HOW TO KICK THE WINTER BLUES

Now that moody skies are an everyday thing, you just want to stay curled in up in the cocoon you made with your duvet more than usual; summer is long gone and no longer can you throw on a T-shirt and bike to wherever; you don’t want to think about how many layers you have to pile on to stay warm, and the last thing you want to do is trudge through dirty slush to get to work. Yes, seasonal depression is a thing. So, I’ve compiled a list of five things to help combat this lack of motivation and dreariness.

1. Stay Active

Yes, I know. Maybe not the first thing you wanted to hear, but now is not the time to lose your workout motivation. Although it may be horrid outside, it’s important to get out there, even if it’s just for a brisk walk. Half an hour outside will help provide a little bit of mood-boosting Vitamin D. If you want some motivation, there are plenty of motivational YouTube videos. But remember, nothing happens if you don’t actually get off your butt and do something.

Trying something new will also help boost your mood and fight total hibernation. Sign up for a workout class you’ve never tried or buy some new colourful leggings to help get through the dreary colour scheme of the next few months. After all, summer bodies are made in the winter.

Photo:sosasha.com/tag/running/
Photo:sosasha.com/tag/running/

2. Plan a Staycation

I can’t stand the cold but some of us don’t have the funds to run away to California to warm our toes for a week. That’s not to say you can’t still get a change in scenery staying where you are. Get away from the city and escape to a cozy cabin for a weekend, or go on a ski trip. Even a trip to the spa will boost your mood.

Or literally stay right where you are, at home. There’s no harm in taking a day off and wrapping yourself up in a blanket, tea in one hand and a book in the other. Just remember to relax. It’s not a day for running errands or catching up on work you didn’t finish. It doesn’t count when your staycation includes you deep-cleaning the house.

Photo: http://www.tiphainemarie.com/2015/12/a-cozy-winter-night-at-home/
Photo: http://www.tiphainemarie.com/2015/12/a-cozy-winter-night-at-home/

3. Eat Chocolate

Let me explain. People who go through Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), or the winter blues, are more likely to crave a natural amino acid called trytophan, which helps produce the feel-good hormone serotonin. This is produced in our bodies when we’re exposed to sunshine, which, in the winter months, is obviously not as abundant. If you don’t produce enough serotonin, you naturally crave trytophan. The important thing is, it’s found in chocolate. So yes, chocolate can replace sunshine in this way. The amount of trytophan also depends on the amount of cocoa bean content and usually, the more expensive the chocolate, the more cocoa bean content. They also contain less sugar. This means they’re healthier right? So go ahead, indulge.

Just balance it with leafy greens, avocados, oats, eggs and anything rich in vitamins, B, C, and D that will also help boost your mood. 😉

Photo: http://www.godiva.com
Photo: http://www.godiva.com

4. Give

‘Tis the season after all, and what better way to spend it than giving to other people. It’s not just about monetary donations. Spending time at the local shelter helping prepare lunch and volunteering your time not only makes you feel satisfied but also really improves mental health.

Photo: cruxnow.com/
Photo: cruxnow.com/

5. It’s the Holidays. Embrace it

As much as you may want to hibernate all winter, don’t fight the holiday feels. Just give in. Put on an ugly Christmas sweater, make a gingerbread house, play Christmas music on loop and watch Home Alone at the same time. Do all the cliché Christmas things.

Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, there are plenty of things to do around this time you probably don’t get to do the rest of the year. Going out with friends and family will brighten your mood on the darkest of days, even if it’s just for a hot chocolate or a round of ice-skating at Nathan Philips Square.

Photo:http://anotherangle.eu/posts/christmas-nathan-phillips-square-toronto/
Photo: http://anotherangle.eu/posts/christmas-nathan-phillips-square-toronto/

 

Novella Picks the Realest ‘Best Of Toronto’

Artwork by Michelle Cheung for Novella Magazine

There are Best Of.. articles everywhere these days — the best brunch, the best shops, the best bars, the best theatre, not to mention the best restaurant for a particular dish like pizza, ramen, etc. Despite the information overload in the internet, some categories, also essential to getting the most out of the city, have been egregiously left out. Hence this somewhat tongue-in-cheek but in all honesty a well-curated list picked by Novella’s motley contributors! Take notes.

Best Place to Get Shitfaced

Every crazy drunken night has started and ended at Sweaty Betty’s located at 13 Ossington ave. The bartenders are really cool, it has a nice patio, and the drinks are cheap enough to make you ask yourself the next the day “how the hell did I get home?”. — Drew Brown, Editor-in Chief

McQueen’s Pub on Queen East is a great place for a series of afternoon pints. Start at three and by the time dinner bell rings, you’ll be well into conversations with the barkeeps — whose names I, naturally, forget — and the nice usually older regulars around the bar (shout-out to the older gentleman always on a tablet, drinking pinot-grigio and the PBR tall boy lady), and find it hard to leave. Order another pint, some wings, and sit around some more. — Hoon, Managing Editor

When you need a place to chill out with your friends, have a good drink, and take your epic dance moves for a spin, you need to get yourself to The Beaver (1192 Queen Street W.). The atmosphere is warm, the bartenders are friendly, and the drinks are cheap. After dancing the night away, the bar has a back patio where you can get some air and cool off before catching your second wind and starting the boozy dance party all over again. – Michelle, Social Media Coordinator

To be honest, I feel like you can get shitfaced pretty much anywhere. But, if I had to choose, I tend to enjoy getting shitfaced at The Ballroom on John Street. The atmosphere is chill, the dress code is casual, the decor is creative, and there are two floors to choose from, including a bowling alley on the first floor and a large restaurant, bar, pool table, ping pong table, and dance floor upstairs. The best part? Live music. — Claire Ball, Contributor

Best Place to Get Over a Hangover

Caplansky’s Deli (356 College St) With all day breakfasts full of eggs, smoked meats, and loads of lovely carbs, Caplansky’s is the perfect place to nurse that raging hangover. The atmosphere is nice and cozy, the service is excellent, and the prices aren’t terrible. Not to mention, compared to other weekend brunch spots, there are never any huge crowds or lines to ruin your day. I’ve spent many a weekend morning/afternoon gorging myself on challah french toast and smoked salmon eggs (and endless cups of coffee). — Adina Heisler, Contributor

Wake up, get dressed, and look up a pho joint closest to you; the fresh noodles soak it all up; the broth flushes everything out; the tai (rare beef, eye of round), nam (brisket), gan (tendons) rejuvenate. In my case, the neighborhood go-to is Pho Linh in Brockton Village. There’s one closer, on Bloor, and we won’t name names, but there are reasons for the extra hungover ten minute’s walk down to Pho Linh. If you’re in Leslieville, where I used to live, Com Tam 168 was always a solid choice. And if any champion out there knows of oxtail pho in the city, please give me a shout-out. — Hoon, Managing Editor

Clinton’s Tavern (693 Bloor Street West) — Let’s get real, no one really makes it out for hungover brunch before 12 pm. That’s why I ask, why restrict myself to breakfast foods? The club area at Clinton’s may be the place that did the damage the night before, but allow it to be your spot to replenish and you will be widely impressed by the chill atmosphere and massive amount of delicious and creative pub food. Other bonuses include it being affordable and any dish can be altered for a vegetarian! — Meg, Contributor

Last year I went to an event at Starving Artists located at 810 College St. and I am still dreaming about the waffles. This west-end all day brunch restaurant serves delicious stuffed waffles or just waffles with the ingredients on the side. I had the waffles with bacon inside and it was sooo good. Yes, after a night of drinking there is very little that can drag me out of bed but the food at Starving Artists is great motivation. -Drew Brown, Editor-in Chief

Recently I went to Insomnia on Bloor Street West and now I am obsessed. Their brunch menu is what dreams are made of. With a variety of benedicts to choose from, and the best coffee I’ve ever tasted. This place is a must try! Once you’re finished with your daily coffee dose, they have $5 mimosas! What better way to cure a hangover? — Claire Ball, Contributor

Best Place to Take Your Date When You’re Broke but Want to Look Rich

This really depends on how rich you want to look and how broke you actually are. But if I am to err on the side of optimism, let’s say you’re broke in the sense that Becky literally has no money but Ubers four blocks to a spa. In this case, consider Kintaro near Church and Wellesley. The dishes are conducive to sharing, the atmosphere feels cozy, if not swanky, and is nicely decorated, and pints of Sapporo are cheaper than glasses or a bottle of wine. A good night at Kintaro will set you back around $50~60 for two people. Not cheap, but not French bistro prices either. — Hoon, Managing Editor

I feel like this situation all comes down to the proper execution of the date. Going to any restaurant that’s not on the pricey side might just give you up right away, so why not play the “I’m too fly to want to go to nice places card” and maybe take the opportunity to show off the little places in Toronto you like to go to for fun. Some of my favourites are, hitting up Pancho’s Bakery in Kensington for a signature $1 churro and looking through the stores, putting some Baileys in a cup of coffee and heading up to the top of Casa Loma, or teaching your date your favourite card game over a tall can in Trinity Belwoods. Any of these will make a memorable date that will show them that you are a keeper despite your ever shrinking bank account. —Meg, Contributor

Best Place to Take Mirror Selfies

Nordstrom, The Eaton Centre — This is weirdly specific but the Nordstrom bathrooms are hella nice and are the perfect size and length to take full outfit pictures. The lighting is decent and it’s not too shabby to post a pic with a fancy af bathroom in the background. Maybe people will assume you shop at Nordstrom. You’re welcome. — Natasha Grodzinski, Contributor 

In the privacy and coziness of your private domain, be it the living room, bathroom, or kitchen countertop. Doing so also gives you extra good karma points for saving other people from having to see you try multiple times to get that shot right. As they say, way to hell is paved with publicly taken selfies then posted on Instagram. — Hoon, Managing Editor

Locals Only on King Street West has exceptional mirror selfie potential. Honestly, I don’t really take mirror selfies frequently, but I’ve already planned my next one to be taken here. The bathrooms have decorative wallpaper that makes for a great background, and the mirrors have a soft light around them so the lighting is on point. Mirror selfies from the Locals Only bathroom are definitely Instagram worthy. — Claire Ball, Contributor

Best Place to Buy Art When You’re not a Art Snob

Museum gift shops always have good selections of nicely printed posters, either framed or not. They also have puzzles that can be glued afterwards and framed, if you’re into that sort of thing, which I unashamedly am. So next time you visit the AGO or ROM or wherever, don’t skip on the gift shop! Mingle with the tourist group and discuss best bargains. — Hoon, Managing Editor

Once you walk into Kid Icarus (205 Augusta Avenue) in the eclectic Kensington Market, you will see beautifully well-designed posters plastered on the walls, handmade cards, and stationary goods. They are a design shop that specializes in printing, and if you feel like stretching your own artistic muscles, they offer workshops in screen-printing and linoleum carving. Be sure to give yourself at least thirty minutes to explore this little shop — it will be worth your time. — Michelle, Social Media Coordinator

Best Neighborhoods for Thrift Shopping

Bloordale — The strip along Bloor St. in the west-end between Dundas West and Ossington is filled with tons of thrift stores. You’ve got everything from Value Village and Vintage Depot to smaller independent stores all within a fifteen-minute-walks of one another. My personal recommendations are the Odd Finds General Store and Ransack the Universe. Perfect for spending a Saturday afternoon browsing away. —Natasha Grodzinski, Contributor

Parkdale — Personally, I’ve always been an avid Queen West vintage buyer (usually between John and Bathurst). However, the other day I sat on the 501 streetcar a little longer and was in absolute clothing bliss. From Public Butter to House of Vintage, my Levis collection has doubled in size and expanded in quality! A definite must go! — Meg, Contributor

Best Thing to Buy at LCBO When You’re Hosting

Jive Elderflower Pearl Edition Sparkling Wine $8.30 — Not only is this one of the LCBO’s  best-kept secrets, it clocks in at just about $9.40 after taxes. Making it unbelievably cost effective when hosting a party. But don’t let the price fool you, this stuff tastes like citrus, flowers, Paris, and sunshine in a bottle. The stuff is so good you could probably bring loved ones back to life by just sprinkling this elixir of the Gods over their grave. I stand behind Jive sparkling one so much that if it was socially acceptable, I’d pour some into a travel mug and start my day with it. — Chris Zaghi, Fashion Editor

Bulleit Rye is $40 and that may seem like a lot until you consider that it’s a multi-awards winning Rye and that you can make Sazeracs, Old Fashioneds, and Manhattans, drink it on the rocks, drink it neat, drink it out of the bottle, cook with it, and still have some left over for the day after in case you need the hair of the dog. You may ask, I like it fine but what if my friends don’t like whiskey? Well, nothing wrong with a party of one. — Hoon, Managing Editor

This may sound strange but Twisted Tea Original is a great go-to drink to have stocked in your fridge if you’re hosting. They’re refreshing, delicious, and, just in case things get a little rowdy, they go super easy if you need to start chugging or shotgunning. So make sure you buy the cans instead of the bottles! You never know when you might need them. — Claire Ball, Contributor

Best Place to See a Band You’ve Never Heard Of

I don’t know that many bands, so I’m not sure if the bands I’ve never heard of are necessarily bands everyone’s never heard of, and I’d hate to frown and have malicious thoughts at someone who’s supposedly known the said bands since they were in utero. But the last couple of times I’ve been to REX on Queen West, the bands, some of them student bands, were really great. — Hoon, Managing Editor

The Hideout (423 College Street) — I was personally offended when the Hideout closed the doors of their always bumpin’ Queen West location but ecstatic when learning that they’d be just down the road at a new location on College! The venue does a really great job at hiring bands that will play for the people in the bar. Even if you’ve never heard of the band, you’re bound to join the dance floor and hear a great mix of the bands personal songs and covers! —Meg, Contributor

Self-claimed as the best place for live music and cold beer, it’s hard to argue with The Dakota Tavern (249 Ossington Avenue). When I feel like visualizing myself in an indie folk music video, this is my go-to. The bar, with low ceilings and Christmas lights strung on stage all year around, offers a more intimate experience with bands. Order a few beers with your friends and you might even find yourself belting out some tunes. – Michelle, Social Media Coordinator

Best Underrated Festivals

TURF (Toronto Urban Roots Fest) — I wouldn’t necessarily call TURF underrated because it is quite popular, but it’s definitely not on the level with other music festivals you see come through the area. The headliners get attention but the rest of the festival is low key. The line up is a mix of bigger names and small bands touring around the country – some of those smaller bands draw small crowds, but those shows are a blast to be at. You can absolutely find one of your new favourite bands here and take in some of the amazing food options they have at the same time. — Natasha Grodzinski, Contributor

Corn Fest on St. Clair, happening later this year in August, is just something I’d like to attend. I expect a lot of varieties of corn, cuban corn, grilled corn, popcorn, tortillas, tamales, and more. Apparently there will be free BBQ as well. — Hoon, Managing Editor

Best Place to Workout and not Feel Judged

The YMCA — There’s a reason there’s a song about it. You get your regular gym nuts at the Y, but there are also so many people of all ages that go for so many different reasons. We have seniors chilling, kids running around and everyone in between just trying to do their thing. Everyone’s going at their own pace. Just avoid those in the middle of a personal trainer session. They can get intense. — Natasha Grodzinski, Contributor

Sully’s Boxing Gym is an old school boxing gym up on Dupont by Dufferin. You might get yelled at and pushed to do better but nobody will judge you, as long as you keep trying. The crowd is always friendly and Tony and Winslow, the two beyond fantastic coaches, are always helpful. — Hoon, Managing Editor

Continue following our fashion, lifestyle, and arts & culture coverage on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Cold and Amazing: Recent Events to Celebrate Surfing in Toronto

Antonio Lennert says his company Surf the Greats partners with some local exclusive brands for their new surf shop in Leslieville that will open on June 29th. Photo by Sveta Soloveva

Even though many Torontonians think they have to travel far to surf, the local community of wave riders is growing in popularity. More and more people are popping up on the boards in the midst of lakes Ontario, Huron, and Erie.

The adventure and lifestyle company Surf the Greats is going to increase the excitement for the new obsession even more with a couple of big surf events. The screening of Under An Arctic Sky at The Royal (608 College Street) welcomes its renowned adventure photographer Chris Burkard this Thursday. The other — opening of a surf shop/cafe in Leslieville next month — will get surfers everything they need for their soul and body.

Over the past three years, Surf the Greats has been fostering the local surfing community through film screenings, art exhibitions, beach cleanups, surf lessons on the Great Lakes, and surf camps in Nicaragua, Mexico, and Costa Rica. This year the company partnered with Chris Burkard Studio to present the documentary Under An Arctic Sky by Burkard and filmmaker Ben Weiland. The film follows six surfers in the most remote corner of Iceland.

Surf the Greats’s CEO Antonio Lennert said he’s excited to meet Burkard in person for the first time“[Burkard]’s been a big inspiration for us to get outside, explore the nature and take beautiful photographs,” he said.

In order to spread the world about surfing in Toronto, the event will also screen two local short films: On Days Like These You Must Surf by Jake Kovnat and Sweet Water by Andrew Wyton“They were the best short films on Great Lakes surfing we’ve seen so far,” said Lennert. “I thought it would be a great opportunity for local filmmakers to show their work to the big name surf-photographer and filmmaker.”

Kovnat and Wyton were each going to their surf spots over the course of Novella’s interview with them: to Hawaii and to Lake Erie, respectively.

“I feel so amazing! I feel high every time I come in from the surfing on the lake,” said Kovnat. “No matter what else is going on in my life, it feels incredible.”

His black and white documentary tells the story of Larry Cavero, who, together with Lennert, introduced Kovnat to surfing on the Great Lakes. Every time Kovnat shares his surfing experience, the excitement grows in his voice: “I heard about surfing in Toronto around 2013, 2014…And in 2015 I met Antonio and Larry. That was the first time that I went to surf by myself. In the process, Larry actually sold me my first wetsuit and he let me borrow a surfboard just for free. So, I went out on lake Erie and I did horribly, but it was so cool to be out there in the water. And water is really cold. You were always told to be careful and safe in the water, and then you are out there, you feel amazing.”

Kovnat said, as his film was self-funded and all the participants donated their time, the most difficult part for him was the production and getting everyone together:

“When you do a ‘passion project’ like this with basically no money but a really great story, you have to work around the schedule of your crew and schedule of the waves, which is completely unpredictable.” The best part for him was getting shots of Larry and his daughters in Larry’s house and seeing Larry “living his life outside of the water.”

For Wyton, who has shot videos about surfing before, the weather was always one of the most challenging things. “You can never shoot in the wind because your lens will be drowned in the water,” he said. “It’s frustrating just keeping your lens clear all the time.”

Wyton said he enjoyed observing nature and capturing its mystery, which inspired him to do even bigger projects in the future. “I’m happy, but I’m never satisfied,” he said. “I’d like to make another one [film], but I’d like to get more professional surfers.”

The screenings of the three films will be followed by a Q&A with Burkard and a 20-minute presentation about the documentary. The guests will be able to talk to Burkard and purchase his new book. 

Lennert added that they wanted to organize a similar event in 2014 when Weiland and Burkard released their film The Cradle Of Storms. However, it took them a long time to build the network with the Californian producers. “We just opened our company, so we didn’t have enough connections to make it happen,” Lennert said. “We’ve been in touch with him [Burkard] since then. And when we saw he’s releasing his new film, we reached out to him and his producers in California… It took us a while to find the right venue in Toronto that could accommodate 350+ people at an affordable rate. It was a big risk.”

During the event, Surf the Greats will also announce the grand opening of their new shop in Leslieville on June 29th. Lennert said his shop will have everything surfers need: boards, wetsuits, and exclusive clothing brands from Tofino, Montreal, California, and New Jersey. It will be a kind of surfers’ hub with a small cafeteria and space for workshops, yoga classes, and live screenings of surf competitions like the World Surf League (WSL).

“Now we have only one surf shop in Toronto,” Lennert said. “And we don’t actually have the space where the community can hang out outside of waves. So this is going to be a kind of a community’s home.”

VIP-tickets are sold out. Click here to find a last-minute GA ticket. 

Continue following our fashion & lifestyle coverage on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

What I Wear To Work: Anya Nordström

Photo Credit: Hamish Kippen

Name

Anya Nordström

Occupation

Partner, NordströmMatte Public Relations

Wardrobe Essentials

The ultimate essential to every look is always footwear. Combining function and fashion, while also being practical, can make the difference between walking vs. Uber – and the dreaded blister! Currently my go-to shoes are a classic pair of Oxfords, simple black pumps, an open toe strappy sandal, and a thigh high boot.

I’m also a big accessory girl and tend to stick to a seasonal uniform of accents in my daily wardrobe. Currently, I’m wearing pearls almost every single day. My pearl jewelry, passed down from all the women in my family, was all recently updated and re-designed by Bijoux by Amy. I have a great pair of prescription aviators from the Danish brand SAND and I rarely leave the house without my nautical-inspired watch and ANCUFF bracelet from luxury German accessory brand, PAUL HEWITT.

Work Uniform

As much as I hate to admit it, I am a total #AllBlackEverything kind of girl! Smart, sophisticated with a touch of subtle sexiness is definitely the best way to describe my personal day-to-day style. Black is always classic and, let’s be real, the quickest and easiest way to throw together an ensemble! I am a working mom with a toddler and simply don’t have the time I used to in the mornings. So, owning a plethora of little black dresses, trousers, and blouses makes putting together a look in the morning take no longer than 10 to 15 minutes – a lifesaver when battling Toronto traffic to the showroom!

Favourite Item in My Closet

Living in Canada means that winters and cold weather take up most of the year, so investing in quality outerwear that is both fashionable and functional is an absolute must. The luxury alpaca outerwear collection SENTALER is exactly that: lightweight, incredibly warm, feminine, and stylish, with a extensive variety of colourways. Currently my Long Coat with Fur in Black, Ribbed Sleeve Moto Jacket in Cobalt Blue, and Signature Hooded Wrap Coat in Army Green from the Fall/Winter 2016 collection are getting the most wear.

The Purge Rule

Honestly, I don’t have one. I’m not sure if that makes me a hoarder or not, but I have a very tough time letting go of clothing! In the last year, however, I’ve really tried to rid myself of poorly made fast-fashion items and create a more cohesive overall look that reflects me as a professional in the fashion industry. And that means as much Canadian as possible! Andrew Coimbra, Mikhael Kale, PIPER & SKYE, Mathew Gallagher, TMR, House of Nonie, Greta Constantine… the list goes on and on! There is so much happening in Canadian fashion right now and it’s important to champion our homegrown talent.

Anya Nordström began her career in public relations nearly eight years ago in New York City, producing RTW runway shows and presentations at NYFW in Bryant Park with Seventh House PR. After moving on to an editorial position with Seventeen Magazine, Nordström maintained a freelance relationship with Seventh House and continued to assist in show production and running front of house for all designer shows, associated events, and launch parties. As a member of the Style Council at Seventeen Magazine, Nordström worked as the New York City correspondent, covering fashion events on a weekly basis for Seventeen.com and was featured in the magazine every other month giving fashion, relationship, and lifestyle advice.

After re-locating to Canada, Nordström successfully headed up the entire PR department as Director of Public Relations at the inaugural Toronto Men’s Fashion Week, TOM*, garnering international media attention (VOGUE L’UOMO, FORBES, WWD, etc.), producing all 22 runway shows and their associated after parties & launch events. Nordström launched her own company, ANPR, in 2014, which merged with MOI Artist Management in 2016 to create NordströmMatte Public Relations.

Continue following our fashion & lifestyle coverage on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

5 Ways to Freshen Up Your Apartment (On a Budget)

If you fall prey to the time-honoured tradition of spring cleaning, you may inevitably fall into another annual spring home ritual: thinking that your place is actually pretty boring, and that it’s time to give it a makeover.

I usually partake in this by browsing expensive furniture sites until I’m depressed enough to give up,  but there actually are ways to give your living space a refresher without dropping thousands of dollars. We’ve got five of those ways here.

1. Go Green

Photo via rebloggy.com

Dare I say it, but plants are trendy right now. Adding a little green to your home is a great way to add some life to empty spaces and freshen up a cramped space. Some may go all out with plants, filling their places with mini-trees with huge, sprawling leaves, or with something nearly impossible to care for like orchids.

The rest of us are going the way of the succulent and it’s easy to see why. Succulents are affordable and relatively easy to care for. (They actually DO need to be watered, just not as often as other plants.) You can get some teeny-tiny fellas to pop into a windowsill and call it a day, or go with something a bit more extravagant. As someone who is terrible at keeping things alive and has two succulents, it is important to do a bit of research into their care before you get one. If I’m being entirely honest, both my plants have one foot in the grave at this point.

If any level of plant care is too much, there are always fake ones. And honestly, with some of them, you can’t even tell the difference right away. No care required, but your apartment will still look fresh and fancy af.

2. Art

Gif via Tumblr

Let me be very clear. When I’m talking about art, I’m not talking about art. I don’t mean you can finally put up that original Rothko you inherited or anything, but if you have lots of blank wall space, why not fill it?

Photo via Pinterest

You can decorate your walls with anything. Maps, photographs, old postcards. I have a penchant for space-related posters and charts. You could put up old movies posters (ask at independent theatres if they keep their old posters, and if they have any you can take). If you can find an antique market near where you live, a quick browse there could give you lots of ideas.

It’s a way of decorating your place, sure, but these are the kinds of things that make the place you live your home. It’s glimpses into your personality, your interests and likes, and it adds character to a place that could very well be boring.

3. Scent

Photo Source

You ever have that moment where you’re walking through your apartment and something just smells…off? Nine times out of ten it’s the garbage you’ve been meaning to take out for like, three days, or it’s your neighbours experimenting with cooking again. I’m a person who likes my apartment to smell good, if I can help it. I’ll open windows to get fresh air inside, I’ll spray Febreeze all over my pillows and I’ll light candles.

Candles are my way of adding a little extra to my apartment. They’re a really nice touch on a cool, rainy day and I always have one going when I’m expecting company. It’s the perfect way for people to assume you have your life together.

If you’re scared of fire or candles in general are not a good option for you, may I recommend diffusers, a flame-free way to bring scent into your space. If you don’t like artificial scents at all, there’s the option of sticking some bounce sheets into choice places: one in your bed, tucked into the sofa, behind a pillow.

Last but to leas,t may I reinforce, do not underestimate the power of opening a window. Getting a breeze going through a stuffy apartment is like an I.V. for the soul.

4. Revamping Your Furniture

Photo via Pinterest

No one can afford new furniture. Or at least some of us can’t. Most of the apartments I lived in while at university came with their living room and dining room furniture already there, and at the time that was a godsend.

If you are living at a place where the furniture was already there, or you’ve bought your own older, maybe second-hand stuff, there are still so many ways to make them seem new. Re-varnish your dining room table, or at least throughly clean it. Get a cover for your sofa, or even use a cool curtain you found at Value Village. This is especially helpful in covering up mysterious stains on couches.

If you have some cash to spare, pick up some throw pillows or a blanket to add some comfort to the living room. These things are also helpful in the event of unexpected overnight guests.

If your bed is feeling a bit old or unappealing, consider some new pillowcases or a duvet cover. You don’t have to break bank on bedding. There are so many places you can find affordable and nice stuff, such as Bed Bath & Beyond, Society6, Urban Outfitters and yes, Ikea.

5. Storage

Photo via Pinterest

Every apartment has something akin to The Corner or The Chair, a place where everything that does not have a place winds up. It can be an eyesore in your space and is a black hole of miscellaneous paraphernalia. Event though you know what lies there, you can never seem to find it.

Storage solutions doesn’t sound fun. It sounds like buying a giant plastic bin and putting everything in that bin and leaving it in a closet somewhere.

What it can be is reusing items you already have or finding inexpensive alternatives for storing things. Leftover baskets or containers from market produce can be washed and used to store small things. At one of my old apartments, I kept my books in milk crates that I stacked on their sides to create a makeshift bookshelf. When you hit the bottom of a candle, freeze it and then scrape out the wax so you can use it as storage for jewellery, hair accessories, anything you need.

And if all of this is sounding a bit too crafty, I will once again defer to the ever-wonderful Value Village, or any local thrift store, where you can find storage baskets, containers and old shelving units. When it comes to fixing up your apartment on a budget, secondhand is the only way to go. But also watch out for secondhand furniture that may be haunted. I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but I am saying I’ve seen Oculus and you were warned.

The Modern Career: The Unconventional Road to Success

For most of us, the pressure of going to college/university, picking a major, and following a related career path, has been chiselled into our brain. A lot of our parents have worked in the same job, for the same company, for twenty to thirty years or more. Our parents will, or have already, retired with a full pension, and will die knowing that they lived comfortably doing the same job their entire lives, without ever having, or following, a craving for something more.

But we are not our parents. We have grown up in a vastly different landscape. The world is a different place than it used to be, and younger generations seem to crave something more than just 8 hour work days and full benefits. I am not saying every young person is following a non-linear career trajectory, but more people are following more creative pursuits, and going down the road less travelled than ever before. Some might even say that despite our job market being increasingly more competitive than the decades before us, our generation is happier and more fulfilled with our careers than generations before us. While some traditional things are still important, for many of us, we see that there is more to life than Keeping up with the Jones.

Sarah Milan created her own business known as Sarah’s Soaps to fulfill her needs for natural, preservative and chemical free skin care. As a result, she began creating handcrafted, natural, vegan, artificial free body lotions, bath soaks, and soaps.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do or where I saw myself in my future career, so I struggled with what to take in school. I wasn’t driven towards my program, so I always searched for new creative outlets to explore. I was searching Pinterest one day and came across soap making. It was one thing that I never actually heard of anyone doing so I gave it a try and instantly fell in love with how practical yet artsy the process is.”

Her goal was to create a good product that would also be good for your skin and overall health. By doing so, she also was able to contribute to her local community in Niagara. She sells her products at a local craft market, salons, as well as online on the official Sarah’s Soap website.

“For me, it has totally been worth it. I am the kind of person that chooses to do things based on happiness – if something will make me or others happy I am going to do it. Life is too short to sit at a boring desk job day to day. That is just not for me. I am a creative person, and I need to be hands on,” says Sarah. “Since I have started my business I have met so many amazing like-minded individuals whom I have inspired and taught me so much. You can tell when someone is passionate about what they do, it shows.”

My Experience

What I’ve learned recently is that it’s okay not to have all your ducks in a row at 24. I’ve also learned that it’s okay not to follow a conventional career path. You are not confined to be defined by one single thing. You can be a server and a journalist. It’s allowed, and totally doable. You can be an owner of a business and also an aspiring opera singer if you want, and doing that doesn’t make you any less of a person, or mean you are less intelligent, or that you will be any less successful in life.

When I finished school, I felt this innate pressure to find a job in my “field.” The pressure wasn’t necessarily from my parents, but from comparing myself to this idea of what I felt I should be doing. I was serving tables and applying for jobs, and the more interviews I had, the more I realized two important things. One that I didn’t want to work Monday-Friday from 9 to 5 and sit at a desk all day. Two that I didn’t want to work for someone else. I realized I was the creator of my pressure and stress. It was my life, and I was allowed to do what I wanted. Why should I spend my life doing something I don’t like? I would rather be happy and follow my passion for creativity rather than conventional, and I think a lot of people are starting to view their career path in a similar light.

The Moral of the Story

At Novella, many of us are in this together. We chose to follow our passion and work for Novella while balancing other jobs to help sustain ourselves. We do it because we love it, and it makes us happy, and it’s what we WANT to be doing.

So, stop apologizing for doing what you want and following a career path that is seen by some as non-traditional. It’s your life, not theirs. And at the very least, at least you’ll know you tried. There are so many cool and amazing people doing amazing and creative things that would never have been considered, or even possible twenty years ago, so why not be one of those people? For fear of sounding cliche, just remember, you will always regret the chances you didn’t take.

As for Sarah, her advice for those who are struggling with the urge to follow a “non-traditional career path” is simple.

“Just do it. It is super cheesy and cliché but it is true. A career is a career at the end of the day, so why not do what you love?”

Sarah Milan, Sarah’s Soaps