Growing up on the West coast, I felt pretty lucky being raised under sunny skies. My wardrobe never really changed and neither did the excuse to wear Uggs on a cold night, regardless of the season. Now that I’m on the East coast, I’m soaking up this season. I love the awareness of seasonal vegetables and fruits, the colorful leaves, finding a pocket of sunshine on a cold walk, warm frothy teas and Christmas lights. Well, those never go out of season for me. I usually keep white stringed lights up year-around, but we haven’t gotten around to getting some until now. Everything is so cozy. My Uggs were destroyed during a basement flood, and come to think of it, no one really wears them around here. Oh Cali, you have a way of making Uggs and cut-off shorts make sense but DC, you’re too serious for those cotton balls of a shoe! These days, I find myself wanting to find a spot on the couch with a blanket and just read. Over the years, I’ve been reading newer novels. My husband recently brought Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf home from the library, and it brought me back to my college days when I studied American Literature and really delved into analyzing characters. I came to realize that I really miss reading classic literature. There seems to be more of a deeper focus on detail in the classics. Characters are developed in a way that the reader feels a part of them. There is also something pretty dreamy about imagining scenes playing out during a place in time that I have never experienced. I’m not saying that current books do not enchant their readers, but I find myself using my imagination more with older literature. Do you? I think I’m going to make an effort to return to the classics that I never read, not only American literature. Who are some of your favorite classic authors or books?
I cannot believe that today marks the 10th year of my mother’s passing. I can vividly remember the day we lost her. It was a sunny and crisp day, and we had been with her in the hospital for weeks. She had cancer for the past 8 years, and after every treatment and experimental drug, it was the end. On that day, I felt like I was literally picking up my legs and making one go in front of the other. I wanted to sit in a corner and cry, but it was a busy day filled with arrangements. I bought a black dress and a coat because I hated black at the time and didn’t own one thing for the funeral. Our Italian-Greek family friend brought us a casserole, and I can vividly remember her walking down the stairway to our front door holding the Pyrex with tears in her eyes. I couldn’t get over the fact that we had just arrived home, and here she was with a casserole, waiting to embrace us. My best friend brought her baby over to our house, which brought us joy. People were just there for us and knew what to do. I felt so loved and broken at the same time.
That first year, I believe I was just carried by people’s prayers and God’s love. There was absolutely no other way that I could have survived. I became a bit strict about grieving those first few years. I decided that I was going to actively grieve, so I bought books, went to a counselor at college and did everything I thought I should do. My main goal was to come out “okay.” I didn’t want to be the girl who threw herself into relationships or bad habits. I really believed that the way I grieved that first year would set the tone for how I would deal with hardships over the years to come. This was my time to set up healthy coping mechanisms that would influence me for the rest of my life. I was very introspective at that time-almost more than I am now. I had to be strong, and I was very strict about that but also very kind to myself. I took lots of baths and did things that made me feel peaceful. I wrote in my journal and started making collages. This is also when I started making happy lists and reading uplifting books about self-identity by SARK and Sabrina Ward Harrison. I then traveled to India, which was a part of my own voyage of grief. I did not share my grief with many others, but it was always there. I focused on accomplishing things such as getting into graduate school, living in New York and becoming a professional social worker.
Around 5 years, things took a turn. I was so focused on being strong and capable, that I started to give up the facade. I realized that being strong is letting yourself break down. My grief had a lot less structure after 5 years, and I didn’t think of it so much. I just let myself be.
It wasn’t until I met my husband-to-be that things really changed. I fell in love and all these new emotions started coming up. I put myself in my father’s shoes, and felt a great stab of pain when I tried to imagine how he felt once he lost the love of his life. I shared my grief with my husband when I felt the need to. Around 9 years, while I was planning my own wedding, a huge emptiness settled in. I missed my mom every single day, and every wedding detail reminded me of her. I was blessed to have my god-mother and family by my side, but I was angry that my mother couldn’t join us. I was restless. At the same time, I felt closer to her. My mother was SO loving to my father as he to her. As my love with my husband-to-be grew deeper, I realized that I would sometimes emulate my mother. I felt more connected to who she was as a woman.
And here I am today with a huge lump in my throat. I honestly didn’t think I would write anything this year because I simply didn’t want to. Usually, I like to put a positive twist on things, which I learned from my dad. It’s just what we do and how we cope. But today, I didn’t think I could turn this into a positive because the truth is that today is really hard. I look back at who I was 10 years ago, and I don’t think I would have changed a thing. I’ve realized that when we grieve, we are constantly focused on “our loss” and where we are without that person. It is a selfish process. In my faith, we believe that this life is fleeting and just a speck compared to eternity. When we put loss in perspective this way, it calms me. But each day is a struggle with our emotions and beliefs. In conclusion, I’ve realized that each year and phase of life gives birth to new emotions. Grief really keeps you on your toes and is always changing and so is our faith. I hope to align emotion and faith better.
I’ve finally finished painting our office and recently assembled this cute little desk from Ikea. I love a piece with wheels because it makes rearranging easier, which I do often. I’m not sure what look I’m going for- I guess a bit of modern meets cottage. For some reason, I’m not feeling the shabby chic vibe for the office. Sometimes shabby chic is not functional, and that is my top priority for this room. I want the space to have little clutter, lots of plants, bright light and pops of color.
I still need some drawers/storage and a more comfortable chair. (Recommendations welcomed!) I’m also debating blinds vs. curtains and whether I want a carpet. I’m in love with these curtains I photographed from Smyrna Cafe while visiting Istanbul, but floral print is tricky.
I picked up these chairs at a thrift store for $10 each. I’m guessing they’re pretty old. One of these will do for the time being. I don’t like rushing into furnishing rooms. I think these things slowly come together.
Here is my workspace inspiration board on Pinterest. Speaking of adorable offices, my friend Sylvia did some adorable DIY’s for her office. She always seems to do things so quickly and efficiently. I love her office.
Hey, guess what, guys? I wrote my first guest blog post for Orthodox Christian Network’s (OCN) Sounding Blog. It’s a personal piece about my struggles and journey in Orthodoxy. It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot, so I was very excited when invited to blog in this space. Hopefully, I will be a contributing blogger there as well. I welcome anyone to comment on the blog! Check it out here: It Takes a Pan-Orthodox Village
Sorry for the absence here. I’ve been getting my home office ready for my new job that will be starting in September! Our home was already painted two different colors. One is this taupe color that I like to refer as the ‘pantyhose’ shade. I also do a good make-believe impersonation of what I envision the painters saying when they decided that pantyhose is a great color to paint a room. Not in my opinion! For me, I love white walls. White allows you to add pops of color everywhere. I can tolerate other colors, except for pantyhose! So, I’ve been working on a tiny space, blasting various Pandora stations, quitting every few hours then getting up again and trying to finish! God bless those painters because painting is tiring.
Today I’m going to share the process with this upbeat blue piece. I picked this up at the thrift store, and after seeing this on Pinterest, I planned on making something similar. I couldn’t locate the same exact paint from the DIY, so I ended up going with Behr no-Voc in Navy Blue in a flat finish. I primed with Zinnser white primer. Rather than rewriting Twice Lovely’s DIY, I will direct you to the link here. She places Vaseline over the white wet paint where she wanted it to seep through the blue. Of course I didn’t have a regular size Vaseline, so I used this lip gloss that I had in my purse for ages. I thought for sure it wouldn’t work. After painting two blue coats, I was so disappointed with the color. I wanted something deeper and darker with more hints of purple as shown. I might as well have turned back time and given it to the Smurfs! I forgot about the Vaseline, and I started sanding like crazy and lo and behold, all those white streaks were seeping through. There was hope! I ended up adding a few streaks with a paintbrush after sanding the previous ones. I primed and painted the drawers white using Behr no-Voc in Swiss Coffee white and then sanded the corners down to give it an aged look. I used a medium sanding block from Home Depot. When you’re trying to give something an aged look by sanding it, make sure you sand it in places where it would naturally age.
I wanted to add a bit more pizzazz to the piece, so I used a Martha’s Stewart stencil that I found on sale at Michael’s. I blue taped it and used a cheap sponge paint brush and lightly dabbed it with white paint. When you put the paint on to the sponge brush, make sure that there is very little paint on the sponge so that it does not seep through the stencil. Don’t worry about completely covering up all the stencil spaces with paint. It will just look more shabby if you don’t fill it in completely. Lastly, I spray painted the original handles with Rustoleum metallic silver. Voila! The picture makes it look a bit more yellow than the real color.
Today I’m going to share how I added a little shabby-chic antiqueness to this end table that started out a dark brown. First, I love working with pieces that have detail already built into the structure. Even if I painted this all white, it would still look great because the shape has such character. For the colors, I absolutely love gold. My god-mother has gold splashed all over her home, and it brings such a traditional look to each piece. I wanted something that was barely blue, and after finding this blue DIY piece on Pinterest, I decided that would be the blue. I use Behr no-VOC (non-toxic) paint on all my pieces. Even if this means that the paint will not last longer than something with more chemicals, I really don’t care. Our health is more important than paint chipping away, right? So, I went up to the Home Depot paint counter and requested the no-VOC version of Benjamin Moore “Thunderbird.” Home Depot can match almost any paint (some brands excluded) if they have it in their index, which I didn’t know until recently. Steps: Since the piece so many crevices, I started by just sanding the top of the piece with a fine sanding block. I then turned it upside down and sprayed a coat of white Zinsser primer on it, let it dry, turned it over and sprayed the primer on top as well. Once the primer was dry, I turned it upside down and spray painted it all gold. I let it dry and did one more coat. (Make sure and wear a mask when you spray paint because all those fumes can get to you). After a couple days, I turned it over and painted the top blue twice, allowing each coat to dry in between. Something still looked missing, so I painted the tiny feet blue as well. I used blue tape right above the blue feet, just to keep it a somewhat straight line for the feet. I then finished by applying some wax on a dry towel and wiping it all over the piece. Now, we will see if it will sell. Please let me know if you’re interested in buying it! It will be selling at a local thrift store in Washington D.C., which I will share my partnership story soon.