The 27 year old undergrad.

It has been a busy, stressful summer.  I started classes the day after moving into our new Toronto apartment and we still aren’t completely unpacked and set up.  We have been frequently thrift shops looking for furniture, but haven’t had any luck.  Things are slowly coming together back up in the great white north!

My summer semester was definitely hard, it is such a shock going from the working world back into school full time.  But I made it, and with decent grades.  The biggest shock of all, however, was the fact that I am at a completely different life stage them most of my classmates.  Being a 27 year old in undergrad classes, I am 8 years older then some of my peers.  Although that really isn’t much when you consider one’s lifespan, it is quite a difference in what “phase” of life is happening.

I am 27, will be celebrating my 6th wedding anniversary with the Artist at the end of this month, I have lived on my own and with the Artist for many years and in turn have many bills to pay, and my favourite pass times include reading, watching films, listening to CBC radio, cooking (well, I am the assistant- the Artist is the actual cook!), relaxing while listening to our record collection, getting crafty, and powerlifting.  Through conversation with other students around campus, it seems, as it should when you are 19, that going to bars and hanging out with friends are what the kids are doing these days.  I wish I was saying that I was declining invitations to go out to the bar because I just wanted to go home and relax, but it must be obvious that I am an old lady.  Either that, or I come across as an unapproachable person.  Its probably both.  Chandler from Friends articulates it perfectly…

Chandler Bing

I also feel like I am one of the last people to be fit the “starving student” archetype.  I feel like I am surrounded by people who can afford all kinds of travelling and vacations, Mac laptops to bring to class for note taking, take-out food whenever they want, and no problems paying tuition or rent.  Meanwhile, I am doing my laundry in my bathtub, using the campus food bank, sharing a laptop with the Artist (we need a computer equally for our own livelihoods) as well as a cell phone, and taking notes in class with a notebook that my parents bought for me and a pen I took from their  house.  I filled that notebook completely, so lets hope they buy me a new one for the upcoming term, LOL.  I also have no idea how I will be paying my tuition that is due at then end of this month, not to mention bills, and I continuously sew together the same few clothing items that keep gaining new holes or tears.

It is all very weird, being in undergrad classes at 27.  When I was 19, I thought for sure that at 27 I would have the best job that ever existed and been done school with a prestigious degree(s) and have my dream home and life all figured out.  Well, I have come to the conclusion that you never really figure life out.  It is an ongoing journey with changing goals and aspirations along the way- so you might as well enjoy things, one day at a time.

Today I enjoyed bacon, egg and veggie scramble, and hash browns for lunch.  I enjoyed grocery shopping and still having about $10 left over for any other food needs that might arise this week.  I am going to workout later with the Artist, and despite my current sciatic pain, I will enjoy that too.  I will enjoy watching the Olympics tonight snuggled up with my love, and I will enjoy how beautifully gloomy and rainy it is this afternoon.

To see more photos of me enjoying the simple things in life, check me out on instagram @capitaineflash

As much as I would LOVE to travel and take a vacation, not have to worry about how I will pay tuition, or go shopping for new clothes and shoes whenever I feel like, I am sharing my life with someone who makes me smile and laugh every day, who shows me unconditional love, supports me, and inspires me….and that is more important than anything.

Suddenly, the mangled and torn insoles of my shoes seem so insignificant❤

Gluten-free Spiced Apple Loaf

Normally gluten-free baking sucks.  But I recently made this and it was amazing!  Even the Artist loved it.  It is moist and has a great texture!

Recipe for gluten-free spiced apple and oats loaf.

Makes 4 mini loaves.

  • 3 small grated apples (I used gala and left the skins on, use less if they are larger apples)
  • 2 cups of oats (I used Old Fashioned and wanted to pulse them a tad to make them smaller and accidentally made the first cup into flour, but left the second cup more chunky)
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil (scant)
  • 2/3 cups whole milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup of white sugar (scant)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • to taste: extra cinnamon, nutmeg, ground clove, ground ginger

I know there is all kinds of reasons to first mis wet ingredients, then add the dry, etc. but I just added everything and mixed it, adding the oats last. I greased by mini loaf pan with butter and baked at 350 F until a toothpick came out clean.

Next time I am going to add walnuts🙂

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Emily and Her Artist Move Back to Canada!

Yes, we have moved back to Canada!  It has been much more difficult then anticipated, and the universe tends to not make things easy for us, but we have prevailed!  Here are a few stories of our latest adventure…

To start things off, our old faithful Cavalier called it quits before the road trip from St. Louis was even complete.  Yes, the car died completely.  There were cosmetic things wrong, like the trunk jiggled, the turn signal was temperamental, etc. but this wasn’t expected.  Although, it kind of was, because the car was a 2001 and had a TON of mileage on it.  But we were hoping it would hold on for 1 more year as I am commuting to school to upgrade my degree.  Nope…not a chance.  To be positive and avoid a total mental breakdown 2 weeks before I needed to commute to class, I told myself the positives: at least my parents were towing our belongings along with us and we could hop in the truck with them…at least the truck had extra seats for us…at least the car died and the clutch seized as we were exiting the highway and we could coast down the the exit ramp and push it into a gas station…at least it was not a major city type of area and we didn’t cause a traffic commotion…at least we have supportive family that we could count on…and most importantly, at least this didn’t happen in the middle of the highway and cause an accident.  This helped take the edge off, but I was still a panicking, crying, mess.  We had no money or the ability to get money quickly, and I need a car to get to class.  All I could think about was how could we possibly get from that moment to where we needed to be in such a short time?!

My uncle lent us his trailer and truck to tow our stuff, and we saved a ton of money doing this instead of renting a truck/trailer, and my parents helped out a ton with paying for gas, food, etc.  He uses it for work though, and with his busy business, we had to unload everything that night when we arrived at my parent’s place on a Sunday night, so we could return everything to him to use for work Monday morning.  We jammed all of our stuff in my parent’s garage.  Everything got dusty, dirty, and banged around, but we managed to get it all inside.  It was after 11pm before everything was complete, moving in the dark didn’t speed things up either.  We loaded up in St. Louis, unloaded in Creemore, loaded up again in Creemore in a Uhaul, and then unloaded again in our new place.  Oh boy, was that a lot of moving.  And loading up in Creemore and then unloading into our new place was a dreadfully rainy day.  It literally rained all day long while we moved.

The next day, after arriving at my parent’s place, we tried to enjoy the peacefulness of the quiet country and enjoy some fresh air to just think and let this whole mess sink in.  A moment of serenity, indeed.

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We had an apartment lined up thanks to the help of the Artist’s dad, and we were expecting to sign the lease as soon as we were back.  The day before we began the road trip from St. Louis, MO we were informed that the apartment was no longer available.  No car, no place to live, classes in under 2 weeks, no money.  Oh dear.  Long story short, the apartment was actually still available and we went to view it and had an appointment to sign the lease immediately afterwards.

The apartment was a disaster.  They were in the middle of fixing it up still, the cabinets were being replaced, the baseboards had to be replaced, not to mention the usual repainting and cleaning and stuff.  We also saw cockroaches, including inside the refrigerator.  And did I mention that the person who was supposed to meet us to show the apartment was 45 minutes late?  We called every number we had for the leasing company, the building in particular, etc. and got only voicemails, right before our cell phone died, they showed up.  We went to the head office and explained our concerns, while trying to remain calm after what we had just seen, and we were informed it would not be ready for the original time discussed.  They explained they had another unit in another building we could look at that would be ready for the time frame we wanted.  We viewed it the next morning, and although it is a bit smaller, we really liked it.  The building staff were very friendly, answered all of our questions, and greeted us in the lobby immediately.  The neighbourhood is way better too- errands can be done easily on foot and just the “feel” of the neighbourhood was what hit home for us.  We signed that lease and arranged the move in- phew.  A place to live.  Yes we would be moving in the day before I start classes, but oh well, minor detail compared to what we had been through.  As I mentioned, it was raining on the day we ended up moving in, but again, it seemed trivial at that point, and we persevered.

The remainder of our time during this interim at my parent’s place before we could move into our apartment was spent looking for a car, figuring out bills, money, and the logistics of everything.  Again, all that was going through my mind was how could we possibly get from here to there with no resources in such a short period of time?!  We spent a lot of long hours on the road, borrowing any spare car from family we could, to work on getting the logistics for everything we needed done.

It’s not over yet.  My tuition was due at the end of April and I was counting on our tax return to cover most of it.  Of course it didn’t, and our bank account was emptied down to the dollar to pay for my summer tuition.  Our small amount of “float money” to cover the next month’s rent, stocking our pantry, getting me a laptop, and buying a few things we needed for our apartment- was gone.  Entirely gone.

I am not sure how we made it, but I am so proud to say that…

…we now have a car!

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…we have an apartment (and I will post pictures when we get it all up and decorated, it is slow progress as I am fully engulfed in my classes)!

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Outside at our new place!

…tuition has been paid and although it pained me to empty our bank account unexpectedly for it, at least it didn’t add to the already incredibly large mound of debt that we are currently surrounded by, and I am a few weeks into classes!

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Me on my first day of classes!

I don’t have a laptop of my own, so the Artist and I share.  We both need it equally for our livelihoods, so it can be challenging.  But we supplement with using computers at the public library and I have a library at school to use.  A laptop for school got put to the bottom of the priority list pretty quickly, unfortunately.

The fun doesn’t stop there though!  As we are trying to get our student loan payments stopped, I found out that my course load is not recognized because it is not full time (more like 3/4 time) and a bunch of other details, so I still have to make payments on it ALL SUMMER.  I will be full time in the fall though.  But after talking with the financial aid office at my school, my course load might actually be considered full time- fingers crossed this gets figured out.  Icing on the cake?  My recent load of laundry somehow ripped a huge hole in my only pair of pants.  Yes, I have one pair of pants.  “Had” one pair.  I will probably just sew it and keep wearing them actually, just when I think we can’t possibly be more broke, something else happens.  But I do love these pants, they fit like a glove!  Hopefully they can still be saved.  I do have leggings, but I wear clothes in general out quickly and these too are gaining holes and are looking like cheesecloth in some areas.  I mostly like to wear those around the house though.  I have some other pants, but they are too small, but maybe, just maybe, I will fit into them soon and bypass the expense (which is really an investment- good pants aren’t cheap!) of purchasing new pants.  I was also down to like 3 pairs of socks, and they were pretty ratty.  All the credit goes to my parents on this one, they bought me a ton of new socks and even a new backpack for school!

Like I said, I don’t know how we made it, but we did.  We have such supportive family who let us stay with them until we figured this all out, borrowed vehicles to get around, they fed us and did their best to soothe the panic, stress, and anxiety that seemed all consuming at times.  We are skimming by right now while looking for regular income.  I don’t know how we will buy groceries in a few days when we need food, we boiled some left over chicken bones last night to get some bone broth to stretch things a little.  I don’t know how we will pay our internet bill coming up, and it is pretty impossible to do an online class without internet at home.  We spent the first 2 weeks in our apartment without internet (first possible appointment to get it set up was a bit of a wait), and it has been an absolute studying nightmare.  Everything has been “Plan B” so far in our life.  St. Louis was not our “Plan A”, our current apartment, car, and school I am attending to upgrade were not “Plan A” either.  But somehow, our “Plan B’s” always seem to turn out even better then what we originally had in the books❤ There are a lot of uncertain things, but we made it, and above all, we have one another❤ We are doing whatever it takes to achieve our goals and follow our dreams.  NO. MATTER. WHAT.

One to Watch

The Artist has been recently featured on Saatchi as “One to Watch”!  Check out a short write up and some awesome photos of him in his studio here: http://canvas.saatchiart.com/art/one-to-watch/steve-byrnes

He was also on the cover of Art Voices, you can go to their website to see where the magazine circulates.  You can also check out The Artist’s website: http://www.stevebyrnes.org

I just wanted to do a little shameless bragging, I am so proud of him.  He works so hard and continues to follow his dreams, no matter what.  I advocate for taking a little risk in life….you think you can’t afford to move?  You can.  You think you can’t go back to school?  You can.  You think you can’t get a different job?  You can.  And so on, you get the idea.  If you want something- do it.  You only get one life, don’t waste it being only half-happy, or not happy at all.  There is always a way to achieve your goals.  To quote Jan from The Office, “there will always be a million reasons to NOT do something”.

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Living Room- Before and After.

We love thrift stores, antiques, anything with a story behind it (not to mention the deals ad good prices!).  I am fascinated to think about what an item has “seen” in it’s life thus far, and where it has been.  Over out time in this apartment, we have accumulated treasures, engaged in DIY projects and crafts, and transformed our space into one that is more “us”, one that is cozy and warm.  The Artist also loves interiors, he loves hunting for items for our living space and has the most amazing eye for it too.

Here is our living room when we first moved in, in 2012.  Followed by some photos on Halloween night.  What a difference, eh?

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2012

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Halloween 2015

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A breath of fresh air.

Sometimes we just need some fresh air.  There is something about spending time with nature that is soothing, and helps you find peace with whatever you are struggling with.  We really wanted to go camping (secluded style, not in a massive field full of tents), and although it is a cheap thing to do, we just couldn’t afford it.  I was really upset, annoyed, etc. but tried my best to stay positive and come up with an alternative.  We decided to take a walk at Castlewood State Park, and then a drive through Lone Elk Park instead.  Our walk was very beautiful, and the air was very crisp- just the way we like it.  There was a bench on one of the bluffs, so we sat down and just enjoyed the view for a bit.  We breathed in that beautiful fresh air and just talked, and although I still want to go camping, I didn’t seem to mind as much anymore.  It was very calming.  Afterwards, we drove through Lone Elk Park, and briefly got to seek some elk and even a bison in the distance!

I often find myself craving to spend time outside or be with nature in some way, which I take as a sign that I am carrying around too much stress and need to take care of myself.  So, take care of myself I did.

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Best Ever Chocolate Ice Cream Recipe, Courtesy of Alton Brown

I love ice cream, especially chocolate.  So when I saw Alton Brown’s recipe on Good Eats, I HAD to try it.  Alton has never steered me wrong, if I am looking for a recipe for absolutely anything, I check and see if he has one, because I know it will turn out amazing.  His chocolate ice cream recipe is just to die for.  It makes the creamiest, richest, smoothest, most chocolatey ice cream ever, so I wanted to share it.

Tip: Do NOT skip any of the steps, change or sub any of the ingredients (especially don’t sub regular cocoa powder for the Dutch kind! Use Dutch cocoa powder!), take any short cuts, or try to skimp on the cream and use milk.  Follow his recipe EXACTLY.  You have been warned.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/chocolate-ice-cream-recipe.html

I can never seem to get a half decent picture when I make this ice cream, this is the best I could do haha!

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