Days until Christmas: 31

Christmas is coming! ‘Tis the season to be joyful and merry and Christmas-obsessed!

I haven’t been feeling too merry lately because I have been spending too much time in my tiny prison cell of a room. Okay, it’s not that bad… but it has been feeling a bit dull and lonely.

HOWEVER, I didn’t want to sit around and complain; I decided to be proactive. So, I went on a hunt for Christmas decorations to brighten up my small living space.

This turned out to be a lot harder than I thought. My initial plan was to hang a wreath on the wall, but all of the pretty ones were around $60 and all of the cheaper ones were tacky or ugly. A wreath was just not going to happen.

I found some of the cutest Christmas pillows at Crate and Barrel, but they were also ridiculously expensive. It’s hard to justify spending $70 on a small pillow.

So, I went to my favourite budget-friendly store: Winners! I shopped around their Christmas section for about an hour. They didn’t have very nice wreaths and I wanted to be friendly to my wallet, so I picked up two Christmas-smelling candles and two AWESOME mugs.

The jingle bells are from the dollar store and I got little Christmas chocolate balls for me to eat, but they ended up looking really pretty on my shelf!

So now, I have a beautiful little Christmas shrine and I am 100 per cent in the Christmas spirit.

#ADVICEFROMERIN (patent pending) (just kidding. there’s no patent): If you’re having the holiday blues, decorate a little bit! Get a few new things to brighten up your space and you’ll feel so much better. NEXT STEP: Christmas baking!

Here are a few pictures of the finished product! I want to add a metallic reindeer and a small white Christmas tree but I’m debating spending more money. What do you think?


My beautiful new candles. One smells like pine needles and the other has a hint of cinnamon. I got both for a grand total of $10!


The full shelf. I know the orange candle doesn’t match, but it smells nice. 🙂


Their little butts even hang off the back of the mugs! It’s too much cuteness!

Merry Christmas in advance, everyone! How are you decorating?

Advertisements

Awkward moments make the world go ’round

One of the most important things you can learn in life is how to laugh at yourself.

I’m extremely good at accidentally creating awkward moments. Seriously, if I could get paid for it somehow, I would drop out of journalism and become a millionaire.

Until then, I’ll just entertain you with a few stories of conversations gone wrong. Thankfully, most people are good sports.

  1. My dad and I went on a trip to BC and rented a “medium-sized car”–that was the category he checked off on the Enterprise form. We got to the Abbotsford airport and were given the keys to our brand new, shiny…. KIA Sol. This car was the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen. It’s a box on wheels. I ducked my head down while riding shotgun because I was afraid to be seen in it. No offense, KIA, but I like my cars sleek and smooth. I couldn’t believe we got stuck with a box car.

I went to one of my dad’s important work meetings and was talking to some of the workers there about how we flew in from Ontario and rented a car to get around over here. One asked me, “Is that your KIA Sol in the parking lot?”

“Yes! It’s so ugly – I can’t believe it!” I said, excited that I could finally rant about how horrible this car was.

There was a pause and then he said, “Mine’s the green one.”

  1. When you work in retail, the golden rule is to say hi and acknowledge every customer that comes into the store. I’m extremely friendly and I tend to get overly excited when people come into the store.

On my first day of working in a department store, a girl walked in and was rushing by me but I made sure to yell, just in time, “Hey! How’s it going?”

She looked at me and said, without hesitation, “I work here.”

  1. Also at work, I was diligently doing my job when a customer came up and asked me the time.

“It’s 1:30,” I answered. He said thank you, and then my tiny little brain got confused and couldn’t decide whether to say you’re welcome or no problem, so I cheerfully yelled after him, “Your problem!”

I got a bit of a weird look, as usual.

  1. I was walking home at around 9 p.m. so it was pretty dark. I see a cute little old lady standing at a corner, surrounded by more duffel bags than she could ever carry. She reminded me of my grandmother: short with white fluffy hair and big, round glasses. She looked pretty lost.

I decided I would do my good deed of the day and see if I could help her get to where she needed to go. I started walking up to her and asked, “Do you need any help?”

Suddenly, it was like demons around the world were being released. This loud, piercing scream just erupted from her mouth and the “cute old lady” shrieked  at me, “GO TO HELL!” and my heart started pounding and I started walking away briskly with her screaming after me. I imagine that was what an exorcism must sound like.

I admit, this isn’t a funny story. It was actually pretty traumatizing. But I do hope she made it to wherever she wanted to go.

So, here’s the Erin Lesson of the Day (patent pending): Learn to laugh at yourself. Everyone has socially awkward moments and when you sit back and think about it, being awkward is hilarious. Don’t be too serious!

DISCLAIMER: I have definitely had more than 4 awkward moments throughout my lifetime. Maybe you can look forward to another one of these posts in the future. EXCEPT BIGGER. BETTER. AWKWARDER.

Have a great day!

I said I wanted a puppy, a mysterious puppy appeared

One of the best feelings in the world is when a baby smiles at you. I see babies and kids all the time in Toronto, usually being carried by one of their parents, and I always smile at them. 90% of the time, their cute little mouths form a tiny smile back and my heart just melts. I was at the bank this morning and two little girls that were in line beside me excitedly showed me a cool bracelet they made. I love children!

I was talking to some friends of mine over coffee about how I think my maternal instincts are kicking in – which is ridiculous, I’m only 20! I came to the conclusion that maybe I should just get a puppy instead.

I looked up from my coffee and all of the sudden, a small puppy appeared out of nowhere! Standing right beside me was a tiny cream-coloured fluffy dog, staring at me with its big brown eyes. Had God just given me a puppy? Was this a miracle?

IMG_20140918_105642

The dog looked pretty scruffy like it had been homeless for a while, but it was odd because I’m around this coffee shop all the time and I had never seen it before. It had no collar. Its fur was a little bit mangled and its paws were black from the dirt. I figured it must be hungry.

I took out my sandwich and tore off little pieces for the dog. I threw the first piece to it, then the second one a little bit closer to me, the third one even closer and the dog gently took the fourth piece out of my hand. I am a dog whisperer, a master animal tamer.

IMG_20140918_105553

All of a sudden, an old man comes out of the coffee shop and screams, “SUKI!” (Spelling may be incorrect.) He glares at me. “Did you feed her?! She doesn’t eat human food! She never eats human food!”

He calls the dog so it stands beside his feet. “She always waits for me right here and she knows she isn’t supposed to eat human food! She never goes close to strangers – I don’t know why she went up to you!” Little does he know, I am the master animal tamer, as we previously established.

I apologized and Suki and the man walked away and sat down at the farthest table from where I was sitting.

THE TAKEAWAY: Dog owners, take better care of your dogs so I don’t mistake them for homeless dogs and feed them “human food.”

My New Home

I’m sorry for keeping you all in the dark for so long – I did eventually find a place to live. Where? Chinatown!

It’s absolutely crazy and ridiculously busy but there is so much exotic fruit and AMAZING bakeries (two items for $1….that’s what I’m talking about).

When I signed the lease, my landlord gave me a bubble tea and I fell in love with the drink.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????hola-amigos-you-look-delicious-bubble-tea-7519092-300-316

You can get a milky version or a green/black tea based version and they come in about a million flavours.  My favourite is watermelon (so far) but I have yet to try all of them. The black balls at the bottom are “bubbles” made of tapioca. They taste like nothing but they’re fun little gummy balls to eat when you suck them up through the big straw.

The drink was invented in Taiwan in the 1980s, originally called bōbà tea. Fun fact!

I took some photos of where I live now so you can all see it. So far, I’m loving life in Chinatown!

DSCN2059

Chinatown store… it has everything except pillows!

DSCN2057

Spadina Ave.

DSCN2058

The graffiti here is just so beautiful. Prepare yourself for a lot of graffiti pictures!

DSCN2060

A T-shirt for $2? This is definitely where I’m doing my Christmas shopping!

DSCN2062

And a mandatory TTC photo. The new streetcars are so sleek. Too bad they’re still as slow and crowded as ever.

DSCN2063

Chinatown fashion. These mannequins are actually chained to the outside wall of the store so no one can steal them.

DSCN2068

And, of course, there is a Tim Hortons. Would I live here if there wasn’t?

DSCN2064

Most of the signs have smiley faces or kittens on them… love it!

DSCN2069

How do Torontonians spend 90% of their day? Waiting for the walk sign.

DSCN2070

Graffiti in an alleyway off of Spadina Ave.

DSCN2071

My new home!

DSCN2072

Everything is so colourful!

DSCN2075

This cafe looks a little sketchy but it is actually really great. It’s cozy on the inside and the baristas are all really friendly. Also – if you go, you NEED to try the Hawaii Dream.

DSCN2076

Incense sticks lined up in Kensington Market.

DSCN2077

Graffiti in the Kensington Market.

DSCN2078

Coolest entrance ever?

DSCN2079

There are trucks in the city! #BuiltFordTough This made my country heart so happy.

DSCN2080

I’m in love with graffiti.

DSCN2082

Should we paint our house bright blue and put statues of pink naked women on the balcony? Sure, why not.

DSCN2085

A little clothing booth on Spadina and Dundas

DSCN2091

You’d be surprised at how many people use this Buddha as a chair. HISTORY FACT: Before the Nazis used the swastika, it was used in many other cultures as a positive symbol since 1000 BC. It represents life, sun, power, strength and good luck.

DSCN2092

Here are the two Chinese dragons that welcome you to Chinatown.

DSCN2094

This is where I get my fruit! I haven’t ventured into the store to buy meat or anything because the smell is overwhelming.

DSCN2095

Chinatown’s mangoes are the best mangoes in all the land. But don’t get the green and red ones – get the orange ones!

DSCN2100

Birds. Everywhere. I live in fear of getting pooped on.

DSCN2104

Some more captivating graffiti.

DSCN2110

This is on my way to school. I absolutely love sunflowers and there’s a huge cluster of them in the middle of the street.

DSCN2113

Bulldogs are some of the funniest looking creatures on the planet.

DSCN2127

Elm St. – these trees are gorgeous in the evening. If I was rich, I would eat at these restaurants every single night.

DSCN2153

People in Chinatown are not fans of going slow.

DSCN2160

Cute little toys in a window on Dundas St.

DSCN2174

Dundas Square!

DSCN2184

And, how can you have a photo gallery of Toronto without Rob Ford? DISCLAIMER: I know this isn’t actually Rob Ford. The man is clearly wearing a mask.

DSCN2191

Oh, hello, CN Tower.

DSCN2198

I really love this picture. Proud to be a Canadian!

DSCN2205

When it rains in Toronto, it pours.

DSCN2266

Ladies are picking through scarves at the Taste of the Kingsway Festival – really unique patterns and beautiful bright colours. I wanted to buy them all!

DSCN2278

This lemonade was AMAZING. She served it out of a giant lemon and put fresh fruit in all of the drinks. I did feel bad for her, though, since there were about 20 bees buzzing around her head.

DSCN2280

Isn’t this awesome?

DSCN2316

A mime at the Taste of the Kingsway Festival.

DSCN2325

I really have no idea who this is but he makes hilarious faces when he sings.

DSCN2489

These rocks and bricks are all balancing on top of each other – no glue or other tricks.

DSCN2490

OM

DSCN2821

A mini orchid that my sister got me for a house-warming gift. So pretty!

DSCN2826

Laughing Buddha.

DSCN2837

This was an experiment to see if I could take a picture of the sun. I couldn’t.

DSCN2843

Biking in Toronto is one of the riskiest activities you can ever do…. you might as well do it with a pretty bike.

Ferris wheel at the Taste of the Kingsway Festival on Bloor St.

Taste of the Kingsway Festival, Toronto

Guy begs for change in toronto at yonge-dundas square

At least those begging for change have a sense of humour!

IMG_20140910_114226

It was $6. But it was awesome.

IMG_20140920_115446

Necklaces and bracelets made by Stolen from Africa for the Manifesto festival in Dundas Square.

Untitled

A busker in Chinatown

I hope you enjoyed the photos! I will definitely be taking more. Let me know what you think – what would you like to see pictures of?

Bad with technology? It’s a “dad thing.”

I think it’s a “dad thing” to be really bad with technology. They only use the internet when necessary, and they only navigate to websites they know. For my dad, these are sports websites and stock updates. Anything other than that is an unknown world to him.

When I went to visit my family this weekend, I realized just how bad with technology my dad really is.

It turns out my parents went to a dinner party where they were talking about technology and Facebook and social media, and someone informed my dad that I had a blog. He was really excited when, the next day, he came up to me and said, “Erin! I heard you have a blog!”

I said yes, and asked if he wanted to see it. “Yes! Of course I do!” he said. And then, a few seconds later –  “Erin, what’s a blog?”

(Don’t worry, I explained. Even though there’s a large possibility that he will ask me again in a few days.)

I wanted to show my parents some funny videos that have been going around the internet in case they missed out, with them being old and all. First video: The Apparently Kid!

He was also on Ellen!

Here’s Part 1 and Part 2.

My dad watched these videos and laughed a few times but was confused as to how the kid was on Ellen.

I told him Ellen finds viral videos and she often invites the people in the videos to be on her show.

“Oh, so she just finds them on like Facebook and eBay?”

No, not eBay.

But good try.

It turns out he meant YouTube (apparently).

P1050772

My Latest Rejection Letter

If you wanted an update, I still haven’t found a place to live next year.

So, when I was browsing Kijiji and I saw an ad to live in Kensington Market, I was thrilled! Kensington Market is one of my favourite places in Toronto. It has tons of little clothing shops and great little cafes and restaurants with all kinds of food from around the world. I love seeing the Spanish signs and practicing my Spanish. It’s a great little area with music always playing and the people are always happy. I contacted the landlord as soon as I saw the ad!

As he requested, I gave him the URL to my Facebook so he could creep me and decide if I’m a worthy roommate.

The next morning, I recieved this reply (probably the most interesting rejection letter I’ve ever recieved):
Rrent

I don’t really know if I got rejected because I’m a Christian, or because I cheered during the World Cup. I’m also not really sure why they think I’m “unaware” of Kensington Market. I love the place!

Either way, I guess this is classified as discrimination.

The house hunt continues…

If You Need A Challenge, Try House Hunting

 

I’m not sure if it’s a Toronto thing, but house hunting is DEFINITELY one of the most difficult tasks I’ve ever been given. To add to the difficulty, I’m living an hour and a half away from Toronto, which is where I need to find my accommodations.

 

I live and breathe Kijiji and Craigslist. Any chance I get, I’m browsing the classifieds to see if somehow a decently priced room opens up.  I’m asking everyone I know – any rooms available in Toronto? I sent a desperate message out to the Twitterverse: Anyone know of a decently priced apartment in Toronto for August or September?

 

After two months of looking, I found a place that seemed alright. $620 for a room in a large house with laundry and everything included. This might be the one, I thought to myself.  The room’s owner told me to come at 12:30 and said she would be there to show me the room. I decided to make the voyage to Toronto.

 

Conveniently, the Gardiner was under construction so the speed of traffic was at an all time low, going about 1 km/h. My mom was with me so we had some nice bonding time. Long, drawn out bonding time. Good thing we left an hour early.

 

We actually ended up arriving a bit early for the viewing so we walked around in the disgustingly hot weather, went to Starbucks (of course) and visited Ryerson. When we got to the apartment at 12:30, I rang the buzzer. No answer. I rang the buzzer again and we waited. No answer. Maybe she’s late? I pressed the intercom button. No answer. We sat on the front steps and just waited in case she was late. I didn’t have her number – everything was done through email. Someone walked beside us and started going into the house. I asked if her roommate was home. “I’m supposed to view her room.” She gave her a call and shortly after, the roommate came outside.

 

“I’m sorry,” the girl said from the doorway. “I gave away my room this morning. It’s rented now. Sorry.”

 

My heart dropped. We just drove two hours for nothing. It was swelteringly hot. I paid money for gas and parking. Why don’t I just throw my money into the street? It would probably melt.

 

Beware of Toronto renters. They’re a cruel bunch.

 

I didn’t want to completely waste a visit to Toronto so I quickly logged on to my two favourite sites – Kijiji and Craigslist. I contacted everyone within the Ryerson vicinity and found a couple rooms to view. “When are you available to come see it?” they asked. “Right now,” I answered.

 

We walked around for hours in 30+ degree weather. I have never sweated so much in my life. Even my feet were sweating – since when do feet sweat?

 

One place we found was a little run down on the outside…and a lot run down on the inside. One person could barely fit through the hallway. The bathroom door only opened halfway because the counter was right in front of it. None of the lights worked. The owner had to awkwardly wake up one of the tenants and kick her out of her room so we could view it. I actually felt sympathy for the people living there. There were bugs flying all over the place. Their conditions were worse than the houses I repaired on my trip to the Dominican Republic.

 

There are many houses whose landlords are conveniently “in Africa” and “just need someone to take care of the place.” All I need to do is give them all of my credit card information and they’ll mail me the keys. Right.

 

The house hunt continues.

 

Oh, and here’s my cry for help: if you know anyone who has an empty, un-infested room in downtown Toronto, help a girl out!

IMG_20140630_141828