Ch-Ch-Changes

So.  2019 really sucked, didn’t it?  If you were one of the fortunate few to breeze through 2019 with a minimum of fuss, I tip my toque to you.  Please teach me your wisdom, adorable Baby Yoda!

Baby Yoda

Because seemingly everyone I know had a 2019 fraught, if not with outright peril, then with unhappiness, and endless little obstacles to that elusive happiness – present company very much included.  Small things that, much like the snow that is currently sifting down outside, repeatedly coalesced into a giant ball of grief that threatened to roll me up and sweep me straight on off the mountain of life.  Wow, did I ever struggle this year.

To get into a forensic analysis of the bad would take all day, so I won’t.  I find dwelling excessively on the past to be counterproductive, and besides, it’s New Year’s Day, and I’ve got crap to do!  But I also always attempt to learn from my stupid mistakes, and it’s safe to say there really wasn’t an area of our lives this year that wasn’t touched by stupidity.

Our cat, Weegie, died at the end of 2018.  Hating ourselves for what we could not control, we carried our overwhelming heartbreak into 2019 and beyond.  We missed – MISS – that cat terribly.

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Toward the end of the winter we hired a contractor to carry out what we knew were going to be disruptive renovations to our two-bedroom, one-bathroom condo apartment.  The work was supposed to take two weeks.  Instead it took two-plus months, a ludicrously stressful time during which we essentially camped in our apartment.  There was no flooring, no kitchen and no bathroom.  Also occasionally no hope.  I’ve no idea how we struggled through that ordeal.

Diningroom Collage

In the spring we experienced some professional hardships, which, in addition to the kick to the ol’ self esteem, seriously impacted our finances.  We cancelled a planned trip to Disney World, slashed our family operating budget, and cut way back on anything not deemed a necessity.  We went nowhere, bought nothing, did nothing.

Then in the early fall, just as we were beginning to get back on our feet, issues that had been percolating at the condo – board mismanagement, doubled condo fees, ongoing, make-work construction projects, disgusting neighbours banging in the women’s change room sauna – came to a head when our pleasantly odd (but quiet) across-the-hall neighbour moved out and a couple with a very young child moved in.  And they were NOT quiet.  Not ever.

Before we embarked on the renovations, Mr. Finger Candy and I discussed our hopes for what would come after.  Specifically, we were hoping that we’d start to feel a little more positively about our apartment, and once again regard it as a home instead of, as I wrote in a letter to our property management firm, a place we were merely trying to survive.

Spoiler alert!  Our hopes did not come to pass.  The situation at the condo was suddenly unbearable, and when the board began executing some wildly unpopular bylaws over the rights and democratic objections of the owners, it could not be more clear that it was time to move on.

That weekend I attended my first series of open houses with my mom.  That was a sobering look at the sorry state of Ottawa’s current real estate market, a wildly overpriced free-for-all of (mostly) junky mid-century bungalows in need of an electrician, a plumber, and maybe even an exorcist.

But it was during one of those open houses that I actually met the woman who would go on, just a week later, to become our agent.  She listed our condo on October 31st – yup, Halloween, and our wedding anniversary – for what I thought was perhaps a smidge too high.  I was cautiously optimistic that we’d get such an amount, but also girding myself for weeks, if not a month, of active showings and other acts of real estate unpleasantness.

Turns out I needn’t have worried.  We had a request for a showing about four hours after the listing went live.  The following morning the showing took place, and about three hours after that we received an offer for our asking price, which we accepted, the end.  And that’s how our condo sold in under 24 hours!  That one still boggles.

Then came the hard part, the packing up of nearly 15 years of life, and then, of course, deciding where to move it all to.  Oh yeah, and we also had a deadline, the buyer’s possession date of December 2nd, so no pressure there!

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After attending quite a few showings, we were growing a bit dispirited.  There seemed to be only 12 houses for sale in our price range and desired neighbourhoods, and all of them needed major work and/or a spiritual cleansing.  Especially the one with the power lines draped over the pool.

Then this house came up for sale.  It was cute, had a fantastic updated kitchen with a cozy adjacent family room, tons of built-in storage, a private backyard, four bedrooms, a finished basement, and just that vibe about it that we had found home.  It was also in a great neighbourhood close to tons of amenities, and a quick drive to Mr. Finger Candy’s office.

Our Home 1

So of course we ignored it and went back to looking at the same 12 junky bungalows and splits we had been looking at before.  That’s S-M-R-T Smart right there, kids!

You’ll be glad to know that we came to our senses some days later upon realizing that the cute house with the great kitchen in the good neighbourhood that was close to Mr. Finger Candy’s job was precisely the house that we wanted, and needed.  We had just come through a year of unending hell, on the condo front and in just about all other respects as well, and we deserved to reclaim our happiness in a place that we could call home.  Now we just needed to win the damn bid!

Following a flurry of what felt like very high stakes real estatery (our agent, a truly lovely, British accent’d beast, had an actual strategy in place for presenting our offer, which was one of 13!) the homeowners accepted our offer!  We were now the owners of the home!  It was thrilling and wonderful and oh holy crap, that’s a really big house.  The enormity of it all was, well, enormous.

The end of November and pretty well the entirety of December were a non-stop goat rodeo of meetings with lawyers, agents, movers and anyone else who could assist in transplanting us from one place to another.  And packing.  So. Much. Packing.  It all would have been MUCH easier had we been able to book an elevator at the condo for our actual move-out date, as opposed to three days earlier, necessitating a complicated and expensive double-move that had us shuffling all of our possessions into my parents’ garage for a week, but when was anything at the condo ever easy?  It’s precisely why we moved.  I almost would have been disappointed had the condo not fucked us over, just one last time. πŸ™‚

The week we spent in limbo at my parents’ house – Mr. Finger Candy called it the beginning of our “urban nomadic lifestyle” – was rather fun, though.  Camped out on our mattress on my parents’ livingroom floor, it gave us a lot of weird, but welcome, family time.  We helped my parents put up their Charlie Brown Christmas tree, we watched a lot of episodes of Austin City Limits with my dad and Hallmark Christmas specials with both, and we helped them cut the ribbon on their new lighted Christmas village featuring the Griswold family homestead and Cousin Eddie’s RV.  Like their daughter, my parents clearly have non-traditional taste in holiday decorations.

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We took possession of our new home December 4th and immediately set about to tending to the priorities – white Christmas tree, and a bit of exterior holiday illumination, front and back.

Decorating Collage

To say we’re pleased with our new home would be a wild understatement.  We are positively delighted with the place, and it took next to no time for it to feel like ours.  Behold the cozy and comforting power of holiday decorations!

More Decorations Collage

Most importantly, though, moving here had what I was hoping would be the desired effect – a reset on our lives, and a reset on a truly terrible year.  We’re different people today than we were even a month ago – better people, people of action, even – and I credit the awesome – and kind of awesomely fun – responsibility of homeownership for that.  For pity’s sake, Mr. Finger Candy’s already turned into one of those freaks about his snowy driveway, I’m swapping cookies with the neighbours and we’re both buying so many peanuts for the backyard squirrels, they’re all going to keel over from excessive oil intake.  We sort our garbage.  We do our laundry during non-peak hours.  We shovel the driveway after the plow comes by!  Well, I don’t shovel the driveway – that’s my husband’s weird new quirk. πŸ˜‰

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Heading into the new year, I feel so very fortunate to be here, in this beautiful home at this time.  A wise friend commented some months back that perhaps this whole move situation would jump start my new destiny, and she was right.  To drag ourselves out of our mutually reinforced funks and confront who we really wanted to be, instead of who we were just pretending to be, we needed to take the leap out of our comfort zones, while simultaneously finding a comforting home base to call our own.  Tall order, but I think we’ve managed pretty well.

To 2020.  May we all continue to chase, and capture, that elusive mistress Happiness.  We deserve it.

Shh, Listen!…Do You Smell That?

VCS 1

Hello, friends!  First, a quick “Where the Eff You Been?” update.  So, we sold our condo apartment, we purchased a single family home, and now we’re neck-deep in a Really Big Move!  You know, little life things that can totally be summarized in a single sentence. πŸ˜‰  I promise I’ll have so much more to say when we take possession of our new home next month – might even get back to that nail art thing if I can stop breaking my nails – but for right now, I’m laser focused on putting our condo lives to bed.  Onward, upward and outward, as it were.

But yeah, my life involves a lot of packing these days.  SO. MUCH. PACKING.  Why and how do we have so much media?  I’ve packed up about two dozen boxes, all of them filled to the shoulder-separating brim with books, cookbooks, RPG manuals and game guides, to say nothing of the DVDs, the CDs, the video games and the special editions (that embossed velveteen box containing artwork by My Chemical Romance and The Black Parade album ain’t gonna pack itself.)

So it totally makes sense that, having already packed up my wax stores, I’d add to my moving burden by placing my first ever order with Vintage Chic Scents, a pop culture-minded vendor I’ve wanted to shop with forever, but for that pesky little thing that they really only just recently started offering shipping to Canada – a welcome policy change I took happy advantage of with this order of delicious-smelling goodies I purchased just a bit before Halloween (hence all the Halloweenie-type scents, although you’d be forgiven for thinking that that’s just business as usual around here; I can get a bit weird about October 31st.) πŸ˜‰  Let’s take a look at what I nabbed, shall we?

First up, the money shot!  What adorable little shapes!  The ice scream scoops are of course my favourites, but those chunky unicorns might be running a close second.

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The themed collection on offer for Halloween was R.L. Stein’s Goosebumps.  I was never a fan of the series (never been a Stein stan – Pike for Life, yo – and it also came along just as I was transitioning from YA novels to more adult books) but I like the scents from which they’re inspired very much.  Also, three cheers for the horror comic font on the labels – it’s the perfect cute and creepy touch.

VCS 3

Starting at the top, we have a little baggie of The Horror at Camp Jellyjam, a light, mild combination of Strawberry Jam, Campfire Marshmallow and Birthday Cake.  I was expecting a big bang from this blend, because all three of those scent notes tend to be STRONG, but the only horror here is how wussy this scent is.  Shame, as I was expecting it to be major – hence the larger (if not large) bag.

Heading clockwise, we next have a plump little ghostie in Night of the Living Dummy, a Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew scent.  I purchased this for Mr. Finger Candy on a whim, as he loves coffee in all its many and varied iterations, and it’s GOOD.  Night of the Living Dummy smells exactly like a steaming Pumpkin Spice Latte – bracing espresso, touch of cream, nose-tingling pumpkin pie spices.  Delightful!  I wish I had more of this and less of The Horror at Camp Jellyjam.

Continuing on, we have a sparkly leaf in Calling All Creeps, another coffee blend described as “Sweet Vanilla Maple Custard with a cup of Hot Coffee.”  Solid.  Not quite the slam dunk of Night of the Living Dummy, but super as a more traditional, drip coffee-type of scent.

Down at the bottom we have an ice cream scoop in my preferred pick of the Goosebumps collection, Say Cheese and Die!, a “Hamburger cookies” scent – Peppermint Patty, Vanilla Wafer, Shredded Coconut and Red Frosting.  This is a crowd-pleasing peppermint that smells like the very best bits of After Eights and the candy coating on mint Tic Tacs.  I wish I had a very large sack of the stuff. πŸ™‚

Finally, we’ve got a strong contender for Best of the Entire Order, another shimmer-dusted leaf in A Night at Tower Terror, a scrumptious fall-to-winter blend of Apple Clove Butter and Campfire Marshmallow that I really hope my friend Julie picked up, because it is SO her jam.  Mmm, this is delicious – juicy and lightly spiced, like pot of cider simmering away on the stove.  I think this is the first scent I’m going to melt in our new home.

VCS 5

Next up, we have…the rest!  This is a mix of old scents, new scents, Halloween scents and just-whatever-the-heck scents.  A nice mixed bag.

VCS 4

Starting at the far left, we have the sample that was included in my order, a glittery scent shot in Regan’s Exorcism, a sweet Cranberry Apple Cider blend.  Not bad, beats pea soup. πŸ˜‰

To the right of Regan we have an ice cream scoop in Sweet Caramel Jackie O, a classic VCS blend described as “Rich vanilla bean cake topped with sweet caramel and whipped marshmallows.”  Ooh, this is decadent!  Rich, buttery and caramel-y, but somehow not cloying.  Scrumptious!

Next up we have another scoop in Purple Haze, a blast of berry bakery containing Jelly Glazed Donuts, Gooey Marshmallows and Zucchini Bread.  Lots of folks shy away from zucchini bread scents because they can err unpleasantly bready (or corn chippy, to many noses) but this one is sweet quick bread goodness, zero snack foods.  Yuh-um!

To the right of one music-inspired scent we have another, this time Strawberry Fields Forever, a sweet berry confection of Strawberries and Cream Zucchini Bread.  Smells like a strawberry turnover drizzled with vanilla glaze, and I mean that in the best way possible.  As in the way that wants a strawberry turnover RIGHT NOW!

Down from the strawberry pink unicorn, we have another member of the VCS scoops troop, this time Drew’s Favourite Scary Movie, an awesome Scream-and-Firestarter-inspired scent featuring Candy Corn, Cotton Candy, Sugar Cookies, Buttercream Frosting and Firestarter Embers.  Smells like a delicious bag of mixed Halloween candies left beside the campfire.  Can’t wait to melt it while working on some nails to go along with Stephen King’s Firestarter, which I read back in the summer.

Beside Drew we have another chunky ghostie, this time in Wendy Torrance, a Shining-inspired Apple Butter Zucchini Bread scent.  I like this apple butter scent ever so slightly less than A Night at Tower Terror, which smells like hot apple juice spiked with delight. πŸ˜‰  Wendy Torrance is a more traditional baked apple goods scent – nice, but nothing too groundbreaking.

Finally, we have the colourful outlier of this order, a cake-hued unicorn in Pugsley, which is Fruit Loops (not Froot Loops?) Birthday Cake topped with Gooey Marshmallows.  This was another pick for Mr. Finger Candy, who flips his lid over crunchy cereal scents.  I’m fine with them, although Pugsley is a better-than-usual specimen – no lemon cleaner here, just yummy, Saturday morning breakfast goodness.

VCS 6

So there we have it, what’s going to be scenting my new home in the (hopefully better, less FRAUGHT) new year.  Until then, I promise to keep in touch, friends, and not flake off on you too hard.  Thanks for sticking around; you’s good people. πŸ™‚