Monday, 30 December 2013

Pros and Cons of Country Life

The other day, we drove back home from having dinner at a nice restaurant. Before heading back into the house, we looked up and saw a beautiful starry night. I've seen some starry nights out here, but I've never seen one like that. All corners of the sky were just covered in those beautiful little diamonds. It looked like they'd been sprinkled all over. It was really something. I tried to take a picture with my camera, but it didn't capture a good shot. What I saw that night could probably be most appreciated with one's own eyes.

A few days later, my husband and I had to run some errands around town. On our way back home, he drove into a ditch and our car got stuck. Every car that drove past us, stopped to ask if we were okay and if we needed any help. A gentleman helped pull us out of the ditch with his big pick-up truck. Getting trapped in the ditch was a downer, but it was kind of nice that every one (who was a complete stranger by the way) stopped to offer us some assistance. We'd gotten into car trouble in the city a few times, but that many people never stopped to ask if we were okay. Not to say that city people are rude or unfriendly, but usually people in the city are in the rush to go somewhere. It's a much slower paced lifestyle in the country, and people seem to have more time to spare. 

I keep seeing animal footprints in the snow around the house, but haven't encountered any wildlife yet! My husband keeps assuring me it's probably just bunnies. Whatever it is, I think it would be pretty neat to see it! 

I learned some neat little Canadian trivia the other day. Allahumdulillah, feeling quite blessed that a small percentage of those lakes are in my town/city: 

One of the biggest (and hardest) adjustments so far has been that I don't know that many people in the area. However, the people who I have met have been very welcoming. I've met some nice people, but would still like to meet some more.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013


I got a chance to see downtown Peterborough over the weekend. It's very different from downtown Toronto. It is roughly about four city blocks, and they are all one way streets, so you have to go around in a circle to get to the other side. They have some nice used book stores, restaurants, pubs, cafes, ONE movie theatre and some independent shops. I also saw a cute little strip mall in the heart of downtown. There were no condos or skyscrapers in sight. I saw some people walking through doors between the shops, and I noticed there were little apartments above each of the stores. We drove through the streets but didn't get to see inside any of the stores, since majority of them were closed. We went just after six, so they were just closing up. It was quite different from what I remember in the big city. Most restaurants/cafes in Toronto stay open late, till at least 11 pm. And a lot even stay open till 2 or 3 am!

We did manage to find a small coffee shop which was open late. "Open late" by small city standards mean, it was open till 8! It was an independently owned cafe. It was not as cozy as some other cafes I've been to, but still not a bad ambiance. While we were there, a local artist came to hang up some of her artwork in the back room. I overheard her telling a customer that she has some sort of opening coming up. I liked that the local cafe was supporting a small independent business.

It took roughly about ten minutes to tour all of the downtown, before we went in for some drinks. I lived in Toronto all my life, and there are still parts of downtown Toronto which I haven't seen! Still on my list of Peterborough sight seeing: The Canadian Canoe Museum, art gallery, museum and Riverpark Zoo. The Canoe Museum costs just over $10, and the art gallery, museum and zoo are all free! I will be done seeing all of Peterborough in no time!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

What Life in the Country is Like

We've been living in the countryside for about a month and a half now. We had to go back to the city a few times to get some of the stuff we left behind (in our old place), now all of our stuff has moved in with us to the new house. Many of my friends and family were concerned that we would feel lonely up here, but so far, we are both loving it. Our experience living here has been nothing but amazing.

Our new city/town is not as multicultural as Toronto, but I have yet to come across a negative experience living here. Everyone I've met and interacted with has been really nice and friendly. I've gotten acquainted with the local librarians and have even been invited to a couple of their Christmas/holiday parties.

It's a few degrees colder up here than in Toronto. It's a high price to pay (no pun intended) for living in the beautiful countryside. I am loving the natural beauty that surrounds me. I love walking through the woods during the day, and stargazing at night. On nights the moon shines bright, it looks spectacular outside. It's been snowing on and off for the last few days. Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love winter and the snow! The lake has completely frozen over, and a blanket of pure white snow now covers it.

I haven't come across any wildlife yet. I've seen some unfamiliar footprints in the snow, and have heard my kitties hissing at the window a few times, but haven't witnessed seeing any wild animals.

It's a quiet, peaceful and simpler lifestyle. I feel like I am living in a story book. This feels like home.

Monday, 21 October 2013

From City Mouse to Country Mouse

My husband and I recently decided to make the change from city life to country life. It's still in the beginning stages right now, so it's hard to determine whether I see myself living this way for the rest of my life. What I do know is how different the lifestyle is! We're definitely not living in the city anymore!

The first night we slept here, loud gun shots woke me up in the morning. Normally, a gunshot would mean something really bad happened. But out here, gunshots come from hunters out hunting for ducks, deer, etc. We walked into a gas station the other day, and the people working there had a full conversation about duck hunting! Never in my life (in the city) did I ever hear of people talking about any kind of hunting!

In our condo, everything was walking distance for us. Mall, grocery store, public transportation, etc. Out here, it's a 30 minute drive out to the city. However, we do have local shops which are 5-10 walking distance. (Grocery store, hardware store, convenience store, etc.) We drove out to the city yesterday afternoon and this town seems super pet-friendly! In just a 10 minute drive, we saw pet shop after pet shop after pet shop! I counted and I saw five pet stores almost side by side! This is my kind of town/city! ;)

It is not recommended to drink the tap water, since it comes straight from the lake, so you have to stock up on bottled water for everything. We use it for cooking, drinking, making coffee/tea, and feeding our kitties. Our mail doesn't come straight to our door, like it did in the city. You actually have to either drive (or walk) to the post office and pick it up from there! I haven't met the post office lady yet, but apparently I'll get to know her on a first name basis lol.

One change I found really amusing was the garbage man. Today was our garbage day, so I was expecting a big garbage truck to come up to the house, like the ones we used to see in Toronto. But the garbage man actually came in a small pick up truck!

Since there is no light pollution out here, the star gazing is incredible. The first night we were here was the first time I saw so many stars bunched up together. The last couple of nights, the moon was shining bright, so the stars were not as visible. But on a clear night, it is just amazing.

It's definitely much colder her up here, but you give and take what you can get. I'm just praying to make this change easy (for us).

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Vacationing, Cats & Ramadan

Ramadan is soon coming to an end. There is about one week left of fasting, before Eid. Overall, Allahumdulillah fasting was pretty good. The first couple of days were tough, then my body slowly got used to it. Most of our schedules change drastically while we are fasting. Since we eat breakfast (sehri) before Fajr prayers, which (this year) was at around 3-3:30 am. And don't get to bed till about 12 or even 1 am, after we are finished reading Isha and Taraweeh prayers. It requires a lot of sacrifice. Sacrifice of sleep and food, but Inshallah it will pay off in the end. My Ramadans are usually relatively quiet. I don't go out much. The week prior to Ramadan was rather hectic. So here's what I had been up to:

My husband and I took a weekend vacation up North to Wiarton, Manitoulin Island and Tobermory. We crammed in a whole bunch of fun activities in three days and managed to do almost every touristy activity each city had to offer. So here's a rough little diary of how we spent our trip:

Day 1 (Friday): Drove out of the city late afternoon. Grabbed dinner on the way to Tobermory. Originally, we were going to spend all three days in Tobermory. Instead, we lodged at Wiarton for the night.

Day 2 (Saturday): The motel/lodge we stayed at provided continental breakfast (muffins, cereal, coffee, tea, yogurt, buns, and such). We talked to the motel owner about what activities they had in Wiarton. He arranged for us to get a chartered fishing boat early evening, so that gave us all morning and half of the afternoon to get some sight seeing in. We spent our morning/afternoon at the local park, local beach, downtown and did some hiking. Afterwards, we headed back to the dock, and hung out on the fishing boat for a about 3-4 hours. We didn't catch any fish, but the weather was amazing and we got to see a beautiful sunset on our way back to shore. After fishing, we went for dinner to a local restaurant, that served the best bruschetta I've ever tasted. That was the end of day 2.

Day 3 (Sunday): We planned to go to Tobermory on Sunday, but decided to take a two hour ferry ride (from Tobermory) down to Manitoulin Island instead. Manitoulin Island is the largest lake island in the world! It was truly a sight to see. The towns were so far apart, and there weren't any people, stores, restaurants or even gas stations for miles! It was all just lake after lake after lake. There is only one traffic light on the entire island, which we never even ran into! It was really refreshing and so different from the city. The lakes and beaches were so shallow, and the water was so blue. One of my favourite things we did was visit Bridal Veil Falls. It's a cute little waterfall with a pool of water under it that you can swim in, and walk around behind the waterfall. It was amazing. The island sleeps early, everything closed at about 6-6:30. We managed to find a restaurant open late just in time for dinner! Mind you, "open late" in Toronto means about 1 am, in Manitoulin Island, it means 8:30 pm! After dinner, we headed down to a lakeside cottage for the night.

Day 4 (Monday): We planned to rent a paddle boat in the morning (from the cottage) but the day started off quite cold and windy, so that was a bust. We drove around the island a bit more in the morning before heading back to the ferry, back to Tobermory. As soon as we got off the ferry, we got on a glass bottom boat tour that takes you around to the Tobermory shipwrecks (that is something Tobermory is known for. People do a lot of scuba diving there.) The boat tour was about an hour long. And that was the end of our trip! We took the scenic route back home, driving through Blue Mountain and Wasaga Beach.

These were the highlights of our trip. In between all these activities, we saw lots of beaches and look out points. It was a lot of driving from place to place. Loads of fun, it was a wonderful trip.

We came home to find out that our cat (Pepper) needed immediate medical attention. He accumulated a urinary infection as a result of 1. Eating cheap cat food (Whiskas dry food, Purina Cat Chow and Friskies canned wet food, for anyone who has pets) and 2. Not drinking enough water. We took him to the vet and they treated him right away. Poor kitty went through a lot while at the vet and was hospitalized for three days. Once he finally came home, I had to medicate him for about a week and half to help dissolve his urinary crystals. He is now on a special prescription diet and is back to his usual crazy antics Allahumdulillah! He's healed well, and it's great to see him back to normal! Running about, opening cabinets, meowing up a storm, and what not! Because of this scare, we've also changed Tiger's diet, to a better, more expensive and grain-free food. It was a bit nerve wracking at first, but the vet(s) at the clinic informed us that urinary infections are quite common in cats and especially more so in male cats, so that was rather comforting. I would like to give a shout out to my AMAZING vet(s) for helping Pepper through this crazy ordeal!

So there you have it. My miscellaneous updates for the day. =)

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Spring Cleaning: Decluttering my Life

I hate cleaning, I really do. But I also hate having a messy apartment! So for the last couple of months, I've been doing some major spring cleaning. Mind you, I felt so overwhelmed with all the cleaning that needed to be done, I just didn't know where to start. But I've been doing it bit by bit, and everything is coming along great! Every time I clean, I focus on ONE area of the condo, and just that one area (for the day). Here's how I've split my cleaning so far:
  • Kitchen pantry: Using large plastic containers (bought at the dollar store) for storage for flour, lentils, pasta, rice, tea, etc.
  • Spice cabinet: seeing what spices were old and needed to be thrown out. Giving the cabinet a full wipe down, and re-organizing the spices.
  • Kitchen Cabinet: Throwing away old food containers that I wasn't using, and only keeping the good/sturdy ones
  • Stove/Oven: Giving the stove top a full wipe down, and turning on the "self cleaner" on my oven (this didn't require too much "work!" Hehe.)
  • Living room/kitchen: Doing a full vacuum and a full mop
  • "Storage"/Linen closet: So living in a tiny condo like ours, you learn to use spaces for multi purposes, and my linen closet has been transformed into a storage closet! I use shoe boxes to store stuff like old letters/cards, art supplies, empty envelopes, etc. I also keep wrapping paper and gift bags in there. Gift bags that looked old and ratty which can't be re-used, went straight to the trash!
  • Drawers: Taking ALL of my clothes out, throwing them on the bed, and organizing my drawers! One drawer is for hijabs/headscarves, one drawer is for skirts, one drawer is for shirts, one drawer is for socks, and so on. 
Mind you, certain cleaning is done on a regular basis, like washing dishes, sweeping the kitchen floor, laundry, and such. Also, in the midst of all my cleaning, I was not second guessing anything. Any item which I hadn't used in over a year, went straight to the garbage, no questions asked!

 I still have lots more cleaning to do, but I'm happy with how productive I've been so far! I am not expecting it to happen over night, but it's progress.

And while we are on the topic of cleaning and organizing, I've also gotten better at organizing my meals. I quite often feel stumped about what I should cook for dinner everyday! Now, I plan my meals the night before. I look up recipes either online or through my recipe box/books and figure out what I feel like eating the next day, and make a note of it. I take meat out of the freezer, and let it defrost in the fridge overnight.

Allahumdulillah, I have also gotten better with my time management, and have given myself a bit of a schedule. Morning is spent doing my studies, then go for my afternoon workout, cleaning is usually done early afternoon (after I return home from the gym), and cooking is done later in the afternoon, closer to dinner time. After dinner, I give the kitchen a wipe down, then wind down at the end of the day with a nice book, or watch some TV.

If you have any cleaning and/or organizing tips to share, please do so in the comments section below. It would be much appreciated! =)

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Behind the scenes "Organic" Garbage tour at Scarborough Town Centre

Scarborough Town Centre had some booths set up for Earth Day yesterday afternoon. One was set up with colouring pages, one had a "make your own pine cone bird feeders" station, and one had a large glass cylinder filled with plastic bottles. Participants had to guess how many plastic bottles were in the cylinder and the winner will receive a $100 gift certificate for the mall. My favourite was the behind the scenes tour.

Our tour guide took us through the food court, showing us organic waste bins set up next to each garbage can. (Although these bins are meant for food waste ONLY, of course people throw in napkins, plastic forks, and Styrofoam containers, because they are lazy and can't walk less than a second to the garbage can next to it!)

Then he walked us to the back doors, through the long tunnel which lead to the "ORCA" room.

Step 1: Each restaurant in the food court has big plastic bins, where they collect all there food waste (leftover food, fruit/vegetable peels, etc). The "garbage" workers collect all the bins from the mall at the end of each day. (Some restaurants request more bins, depending on how much food waste they collect. Example, places like "Freshly Squeezed" have more bins because of all the fruit peels.)

Step 2: The bins are weighed. The "garbage" workers log in to their log book how much food waste was collected for the day. Some days there's more, some days there's less. On average, about 40-45 bins are collected on a daily basis.

Step 3: The bins are stored in a large refrigerator to prevent the food from rotting and smelling up the room. (Note: The room has it's very own deodorizing system set up, and it actually doesn't smell at all.)

Step 4: The ORCA machine is fed four bins every few hours. It can't take any more than that. Just like our bodies can't eat all our 3 meals in one sitting, neither can the ORCA. The only food it cannot accept is beef bones and oil. The leftover oil is collected in a separate container. The oil is poured into a tank, which transforms the cooking oil into bio fuel.

The ORCA system

How the ORCA works is: It has little black pieces in the machine which contain enzymes. The enzymes break up all the food and turns it into water. The ORCA system leaves behind a small amount of residue (like a muddy/pulpy substance), which goes through a mesh (with 0.44 mm small holes) and turns the food waste into water. The water goes through pipes, which leads to a water plant. The water is then purified, and recycled. The entire process (of breaking down the food) takes 24 hours. There's always people monitoring the machine: Two men during the day, and one man on night duty.

The entire system is entirely environmentally friendly. Furthermore, there is no need for trucks to come and pick up food waste, reducing STC's carbon footprint. Scarborough Town Centre is one of the first shopping centres in Canada to develop this technology. Although this system has been in the United States for a while now, it is relatively new to Canada. Other places that use the ORCA system are Credic Valley hospital (in Mississauga), Seneca College (King campus), Costco, and the Metro Convention Centre downtown. The MCC actually has two machines, since they accumulate so much traffic. STC started using the ORCA system about a year ago. Within the last year, they have successfully diverted over 330,000 organic waste from landfills.

The clever little guy is the Trademarked Scarborough Town Centre (ORCA) logo

The toilet tank is used as a "power flush" system. The system is flushed several times a day, to avoid a food flood!

This is where the food waste was originally collected, for trucks to come and collect it and take it to landfills. It is now only used for recycling.

The tour was really neat! I've always been fascinated with what happens behind closed doors. I don't know if I'll ever been able to look at the mall the same way again. It was interesting to learn the step-by-step process of what happens to all the food waste. Furthermore, it's nice to know places are starting to use this (environmentally friendly) technique to get rid of garbage!

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Personal Growth

I will make this one short and sweet. <3

I've always had the habit of going back and re-reading old journal (and blog) entries. For the longest time, I saw the same pattern: the entries were pretty much the same, just worded differently. But, I've noticed a change in pattern lately. Compared to my previous entries, my more recent entries are different, and this can only mean one thing: New entries = new "me."

For me, the key to growth was stepping out of my comfort zone and making some (positive) lifestyle changes. Eating healthier, exercising regularly (or trying to at least!), stop caring about what others think, and having a positive outlook on life. I think all of these changes play a role in a richer & happier life experience. Not just for me, for anyone and everyone.

I am fascinated, that we as people, can grown (and learn) at any age. Even as adults, life always has new lessons to offer you.


Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Thank God for Everything

So I was feeling kind of down a few weeks ago. Many of my lovely family and friends have been going on international vacations/trips lately. I was happy (for them) that they were going and enjoying life, but seeing them going on trips, just reminded me that I wasn't. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely loved hearing stories about what they saw, what they did, seeing their vacation pictures, and hearing all about their beautiful experiences. But I didn't just want to hear of those experiences, I wanted to experience them myself. After much reflection, I reminded myself that even though I'm not currently traveling around the world, I have been blessed in many other ways.

I wanted to go back to school for the longest time, and I learned of a website which offers online University courses (from a good friend of mine). Allahumdulillah, I successfully completed two courses so far. The courses were enjoyable, and now I am taking a couple of others. Just last week, I wrote an essay for Philosophy about time travel, entitled "Is Time Travel Logically Possible?" I had so much fun with it. I have always loved writing essays, and to write about something with a hint of science fiction, just added to the fun of it! The fact that I am finally able to go back to school and study at a University level is a true blessing, I wanted it (and prayed for it) for a long time, and now I am actually doing it.

I have previously wrote about my weight loss experience. That was also something I wanted for a long time. I finally took initiative, and succeeded in doing so!

Furthermore, vacation wise: Although I have not done very many international vacations, I have done a lot of mini vacations, and a local (and mini) vacation is still a vacation. The last couple of summers, we've been driving 2-3 hours away from home, and spending the weekend by a lake. Last year was my first time doing this in a beautiful lakeside cottage. We stayed there for about 3 days and all we did the whole time was go boating, fishing and just enjoy the lake (aside from a few trips into the city for meals). It was the most fun I had all summer. If you do your homework, it is amazing how much fun you can have right in your own backyard, and you won't need to break the bank to do so.

I also recently learned of a new term: "Staycation," which I think I am a bit of an expert in! Even if you don't go out of town, find some local fun things to do in your own city. Every year, I enjoy doing miscellaneous fun things in the city: going to local parks, going to the waterfront, seeing some of the (free) festivals Toronto has to offer. Free festivals like IceFest, Word on the Street, etc. Being an avid library user, I often take advantage of the free museum/art gallery passes they offer. I've used these passes more then once, much to my contentment! Being a foodie, I also have a knack for finding and trying out some "local cuisine." I have discovered some lovely little "hole-in-the-wall" restaurants and cafes, which often taste much better (and have a more homely environment) than some of the famous franchises!

So I'd say overall, Allahumdulillah life is pretty good. For the things I am hoping for in the future and have not gotten yet (like, doing a bit of world traveling), I think patience will pay off in the end. I may not go today, I may not go tomorrow, but somewhere down the road, Inshallah I will get my opportunity to do some world travels, do some lovely sightseeing and try international local cuisine! <3

Thursday, 24 January 2013


The last couple of years of my life, I've been going through some (positive) changes. As a little girl, I was a very meek and shy kid. This would often make me the victim of verbal bullying since someone who doesn't speak up or talk back is always the easiest target. However, I've been working on changing that. I just recently made a wonderful discovery: you can be a strong and opinionated woman without being a b**** about it. Looking back, I realized there were so many things I could have changed had I spoken up and expressed my thoughts and feelings. Nevertheless, I am not the type of person to regret the past; just move on and fix the problem.

I feel like this new "ability" to express my own opinions has given me the self worth I don't think I ever really had before. I feel better about myself, and don't feel guilty for having an opinion. I've finally learned that there is no such thing as a wrong opinion. I have just as much right to an opinion as the next person. Sometimes those opinions may cause colourful debates, and that's okay. It is important to take a stand and not back down, especially if it is something you care deeply about.

This new found confidence seems to be manifesting in all aspects of my life. As mentioned in a previous blog post, I've recently lost a bit of weight. I've lost 20 pounds, and still have 20 more to go. Although I'm currently at a halt and haven't lost anymore, I'm really proud of what I've accomplished. I keep reminding myself that I'm halfway there, and these are just the stepping stones to a better me. I feel stronger and more energetic now that I'm eating right and following a workout regimen. I used to think I needed a personal trainer to give me a boost, but I can honestly say I did it all myself. I researched on what to eat (what not to eat) and what sort of activity would play a role and helping me lose weight. Furthermore, it's a really nice feeling when someone sees me after a long time and they say "Wow, you lost so much weight! You look so good!" and in my head, I can (shamelessly) agree with them. ;)

As proud as I am of myself for my self growth, it is important to keep reminding myself there is a fine line between confidence and pride.