Make Your Life Cozy

Just add tea and a book..

One of my favourite comments recently was from the Stir-Fried Dinosaur, who said that my blog was cozy. Isn’t that just the nicest? Thank you! This made me particularly happy because I try very hard to keep my life as cozy as possible. Today I’m going to share with you how I achieve coziness, and how you can too!

My Definition of Cozy:

1. Making your life work for you, so that your personal spaces always feel like home

2. Knowing what you love, and doing it

3. Feeling luxurious in your own way

How To Cozi-fy Your Life

Hot Chocolate and Magazines

1. Making your life work for you.

This means making the most of what you have. You may not have an unlimited budget, or you may not have unlimited space, or you may not have unlimited time to make your spaces perfect. What’s important is that you prioritize. What means the most to you? What will make you feel the most at home when you get home? Is it a big library? A doggie? Big windows and an easy chair? Photos of family and friends? Lots of delicious food? Zero in on what is most important, and make your lifestyle work around that. Budget your time, energy and money carefully in order to get the most out of your life, and the spaces you spend it in.

Marjorie Hillis’s book, Live Alone and Like It, was a bible written for the modern 1930’s woman, but still manages to be remarkably current. It’s one of my favourite books, and I always read it whenever I want to amp up the luxury/cozy in my life. She speaks about the importance of having a home that you really feel at home in, and how just because nobody will necessarily see your home, doesn’t mean you don’t need to make it fabulous! The time you spend nestled up in your rooms should give you lots of happiness – nobody will be happy and inspired if they don’t bother to make an effort in their living spaces!

2. Knowing what you love.

For many people, this is very intuitive. When we walk into a store, we can immediately say exactly what we love and what we hate. But I’m not talking so much about material possessions so much as routines and habits. Chances are there are many little things that make you very happy, but maybe you’re not doing them every day. And why not? What should stop you from incorporating as much happiness and coziness into your daily routines? Maybe for you your favourite thing is:

  • a quiet half hour reading with some tea
  • a long walk outdoors
  • a bubble bath
  • painting
  • people-watching in a café
  • spending rainy days in a record store
  • dancing.
  • skipping stones
  • driving aimlessly
  • spending Saturdays at the Farmer’s Market
  • exploring bookshops
  • drinking your orange juice out of a huge glass
  • making music
  • wrestling with your dog
  • napping
  • swimming
  • taking extra-long showers
  • mood lighting
  • listening to music without lyrics
  • etc.

The point is to make your life cozy you need to make time for the things that you love. I know,  you’re busy, burnt out and have no time for such frivolous things, right?. To that I say two things:

  1. You will continue to be perpetually burnt out and unproductive if you never take any time to relax or make yourself happy.
  2. Frivolous things? This is your life! If you keep your nose to the grindstone day in and day out, you’re going to wake up in fifty years and realize you haven’t really lived or been happy.

So take the time. Don’t deny yourself time to do exactly what makes you happy. You probably already spend a few hours a day mindlessly watching television or surfing the internet, so you likely do have the time! And of course t.v and internet make people happy as well, but once in a while it’s refreshing to spend some quality time, creating memories and happiness. And coziness, of course!

3. Feeling luxurious in your own way.

In addition to ‘daily happiness upkeep’, you should also treat yourself every so often. And don’t worry if your idea of a special treat differs from someone else’s, you’re you and they’re them. Don’t ever let other people dictate how you should live your life or spend your money. They’re probably just jealous anyhow, that you have such a cozy life! Some extra-luxe ideas for ultimate coziness:

  • Get a milkshake
  • Spend extra for something you really love: a type of tea, notebook, bed sheets, perfume/cologne, a mug
  • Breakfast in bed
  • Keep your house stocked with cookies, homemade if possible
  • Spray eucalyptus/lavender spray on your pillows
  • Invest in a bed tray – it will change your life
  • Get fresh flowers weekly, if you like them

Conclusion

So there you have it! Three simple ways to squeeze every drop of coziness out of your life. I’m not advocating frivolity, neglect of your daily duties or blowing all your money on expensive things to make your space better for you. It’s all about moderation, simple luxuries and getting the most out of your life. Take the time to think about what parts of your day you love best, and see if you can find a way to amplify that positivity throughout your day. Surround yourself with things you find beautiful and cheerful, and I bet you’ll find yourself more cheerful too :).

What sorts of cozy things do you try to incorporate into your life? What do you spend extra money on? What are your personal luxuries? What makes you happy!?

xoxo, S.



Top 10 Free Mac Apps for New Mac Owners

So you just bought your first Mac! Congratulations! Welcome to a world of faster, more intuitive computing. I know you’ll like it here. As they say: “once you go Mac, you never go back”. (Do they say that? Did I just make that up?) It was my Mom (hater of technology, her mantra is “I LOVE TECHNOLOGY” to keep herself from going insane struggling with it) who turned us all onto Macs: first by buying a laptop that she found easier to use. Then she added a desktop. Then my Dad, catching on slowly, bought himself one too. After a while, my Mom passed on her desktop to my sisters and I, and got a faster one, and then I got my computer for school. What can I say, we’re an Apple family (no iPhones though). Anyway, I have never looked back. I remember the days of struggling endlessly with our desktop computer, which is now a dinosaur, and I can assure you I will never return to those days. I do understand, though, that Macs are more expensive by far. I would argue, also, that they are better for battery, longevity and included software. It’s obviously a difficult tradeoff, but I’m not here to tell you whether to buy a Mac or a PC (these guys can do that for me :P), I’m here to tell you what to do once you have one!

The early days with your new computer are an adventure. From the minute you turn it on you’re greeted by colour and sound and shiny things. What to do?? Here are my top picks for the most useful free Mac applications on the interwebs. I’m sharing them today because so many of my friends don’t know about some of them. And they should know of them, because they’re just so damned useful! Enjoy!

1. Caffeine. Ever have your screen peskily dim every time you try to watch something on Youtube or read an article online? Well, rather than have to touch the trackpad every time it dims, just download Caffeine and have it running on startup. That way, when you click it on (it is a tiny icon in your top menu bar) it will keep your screen lit up until you turn it off. This little app is one I use many times daily, it’s one of the most useful on my computer.

2. Todos. Although you can set up your Applications folder to appear in your Apple dock, I also find this app to be very helpful. By pressing ctrl+option+command+t, all your applications pop up in a handy little window, and you can click whichever you want. Useful for people who don’t like to keep their docks on the screen or don’t want their applications in their docks.

3. Newsfire. Whether you’re an avid fashion-blog reader, or a CNN junkie, Newsfire is a great, easy-to-use RSS feeder application. I prefer it to Google Reader because it can be accessed just from my desktop and not a website, and any feed can be added extremely easily. It’s nothing really fancy, just a simple, straightforward reader.

4. Appcleaner. An easy way to uninstall Mac applications. Although uninstalling is fairly simple to do without the app, Appcleaner does a good job of collecting all the files associated with an app. That way, you never miss any, and your computer doesn’t get clogged with useless files.

5. Mojo. So wonderful if you live in a university residence or apartment building. It’s a program that allows you to share your music & movies with all other Mojo users in the vicinity, when they’re online. It’s fast and easy, and it’s a great way to discover new bands and movies.

6. Tweetie. Great for anyone on twitter. They say the free version includes ads, but personally I get one ad every three weeks or so. This application, again, is simple, but it’s one of my favourites. It’s sleek, easy to use and provides all the features you would need. I also tried out Tweetdeck, but I have loved Tweetie more than any other twitter application.

7. Daisy Disk. An app that lets you scan your computer and zero in on any areas of high memory usage. This allows you to get rid of things you don’t need, and make sure your computer stays happy. It says only a fifteen day trial, but I am still able to use it..it just says ‘unregistered” on it, but still works fine.

8. Keymaster. If you’re anything like me, you have a bazillion passwords for strange accounts all over the internet. And they’re all different. And it’s confusing! So here’s the solution: download Keymaster, put a really hard password on it, and store all your passwords within. Perfect, and more secure than a password notebook.

9. Evernote. Obviously, if you don’t have an Evernote account this app won’t be useful to you. But you should have an Evernote account!! As I mentioned in this post, Evernote is such a wonderful system for syncing all the cool things you find on the internet or in your day-to-day life into one giant ‘notebook’. I use my Evernote mostly for collecting recipes, ideas on the go or inspiration. Definitely check it out!

10. Quinn. Basically a prettier version of Tetris. :)

So, my dear new Mac lovers, go forth with these ten useful apps for your new computers. Live long, and prosper!

Feedback?

What do you think? Any apps I should know about? Please let me know if there’s an app you just can’t live without!!

xoxo, S.


7 Easy Ways to Choose Your Dream School

Photo Thanks To Marco Bellucci

I wasn’t planning on writing this article so soon, but one of my best friends from back home has suddenly been caught in a whirlwhind of acceptances and a deadline! In order to try and aid her with her decision, I thought I’d share some of the tips I would have found helpful when I was making my decision last year. Enjoy!

1. Do Your Research

Flip through the Maclean’s magazine, see what they say about each of your choices. If you don’t think you’ll remember key stats like faculty-student ratio, bring a notebook and write them down. Make sure you look at everything that will affect you directly: residences, distance from home, class size. Write it all down! If you can, visit the schools. If they offer tours, take one! If not, go to the welcome center, get a map and explore all the areas that you will personally be using.

Get as much information as possible about all your options.

2. Don’t Expect to Just ‘Know’

A lot of people that I go to school with now have told me that when they first visited our campus, they knew it was the place for them. And while that’s fine and dandy for those folks, not all of us can simply feel that, and feel it confidently.  Personally, I didn’t feel that any school was the one for me upon visiting it. It wasn’t until I had put careful thought into it that I made my decision. So take the pressure off yourself! Don’t sit there going, “Well, how can I go to that school if I didn’t just feel it was right for me! There must be something wrong!” NO. If you get that feeling, great. If not, you just have more thinking to do.

Don’t worry yourself about not ‘knowing’ a school is ‘the one’.

3. Visualize

After you’ve been to a campus, toured a dorm room and seen the cafeterias and classrooms, sit alone for a while and visualize. Picture yourself using those facilities, walking through the streets. Do you like the city? Can you imagine yourself decorating that dorm room? And be honest with yourself. Again, this technique may not work for everyone, since there are so many unknowns in the picture, like new friends and classes. For now though, visualize as much as you can. Be true to who you are. Are the bathrooms too dirty for you?  If they are, make sure that you love the rest of the school more than you hate the bathrooms!

Try to picture yourself at the school, and observe your reactions.

4. Make a List

So you’ve done your research, visited the schools, and you still don’t know. That’s okay! Sometimes it takes more thought than that. It’s a huge decision and you, of course, want to make the right one. So put some energy into it. Make the most comprehensive pros and cons list you have ever made. Write down everything, even if it seems silly to you. You don’t have to show it to anyone, so don’t leave anything out for fear of judgment. Get it all down! All the stats you’ve looked at, how you felt when you were there, your visualizations, everything! If you’re making your decision over a couple days, start it and carry it around with you to add to it. Just keep listing.

Write down all the pros and cons of your options.

5. Talk It Out

So you’ve made your list. You still can’t decide. The next step is to talk it out with anyone who will listen. Parents, sisters, friends. Attack all of them with your urgent dilemma and make them listen. Explain your current thought process and dilemma to them, get their opinions. Sometimes they can surprise you by knowing more about you than you do. By talking it out, you’ll gain perspectives you didn’t have, and it might just help you to clarify what you really want.

Find someone who will listen, and get their opinion.

6. Step Back

It’s very important in this stressful time, to take a gigantic step back. You’re so caught up in all the little details about the softness of your rez bed or the kindness of new friends. And while these details are extremely important, you also need to make sure you look at the bigger picture. What are your goals in life? Why are you going to university, and how can a specific school fill that role? What is important to you? What have you always wanted and how can university help you achieve that?

I’ll give you an example: my decision. I was torn between Queen’s and McGill. Both are beautiful schools with lots of talented professors, friendly people and nice cities. I was really torn. I’d done all of the above tips, and nothing was helping. Then I thought about what I’d always wanted, all through high school: to get away! My entire high school career was focused on getting out, getting away from a few unfriendly faces. But when it came down to it, I was terrified that I would only know two people going to my new school, if I chose McGill. TWO! Versus approximately 35 at Queen’s. But then I stepped back. I realized that it was the fear that was talking. What I really wanted was to get away and make all new friends, international friends, but it was a terrifying thought. If I simply went to Queen’s, I’d have the comfort of many friendly faces. Fortunately, I remembered to look at the whole picture, swallow my fear and make the right decision. If I had gone to Queen’s, I’m sure I would have been happy, but McGill fits me like a glove. And guess what, at McGill there were tons of friendly faces, they were just new ones! :)

When you’re making your decision, stop and think about your life goals. How does a certain university fit those?

7. Take The Plunge

Give yourself a deadline and stick to it. Getting to the point when you can say, confidently, which school you’re going to is very hard work, but it’s also exhilarating. Making this decision is the most empowering one you’ve probably ever made in your life, and it will feel good to say out loud where you’ve chosen. A couple of tips for biting the bullet:

  1. Never let fear be a reason for doing or not doing something. You’ll regret it more than anything else.
  2. Once you’ve made the decision, don’t worry if you still feel nervous and uneasy. You’ve done everything in your power to choose what’s right for you, and the anxiety you feel is the fear of something brand new and scary. University is unlike anything else, and it’s terrifying! But that’s okay, because everyone is going through the same thing. :)
  3. Always make sure your reasons are your own. It’s easy for parents and friends to accidentally (or on purpose) say what they think is best for you, and it’s easy for you to feel pressured by that. Before you make your final decision, ensure that you’re 100% doing it for you, and not because of any parental pressure, etc.
  4. Say it out loud. “I go to ______ University”. How does it feel? Are you giddy with excitement when you say it? Good sign.

Conclusion

Your university years are both great and impossible. You do more growth than you ever thought was possible (yes, even in just my first year) and everything changes. Choosing where you’ll spend these years is a big deal, but just remember: you’ll be happy at any university. They’re all great! They all have something to offer, and you’ll have fun at any one you attend. The important thing is figuring out which will make you happiest. I hope my tips helped you out, good luck with your decision!

Feedback?

What else did you do to make your decision? What strategies worked best for you? I’d love to hear about them :)

xoxo, S.


More VHS Than DVD

Tis the season to be jolly! And boy am I ever jolly. I just got through my personal exam hell: psychology, calculus, physics (OMG.) and I have chemistry in two days. Less now! Like a day?! How exciting! I still have mucho studying to do, but it’s coming along well and since I’m super restless at this point in the week, drained and just excited to be done with exams, I decided to take a break to blog. Relaxing :)

And what to blog about? Well one of the things I am most excited about to do over Christmas break (besides eating, sleeping, reading, decorating the Christmas tree, skating, seeing family & friends, playing with my dog and kittens, baking and did I mention eating?) is watching Christmas movies. Oh my gosh. I adore Christmas movies probably more than any other type of movie out there. And although my list matches up with practically every other “Best Christmas Movies” list there exists, I want to do it myself anyways!

Here you go, try out some of these if you haven’t before. In NO particular order!

How The Grinch Stole Christmas

Awe, little Jenny Humphrey! ‘Nough said. Except I will say this: I thoroughly enjoyed Jim Carrey in this movie, his Grinch was particularly and deliciously grinchy. Also, young Grinch is absolutely adorable and kind of dark. It’s heartwarming and always good for a few laughs.

“Jury duty, jury duty, blackmail, jury duty, muahaha”

How The Grinch Stole Christmas (The Old One)

Just watch the cartoon people singing their silly Who song holding hands, and watch the Grinch’s heart grow three sizes so he is able to have that beautiful moment when the sun rises and he saves Christmas!! Watch those scenes and tell me your heart isn’t happy after. Plus it takes like, what, forty minutes of your time? :)

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer


Best parts? Herby, the reindeer romance, the island of Lost Toys (and the doll: we cannot determine why she was rejected!! There is nothing wrong with her!), “Don’t you know about Bumbles? Bumbles bounce!”.

White Christmas

So this one is relatively new to the list, I only discovered it last year. But it’s definitely worth checking out. Two sisters who are also performers team up with two friends who have just left the army after WW2 to…well I am not entirely sure what the goal of their mission is, but they end up having to perform for someone important at some ski lodge-type-thing. Obviously the details are unimportant, the gist is that it’s adorable and predictable and has Bing Crosby in it. :) Plus the song ‘Sisters’ is hilarious.

Love Actually

I’ve already seen it twice this holiday season. SO amazing. I adore this movie. A collection of love stories all set during the Christmas season: some beautiful, some heartbreaking, some hilarious. So so so so good. GO see it!

Miracle on 34th Street

Sort of goes without saying, doesn’t it? Isn’t this one in everyone’s holiday arsenal? If not, add it immediately. Susan (the little girl pictured) is a star, she’s so hilarious and witty for her age in this movie. Of course, the Santa Clause is perfect, the ending makes me ecstatically happy every time I watch it and it’s just a wonderful story about the magic of Christmas.

It’s a Wonderful Life

I love James Stewart. And I love heartwarming movies that remind you of the importance of family and the awesomeness of Christmas. This movie fulfills all of those criteria. YES PLEASE.

Okay. And now we have the real special ones, the ones reserved for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  :)

Christmas Eve: A Christmas Carol

Okay so it’s old, and sort of drags at parts, and constantly scares the shit out of me with the last ghost holy moly. But all that aside, it’s still a classic and me and my mother have been watching it on Christmas Eve for as long as I can remember. It’s hilarious, especially at the end (“Bob’s your uncle!!”) and Alistair Sim is perfect. WHY THEY WOULD REMAKE IT WITH JIM CARREY IS BEYOND ME.

Christmas Day: Die Hard

Some may argue, the ultimate Christmas movie. Needless to say, I watch this one with my Dad and love every second of it. C’mon, Severus Snape as a crazy German mofo, Bruce Willis swearing at every possible opportunity, a hilarious computer nerd (essential to any good heist film), lots of random Christmas references, Argyle, and of course Twinkies. Best. Time. Ever.

So that’s all I got for you. I should probably get back to studying. I feel more motivated now, I guess? Definitely going to have more time on my hands in the coming days, maybe I’ll post some Christmas baking recipes and pictures, or talk about the books I’m finally getting to read! SO many amazing opportunities coming up! Better get to work I guess. :)

xoxo, S.