What makes a talisman?

When I was living in Israel, I had an artist friend who gave us a couple of lovely etchings. I liked them enough to frame them. I took down the pictures that had been there only to discover that the wall badly needed painting. We used gas heaters in those old houses because they were built many years before central heating. Most people back then used space heaters, usually gas. But they produced dirt and every few years, you had to repaint. So, we painted. After which the sofa needed reupholstering (our parrot had eaten pieces of it and the cats had clawed the rest).

By the time we got through with one thing and another, those free etchings were $3,000 free etchings. You have to be careful. Home repairs can quickly spiral out of control.

Today, it’s the bathroom. It’s our “main” bathroom — which is to say, the only room that has a bath, a toilet, and sink in one room. The other water closet is a toilet in tiny room in the corner of our “master” (but it’s a very small “master”) bedroom. Garry calls it “Marilyn’s bathroom” which means he has 100% occupation of the other room. He lets me keep a comb and brush on the sink and a towel on the rack. Otherwise, it’s his room.

He says it’s not true but I defy anyone to find anything in the “main” bathroom that is mine other than my comb, brush, and a big towel. I have long since given up any hope of co-ownership.

Meanwhile, I don’t have anything I would call a talisman. I think I might have had a Mogen David (pro: MOH-gan Da-VEED)  (to all you non-Jews, that’s what Jews call a “Jewish star”), but I was a teenager and it is long gone.

Currently, life is all about a bathroom vanity. We got a nice sink. Which we needed. Unfortunately, I measured the old sink incorrectly, so the new sink doesn’t fit the old vanity. It’s not much of a vanity, but at least it’s made of wood, not particle board.

I like the sink, though it’s two inches narrower than the vanity currently supporting it. Since the bathroom is very narrow, a narrower vanity might improve it. Thinking “how expensive could a simple little vanity be?”, I hopped online to look at the stuff Home Depot is showing.

I almost fainted. Shock. Horror. Are they serious?

Good grief! Hundreds of dollars and not for anything fancy. Just an 18 inch deep by 30 inch wide vanity made from plywood with wood doors. Probably not including a drawer (that would cost extra).

That’s a lot of money. I still have to fix the window and the front wall of the house and I owe the plow guy money.

At that price, is the vanity a talisman? Would installing it improve our luck? I was thinking it would just be a place to put the sink that looked better than the box it is currently sitting in. The cheapest vanity available $140 and that’s particle board. Painted white. Anything made of wood is upwards of $300 and most are a lot more than that. Many are more than $1000.

That’s when remembered the two free etchings. And how expensive they turned out to be. I can see this evolving into a full bath restoration. Not that we couldn’t use a new bathroom, but we need a lot of things.

Anyone have a money talisman? Wear it around your neck and money just falls your way.

Yeah, right.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.


    1. Yup. So I think My son is trying to figure out a way to find something second hand for short money. People with money — not us, but other people — remodel rooms and throw away the old pieces, so if we get lucky, someone will be disposing of a vanity. Otherwise, it’s going to sit on that plywood for a while. For a plywood vanity with maple doors, $360 plus tax. No drawer. And that’s $100 cheaper than Home Depot. How DO people remodel? I can’t even think about it.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I am usually pretty good at measuring, but somehow this time I apparently transposed one number for another. This is one of those times I wish I was a better carpenter because this looks so easy — a small, three sided box with two doors. But I don’t have the equipment and doors are not as easy to make as they look. We’ll find something. In the meantime, at least we have the sink. That’s something.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Marilyn, my mother got an old piece of second hand furniture, a cadenza (which is quite narrow), and used that. It does involve a bit of work – reinforcing, sealing, cutting holes for basin and plumbing. It looks really beautiful. Or you may be able to get an old pedestal basin from someone who is doing a reno. Not sure how much of your life you want to give up though to do all the research.


    1. We are looking at the used ads. We’ll find something. I was thinking I might find something else that would work, but we don’t have any used places in the area. All it has to be is more or less the right size and reasonably sturdy — but first, we have to find it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. And there is always goodwill and Salvation army: got a nice oak medicine cabinet for 5 bucks at SA and my husband said, what do you want THAT for? When we put in the current bathroom I hauled out the medicine cabinet and it fitted the opening perfectly.

    And sometimes used furniture places have things that, while not exactly a vanity, with a bit of a cut can give you just what you need.


    1. We are looking for a used one. Our Salvation Army doesn’t have furniture. It used to, but now it’s 90% clothing and a few other odds and ends. But there are other ways to look and my son is very good at finding new things that are being sold by people who changed their minds. That’s how we got the sink, though I had already bought the faucet and drain. It just takes a long time to get things done this way. I’ve been trying to figure out how to reuse the existing cabinet. We could build a top for it if we got some better wood. Anyway, it works in the meantime. We’ll come up with something, but I simply can’t pay that kind of money for a cabinet.

      We don’t have much shopping of any kind around here. When we lived in Boston, you could find anything if not in Boston, then in a nearby suburb. But here, shopping is limited to two relatively local malls, the Salvation Army … and Walmart. There is a good (big) lumber yard. A lot of hairdressers, nail salons, and a couple of tattoo parlors. Pizza places. Doughnut shops.

      When you’ve always lived in or near a major city, it’s a bit of a shock realizing you don’t have shopping. Lucky for me online shopping showed up just in time.


      1. You might also try Goodwill.., they still have furniture, and St Vincent De Paul. Home Depot and Lowe’s are good sources for reasonably priced vanities. I kind of like the Martha Stewart collection there, but the real gem that I found for my Master Bath, which is small like yours, was at IKEA.., all wood and perfect. They had a variety of them too, all of which, were very different than the run-of-the-mill stuff at HD or Lowes, and really more than reasonable prices. If you have access to an IKEA, even if it’s a fair drive to get there, it’s worth it. After all, this would be a one-time purchase that should last a while. Take Owen with you to look over the materials it’s built from (he reminds me of Jeffrey a lot). If I were there I’d help you with this.., and I love cruising SA and Goodwill etc.


        1. No Goodwill. No St. Vincent De Paul. The LEAST expensive vanity at Home Depot was $140 and it isn’t wood — it’s particle board. Lowe’s prices are even higher. No Ikea, either. There’s very little shopping in this area. In Boston, there’s everything, but that’s 70 miles away. I wish Salvation Army still carried furniture. They did, but they stopped. I think the building they are in is small and furniture was taking up too much space.

          I don’t shop online entirely because I like it. A lot of things I want are not available any other way — including basic things, like dog food. For that matter, clothing. Unless you like clothing from Walmart.

          We have a local lumber yard and I could order from them, but it would be $360 + tax, which is kind of a lot of money. We’ll find something. And if I get desperate, I can save the money. It’ll just take a few months.


  3. Fun, isn’t it? At our last house, I loved the porcelain sink but the vanity sucked. We never did find a vanity to fit, so we had to get a vanity/sink combo from Home Depot. Fortunately, it looked great, and we liked it so much we bought the exact same one for our new house – 18″ white-on-white, $79 at Home Depot. Yes, it’s particle board and faux porcelain, but it does look nice and cleans like a dream. After two years, the one at the old house still looked new, so I have high hopes for the one at the new house. The only bad part is that since we aren’t DIYers, we had to pay plumbers to install both vanities, and that did get a bit expensive. Hopefully, you’ll have better luck.


    1. I couldn’t find anything that cheap online. Maybe if we actually GO there we’ll find other things that aren’t online. That gives me hope. I’m sure Owen can install it. He can’t make it — his carpentry work is very sturdy, but totally designed for workshops and basements.


      1. Ah, perhaps that’s the difference. I couldn’t find anything affordable online, either. I found mine at the store. Also, for what it’s worth, I found similar vanities at our local Valu Home Store, but they were about $10 higher and not as attractive.

        PS: Thanks for reminding me that I haven’t posted the “completed” photos of my own bathroom. I will do that now.


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