Dec 28, 2012

Yugoslavia and Vintage Boots

Every once in a while I get the urge to thrift. It is a urge which needs to be kept well in check since thrift shopping for me tends to result in unnecessary purchases of clothing I will never wear (cite the parrot-design knitted ugly sweater decision of October 2012... don't know what I am talking about? That's because you haven't seen the sweater..)

Sometimes, in my moments of embarassing weakness, I give into my alter-ego - Bad 80s Clothing Brittany (she can be a bit of a badass) - and come out of secondhand stores with a fashion faux that not even a belt can fix. And no matter how many ways I try to style it - long silver necklaces, jeggings, high boots, etc., I end up realizing that it's final life destination probably should have been the thrift store, and not my closet. Friends come in handy here, too. Take only the friends whom you can trust to be brutally honest; they will save you from thrift-shop purgatory and bring you back to the land of cute dresses and butterflies. 

It helps to have a plan when going into overwhelmingly large stores like Talize or Value Village. I usually start with housewares, passing over vintage tea sets, pyrex casserole dishes, and saucers, reminding myself that, until I have a house of my very own, I can't crowd my shared space with things I have no room for. 

Once I've passed through the book section, I typically meander about the shoes. It is a blessing that I have no fear of strange foot diseases, because scooping up vintage boots has become my favourite part of thrift shopping. And I rarely fail. One of the best pair of boots I have ever purchased were a pair of vintage Eatons 80s black leather boots. I wear them on a regular basis, and other than a small repair job to one of the wooden heels, they have fared extremely well. I've also managed a pair of genuine leather Aldo cowboy boots which were too small for my already tiny feet and got passed off to a friend who adores them more than I ever could.

So when Bad 80s Clothing Brittany stumbled upon pair of vintage suede boots at a Talize in London, ON, she grabbed them and ran. 

Gorgeous, right? I thought so too, and before I could resist, the boots became the classically heeled foundation point for all further purchases.

Now, if I have learned anything from my favourite thrifting fashionista, Julie, it is that thrifting only works well if you check the tag - find out what brand the item is before you spend good money on something which, being secondhand, should cost you less than its going retail price. There is absolutely nothing worse than finding a cute dress marked $12.99 at Talize and then realizing the brand is Walmart - the dress was probably cheaper new than secondhand.

UPSTAGE is a brand I have never ever come across. I have never seen it in any Canadian or American stores. Usually when this happens, the brand is imported from Europe, has been purchased by its previous owner on holidays, or has mishapped its way across the globe. The print on the tag first alerted me to the age of the boots, as did the fact that the tag held a 7 digit serial number. Since contemporary marketing has replaced these IDs with barcodes, you can typically assume that anything with a tag looking like this is pre 1995. 

It's a good thing I have my perception led me to look, because when I turned the tag over...

Kid-in-the-Barbie-Aisle-During-Snow-Brittany and Bad-80s-Clothing-Brittany were rudely pushed aside as History-Nerd-Brittany came running in full speed, history lesson in hand (my professors would be so proud...). 

See, Yugoslavia's existence during the 20th Century was tumultuous. For a large part of its post-WWII life, it was under the power of the USSR, and was basically rendered obsolete during the 1991 Yugoslav wars. The country no longer exists under the name Yugoslavia, and hasn't since 1992. Not only that, between 1970 and 1991/2 the country/socialist republic was in a constant state of economic and political turmoil. 1/2 million people lost their jobs in a 3 year period. Wars devastated the SFRY. Unfortunately, during any war, the buying and selling of fashion is one of the first luxuries to get snubbed. And since Yugoslavia wasn't economically stable, I can imagine that the exports of suede boots were not a top priority. So, though I have no idea what these particular boots have seen, I like to imagine they experienced world history.

And lucky for you, I compiled some photos of my other thrifted gems, outfitted from the boots up!

(all photos were taken with the iPhone 4S, edited with Adobe Photoshop Elements)

Who knew a pair of boots could have so much history? I sure didn't. I guess it's a good thing that History-Nerd-Brittany took over this one. If that hadn't happened, you might have been reading a post about the importance of owning at least one sweater with a giant dog face on it...

Yes. That happened.

Dec 27, 2012

Let it be Christmas, everywhere

Since I live in Canada, I know first hand what the lyricist is talking about when they proclaim to be "dreaming of a white Christmas, just like the one's [they] used to know." Each year, sometime around November 12 (well, exactly November 12.. I have a spoken rule in my life that declares I am not permitted to think of Christmas or snow until Remembrance Day has been observed) I break out the Christmas tunes, and the visions of sugar plum fairies begin dancing around in my head. Unfortunately, this also means that my obsession with snow takes a front row seat in the life and times of winter me. And winter me is a happy me.

So when December 20 rolled around and the Mayan apocalypse was looming over my Christmas cheer, I couldn't believe my luck. Could it be? Could we really have a white Christmas? Or would my white Christmas turn green and leave me blue as I spent another year being foiled by Global Warming's cruel sense of humour. 

Sugar plum fairies turned to snow fairies, and my mind began drifting off into hypothetical snowbanks. I wanted my world to transform into the White Witch's castle in the Chronicles of Narnia. I wanted to wake up to a world glistening white and clean and magical. 

Now, while we are being honest, this is pretty much what I see when there is snow. One flake turns me into a five year old kid down the Barbie aisle of the local Walmart. I go beserk. I watch out windows with Vanilla Earl Grey tea in my oversized Mickey Mouse mug (which shouldn't surprise anyone) for hours. I dig out mittens and coats and boots and walk around in it once it accumulates. I take pictures and immortalize every snowscape, visually hanging them in the gallery of my mind. And, when I am really giddy, I go in for the ultimate: I stick my tongue out and hope to capture a few flakes.

Imagine my delight when, on Christmas morning, my hometown awoke to a white world. Fresh snow glittered in the morning sun. I am sure that if Christ hadn't been born in Bethlehem, the Nativity scene would absolutely have snow. Because for me, the glory of the Lord shines through each snowflake - unique, complex, magical. 

And so I dream of white Christmases. I think it is because when I look at snow, and see the world transforming from bleak and dirty into pure and white, Frost's ministry whisks my heart away and I hear the angels proclaiming 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth; peace and goodwill to men.' In fact, I see snow and I hear this: 

Sometimes I can be such a romantic. 

Speaking of romance, check out the [my] piano. 

I guess I am thankful that the Mayan apocalypse didn't get in the way of my favourite holiday. I am also pretty thankful that Global Warming kept her cruel sense of humour away from me this year. I don't think my inner kid-in-the-Barbie-aisle-of-Walmart could have managed another green Christmas. I might have ended up singing Elvis Presley's Blue Christmas to the snow, and that would have been awkward and terrible for everyone. 

It's lovely weather...

May you and yours be blessed this Christmas season. 

Dec 15, 2012

Recipe Weekend: Momma's Apple Crumble

With the holidays approaching I felt it was time liven the place up with some holiday cheer. What better way to make the house smell like Christmas than caramelizing apples and cinnamon?

First, lay out the ingredients:
Brown sugar

And a glass of wine because you can. 

I used Gala apples because they are my favourite, but you can use whichever type of apple you like best. Macintosh apples provide a nice contrast to the sugar because they are tart, and Delicious apples fill the bowl up faster because they are big. Whichever type of apple you use, you'll need to peel the ones you use. 

Then, pick the music. I opted for a nice selection of Christmas music. I say nice, because I refuse to listen to the same old run-of-the-mill Christmas tunes that air on the radio every December. I like music with substance, that takes risks. Mercyme, Michael W. Smith, Sting, etc. These are some of my favourites. 

The recipe is simple enough. Fill a casserole dish with apples about 3/4 way full. Sprinkle heavily with brown sugar and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, mix 1/2 cup melted butter, 2 cups oats, 1/2 cup flour, and brown sugar. Put the dry mixture on top of the apples and bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 mins. 

When it comes out, it should be nice and sweet and apple crumbly. 

And it will - as long as you remember to add the flour.

Confession: The first time I made the apple crumble, I forgot the flour. Apparently, when you forget the flour, the oats don't get crumbly, they get soggy and stay oatsy. When this happened, I did what every self resepecting twenty-something year old woman would do - I called my mom. She laughed, as the good mom she is, and then told me that I needed to add flour. Clearly worried that I wouldn't be able to salvage any part of this apple crumble for a good blog post, I quickly set out to fixing the crumble part of the apple crumble. I felt like Dave Ramsey, rooting through cupboards, pulling out my Quaker Oats, my measuring cups, and my assortment of curse words. I scraped mushy oats off of the apples, reapplied the brown sugar, and tried my hardest to fix up my failure of a baking experiment. I didn't fix it, and instead made an entirely new apple crumble. The skrew-up apple crumble was still tasty, it just wasn't what I was expecting. The second time, I added the flour and it got nice and crispy. 

This time, I dished out the good apple crumble into bowls, and topped it with vanilla yogurt. I chose Source yogurt because it is my favourite, but you can do whatever type you like best. You can even do ice cream on the side if you feel really adventurous (which I didn't...nor did I actually have any in the freezer, which surprised me, since I usually have a exceedingly large tub of it). 

One thing I would like to note is the casserole dish that I used. It was passed down to me from my grandmother before I started university. It used to have a twin, with the colours inverted. It broke during my second year after an unfortunate tumble off the counter. This one, however, has survived. It is probably my favourite casserole dish, and I plan on keeping it long enough to pass on to a younger generation. 

Sentimental, I know.

Dec 10, 2012

Once upon a quilt..

Back in October of 2011, I began a spontaneous DIY project. I started making a quilt.

Hundreds of squares, and yards of thread later, I am 3 rows away from having the face of the quilt finished.

It's about the size of a double bed, and has absolutely no pattern other than the alternating colours. The fabrics have all come from my mother's basement. Many of the fabrics have childhood significance: old drapes, barbie clothes, or leftover scraps from mom's quilting days. It's been really cool to see them all come together into this. 

I plan on putting a thick cotton-fleece backing on the entire quilt, preferably a vanilla white with stripes on it, but I can't be picky since I really can't afford to get something super exciting. I do like the vintage look of the fabrics together, and once I figure out how I want to do the actual quilting part. I am considering stitching it diagonally. I also don't intend on putting any badding in between the layers of fabric. I am pretty sure that a cotton-fleece backing will be warm enough. 

After this one is finished, I plan on starting an Irish-Chain patchwork quilt. And after that one is finished...

The 'never-winning' tetris quilt - which I think is about the coolest quilt I have ever seen. Perhaps it is about time I invest in a sewing machine.

Nov 18, 2012

Big-person adventures

In the world of big-person adventures, I've discovered a few things.

You see, I idealized this year slightly (and not mistakenly, I might add). I live with a great group of girls, who are clean, respectful, funny, and lovely. I have a beautiful home, and a fantastic landlord, and zero complaints about the city in which I live (other than forgetting to clearly post bus detours or holiday parades).

I've worked these past 3 months in the service industry, specifically food service. These are where my discoveries have become most evident, since I spend a generous amount of my time observing and daydreaming while performing the mundane and repetitive responsibilities of my job. These are personal, as well as cultural.

1) I am not cut out to work a job with no intellectual pay-off. I desire to write papers, to teach, and to learn. I desire to read, to think, and to highlight, note, and post-it all things academic.

2) Our world is too focused on speed. Everything is about speed. We lack patience. That's a fact.

3) Food industry has forgotten one very key factor in their businesses: human beings. The store I work at currently is caught in a Catch 22 of not having enough employees because the company cannot afford to pay more, but then the expectation that the employees they do have should be able to do acts of superhumanity. It is not fair. We aren't paid in gold. Most are only paid minimum wage.

4) That brings me to my next point. Our society is unaffordable. Especially for a young person straight out of college. University degrees have been rendered obsolete since Universities have adopted a capitalist mindset. They are out to make money, not to teach our youth. University degrees do not ensure better jobs. They are not prestigious. They don't even fail students who cannot properly use punctuation in a sentence. What they do ensure is insurmountable debt which is impossible to pay on a minimum wage paycheck after living expenses (rent, utilities, food, phone/internet) have been deducted. Fact: the unemployment rate for university grads (aged 18-30) in Canada is twice that of the unemployment rate of adults over the age of 30 at 18%. That means that 1 in 5 people between the ages of 18 and 30 are unemployed. Incidently, this is also the age group with the most unpaid debt. See the problem?

5) I'm really going to miss a world with Twinkies. There are entire generations of movie references (Ghostbusters, Zombieland) that, in 10 years, teenagers won't understand.

6) Teenagers have no self discipline or sense. I have witnessed hoards of students cross roads in front of wailing ambulances or city buses. They curse and swear as though it was going out of style. They have absolutely no respect for anyone, nor are they capable of putting anything in a garbage recepticle. I'm beginning to wonder if they have been taught that they are above the law, since they loiter, do drug deals, and commit minor acts of fraud on a daily basis. Then again, the police have better things to do than chase a bunch of loitering students from a food service business.

7) Academically intelligent does not equal life intelligent. One of my coworkers, who knows three languages, took two weeks to learn how to punch a meal into the computer. Sad.

8) City buses are the absolute best place to people watch.

Oct 22, 2012

Literary Wish-List

I have started compiling a Literary Wish List. It includes all of the books I currently wish I could own and read. With about 11 weeks until Christmas, I would have lots of time for Amazon to get its deliveries in on time.

If only I had the money...

1. After Theory - Terry Eagleton
2. The Silmarilion - J.R.R. Tolkien
3. The Monsters and the Critics (and other essays) - ed. Christopher Tolkien
4. Imaginary Homelands - Salman Rushdie
5. The Strategic Smorgasbord of Postmodernity - Deborah Bowen
6. The Portrait of an Artist as an Old Man - Joseph Heller
7. Joseph Anton: A memoir - Salman Rushdie
8. Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace

I'm especially interested in getting my hands on as much Eagleton as I can find. I find his theories (as sympathetic to literary marxism as he may be) absolutely lovely. 

Oct 21, 2012

Book Review: Immanuel's Veins by Ted Dekker

Ted Dekker is known for intense good versus evil confrontation thrillers that usually lend readers toward a male hero who seeks to defend the virtue of a young, beautiful woman. His heroes are strong, they are quick, they are torn between the metaphysical realities of God and love and physical restraints of humanity and sin. And honestly, the plots become sorely repetative.

I had to take a break from reading Ted Dekker. It isn't that he is a bad author. On the contrary. I think is Circle "Trilogy" is one of the better novel packs I have read in the last 10 years (man, I just dated myself...), but he has typecasted his characters, writing what he knows - strong hero, blushing bride, good vs evil for the epic battle of the heart, and there is usually a redemption story. It just got to the point where I felt Dekker had fallen into a more riveting and slightly less obnoxious [male] version of Christian romance novels. Yes, that is a dangerous claim to make.

I knew what I was getting into when I opened this book. But only to an extent. 

See, Immanuel's Veins did not, in any way at all, keep me interested. I read it for one reason, and one reason only: Dekker played with Russian history and folklore, and as a history and fairy story nutcase, I bit. The characters were not interesting to me. They were typical caricatures for a Dekker novel, and I was disappointed because I had hoped for more. Disappointment number one.

The characters all ended up in this creepy gothic castle where this beastly vampire-esque Vlad posed as the super lover, revealing himself to be the evil foil to our hero, Toma. But it got really weird when Dekker started weaving in Biblical mythology of Nephilim (Genesis 6) with his gothic Russian set plot. For his fictional purposes, Dekker suggested that the Nephilim were wicked creatures who came to be known in modern literature and story as ...wait for it...vampires. Disappointment number two.

[If you need to know more about who the Nephilim are, click here. It will take you to a really helpful Wikipedia page outlining the two scholarly views on who the Nephilim are...and you'll notice that 'vampire' isn't on the list.]

I can understand why Dekker did it, though. Immanuel's Veins was published during the final stretch of the Twilight mania. It was released in the USA in 2010, the same year Summit Entertainment put out Eclipse, the third installment of the Twilight movie saga. Further, interlacing Nephilim mythology with Vampire folklore opened up the 'paid in blood, cleansed in baptismal water' theme that Dekker likes so much. After all, how else was he going to get away with seduction scenes and true love at the point of a savior (without it sounding too much like a Bella/Edward/Jacob situation)?

I have to give Dekker credit where credit is due. He wrote the story he is good at. Repetative and anti-climactic as it is becoming at this point in his literary career, it does sell. What worries me, though, is that Dekker won't ever take chances on something new. He is no Kurt Vonnegut, David Foster Wallace, or Julian Barnes. He knows this. But he has the potential to be. I'm tired of reading books by Dekker and reading the same story over and over and over again. His peak was the Circle series. I hope he finds something to redeem his writers career, because I believe he shows promise. 

Was Immanuel's Veins the best piece of English Literature that I've read? No. But that's okay. I'm just glad his vampires didn't sparkle in the sunlight.

Oct 14, 2012

Soup on Sunday

Not a weekly installment by any means, but I wanted to share my recipe for Potato Bacon soup with my readers.

It seems appropriate to make soup since the weather here has been getting colder and rainier by the hour. There was one glorious moment this week when the winter coat made a cameo (and I may have rejoiced a little). The cold weather, to me, also means it's time to make soup - and this week I plan on making - and freezing - enough of it so that I have some to pull out on those rainy days.

So here it is. Brittany's Rainy Day Potato Bacon Soup!


[You Need]
4-6 large potatoes
1 medium red or white onion
1 1/2 cup of chicken broth
4-6 strips of bacon
1 stalk green onion
1 can of Cream of Mushroom/Celery/Broccoli soup
1 1/2 cups of milk
Other assorted spices

1. Dice whatever type of potato you like best. I prefer yellow potatoes, since I find they last a really long time. They are also a little sweeter, and less starchy than white potatoes, which is good, since potato soup tends to have a lot of salt in it, and starch and salt together doesn't always make for the healthiest choice. When you've diced the potatoes (I used 4 large-ish potatoes for a medium sized pot), toss them in the pot with some water and bring them to a boil.

2. Next, dice a medium sized onion. The diced onion peices should be about the same size as the potato (no more than 2 cm in width). Toss the onions in to boil with the potato. Red onions are fine if you want to add some colour.

3. While the potatoes and onions are boiling away, start a frying pan on medium-high heat. Take out your bacon, and use about 4 slices. I cut the bacon up into peices about an inch wide with scissors before throwing it in the frying pan. It cuts down on cooking time, and you don't have to wait for the bacon to cool before 'crumbling' and putting it in the soup.

4. By the time your bacon is done frying, your potatoes and onions should be boiled. Strain them. Dump back into hot pot, and mash around with a fork. I like to have potato and onion chunks in my soup, so I didn't mash it completely.

5. Add your milk, and canned soup, and stir up until creamy.

6. Add bacon, without the grease.

7. Add chicken broth, and half a can of water.

8. Stir in green onions (and any other veggies...I've put corn, tomatoes, and avocados in this before, too). Allow the soup to simmer on the stove for about ten minutes on medium heat. It should come back up to a low boil.

9. Add pepper, salt, garlic powder, seasoning salt, bay leaves, celery seed, and any other spices you like. I threw some roasted red pepper seasoning in it too. Once you've added your spices, let it simmer for about ten more minutes. When it's hot, scoop into a bowl, and add some cheese.

I finished the dish with some rye bread, cheese, avocado, ground pepper, and turkey. To drink: Oasis's Pomegranate and Berry juice. 


Let me know how your "Rainy Day Potato Bacon Soup" turns out! 

Sep 28, 2012

Feature Friday: Coming Together

Reintroducing: Miniver Sail.

Simon Fallon. Chrissy Hurn. Sam Kamminga. Cory Hoogsteen. 

Featuring: Joe Moran of The Good Hunters.

Miniver Sail is currently working on the official release of their independent debut album. Release date is yet unknown, but I know Simon Fallon fairly well, so I can keep details coming if any of you lovely readers are interested.

Feature Friday will happen at once twice per month, and will seek to feature Canadian talent that isn't quite as recognizable as Celine Dion, Avril Lavigne, or Chad Kreuger. Now, I promise it won't be so Canadian that you'll vomit maple syrup and Degrassi reruns, but I do think there is great merit to recognizing rich Canadian talent - be it creative writing, music, art, or fashion. I would like to start focussing on emerging Canadian culture.

I hope you enjoyed Miniver Sail and Joe Moran's cover of the Beatles. I feel pretty lucky to know these guys (and girl).

Sep 24, 2012

Book Review: The Hunger Games Trilogy

One of the things I hope to do with the blog this year is post some book reviews. I have only done this once before, as far as I can remember, and it was on Kevin Roose's 'The Unlikely Disciple.' But, as my undergrad years have come to a close, I finally I have the time I have always desired to do the reading I have always wished that I had the the time to do. It's sad, really. One does so much reading in a four year undergrad, but doesn't often have the time to read for fun (what's that, right?). Sidenote: No where on this blog will you find endorsements or reviews of Fifty Shades of Grey. I graduated with an English Honours degree, I read literature, not erotic novels for middle aged women.

Now, on to the good stuff.

This summer I put aside some time to blitz my way through the most popular trilogy of the past year: The Hunger Games.

I have mixed feelings about this series. On the one hand, I enjoyed the storyline and the post-apocalyptic North America of Panem. I enjoyed cyphering through philosophies and old poetry and deciding whether or not this trilogy could put itself on the list of books rivalling George Orwell's '1984', or Ray Bradbury's 'Fahrenheit 451.' My decision? No.

See, despite a fast moving story filled with interesting characters, I had some pretty big literary bones to pick with this work. 

1) I couldn't take Katniss's interior monologue. The sentence fragments were overwhelming to the point where they were distracting (something an editor should have picked up on). These sentence fragments meant that I had to pay extra attention to what Collins was trying to say, often rereading a sentence 3 or 4 times to weed through comma splices and other punctuation crimes. 

2) Katniss had ZERO character development. By the end of the books, I felt that she hadn't grown up at all, she had just vocalized the problems every teenage girl has; which boy should I love? That being said, I liked that it took me a while to respect Peeta's character. I really did end up liking Peeta in the end, and felt genuinely sorry for his misfortune with the Capitol. 

3) SPOILER ALERT. Now this is a big one. I'm all for state reform in fiction. It makes for a good story. Orwellian type dramas make me happy; but even Orwell didn't render his texts obsolete by stripping the hero's motivation for change from the storyline. It may not be fair to compare Suzanne Collins to George Orwell (he is a literary genius to compete with, after all), but killing the character who, in essence, motivated Katniss's rebellion was foolish. Katniss became involved with the Hunger Games because of her younger sister Prim. Call me old fashioned, but it wasn't the mark of a great writer to kill off her hero's inspiration (nor did it make Prim a martyr). It was just cruel. 

Well, that's it. Hunger Games gets a 3 stars out of 5 rating from me. It isn't bad for a debut series. Perhaps when it is released in another edition, they will have a go at the comma splices and sentence fragments. 

Aug 17, 2012

Our House (in the middle of the street..)

It goes without saying that upon taking possession of our home (rental) Wednesday, I have been humming Madness's 'Our House' as I go about my daily life. Since I only know the chorus, it has really just been a lot of repetition and annoyed looks from those around me. I can understand, it isn't the most endearing song to have stuck in one's head for a full day --although I'll take it over Justin Bieber's 'Boyfriend' any day.

Usually, there is a lot that goes into house rentals - days of searching, viewing, and applying for tenancy. Moody landlords and real estate agencies, bargaining rent, and all the while still trying to find a place that meets your needs can get pretty tedious. At least, this is what I've heard.

A close friend of mine, who is moving to the city in order to do her Masters degree had been looking for a place since April, and was only approved for tenancy this week. She takes posession September 1.  

What I still fail to understand, though, is how it is that we found this house. There is no downside to any part of the tenancy. Allow me to explain:

Back in June my friends and I had decided, a bit on a limb actually, that we wanted to live together in the fall. I had no concrete plans after graduation, but was already planning on moving to the city with my other friends. Liz then decided that she was unhappy at her former University, and applied for a transfer. Becky wasn't returning to her college program, and decided that she needed to work for a year. Candace was looking to transfer her nursing program, however when her admissions was declined, she began looking at other programs. She will now be working as she saves up to fund a new program which she desires to be in. 

And so, back in July, the four of us (plus Jenny) made a trip down to see a house. But it was not this house. The house we went to see was located a block away, and when the landlady answered the door, she looked us all up and down and said in an unimpressed and condescending voice, "Wow."

While the house was nice enough, she was wretched. She was rude to us, and basically had her mind made up about the four of us before we even walked in for the showing. 

Admittedly, scheduling only one viewing for a day when we drove all the way down from the Muskokas was a bit of a blunder on our part. So we did the only logical thing we could: sit in McDonalds and hope we could find some other house which could do a showing that afternoon. We called a few places, emailed a few people, and had nearly come to the conclusion that we would have to make another trip to the city another day. 

So there we sat, hoping that there was something else we could look at while we were in the city. We heard back from one ad, which Becky found while we scoured the internet at McDonalds, and had a few calls which resulted in the need to return to the city. We had agreed to go to Candace's parents' house for dinner that evening, and so we headed off for some food, disappointed that our day hadn't been more productive.

Well, sometime between leaving the McDonalds and finishing dinner, we had arranged to see one more house before heading back to Muskoka. So we drove back to the city where we pulled onto an older street with older houses. We all sniggered when we saw a giant orange and black 'FOR RENT' sign on the front lawn. The five of us all looked at each other and figured we'd just humour it, since we weren't expecting much. The neighbourhood looked a little sktechier than my Redeemer townhouse parkinglot community, and compared to the sub-divisions located in the rich Ancaster suburbs, this older road looked like a ghetto pit. The front door was missing the bottom screen.

Then we walked in. 

We opened the first door to find ourselves in a well decorated and renovated mud room, where a little white golden-doodle dog came out and greeted us. Soon after, we were shaking hands with a stylish and funny young woman. She took us around the house, laughing with us and reassuring us that any mad parties we had --and our idea of a mad party is watching Lord of the Rings and drinking wine -- would not affect the flooring because it was new and stain and scratch resistant. 

She took us upstairs where we saw a bedroom with a juliet balcony. She took us downstairs where there is a 2 person jacuzzi bath in the bathroom. She took us to the dining room where there was a gorgeous chandelier that she wasn't planning on taking with her when she left. I am fairly sure all of our mouths gaped open as we were walking through. Original hardwood door and window frames and baseboards, a staircase to the attic, and high efficiency washer and dryer pretty much had all of us daydreaming about our year ahead. 

Well, less than a week later, this 30-something-urban-developer-engaged-to-a-mechanic-and-moving-to-Toronto landlord sent us the good news: We had been approved for tenancy. The rent per person is phenomenally low, and she left us a whole host of furnishings for the house. 

So this week we picked up the keys and sang Madness's 'Our House' as we moved our vintage plates (purchased at the Salvation Army in Huntsville), the dusty Brita water pitcher (been in storage since April) and some bowls (left over from Redeemer days) into our home. We then proceeded to run some utility hook-up errands, and took Liz to get her OSAP processed. On the way home (sounds so right!) we found a Chinese Take-Out place where we ordered food and returned to consume it on the living room floor.

Now despite the fact that the fortune cookie gods know nothing, and practically failed at their fortune jobs, the day was a success. We picked up our keys which the landlord had made for us, individualized with colour and design (cite ladybug key photo earlier up), and thanked her for being so kind to us. She even left us a basket full of welcome goodies --including jam, perfume samples, lip chap, tampons, and body oil from Bath and Body Works, and a little card which went up on the fridge beside the fortune cookies and the Chinese Takeout menu (new favourite!). 

The City already felt like home, and the place we are renting has so much possibility and imaginative scope. There is a backyard which is pleading for a little exterior design, a front yard that will get a nice facelift with flowers, and maybe a tire swing (I can dream). 

I think, though, that my favourite part of the house is the hidden closet we noticed while doing a walk through again this week. It's painted blue, leads up to the ceiling, has enough space to turn into a reading nook, and stairs which I can start my seedlings on --because there is a huge window letting tons of light into a very very small space. 

It's going to be an adventure. It is a good adventure though. I feel peaceful about the move, and I know that God will be faithful and provide me with a job. He has a funny way of being involved in these sorts of things. I just feel blessed. So overwhelmingly blessed, and I'm not sure what I did to deserve such incredible friends, an incredible landlord, and an incredible house. And even if the job isn't incredible, it will be a job that will allow God to work incredible things through. 

And though our house may not be a Maxwell House, fueled by Madness on loop (for fear of driving the neighbours and Becky crazy), it will be a home built on the Rock, and that is blessing enough. 

Aug 7, 2012

Blog Redesign and Social Networking

Admittedly, I'm skeptical when a new social networking site comes out. My first reaction is usually a mix of concern and exasperation that everyone doesn't need to be interconnected, that the government is trying to steal my information in a new way (alas, my Facebook privacy settings have been changed to about as stern and restricting as they can be), or simple disapproval that social-networking sites are just plagarizing each other because they can.

It took me a year and a half to jump on the Twitter bandwagon. I just didn't see the point of a social networking site that is entirely status updates all the time. I mean, that's what Facebook was like, back in the day, right? Twitter, I thought, was just a call-back to a world with underdeveloped (and better designed, I might add) Facebook. But when I started a little over 8 months ago with my very own Twitter account, I was impressed to see that there were legitimately good reasons for its use. It's an easy way to get quick updates from just about anyone on any subject. When my Digital Editor for The Crown was stuck in Vancouver with the rest of the NASH 74 journalists and the flu epidemic, I was able to quickly check out the status and tweets of many of those affected. It was quite handy. Most startling is the media's ability to recount the "last words" of murder victims. I was amazed that the CBC pulled in Twitter Feeds from the victims of the recent 'Dark Knight Rises' shooting in Aurora, Colorado.

Image from

Twitter, for me, solves all my social networking problems. For starters, I have all of my social networking sites linked through Twitter: Facebook, Instagram, my blog, and even Pintrest (which I'll get to in a minute). Effectively, Twitter makes it easy for me to do what I always loved doing with Facebook in the beginning - update my status. Remember the days when you had to be creative with Facebook statuses? They narrated your life, starting your day off in the third person, and required a little bit of intelleigence on your part. For many of my friends, their statuses would look something like,

"Ashley is so happy today."

Whereas my statuses would be something more akin to,

"Brittany is pleased to announce that today she had the wonderful chance to relive her childhood in the comfort of her grandparents' home. Nothing beats Grandma Soup and Grandpa money (insert smiley face here).

Seriously. I was that kind of teenager.

Well, now I've discovered Pintrest. As with all the rest, I was skeptical about indulging my creative spirit into this particular site. It just seemed so pointless. Really, what could be more inexcusably useless than a sight where you 'pin' (or post) pictures of things you like to a virtual board so your friends and family can send their accolades your way for your stellar ability to turn your life into a cyber polaroid website? I thought Instagram and Facebook already accomplished that.

As it turns out, I was incredibly wrong. This week I gave in. I created myself a Pintrest account (username: brittknapper. Pincount: 0). While I am still working out the details, I was impressed to find that these pins took you directly to their host website. For things like recipes and gardening and DIY how-to's, it is a really useful tool. Hopefully, once my summer up in the Muskokas is finished, I will be able to start blogging some of these 'how-to's' that I am so eager to try. I mean, really, whoever the genius was that realized you can create a winter greenhouse by planting seeds in toilet paper rolls and placing them in a clear plastic container deserves some sort of home-maker's award. I digress..)

The moral of the story is this: I am trying to bring this blog into adulthood with me. As you can see, the design has changed significantly. I may still do a little work with the header, because I'm not sure that I am entirely pleased with it yet, it has come a long way from looking like this:

To looking like this:

...I still feel like there is work to be done.

In the coming months, the BK Lounge (as it seems fitting to finally give the blog a name) will host a variety of living experiences: Sewing projects, girl outings, thrift shopping and fashion, my reflections on faith, and even some gardening and recipes. I hope to unite my social networking with a single purpose: practical application and inspiration for the young adult. I look forward to feedback and conversation.

Now all I need to do is find a job.

+ Brittany +

Jul 26, 2012

The Thrifting/Fashion Blogosphere

Recently I have been enthralled by what seems to be a growing middle-class online phenomenon: Thrifting/Fashion Blogs.

Now, as my own blog as been eluded by my presence these last few weeks, I feel compelled to introduce you to a few women who are a little bit more purposed in their little corners of cyberspace.  Unfortunately for my blog, time which could be spent developing the BK Lounge into a vibrant and exciting place has been spent nursing my growing addiction to the blogs of thrifting middle class fashionistas around the globe. I've tuned in to faithfully-blogging and under-recognized fashion icons (sort of) in places such as the USA and Austrailia, and I have to admit, I wish my style was as developed as some of these cool cats. Then again, I wish I had the motivation of some of them as well.

So I feel as though it is time for me to introduce some of my favourites to you, my readers - not that they need the help, but I feel as though their life + style + thrift type adventures will offer you the new horizon of websurfing that you've so adamently been searching for.

First up is Julie from We So Thrifty.

Julie is a graphic designer hailing from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Her blog is a mesh of thrifting and style comically explained through the day-to-day inspirations of her 90s pop-culture and art infused world. Julie finds dresses with an 80s infused UNO game brand name, and proceeds to give a history of the UNO label. She crosses Dawsons Creek and Saved by the Bell references with Betsy Johnson dresses and room renovations. She has even been so generous as to give a brief educational post on CMYK to RGB colour formatting (and how that inspired her latest thrifted outfit). She has even given a post on the early 90s celebrity three word names and their possible 2012 comeback. It might be worth noting that I eagerly await Julie's posts not just for her photos, but also for her witty way around our media-infused world.

Sophie is the vintage loving host of Her Library Adventures.


Her sweet inspirations have combined to make a lovely visiting place for regulars and strangers alike. She highlights many of her interesting and eccentric Flea Market Finds in a weekly exhibit, and loves showing and pinning the things that make her smile. Sophie's vintage inspired life is filled with books and shoes, tea and beauty. Her style reflects her kind and gentle but adventurous personality, and her ability to pull off any shape or style makes her blog a treasured place. She's also from Austrailia, which is pretty cool.

Ally's place, The Vintage Valley, is both her boutique and blog.


Filled with everything vintage, Ally models her universe in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, where she reinvents style and gives fresh life to secondhand clothes. She collects and resells gently used vintage clothing, in the hopes to give it a new home, and possibly a second chance. While her fashion sense is exquisite and her photographer is very talented, Ally presents 21st Century Australian suburban life with a vintage flare. Her outfits never fail to impress.

Verokina is the writer of Girl and Closet.


Incidently, I came across Girl and Closet (sidenote, closet is a strange looking word), through Ally and the Vintage Valley...and I came across Ally through Sophie, and Sophie through Julie (notice the trend?). Veronika's style is a little reminiscient of my own. However, while I may not have the patience to actually follow through on my style, she is the epitome of what I wish I could wear... even while being at camp. Veronika resides in a coastal town, and runs a handmade jewelry store called Oh Poppy! Someday, when I have a job, money, and followthrough, I would like to model my style after Veronika...minus the beanie.

Lastly, I would like to introduce you to Emily, at Life, etc.

Life, etc.

Emily's blog is a joy to read, and its name suits it perfectly. Her blog encompasses all the special moments in her life, her fashion, and her family. She brings together a combination of her children, her style, and her home in an informative and whimsical place. And while her 'What I Wore' segments may not be entirely vintage, she does post tutorials and tips for hairstyles and quick how-to's for make-up. She has even been known to sneak a few personal creative projects and cooking into the mix.

These stylish women have been fun to follow. Their adventures and blogs make me wish I had the know-how and photography skills (new camera?) to bring my own blog out of college and into adulthood. It may be time for me to redesign, to reinvent, and to post about things that matter. While my fashion sense may not be documentable, and my recipe book wanting, the next chapter of The BK Lounge may have some role-models. Should I ever desire to fashion-ize, repost Pintrest photography, or cook something delicious, I will be sure to have my endeavours make a cameo.

...Beannies and CMYK tutorials omitted. Seriously.

Jul 15, 2012

The Middle of July

Summers at MBC seem to mean that my blog gets neglected and I forget to update the world on my wanderings. I suppose it is about time that I do that again. There is a ton to outline, so this might take a while.

First off, I graduated. I might have mentioned this before, but this is a pretty big deal. Now that my time at Redeemer is finished, I'm looking forward to doing what God has set out for me next. Currently, that appears to be working (again) at Muskoka Bible Centre, ministering to the youth who are part of the SteppingStones discipleship program here. Just like last year, the summer has been full of challenges, but good ones...I've felt myself grow and mature in ways Redeemer didn't always allow. The people I am surrounding myself with have made me a better person through their testaments to the love of Christ. And that, dear readers, is blessedly encouraging.

In the fall, I plan on moving to Kitchener-Waterloo with several of the girls I am working with here at MBC. Two of my housemates will be attending school, and another one and myself will be working (Lord willing), to pay back debts. We have been offered a lease at a cute little home about a 2 minute walk from downtown Kitchener - century home, completely renovated, original hardwood around frames, and very cheap - and thus will be heading to the city when I have finished my time here at MBC. It's a scary and exciting thought - knowing I will truly be on my own this year. There is no fall back or OSAP supporting me this year. There is no university life to prompt my days along. I have to be an adult now. It's exciting. It's scary. And by golly, paying back my debts is going to take a while.

I think that there are going to be big changes coming into my life now. Gone are going to be the days when I have to operate on a University Life schedule. Now, I will be able to get a job, hopefully one that works relatively normal hours, and develop a sleeping schedule that's a little more consistent. None of this 2am-3am business, and waking up at 9 or 10 or 11am because I don't have class. I'll get to eat healthier, and develop a consistent routine. I can cook meals that aren't ingredient restricted by Redeemer's grocery store...or deep fried like MBC's staff meals.

More than anything though, I cannot wait to find a church I can attend on a regular basis, one in which I can volunteer in, and become a part of. While I loved Redeemer, my schedule didn't permit me to actively be involved in any one church as a member of its family. Redeemer was the community I desired to give back into, and God blessed me and kept me through that, but now, it is time for me to reintegrate myself into a church, that I can be apart of the Church.

And honestly, I want to grow herbs in pots on the window sill. I want to finish my quilt. I want to grow sunflowers in the backyard of our house. I've been transplanted so many places in the last 4 years, and while I love my family, my parents' house isn't really my home anymore. I want to put my roots in soil somewhere and stay there.

Now for some photos.

Butterflies inhabited MBC's grounds in June when the flowers were brought in.

God's Creation in the form of cool green bugs.

Reinstituting fishing with Melissa.

Summer nights.

Chapel services at Camp Widjiitiwin.

Nathan Symons has the best Onsie.

Word of the Day: Peace

Quote of the Day: "God would love into being wholy superfluous beings.." C.S. Lewis