Moving.

I’ve been here before, but it still feels new. Slowly packing my boxes as I prepare to leave the place I call “home.” It’s the end of an era, I guess. Finishing college and making this move is a game changer.

I’ve been here before, of course I have. My mind immediately jumps to five years ago, when I took off for University. It’s a familiar story: By the end of high school, I had messily carved a suburban teenage “self” out of high school essays, basement parties, and bad attempts at French cuisine. The time had come to challenge that identity. So I moved to the City (mine was Ottawa; my friends scattered all over). I remember leaving my parents’ house in 2010, taking pictures off the walls as my younger brother prepared to take over the space. The process of packing up your old life, even if you’re truly ready for it, is necessarily emotional. It was emotional then, and it is emotional now.

It’s good emotional, for the most part: I’m excited, I’m ready. My family and career and soul will all be better for this.  I sat down with a friend from first year yesterday and just vomited out all the cool stuff I want to do with my life: “I want to make this website! I want to make that app! I want to run this Twitter account! I want to make education better! I want a dog and a house and a panini press!”

Sidenote: The panini press has been secured. Thanks, Celine!
Sidenote: The panini press has been secured. Thanks, Celine!

It’s time to challenge the identity again. That’s how I see these big moves. I’m attracted to the idea of putting myself in a new environment and seeing how my outlook and personality change…and how they stay the same.  “Finding myself in college” wasn’t about “doing new stuff” (though that was cool, too). It was about figuring out what parts of my identity were who I was, and which parts were just a product of where I was. Would I still like History when I left the guidance of my high school teachers? (Yes, it turned out, I fell even more desperately in love). Would I still adore my high school friends after a few years in a new place? (We had a wicked party last month, actually). Would I hold on to my lack of religious beliefs, my relationship, my bad habits? (No, no, and I’m sure I’ve traded them in for some more).

The move helped me. It didn’t save me, it wasn’t a one-size-fits-all “solution.” It just helped, for the same reason travelling or “trying something new” helps. It’s powerful to see that there is more out there. And it’s powerful to see how you respond to that. Embracing new space can show you what sticks when you shift the environmental factors—the social pressure, the family dynamics, all that. Whether you love the new place or hate it, the whole experience can give you a much more solid grasp on who you are and what you want.

And what I want now is to move forward with my life, which means leaving Ottawa. It means reclaiming a Southern Ontario “self” (this time as a job-seeking big kid) and shedding some of the capital city student life. Just some of it. I’ll still be me, of course. But with this move, I’m hoping I will get a better idea of what that means.

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Chalking It Up, Part 1: The Blackboard Wall

I want my home to be fun.

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:

Disclaimer: If you venture to read the wall, I would like to note that Jesus/Jagger/Gambino may not have used those EXACT words. Paraphrasing.

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.

Pictured above: The game being changed.

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!

I personally love the “surf borad” which defies all laws of physics, courtesy of my two favourite artistic geniuses.

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!

Autumn Apartment: Phase One

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.ImageOther 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:
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    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.”)
    ImageGold 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.

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Homesense is awesome. Though I should warn you, I have still been unable to find my favourite fall accessory there…

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Yup, that’s the one.

Happy September everybody!

Home-slices…and some other slices, too

Student life is pretty crazy.  Ideally, we can make it equal parts “pretty” and “crazy.” At least, that’s what I’m trying to do.

Currently, I am surrounded by Chatelaines and scissors, but also by books and brainwaves. My goal? To inject a little bit of beauty and a whole lot of crazy into everything around me. “Everything around me” also happens to be awesome, since I’m living in Ottawa.

I’m kind of obsessed with this city. Also with my home. Also with life.

So let’s chat about those things, shall we?

Every Friday, I will be posting something in the “Homestyle” category.  The weird look I got from my roommate yesterday when I told him it was time for “Autumn Apartment Phase 1” says it all, my friends.

Every Tuesday, I will be posting something in the “Lifestyle & Brainwaves” category. This will mostly be about student living in Ottawa because, well, that’s kinda what I’m doing!

Cheers!