Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Mantle That's Teaching Me Gratitude

Yesterday I was bitchy.  Today, I am still a tad bitchy, but I can see the error of my ways at least.  I don't often let that side of me show at work, in public, with acquaintances, or here on my blog.  Usually only family and close friends see the bitch fest that can be me.  I was explaining to my boss the other day how I get so riled up in traffic and start cursing and yelling and he said "I can't even imagine that."  To which I replied, "You don't know me very well then."  So all this to say, sorry for unleashing a rant, thank you for humoring me, and thanks to those that posted their two cents.

I woke up this morning a little more rested and even made it to Bootcamp.  Soon after dropping off Syd at Nana's house I read this post by Jules and it was a kick in the pants.  An "ouch" post if you will.  While I'd categorize my post as more pissy than whiny, it clearly carried an overall "panties in a wad" tone, and it contributed to part of the collective negativity floating around the internet.  Negativity that is not needed and is counterproductive.  Negativity that can even be labeled "privileged suburban whiny" (best quote I've read all week).  I had let myself get all riled up over a topic that, at the end of the day, doesn't even effect me.  Blech.

So again, all this to say (I guess I'm not going for brevity tonight; get to the point Andrea, get to the point), it inspired me to finish up a post I started almost two weeks ago.  A post that it is a dedication to my mantle.  A post that I hesitated even publishing because I thought to myself, really, who cares about my ugly old mantle decorated for Halloween?  Seen one Halloween mantle on a blog, seen them all (all 100,000).
Since we moved into this house I have proclaimed my utter disgust, hate and disdain for this fireplace and mantle.  I have shouted it, cursed it, even spit on it (okay not really, but wouldn't that be dramatic?)  I have made these proclamations often, and loudly.  In front of the kids, to my neighbors, to my friends and family and even to the postman if he'd listen. 
I've talked about how I hate the coloring of the bricks and how I hate the dark brown wood mantle piece.
I've stated how tacky I think brass is, and even covered up the brass screen with my "fancy" Restoration Hardware screen for the past 9 months.  Truth be told it looked ridiculous, having a screen on top of a screen.
I threw some accessories on top of the mantle in a haphazard fashion, and never dusted the thing.  I swear for about a 2 week period of time there was a half drank juice box and a half empty box of animal crackers sitting on top of the mantle.  Please!  It wasn't worthy of my time to clean it.
And then Halloween came, and the 3 boxes full of Halloween decor was unpacked, and I realized that if I was going to put out all of my favorite pieces, I was going to have to pull a Tim Gunn and make it work.
I dusted off the sorry excuse for a mantle and got started.  Adding pieces here and there, moving things around, hanging a couple different garlands before I decided on this one.  After about an hour I was finished and I stood back and observed my work.  And you know what, for the first time I saw that fireplace and mantle in a whole new light.
The bricks were the perfect back drop for the bats and pumpkins.  The brass screen offset my cute little owl just so.  And the garland brought out the pretty orange tones in the wood mantle.  Since these pictures were taken I've even added some little orange twinkly lights, and while orange lights are usually considered tacky, I swear they create the softest, warmest orange glow.  The first thing I do every morning when I wake up is plug in those orange lights and they stay on all day long until I go to bed. 

I now see my fireplace as not half bad, with its strange painted bricks.  And in the grander scheme of things I've realized that if I want to teach my children gratitude, it has to start with me.  How can they truly learn gratitude when they hear their momma constantly complain about a mantle?  There is so much that we take for granted everyday; our jobs, the food we throw away half-eaten, and even silly old mantles. 

I don't have to love every single thing about this house.  I don't have to be dis-genuine and skip around like Polyanna saying it's no big deal that I have not one single solitary linen closet in the whole place.  I will always be real and honest and say that yes, it drives me bonkers that I do not have one single solitary linen closet in the whole place!  But that realness and honesty I tout so proudly would be much better served with a side of optimism than a side of bitchiness.  And that my friends, has been my lesson learned this week.    


  1. I don't like brass either. I detest it. So I understand your disgust with how it all looks, but, if it makes you feel the least bit better, it doesn't look bad. I know I'm not the one living there, but from the picture it all works together. It doesn't stand out with ugliness.

    And I'm glad you shared it. Your Halloween decorations are adorable. I especially like the white pumpkins.

  2. I love it! It looks really, really good.

    I used to hate brass and gold, too. But since living in this house, it has grown on me. Now I love it. I've come to accept that there are things this house calls for, and brass and vintage furniture are two such things. Anytime I try to deviate from what is appropriate for the house, it usually looks boring, safe, or wrong. So, I keep the brass in my fireplace and paint the whole place with light colors. It helps that brass is "in" right now. I'm finding it easier to find stuff now than when I first moved in!

  3. great post! I love your mantel :-)

    And if I may add to your list of things we all take for granted but really shouldn't. It's our health and the health of our children. I can honestly share that when your children are healthy - none of this stuff matters at all, well in reality when they aren't healthy it means even less.

    You are a VERY blessed person Andrea in so many ways. I"m glad you are feeling better. I know you will have a great weekend with your family.

    Happy Halloween!

  4. way to overcome! I'm glad you shared your decorations since we haven't been over to see them, and you will be proud of me - I decorated too

  5. Your house always looks cozy, well decorated and perfectly you! I know it's not perfect...I feel the same way about our place..but it really is lovely. BTW, where did the owls' witch hat go!? I LOVE it on him!

  6. if i could come over to your house i'd give you a big hug for choosing to accept what you've got and make it lovely. that's what life is all about as far as i'm concerned. taking whatever crappy mantle life hands you and turning it into a lovely space to spread a little holiday cheer.

    p.s. i love that you are embracing your brick but you know a can a kilz would zap that faux color to a nice white finish. just sayin. i speak from experience on that one.

  7. Preachin' to the choir sister! I am constantly reminding myself how many of my friends would kill to live in our nice homey 'hood and would take whatever house they could get. Kind of the same boat I was in 4 years ago. Now it's happened, but instead of being content, I focus on the fact that my laundry room is in my guest bath and that I have NO linen closet either. And don't get me started on the scarcity of electrical outlets up in here! But it's mine, and I love it and want my kids to know how blessed they are to grow up here.

  8. It looks great! Really, really great! If it makes you feel any better, my dear hubby bought a huge TV that he hung right over the mantal on my fireplace. Grrrr.... it doesn't leave me much room to decorate. Oh well.
    BTW - we had very similar brass doors on ours and we popped them off and just use a screen that is much less of an eyesore. You may want to see if you can remove the doors, if you haven't already :D

  9. I absolutely love to see what others do to decorate for Halloween. It's like being invited over. So thanks for posting! Love the cool pumpkins & bats!

  10. isn't it funny how we all look at things so differently? I have always loved your fireplace. i love the brick color.

    and i love you!


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