b-etiquette: the last single girl

Dear B, 

One of my close friends got recently engaged and now she can’t stop asking when I’m planning on settling down. I told her I’m not interested in getting married or be in a committed relationship any time soon. How do I get her off my back? I wanna be her friend but I’m sick of her looking down on me because I’m single.

In Solitary Confinement

Dear Solitary Confinement,

I know how you feel. I’m also in solitary confinement, but I dragged myself out of it to answer your email. Ok, not really. But you know what I mean.

The problem with engaged people is that they are gloriously, joyously, incandescently happy and they are oblivious to the fact that while their engagement is like the numero uno thing that is going on in their lives right now, you have more important things think about, like categorizing your sock drawer. (By color? Pattern? Fabric? The choices are endless.)

The second problem with engaged people is that experiencing all this happiness makes them wish the other people in their lives were experiencing the same kind of happiness. Of course, while there are many things to get deliriously excited about in life, at this very moment they’re excited because they’re getting married. And they see you not getting married, and not going glassy-eyed at the thought of hitting up every bridal boutique in the city. (This, of course, is assuming you’re a girl. If you’re a guy then you totally have my sympathy if you’re being dragged to any bridal appointment, at all. Godspeed.) This whole you-not-being-as-happy-as-them thing makes them sad. They would like you to be happy as well.

When you stop and think about it, it’s actually kind of a nice sentiment. Of course we want our friends to experience joy. And maybe you are really joyful, generally speaking, as a person. But when someone is engaged (this is an assumption; I have never been engaged) their happiness meter is reading at a gazillion, so scoring anything below on the magical happy meter is going to read like severe depression. This is, obviously, because you are not getting married.

So this is my advice: do nothing. (Restrain that slapping hand for a second.) Your friend is going to keep on acting the same way no matter what you do because her questions about the status of you relationship status on Facebook is more about her life, and her relationship, and how she feels about that. It’s got nothing to do with your relationship(s) or lack thereof. She wants you to be experiencing the same kind of happiness as her so you can be happy together.

And there it is: the together part. This is a giant life change that she’s going through on her own. Well, probably not on her own, but without you. Not only is she missing out on fully sharing that happiness with you, she’s missing out on sharing those deeper, slightly darker feelings with you too like: I can’t believe this is happening. I’m so anxious. I hope we don’t have to invite Aunt Myrtle. If you guys are really good friends then you’ll be able to make it through this time in your lives together, even if you’re not having these experiences at the same time. Will she bring up you being single again? Probably. Will it piss you off? Definitely. But if you can’t find a way to laugh about, or brush it off with a silly remark, then maybe that’s more about how you feel about single, and not how your friend feels about you being single. Chances are she’s probably okay with it. (She was single once too right?)Eventually, this phase in your life will pass.

And if it doesn’t? Then get drunk at her wedding and cause a ruckus when you take all that pent-up resentment out on her cake. After all, that’s what open bars are for, right?

Love, B

Been on the other side of this argument? Click here to read B’s reply to a bride in a similar situation.

Got a burning question for B? Have you ever recorded yourself stepping onto fresh snow, and if so, can you send her the midi file of it? It’s just the best sound ever. She’ll be waiting, still single, at thetwentiesproject@gmail.com.

 

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Ready, Set, Design!

A move into a new space always represents fresh design challenges to tackle. For a lot of people I know it’s a drag but for me it’s kind of invigorating. I love seeing how much I can challenge myself to work within the limits of a space to make sure that all my needs for living are met.

This new apartment o’ mine is no exception. While I love the floors, and it’s beautiful natural light, there are certain things that I need to workaround until I can officially say the apartment works for me.

First of all, although the paint color is thankfully pretty tasteful and neutral, I want something a little bit cooler in the space. All of the windows in this apartment face west which means I get a lot of golden afternoon sun and now the apartment is filled with furniture and decorations and STUFF, the warm tan tones on the walls make it feel smaller and more oppressive. Something in a lighter, cooler tone will give it a fresh and relaxed feeling.

Once upon a time someone also painted the trim and the kitchen cupboards with this glossy paint in kind of a murky white. Gloss paint is great for wiping down and has great durability, but unfortunately it is also very unforgiving. In an apartment that’s seen many tenants, trim tends to get a little beaten up and one bad paint job can mean ugly trim for years to come. I want to sand everything down to get rid of all those blobs of a paint and give the cupboards and the trim a loving coat of bright, bright white in an eggshell finish. It seems like a small project now but I think once I’m done it will make all the difference.

Another project that will make the whole face seem fresh and organized is making sure that I’m making use of every storage opportunity I have. In a small apartment where the storage space is virtually zero (remember my miniscule medicine cabinet?), my challenge is to think about creative ways of storing everything I need in such a way that everything is neat, tidy and pretty to look at. I’ve got some bookshelves that I need to crazy organize and I can’t wait to tackle them and show you guys.

To add to the complicated storage situation, I also have a weird electrical outlet situation. (Note to self: check out the location of outlets when checking out apartments). For example, there are no electrical outlets in the bathroom. At all. I currently blow-dry my hair in the kitchen. Yes, it’s as annoying as it sounds.

I don’t believe in keeping too many appliances and electronics plugged it at one time (some unknowingly generate a lot of “phantom” power) and in an apartment as small as mine it would mean constantly keeping things plugged in that I don’t use all the time, like my toaster. I would however like to be able to style my hair in front of a mirror. Using my printer would be nice, too.

Besides all the above, I still have to slipcover my darn armchairs, fake an entryway, tackle the one and only closet in the apartment, devise clever window treatments and figure out a way to store not only all of my stuff, but my dogs’ stuff as well. (I’ve wanted to D.I.Y. a dog bed for, like, ever.)

What design challenges are you facing in your space right now? Comment below!

Ryan’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Ryan is the kind of guy that knows what he wants. And what we wants is cookies- all the time. So when I asked him what kind of cookies he wanted, he was very specific: chocolate chip cookies, with two different kinds of chocolate and sliced almonds on top. No other kind of almond would do. Surprisingly enough, they make all the difference although you may want to substitute with another nut of your choosing. Hey, they’re pretty good nut-free too. There’s no such thing as a bad cookie.

If you want to make Ryan’s Chocolate Chip Cookies (or more specifically Double Chocolate Chip Almond Cookie) just follow the recipe below and make sure you put some in the mail for him. I’m sure he’ll be super grateful.

(makes 30-34 cookies; it just all depends on how big you make ’em!)

1 1/8 c. flour

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 c. butter

1/4 c. brown sugar, plus some for garnish

1/2 c. white sugar

1 egg, beaten

1tsp. vanilla

1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 c. white chocolate chips

1/4 c. sliced almonds

In a medium-sized bowl, cream together butter and sugars. Add vanilla and egg. Beat until creamy. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking soda and salt. Add into wet ingredients. Fold in chocolate chips. Roll into teaspoon-sized dollops on a greased baking sheet.

Here comes the tricky, sorta time-consuming part. Bake your cookies at 350F for approximately 6 minutes. Then you want to fish those babies out of the oven (using oven mitts please, let’s not get too excited) and quickly press a few sliced almonds in the top of each one. Finish by sprinkling them with brown sugar and pop them back in the oven for another 6 minutes, or until toasty looking. Transfer to rack to cool.

B’s Tip: This dough makes the kind of cookie that really spreads out, so make sure when you’re laying out your balls of dough on the tray that you give them a lot of room to expand as they cook.

Taking the cookies out in the middle of baking gives them an outer layer with a little bit of crunch (the almonds help with that too!) but inside is all gooey yum-ness. The nutty flavor from the almonds is a subtle, yet welcome addition to a traditional cookie. And of course, who doesn’t love a little extra sprinkle of sugar?

Don’t thank me for introducing you to these cookies. Thank Ryan! These were a product of his cookie-cluttered cranium. Already I’m thinking of other people in my life who may like their own personalized cookie. Who knows what I’ll come up with next?

Got your own personalized twist on a classic baking dish? Email us your recipes at thetwentiesproject@gmail.com. You could be featured on a guest blog!

L.’s Monthly Bouquet- November 2013

Monthly Bouquet- NovemberWhy hello Twenties Project universe! It is I, L., and I come bearing flowers. Think of it as an apology for falling off the face of the planet in terms of posting, or as me buying flowers for myself because that is just simply how I roll.

November’s bouquet seems quite simple and elegant compared to my last monthly bouquet, but what they do have in common (besides being captured with poor quality from a Blackberry) is use of foliage or greenery as part of the overall look. Previously, when I’ve received flowers or chosen flowers for someone else, I focused entirely on the type of blossom or the colour. Fair enough, you say. But ever since I started getting inspired to put together bouquets of my own and to purchase them monthly (just because I like them), I’ve been very interested in seeing what effect leaves (either separate or left attached to the actual blossoms), branches or other non-blossom cuttings have on the entire look of the display. And I’m hooked.

This time, instead of adding in extra greenery, I tried to arrange the hydrangeas in a way so that the leaves were almost forming a delicate tray for the blossoms to rest upon. I wanted to leave the leaves (ha ha!) of the wild rose-ish type flowers that I popped in there on as well, but the hydrangeas (yes, there are three of them little divas in there) were just too poofy and obnoxious to let that happen.

I love the combination of white and green as well- it’s so simple, yet so fresh and pretty at the same time. White and green also reminds me of one of my favourite flowers/scents, which is lily of the valley. Fun fact: Lily of the valley grew in mine and B.’s backyard when we were kids. Ahh the nostalgia. I also ate peanut butter and lettuce sandwiches. No nostalgia on that front, whatsoever.

Do you buy yourself flowers every month? Have you got inspiration photos for bouquets to share with me? Do you still eat peanut butter and lettuce sandwiches? Put the grossness down and shoot me an email at ltwentiesproject@gmail.com!

baking with b: banana cupcakes with cinnamon frosting

I normally don’t get weekends off so when I do happen to get two days of vacation in a row (it doesn’t happen often!) I try to cram as much in my schedule as humanly possible. Isn’t it funny that we use our vacation time to get things done?

So when I woke up yesterday morning and realized something had to be done with the rapidly ripening bananas in my fruit basket, I was feeling kind of frustrated and bored with everything. The solution? Whip up something a little extra-special to brighten my mood.

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Banana Cupcakes with Cinnamon Frosting (yields 12)

(based loosely on the recipe found here)

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

pinch of salt

3/4 c. butter, melted

3 ripe bananas, mashed (for a total of about 1 1/2 c.)

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 375F. In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Make a well in the bowl and slowly add in wet ingredients one at a time, stirring just until blended. Line a 12-muffin pan with liners. Slowly use a spoon to pour even amounts of butter in each muffin cup. Bake in the middle rack for twenty minutes.

B’s Tip: Wait until the cupcakes are completely cool before frosting, or you can end up making a runny, sticky mess with the icing.

Cinnamon Frosting

(again, loosely based on the recipe found here)

1/2 c. butter, softened

1 1/4 c. icing sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp cream

Cream together butter and sugar. Add in the cinnamon; stir until completely blended. Add just enough drops of cream until it can be stirred into a smooth consistency.

The cinnamon in this frosting gives it enough of a spicy kick in the pants to cut the sweetness so you can enjoy the subtle yum of the banana cake part underneath. So far I’ve made these babies twice, and there have been no survivors.

Tried there (or a version of these) and loved them? Any favourite new recipes to add to the roster? Email us at thetwentiesproject@gmail.com or comment below. I’m always looking for more ideas for baked goods.

L.’s Monthly Bouquet – July 2013

July 2013So because I am a lover of pretty things, and flowers are pretty, I therefore love flowers. And because I love flowers, I’ve decided that I’m going to buy myself some beautiful fresh flowers to put somewhere in my apartment at least once a month. My flower-eating kitten be damned! Well, not literally, but I can’t stand that stopping me from getting them. I’ve decided to share these monthly bouquets with The Twenties Project universe in a new segment called L.’s Monthly Bouquet. Original, huh? I like keeping things simple.

This month because I decided to purchase flowers for myself so impulsively, I chose to stick with a purple theme (purple being my favourite colour). I also love the idea of a bouquet of wildflowers- I can’t help but thinking of walking through a field of wildflowers on a summer day and picking up a huge bunch during a long walk. I know, barf, I’m such a hopeless romantic.

I also thought too that the green and the yellow of the stems and the tiny buds offered a really beautiful and artistically sound colour combination (purple and yellow are complimentary colours, they’re opposites on the colour wheel).

I really liked putting them in this quaint and farmhouse-looking blue tin vase. Its rustic quality definitely lent itself to my sad wildflower-picking fantasies.

Unfortunately I didn’t think to ask the florist what all of the flowers were called and I don’t know off of the top of my head how to identify them, so for next month if you’d like to see a more academic break down of the bouquet (as well as more than one picture and sans a messy dining room table of course!) then please leave me a comment and let me know!

Knowing When to Book It

Bradley Agather's drool-worthy coffee table, courtesy of www.luellajune.com

Bradley Agather’s drool-worthy coffee table, courtesy of www.luellajune.com

Let’s face it people, as fun and easy as it is to say that you’re great at decorating (or to think that you’re great at decorating), a lot of the time it’s not exactly a cakewalk. No matter what the situation, it’s guaranteed that while decorating your place or your room or your cupboard under the stairs that you will find challenges. And of course, being in your twenties, which means that your personal style and consequential tastes might not be fully developed (or developed at all) will make said challenges seem like challenges in Japanese. So unless you’re Japanese (konichiwa!), let’s tackle one of those very common issues right this second. Coffee table books.

For all the lovely décor newbies out there, coffee table books can be described best as adult picture books. Many will have interesting written sections or articles accompanying the visuals, but their real purpose and focus is pictures. They can range in subject from science to spaghetti and from flowers to flags- in all honesty there’s a coffee table book out there for every Tom, Dick and Harry. Whoever they are.

It’s without question that coffee table books can bring an element of culture, interest and classiness to anyone’s… coffee table. But how do you know whether they’re right for you and your abode? Try answering the following questions:

What do you use your coffee table for? When I had a coffee table, mine was for utilitarian purposes. Meaning I propped my feet up on it while watching tv. Not a great environment for a beautiful book. So if you’re a lazy bones like me or you know that your coffee table takes a lot of wear and tear on a regular basis, I’d skip them.

Do you do a lot of entertaining? Whether you’re a budding Martha Stewart (like B.) or a regular ol’ party animal, coffee table books are a good investment. They provide light entertainment that doesn’t interfere with conversations, like turning on the tv or blasting music does. In fact, books on topics that are interesting to you can even be conversation starters! This way too, your guests have something to do instead of sitting there awkwardly while you’re cooking or preparing.

How long do you plan on living where you are now? If you feel like your building management is driving you rapidly towards murderous urges you could very well act upon (moi), you’re in school in a city that isn’t where you normally live, or if you feel like you and your significant other are going to be sharing digs soon, hold off on buying books. Despite the fact that coffee table books come in all shapes and sizes, packing books into boxes and having to move them or put them in storage is a biznatch. Save yourself the trouble and put pretty (heavy) things on hold.

What is your décor budget? Based on experience, coffee table books can get pretty pricey. And as beautiful as they look, they’re not necessarily justifiable- especially if you’re choosing between Helmut Newton and the hydro bill. If you can afford it or if you don’t mind saving up, plan to purchase one as a special treat for yourself, or ask a loved one for a book you like as a birthday, graduation or holiday present. And in the meantime, use books or even photo albums that you already own to keep an interesting display, or pick up some smaller inexpensive items like candles, magazines, flowers, vases, decorative boxes, coasters, etc. to spice things up. So your poor little table doesn’t look lonely.

Stay tuned for more tips and good luck with your coffee table and book endeavours!

Are you a coffee table book lover? Do you want to read more articles about tackling home décor issues like these? Do you know who Tom, Dick and Harry are? Let me know- I’m awaiting your feedback at ltwentiesproject@gmail.com!

Salads in Five: L’s PDQ Salad

IMG-20130513-00134 So I apologize for this picture looking like a mug shot. Of a salad. A Blackberry camera and bad florescent lighting will do that to you. Anyways, July (and summer!) are officially here, which means hot weather and lazy days alongside any excuse to be outside. Now if we put two and two together, spending so much time outside means you’ll need to eat outside, and what better light summer meal or side dish is a fresh, crunchy salad? Maybe a Pringle, but that’s bad for you. Salads are not.

Now usually when I make salads, they are to accompany meals so I can really focus my cooking energy and skill into the entree (and dessert, of course). That being said, I am waaaaaaay too Martha Stewart to throw a bag of salad in a bowl and serve it- it feels like cheating! So in true Twenties Project form, I’ve put together a simple recipe that’s cheap, delicious and fool-proof. The PDQ Salad. If anyone’s confused: Pretty Darn Quick.

L’s PDQ Salad

serves 4

4 c. spring mix salad (this is a great mix of baby greens you can get at your supermarket that’s bite-sized and deliciously flavourful!)

3 stalks of celery, diced

1 large carrot, shredded

1 c. cucumber, diced or sliced

1/3 c. feta

Thoroughly rinse the spring mix in cold water, and gently pat dry with paper towel or a clean and dry dish cloth. Place in bowl, no shredding required. Rinse (and scrub if necessary) the stalks of celery. Dice into bite-sized pieces and add to bowl. Rinse (and scrub if necessary) the carrot and gently pat dry with paper towel or a clean and dry dish cloth. Using a handheld or classic box-shaped grater, grate the carrot completely using a medium size grate directly into the bowl. Rinse cucumber, pat dry and dice 1 c. worth (approx. 1/2 of the cucumber) into bite-sized pieces (or slice into thin slices for a fancier looking salad) and add to bowl. Add feta and toss all ingredients until they are well mixed.

This salad is so simple and colourful, and because of the flavourful greens and feta and the satisfying crunch, it’s actually quite nice without any dressing at all! However, for all those dressing lovers out there, a nice and light Italian or balsamic vinagrette goes really well, or even a simple mix of extra virgin olive oil and lemon pepper would give it a little extra kick. Planning to use this for entertaining? Put out an extra bowl of feta (or parmesan!) and a few bottles of some different dressings so your guests can personalize their greens as best suits them. You could even grill up some fish or chicken to throw in for an entree salad, or use the mix to top some beef burgers! Clearly, the possibilities are endless, and they’re all PDQ.

Try this recipe out and leave me a comment telling me how you liked my PDQ salad, or better yet- send me a picture of my PDQ salad starring at your next summer party at ltwentiesproject@gmail.com!

B in the City

IMG_2494See those two people reflected in an oh-so-creepy way in the window? That’s me and my dad, on the night before I moved into my new apartment. That was about ten weeks ago now, so I figured it was time to take you on a little tour of my new apartment. I did one last time I moved too, so I thought it would only be fair.

(Excuse the bad iPhone photos, it was late at night and the lighting in new apartment is not the greatest.)

The first thing you see when you come in the front door is the living room, featuring that great big window that looks out not onto two creepy people staring back at you, but my very own private patio. (I’ll share some pics soon.)

All the radiators are located underneath the windows in my apartment, so it will be an interesting challenge to try and figure out how to do the window treatments.

I also have chair rail three quarters of the way up the wall in the living room and in the bedroom. It’s kind of hard to tell because of the lighting in these pictures, but the wall above the chair rail and the ceiling are covered in white popcorn stuff. I spoke to a contractor friend of mine who says that the stuff is so hard to get off of the wall and it creates such a big mess, he normally just slaps drywall right over it! So I’ll just have to live with the popcorn stuff until I buy a house or something.

IMG_2490That’s the front door and the opposite side of the living room. Ignore the popcorn stuff. Instead, look at my gorgeous floors. They’re the original hardwood and with the exception of a few dings and stains in some spots, they’re looking pretty good.

IMG_2489The living room opens up into an archway which leads you into the “kitchen”. I use the term loosely because there is an actual kitchen, but also a little nook that other people refer to in the building as “the refrigerator nook”. So this is what mine looks like. Might I add that this fridge was probably the cleanest I’ve ever seen in a rental place. Thanks tenant-before-me for giving everything a good scrub before you moved out!

IMG_2488Oh, hi kitchen! I see you peeking out from this window in the living room. It’s nice to be able to have a layout that’s semi open concept to make this apartment feel a little bit bigger. That red bag is full of pots and pans that the former tenant left behind for me because she knew I was moving in with virtually nothing.

IMG_2478She also left behind this mosaic back splash which she did herself! From what I understand she was pretty artsy and when I first saw the apartment, it was so beautifully decorated that it made me fall in love with the place straight away. The back splash might not be everyone’s thing but I love the colors so it stays.

IMG_2468This is the bedroom. It’s off of the kitchen nook and leads to an ensuite bathroom. Some people would not be okay with that, but seeing as it’s just me and my puppies here it suits me just fine. Plus, it gives me more incentive to make my bed every day just in case people come over to use my bathroom!

IMG_2452Here’s the ensuite bathroom which I have to mention, again, was totally spic and span. (Thanks lady!) It’s got an interesting cork-like tile on the floor instead of the hardwood that runs throughout the rest of the space. (The kitchen’s got the same kind of cork-like thing going on too.) This bathroom is a pretty good size but the medicine cabinet and the cupboard under the sink are both pretty small so it’s going to be a challenge to make sure I have enough storage space for all my lady stuff. The bathtub needs to be re-caulked in some places as well so I’ll have to brush up on my caulking skills. Sounds like there’s a post a-brewing.

This is the first time that I’ve lived on my own before, without any roommates or housemates so it’s definitely been an adjustment rattling around in my own space all the time. But for the first time in my life, I can finally make decorating decisions about my whole apartment that are truly mine. I’m planning to stay here a few years until I can save my pennies enough to buy a home to call my own, but until then I can’t wait to put my mark on this apartment to make a space beautiful, and cozy, and just the way I want it.

We want to see you apartment too! Send your pics at thetwentiesproject@gmail.com and we could feature your space in an upcoming post!