Why “Marveling” Matters

The water is going to freeze. Soon.

My bus passed by the river this morning, like it always does. And I accidentally sat on the wrong side of the bus, like I always do (…sorry, person-who-thinks-I’m-staring-at-them, I’m just being a daydreamy little kid over here). Inflated arms brushed against each other, with thick jackets filling the space between passengers. Canadian human contact. Winter is coming.

(I don’t like winter, just to be clear. It makes me get all cold, and pale, and poetic. Not the productive kind of poetic; the sad, useless, shitty songwriting kind.)

Despite my usual distaste for winter, looking out at that ready-to-freeze water made me feel peaceful, even happy. I marveled at how the leaves were totally just on those trees a week ago, what even. And, light snow looks really pretty. And, of course, the water is going to freeze. Soon.

I guess it’s hard to be upset when you’re “marveling” at anything. I smiled (which person-who-thinks-I’m-staring-at-them probably found all kinds of weird). I got completely caught up in the season change, how cool it was, how it affected the water and the trees and the sun. My vendetta against the chillier months was momentarily forgotten.

Photo by Samantha Polzin
(Photo by Samantha Polzin)

I think maintaining a sense of wonder is one of the healthiest things in the world. You could talk to me all day about why, why, why winter exists—scientifically, mythologically, whatever. And I could talk to you all day about how it makes me feel, the endless pros and cons of snowy weather. But none of those answers will fulfill that sudden need to just sit back and go “Woah. The world changes like crazy every single year, regardless of how we feel about it. Look at it, it’s changing right now.”

Maybe there’s a super profound lesson or two in this. Maybe. I’ll leave that up to the sermons and short stories to decide. My only lesson, if I can call it that, is that having a sense of wonder about nature can override discomfort about nature. And that being a daydreamy little kid looking out the window isn’t a half bad way to view the world.

As long as you’re looking, that is.

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Fall Tea Time, Two Ways.

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

Multipurpose centerpiece, Fall-themed ribbon, a cute towel…and my favourite two mugs, of course!

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.

Coffee and tea, anyone?

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

I LOVE these spider web racks and containers. Super affordable, adorable, and available in several different designs at Homesense.

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…

Thirsty?

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?

Happy Halloween season, everyone!

Chalking It Up, Part 2: Halloween Time

It’s October now.

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:

Pumpkin meets blackboard paint.

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!

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!