Thursday, February 17, 2011

Restoration and Redemption

I have to confess that I have recently become fascinated with makeover shows. No, not the ones where you walk into the studio dressed in paint splattered holey jeans and sweatshirt then come out fifty minutes later looking like a runway model. When I say a makeover show I mean the shows where a young struggling newly joined couple is living in their recently deceased Aunt Betsy's old fashioned house. The furniture was bought in 1950 and the appliances are the version that came out ten years after the invention of refrigeration and indoor cooking. The couple is being unnecessarily stunted by the house. They would be able to finally finish that master's thesis or have that first child or succeed in their high powered entry level careers if only the house was more up to date and worthy of who they aspire to become in twenty years. The house is dark and depressing. The house is holding them back.

A perky decorator and her friend the dependable and creative general contractor use $1000 to completely update the house. By the way, I can believe the perky decorator much more than I can visualize a dependable contractor.

This process takes three days and the fabulous new home is revealed in thirty minutes.

One thing I've noticed. Even though the young couple are in ripped jeans and dark or even black clothing during the initial consultation with the decorator, they show up for the big reveal in neat clothes that have color accents which match the new paint or pillows.

My good friend Anne told me about these shows several years ago but somehow I did not get addicted to watching them until one week end this winter when we had snow, ice and 15 degree temperatures.

I've decided this is like last year when I first discovered food blogs. I subscribe to quite a few on and am fascinated by the pictures and recipes. I've probably saved a hundred of these beautiful pictures and preparation methods.

You might ask "How many dishes have you prepared from these?"

I have gone so far as to buy the oddly named spice and the refined sanding sugar, but I have prepared none. Not the beautiful cookies in unique shapes with meticulous frosting and complicated designs. Not the fifteen versions of apple pie and home made pastry. Not the magnificent ten inch round eighteen inch tall four layer cakes prepared for that three year old's birthday party.

I look at the page, read the recipe along with supporting copy describing the reason the blogger's son Sean likes dark chocolate and cowboys on horses vs. milk chocolate and space men. I then copy it all to a word processing document, and save it in a catalogued file on my hard drive; cookies, biscuits, pies, cakes, meat, side dishes, etc.
I can loose myself in that activity realizing hours later I have accomplished nothing else.

When do foodies have time to make the dishes? Do they entertain every week where a group of victims, err friends taste everything and gratefully acknowledge the talent of the cook?

While I might have the inclination to make the cakes and roast the meat, I don’t have time. I'm watching how to retile my downstairs bathroom, paint three bedrooms, plant annuals at the front of the house and insulate the basement.


  1. Those shows, those cookery programmes, that seduction... reeling you in to the fantasy, making you feel you can achieve all of these things.. and you can - in your head, you really can!

    We have oodles of those makeover programmes here in the UK. We have Grand designs where a couple build a house, or renovate an old castle from ruins into a beautiful home beyond your imagination, making you think you could do this... yeah you and a million pounds eh!

    And the 60minute makeover show where the owner of the house is lured away for the afternoon while well meaning relatives rip the house apart and the makeover people do their magic.. and how we would all love that to happen to us, so we go out and buy the super duper wallpaper.......

    And the cookery shows.... The things you can do with SeaBass eh? Come on... we are so much better than this cheap telly Charlene!

    But I still watch :)


  2. I know. I know.

    I used to fantasize about sex. Now it's about food I'll never cook and that fabulous bathroom I'll never do. SMILE

  3. this was a great post. And Charlene that is a funny response!

    Thanks girls for the smiles today - i needed 'em.

  4. SMILE

    Glad I could help Margaret! Or Peggy.... or Peg!

  5. Hey you... I want that cake you have in your photo up there.. all of it.. ALL OF IT!!!

    Yum... Damn, I love chocolate cake... :oD

    I hope all is well in your neck of the woods!!!


  6. If I had made the cake you could have it, all of it! All is well.

  7. Hey Charlene, I usually print those pictures on recycled paper as it has much more fiber than the regular paper :)

    I just finished repairs on an old house and barn. I can tell you that rarely do things come off as smoothly as on those shows.

    It's been warm here in Alabama this week.

  8. I love the make over shows...would like to do it myself..but I've watched too many make over shows..ha

  9. I wondered where you'd gone! I quite like watching cookery programmes which is odd as I HATE cooking; I do quite like a spot of baking which is completely different of course.

    Bizarrely I like to watch Top Gear even though I don't even know how to drive!

  10. She's back! It's been a long time. Some (well, one, anyway) of your readers has been experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms, only alleviated by chocolate cake. Intravenously.

  11. Before I remodeled my old house I watched hours and hours of those shows. It really helped. I don't tend to do the food ones, though - I just tear out recipes and try them.

  12. It would be hard to bake a cake while learning to retile!

  13. What a well-written and well-illustrated blog.

  14. Damn shame, how our fantasies change! Before my mom died, she and I watched food shows, that was the only thing she could focus on. I just don't enjoy watching them anymore, my brother still does.....he'll call and tell me all he's learned.

  15. Charlene, have you checked out this food blog? I went through a period of loving the Iron Chef series, and ironically found myself cooking less-- and less well-- because I was watching the tube. Ha! There's a Flickr group called "food porn" which I've wasted hours clicking through. As usual, this is a thought-provoking post. Thanks.

  16. Snort!

    I'm an obsessive kind of gal. I have a tendency to get hooked on a subject (currently, perfume, again) and want to learn everything I can about it. It takes all my mental muscle to control the time and money I spend on it. It's best if I stick to something that I don't have to buy to enjoy.

    The whole notion of reformation is so powerfully attractive, isn't it? Real reformation...not reality teevee reformation.


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