Betrayed By Better Homes and Gardens

Thanksgsweatsiving is a week away and I’ve done nothing to get ready for the holiday. Usually by this time I, at least, have made out my shopping list, but, ugh, I can’t seem to get my act together. I place the blame on the November issue of Better Homes and Gardens. The magazine has never had an adverse effect on me before, but now it’s guilty of killing my entertaining spirit. My turkey day joie de vivre has been crushed. All because of the high expectations brought forth by BHG. Why, oh why, have you betrayed me Better Homes and Gardens?

Here’s the deal. I don’t read Martha Stewart Living because it’s like looking at a fashion spread in Vogue. Would any human and/or alien who inhabits our galaxy wear the outfits featured in Vogue? Hell, no. It’s the same thing with Martha. The magazine is a cry for help. It’s not even aspirational reading. It’s – if you spend three days handcrafting linen napkins and then one whole day turning that creation into origami table art – go check yourself into a mental health care facility because it’s evident you are suffering from some sort of undiagnosed psychological disorder that’s being played out in an entertaining fetish. I always thought of Better Homes and Gardens as a safe haven of sorts. It’s readable and relatable. There are pages of recipes and tips that I can actually use and do. Then I received this month issue.

The thing that got me wasn’t the cooking or decorating tips, but the suggestions for welcoming house guests. The magazine calls it “five star hotel indulgences.” I call it scary. Let’s do a quick rundown of some of the recommendations. First up, hand-crochet holiday slippers. WTH? If a family member or friend gave me slippers she or he had knitted I would be freaked out. So many spooky questions would be running through my mind. When did they have the time? Why did they make the time? What did they not do to make the time? How did they know my shoe size? And most importantly, are the crocheted slippers some sort of process in a ritual serial killing? For me the knitted footwear is screaming, “Haul ass to the nearest Marriott Courtyard.”

Then there’s the guest room decor suggestions. Sure, it’s the usual suspects – fresh flowers in an heirloom vase and homemade harvest granola enriched snacks. But there’s also the recommendation to supply your guests with bandages and First Aid supplies. Am I the only one that thinks this is a red flag for the whole serial killing thing? Work with me on this. If you walked into a guest room and saw medical triage supplies would you or would you not be alarmed?

This issue also features a cutesy door hanger template you can use for your guests. One of the areas on the hanger was for “House Hints & Rules.” The magazine on their sample door hanger wrote “No treats for the dog” and “Backyard gate sticks.” Hmm, is this because the dog likes to feast on human remains? And about that backyard gate, I bet it sticks, as in sticks so much you’re never, ever, escaping.

I could be over thinking all of this and I fear the real problem is that I have a social disorder of my own. It’s not that I don’t enjoy being a guest in other people’s homes, but if they’re making a November 2014 Better Homes and Gardens fuss I’m going to be uncomfortable. Great hospitality to me is when my sister says, “I made a Costco run and there’s a tub of Artichoke dip with your name on it. Knock yourself out.” Or when a good friend asks, “Do you want one or two dogs sleeping with you?” That’s my kind of gracious living. It makes me feel at home and welcome. I don’t need flowers, an organic chunky knit throw artfully gracing the guest bed, or hand ground hummus. I just want to spend time with my loved ones and know that I’ll be able to reciprocate.

One of the problems with putting on the Ritz for house guests is that your overly indulgent hospitality may limit the number of invitations you’ll receive in return. Your guests could think, “I’ll never come close to replicating this” and be embarrassed to extend a “Hey, let’s do this at our house next year” invite or even return for a visit.

Wait a minute, wait a minute, maybe that’s what’s going on. Maybe this whole “five star” hospitality thing is a way to passive aggressively thin your houseguest herd. Oh, well played Better Homes and Gardens, well played.

**For more Snarky check out my book  Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. 

Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.  If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you. 

To stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link - http://is.gd/iEgnJ (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs.

 

Posted in Better Homes and Gardens, Entertaining, House Guests, Overnight guests, Thanksgiving | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Dear Snarky – Still Stuck at the Kiddie Table for Thanksgiving

Dear Snarky,10384343_1569011313310456_5708472324052755564_n

I’m going with my fiancé to his parents’ house for Thanksgiving. We have been dating for three years and for the past two years his mother has made me sit at the kids’ table. Hello, I’m 26 years old! This Thanksgiving I’m sure she is going to pull this stunt again. Should I stand up for myself and refuse to eat at the kiddie table (that is not even in the dining room BTW) or do I suck it up and not cause a scene?

Signed, Turkey Trouble

Dear Turkey,

 First off, I feel the need to offer you some premarital advice. Are you sure you want to a marry a man who can’t pull on his big boy britches and tell his mother that his soon to be wife will be dining at the same table as the rest of the adults? Also, your future mother-in-law sounds like a handful so be sure, very, very, sure you’re ready to marry into that kind of drama.

 As for the kids’ table – I would happily sit there and own it! Bring some cute crafts for your fellow diners and have a blast while counting your blessings that you’re not stuck eating with the adults who no doubt are either grousing about the country going to hell in a hand basket or Aunt Shirley’s and Uncle Stewart’s recent couple’s colonoscopies.

 Your bliss (faux or real) at eating with the kids will also show your future MIL not to mess with you because whatever shade she throws your way you’re going to turn it into a rainbow. 

 If you have a question for Dear Snarky – 21st Century Advice With An Attitude – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com or private message me on my Snarky Facebook page.

Posted in Dear Snarky, Kids Table at Thanksgiving, Mother-In-Laws, Thanksgiving | Tagged , , , , , , | 19 Comments

To Rake, or Not to Rake, That Is The Question

b5b97e47293b2ac67801194aa8ddd9daI have lived all over the United States – From the mountains, to the prairies, To the oceans, white with foam I’ve unpacked moving boxes. In fact, you know you get around a lot when there are multiple moving stickers on the underside of your furniture. I considered it the suburban version of carbon dating. One of the hardest things about moving can be deciphering the unwritten code of your new neighborhood as it pertains to outdoor maintenance. Primarily leaf raking and redistributing snow.

For example, in Texas when it snows, and by that a mean a smattering, maybe a quarter cup of semi-frozen precipitation gently falling from the sky, everyone freaks out. The whole city goes into lockdown. Grocery stores get picked clean of perishables, booze and ammo. For days prior to the 32 degrees with a chance of crystallized vapor forecast, news crews position their live trucks outside the Super Target to interview frenzied shoppers about the status of their provisions. The one thing no Texan worries about is clearing their driveway. Mainly, because no one owns, or perhaps has ever seen, a snow shovel.

When my family lived in the Lake Tahoe region of Nevada anyone who shoveled snow was a chump and a seasonal hater. You do not vanquish your driveway of the white stuff no matter how much Mother Nature dumped on it. To shovel your driveway means three things: 1) You aren’t a native and 2) because you aren’t a native you don’t own a vehicle big enough to plow through and over 12 foot snow drifts which means 3) you must not ski because with this much new snow you should be heading to the slopes not wasting time on driveway beautification.

(As for our brief sojourn in Los Angeles, folks there get freaked out when it rains. I had a neighbor who refused to drive in the rain and another one who had NEVER driven in the rain. Earthquakes though didn’t bother either of them. Go figure.)

Now based on these experiences, when my family moved to the middle of the country four years ago, I was lackadaisical about snow removal. My husband still had his big “Lake Tahoe” vehicle and no snowstorm could stop that bad boy from going anywhere. (Note: bad boy is referring to the car not my husband just in case anyone was getting confused.) Little did we know our non-shoveling practices were proving confusing to the neighbors. I started to catch on when people would seek me out and volunteer to “help me” shovel my driveway. This is when I learned that in the Midwest a non-shoveled driveway is sign of slothful living or you have a heart condition that prohibits interaction with a snow shovel. Now, I consider myself an almost native because not only do I shovel my driveway with a vengeance (and I own two different kinds of shovels. One for clearing large areas and one for detail work on porches, patios and porticos) but I’m one of those crazies that go out mid blizzard to get an early start on snow removal.

My lack of knowledge about the etiquette of snow removal was nothing compared to my leaf raking ignorance. Once again, I must blame Texas, Los Angeles and Nevada for my stupidity. In L.A. and the Lone Star state there are no leaves to rake. The trees never shed their green. In northern Nevada if you rake your leaves you’re an environmental terrorist. There’s not even any kind of leaf pickup and just say no to being able to find any leaf bags. Your residential layer of leaves are meant to stay on our yard so they can act as a winter blanket, a snow barrier, a compost cover, whatever you want to call it, until Spring when you then gently mulch the leaf refuse with your solar-powered mower.

This is my way of saying, I did not know that leaf raking is considered a competitive sport in the Midwest. I was woefully unaware that the number of brown leaf bags lining your curb was how you keep score or that there was something called “yarpet” which is where you strive for your lawn to look like green carpet unmarred by unattractive, past their expiration date, crumpled leaves. In fact, it wasn’t until a neighbor put up a makeshift leaf fence, which consisted of chicken wire strung between two stakes, that I got the hint. (It took awhile. I stared at that fence for days wondering what it was all about. Thinking it was yard art or maybe a weird kind of Native American dream catcher.) Finally, I had my Oprah Aha moment and embraced leaf removal. Last weekend, I filled 17 bags. Yeah, that’s right, I’m now a proud middle nation dweller and I have the yarpet to prove it.

**For more Snarky check out my book  Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. 

Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.  If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you. 

To stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link - http://is.gd/iEgnJ (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs.

Posted in Fall, Leak Raking, Midwest, Snow shoveling, Winter, Yarpet | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Bridezilla – The Early Years

show-imageI confess to, on occasion, watching the trio of reality wedding shows that are on the TLC network. There’s Say Yes to the Dress, Say Yes to the Dress Bridesmaids and Four Weddings where brides attend and rate each other’s ceremony and reception. (Have I mentioned these are all on Friday night? That right there tells you a lot about my social calendar.) I usually sit on the couch, my mouth agape, thinking that none of the nonsense I’m seeing really happened. It must be sort of, kind of, scripted because it’s all too crazy.

For example, what bride gets two wedding dresses? And an even better question is why would a parent pay for two dresses? Where’s the mom saying, “Hey, there mentally unhinged daughter of mine, you don’t need a separate wedding gown for your ceremony and a different one for your reception.”

If you do the wedding math the bride is only going to wear her ceremony gown for, what, two hours, max? As for requiring a different dress for your reception – is your wedding really going to be such a throwdown that you need a back up?

I’m not a dolt. I know wedding receptions have changed, a lot, from back in my day and I have zero nostalgia for the weddings I attended as a young adult. I was a bride in the 1980’s and, trust me, no one misses wedding gowns inspired by the TV show Dynasty with puffed sleeves so ginormous they could do double duty as umbrellas and receptions held in the church fellowship hall with punch, cake and Jordan almonds. (Just why on the almonds? How did that ever become a wedding thing?)  Regardless, I’m still flabbergasted by the receptions I see on TV. There’s the cocktail hour where you pre-feed your guests a light buffet before the seven course, sit down dinner, followed by a post reception midnight breakfast. It’s like the witch in Hansel and Gretel is the wedding cater and she’s stuffing the guests so she can eat them later.

But, as of this week, all of the current wedding hoopla makes sense from the multiple dresses to the layering of the reception into three different events. You see I have found the birthplace of this foolishness. The primordial stew, if you will, from where all this festers and flows. It’s called high school homecoming. Yes, that’s right homecoming (not prom, people). A dance held in a gym, that is infused with the odor of a thousand sweat socks, is ground zero for the making of a bridezilla.

Confused? Hang on, I’m going to walk you through it. Having lived through my first homecoming as a parent of a girl here’s what I learned. A high school homecoming usually requires two outfits. A fancy-ish dress (with abundant accessories) for the dance and one for the after party which may or may not have a theme. The grooming ritual for the dance can include; spray tan, professional hair and makeup, mani/pedi and, at the very least, an eyebrow wax. Once again, lest you forgot, this is all for a dance in a gym.

The “Ho Co” activities are as follows: First, an outdoor photo session with the dinner group (which is at least a dozen kids). This can take upwards of an hour for the parents to get all the pictures their daughters are telling them they need. I have discovered that the picture-taking is THE most important part of homecoming. It’s all about the pictorial. Seriously, for most girls their dates are simply a conduit to a photo-op. Next up, is dinner at a restaurant, then the dance in the gym described as something to be “gotten out of the way” so the teens can head to the after party which, as previously stated, requires a change in outfits.

Now, if you have girls, as young as 14, being schooled in this crazy, the whole bridezilla epidemic makes perfect sense. Why wouldn’t you “demand” two dresses for your wedding if you had two for your flipping freshman homecoming dance?

This is why I felt I needed to take a firm-parenting stand. I figured it’s never to early to start waging a war against raising a bridezilla. So, I gave my daughter a two-figure homecoming budget and a Discount Shoe Warehouse coupon. Little does she know, that someday, her adult self will thank me or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.

**For more Snarky check out my book  Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. 

Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.  If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you. 

To stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link - http://is.gd/iEgnJ (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs.

Posted in Bridezilla, Homecoming | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Dear Snarky – My Sister-In-Law Screwed Me Over

Dedear_snarky_logo-1ar Snarky,

Recently my sister-in-law volunteered to make, what I would call, a coffee table photo book for my mother-in-law’s birthday. The book was supposed to be photos of ALL the grandkids. I thought it was a great idea so I submitted pictures of my kids and paid for half of the book. Fast-forward to my mother-in-law’s birthday party and when she gets the book it’s all pictures of my sister-in-law’s kids with only ONE photo of my three children. WTH?

Do I ask my sister-in-law for my money back as a way of showing that I’m super ticked off and do I need to tell my mother-in-law the back-story? Because, as of right, now it looks like I didn’t get my mother-in-law a present since the book contains 53 pictures of just my sister-in-laws kids!

Signed, Bummed

 Dear Bummed,

Yes, I would ask your sister-in-law for your money back because she most certainly did not create, as promised, a book of ALL your mother-in-law’s grandchildren. I think she needs to be called out on her behavior – family harmony be damned. What she did was beyond rude. And she needs to know that you’re not going to put up these kinds of shenanigans in the future. Consider it a line in the sand.

 I would then take the sister-in-law refund money and make a book with photos of just your kids for your mother-in-law. That way she has two precious books of her grandchildren and any grandma would love that!

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – 21st Century Advice With An Attitude – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com or private message me on my Snarky Facebook page.

Posted in Dear Snarky, Sister-in-law | Tagged , , , , | 13 Comments

Halloween Etiquette

halloween-candy-ecards-someecardsI love Halloween. It’s an event based on candy and that’s something I embrace one fun size Snickers bar at a time. I do, though, have some rules about trick-or-treating. Well, maybe not rules so much. It’s more of a level of standards that I adhere to. The one I enforce with a vengeance is teenagers trick-or-treating. I believe if you’re old enough to vote and serve your country in the Armed Forces it might be time to retire you candy bag. Also, do not come to my door sans costume and tell me you’re going as a “teenager.” This will earn you zero candy but I will give a number two pencil for taking your SAT’s. Sure, I fear these teens, I tick off with my no candy edict, might come back later and exact a little revenge – ie – toilet paper my house. But, that’s why I leave my sprinkler system on all night.

Another thing that yanks my Halloween chain is adults trick-or-treating. Oh, they do it very discreetly or at least they think they are being all sneaky, but no one is fooled. I’m referring to the grown up who is taking a group of kids around and yet has their own candy bag. Scandalous, right? And this is how they do it. As all the kids are opening their bags for the goodie drop the adult scoots their bag into the fray. This is when I stop mid treat release and ask, “Oh my, do you have your own trick-or-treat bag?” I usually get a sheepish grin. My response is to give them, you guessed it, a pencil.

It’s also a parenting fail. What kind of lackluster parental authority do you possess if you don’t have the upper hand in the post trick-or-treat candy dispersal? It should be a given that mom (and dad) get first dibs on some select items from their kid’s treat haul. This negates the need for a parent to shamefully venture out on Halloween with their own candy bag. Also, for the love of sucrose, why wouldn’t the parent just go the store, buy themselves a 70 piece bag of Hershey’s assorted candy for $8.99, then hid the loot  from their family (my go to is the linen closet because God forbid someone I live with changes their own sheets) and secretly enjoy the sensuous pleasure of eating chocolate alone while watching something shameful on Bravo?

Speaking of chocolate, my trick-or-treat standards also apply to the quality and quantity of the confections. Last year, my daughter had to learn a hard lesson about life. She and her friends insisted on leaving their subdivision and venturing off to what they called the “rich neighborhood.” I tried to warn them that the bigger the houses the less candy. Plus, there’s the time suck of having to walk through all of the estate size yards to reach the front door. This really cuts down on your treat haul. They all looked at me like I was crazy. To them it didn’t make sense. Wouldn’t the bigger house signify that all the candy would be king size? All they could think about was saying hello to extra-large Reese Peanut Cups.

Three hours and a half full candy bag later my daughter arrives home crestfallen. She had to begrudgingly admit (oh the horror) I was right. Not only, were most of the homes “dark,” the universal sign of don’t waste your time knocking on this door but the people who were doling out sweets believed in downsizing their caloric offerings or worse, handed out healthy snacks, as in Whole Food soy treats. This is when I unearthed my secret stash of “me” chocolate, topped off her bag and as we unwrapped Kit Kat’s I shared some cold, hard truths about trick-or-treating.

First, you want to stick to our own hood. The people there know you and are going to give you extra candy because they’ve watched you grow up from Disney Princess to Goth Vampire. Two, the more average the neighbor the more above average the candy. This is where the younger families live. They are 100 percent into Halloween. It’s ground zero for full size candy bars or at the very least, four mini candy bars, of your choice. Lastly, big isn’t always better. Just because it looks like someone has the extra income to spend on upgraded treats doesn’t mean they’re going to open their wallets and go full Hershey bar. They might have all their ready cash tied up in stocks or something.

Lucky for me, this time of year all my assets are in chocolate and my savings account is a Costco size bag of candy in the back of my linen closet.

**For more Snarky check out my book  Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. 

Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.  If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you. 

To stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link - http://is.gd/iEgnJ (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs.

Posted in Halloween, Trick or Treat | Tagged , , , , , | 9 Comments

Dear Snarky – The Trick-or-Treat Throwdown

dear_snarky_logoDear Snarky,

My daughter just got bounced from a Halloween trick-or-treating group! 14 kids and six mothers were all going to go together to trick-or-treat. This has been planned since the first of October. All the girls are going as Disney princesses. My daughter is going to be Anna from the movie Frozen. Yesterday, I got a text message from a mom (who organized the trick-or-treating outing) telling me her daughter now wants to go as Anna and since it would be “weird” to have two of the same Disney princesses trick-or-treating together it would be “best if I found another group to go with.”

I’m so angry and upset for my daughter I wish I could do a throw down. How do I even begin to explain this to a six-year-old?

Signed, Can’t Let it Go,

Dear Can’t,

Don’t be angry and don’t, no matter how much you want to, engage in a throw down. Instead be happy, relieved and joyous. You, and your daughter, have been freed from spending Halloween with a bunch of evil, controlling witches. The fact that an adult would be such a freak about Halloween and what costumes kids are wearing, scares me, like a lot. And seriously, pretty much every little girl is going to be trick-or-treating as either Anna or Elsa from Frozen. The mom who sent you that text must have been off her meds.

The way I see it you can do one of two things – pick up the phone and find your daughter another kid or kids to trick-or-treat with or go just as a family and savor the experience. Also, on the plus side, I have found you can cover a lot more trick-or-treating ground when you are with a smaller group.

I would tell your daughter an abbreviated version of the truth, as in her Halloween has just been upgraded, and celebrate the news with a full size Kit Kat bar. As for that texting witch, I would get 48 rolls of toilet paper from Costco and decorate her house with it.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – 21st Century Advice With An Attitude – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com or private message me on my Snarky Facebook page.

Posted in Dear Snarky, Halloween, Halloween Hater, Mean Moms, Trick or Treat | Tagged , , , , , , | 9 Comments