Sunday, October 23, 2016

Summer in Italy, 2016

I finally had to opportunity to import all my pictures from our family vacation in Italy this summer. We started with a week in Agropoli, took a day trip to the Amalfi coast, and then spent 4 days in Rome.
I took this photo the first morning we woke up in Agropoli. The beach is really nice, although we had a few overcast days during our stay.

The first order of business was to check out the grocery store to see if I could pick up some vegan snacks. I ended up finding this vegan mozzarella (and behind that, vegan ricotta), which was amazing!

Cute pic of my mom and brother on our first night in Agropoli.

I thought the gelato situation was going to suck being vegan in Italy, but most places offered soy gelato, or sorbetto (lemon and strawberry, in this case). 

For the first couple days I thought I was going to be stuck eating grilled vegetables the entire time, but luckily the resort chef got more creative as the days went by. (Always order the pattatine frite!)
Up on that hill is the Agropoli city center, where my mom would walk to and from TWICE a day every single day. I only did that walk a couple times.
Really delicious zucchini risotto made with olive oil.

My brother took each and every opportunity to nap on this trip.
Our day trip to Amalfi was definitely a highlight of the trip for me. Here's a photo op from Positano.

Posing in front of Positano.

My mom picking out some dried herbs on the side of the road to Amalfi.

The Amalfi coast is known for their citrus fruits. Here's my brother sampling some freshly squeezed orange juice slushie.

Family photo in Positano.
Amalfiiii. So nice.

The big church in Amalfi. We found a pizza place for lunch right on the lefthand side of this place.

My hangry brother waiting for me to take a picture before he could dig in.

Luckily in most cases the pizza dough in Italy is vegan, so you can opt for a veggie pizza, or my preference: Pizza Marinara (sometimes called Pizza Napoletana), which is just sauce, herbs and olive oil. I know it doesn't sound like much but it's so delicious.
It seems like veganism is starting to trend in Italy a little bit. This is from a cafe advertising vegan pear and cinnamon muffins for breakfast.

I ended up buying the vegan ricotta from the picture above, and sprinkling it over my pasta. It was amazing. The ricotta would actually melt properly and added a really nice creaminess. I seriously wish this product would come to Canada.

Snapped this photo on our last day in Agropoli. It looks nice, but honestly doesn't do the sunset justice at all.
Next stop: Rome. This was our cute little street for our stay. Our Air BNB was located here, and it was literally tucked right around the corner from the Colosseum - amazing location.

I was so happy to find that our Air BNB had a big, comfy bed, because as you might now, the bed situation in Europe can leave a lot to be desired usually.

My brother was stuck with the pullout couch, but he was happy to have the best view of the soccer game.

Our place was in the cutest little courtyard with other apartments all around.
We found the best pasta place ever right near our Air BNB. Think Chinese takeout, but rather Italian pasta.

Basically, you pick your pasta and your sauce from a list of 7-10 choices, and you can enjoy it in a cute little takeout container. Best idea ever?!
Here's a picture of my mom and brother in front of an impressive building... I can't remember what it actually is. A museum maybe?

The Trevi Fountain is one of my favorite things to see in Rome. It's tucked away in this tiny corner, and it's so big & impressive in comparison.

Of course I had to drag my family to at least one vegan restaurant in Rome (Universo Vegano). My friend, brother, and I had their vegan hamburger, and my mom had their vegan salad which included vegan cheese and vegan tuna. So good.
Of course I also had to pick up what would be the only dessert I had the entire trip. Vegan Italian desserts... does it get any better? I opted for the vegan tartufo and bought a vegan chocolate cheesecake to take back to our Air BNB as well.
Here's a photo of my friend Felicia and I in Rome. She was doing an internship in Vienna at the time and flew out for the weekend :)
A quick selfie from our street in Rome. 

My brother and I gearing up for the Italy VS. Spain Euro cup soccer game.

If you're vegan in Italy, gnocchi tend to be a really solid choice. They're usually just make with potatoes, flour, and water, and they're so so so yummy.

I had to take a pic of the candy selection inside Eataly.

Colosseum at golden hour.

Snapped this last photo of some ancient Roman buildings on our way to the airport back home.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

How to Study

There's one thing they never teach but you but you're supposed to miraculously know how to do: study. The thing is, I didn't learn how to properly study until about my second year of university, and I wish I knew how to before, so here are my six steps to being an expert studier.


I used to think I could get by not doing readings, and I was right. I could get by. But the semester I decided to stay on top of my readings is the semester I achieved a 4.0 GPA. Readings are so important because they give you a fuller, clearer picture of the topic at-hand. You may feel like they're useless & a waste of time, but I assure you one key way to become a quasi-expert on anything you're studying is to read. It's a tedious task, so be sure to put aside a few hours every week to get the job done. Highlight if you can and take notes in the margins, so you can easily refer to that later on and not have to read through the entire thing twice. When I say "take notes", by the way, I mean summarize what you read succinctly & in your own words.


During my first year of university we were prohibited from using our laptops in class, which forced me to take notes by hand. This, I learned quickly, was a blessing in disguise. To me, the best most effective way to organize my notes is to write them by hand in-class, and then type them out before a test. When I type out my notes in preparation for studying, I have all my readings done and I merge my margin notes with my class notes, which ensures I have a complete and clear synopsis of any topic. I then like to have a printed copy of my typed notes so they can be more portable.


Never underestimate the power of flash cards! It may seem like a juvenile tactic, but it can be incredibly helpful for a number of reasons. First, the act of writing out the flash cards is a study method in and of itself. It helps you consolidate and remember information. Second, you're confining your notes on a given topic to one card, which potentially narrows down pages upon pages of information to something more realistic/manageable. I'm not saying to discard your full notes completely, but flash cards really help your brain bring recall key information quickly. This tactic is particularly useful if you're memorizing definitions or learning things word-for-word.


Or in other words, think like a teacher to anticipate exam questions. What did the prof stress in class? If you know there's going to be long-answer or essay questions on your exam, which topics in your studying can you glean enough information on to write longform answers to? Having read your textbook can definitely help you navigate through this thought process quickly and efficiently. Pick a topic, ask yourself a hypothetical question about it, close your notes, and type out as much as you can. If you're not able to tackle this task sufficiently, try again until you can. Typing out answers to hypothetical exam questions helps you organize information, and it has happened to me a couple times where my own practice questions have actually showed up on an exam!


This may seem a little exaggerated, but it has benefitted me multiple times. This is especially helpful if you're not the best reader or it requires a lot of concentration for you to register what you read. Simultaneously seeing the words on the page and hearing them in your headphones ensures that every bit of information is given the opportunity to be processed. This is especially helpful if you're studying a very dense topic, or if it's a high stakes exam and you need to study on-the-go/at any given moment. This method + flash cards is really ideal for utilizing public transportation time.


One of the biggest issues when it comes to studying is discerning which information is important and which is not. Often, you don't have enough time to comb through pages and pages of stuff, so picking and choosing what gets studied is a really good skill to learn. But, like every skill, practice makes perfect. It's important to go to class so you can observe and anticipate which specific topics are most important to your professor. It may take a few tests to understand what your prof's testing style is like, but keep on it because eventually you'll figure it out. You also need to learn which methods work for you and which don't, but once you get that down pat you'll be so much better off.

I guess the last thing I'd like to mention is that, as you might have noticed, my favorite study methods are very hands-on and participatory. I like writing things out. I like reading things out loud. Skimming notes or reading them over and over has never proven helpful to me because I don't have a photographic memory, and chances are, you don't either - so don't be afraid to switch it up and try new things!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Pokemon Obsession.... What?

Wow, where did Abundance of Erica go?! I'm so sad I haven't been able to keep this blog updated very much. There's actually no excuse - I just seem to have forgotten! :( I figured I would talk about something a little different today, and that's Pokemon. As we all know, Pokemon Go has taken over the world, and I'm 100% obsessed. I was so excited for this game to release, so when it came out in Australia first, I created an "Australian" iTunes account just so I could download it. I've been playing for around 2 months now and I'm nowhere near as advanced as some other players, but I still enjoy it nonetheless.

That's me!

Unfortunately I don't find myself out and about very often because I work from home and I live in the suburbs, meaning I don't often get rare spawns. The "rarest" thing I would say I've caught is a wild Slowbro. In terms of egg hatches my best one has been a Charmander. I think the app still has a lot of work to do (better Pokemon tracking system, adjust Pokestops based on location - why do I need 100 potions if there are no gyms nearby?!) and the updates roll out quite slowly. Other than that it's been tons of fun.

One of my favorite things to come out of this Pokemon craze is the social aspect of it. I love watching gaming YouTubers go out on catching missions (faves: Lachlan, Vikkstar, Ali A). It's so cute when they meet up with their fans who give them tips on where to find certain Pokemon in the area. I have also loved seeing the positive impact on mental health. The feeling of community is really awesome and I think Connor Manning explains it perfectly (watch below).

Seeing as my capabilities playing Pokemon Go are limited since I don't venture out too much, I actually started playing old Pokemon Gameboy games via an online emulator to get my Pokemon fill, which is just crazy. Like who would've thought at 23 I would be digging up old Gameboy games from the grave and still thoroughly enjoying them?!

I know this kind of thing comes with a lot of criticism, but I hate the thought that people can be too old to enjoy this type of thing. I don't think it's infantilizing at all - these are the games that we grew up with and enjoyed, so there's certainly a sense of nostalgia that comes with it. Personally, the game has gotten me out of the house, getting exercise (whaaaaat? walks and bike rides), and it's a simple incentive to go out and explore. The people who criticize are the people who don't understand that some things can be fun just for the sake of it. There's no "point" and there doesn't have to be. I can be invested in Pokemon Go and do other more "productive" things equally. They don't cancel out.

Anyway, these are my thoughts about Pokemon Go. Overall I'm excited for new game updates and I can't wait for them to introduce Gen 2!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

New Reality TV Obsession: The Genius

Hey everyone! Seeing as Survivor and Big Brother Canada just ended, I figured I would give The Genius a shot since I see a lot of game show bloggers/live Tweeters talk about it. (FYI I am also one of these people hahaha so if you would like to follow me: @ericaefff).

The Genius is a Korean TV show that can be watched subtitled in English. The first season is available on YouTube, and subsequent seasons are available thanks to an anonymous Genius god named "Bumdidlyumptious" who uploads the episodes on Daily Motion (Google it, lol). At first it's a little difficult to wrap your head around the concepts and the characters because you have to be reading the subtitles, but if you like strategy games, I can assure you that it's well worth it.

The basic concept of the show is that 12 (I believe - something along this number) people are cast, and they have to win strategy games to move on to further episodes. Each episode comprises of a "main match" and a "death match". Every player competes in the main match, and the loser of the main match enters the death match. The loser of the death match is then eliminated from the show. Simple enough.

The strategy games are very, very interesting. I definitely wish that Big Brother, and to some extent Survivor, would adjust themselves with a few cues from The Genius. The games do involve a certain degree of intellect. Sometimes basic math and logic is involved, but, moreso, the games favor those with political and social prowess. A lot of the games cannot be won solo, and require forming alliances with other players. It would be strategically beneficial, therefore, for someone who struggles with mathematical concepts but who can be a good social liaison to team up with someone who can do the calculations/probabilities.

Another cool concept that The Genius introduces is the use of in-game currency. Each player has the opportunity to accumulate "garnets" - little red, cubical gems - worth 1,000,000 of real Korean money, which amounts to roughly $1000/garnet. The players go through the game amassing garnets, and the ultimate winner collects all of the garnets happen to be in play during the finale episode which are then exchanged for real money. Garnets can also be used to bribe other players, as well as purchase advantages during competitions. I love the idea that the gameplay throughout the season affects the final amount in the pot - it adds an element of accountability and pressure to perform well.

This is the element that I think would work well for Big Brother. Having tokens worth real $$ that can be put in play during the season adds an extra bit of thrill with possible gambles during comps, and it has the power to flip the social game on its head because people would definitely be motivated by money.

Back to The Genius. One thing I love about the show is the casting. Actually, I have one gripe about the casting which I'll put out there first: there is a highly disproportionate amount of men cast versus women, which sucks. That said, the men and women that are cast are entertaining, charismatic, and brilliant. Some of them truly are geniuses: sky-high IQs, MENSA members, Harvard grads. Some of them are pro-gamers: videogamers, professional pool, and poker players. That said, the majority of the cast are other public figures like pop stars, broadcasters, and actors. You get a really satisfying mix of intellect and charisma.

Nearly none of the characters are boring, and all are eager to get involved in the gameplay. I believe this is a product of good casting and game dynamics. The games are set up so that there is a definitive winner and a definitive loser - the fact that there is a definitive loser who is in danger every episode is what differentiates the competition gameplay from that of Big Brother and Survivor. Imagine if the first off the pole in a Survivor immunity challenge would be automatically up for elimination? That adds an entirely new degree of strategy and will to survive. Big Brother-wise, the chances of "floating" being a viable strategy would greatly diminish. I think both shows would become exponentially more entertaining if losing a competition put you in some kind of danger.

In terms of the games on The Genius, they are wildly entertaining and strategic. One of my favorites so far has been the Zombie Game, in which all 12 or so players pick cards out of a hat that assign them the role of "human" or "zombie". At the beginning of the game there are 2 zombies. There are 10 rounds, and each round a player must "touch" another player by both placing their hands on a glowing orb in the center of the room. If a zombie touches with a human, the human becomes a zombie. If a human touches with a human, they both remain safe and win a garnet each. If a zombie touches a zombie, nothing happens. The catch is that they must touch with a different player each round at least once, but they can touch multiple times too. Also, they each get one vial of antidote which they can consume within 10 minutes of touching another player if they believe they've accidentally touched with a zombie. They can also purchase additional vials with garnets if necessary. If, by the end of the game, every player has turned into a zombie, the 2 original zombies share a joint win. If there are humans left over, the human with the highest number of garnets wins and the human with the lowest number of garnets loses. If the number of garnets are equal amongst the humans, they share a joint win and pick a zombie for elimination. Watching the players scramble to figure out who's a zombie and who isn't is so much fun.

As you can probably tell, the opportunity for strategizing, lying, bribing, and forming beneficial alliances is pretty immense, which opens the show up to some pretty fantastic gaming. I'm about halfway through season 2 and I can't wait to see who wins!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Montreal Nordstrom Warehouse Sale Haul

I haven't done a haul in sooo long, mostly because I haven't really had anything super exciting to share. HOWEVER. Last weekend I went to the Nordstrom sale where the old Target was, and I was so pleasantly surprised that I couldn't not blog about it. The irony of my last haul being the Target closing liquidation haul is not lost on me hahaha.

So, first of all, it's weird that Nordstrom had a sale here to begin with seeing as there is no actual Nordstrom store in Montreal. I guess the sale was meant to serve as an indicator of how well a Nordstrom would potentially do here, and also as a means to get customer emails. (If you provided your email at checkout you got an extra 10% off). The sale was put on by a company called Style Democracy that specializes in putting on sample/warehouse/liquidation sales across Canada (which, by the way, I think is such a fantastic business idea).

Essentially, the place was packed with rows and rows of women's clothing racks. Each clothing item was tagged with a colored dot sticker, which corresponded to a certain pricepoint. There were some really good brands available like Free People, Mink Pink, Madewell, and Wildfox - all for under $20. I can't even stress how incredible that is.

I was actually so pleased that I was at the sale both Saturday and Sunday, but had I known about it sooner I definitely would've gone during the week as well. My friend went a total of 3 times and got over 15 items. You could seriously go over and over and keep finding new things because they would keep replenishing and people would try things on and stuff would get put back on the racks.

The first thing I picked up is this casual comfy grey sweater. This was one of the items that you would see repeated in different sizes throughout the racks (whereas other things were one-of-a-kind). I liked it because the cut is really flattering. On me it's fitted at the top & on the arms, and then goes flowy on the stomach area which is perfect.

Then, I found this pretty patterned tank top. The cut of the neckline is a little low so I'll have to play around with it, but the overall fit was quite nice. I don't usually go for tank tops because I don't like showing my arms, but I like pairing them with sheer shirts or kimonos in the summer.

And surprisingly, I got a total of 3 tank tops in this haul. This one is from Free People so I automatically picked up. Free People clothes are great quality and usually so expensive. I really liked the color of this tank top (I have nothing like it), and I love how it flares out at the bottom.

I also picked up this sheer black lace kimono. Like I said, I love layering with these kinds of items in the summer. This one actually has strings so it can be used as a robe/coverup situation (it may even be intended as lingerie...?) but I might cut them off. It's the perfect length for wearing over leggings/tighter pants too.

I also picked up these casual cotton shorts to wear around the house during the summer. I know they look super plain but they're SO soft and I love the color.

Last but not least, another tank top! I really like the bold print of these. I can easily pair it with black or even maroon colored jeans, and it looks cute under the kimono too.

Overall I'd say the sale was a big success. Getting 6 clothing items in one go is really rare for me because not a lot of things fit me nicely. If you have a more typical body type, I would say it's all the more easy to find things at a sale like this. My mom, for instance, bought over 20 items (!!!) and we ended up paying no more than $20 for each item. On the Sunday (the final day of the sale) all tops were slashed down to $10 each, and all bottoms down to $14CAD.

Another note is that the changing room situation was pretty good too. It was great that the sale took place in the old Target, because you had the option of standing in line to wait for a proper changing room, or you could try clothes on in a communal changing area (separated by gender) that was lined with mirrors. I really liked having the choice.

I would 100% attend another sale like this if the opportunity arose! I'm so glad Target died and the Nordstrom sale rose. LOL.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Let Down by The 100

(Beware of spoilers)

I want to get something off my chest: season 3 of The 100 is terrible. I guess I could begin by explaining how I hoped the show would unfold after season 2, because season 2 was great! I hoped the writers were going to focus on the fallout post-Mt. Weather. I hoped the writers were going to continue to show the character progression of each pivotal character and how they were affected by Mt. Weather.

Instead, the show fastforwarded to months? weeks? after Mt. Weather, and we were introduced to a slew of new characters (why!). It almost seemed as though each original character had developed significantly since the s2 finale and we were left trying to connect the dots ourselves. I get that shows do this. I get that they don't want to baby their audience by providing all the details. The thing is, so many shows take this approach and fail, because it almost certainly leads to plot holes. Look at Pretty Little Liars. Look at Orphan Black. Those are two shows I had to stop watching because they twisted the plot so much that it became frustrating because they overlooked the importance of filling the audience in.

The most annoying character development we've seen in The 100 so far is Bellamy's. Bellamy was awful at the beginning of season 1. He was selfish and tyrannical, but by the end of the season he softened up. In season 2 he became a hero of sorts. He learned empathy and seemed to have a strong moral compass. In season 3, it all went to waste. He flip flopped back to being emotionless and taking part in the genocide of the grounders. I seriously do not get how this happens. He warmed up to Lincoln, he was amicable with Indra, and he seemed to understand that not all grounders are the same. It's such a shame that his character devolved so much in the span of like, 3 episodes.

And then we have Clarke. Clarke decided, as per the end of season 2, that she no longer wanted to live with Sky Crew. The season ends with her leaving the Arc and walking into the forest alone. Bellamy did not go with her. Clarke's broken relationship with the Sky Crew and the grounders should have been the primary focus, yet season 3 began with Clarke being hunted by the Ice Queen. Where did this Ice Queen even come from? How did we get from point A to point B? What were Clarke's intentions in wandering off into the wild on her own? None of this was addressed.

Now Lexa's dead and the LGBTQIA audience is devastated. The showrunner, Jason Rothenberg, issued an apology about perpetuating the "bury your gays" trope in tv writing. The apology is alright (though I 100% understand if the LGBTQIA audience don't accept it), but Rothenberg should also apologize for convoluting the plot and letting character development fall by the wayside.

I'm not sure if I want to continue watching this season. I don't know how it can recover. We're already 8/12 episodes into season 3 and I don't see how it's going to improve. Absolutely no progress has been made for the show's true heroes... It's all pretty sad.