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On the left, wearing a friend's bracelet.
On the right, a bracelet that my cousin made me, which is a replica of Ann-Sofie Back's design,
only made to fit my wrist and not for sale anywhere of course. The original design is unfortunately no longer for sale on Back's website.


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Selfies instead of studying, Spring 2014

Because I'm obsessed with the Top Shelf feature on ITG... A very vain post ahead.

My skin's not perfect, but I don't have any particular skin issues. The only thing I've noticed is that since I've lost weight over the last year, my face has gotten a little more sunken in. I look tired a lot of the time... I wear make-up every day, and I'm not ashamed about it. I love make-up! My application process is pretty simple. A bit of foundation from Chanel, a bit of concealer from Maybelline. I do a thin cat eye using the Trooper liner from Kat Von D - the tip is perfect for thin lines, but the product itself dries out pretty quick; I buy a new one almost every 5-7 weeks. As for my brows, they're pretty thick, as seen in the pic above. I rarely ever pluck them, I just let them grow to their wildest potential, and then I tame them up with a brush. I also darken my brows, and my secret trick is using the liner gel pot from Maybelline, which was never intended to be used for brows, but I use it for brows. Dip the brush into the pot, take excess product out with tissue paper, and accentuate your brow hairs. Sounds super odd, but it totally works for me. It looks very natural, though on some days it looks better than others. I finish everything off with some Dandelion blush from Benefit, and some shimmer on the bottom eye lid, and that's all. I don't use primer, don't contour, don't highlight, don't powder.

To remove eye make-up, I use these re-usable hemp & organic cotton cosmetic pads. They're totally awesome, because they reduce waste and are made from sustainably-sourced materials! I highly recommend them.

Favourite lip balm: Crème de Rose from Dior, gifted to me by Kehwon


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In anticipation of Spring, here's a sweet, sweet video that Timai shot of her daughter, Tâm, with whom I share the same Vietnamese name. She seems like the most gentle soul.


Sustainable Health Care Practices

"Farming should be done with non-violence."


Earlier this semester, we were given a lecture on sustainable health care practices (with emphasis on the field Dietetics) and were introduced to St-Joseph Mercy Hospital's Farm (in MI, USA), which provides local, sustainable food to their patients and to their community. What a wonderful initiative that could potentially be adapted to my own city, one day. Yes to: More urban greenhouses/farms, and less condo buildings.


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This book is one of the few memories I have left of an older cousin that has decided to cut all ties with many of his relatives a few years ago. When visiting his old apartment (where he would only stay when he was in town, visiting our grand-parents) many years ago, I stole this book of his. He was no longer living there, and I thought, in my young mind, that it would be okay to take this with me. This book is one of my most cherished possessions. My cousin was an important figure in my early life - he was an artist, an explorer, a lover of life, a very complex and stubborn being. He was born in Vietnam, raised in France, spent his summers in Gabon, was educated in Canada and San Francisco, taught design in Shanghai, and travelled all around the world. He always took time to send me postcards and personally craft me the most amazing birthday cards.
He also always seemed excited to attend my piano recitals, which were most often quite underwhelming.

I was never involved in the drama that lead him to give up on his extended family, but I am related to those who are, and therefore, have suffered from the consequences. I will forever feel a little upset at this turnout of events, especially since I had no control over it, and was merely a young spectator.

Old bus pass left in the book,
also not shown: coffee stains,
and a note that says "Merci Phil! - Nath"

The book contains Rimbaud's poems in their original language along with their corresponding English translations, which I find interesting since I am fluent in both languages and often like to compare translations when it comes to books.

"In the woods there is a bird; his song stops you and makes you blush.

There is a clock that never strikes.

There is a hollow with a nest of white beasts.

There is a cathedral that goes down and a lake that goes up.

There is a little carriage abandoned in the copse or that goes running down the road beribboned.

There is a troupe of little actors in costume, glimpsed on the road through the border of the woods.

And then, when you are hungry and thirsty, there is someone who drives you away."

(Childhood by Rimbaud, translated by Louise Varèse, edition: A New Directions Paperbook, 1957)


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Montréal, Summer 2013

In Shadow of The Hegemon by Orson Scott Card (which I immediately picked up after having thoroughly enjoyed reading Ender's Game), a certain hierarchy of foreignness is established and used to classify how "alien" one individual is relative to another (more here). One of the levels of foreignness is "främling", a word used to describe "the stranger we recognize as human, but of another world."

I have a strong attachment to this word, for reasons that seem far too trite to further elaborate on.


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This acticle recently popped up on my newsfeed some time ago, shared by an estranged HS friend: 9 Foods You Should Never Eat, by Dr. Joseph Mercola, whose apparent popularity I've been totally unaware of (over half a million people "like" him). The title of the article, the way the information is presented and how the justifications behind each claim are made, are dishonest and questionable, despite whatever credentials he may have (I'm far too uninterested to verify).

I couldn't bear to read the entire thing, but I was curious to know why he condemns "Vegetable Oils". Dr. Mercola essentially says to avoid them at all costs because: they are the worse of all "destructive foods"; they turn rancid right when you cook them; cooking with polyunsaturated vegetable oils introduces oxidized cholesterol" into your system. Additionally, he recommends coconut oil for cooking for its high heat-stable saturated fat content. In a seperate article, he talks about coconut oil's "miracle" component being lauric acid, a fatty acid he claims to have "unique health-promoting properties."



I've got a few remarks to make, and points I'd like to further look into:

- Labelling vegetable oils as the worst of all "destructive foods" is pushing it a little. A lot.

- It is true that the degree of saturation in fat influences its stability, but in what way does cooking with polyunsaturated vegetable oils "introduce" "oxidized cholesterol" into our system in the first place? Vegetables oils do not contain any cholesterol, which can only be made endogenously by the liver, or come from animal-based food sources. I will have to consult with one of my professors on the mechanism behind this.

- Coconut oil is extremely high in saturated fat, and the correlation between diets high in saturated fat and increased risks for heart disease has been supported by countless numbers of studies (Whitney et al., 2012, and... countless numbers of research studies). Now, coconut oil may have health benefits that are worth looking into, and that I'm currently not in any position able to dispute, but to promote it in such a sensational way doesn't seem right to me. Also, lauric acid (what coconut oil is mainly composed of) actually raises blood cholesterol levels (Whitney et al., 2012) - this alone does not make it a "miracle" fatty acid. There are no such things as miracle ingredients.

Health Canada recommends the use of vegetable oils over any other oil, as they've been proven to lower cholesterol; I'm curious to know why a small fraction of professionals position themselves against such an established fact. Nutrition is a complicated science, one that is constantly evolving, so I'm definitely open to looking at new information and judging whether or not the evidence is adequately supported. There is, however, very little evidence behind Dr. Mercola's claims (and those of others who think the same). It therefore seems wrong and irresponsible of these professionals to post their opinions as facts for the apparent good of the public, when their claims have not yet been backed up by the global scientific community.


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Ryan Martel photographed by Rad Hourani
Slurp Magazine, 2008

Years ago, I was lucky enough to help Rad edit some of his photos (as seen above) for Slurp Magazine, which was an extremely fun experience. I only much later found out that the model whose hair and clothes I had to fix up was my close friend's sister's good friend (!), Ryan Martel.

Ryan PLAYGROUND photographed by MarquisMontes

Ryan's now a DJ/music artist, and her tunes are mostly what I've been listening to while studying these days. My favourite mix of hers is this one, and I also LOVE her cover/remix of Sufjan Stevens' Futile Devices, posted below (trippy, awesome first music video).


Another song that I've been obsessed with for the past 24 hours:

Tom Odell - Another Love (Zwette Remix)

What about you, ghost readers - what have you been looping lately?



At the entrance of Passa Porta, a bookstore in Brussels,
where I found this beautiful edition of Albert Camus' The Sea Close By (that is hard to find in Montreal),

and some postcards (that I bought for nobody).

I only spent about 2.5 days alone in Brussels, and absolutely loved it. I also couldn't have asked for more considerate, generous hosts (best apartment ever). I had spent more time in Switzerland, and yet, was approached more frequently by locals in Brussels, who either kindly interrupted me while I was taking selfies (asking if they could perhaps take a photo of me, for me), helped me with directions even when I didn't ask for any (put a map in my hands and I will automatically look lost), or randomly (non-creepily) talked to me in the metro.

My days weren't particularly planned out - I had compiled a list of places to visit and restaurants to try, but didn't pressure myself with getting every item checked off. I was perfectly fine with just wandering around and getting lost. I did however really wanted to grab a bite at L'amour fou, but it was unfortunately temporarily closed (en vacances) at the time I arrived at their doorstep, starving. I then settled for an empty café (name forgotten) a few blocks down, where I had a pretty delicious Brie & Apple baguette.

Brussels, August 2013
Took a break from chewing to take this selfie in aforementionned nameless empty café

More memorable meals were had at Como Como and Bonsoir Clara, which was recommended to me by my hosts. The service I received from both places was beyond amazing. The Como Como staff was particularly unbelievably friendly (genuinely so) and chatty! I sat at the counter facing the open-style kitchen, and had a really nice conversation with one of the cooks while eating. The place closes quite late, so it's perfect for a late dinner. Bonsoir Clara has a more sophisticated ambiance that's perfect for a date, even if it's just a date with yourself. I just loved the mood there.

The view I had from where I was sitting at Bonsoir Clara,
where I had the perfect last dinner in Brussels.

I really hope to return to Belgium in the near future, to uncover more of Brussel's hidden gems (as my friend Sofia nicely put it), and make a much needed stop in Antwerp!

Brussels, August 2013
Neighbourhood cat