Did any of you see these ads for this ridiculous “multi-way scarf” over the summer?
Okay. Sorry but…come on. Every scarf is a multi-way scarf, you guys. Quite frankly, I’d imagine that the buttons would kinda get in the way of your options.
To prove this, I present to you MY multi-way scarf. This one has SEVEN ways to wear it (and that’s not including as a skirt, because it’s too cold outside for that one). Take that, marketing gimmick! We can rock these $5 bought-at-the-market scarves juuuust fine.
I am working 24 days straight this October. No break. I guess I did get October 16th and 17th off my Job, but I had two midterms and a paper to write in that time. After that, I was back to the Office.
I love working. I do. My Job involves putting on a full face of stage make up and fancy tights and seasonal earrings before hitting the Office. I get to meet/talk to/entertain hundreds of people. It’s fun! It’s exhausting! I’ve almost mastered liquid eyeliner!
Also, as you can imagine, my co-workers in the storytelling bizz are rad. My school friends are also rad. So are you, probably. Between the three, I have basically become socially active to a fault. Last night, when I hit the pub next door for a bite, the band knew me so well they let me pick their last set list. Then we watched the trailer for the new Diehard movie. Then I made very serious plans with a couple girlfriends to have a movie marathon to honour Mr. John Maclan next week.
I also do my homework. I also sleep, sometimes.
Basically, I’m busy. Not busy in an I-don’t-have-time-for-you way. It’s more of an I-don’t-have-time-for-me way (and a sorry-I-didnt-post-this-till-Saturday-morning way). I’m not complaining. I always get in my half hour of the Daily Show y Tetris before crashing into my unmade bed. But there’s this thing called “relaxation” that all the cool Zen kids are talking about, and admittedly I crave it every now and then. I crave the ability to just sit and listen to a great album, or to enjoy a beer, or to take a long shower. And no, I don’t have time to do all three one by one.
Guess what that means?
It means it’s overlap time. That long shower needs to really really count. Observe:
I know this might look crazy to people who haven’t done it before, but trust me: if showers count for most or all of your downtime, you’re going to want to make the most of it. Lighting candles? Yeah, okay, I know it looks gimmick-y. But to me, it’s one invaluable way to make the bathroom a semi-spa for just a few beautiful, calm minutes.
And, yes–having a beer in the shower, or any drink of choice, helps increase the feeling of “Okay. Okay. This is downtime. I’m not kidding, body. De-stress plz.” On nights when I don’t feel like a beer, I opt for Domingo pseudo-coolers. I’m not advocating drinking to excess in the shower (or in general, for that matter). Alcohol is not the point. The point is that if you want to relax after work with a drink, bringing it into that candlelit shower is a great call.
Yeah, INTO the shower. Take that, Jimmy Fallon.
Also: exfoliate. Condition. Not just cuz it’s healthy, though that’s a bonus, but you guys: it’s relaxing. Paint your nails. Wash your face. BREATHE.
And music. Calm music, whatever that means to you. My playlist is a constantly changing six songs. Currently it’s the following:
Chill Out Bruises Train (feat. Ashley Monroe)
This’ll Be My Year Train
Be Calm Fun. Light a Roman Candle Fun.
Out On the Town Fun.
Cowboy Take Me Away Dixie Chicks
Admittedly, it’s a little overwhelmed by a couple bands, but the playlist changes with the seasons. And it’s chill. It’s calm. When the playlist meets some nice-smelling candles and a nice smelling exfoliate and a nice tasting beverage and a clear head, it makes for one hell of a break from the real world.
(Don’t worry real world. I do love you. But everyone needs their space.)
My advice if you try the blackboard pumpkin idea, which I still maintain as awesome, would be to buy a craft pumpkin. I think I’ll pick up a few of them if Michael’s has post-halloween sales. I feel like a pumpkin made for crafting would be better for a project like this…and it would be cool to be able to reuse my beloved seasonal countdown.
This has all the characteristics of a good potluck dish: It’s easy. It’s cheap. It’s creative. It looks good. It tastes even better. And the leftovers, if you ever have them, make for a fantastic lunch.
2 boxes of garlic flavoured couscous
1 red peper
1/2 white onion
Cook the couscous.
Sauté a red pepper, some chopped up onion, and an avocado in Coca Cola (yep. That’s right. Coca cola. Just trust me on this.).
Combine the couscous, the sautéed vegetables, and some ricotta cheese
You can sub Feta or goat cheese for the ricotta
I like to throw some of the cheese in the pan while sautéing the vegetables so it can absorb some of the sweetness of the Coke.
If you don’t have Coke, you can sauté the vegetables in a sweet garlic sauce or jelly.
Optional addition: tofu, chicken, or any other protein
Mmmmm–this is making me hungry! Probably should’ve eaten lunch before writing this post.
I have an antique side table which has recently become the household “tea centre.” This isn’t because the people in my home are adorable and quaint, though Miranda sips tea frequently enough to probably qualify. The “tea centre,” rather, is purely functional. Whenever we would plug the water boiler into a kitchen outlet, it would blow a fuse. It was irritating that this little water boiler was stressing out the outlets, of course, but eventually we stopped fighting it and moved the boiler has across the room. The tea, coffee, and mugs followed suit.
This became an impromptu “tea centre.” One which needed to get its seasonal-ism on.
There are two ways that I have been able to set up the Fall “tea centre,” and I think they’re both pretty adorable and fun. Right now the more “halloween”-esque design is on display. Turns out that spiderwebs and a “Troy and Abed in the Morning!” mug are the very best combination.
Fall Tea Time: Phase 1
You could easily replace the big ol’ glass martini glass here with a big ol’ glass anything. Even a bowl would do the trick, though you would have to rearrange. You could always store/display the tea in extra mugs while using a vase with some autumn flowers as a centerpiece instead.
That was the “tea centre” for Autumn Apartment phase 1, but of course things had to get just a bit creepier when October entered the scene.
Fall Tea Time: Phase 2
Same items, different presentation, but equally fitting for this time of year. Don’t worry, I haven’t given up my love for cheapy/seasonal dollar store ribbon. I just relocated it to the PM drink centre…
That’s the one! Essentially, whatever your drink of choice, I’m that hoping my October apartment will have you covered. Now all I need to do is grab some spiced pumpkin tea…mmmm. Anyone know a good brand?
I’m probably just tripping on pumpkin spice lattes, but I could swear to you that the ’10’ on the calendar is literally staring me down. Time is moving. Life is getting busy. And that ’10’ means that, in spite of all that, I have only one glorious month to satisfy all my spooky-cum-tacky impulses. I have one month where rubber spiders and ghost paraphernalia and zombie references are completely socially acceptable.
Yes, I have midterms and papers and the Haunted Walk Halloween tour season and football on the teevee but, I’m sorry, last night pumpkins took priority. “Autumn Apartment Phase 2” is a go.
The inside of my apartment got its Halloween flavour from a combination of Homesense, the Dollar Store, and hand-me-down deco. Miranda smiled as I pulled out the spider web wine glasses, festive ribbon and creepy spiders. My favourite touch this year are a couple of green light bulbs, one for the laundry room and one for the front porch light, which make the spaces super creepy/nuclear.
So what does this have to do with chalking it up? Well, I’m counting down 31-ish days to max out the spookiness and tackiness, and I want my pumpkins to know it.
So, this happened:
Cool, eh? Currently, the blackboard paint pumpkin sits on my front porch with a countdown of “Days Until Halloween!”
Awesome. I will definitely post more pictures as the week goes on!
What a crowd-pleaser statement, I know. Of course I want my home to be fun. Of course you want your home to be fun. I also want my home to be cosy and open and bright and quirky and welcoming and [insert unarguable “home” attribute here], but that’s besides the point.
“Fun” was front and centre in my mind when I reorganized the apartment this summer. I was set on having a specified area in the open concept living space that was fun–specifically, fun in a music-y way. Music has always been important to me, and I knew my roommate-to-be was no different, so the apartment had to encourage tunes. I wanted the keyboard to get played. I wanted our CD collections to get played. Basically, I wanted a space where we could “play,” period. That space, naturally, needed to be as open to creativity as possible.
The blackboard wall was inspired by a suggestion from good ol’ Josh, and solidified thanks to some fond childhood memories (growing up, our playroom in the basement had featured some cute little blackboards…these were mainly used to to torture my younger brothers with endless games of “school”; I know I had a good time).
All it took was two coats of blackboard paint, purchased at the local Canadian Tire, to turn my previously-dull keyboard corner into a canvas. I have never seen anything so effective in making a home more fun.
Here’s a picture from the “cloffice” post last week. You’ll see the blackboard wall in the background:
It’s super helpful for making notes to self/one another, as well as for writing down ideas, encouragement, Pokemon doodles…the usual. I would like to note, however, that the wall was visited last weekend by two monumental artists. This was a gamechanger.
I rest my case. Actually, I should probably rest my case with a picture of the wall in its current state. If this isn’t fun, I don’t know what is!
Since the wall has become such a hit, I decided it would be worth it to take this chalk action to the next level in a couple subtle/clever ways around the apartment. It’s happening. It’s happening as you read this, in fact. Lloyd’s response earlier today as I set to work on this latest project: “You said you were going to do it, and now you’re doing it. I don’t know why I’m still surprised anymore.”
Translation: Autumn apartment part two and Chalking it up part two are very ready to make their relationship official. Can’t wait for what next Friday has in store!
Okay, confession time: Some how, some way, at some point, I wound up owning a LOT of clothes. And shoes. And belts. And earrings, too, though me owning pairs of ANYTHING usually ends with a lot of singletons lying around.
This is not something I’m overly proud of, and I certainly do not I know how it happened. I really, really don’t. As a kid, I rocked the hand-me-down overalls and uncombed hair with no problem at all, yet somehow wound up being one of those women with the “CUTE SHOES?!?! WHERE?!?!” attitude. Yeahp, this little lady grew up, and now she doesn’t have enough hangers for all her pencil skirts.
Thanks for your influence, society. For what it’s worth, I do try to even out these new fancypants tendencies by regularly pulling my nub of a ponytail through a baseball cap. Like a rebel? Sort of? It’s just a thing.
This summer, I took on the project of re-decorating my apartment in a big, big way. My #1 weapon in this undertaking was my friend Josh, a magnificently organized man fresh out of Algonquin College’s interior design program . Pizza in hand, Josh and I discussed some serious apartment overhaul. He helped me through the bathroom, the kitchen, the living area…it was all pretty easy. I knew what I wanted. He knew how to make it better. But then–what of my room? What of my clothes, and my shoes, and my belts? What of the loner costume jewelry findings that I promise, promise, I will transform into something cool someday?
I would like to take a moment to address the minimalists in the building, and explain why I didn’t just purge my closet then and there:
Because in typical “I really wear all of this! I swear!” fashion, I just. Didn’t. Want. To. (Convincing, right?)
Because at the time, I was a student with two jobs and an active social life. My many outfits were, at least in part, complimentary of the many “hats” I wore. My closet was/is my costume collection, and I tend to wear a whole lot of costumes.
Because more clothes meant I could go longer without doing laundry. Which is good. I think.
The result of all this? A little closet suffocated by blouses. A room where clothes ended up on the floor. An arguably non-existent organization system that really did not work. Mainly, the result of this was a huge need for Josh’s insight. He made that insight very, very clear: “Shauna, you need a cloffice.”
Cloffice. Best word ever. I like it. Let’s do that.
…whatever that is.
This was pretty much the response from everyone I told about my new project. “Cloffice! Sweet/neat/cool!! I mean, I think it is. I mean, explain this?” A cloffice, Josh explained, is what happens when a closet and an office make sweet, sweet love (…that is not actually what he said. I am paraphrasing). The desk, lamps, books, and other office-y items are placed in the closet, making it a bit of a mini-“room.” This leaves a lot of space in the bedroom for (much needed) clothing racks and shoe organizers.
Spoiler alert: There are currently no clothes on my floor. Zero, none. This works.
Here’s how it works:
First, I took all of my clothes out of the closet and moved them onto a couple rolling hangers ($30 each at Zellers). In between the hangers, I hung an organizer for (most of) my shoes.
I wanted to separate my cloffice from the rest of my bedroom, especially now that this “bedroom” was really just one big wardrobe with a bed on the side (no complaints). To do this, I simply hung a curtain between the cloffice and the rest of the room. Leftover clothing hangers made for a great impromptu “curtain rod” which paid a little homage to the “clo” side of the cloffice. Using leftover paint, I matched a couple of these hangers to my bedroom’s accent wall to bring some unity to the colour of the room.
Finally, it was time for that sweet closet/office lovin’. Aren’t you glad they found each other?
My cloffice has now seen me through a good couple weeks of school. Not much has changed since the project began: I still have a lot of clothing. I still don’t know why. I still am not overly proud of it, nor am I willing to change, nor do I need to change it. My solution has been found. Game over. And I think I can speak for myself, my clothing, and my computer in saying: The closet and the office couldn’t be a more perfect union.
Autumn apartment phase one is actually a very simple concept. Basically, watching the days slowly shorten and the rusted leaves fall to the ground can either feel depressing (shiiiit, summer’s over…) or awesome (‘sup, prettiest season?).
I’m aiming for awesome.
I have two roommates, Miranda and Lloyd. When I told her that I like to seasonal-ize my surroundings, Miranda thought the whole thing made perfect sense. Lloyd, on the other hand, could not have been more confused. YES, I explained, it was/is important to match the energy outside to the energy inside. And, yes, the colours and the smell and the feeling of fall are all way too beautiful to just ignore. Lloyd gave me a raised eyebrow, but told me to go for it, “I guess.”
There are two phases to fall décor, in my (crazy, according to Lloyd) opinion. The first major one is in mid-September, and it errs on the Thanksgiving side of things—warm smells with subtle reds, oranges, and browns. The second phase happens when Halloween enters the scene in October. I try very hard to avoid being tacky in both phases, but by nature autumn is bound to be a little corny.
That was a really bad joke, I’m sorry. Moving on…
Some of my decorations were a small investment, but almost everything was done on a student budget. Here are a couple of my favourite ways to subtly welcome in September:
Soap. Smell matters, probably more than anything. The easiest and most effective way to bring a season inside is to keep its best smells around. I try to buy soaps when they’re on post-season sale, which is pretty much the ideal way to go about everything décor-wise. Even at regular price, though, soap has to be one of the least expensive and most effective ways to bring about autumn apartment phase one. I use: Roman Apple scented liquid soap. It came from the grocery store at some point throughout the year, and I just stored it away until it made sense for my hands to smell like apples.Other favourites: You can’t go wrong with Bath & Body Works this year. They have 35 Fall-themed scents in adorable soap dispensers, priced at a totally reasonable $5.50 each (or $15 for 4, if you’re in the market for some early stocking stuffers or want to pack up fruitier scents for Spring/Summer). Their line of fall products even goes insofar as lotions and shower gels, so if you want your whole body to smell like the season they’ve got you covered. (Also, there’s always the grocery store. Also, Shoppers Drug Mart.)
Candles. Candles are the main reason that I was able to finally get Lloyd to mutter some approval in the form of “Well, it does definitely smell good in here.” I love candles, but have trouble justifying dropping too much money on something with the sole intention of setting it on fire. It’s best to just go with the most inexpensive option, usually scented tea lights, and find a way to make those tea lights look good. The way to get cheap candles to look good, as always, is to let them shine through the right container. Like this:
See, easy right? Martini glasses are the best for holding tea lights because their small bases make for the perfect resting spot.
The centrepiece my candle cups are sitting on is awesome. Miranda REALLY likes it. My roommates last year really liked it, too. It was somewhere between $20 and $30 at Homesense, but has already been well worth it–especially since I will be able to use it for years to come.
Tablecloths & Linens. Tinted trees are one of the best things about the season, so what could make more sense than tinted tables? Colour can create and instant and radical change to the energy of a place. Throwing a gold cloth on our kitchen table and a thin red sheet on the coffee table was probably the easiest and most dramatic fall-ification I was able to bring to the space. (Coming in a close second: The regular use of words like “fall-ification.”) Gold and red are both good calls because a) they pop, and b) they can be easily used for Christmas, too. In my case, tablecloths also serve the very important purpose of hiding any evidence that I found both of these tables discarded on peoples’ driveways. Side of the road furniture can be sexy too? Maybe?
Little Things. As time goes on and you navigate post-season sales, dollar stores, garage sales, and so on, keep your eyes open for accents. I’ll be honest, most of mine came from Homesense.
Homesense is awesome. Though I should warn you, I have still been unable to find my favourite fall accessory there…