Rubber beauty masks, worn to remove wrinkles and blemishes; modelled by two women at a typewriter. Photograph, ca. 1921. From the     Wellcome  Library

Rubber beauty masks, worn to remove wrinkles and blemishes; modelled by two women at a typewriter. Photograph, ca. 1921. From the  Wellcome  Library

More to come on this topic soon, but some of us around here (OK stop yelling, it's Lydia) have been in an unshakeable Marie Kondo trance for nearly four weeks, de-cluttering and honing in on joy sparks all day, errry day. Homes are getting T I D Y. And of course the KonMarie cleaning mania doesn't stop in the physical world, but extends to our internet house, too.

In the spirit of not-yet-abandoned January resolutions, the recent Chinese New Year, never not sparking joy, moving house, being bored and out of work - and not to mention our Olympian month dedicated to all things Hearth and Home - we're cleaning up our whole About-ness. 

As Ms. Kondo says (feel so free to roll your eyes - I'm managing to do it as I type), a big part of getting rid of your old things is to appreciate them and thank them for their service before you kick them out the door. So, below, as a thank you to our past selves (cue more eye rolling), some vintage thoughts on who we are at Olympia Monthly, a interview we wrote way back when, in March 2015...And over here, an ever changing cabinet of things that are currently sparking big time joy.

What do we want to talk about on Olympia Monthly? 

Lydia: I want to talk about things – plants, cups, clothing, pieces of music, books, houses, gardens – the places that we live and how they feel good, and the people who make me want to be better.

Barbara: I want to talk about the common practice of packing up and moving, and about inspirational examples - of how to do it well, either practically or impractically. Migratory patterns and aberrations - whether they take us across town or to the other side of the planet. Crises of identity, settling in, love and family.

We've talked before about starting a blog together (variously named Champagne Cocktails and These Bibelots) but haven't made it happen, until now. What's behind Olympia Monthly?

B: Oh wow, I forgot about Champagne Cocktails and These Bibelots a little bit! We talked about starting a blog together in 2012 and I really think it would have been excellent. But I was trying to figure out what to do with myself, just after I abandoned my job and New York. I stayed in LA for six months and then for two years in Austin, where I went to graduate school. Then this wonderful man found me, and we got married, and suddenly I found myself living in the UK, where I knew hardly anyone and couldn’t decide to what to do next… And I came to a do a lot of writing. Three long years was what it took for me to find the time, energy and especially brain space to devote to this project - and to writing in a place that’s not my journal - about something more interesting than my own feelings. I think it also helps that we’re now closer together - only one time zone and just a little plane ride apart.

 L: I think we have a great energy behind working together at this point, an energy that’s taken a long time to develop and wasn’t quite at critical mass before, way back in 2012. To return to the idea of champagne, I think in some ways the energy of our collaborating has just been fermenting away, getting fizzy, and is now ready to be served at a really great party.

Of course, I also think there’s something to stars aligning and our lives both bringing us into closer orbit with one another, which makes working together easier; I also just like the idea of our moons or stars or whatever orbiting all around the world, sometimes closer and sometimes farther away. I think this collaboration is as much shaped by that joyous and golden time of being roommates in Providence, Rhode Island so long ago as it is those 6 months you were in LA and I was in Basel, having a weird and fairly stressful time.

All that stuff is like the soil and cognac barrels to our champagne, the sun and moon to our planets.

If Olympia Monthly had a home city, what would it be?

L: I think Olympia’s home city could be Berlin in the summer, as long as there were weekend trips to the beach somewhere and she had a big balcony for afternoon naps. 

Favorite D'Aulaires myth?

B: I’m romantically obsessed with the sea, so I’d have to pick Poseidon’s story, and the birth of Artemis and Apollo on his new island…

L: Pandora’s Box, for the creepy-crazy illustrations.  

Songs of travel or songs of homecoming?

L: Songs of travel, for sure, but those that are conflicted about it. The cowboy song Rose of Aberdeen is one of my favorites, if only because of the opening lines (and words to live by):

“I’m a rambler, I’m a gambler, I’m a long way from home
And the people who don’t like me, they can leave me alone.”

B: Definitely songs of travel! I love songs about the West, life on the road, going... On the Road Again (Willie Nelson); All I Wanna Do (Sheryl Crow, natch); Fast Car  (Tracy Chapman). So good.

When you move into a new house, what's the first thing you do?

B: I start with my littlest boxes or bags, compulsively arranging pictures or post cards and shells and miniature books and candlesticks. I find a place for a funny baroque-looking gilt mirror that may have been my grandmother’s. I root out my prettiest dresses and hang them up. And then I live out of a suitcase for at least a couple of months, because what else do you do without furniture?

L: I also start with unpacking the absolute smallest bits I have –postcards, seashells and pieces of crystals, all the tiny cups and spoons I seem to have accumulated and obsessively packed into tissue paper – usually this is all unpacked just to find my sage smudge stick, which I’ve carried around to all my apartments like a professional hippie spiritual cleanser since 2010. Then I scrub down the entire apartment with water and soap, and try to get all the windows open as wide as possible and the bathtub sparkling clean. After all of that, I wave the sage stick around and think about the ghosts of apartments past, and having a moment of asking them to not haunt me. And then I order take out and eat it straight out of the container, feeling very optimistic about the future.

Of all the rooms you've called yours, what was your favorite?

B: I’ve been thinking for a while about cataloging all of my bedrooms  and then making dioramas, or some visual representation of them – mostly for myself, and to test my memory.But then I read The Woman Upstairs and I promptly gave up that idea...

L: I don’t have a favorite, but I still think of all of them, and I remember all the drawers full of things and the many misguided furniture purchases and the particularly beautiful or muted afternoon light, and how those rooms looked as I was coming in and as I was going out.