Selling us thickened water?

Many dermatologists apparently promote the use of Cetaphil. Okay, so why do so many professionals promote this? Well, maybe the fact that this cleanser does nothing is why they like Cetaphil. A lot of times topical medications are very harsh on the skin, so the last thing they want is a cleanser that further deteriorates the skin’s integrity.

I tried to find other people’s thoughts about this useless cleanser, and there are people that go as far as saying Cetaphil is the “devil”…Okay, I know my distaste for Cetaphil is a bit harsh but surely Cetaphil isn’t demonic? And hence begins the nosedive into Cetaphil: WHAT INGREDIENTS EVEN MAKE THIS QUALIFY AS A CLEANSER and IS IT SECRETLY EVIL?

Cetaphil_

Cetaphil Sensitive Skin Cleanser has 8 ingredients (pictured above).

  1. Water
  2. Cetyl alcohol
    • Fun fact: was first isolated from sperm whales.
    • Acts as thickening/binding agent, emollient (moisturizer), and emulsifier (remove oil) [1]
  3. Propylene glycerol
    • Humectant (retain moisture) [2]
  4. Sodium lauryl sulfate
    • Emulsifier (remove oil)
    • Surfactant that is also found in cleaning products.
    • Absorbs into the bloodstream. HOWEVER, CIR and other reviews found no evidence of SLS accumulating in organs to toxic levels [3]
  5. Stearyl alcohol
    • Emulsifier (remove oil), also prevents foaming [4]
  6. Methylparaben, butylparaben, propylparaben
    • Parabens act as a preservative that prevents growth of harmful microbes.
    • There are studies that link parabens and development of cancer or tumours. [5] HOWEVER, association is not always causation.
    • CIR does report low order of toxicities in paraben levels used in cosmetics [5]. While this may cause some people to squeal in fear, have you ever considered other sources of parabens? You might even consume parabens elsewhere, like in pickles or beer. Trust me, you aren’t going to get cancer if you ever used Cetaphil, nor if you decide to finish that tube of Maybelline mascara.

In conclusion, cetaphil is not EVIL.

I am not here to argue with advocates of natural cosmetics either because at the end of the day, I still despise this cleanser. From my deduction, this cleanser is lacking an exfoliant. For a gal with more oily complexion, this cleanser is one that does not accomplish the one thing that it sets out to do. If you are concerned about parabens, find another cleanser! There are so many out there, like Tatcha, that use alternatives.

This might be one of the most random posts I’ll ever make. Or it might be the start of something new because lately my stream of thoughts takes me on deep nosedives. Hope you enjoyed reading about all the random information I have collected. I encourage everyone to look for reliable information before making a judgement. For example, actually doing research instead of relying on words of lifestyle bloggers. (hmm, I wonder why all these blogs think Cetaphil is evil). Research may not always be easy, thus I think it is crucial to seek information from multiple platforms that offer diverse perspectives on a certain topic.

🤡 Keep learning and talk to you all later! 🤡

 

My sources (in a not-so-formal format):

  1. https://www.chemicalsafetyfacts.org/cetyl-alcohol/
  2. https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/phs/phs.asp?id=1120&tid=240; https://cosmeticsinfo.org/ingredient/propylene-glycol
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4651417/
  4. https://cosmeticsinfo.org/ingredient/stearyl-alcohol
  5. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/should-people-be-concerned-about-parabens-in-beauty-products/; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19101832

Now what?

     The last two months flew by so fast. It challenged all of us to adapt to a new way of living and to accept the new reality, as peculiar as it is. Self isolation is no piece of cake. The challenges we face at home are more emotional and psychological. Communication with friends and teachers seem odd and unfamiliar. Phrases like “these trying times” and “hope you are staying safe” appear in every email. Anxiety arises as your toilet paper supply diminishes exponentially. And why is everyone is making Dalgona coffee? And let’s be honest, staying home with family 24/7 is bound to ignite petty and hefty arguments.

dim sum
Doodle I did on the plane pre-social distancing.

     In these trying times (iykyk), it’s a great opportunity to return to those hobbies we neglected during “normal” times. Maybe even pick up new hobbies. It’s also nice to follow a routine and relish in whatever “normal” we can reintegrate into our everyday life. You have all the time in the world (or so we are told), but at the end of the day if all you want to do is lounge on the couch and plays Sims, that is okay too. And don’t forget to check up on friends and family!

     I have finally completed my third year of undergraduate studies at Queen’s 🥳! There are lots of things lined up for the summer. I will be back with random art projects here and there, and I will also be starting a new series documenting my experience applying to medical school (in Canada) amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Stay tuned if you want to see how I attempt to face the taunting thing that is med school applications. In the meantime, if you haven’t already, check out the WHO’s website for their insight and advice regarding the COVID-19 outbreak.

Stay home and stay safe! Take care.

How to get more involved in uni as an introvert

I didn’t get involved in many extracurriculars back in high school nor my first year of university. I remember feeling like there was something wrong with me for not being interested in anything school related, especially seeing how active my friends were at school.

All this, and I can tell you that that mindset is false. First of all, there are COUNTLESS clubs and activities on campus. You are bound to find something that sparks your interest, even in the slightest bit. For me, I am especially interested in science/healthcare related clubs. Combine that with graphic design and it’s a match made in heaven. I really enjoy graphic design so I find myself enjoying a graphic design position in clubs that are not even related to science or healthcare. There are so many roles delegated in each club that you are bound to find one that speaks to you. For example, do you like marketing, finances, outreach, or sponsorship?

If all else fails, you can always start your own club! This I can speak for. It also explains my long hiatus from this blog. My friends and I started a club this year that supports the local Parkinson’s Disease community.  Getting this club up and running hasn’t been easy but I know it will be worth all the time and effort. As an introvert, the idea of starting my own club was terrifying at first. Luckily, I was able to find a group of friends who were willing to put in their own time and effort to help me make this club a reality (how am I so lucky to have found these people 🥺). I am going to be cliche here and say that nothing is impossible if you have enough drive and passion- you can do it.

My advice to anyone who is stressing about not being involved in enough extracurriculars is to… NOT. Sounds like dumb advice. But it’s true. Take a deep breath, mediate, and start seeking out clubs or activities that you are ACTUALLY passionate about or interested in. When you find those opportunities, you will find that being an active, involved student on campus will be easily than previously thought.

Here are some graphics that I did for my clubs last month:

 

Cheers and good luck!

Some Kingston Love

One of my best friends from high school came to visit me in Kingston this weekend. One thing that we loved to do back in Vancouver was to visit cute cafes and draw the buildings outside. We chose to settle down in a cafe across from Kingston City Hall. Though the drinks and atmosphere was mediocre, it had a perfect view of city hall for a quick doodle.

kingston yellow

My friend kept telling me how much she loved Kingston, and she reminded me of how beautiful the city was. Kingston is subtle and welcoming. The city was underwhelming to me when I first moved here as a gal from big cities. I learned to love the atmosphere here. People are more humble in Kingston, and life moves at a slower, more manageable pace.

98873156-668A-446D-93D3-8D2E6332F48D

Peep a drawing of me drawing. 😍

kinhston blue

I highly recommend cafe hopping and drawing in public. It can be taunting but you may surprise yourself with what you come up with. Show your town or city some love. And happy doodling. ✌️

How to Bullet Journal

It has almost been a year since I started my first bullet journal. While I don’t use mine as routinely as most bullet journal users, I have some tips on how to start a bullet journal. I also included some of my favourite spreads from the past year. 🤩

  1. Find a purpose for your journal.
    • I decided one day not to buy agendas anymore. Instead, I bought my first moleskine. I don’t find it hard to keep up with my journal because I use it everyday and it’s a part of my routine like brushing my teeth!BJ3
  2. Google for inspiration.
    • Being not creative “enough” should not be an excuse that keeps you from starting a bullet journal! I often google for ideas and customize the spreads to my liking. Once I tried out a couple spreads, I started to figure out the best format for me and what I absolutely needed in my planner.BJ4
  3. Don’t be afraid to try new things and mess up.
    • Someone once said to me that they couldn’t start a bullet journal because they would get too stressed and scared about messing up. I think messing up is inevitable. I often write the wrong weekdays on my monthly spread and miss dates in my weekly spreads. But as time goes on, you will make fewer mistakes. Practice makes perfect!BJ2
  4. Don’t miss a day. Plan ahead, like WAY ahead if needed.
    • If you know the next few months will be jam-packed, make all your entries in one or two sittings. When school is in session, I draw out the spreads every 3 months. This way I can plan ahead and not have to worry about my bullet journal.BJ5
  5. Enjoy the process.
    • Enjoy the freedom and creative process of bullet journaling. I assure you when you are half a year in, a full year in, one journal finished in, you will look back and be proud of your work!!

BJ1

Good luck and happy bullet journaling! 🤘