HGTV Property Brothers: An Oasis of Nice in a House of Dump

I’m sorry, but it must be said. The brunette Property Brother looks exactly like Ezra, from Pretty Little Liars. I can’t tell if this is a good thing, but I’m constantly distracted by this. What are you doing selling houses, Ezra? Shouldn’t you be teaching college English and dating a high school student who is cute as a button and totally inappropriate for you? Oh wait, wrong show. I was wondering why A hadn’t texted anyone in the last thirty seconds.

The concept of this HGTV show is that the swarthy brother plays real estate agent, cruelly takes clients to their dream home only to say, “Actually, this property is WAY over your budget.” Then he gives that flat look, as if to say *Should’ve worked harder.*

After that, he proceeds to take them to the dumps they CAN afford. The more ripe for a bulldozer they look the better. In fact, they led one of the clients into the basement where they had to cover their noses with their own t-shirts to keep themselves from chucking their lunch. Ah, TV gold.

Keep in mind, these dumps come at dumpy prices, but he always adds a cool $50K-$60K for his blonde brother to use for renovations. Sounds like swarthy brother is passing swash-buckling brother some work, doesn’t it? I wonder which one of them had the idea to do this show. I’m betting on real estate swarthy brother, to get swash-buckling brother off his couch.

So then the renovations begin. WHOA! Unexpected cost of a pipe that needs to be re-routed. WHOA! Unexpected cost of the subfloor being rotted (in a dump house, imagine that). Cha-ching, cha-ching! So then swash-buckling brother comes to the client to say, “Sorry, you can’t have everything you want. This is going to cost more money than we thought.” Like any contractor.

The reveals — I live for the reveals. The dump now looks like a livable, modern home, complete with fake pears in a basket and clean floors and de-cluttered kitchens. Oooo, aahhhh. Cue the crying clients.

I have some lingering questions though, like:

  • Did you fix the basement that smelled like someone died in it? I’m imagining it’s still that way, even though the upstairs now looks like it came out of a Pottery Barn magazine.
  • What about the bedrooms with the torn, hanging wallpaper and stained carpets and rat traps? The homeowners probably have to say, “Well, I really enjoyed cooking in my pristine kitchen. Let’s put on our hazmat suits and go to bed.”
  • Why on earth did you install an $1100 GRANITE SINK? Didn’t the discussion five minutes ago in TV time go something like, “Well, you might consider laminate floors, since we had the surprise of a rotten subfloor. That will save you money, and we’ll stay on budget.” Why didn’t the client just consider a stainless steel sink???

The budget actually is my main complaint with HGTV. Because unless you’re a design-for-less show, these designers are doing things for major bucks. Genevieve Gorder was given a living room to do with the paltry budget of $8K, and she balked, “That’s not much to work with. We’re going to have to re-use things.” Holy crap, that amount would buy out IKEA! Not everything has to be custom-made using rare fabrics from India!

In any case, I like you, Property Brothers. You torture your clients. And then you give them an oasis of modern living inside an otherwise dilapidated house.

What do you think?


I’m On To You, Shower Spray Refill Bottles …

Zoom View - Daily Shower Spray Cleaner Refill Ylang YlangShower spray promises the thing I love most: Less cleaning. I’m supposed to take my shower and then spray this magical concoction which will then spare me the odious task of scrubbing the tiles. Sign me up! The jury is out as to whether this works, but frequent showering means that your spray bottle is soon empty! Zounds!

Rather than buying additional spray bottles, you can save the planet (arguably) and pennies in your wallet by buying refill bottles. At least, that’s what these big jugs promise. Sounds great!

The problem: The evil manufacturing geniuses decide to make the opening of the refill bottle nearly twice the size of the shower spray bottle. This means that when you’re in a rush, as I often am, and you need to refill your spray bottle, a lot of the contents are inevitably lost.

Get me straight: I think my stream is probably more than satisfactory. I’m careful. I’m in a rush, but I don’t want to lose some of this precious cleaning savior. And yet, I feel like a tablespoon of shower spray juice is somehow pooled into my sink and down the drain. This makes me wonder: Am I actually saving money?

Why can’t they slap a spout on these things, like laundry detergents? (And don’t even get me started on the mysterious fill-until-this-line caps, which are no where to be found.) Oh that’s right, because evil manufacturing geniuses want me to keep buying shower spray refill bottles.

It’s an endless, futile cycle.

How about you? Have you encountered any dumb household products that are probably made to make you wasteful?

Unrelated: How Words Can Both Pay and Save

Last year, I declared last July my ambitious Read-All-You-Can month, and two things happened: 1) I blazed through a lot of the novels stacked on my shelf, and  2) my credit card bill amount was the lowest it had been all year. I’m ready for another one of those months, as a big stack of unread books (and now e-books on my Kindle) are cluttering my bedside table, and I need to finish paying off my new Apple computer.  So I’ve declared February 2010 a Read-All-You-Can month, and some folks on Facebook are going to join in.

So here’s the reading list:

  • The Haunted Ground by Erin Hart, Mystery, (I’ve read 50 out of) 526 pages. [Completed 2/5/2011]
  • The Black Book of Secrets by P. E. Higgins, Young Adult, 273 pages. [Completed 2/5/2011]
  • House at Riverton: A Novel by Kate Morton, Fiction, 496 pages.
  • Winter Rose by Jennifer Donnelly, Fiction, 707 pages. [Completed 2/8/2011]
  • Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, Young Adult, 472 pages.


  • Don’t Die, Dragonfly by Linda Joy Singleton, Young Adult, 288 pages.
  • Switched (Trylle Trilogy, Book 1) by Amand Hocking, Young Adult, 330 pages.
  • The Imperfectionists: A Novel by Tom Rachman, Fiction, 304 pages.
  • Favorite by Karen McQuestion, Young Adult, 170 pages.

Books I didn’t complete last July but still need to read:

  • Fire by Kristen Cashore, Young Adult, 461 pages. [Completed 2/15/2011]
  • The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson, Fiction, 630 pages.
  • The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters, Fiction, 528 pages.
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Young Adult, 576 pages.
  • A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick, Fiction, 320 pages. [Completed 2/20/2011]
  • Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje, Fiction, 273 pages.

Totals: 15 books, 6,304 pages (225.14 pages per day)

  • 7 Fiction 5 Fiction
  • 7 Young Adult 5 Young Adult
  • 1 Mystery

So this is certainly ambitious. I’m sure work will be running me ragged, but I’m determined to stick my head in a book to de-stress and save some mula. Last time, the novels read count was about 13 or so. However, July has 3 more days than February. So we’ll see how far I get.

Good luck, participating Facebook friends!

Home Products That Baffle: Double Washstand

I stopped in the dimly lit Restoration Hardware today, a store that is way above my pay grade. Whenever I walk inside, I have an intense “I shouldn’t be here” reaction. Just looking at a tiny bottle of something called Sofa Spray with a $25 tag made me want a hasty retreat. Abort, abort! I truly believe Restoration Hardware is intended for women who really like telling you “This is from Restoration Hardware,” and “Oh, don’t you just love Restoration Hardware?” as they smugly watch their husbands being delivered home in limousines. (At least, that’s how I imagine it.)

But let’s get back to the product in question. I bring you, the double washstand sans cabinet:

Weathered Oak Double Washstand

Sure, this looks classy. It probably has the flavor of several nice hotel rooms I’ve stayed in, with the hotel towels stacked neatly under the sink.

But hang on, I don’t live in a hotel where someone comes in to fold the towels and fix my sheets. I live in a world where I own a hair dryer, and brushes, and headbands, and puppy dog shampoo, and makeup I don’t use but probably should throw out, and extra toothpaste, and bags of little hotel shampoos I’ve swiped from the aforementioned washstands. Do I want all this business displayed in my bathroom? NO. Hence the cabinet doors concealing the one truly wrecked area of my house.

When I asked Mom about what one would do about these things, she said, “You wouldn’t have a linen closet, because you could store your towels here.” But does that mean I’m going to my linen closet for my hair dryer? Oh, Restoration Hardware, please.

Plus, this is $1299 – $2315. Shouldn’t a consumer get some doors for that price? At least?

And by the way, what is UP with Restoration Hardware having everything washed out and neutral? I don’t think color exists in this place anymore. What happened to the pink fluffy towels I liked but couldn’t afford? I did like visiting them now and then.

Home Products that Baffle: Pebblettes

Multi Green PebblettesSo, I see about dozens of products that baffle on Pottery Barn, but I don’t want to pick solely on them, especially as I love my bathroom tiered baskets I just received, so here’s one from Crate and Barrel.

These tiny glass pebbles are pretty, I admit, and I didn’t, at first, realize that they’re supposed to be at the bottom of a flower vase. But let’s think about this: I’m going to shove some store bought flowers (that I’ll buy myself, depressingly) into this pretty pebbly display, only to have one stalk going left and another one too high up, which will then frustrate me … followed by the death of the flowers and my desire to dump, rather than gently lay these buds to rest. Out pour the pebblettes.

So, suppose you use this as some sort of display. They look a little too close to jelly beans, for my taste. Someone not paying attention might delve in and try to munch on them. Or — worse yet — a clumsy house guest (or self, which is more likely) could gesture wildly, only to knock my pretty container over — ta da! Pebblette confetti. I can tell by this picture my sanity would be expended trying to pick these little things up. I’d probably give up and go with the vacuum.

I’m also not a fan of the hand wash phrase. Because how will I hand wash these and not lose them down the drain? What do y’all think?

A 2 lb. bag of Multi Green Pebblettes are $7.95 at Crate and Barrel.

Here’s My Beef With You, Food Network …

I am certainly a fan of the Food Network. I don’t mind watching a good cooking show from the comfort of my couch, thinking of all the yummy food items I could (and probably won’t) whip up in the kitchen. Ina Garten, or the Barefoot Contessa, is a favorite. But I have two issues with the Food Network:

1) Airing summer shows during the darkest throes of winter. Thanks for showing Ina finding a seasonal eggplant dish plucked from her local farmers on a bright summer day and tossing various things on her grill … while I’m sitting on the couch bundled up with my footie pajamas over my regular pajamas and a snuggie draped over me because it’s COLD! My life would most likely be put at risk if I made that dish during below freezing temperatures. Why do you have to torture me like this?

2) The phrase “good.” Also, I don’t appreciate it when these hosts are going through a recipe and talking about “good olive oil.” “Make sure you use really good olive oil,” Ina says. All that means is NOT the cheap brand you bought from Harris Teeter that’s on sale but the $20 froo-froo variety you can find at Fresh Market, which maybe Ina can afford on a daily basis whereas I cannot. Oh Ina, please.

Anyone else have a beef with food shows?

Martha Headbutted By Her Own Dog — Coincidence?

You know that antiquated America’s Funniest Home Videos show, where a crowd of people laugh when a guy stupidly jumps from a trampoline onto the roof of a shack which invariably collapses and most likely sends him to a hospital with broken bones, dislocated joints, and cuts requiring stitches? I don’t really find that amusing.

But what has me questioning my sense of humor is this headline: Dog headbutt sends Martha Stewart to the hospital. My favorite part of this article is the following quote:

Quick thinking Stewat drafted in her daughter, Alexis, to get a plastic surgeon down to the emergency room, and she rode down to Northern Westchester Hospital among “the falling snow.”

Not only do we have “Stewat” but she is apparently quickly thinking about how she might need a plastic surgery for a split lip. Also, the falling snow is a nice touch. I just wish that she would describe how she used her own handcrafted bandage created from last seasons’ cotton balls and her favorite aloe vera plant, because that’s her kind of practical.

Is her dog headbutt coincidence with this blog? Time will tell. Wish you the best, Martha!

Some dogs are dangerous. My dog, however, is not.