Monthly Archives: October 2022

4 Books and Movies for Adventurous Homebodies

I know adventurous homebody is a paradox, but there are those of us indoor people who like a good adventure every once in a while. I like to go hiking, though my longest hike has only been about 6 hours round trip. Camping is great too, especially with good friends and a nice fire going. When it’s wet and chilly outside, as it is most of this season in Vancouver, and I can’t muster up the energy to pull on my rain boots and venture out, I like to read and watch other people doing crazy things like mountaineering and be glad I’m at home with dry feet.

  1. Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer (1997)
A group of climbers climbing up a steep icy slope on Mount Everest on a sunny day
Image credit: Mountain Madness

Right now I’m about halfway through this book, and I already know I will never ever attempt to climb Mount Everest- not that I was ever going to, but I’m definitely not going to now. Krakauer tells the story of when he joined an Everest expedition guided by Rob Hall that ended in a severe storm, killing four on Krakauer’s team, including Hall. Krakauer is an accomplished climber and author of Into the Wild, so his wonderful writing paired with vivid descriptions of the climb and explanations of everything that’s involved in a successful expedition make for an immersive book.

“Everest has always been a magnet for kooks, publicity seekers, hopeless romantics, and others with a shaky hold on reality.”

-Jon Krakauer (p. 114)

Krakauer also touches on the dangers that Sherpas undertake to support Westerners’ expeditions, and raises the question of whether climbing Mount Everest on commercial expeditions is harmful to the region. Sherpas often don’t get the same amount of recognition as foreign climbers, but they do all the same climbing and then some. In July 2022 Sanu Sherpa, a Nepali climber, completed all 14 highest peaks for the second time, the only person to have done them all twice. Lhakpa Sherpa, 48, became the first woman to climb to the summit of Mount Everest 10 times. Kami Rita, a Sherpa Everest guide, has summited Everest 26 times and holds the world record for most summits.

I’ve been reading chapters here and there at breakfast and on my commute, and it definitely puts the small worries of the day into perspective.

2. 14 Peaks : Nothing is Impossible (2021)

Nims and three team members in snowsuits holding up the Project Possible flag

Nirmal Purja, or Nims, and his team of Sherpas, including Mingma David Sherpa, Geljen Sherpa, Gesman Tamang, and Lakpa Dendi, climbed all 14 of the world’s 8,000 metre peaks in six months and six days. To put this project in perspective, the first climber to summit all 8,000 metre peaks, Reinhold Messner, took 16 years to accomplish his feat. The previous time record for the 14 peak project was over 7 years, by Kim Chang-ho. This is a massively respected project no matter the time it takes. Nims is memorable for his strong personal character and cheerful but fiercely focused outlook.

3. Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne (1864)

An inactive volcano in Iceland
Image credit: Iceland Mag

I’m a big fan of Jules Verne’s writing, and this is maybe my favourite of his books. A geologist and his nephew decide to travel into the centre of the planet after finding an account of a 16th century explorer, who claimed to have found a route to the Earth’s core. The pair enter the route through Snæfellsjökull, an inactive volcano in Iceland. The book is pure science fiction, but Verne’s science-y reasoning and well-developed characters make it feel almost biographical.

4. The River Runner (2021)

Scott Lindgren with a kayak on his back standing on a rock at the bank of a huge river with a strong current
Image credit: Paddling Life

In The River Runner Scott Lindgren kayaks through the four rivers flowing from Mount Kailash in Tibet, attempting to be the first person to complete all four. Lindgren talks about his experience with mental health, finding out he has a brain tumour, and learning to be vulnerable.

In this documentary Lindgren explores the mental side of extreme sports- many people in these kinds of fields have to be incredibly focused and strong to deal with the dangers and losses that are inherent to things like mountaineering or extreme kayaking. That mentality is useful in threatening situations, but it needs to be balanced with vulnerability and support.

Diwali Needs More Attention

Diwali just passed the week, and nostalgia has officially hit me like a freight train. 

Being an immigrant in a country by yourself is not easy, and missing your family is just one of the worst parts. I miss being home with my family, lighting divas, going to temples and Gurudwaras, and lighting up the house. Our entire nation’s motto on Diwali is that “no corner should ever be left dark.” So when I see my apartment unlit, it fills me with a sense of loneliness and despair, that I cannot be with those that I love. My mum and dad video called me all day, showing me all parts of the house; all the different outfits everyone was wearing; the various kinds of lights and colours that lit up all the houses, and even Luna dressed up! 

Homesickness at an all time high, I thought about the general plight of students in other countries on auspicious occasions like Diwali. It does make one wonder upon the importance of the festival on an International scale, and how much recognition it gets, especially in Canada. The answer is simple: not much. 

Diwali needs more attention in Canada, and not just by those of South Asian origin.

In India, Diwali is a multi-day extravagant celebration with family and friends. In Canada, I have seen relatives move their prayers to the weekend because they can’t get a day off work or school. This lack of understanding takes me by surprise — religious prayers shouldn’t have to be moved around because of work. Christmas gets celebrated on whichever day it falls on during the week and is considered a statutory holiday. So if that’s the case, people should be given a day off for Diwali as well. Canada has Good Friday, St. Patricks’s Day, Labour Day, and Thanksgiving Day as statutory holidays. What is stopping them from making Diwali a statutory holiday too? 

I talk about this more in an article I wrote for The Peak in 2021. 

A girl on Diwali in India 2017
Diwali in India 2017
A girl in front of a mirror with a caption saying "this is what happens when you have assignments and papers due on Diwali, you go celebrate it in your pyjamas.
Diwali in Canada 2021

When I Was White

When I was five, I got a lock and key diary from the Scholastic book fair and messily scribbled what I thought was the most scandalous thing about me

Dear Diary,

I am White, but my mom is BLACK.

There on the page, in sparkly teal gel pen, was a confession revealing two glaring truths about my five-year-old self: I thought that being Asian was the same thing as being white and that being Filipino was the same thing as being Black.

My misunderstanding of race as a binary of white and Black encouraged me to categorize myself and those around me according to their melanin, completely unaware that Blackness was used to denote African origin and not just the brown shades of Crayola crayons. I remember making a mental checklist in my mind, trying to make sense of the world around me according to the designated “skin tone” colour of the peach crayon:

I’m the same shade as Dad (who’s Scottish and Japanese) and we’re both the same colour as Nana (Japanese), so the three of us must be white. Lola (Filipino) is the same shade as me, but Mom (also Filipino) is darker than Lola, so Mom must be Black and Lola, white. Mom and Ms. Gill (who’s Indian) are the same shade of brown, so they go together, but Mr. B (Irish) is the same skin tone as Nana, so he’s white like her.

I knew that I was considered Asian, but my five-year-old brain categorized Asianness as a subset of whiteness. I was yet to learn that Filipinos were also categorized as Asian. I thought that what made me Asian was my East Asian appearance and since my mom was darker than me, I thought we were categorized differently.

She must be Black.

I decided that Filipino was synonymous with Black. I further supported this hypothesis with the misunderstanding that my godbrother looked Filipino and, therefore, must have Filipino parents. I was unaware that my godbrother is also mixed race and has a Black father. I thought that his dad was Filipino since him and his mom matched the same Crayola crayon. If race didn’t mean skin colour, then what was it?

Without any background knowledge on racial hierarchization and systemic oppression, my attempts to make sense of the constructions of race as a five-year-old were terribly misguided. However, my confusions are illustrative of race as a construct that is constantly in negotiation and scrutinizes what traits are used to racialize people (Hall, 1990).

It’s understandable that, especially as a child, I was hesitant to categorize Filipino under the umbrella of Asian. Afterall, the only representations of Asians I’d seen were always of fair skin, jet black hair, and small eyes. Even today, there is plenty of discourse surrounding the complexities of Filipinx identity and what labels we can claim (Chutuape, 2016).

Although Filipinos are impacted by the model minority myth, the myth itself was primarily based upon the migration of East Asian individuals (Kawai, 2003) and Filipino Americans, in particular, have a complex, postcolonial relationship with their home that is unique of other Asian communities (Chutuape, 2016; Ocampo, 2014).

Some Filipinos choose to deprioritize the label of Asian to foreground their cultural identity, and others feel closer to Latinx culture than Asian (Ocampo, 2014). Across the Asian diaspora, Filipinos are sometimes labeled the “Blackest Asians” in others’ efforts to consider the specificity of Filipino identity, in a harsh manner similar to my five-year-old confusion (Chutuape, 2016). Although Filipino identity cannot be equated with Blackness, the nuance of Filipino experience highlights the importance of challenging the colonial desire to categorize Asians as a monolith (Cheng, 2013).

This makes culturally specific activist projects just as important as collective ones across one or more diasporas. Still, these spaces need to be accessible for multiracial people to challenge the notion of perpetual homogeneity within ethnic groups (Hall, 1990). Our cultural identities are in constant production, but the journey is even more complex for mixed race individuals, who are often pigeonholed into opting for the simplest label, rather than what resonates the most (Hall, 1990; Mahtani, 2014). We are plagued with choosing an identity before we even know what the options are or what they mean.

When I was six, we had to make an “All About Me” poster, including a picture of the flag of our home country to celebrate the cultural diversity at our school.

Mika B. Div. 5

At this early age, I was sheltered from the complexities of claiming national identity and what the label of Canadian means in the context of settler colonialism and Indigenous genocide. Still confused by the categories of race and where my ethnicity placed me, Canadian was the only label I was confident about. Without even considering another option, I grabbed a red crayon and furiously scribbled two rectangles and a maple leaf.

It wasn’t until I saw other people grabbing different colours of crayons that I realized even if I wanted to draw another flag, I didn’t know what they looked like. In the coming years, I would learn to carry shame regarding my disconnection to culture, feeling uncategorizable, and a disappointment to my elders. I would come to resent my mother for losing her Tagalog and never taking me to the Philippines. I would wish for a sibling, so we could figure it out together.

My confidence in Canadian identity would dissipate as my knowledge of race spilled outside of the crayon box and I began to learn “Canadian” was never a sufficient answer for those who inquired. Although Canada assumes the positionality of multicultural and, even, “raceless,” Canadianness is still equated with whiteness (Paragg, 2015, p. 28). This leaves few concise options for mixed race people fielding questions of ethnic origin (Paragg, 2015). Despite the abundance of countries that make up my ethnic background, I ultimately spent much of my childhood feeling cultureless. This is the danger of heralding multiracial people as signifiers of multiculturalism instead of recognizing the influence of Canada’s colonial past (Mahtani, 2014, p. 47).

When I was seven, a woman at a restaurant touched my face and told my mom I was “mestiso”. I tugged on my mom’s sleeve and whispered in her ear, “what’s that?” She betrayed the confidentiality of my gesture, and her and the woman giggled. The woman told me not to worry. “It means you’re beautiful,” she said.

My Tagalog is limited to the names of some dishes and a few basic greetings, so at the time I brushed off the comment as another word for beautiful, smiling politely as she pinched my cheek one more time before walking away. It wasn’t until years later when I was watching an episode of Law and Order: SVU that I heard the word again. Only it wasn’t used as a compliment. There is a lot of overlap between Spanish and Tagalog due to the Spanish colonization, and the Latina woman in the episode was talking about being called “mestizo”.

The word didn’t mean beautiful; it meant mixed race.

Although the character in the show described it as a derogatory term, wiping tears throughout her testimony and drawing negative translations like mongrel or half-breed, the woman who spoke to my mom at the restaurant had used it as a compliment, romanticizing my ambiguous features.

That was how most interactions with adults went for me at that age: some sort of physical gesture affirming their affection, like a tight hug or pinch on the cheek, and a comment on my appearance. If it was a Filipino woman, it was almost always something about the shade of my skin, sometimes with the additional reminder for my mom to keep me out of the sun.

There is much to unpack here regarding the privileging of whiteness and existence of colorism in Filipino culture. However, what I find most compelling is that despite the praise I received about my ambiguous ethnic appearance, what I desperately wanted at that age was to look more Filipino. I am afforded a lot of privilege due to my light skin, but at that age I was only focused on the desire to simplify my identity and experience a sense of belonging through homogeneity. The only half Filipino celebrity I saw in media was Vanessa Hudgens, and even she performed as monoracially Latina for the screen. If I could not lay claim to Canadian identity, I needed to find a secure sense of identity elsewhere with people who looked like me.

When I was eight, I thought it was cool that no one at school could tell me and my best friend apart. I detailed our sleepovers and conversations in my diary with messy felt pen, as we coordinated our lunches and hairstyles.

Dear Diary,

Tomorrow me and Maya are wearing matching shirts to school.

It’s like we’re twins!

We had fun dressing in matching Halloween costumes and giggled whenever our teachers got us confused. We were often the only two Asian girls in our classes and always begged the school counsellors to give us the same teacher. Maya wasn’t Filipino or Japanese, but we were both mixed race (her mom, Taiwanese and her dad, Mexican). It started out harmless, but our perpetual association would become damaging in our preteen years, as classmates and teachers learned to scrutinize our differences. People intertwined our identities so tightly that we were both in a constant state of comparison. Rather than learning our individual names, teachers and classmates would opt to refer to us as a pair, homogenizing our identities into one. I had gotten my wish for a sibling—just not in the way I’d wanted.

            Looking back on our friendship, I think that the two of us bonded over shared experiences of mixed identity. We understood each other. She never shamed me for not being Asian enough or too “whitewashed” or questioned my identity, because we were both on the same confusing journey of navigating the diversity of our backgrounds in white or monoracial spaces. When people made offensive comments about one of us, the other person was there to console or defend. It was an early experience of community and solidarity for me that I didn’t find in other cultural spaces.  

Which of the following best describes your ethnic background?

(Choose one)

☒Asian/Pacific Islander

☐Black/African American

☐Indigenous/Native American




When I was nine, a Japanese girl in my class told me I’m not really Japanese because I don’t go to Japanese school on Saturdays.

Which of the following best describes your ethnic background?

(Choose one)

☐Asian/Pacific Islander

☐Black/African American

☐Indigenous/Native American




When I was ten, the Chinese boy who sat in front of me said I was whitewashed.

Which of the following best describes your ethnic background?

(Choose one)

☐Asian/Pacific Islander

☐Black/African American

☐Indigenous/Native American




When I was eleven, the strange man at the playground yelled at me and my nana to go back to where we came from.

Which of the following best describes your ethnic background?

(Choose one)

☒Asian/Pacific Islander

☐Black/African American

☐Indigenous/Native American




When I was twelve, the substitute teacher asked me what language I spoke at home.

Which of the following best describes your ethnic background?

(Choose one)

☐Asian/Pacific Islander

☐Black/African American

☐Indigenous/Native American




If asked to make an “All About Me” poster today, I’m not sure what I would draw. My journal is no longer littered with questions of belonging or crayon doodles, but my identity is everchanging.

Although my experiences are shaped by the diversity of my ethnicity, I no longer find it the most perplexing facet of my identity or wish to simplify it for the convenience of others. I continue to grapple with the extent to which I’m able to lay claim to Filipino and Japanese identity but opt to embrace that uncertainty by validating my experience as a mixed diasporic subject, instead of isolating myself as deviant.

However I choose to identify should not be under the confines of what someone else dictates as the standard of one race or culture. Mixed race people are not cultureless in-betweens or indicators of a post-racial society but, rather, destabilize the binary understanding of race and challenge homogenous notions of racialized features.

Note: created for CMNS 486 at Simon Fraser University, Professor Kirsten McAllister (April 15, 2022). 


Cheng, W. (2013). Strategic orientalism: racial capitalism and the problem of ‘Asianness’ African

Identities11(2), 148–158.

Chutuape, E. D. (2016). ‘Chinese-Mexicans’ and ‘Blackest Asians’: Filipino American youth

resisting the racial binary. Race, Ethnicity and Education19(1), 200–231.

Hall, S. (1990) “Cultural Identity and Diaspora” in Stuart Jonathan Rutherford (ed) Identity:

Community, Culture, Difference. Lawrence and Wishart 222-237.

Kawai, Y. (2003) “Revisiting the 1966 Model Minority Myth: A Narrative Criticism of its

Textual Origins”, Kaleidoscope A Graduate Journal of Qualitative Communication

Research 2(1) 50-69.

Mahtani, M. (2014). Mixed Race Amnesia. UBC Press.

Ocampo, A. C. (2014). Are second-generation Filipinos ‘becoming’ Asian American or

Latino? Historical colonialism, culture and panethnicity. Ethnic and Racial

Studies37(3), 425–445.

Paragg, J. (2015). “Canadian-First”: Mixed Race Self-Identification and Canadian

Belonging. Canadian Ethnic Studies47(2), 21–44.

Witches in the Family

Reading Shadow Life this month felt very personal and, at times, emotional for me.

Kumiko’s behaviour and interactions are all too familiar: the thoughts she has about people on the bus, her stubborn independence, and the appreciation for specific daily pleasures. I don’t know if these qualities are generalizable to all single, elderly Japanese women, but my nana has always said it’s in the Miyagawa genes. “It” being her fussy, borderline anal-retentive, character (her words—not mine).

That is to say that if she didn’t enjoy even the colour of the walls at a senior home, she would be checking herself out before she let her bags touch the floor. Currently she is putting down new vinyl floors in her apartment kitchen (all by herself) because she grew tired of the dirty-looking cream colour her landlord chose.

In the summer she repainted her bathroom three times, shooing me away as I begged her to throw out that rickety stool that she broke her hip falling off years ago and to open more windows for the fumes.

“It’s a perfectly fine stool,” she says every time I clench my teeth, watching its warped hairpin legs wobble back and forth.

As a kid, I’d cringe in embarrassment and look around to make sure no one from my school was watching as we dragged in an old milk crate or inspected a piece of furniture in the alley.

It’s interesting to me, in retrospect, that even as a child I had judged this as deviant behaviour based on a very normative understanding of consumption. I also never thought my nana looked the way a grandmother was “supposed” to look.

Today I love her style and even wear a lot of her clothes, but as a kid I remember constantly judging her witchy hair texture and round hippie glasses.

My understanding of how elderly people behaved and what they looked like was largely tied to whiteness and heteronormativity. Grandmas bake cookies and wear colourful sweaters. They sit at home reading books and share a bed with their husband.

They don’t go to protests or have crushes on Ice Cube, and they certainly don’t have any ex-husbands—who would they have to take care of them?

I feel guilty for ever having these judgmental, normative expectations for my nana. I admire her unwavering deviant individuality—her witchiness .

Although my nana, as far as I know, is not a queer Japanese elder, the familiarity of Kumiko and the foregrounding of her experiences made Shadow Life an emotional read. I feel that Goto has legitimized Nana and Kumiko’s quirks by reframing them not as deviances but strengths to fight back against normativity, fate, and the shadows.

Note: written for GSWS 321 at Simon Fraser University, Professor Nadine Attewell (November 24, 2021). 


I learned how to skip when I was five. Only I didn’t learn from a friend at the playground or an older sibling in our living room; I learned from my papa.

His tattered Levi jeans dragged along the concrete pavement as he skipped up and down the alley, pausing every few strides to make sure I was paying attention. I watched as his knees took turns trotting up and down, the opposite foot dragging slightly on the ground. I could hear his metal keys and laundry loonies dancing in his pockets as he moved. I ran to scoop up the ones that managed to shake loose and gripped them tight in my small fist, warming the metal in my palm.

As much as I wanted to learn how to skip for myself, I was also perfectly content to sit and watch and leave it up to the expert: Papa. But, knowing I would be starting kindergarten in a few days, Papa wanted to make sure I was prepared with the necessary playground skills. Next, we would learn how to tie shoelaces the only Papa-approved way: the bunny ear method.

I was terrified to learn these new skills because it meant admitting I needed help. It felt much safer to jog alongside others skipping and stick to Velcro sneakers and flipflops, but Papa knew that wasn’t the way the world worked. He knew that growth was integral to success, and he was determined for me to make my mark. My biggest fear was asking for help, but his was that I wouldn’t bother to ask.

Papa was the closest father figure I had growing up. We teased each other about stupid things and wrote silly songs. He picked me up from school and made us cheese sandwiches. We’d eat chocolate ice cream and sneakily pluck flowers from the garden in his building. When the whole school got headlice, he took me to the store to buy the shampoo and patiently combed through my coarse black hair until we got all the nits. He never stopped trying to help me and teach me things, even when I made it impossible for him to try.

Throughout the end of elementary school and start of high school I began to see my papa less and less. I stopped coming to him for help. I didn’t think anyone understood me anymore. I was old enough to look after myself after school and was growing fond of that independence, which coupled with the teen desire to reject authority and only be around people my age meant that I pushed away my nana and papa more than I care to admit.

I was so entrenched in worrying about what other people at school were doing and what they looked like that I lost sight of myself and the people who cared for me most. I didn’t feel like I had time to go to the dog park with Papa or talk to him on the phone. Ashamedly, I didn’t see why I should have lunch with him when I could be spending that time at the mall with girls from school who, in retrospect, didn’t care about me at all.

The summer after my first year of high school, I was filled with resentment. My mom had moved us out of the city, away from my friends and our family. I didn’t understand why I had to suddenly start over just as I felt my life was getting started. It felt like the end of the world. I was in full teen angst mode. I hated having to say goodbye to my friends at school knowing they’d all still see each other everyday. I hated that I wouldn’t have anywhere to walk to in our new neighborhood, that I’d have to spend everyday alone in our house while my mom went back into the city for work, so I did what I did best at that time and isolated myself.

I went into the city to visit friends on weekends, but I didn’t like having to hear about all the fun times I’d missed during the week. I stopped reaching out to everyone completely, including my papa. I was lonely and completely dissatisfied with living, but I continued to let phone calls go to voicemail and leave texts unanswered. I began floating through life, simply existing rather than actively participating in my own story. I didn’t think anyone cared, so I burrowed inside myself. I got comfortable stubbornly sitting in bed all day, hoping that everything would be better the next month when I started at my new high school.

Weeks before the start of school, my birthday was quickly approaching, and my mom texted that she was coming home early from work. She texted me to get dressed but wouldn’t say why or where we were going. In my head, I wondered if it was a birthday surprise. Maybe she noticed how unhappy I am and wants to cheer me up for my birthday. I changed into a clean shirt and fresh socks, ready for whatever surprise I had in store.

When my mom got home, the surprise was nothing I could have ever anticipated. We were going to the hospital. Papa was in an accident. They wanted us to say goodbye before they took his organs for donation. He was gone.

The weeks and months to follow were filled with immeasurable guilt and disgust for myself. Up until that point, I had never experienced loss. I was naïve to think that earlier in the summer was what the end of the world felt like. The end of the world wasn’t saying goodbye to some friends or changing schools, it was this. I felt cheated. This wasn’t supposed to happen now, like this. I was supposed to get more time. I had taken everything for granted.

We came to learn that Papa had been assaulted on the street but refused medical attention. Assaulted? His brain bled out due to the blood thinners he was taking—blood thinners? For his condition. What condition?

I came to understand that just as I was comfortable keeping everything to myself and refusing help, Papa had been doing the same. I wanted to be angry at him for keeping this from us. I wanted to scream it in his face. But how can you be angry when all you want to do is hold them again and tell them how much they mean to you? When more than anything you want to tell them how sorry you are for the time you were apart and promise to never let go again.

It didn’t matter that we would have dropped anything and everything to help him, that we would given anything to have known what was going on. He didn’t see it that way. He didn’t want to worry anyone. I was furious that a man who made it his mission to help me in every possible way refused to give me the opportunity to do the same. And yet, still I empathized with how he justified it in his head. At that time, I believed I would have done the same. I saw my own fate reflected back at me as I committed to making myself small and unassuming and never admitting I needed help, even if I was regularly tripping on my shoelaces.

I had witnessed first-hand what refusing help can do to your family, but I didn’t begin to put any of this knowledge into practice until years later. Papa passed away seven years ago now and I still find myself reverting to my default coping strategy of isolating myself and pushing people away. This is a lifelong process of unlearning something that only became obvious to me years ago.

It is because of my papa that I no longer leave a conversation angry or with words unsaid. It is because of him that I know to admit when I am wrong or when I do not know something. It is because of him that I don’t take anything for granted, and it is because of him that I will always accept the guidance of others, because that is ultimately the best way to learn how to skip.

Note: written for EDUC199 at Simon Fraser University (July 14, 2022)

Coraline Cookies

I watched Coraline the other night while I was knitting. I’ve found recently that enjoying movies and music from my childhood helps with stress from adult-related things like school and work. Coraline, though absolutely and completely terrifying, is nostalgic for me. Then I remembered I saved a recipe on Pinterest for button cookies inspired by Coraline’s ‘other mother’, and my mum has been asking me for cookies for the past week, so there we go.

Image credit: Coraline (2009)

The original recipe by Bakerella calls for peanut butter cookies. I like peanut butter, but my favourites are chocolate cookies. I found a recipe for chocolate dough from Cafe Delites, which I realized may have been a mistake- they taste wonderful, but the chocolate chips weakened the structure of the already-tiny cookies, and made them a little cracked around the edges. Oh well, I prefer taste over looks anyway.

Unbaked chocolate cookie dough rolled into small balls on a baking sheet

Make sure you use a bottle cap to test the size of the dough balls, so they don’t become ginormous buttons. I used, as directed by Bakerella, a bottle cap (make sure it’s plastic, not metal, so you don’t burn off your fingertips) to make a circular indent in the middle of the buttons and then used a skewer to poke four holes in the middle to make the button shape.

I realize they look like little poops before they’re baked. But they taste good, promise. They’re perfect alongside black tea or coffee if you, like me, need something strong and slightly bitter to offset sweet things.


Coraline Cookies by Bakerella

Best Fudgy Chocolate Brownie Cookies by Cafe Delites

No Perfect Pottery

An uneven handmade pottery dish with an accompanying label that reads the following text from the artist: 
"Perfection is overrated" 
I like perfection, to the point where I've refused to do new things because the learning process means an imperfect result. Signing up for a pottery class seemed like a good idea at the time, until I realized that making a "perfect" bowl was substantially harder than anticipated. Creativity is a process that doesn't come from a mold and my favourite pieces are the ones that turned out differently from what I'd planned. 
The rim on my most recent bowl was accidentally bent, I didn't apply a consistent coat of white stain, and the outside glaze doesn't come down far enough. It's definitely not factory made and I love it.
Some food for thought in the display case at the West End Community Centre.
Six beige handmade pottery dishes (bowls, one mug, and a short vase) sit atop a wooden lattice table.
These are the first pieces of pottery I’ve made that I felt confident enough to take photos of. In retrospect, there were many pieces before these that were just as lovely and photo-worthy but that I was too hypercritical of and unable to appreciate at the time.

Ways to Shop Sustainably

There are a variety of different ways that you can shop sustainably. Making some changes to your shopping habits are an easy way to reduce our carbon footprint and protect the planet’s natural resources.  Here are some ways to sustainably shop for your clothes and build a sustainable wardrobe.  Buy from sustainable brands. Choose ethical […]

18 things i’ve learned in my 18 years of living

This is a journal entry I had (and I still constantly add on to it every year) to remind me of rules or phrases I learned and live by to make my life a little bit easier. For younger over-thinker and perfectionist Mikaela; If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. Worst response you […]

I’m Glad My Apartment Flooded (part 1 of 2)

I’m glad my apartment flooded. Here’s why.

When I woke up to a shirtless white dude furiously banging on my door in the middle of the night, while his family shuffled around the hallway in their pajamas, I was fairly certain I’d be robbed of my (mostly worthless) possessions and stuffed into my IKEA couch cushions, where my roommate would dramatically discover my remains when she got back from her parents’ house the next morning.

For a second, I considered turning the lights back off and going back to sleep (hopeful that they hadn’t noticed the glow from under the door) or even dangling from our 18th floor balcony as a feeble means of escape.

Instead, I mentally counted to three (to hype myself up) before fearfully cracking open the door (to acquire further clarification on my impending demise).

To my delightful surprise, they were not waking me up to contort my lifeless body into IKEA couch cushion cracks. They were just letting me know there was an obscene amount of water rushing into our apartments!

Ohhh, a flood! Thank god! That’s much better!

As satisfying as this initial relief was, it only lasted a moment before the chaos of smashing bath towels along our baseboards and dramatically rescuing belongings to the safety of our dining table and high bookshelves ensued–not to mention the calling building management, then strata, and then the fire department (when none of the people who should have keys to the offending unit did not have keys to the offending unit) to break down the door with an axe (in an ever so majestic display of masculinity).

The days and months to come were (*and still are! Gotta love the inefficiency of home restoration companies!*) terribly stressful, uncertain, and (yes) messy.

If this had happened at any other time in my life, I’m fairly certain I would have crumbled under the chaos and retreated into a cave of negativity and self-pity. BUT! This was not just any other time; THIS was the Year of Mess and oh boy, did I get what I signed up for…

Perfectionism 101: the good

If you’re reading this, you’re probably in PUB101 (hi!) or a teacher for PUB101 (also hi!). But! There is also the possibility that you (like me) are a perfectionist (or think you might be) and have come to learn! And in that case, I would like to share some casual basics I’ve discovered. Welcome, folks, to Perfectionism 101: an introduction to the good, the bad, and the really bad.

Let’s start off with the good, so I don’t immediately bum you out. The good side of perfectionism is probably what you’re most familiar with if you A) are not a perfectionist or, B) are a (newbie) perfectionist who has yet to experience burnout.

The first burnout, by the way, can either be your villain origin story or wake-up call. But, as I said, let’s start with the good.

The good side of perfectionism is the work ethic and attention to detail. This is one of the ways your perfectionism can serve you well. And the ultimate goal is for your perfectionism to serve you rather than you serving it.

One way (that’s ideal but not always easy) is to think of these “good” aspects of perfectionism as tools that you carry around with you but only use when you need them. This means recognizing your attention to detail as one of your strengths but not letting it be something you cling to as a primary facet of your identity.

Wooo eye for detail! Booo perfectionism!

If you’re like me, this will be part of the larger objective to undo the subconscious linkage between performance and self-worth.

Yes, it feels good to do well.

Yes, you should be proud of yourself when you do well.

No, you are not a shitty person for not always doing something or not always doing it well.

In fact, if you’re really like me, you should also know that you’re not any less worthy of praise, love, success, or kindness as a human if you happen to fuck something up on the first try.

But this, like all other work, is also going to take some time and endurance. So if you are really, really like me, please also know that you should not shame yourself for slipping up at times and reverting back to old habits or mindsets.

That would make you a perfectionist at releasing perfectionism which is completely useless. Trust me, I know.

In summary! Embrace your work ethic; own your eye for detail! BUT start becoming aware of when it is the right time to step back and let something go. Someone told me that filmmakers never finish a movie; they abandon them.

Let’s start there. Give yourself permission to abandon your movie. It’s good enough as it is.

Boyland Socks

This is the Boyland sock pattern by Laine in their pattern collection 52 Weeks of Socks. I used one skein of Cascade’s 75% superwash merino and 25% nylon yarn in “Snow”, and a few tiny skeins of fingering weight yarn hand-dyed by Wild in the Woods– one and a half skeins of a blue-purple colour and half a skein of a dark green colour. The Wild in the Woods yarn was a gift, and part of a collection of sample yarn sold last year, so I am not sure which colourways the two colours I used are. I’m treasuring these wonderful hand-dyed yarns, so I used the Cascade yarn to supplement them.

I love this pattern! I chose the large size because I tend to have large feet in comparison to pattern sizes, but I definitely could have sized down. I had to cut out about 4 centimetres of the foot to avoid making cartoonishly long socks for my feet.

I’ve been practicing colourwork to figure out tension. I think I have fairly tight tension, so I discovered that I need to size up when I attempt a pattern where the colourwork sits on a part of the garment that needs to be fitted in a certain way. For example, I recently frogged the second sweater I ever finished, which had a band of colourwork across the shoulders, because it was constrictive and I couldn’t raise my arms very much. These socks were great practice. Once I’m confident with two stranded colourwork I’d love to try multiple colours, but I’m trying to pace myself.

You can see in the picture above that the colourwork near the toe is slightly different for each sock- this was unintentional, I was off by about three stitches a few rows in. But I decided to keep the mistake. It’s barely noticeable, and I kind of like having imperfect things that I made by hand. That’s one way that I’m trying to get past my need to excel at new things straightaway, by accepting small mistakes even if I could go back and fix them.

The time I tried TikTok

I tried TikTok for the first time this week, and it was exhilarating. 
I’m more of a watcher when it comes to TikTok – my ForYou page is filled with beauty routine videos, fashion week news, and of course, I am on BookTok. I also get the occasional John and Hank Green (does anyone remember the original Vloggers? They were called the VlogBrothers) videos about how odd science really is. It’s really a blend of anything and everything. You get to see memes, short videos, snippets of movies, trailers for shows, behind-the-scenes from so many different places, and much, much more. However, it can often get addicting – and that has happened to me so many times now. I would scroll on the app for hours at times, and then forget that the outside world even existed for that amount of time. Has that ever happened to you?

But then I actually made one, and it was a great experience. 
I had just received my order of make up I had ordered from Sephora, and I was about to rip open the box, when I thought, “why not make a video about this on TikTok?” I had seen numerous videos of beauty bloggers talk about their new Sephora haul, so it was only right for me to follow their footsteps and make one of my own! But I couldn’t just make one out of the blue. I needed lighting, decent clothing, a good amount of natural lighting, some make up on, and a quiet place. To set all of this up took me about half an hour, and I was itching to see what my order looked like! Then I finally made my video… and I hated it. It took me an hour of re-tries to finally get a video I was satisfied with, and that didn’t have weird noises in the background, or my face didn’t look off, or I didn’t sound odd. Phew! So much for a 3 minute video. But I was doing it for content (isn’t that what all influencers say?)

I posted it. And then came the anticipation – is everyone going to hate it? Am I going to get trolled? Will people make fun of me? it’s surprising how our mind starts to work when you really put yourself out there on the internet.But no hate comments came my way, no snide remarks either. In fact, one of the brands whose product I had posted about actually commented on my video. I was so happy! This video had turned into a success. Will I go back and immediately make another video? I don’t think so. It took so much time and energy. But I think another video is due soon. (Fun Fact: If you click on the icon below, you can view the video I made!)

Would you put yourself out there on TikTok or any other social media platform if it’s related to a topic you’re passionate about?

Process post #4 (Imaginary Audience!)

Imagining who my audience is for this website, I have to go back to when I first decided on the topic of my blog. It seemed like deciding what i want to write on my blog was easy. However, even after a day or two, there was yet to be a topic I was sure of. Then suddenly, I saw my perfumes unexpectedly and asked myself a question. Do I love perfume? Do I know perfumes well enough to recommend them to others? The answer was yes! There was nothing to hesitate about when the topic was decided.

As it is a blog that explains and recommends perfume, I wanted the blog design to be as minimalistic and white as possible. Why does white come to mind when you think of perfume? If you ask me, I have no choice but to say “just because”.. perfume is like clean white paper to me. Perfume is colourless like white paper; It is colourless and unnoticeable, but perfume leaves a strong impression on people and sometimes makes them reminiscent. Just as a dot on the blank paper changes the mood of the drawing paper, so does the perfume. The smell and atmosphere vary widely depending on what you draw on the clean white paper. People like me who are interested in fragrances and love perfumes will understand why white comes to mind when they think of perfumes.

The readers of my blog are people who are interested in perfumes like me. I tried to express the noble feeling of perfume through the impression of a blog that looked as concise and clean as possible. To talk about the content, there are two main things that people who are interested in perfume want to look for. A realistic review of the perfume they are curious about and a perfume recommendation. I tried to satisfy two things that perfume lovers would be most curious about.

To be honest, I’m very picky and sensitive when it comes to perfumes. The scents that most of the public loves are often just such perfumes for me. I like less well-known, unique and neutral scents that others don’t use much rather than scents that the public will prefer. My writings would be quite interesting for readers who really love perfumes and spend time looking at perfume reviews. My reviews will also be welcome for those who are tired of non-realistic perfume views that include ads. The readers I’ve imagined so far are people like me who love perfumes, are tired of dishonest perfume views, and are looking for unique perfumes as well as recommendations!

Why Care About Sustainable Fashion?

With humans now consuming 400% more clothing than we were 20 years ago, we are buying more clothes than ever, yet wearing them a lot less. A lot of this can be explained by the growth of fast fashion in the past two decades. However, the over-consumption of cheaply-made clothing has led to a massive […]

5 Comforting YouTube Channels

I like to watch movies or YouTube videos when I knit, especially ones that make me feel calm and comfortable. I thought I’d share my favourite YouTube channels at the moment.

  1. 조조캠핑

Google translated the title of this channel from Korean as Early Morning Camping, I apologize if this is incorrect. On her channel, Chocho goes camping- in the winter for three months in an air tent, in the pouring rain, in her car, everywhere. My favourite thing about this channel is Chocho’s upbeat personality and positive, adaptable attitude.

A screenshot of Chock's YouTube channel Videos section.

I went camping in the rain once with a couple of friends. On the second night our tent leaked through the seams in the floor and we slept on puddles of water, as our parents had dropped us off without a car to escape into. We had fun, but I wish I had found Chocho’s channel before we went. She loves camping in the rain, and makes it look like the most magical time you can have outdoors.

2. Jonna Jinton

Jonna is a Swedish YouTuber living in the north of Sweden. She films her day to day life living in a cold climate, her work as an artist and photographer, and the process of running her jewelry business with her husband. I like to watch her channel whenever it’s above 30 C in the summer and I miss wintertime. My great-grandfather was Swedish and I’m trying- slowly- to learn Swedish, so I enjoy watching her life in Sweden and when she occasionally speaks Swedish.

A screenshot of Jonna Jinton's YouTube channel Videos section.

3. Gorogoro Kitchen

Mamiko and her husband live in Paris. She is a beauty journalist, and records their adventures and favourite places to go around France. The thing that stands out most about her is her curiosity- whenever she visits a new shop or destination she has thoughtful conversations with the staff. She films tours of French houses as well.

A screenshot of Gorogoro Kitchen's YouTube channel Videos section.

Mamiko also shares the process of decorating her home with French antiques and second hand furniture. Some of my favourite videos are ones where she visits flea markets, as she has wonderful taste. Mamiko is a home cook, and her meals are all warm and look delicious.

4. Baumgartner Restoration

Julian Baumgarter is a second-generation fine art conservator in Chicago. This channel is a little different from the previous ones I’ve mentioned as it is not a vlogging channel, but the videos are so well-crafted that each feels like a little movie.

A screenshot of Baumgartner Restoration's YouTube channel Videos section.

While showing the process of conservation, which is relaxing to watch, Julian explains the history behind pieces and the reasons why he chooses certain techniques to preserve different paintings.

5. Her 86m2

Thuỷ of Her86m2 and her family live in Germany. They record their moments together as a family tending to their vegetable garden, cooking with its yield, and making their house a home. I started watching their channel when they lived in a beautiful apartment with a little balcony garden, and one year ago they moved to a 150-year-old house in the countryside of northern Germany, where they have a large backyard to raise plants.

A screenshot of the Her 86 metres squared YouTube channel Videos section.

Mini Assignment #2

Hey guys, this is your friendly neighbourhood Spiderman coming to you from Dressing Sustainably! I’m writing this guest post to inform you all about the advantages of creating your own clothing. During my days fighting crime in New York City, way before I was recruited for the Avengers, I would design and sew my own […]