Tuesday, June 30, 2009


I am a nester. That means I love my house. I worship at the altar of accessories. I collect things. I arrange things. I LOVE things!

There must be a lot of people out there just like me, because they formed AN ENTIRE TV NETWORK for us!! House and Garden Television is our beacon in the wilderness of disarray, our guide to home happiness, and our indicator of just what we need to do to keep our homes stylish, beautiful, and our real estate values up.

So what is my beef? After watching countless hours of HGTV, I have noticed a few things that make me feel that perhaps the network doesn’t really reflect the way most of us live:

Does everyone in America have granite countertops? Evidently, if you don’t have granite in your kitchen, no one will ever buy your house. Ever. And why does any manufacturer even make white appliances? Because according to HGTV, white appliances suck, and everyone knows it. And tile? You can use tile in your kitchen, as long as it is subway tile and not on the floor.

According to my favorite show, “Househunters,” homes that lack master suites are going nowhere. I don’t mean master bedrooms. To have a decent house these days, your main bedroom has to be HUGE, with some kind of fancy ceiling that is at least two stories high. Your closet better be big enough for a pool table. And if you have to leave your bedroom and go out into the hall in order to enter your bathroom, you won’t be able to RENT your house, much less sell it. Was your house built over ten years ago? TRAGIC.

And what about that bathroom? These days, homebuyers feel affronted if they have to stand in the tub to take a shower. One sink? Are you kidding? Today’s HGTV buyers need 1.3 sinks per bathroom per person. Heated floors are a must. Shower curtains are tacky, every shower must have at least five heads, and if the tub lacks jets, well, you can just forget it.

Do you have a larger foyer in your house? Good. Is it at least two floors high, with a balcony overlooking it? Do you have a winding staircase? Is there marble somewhere—the more, the better? Is there a chandelier? No? Well, shame on you.

Who is buying these homes for half a million dollars a pop? According to HGTV, it is young couples in their twenties. No children. And most of them are shopping for their first homes. These buyers are looking for space and lots of it—invariably, when asked to comment on houses they have just toured, one of them whines that “it was a nice house, but just a little too SMALL.”

Maybe this programming will change as a reflection of the economy. I can only hope. But I have to go on record to say that I am now living in my dream house. It has a beautiful kitchen which I had A DESIGNER plan for me. My Formica countertops are very nice. The white appliances meet my needs just great, and they all work! I have a stove that is not for restaurants. My entry hall has a ceiling height of about eight feet. The master bath has just one sink, and I really like the shower curtain that I bought at Target.

We raised a great family in this house. If the walls could talk, they would tell you about the time we tried to put a Christmas tree in the front hall, but when it was all decorated, we realized that you couldn’t open the front door. They would tell you about the time right after we moved in when we ordered pizza and ate it while sitting on the floor in the dining room. About the family dinners at the kitchen table (no island) where someone laughed so hard that the milk came out of you know where. Oh yes, and the souvenirs we have found from past owners: canceled checks from 1920, tickets to the Yale football game in the fall of 1936, a pair of antique spectacles.

Now don’t get me started on the FOOD NETWORK……

Sunday, June 28, 2009


My favorite people are my family. I do have a very short list of others that I love, but unfortunately for the top three, Annie, Marion and Charlie are the best in my book. As a result, they have been subjected to what Annie has dubbed “Mom’s romantic ideas.” These have resulted in adventures and incidents that the three of them LOVE to rub my nose in whenever the family reunites. Evidently, I excel in the following areas:


Evidently, I have long cherished the idea of the four of us in foreign lands, clutching our guidebooks, seeing amazing sites, and eating wonderful local cuisines. In Costa Rica, this consisted of getting lost in the middle of a rainforest mud road in a rental car, finding cockroaches in our beds the size of cell phones, arming ourselves with rolled up newspaper at night for bug killing, and feeling totally TENSE the entire trip. Whose idea was this eco-challenge? MINE.

I also decided one Thanksgiving that the usual at-home feast is boring. Instead, I rented a cute little cottage in the Hocking Hills, near Ohio University. We packed up our pots and pans (the first clue to impending disaster, according to Annie), food, and all the fixings for the big dinner, and embarked.

The cottage was darling. One room. Cute kitchen at one end. There was a hot tub outside. A nice TV, with a DVD player. One room. Two futons. Some nice lawn chairs. One room.

By the time the weekend was over, we had watched “The Phantom of the Opera” three times, the dog had escaped the cabin and gotten lost in the woods, no one wanted to play ANY games, the girls decided that sitting in a hot tub with parents was QUEER, and the liquor ran out. One room.


As the children were growing up, I wielded my power unflinchingly. They were never allowed to eat “sugar cereal.” Sandwiches were made on rice cakes. For a while, I insisted on giving everyone little shakers filled with bran, so we could increase our fiber intake. We drank soy milk before anyone else in the world had ever heard of it. I fed them organic fruit and vegetables. But the worst? THE DAY WE BECAME VEGETARIANS!

Let me explain that I have spent much of my life trying to exert some control over all the things that threaten to take us out: global warming, pesticides in food, antibiotics in meat, the pollen count, killer bees, peer pressure, pimples. This constant anxiety has now been alleviated with maturity along with medication, but unfortunately for the kids, during their primary years I was young and without Paxil.

One day, after reading a particularly heinous article about hormones in beef, I immediately set out to protect our family from the scourge. As Annie says, “My God, on Sunday we had hamburgers for dinner, and Monday morning we were vegetarians against our will!”

This sudden dietary shift brought about some unwelcome changes that I had not foreseen. The children became surly and started sneaking around, eating salami at friends’ houses, and hiding beef jerky in their backpacks. Charlie developed gas. Well, he didn’t DEVELOP it, it just got worse. I couldn’t figure out how to make a sandwich that wasn’t peanut butter. Our friends never knew what to serve when they had us over to dinner.

This was long before being a vegetarian was in vogue. Times have changed. There are entire vegetarian sections in grocery stores now. Restaurants feature vegetarian specials. But instead of giving me credit for being the visionary, my family BLAMES me. How can I be so weird? Why do I jump on all these bandwagons?


Evidently, I have a bad habit of seeing something that I want, and going all out to get it. This goal oriented behavior is fine when it comes to things like Christmas presents, but not good when it comes to people. According to one of my friends, I crash through social barriers like an elephant. My eagerness to make new friends has resulted in some memorable evenings.

One particularly legendary night, I invited two foreign exchange students over for dinner. I was very astute, I thought, in inviting a language professor friend and his wife as well, so that the English/Spanish problem was totally covered. I also knew enough not to serve anything so foolish as Paella—oh no, I went American all the way with a good Campbell’s soup casserole and Apple Pie.

What could go wrong, you ask? To start with, the two exchange students were shy and soft spoken. Charlie, whose international skills consist of “If they don’t understand you, just TALK LOUDER,” was expounding at one end of the table, and I, at the other, repeatedly looked at the exchange students and asked the professor, “What did they just say?” My girls tried to sink under the table.

Another evening consisted of trying to befriend a very nice couple who were world travelers, very smart, and attractive. A retired minister, the husband forgot his hearing aid that evening. His wife, evidently peeved at her husband’s oversight, talked very little. Charlie felt that to compensate, he would use the aforementioned international skills. The wife, evidently shocked by all of the shouting, stopped talking all together. By dessert, Charlie and I were desperate for banter and resorted to TELLING JOKES. We have not seen that couple since. Annie, when recalling that fateful evening, gave me a sound piece of advice:


Wednesday, June 24, 2009


It all happened so fast! One minute I was a typical (?) suburban housewife, vacuuming, stacking the dishwasher and writing emails to my friends about our family, and in the next minute I became a BLOGGER! And the really funny thing is that I still don’t really know what a blog is, who reads them, why anyone would want to keep one, and how I AM one.

My friend Bryan got me into this, sending me an internet link that makes it incredibly easy to broadcast your any thought to the world. Cut, paste, and one click and I was blogging!! What remains to be seen is if any of you out there actually care about the things that I manage to come up with, and if I can manage to come up with anything more!

I am thus thinking about how this whole blog lifestyle may affect me, and how it has affected me so far:

I put on lipstick before going to the grocery store now, thinking that in case I run into someone who has read my blog, I must look at least like someone who is somewhat put together. And I always look at my shoes before leaving the house. Are the flip flops I got from my daughter’s trip to Brazil with it enough, or should I wear the Crocs with ribbon bows? Which of the two are most impressive? For Pete’s sake, am I really pondering my shoe choices for the first time in my life?

And then there is impulse control. Since my husband has sent the blog link to two thousand of his closest friends, might I be running into one while at my gym? While getting my Paxil prescription? When being introduced to a friend of my husband’s, should I mention the blog? Or should he? Or is this fishing for compliments?

How do bloggers act? Nonchalant? Pushy? Important? Vague? Are they witty? I am certainly not witty—my favorite joke about condoms is just about the best one in the world, my friend Dave has told it to me over two hundred times, and I still can’t tell the damn thing in the proper order so that the punch line makes sense.

And will being a blogger put pressure on my life? How often do blogees read blogs? Do they expect a new installment every day? If this is the case, I have already failed. Do blogees want something every week? More possible. Every month? I might be able to handle that. But isn’t every month just long enough so that anyone who once read my blog would totally forget about it in the interim? As a result, I am now always contemplating blogworthy topics: Is the fact that I can’t sleep at night, but can fall asleep in a doctor’s waiting room significant? Would it be worth blogging about the fact that I, on average, eat ten bowls of cereal a week? How can something be no weight watchers points if you eat a tablespoon of it, but POINTS if you eat three tablespoons? Would anybody be interested in reading about my ideas on teeth whitening products? Is menopause funny?

Who invented blogs, anyway? And why? Are blogs just for people who think they are writers? Or for people who are narcissistic and love seeing their words on the internet? Or for people who have a lot of time on their hands and love to type? That’s it! I just love typing!

So from now on, whenever I get the uncontrollable urge to bang the keyboard, I will share with you my thoughts and feelings. The cast of characters you may as well come to know:

CHARLIE, long suffering husband, talented handyman, general geek, stroke victim with resulting inimitable phraseology.

ANNIE, darling daughter, best friend, Spanish teacher and rock solid emotional supporter—but things do tend to happen when she is present. Horse lover and equestrienne who leads me all over creation to watch events that I know less about now than I did when she started riding at age 6.

MARION, first born daughter, high powered Hollywood agent who is too busy to tell me about any of her deals, and who has yet to take me to anyplace where there might be a celebrity sighting in Hollywood. Exercise addict, weight watcher, chef, and total whirlwind.

ASSORTED FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS, you know who you are. You are funny, supportive, laugh at my jokes, and are nice enough to read what I write. But if you do something strange or off kilter, I AM ALL OVER IT.

So this is my analysis of why I am doing this!

Or maybe I am just one big ego looking for an outlet.

Friday, June 19, 2009


We, like many, are living in reduced circumstances. Unlike the REALLY wealthy victims of the aforementioned Bernie, we have fallen victim to a lower level of perniciousness. When asked why we don’t go out to eat any more, Charlie will tell you that we have been eviscerated by a FONZIE scheme, which has left us clipping coupons, shopping at Wal Mart, and putting spare change in the piggy bank.

So these are a few tips to all of you out there who are looking for ways to save, but just don’t have the creativeness to think of ways. I have come to your rescue:

Food is always expensive. I have found a few good ways to cut down on the food budget. Try this: one night a week, eat a nice big lunch, and go to bed with a Tylenol PM at around seven. Voila! One less dinner per week. If you wake up hungry in the middle of the night, go downstairs and mix up some high fiber powder in some water, drink it really fast, and go back to bed. Don’t do this more than one night running, or you will be way too regular.
Another food tip: Sleep in. I think this might revolutionize food budgets around the world. If you sleep till noon, you can just get up and eat lunch, therefore saving ONE WHOLE MEAL A DAY; SEVEN A WEEK! When Charlie questioned me on this and I gave my economical answer, he became thoughtful, and actually AGREED that this is a wise thing instead of weakness. So now I am no longer a lazy slut, but a contributing member of society!
Entertainment has always been a big part of our budget. I have had a hard time cutting down on that. I have discovered though, that spying on the neighbors can provide a good time, and again, provide a real service to the community at large. Since when do those “neighborhood watch” groups really WATCH anything? I mean, really—if the neighbors were really watching, would things ever get stolen out of cars? Would people really be able to have affairs with the neighbor’s husband! OF COURSE NOT! This is because neighborhood watches are a sham! No one is really watching anything but Tivo. So I have appointed myself the guardian of my street. This takes up quite a bit of time, and has really cut down on our movie ticket outlay…
Clothing. This is another sticking point, since I have lost weight and now LOVE to shop for clothes. Solution? Charlie has been wearing the same two pairs of pants and four golf shirts for at least five years. When he asks me if he looks ok to go out, I say “Of course!” This has worked very well for me for years, but of course, I have a husband who has a well established reputation as a real eccentric. That makes this part of our economic recovery program very easy. On him fraying hems and weak seams are the norm. Just last night we went to the theatre (a splurge, I know) and I looked over to discover that Charlie had his golf shirt on inside out. Need I say more?
Entertaining. Now this is a no brainer, and I would guess that many of you already practice this economy. If you MUST have people over, make them BRING THINGS. And if you do this well, you can have people over for dinner and spend next to nothing. This involves asking enough guests. Nice people always ask if they can bring something. So if you assign enough, you can actually get away with having the guests provide everything. If you have a friend who considers him/herself a gourmet cook, all the better. A comment like, “Oh I wish I could make your crab stuffed filets, but since I can’t, we are having macaroni and cheese,” will almost always produce an offer to bring the aforementioned entrĂ©e. The rest is just like falling off a log. If you get good at this, all you will have to make for dinner is iced tea.
Savings. This is a tough one. But I have devised a plan to put away at least fifty dollars a month. I just take money out of Charlie’s wallet whenever he puts in on the dresser. This has allowed me not only to save a little money, but to continue to have my nails done twice monthly. Charlie is none the wiser, but he has said a couple of times that he must be getting forgetful, because he THINKS he went to the green machine yesterday, but he must not have, because he is out of cash. I just look sympathetic, and say, “Well, people do get forgetful as they age.”
Finally, one last tip. Keep your eyes to the ground. I have a friend who has been practicing this one for years, and she has found (I am not exaggerating) over a hundred dollars! This is a real inspiration for me, and I have repeatedly asked for a metal detector for Christmas from my family. They do not respond. But I feel that armed with my dog and a metal detector, I could replace MUCH of the money that our brokers have lost over the past two years. I have heard of people finding diamond rings and things, just walking around with their detectors. But I think that in this case, Charlie’s reputation has had some bearing on the family’s decision to deny me this coveted piece of equipment. I guess that one weirdo per family is the allocation. In the meantime, I just keep watching the ground. And last week, I did find a quarter in the Dayton Mall parking lot. See, it does pay off.

So you see, all of us can prosper in this time of dire economic events. All it takes is a little dedication and willingness to go the extra mile. I have to sign off now. There is a sale at The Gap.

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