Features + The Weekly Edit

The Weekly Edit: The Fixer Upper

When Kyle and I bought a 1960s home with 1970s decor two years ago, our designer assured us that it was a ‘lipstick remodel’ that could be completely reworked for under-$50k.  But life is not HGTV.

Our designer’s estimate turned out to be off by a factor of 3x.  But we didn’t find out the true cost until all of the bathrooms and half of the living spaces had been demolished.  There were no major changes or giant problems, she just didn’t know what she was talking about.  So we have lived with unfinished flooring, one working bathroom, spotty electrical, and a host of other challenges for almost two years.

We have scrimped.  We have saved.  We have tackled as many projects as we could ourselves.  And today, we will sign on the dotted line with a new contractor who is coming to save us.

After being burned, we were very cautious about hiring a new contractor.  We visited their job sites.  We spoke to their clients.  We asked about budgets and timelines.  We got so many estimates, some of them wildly different, that we had trouble remembering which contractor went with which bid.  But we found the guys.

Meet The Christensen Brothers.  As far as I’m concerned, they might as well wear capes.  And in a year when everything is turmoil, being able to put this one thing right feels like a luxury.  I’ve never been so grateful to a couple of strangers.

As we discussed last week, my mental health is a bit of a struggle right now.  So every day, I try to watch or read or listen to one thing that makes me happy.  Last night, it was a documentary on the life of Nora Ephron called, Everything is Copy.

When I was a teenager, I remember thinking that Nora was brilliant.  I rented Sleepless in Seattle so many times that Barb, the woman who owned the video store, just gave me a VHS copy.  Long before the Internet, I would go to the library to read old copies of Esquire on micro-fiche.  And I was probably the only 11-year-old reading Heartburn.

So if you want to know what I’ll be reading this week, it’s her articles in Esquire, and the New Yorker, and whatever else I can get my hands on.

Acne scarring and summer sunshine (even with an SPF) means dark spots.  I picked up this Peter Thomas Roth Niacinamide Treatment a few weeks ago, and it’s helping.  I haven’t been using it the full 12-weeks they recommend for best results, but after 2.5 weeks, I can see the changes coming.

I upped my sunscreen to make sure I don’t endanger any progress the treatment is making.  So I’m now on the Anthelios train.

Looking for a bit of dark spot correction at a drugstore price?  The Ordinary’s Alpha Arbutin serum is also worth a look.

I tried these High Noon Sun Sips at a friend’s house just as COVID-restrictions lifted, and now, they’re all we drink.  Our bar gathers dust.  The wine in the pantry remains untouched.  No White Claws are to be seen anywhere.  Just Sun Sips.

They’re the best vodka soda you’ve ever had.  All the flavors taste delicious and fresh.  And they’re perfect for a backyard or balcony happy hour on a hot day.

On Friday, by order of the Washington Governor, everyone needs to be wearing a mask in public.  While I have a couple of masks, washing them frequently enough to keep the ‘maskne’ at bay isn’t possible if daily wear is required.  So I needed to snap up a few more masks for myself, and for my husband, who will now no longer be able to avoid wearing one.

Since I’m going to be wearing them often, I bought a couple of different styles to try.  American Eagle’s reusable face masks came highly recommended, so I bought one of those.  I loved the print on this light blue mask from Bel Kazan.  And I needed something basic for Kyle to wear, so I bought him a few of Everlane’s face masks.

If you would like to support some smaller retailers during this time, Nisolo has created a mask marketplace featuring several different mask styles from different makers.

{this post contains affiliate links that may generate commission for the author}



  1. Anne says:

    Good luck – we have an old house and I swear our contractor is an honorary family member at this point. A good contractor is worth their weight in gold – and their contacts for sub-contractors are usually amazing (our tile and paint guys are also fabulous).
    I have oily acne-prone skin (about to start another round of accutane…in my 30’s…awesome…)and I would highly suggest checking out the ‘Holy Snails’ line. It is very well known in the k-beauty community, they have very generously sized sample packs and they are super up front about their ingredients and formulations. The el dorado vitamin c serum and shark sauce/snail water are simply amazing.

    June 24, 2020/Reply
  2. KS says:

    For sunscreen I think what you’re looking for is a “physical blocker” formulation rather than chemical. I battle melasma on my upper lip (so it looks like I have a mustache that no bleaching will correct – fun!) and have learned that only physical blocker sunscreen protects my skin sufficiently. I love Coola’s mineral primer and Elta MD’s UV Daily.

    June 24, 2020/Reply
    • SC MD2 says:

      Yes, the main ingredients should be zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.

      June 25, 2020/Reply
  3. CarrIe says:

    Awhile back I read Nora Ephron’s book I Feel Bad About My Neck and remember enjoying it. She’s a gifted writer

    Best of luck with the continued remodel

    June 24, 2020/Reply
  4. Melissa says:

    I’m really lucky to live somewhere that COVID has been pretty much eliminated (for now), largely due to the leadership of our provincial health office, Bonnie Henry, and the willingness of people in my community to wear masks. That said, I had a scare and was tested yesterday. It was negative, but a good reminder to always have masks on hand.

    The free Victory Patterns mask pattern is fantastic. It comes in multiple sizes, including kiddos, is easy to whip up, and fits really well(I’ve made and given away/sold for fundraising over 100 with no fit issues). Definitely recommend having at least seven – that allows for no re-wears if they’re laundered weekly with linens/hot wash laundry. Best to wash in a delicates bag so the elastics don’t get snagged. Also recommend switching to ear loops rather than behind the head elastic as elastic is at a premium.


    June 24, 2020/Reply
  5. Monica T says:

    I picked up a few sets of the Rag & Bone masks you shared last time and I really love them and get compliments on them when out and about. I’ve tried a few different types and materials and it’s interesting how differently they can fit. My mom picked up some silk ones which are lovely, but I asked her how she was planning on washing them after every wear and got a shrug basically. As we go out more often it definitely makes sense to have a mask a day and different ones to coordinate with different outfits. I’m still not at that point, wfh and rarely venturing out, but good to plan ahead! Thanks for the recommendations!

    June 24, 2020/Reply
  6. Michaela says:

    Interested to learn about the Niacinamide treatment. My dermatologist has recommended that I take Niacinamide as a supplement to help with redness and scarring, but I keep forgetting to order it (it’s like $7 on Amazon). I guess this is the push I need to finally order it.

    I know you and your readers have already advocated for a dermatologist, but for anyone out there still trouble shooting acne without a dermatologist, I can’t recommend one enough. The sulfurous facewash and prescription retinoid mine gave me have completely changed my skin.

    June 25, 2020/Reply
    • Belle says:

      I’m very interested in this as a supplement. Let me know how it works.

      June 25, 2020/Reply
      • Michaela says:

        Will do!

        June 25, 2020/Reply
  7. Laura says:

    Also look at Etsy for masks — makes it easy to shop small!

    June 25, 2020/Reply
    • Jenny says:

      I’ve ordered two from “sewfunthreads” and love them – they use something like sweatshirt ties, so no pulling on your ears. some of the patterns are a little out there for me but they’re really well constructed. 🙂 http://www.etsy.com/sewfunthreads

      June 26, 2020/Reply
  8. Shannon says:

    I too have been reading Nora Ephron. I have the Most of Nora Ephron, and it’s so comforting to pick up and read an essay or two at night to relax. Miss her!

    June 25, 2020/Reply
  9. Jo says:

    I have five masks I rotate among and wash the day’s mask each night by hand in the sink. I highly recommend the Soak hand-washing detergent if anyone’s in the market, which I found via Wirecutter – you can order it off Amazon or go to the Soak website for a local vendor (I got free shipping that arrived faster than Amazon from this place: https://www.sugarboysfibercreations.com/collections/washing/products/soak-wash?variant=12441553666127). It’s warm and sweaty where I am, so no way do I wear my mask two days in a row! Some days I even switch masks partway through if I’ve done a lot of walking.

    June 26, 2020/Reply