Tag Archives: HGTV

I want a man for my birthday

I have a few chores around the house that I’ve been avoiding. Things that require me to stand on a ladder or dig up substitutes for tools I don’t own. I may go into a nursing home before the two new smoke alarms get installed.

It got me to thinking (especially since my birthday is coming up) that a really nice present for a single woman would be an afternoon or morning of manly services. No, not that kind. Don’t send me a gigolo when it’s a handyman I’m hankering for. Here’s how it would work.

Carter Oosterhouse

If you happen to be related to HGTV’s Carter Oosterhouse, please send him over. Oh, yes. He would be a BIG HELP.

Do you have a husband or father or son who can perform basic manly tasks around your house? I’m not talking about a certified plumber or anything. But maybe a guy who can carry lawn chairs up from the basement to get ready for the coming season, or clean leaves out of the gutters? Install those damned smoke alarms? (It’s not that I’m some frilly, helpless girlie-girl, but I am only 5’2 and am chubby and old; ladders scare me a little bit.)

handyman no

If this is the relative you’re thinking of sending over to give me a hand – never mind. I think I’ve got everything under control.

I can’t even begin to tell you how much I’d appreciate some help once in a while. Someone I’m not paying $20+ an hour to do a lot of things I could probably do myself if were younger and taller. I’ll bet you know someone like me who would appreciate the help as much as I would. Or maybe your friend is a single mom with little kids running her ragged who would give her left nut (if nuts she had) to have a few hours of complimentary babysitting service.

Oh – and here’s another one for the single mom. If she doesn’t have family around who thinks of doing this, offer to take her kids to the store to buy her a birthday or Christmas gift. She’ll even gladly give you the money. It’s just sad all around when mommy doesn’t have anything to open Christmas morning and the kids feel bad that they couldn’t get her a present. I’ve been there. This is a big deal and the friend and her kids will be so grateful to you for the help.

But back to me, me, me . . .

I don’t expect your husband/father/son to come over for the afternoon to help me because he’s just so kind and thoughtful. No. This is where you come in.

Instead of buying me a birthday dinner or a scarf or some other very nice gift, pay off your husband so he’ll feel like he’s getting something out of the deal. Make him chocolate chip cookies or offer one sex-on-demand certificate in exchange for his services. (Stick to the cookies for your father or son, of course.) I mean, putting out is the least you could do for a good friend, right?

In a world where most of us don’t need more “stuff,” I think it makes sense to consider how we can show our love to family and friends in more creative ways.

So there you go. My birthday is April 14th if any of my BFF’s want to consider going this route. It’s a big birthday this year, so you’re probably already wondering what to get me. Here’s the answer. And if you don’t know me but just read my blog (thank you for THAT, by the way!), then I hope you will consider this for one of your dear friends who lives alone. Tell her Kate sent you.


pepe le pewWouldn’t you know it, but I no sooner wrote this when I urgently needed manly help! My dear friend Carol and her beau, Bob, came to my rescue Sunday morning when a skunk was hiding under the new addition to my house. I knew this because my miniature hound dog, Mick, was sniffing and digging maniacally at a hole leading under the house (the addition, my bedroom, is built on top of what was a deck and is now filled with insulation). When I reached down to drag him away I could smell skunk residue. Not a full-fledged, gruesome spray, thank goodness.

Carol and Bob drove over in a flash and helped move a large railroad trestle-type length of wood over to block Mick from the hole. I wish I could say that was the end of the story, but I’m afraid there may be more to share before this is done. Tomorrow the wildlife exterminators are coming over to build a wire mesh barrier to prevent Pepe le Pew and his smelly little paramour from making sweet love and birthing babies under my bedroom.

So thank you, Carol and Bob, and an early happy birthday to me! I hope Carol showed her gratitude to Bob in some appropriate manner.


Crazy about color

Okay, so my favorite show is “House Hunters International.” One of my favorites, anyway. I DVR every episode in Europe and while I thought I’d seen them all by now, I was thrilled to my toes to discover one in Paris that I’d missed.


An American woman working as an attorney in Paris decided to stop renting and buy an apartment in the heart of the city. With her $500,000 US budget, the realtor was showing her one-bedroom, 400 square foot apartments in the Marais, a happening arrondissement, or district, of Paris. Yes. That’s what you get for half a mil in Paris.

She ended up buying the smallest one because it had good bones (you can’t watch as much HGTV as I do without picking up the lingo, guys) and was on a lovely, quiet street, just steps from shops and cafes. Sigh.

The last bit on every episode takes you back to the home buyer’s place a few months after the purchase. In this case, in about four months the woman had completely renovated the tiny flat (spending an additional $135,000) and it was a knock out.

Not everyone would agree, I’m sure – but the decor was so appealing to me. I already have white kitchen cabinets, but the rest of the kitchen is a boring beige. Cheap beige counter top, cheap beige linoleum and white walls with no back-splash. I haven’t done anything other than the cupboards since I moved in 11 years ago. I tend to spend what money I have on TRIPS to places like Paris, rather than on the home decor I also, admittedly, covet.

Anyway, here are photos I took from the TV of the tiles in her kitchen.

"How do you like my tiles, Pierre?" she asked coquettishly.

“How do you like my tiles, Pierre?” she asked coquettishly.

"C'est magnifique!" Pierre enthused.

“C’est magnifique!” Pierre enthused.

I want those tiles. I want my kitchen to look JUST LIKE THAT.

"See how pretty they are up close?" she pointed out.

“See how pretty they are up close?” she pointed out.

I also want to have a pied a terre in Paris, a villa on the Amalfi Coast and a thatch-roofed cottage in Ireland. Since I don’t buy lottery tickets, I don’t see any of this happening. Even if I did buy lottery tickets, it would be equally unlikely.

"Why, those tiles would even work in my Irish cottage," I added.

“Why, those tiles would even work in my Irish cottage,” I added.

But maybe I can put colorful tiles in my kitchen at home. Mais, oui! What do you think?

Damn the DVR and pass the popcorn

A few years ago my son was home for a prolonged visit and convinced me he couldn’t  live without DVR for our TV. I had fought it for quite some time before giving in, not wanting to throw any more cash down the voracious Time Warner pie hole.

I have a hard time saying no to my boy.

So Chris taught me how it worked and for a while, it was just a novelty. Gee. I can fast forward past commercials. Nice.

Then one evening there was a show someone had recommended to me that was on past my bedtime. I know that makes me sound like a seven-year-old, but I like to go to bed early. Oh, well. I decided to record the show and thus began my free fall into . . . DVR HELL.

I quickly surmised that I could record programs 24/7 and watch them later, at will. I could follow “House Hunters International” from Budapest to Dublin, catching up on late night episodes while taking a lunch break. Lean Pocket in one hand and remote in the other, I could scroll through the guide and click “record” on every program of interest, saving them to watch later whenever I felt like it.

I discovered a passion for competition that I didn’t know was in me. I explained to Chris that “Project Runway,” “Next Iron Chef” and “Next HGTV Design Star” are my equivalent of Sunday football. He had a hard time buying that, but my argument is that it’s actually far more varied and interesting than professional sports. Here’s my take on football:  guy throws ball, guy catches ball, guy runs for a few seconds, some other guys jump on top of him. “Play” is stopped, and then they do it all over again. Big whoop.

For a while I watched skinny little girls try to out-pose each other to become “America’s Next Top Model,” and (mostly) skinny little guys lip sync for their lives in “Rue Paul’s Drag Race.” Then I discovered the ultimate in disgustingly mesmerizing and time-sucking reality genres: the REAL HOUSEWIVES.


Ramona’s crazy eyes

I started out with “The Real Housewives of New York City.” I was captivated by the whining drama between Bethenny and Jill, by Ramona’s “turtle time” dancing and crazy eyes, by the Countess’s ill-advised disco crooning, and by speculation about Simon’s true sexual orientation. Before I knew it, I also was addicted to the bosomy blondes in Orange County and Beverly Hills, not to mention the political powder puffs prancing and preening through Washington, DC. (New Jersey and Atlanta were too much, however – even for my now-compromised taste in entertainment.)

Eventually I had to go cold turkey with the Housewives. It was like turning my back on a train wreck. But when I found myself occasionally tuning into “The Millionaire Matchmaker” and “Toddlers and Tiaras,” I had to admit I was in deep doodie.

I stopped doing anything in my free time except watching TV. My life was torn between Bravo, TLC and HGTV with occasional forays into programming on Lifetime and the Food Network. And back in the land of drama, I was recording and trying to catch up with every “Grey’s Anatomy” that ever aired (since it came on after 9:00 pm, you understand).

I had become a kind of TV crack whore.

Thank you, son. Thank you very much. Chris knows he created a monster and even begged me to drop the DVR service when he was home over the holidays. I’m too far gone now to even consider it.

I am trying to give up the truly stupid choices and have gone back to reading, but I will never, ever turn my back on “The Next Food Network Star.”

Mary and Matthew finally got married - yay!

Mary and Matthew finally got married – yay!

I will not give up PBS, which I can rationalize since watching a show where the people are speaking with an English accent always makes all Americans feel smarter. I subscribe to that theory 100% and am therefore not only allowed but am encouraging myself to continue with any episode of Masterpiece Theatre (hurray for “Downton Abbey!” hurray for “Call the Midwife!”), “Doc Martin” and “Miranda.” And Rick Steves is on PBS, and Burt Wolfe, and watching travel shows is always educational, right?

I can’t bring myself to give up “Say Yes to the Dress,” either, by the way. I hope Chris will marry one day and I will need to be ready to be the perfect mother-in-law-to-be, sitting sweetly and being supportive, if I am lucky enough to be invited to join the hunt for the perfect gown. What I have learned: don’t venture an opinion until you’ve looked at the bride’s face to see if she loves what she’s wearing. It’s her wedding, not yours. Just smile and tell her she looks beautiful if she’s in love with the dress – even if it makes her look like a gigantic cupcake.

Joan and Miss Piggy talk fashion

Joan and Miss Piggy talk fashion

I will never stop recording and watching “Fashion Police.” Joan Rivers has to be one of the funniest people alive and I may even become a Joan Ranger. I have been a huge fan of “What Not to Wear” since it began years ago and don’t even suggest I forego “Master Chef” or “Next Top Chef.” Not happening.

As I see it, reality television and DVR hasn’t been all bad for me. I’ve learned some new cooking techniques, not to mention understanding why I need to look for structured jackets when I’m clothes shopping. I made a padded headboard for my bed and know where to look for a reasonably priced apartment in Berlin, thanks to HGTV. And now that I have a second TV downstairs facing the treadmill, I can work out while learning how to make restaurant-quality entrees at home, courtesy of Ann Burrell. Yum.