Measure this

I know so many people that absolutely adore cooking and home shows. I don’t. They annoy me.

First, cooking shows always make me hungry. Seems like I’m always watching them when there’s nothing to eat in the house.

Second, they are totally unrealistic most of the time. Who’s got time to spend like 4 hours on dinner more than two or three times a year? And even then it best have a turkey or a ham or people are gonna be pissed!

Organization and home and garden shows that assume you have a million dollar budget and endless time. I think the people that write these shows forget most of us don’t consider a 500 budget for a new “gift wrapping station” to be frugal.

I used to be addicted to these shows. I really did. Which says something because I don’t watch TV. Like ever.

Years ago I watched everything from HGTV to Martha Stewart. Just for ideas, I suppose. But all I ever felt was guilty that my house didn’t look like that or my little half hearted projects didn’t come out as pretty. You never see Marta Stewart chuck her little paper crafting BS across the room and start cursing God.

I remember watching one of her shows where she made “real” Polish food. I’m half Polish. I grew up in a Polish household and my grandparents were from Poland. I was glued to the TV. I watched her mother, who was supposedly Polish, come on the show and cook these perfect looking fancy shmancy cookies.

They weren’t Polish.

At least. No kind of Polish food I’d ever seen. REAL Polish food to me is full of fat and sausage and grease and the sweet stuff is fried and full of powdered sugar and apricot preserves and prunes. Not wimpy little freakin perfect cookies. I was not impressed.

Still, perhaps just to torture myself, I kept watching the show. And then I remember the day it stopped.

It was an episode where she was in her laundry room. Have you seen this thing? It’s bigger than my kitchen! It has cabinets, and a folding table, and a sewing station. Really? Cool, yes. I’d love a room like that. But really unrealistic for 99% of us.

I started off on a bad foot. F%^k martha and her perfect laundry room.

She started measuring a sweater. I couldn’t figure out why but thought maybe she’s making alterations to it or something. She wrote all the measurements down. Ok.

The she carefully washed it. And carefully dried it in some special manner (she was starting to lose me at this point). And then it happened. She started measuring again. The shoulders, the length, the distance between the armpit and the cuff…I realized with great horror what she was doing…

She measured the sweater before she really delicately washed it and then measured it AFTER so she could gently stretch it back to it’s original size (cause we can’t have it 1/4″ off on one arm, oh no) while still slightly damp.

You gotta be f*)*ing kidding me…

Who the hell has the time for that kind of thing? I don’t know about you but I’m certainly not going to be measuring every sweater I wash in my little crappy, crowded, dirty, cluttered laundry room every time I do a load of laundry. The UNrealism of this ENRAGED me. So I shut her off. Forever. It’s been many a year and I’ve still no desire to watch it ever again.

It’s not the totally ridiculous nature of doing things like that that ultimately made me shut it off. It was a realization: Not unlike fashion magazines and “rich bitch” reality TV shows, programs like that serve one purpose: To make the rest of the population feel bad about their situation and aspire to be more like the people they promote. Why would they want that? Well, probably because you’ll spend more money if you aren’t happy with yourself. You’ll run out to get the latest Martha Stewart collection sweater stretcher at JCPenny and be a good little consumer.

Screw that. My house gets dirty. When I wash as a sweater, I throw it in on delicate and pull it out and hang it on the little drying rack I have. Or if I’m really lazy and don’t have any other laundry to do (which happens like once…ever) I’ll throw it in the dryer on super low dry and keep starting the cycle over and and over again.

I haven’t read Martha Stewart’s magazine in many years, but last time I did, they used to have a calender in the front telling you what to “schedule” for that month. With really important things too like “service the vacuum cleaner” and “service your lawn mower.” Really?!? Who really gives their lawn mowers regular check ups? I mean really? I know “they” (the proverbial “expert HGTV television media Bob Villa” they) tell you to do, but WHO REALLY DOES? You know when my lawn mower gets serviced? When it ain’t workin’ right. Otherwise it’s cutting grass or resting in the garage, not getting a spa treatment and a facial.

So if you are addicted to these types of shows, I challenge you to stop watching them. Live in your OWN world for awhile. I’m NOT the best decorator ok (nothing in my house matches, I can never decide WHAT my style is that week) but I did notice once I stopped with those shows, I became much more accepting of my HOME! HOME! Emphasis on that word. HOME! Not magazine spread. I kind of started liking the fact that I had scattered memories around my house that would never make it on TV. That, even though my furniture didn’t match, everyone that came to my house for a cup of coffee commented on how “warm” a feeling the house had. And when my niece and nephews one year told me that the scent and feel of my home was their very favorite, enough that when a letter from Santa came to their mailbox smelling like “Auntie Jess’s House” (damnit, I should have thought of that but I didn’t!) their mother told them that was because Santa knew that Auntie Jess’s house was one of their favorite smells, and they bought it, it sealed the deal for me. Now THAT. That right there was proof enough that I’m doing something right. That something right had nothing to do with designer jar candles and Ralph Lauren paint.

Don’t get me wrong, this house needs work but it’s mostly for practical purposes. Sure, I’ve got pipe dreams like the rest of us on the how I’d love the house decorated but they are MY pipe dreams at least. Not stolen from HGTV. I’m certainly NOT saying don’t find inspiration, but there is a fine line between inspiring yourself and just torturing yourself or being spoon fed.

I started to notice the further I got from the home and garden TV shows, the MORE creative I got. If I wanted to do something, I researched it myself. I started getting more comfortable putting spins on things. My owns spins. Eventually, those little “spins” became whole new ideas. Some were variations on age old things, others were simply no variations at all but instead a great appreciation with how things were once done and trying to capture that lost art. Some I realized I couldn’t do at all. Ever. (I can’t sew. I really can’t sew. I’d LOVE to, but I’m sewing challenged. I don’t get it. 3 classes and a private lesson later I still have no idea.)

There are hard and fast rules to anything. You don’t wanna mess with certain things. Primer comes before paint. The chicken should be cooked at 350. Strawberry jam needs processed in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes,  no less. But other things are pretty obvious. If there’s a different way to do something, try it. Do what makes it easier, or do what improves upon it and don’t be afraid it’s not gonna look magazine perfect. Get pissed at it. Then pick it up and try again. Or realize you simply don’t like it and no one can make you. And don’t feel bad about that.

Learn the difference between inspiration and instruction. Somethings are meant to be literally taken and done, others are just ideas. When it’s literal, it’s usually really obvious.

I’m not demanding you shut off the TV, you can do what you like, but try to take it at face value. It’s entertainment. Nothing more. You live in the real world, with a REAL budget, real problems, real time constraints and real ideas. Oh no! You can’t make duck with cranberry sauce and lightly sauteed scallions for dinner! SFW. You’re family will eat your cheesy chicken and broccoli and like it better. Probably more. Oh no! You’re carpet doesn’t match your couch! Well, maybe if the dog would stop tracking in mud it would, but who’s going to buy a new couch and send $300 having their carpet shampooed when bills need paid? Take some Spot Shot and do your best with it when you get a free moment. If that doesn’t work, pass it off as Fido’s art work. You’ve got other things to worry about I’m sure. No one is gonna judge you on your stained carpet. And if they do, tell them to get the hell out of your house.

And I highly doubt, regardless of what TV tells you, that you have time to stretch a damn sweater.

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2 thoughts on “Measure this

  1. Martha Stewart can lick the last drop out of my wine glass. That women bugs me. I use to watch HGTV all the time when my son was a newborn. Got several ideas. Really who has a living room or bedroom that big!! The average person doesn’t have a room that size. How about a show called, “Decorating on a $100 budget.” I could host that show. I watch HGTV to motivate myself to clean my home.

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