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 +