Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Queen's Law Outdoors and Wellness Club - Goal 48!

First year law is not the most exciting time in a law student's life. It's busy, everything seems confusing and it can be very overwhelming. Now that it is behind me, I look back and although I remember the stress and anxiety what stayed with me was the rewarding and fun moments I shared with my schoolmates. I was lucky to have a year filled with a diverse number of activities, from running a race, volunteering at a legal clinic, forming part of a dance crew and making lifelong friendships. Although I tried to find balance between school and my personal life I found it difficult. At times my stress was magnified by the fact that I was not engaging in activities that made me active and healthy. 
On the ferry on our way back from Wolfe Island
This summer when I made this blog I also made a promise to lead a healthier lifestyle, with more exercise, better food and more balance. I also decided that since I saw the importance of a more balance law school life I was going to help my fellow classmates find balance in their lives... and that's how the idea of the Outdoors Club was born. I am very fortunate to have the support of my friend Julia Paille, who shared my same vision and hobbies. We founded the Queen's Law Outdoors Club and planned activities for every season, soon enough 60 people had joined. 

So far we have had two outings. The first one was a bike ride to beautiful Wolfe Island, where 10 of us rode for 24km and took the ferry back in the afternoon. Last week we had our second outing to an apple orchard where we picked the sweetest apples in Ontario. 
Apple Picking at Waddel Farm
I am so excited for the rest of the year, but what makes me the happiest is knowing that we did something small to make law school life better for everyone at Queen's. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Hiking the Stawamus Chief in British Columbia - Spring 2013

One of my goals is to hike a mountain every summer. This wouldn't be a goal if I lived in a place with actual mountains, but I live in flat-semi-hilly Ontario. I love mountains. I grew up in Caracas, a city surrounded by enormous mountains, where the Avila is revered as our watchful patron. Moving to Southern Ontario has made me realize how much I miss hiking mountains and appreciate the opportunities for doing so.
Caracas, my hometown.
This spring I went to Vancouver (my absolute favourite city) to visit friends, eat seafood, and most importantly reach a mountain top. My friend Julia, G and I hiked the Stawamus Chief in Squamish. This was a moderately challenging hike with unbelievable 360 views of the Howe sound, mountains and forest.

California and Bicycle Wine Tour

Sorry for the hiatus, the past couple of weeks have been crazy. I transitioned from full-time work to part-time and second year of law school started. I felt super guilty about abandoning my blog temporarily but I was so excited to see all my friends back, enroll in classes and organize my life that it was hard to make time.

In these past few weeks that I have been away I accomplished a couple of goals! I went to California and took a Bicycle Wine Tour. G and I packed our bags and headed to San Francisco, a city neither of us had visited since we were kids. Although many aspects of the city didn't match our expectations (we thought it was going to be the place we would want to move), nevertheless it is an incredible and absolutely beautiful town. We did TONS of exploring and visited almost all the districts that tour books recommend. The best part of our stay in the city was without a doubt the food. We had some of the best meals I have had in a while (I will soon do a city guide with the names of restaurants). We were also so happy to be reunited with one of our best friends and his family, it made the vacation so much more special.

After 4 days in SF we headed north to Marin County, Napa and Sonoma. We took a day to do wineries in the Napa valley. During this day we took a Bike Tour (goal 57!), which was AMAZING. We rode for 20 km through wineries and stopped at two, one of which we fell in love and bought a couple of bottles from. The rest of the day we went to two more wineries and explored the area. One of the wineries we visited is called Silver Oak, which is a special place for us since its the wine we had at our wedding. We were so excited to be there. 

The second day in Wine Country we headed west to Sonoma, where we had lunch at the famous Russian River Brewery. G could not contain his excitement as we sampled 16 beers and had the most delicious pizza I have ever had. After we took a nap at the local mall, we continued our journey through the Russian River valley, and towards the coast. This was by far my favourite part of the trip. The Bohemian Driveway that starts in Monte Rio is a must-do if you are in the area, and a visit to the coast along the town of Bodega Bay will blow you away. It was an incredible experience and some of the most beautiful scenery I have seen in North America. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Recipe 9 (Goal # 33) - Arugula Pesto Fettuccine with Oven Roasted Tomatoes and Truffle Oil

This dish is pure comfort without the guilt. It is also classy enough that would impress people at a dinner party or family reunion. The strong flavors are balanced and the fresh arugula and tomato make it ideal for a warm summer night. I came up with the idea of this recipe after going for lunch at a Italian restaurant and having a pizza drizzled with truffle oil, it reminded me of how much I love it and how little I incorporate it in my dishes.

You need:
Fettuccine (tri-color preferably but really if you want to make this amazing make your own)
4 large tomatoes cut in slices
At least half a cup of olive oil
Balsamic vinegar - enough for a good drizzle
3 cups of fresh arugula
1 cup of chopped walnuts
dry oregano (preferably an Italian mix seasoning)
2 small garlic cloves
half a cup of Parmesan cheese
sea salt

First you are going to Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Arrange the tomatoes on a sheet pan, cut sides up, in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle the salt and oregano or seasoning. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, until the tomatoes are concentrated and beginning to caramelize. Leave the tomatoes aside because you wont use them until the end.

While the tomatoes are in the oven. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade (I use my Magic Bullet), pulse garlic until very finely chopped. Add walnut pieces, arugula and Parmesan cheese; process until a thick paste forms and then add 
enough olive oil so its more like a spread than a paste.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add fettuccine and cook until al dente according to package instructions (remember if this is home-made pasta is going to take considerably less time ,  just watch the pot as it will probably vary). Drain in a colander, mix with the pesto in a bowl and add fresh arugula. Drizzle with the truffle oil, and garnish with the tomatoes. 

I am so hungry now, Enjoy!



Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Recipe 8 (Goal #33) - Cheesy Broccoli and Quinoa Patties with Asparagus and Carrot "Fries"

I have been really bad about blogging lately, things at work and at home are crazy busy. My time has also been consumed by NetFlix because I started watching "Orange is the New Black", which completely took over my life. I have been cooking almost everyday, however some recipes are not worth blogging about. I also started drinking green smoothies with protein everyday, because I am in the process of (once again) becoming pescetarian (Goal # 55). 

I don't know if it is the smoothies, my new found addiction to spinning at lunch, or the weather, but lately I have been feeling AMAZINGLY happy. One of the things I know has made me cheerful is the many dinner parties I have attended or hosted, especially the ones that have happened magically with no preparation. It was at one of those impromptu parties that the patties and fries were made (Clara's idea!), with people gathered around kitchen, eating, drinking and enjoying the beauty of a carefree summer Friday afternoon.

For the patties:
1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup vegetable broth
5 large broccoli florets chopped
1 small onion, diced
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup shredded cheese
1 large egg
Salt and Pepper for seasoning
Olive oil for cooking

Cook your quinoa according to the directions on the packaging, however instead of plain water use vegetable broth to add some additional flavor Let it cool, or if you don't have time stick it in the freezer for 15 minutes.

While the quinoa is cooling , sautee the onion until translucent and add the broccoli until it has softened a little bit, then let it rest for a bit [have some wine or alternatively start working on the veggie "fries"].

Mix all the ingredients together, putting the egg last. Heat the olive oil and make your patties (making them stay together is pretty hard, so don't feel bad if they don't look perfectly round). Cook them so they are golden brown but nor charred... ENJOY!

Asparagus and Carrot "Fries":

1 tbsp of butter or coconut oil
10 asparagus stalks
4 carrots (cut in half or thirds lengthwise)
Kosher salt
garlic powder
Spanish Paprika

These are delicious - trust me.

Preheat your over to 500F. Trim you asparagus, melt the butter in a large pan or wok. Add the carrots and asparagus, mix all the other ingredients well. Transfer to a baking sheet and stick in the preheated oven for 20 min. Enjoy!



Monday, July 29, 2013

Giving Back - Goal # 5

I am so excited to start working towards achieving Goal # 5! 

I had a wonderful childhood. I was happy, healthy and blessed with the most loving parents and family a child could ever have. I always had the emotional, financial and physical support of my parents whenever I needed any help or guidance. I know I am very fortunate, and everyday I thank the universe for giving me so much. Because all my life I have been extremely lucky I have always felt the need to give back. I have volunteered in orphanages, refugee shelters, the Ronald McDonald House and participated in many fundraising efforts. However, since I started law school I have not made an effort to volunteer in Kingston, and all year I was bothered by this... until now!

There are kids in my community who are dealing through a lot, and who perhaps don't have anyone to talk to or even play with. I am so excited to begin volunteering at the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada. This is an organization that matches adult volunteers to children needing adult mentoring. Serving as role models, mentors teach by example the importance of giving and giving back, of staying in school, and of having respect for family, peers and community.

I can't wait to meet my "little brother" or "little sister" - hopefully I can help him or her feel as strong, confident and happy as my family made me feel growing up.