Monthly Archives: January 2019

Everything Old is New Again

Let’s talk about brass.

For most of my peers, brass was the metal of our parents’ homes in the 1980s. It was everywhere – cabinet knobs, table legs, bed frames.

If you did not have at least one of these in your home growing up,
you are not a child of the eighties.

Naturally, when my generation became adults, we hated it. It was old, sad, tired, dated, and lame.

Brass table bases, brass lamp accents….and a landline phone. Time warp!

My father amassed a collection of brass candlesticks and knicknacks, and if you’d asked me 15 years ago, I would have not taken a thing. I confess, when my mom gave me a sassy brass lamp to use in my first apartment, the first thing I did was spray-paint it.

And now? Humble brass is the comeback kid of home decorating…just in time for me to inherit a metric ton of it.

But my brass did not look like the glamorous photos from Pinterest. Most of the brass I took from mom’s house looked like this:


I was going to spray it with Hammered Gold paint, but Jason begged me not to. He was going to save my brass. We picked up an accessory kit for our Dremel tool and he got to work.

The satisfaction of using this tool is like the satisfaction of pressure-washing a nasty driveway. After using successively finer grits of sandpaper, he polished it with Brasso. The results are, quite honestly, mind-blowing.

The glass shade has been washed (not quite dry in this photo!) and re-attached. If you told me you just picked this up at Homegoods, I’d totally believe you.

Since this unbelievable transformation, Jason has become a polishing fool. Armed with a bottle of Brasso and some elbow grease, he polished this table lamp.

Then he set to work on this bowl, which looks like it was designed by a team of hipsters in 2019, rather than being 50 years old.

He polished the lamps that sit on our bedside tables.

Then he ran out of Brasso. And daylight.

I am always in favor of repurposing rather than buying new, and I’m happiest searching for treasures at estate sales and antique stores. A little time and patience – and the right tools – can give secondhand brass a new lease on life.

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Finishing up the Master Bath…for now.

Back in September, Jason and I repurposed an antique buffet and turned it into our master bath vanity.

This was a vast improvement over the lonely pedestal sink we used to have in that space, but the bathroom still needed some personality above the tiles.

For Christmas, I asked Jason and Tyler to build me some slightly chunky floating shelves to put in a 4.5-inch deep recess to the right of the vanity. A previous owner (who is now my next-door neighbor) said that when he bought the house, this was a Jack-and-Jill bathroom, and the recess was the location of the second door.

Tyler and Jason built the shelves last weekend and stained them to match the vanity. OOOOOOOO

I dug out seven Blue Willow plates I’ve been hoarding, er, storing, and hung them on the wall over the shelves and mirror. Jason also moved the towel ring to a more logical location.

And here’s the view as you walk in. There’s much more visual interest up top, which balances the tumbled tiles and the heavy vanity. The room feels much more complete now.

Long-term, we’d still like to completely re-tile this bathroom, but we’ve gotten it to a place where we can happily live with it for another few years while we tackle more pressing renovations.

And now for a before & after. Or, rather, a midpoint-and-after.

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Looking Back, Looking Forward

Looking back….

Joy. I decided that the word of the year for 2018 would be Joy. I think I did as well as I could on this one. This year ended up being kind of tumultuous – Jason changed jobs, from a big firm to a small boutique, and his base-salary-plus-commission income has been a bit of a rollercoaster. I’m still getting used to it, but it’s completely worth it. He is much happier being more in charge of his own time and workload. We took the kids on a nice vacation to Chicago in June, and it was a joy to re-discover my love for exploring new places (and eating new foods!). I became a certified hospice volunteer and have been working there about three times a month. It seems a bit odd to find joy in such a setting, but working at hospice has been such a gift. I finished all the work related to my mom’s estate, which was a monumental task. And I published my book on the anniversary of my mom’s death. Friends and strangers alike have enjoyed reading it, and it’s been a joy to be able to connect to others going through the same experience.

It wasn’t all sunshine and roses, of course. I had to do any number of small, hard things – like finally deleting my mother’s contact information from my phone. Hollyn, the oldest, turned 18 and decided to live exclusively at her mother’s house – although we made lemonade from that particular lemon by turning her bedroom back into a study/office/writing room. Jason and I started attending a different flavor of church over the summer, which has caused a great deal of strife for this lifelong member of the PCUSA.

Books. I set myself a goal of 50 books, and read 68. Eleven of them were non-fiction, two or three more were historical fiction in the vein of Erik Larson (heavily reliant on primary sources). My top five for 2018:

  1. The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett
  2. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke
  3. The Emperor of all Maladies, by Siddhartha Mukherjee
  4. His Dark Materials trilogy, by Philip Pullman
  5. Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders

Things. I know we’re not supposed to be in love with things, but there were a few everyday objects I bought this year that added tremendously to my happiness.

  1. Wacoal unlined underwire bras. They fit perfectly, they’re all-day comfortable, and the straps don’t slip. I’m in love.
  2. Yogalicious leggings. I have long ones for lounging and cropped ones for the gym. The fabric hits that sweet spot between soft and slick, and the length is great – I’m 5’7″ on a good day and these actually cover my ankles.
  3. Proper running shoes. After years of simply buying what was on sale at Shoe Station and then crying over my plantar fasciitis and chondromalacia patella pain, I went to the fancy running store and got properly fitted. The good news is that I’ve been wearing the right size and brand, so I’m not a total spaz, but they found a model that works wonders.
  4. Heel inserts. See #3. I now have plantar fasciitis inserts in as many shoes as I can get them in, and my heel pain has decreased to nearly zero. I can run 3-4 miles several times a week with no pain. NO PAIN. I can’t tell you how awesome this is.
  5. Running belt. Jason refers to this as my fanny pack. GOOD. LET HIM. It holds my phone and a key while I’m running (or hiking, or whatever) and it’s thin enough to wear under my shirt. No more shoving my phone into my waistband or an armband.

And now, looking forward….

I think the word for 2019 will be finish. I am great at dreaming up projects, large and small, but terrible at completing them.

One thing that will help me finish tasks is to put my damn phone down. My phone has started sending me a report of my screen time usage on a weekly basis, and it is sobering to see how much of my life is being sucked away by that device. I had my screen replaced last week after cracking it, and was without my phone for a whole hour. It was the longest hour of my life. I couldn’t even tell what time it was. Pitiful.

I also need to get out of my own head. I am a worrier, a planner, a fretter. Being busy keeps me from dwelling on insignificant minutiae, which helps me stay mentally healthy.

Let’s do this thing.


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