Episodes

The August 2020 Episode

It’s August 2020 and we’re back with another fact-filled episode of Could Be Better! Do you know what the watermelon emoji means? Do you know what color makes Rob go ga-ga for paint can lids? Can you guess what culinary tip J. has been keeping from Rob for years? What is the kids’ favorite song and parents’ least-favorite song? Find out the answers to all of these puzzlers in our August episode! Plus: more hot male gardeners, pickling with the gays, and defying the architecture of your house in your decor. So pour some big-batch rosemary lemonade (our signature cocktail, spiked of course), grab your magazine and read along with us! Music by Bensound.com and the Zinghoppers.

Episodes · Show News

The July 2020 Episode, Part Two with Special Guest Paul Trudel-Payne

It’s a summer surprise: not one but TWO episodes of Could Be Better! In Part Two of our July 2020 episode, we talk with award-winning interior designer, real estate expert and podcast host Paul Trudel-Payne. He hosts the awesome In Your Mind podcast, which we’ll be on in a few weeks. We review a section of the July 2020 issue of Better Homes and Gardens with him, talking paint can lids, the color green, Southwestern style, and some budget-friendly home updates. Whether we are into these things or not…well, listen and find out. We also talk about a nonbinary backyard–because gender is over! Make sure to listen to Part One for our full opinion-packed tour through the magazine. Theme music by Bensound.com. Thanks again to Paul for joining us for a fun conversation!

Episodes · Show News

The July 2020 Episode: Part One

It’s July, it’s summertime, and after months of quarantine/shelter in place/safer at home you deserve a little treat–so we’re bringing you TWO episodes for July. In Part One, we do our usual shtick and go through the magazine offering up our unsolicited opinions (spoiler alert: there are tags for hate and tags for love). In Part Two, hear our conversation with our very first guest, Paul Trudel-Payne, an actual award-winning designer who hosts his own podcast! (We’ll be on a future episode of his show, In Your Mind.) Part One brings us some Independence Day crafts (not doing those, sorry), yet another all-white house, a gorgeous garden that stresses us out, and some Upstate and Chill. (It’s a thing: Google it). Signature cocktail: Cherry Ginger Coolers a la Moscow Mules. Theme and interstitial music by Bensound.com. And make sure to listen to Part Two with our special guest for more shenanigans!

Uncategorized

Tag for Love: Anti-Slavery Quilts

You’ll usually find us joking about the craft project suggestions in the pages of Better Homes & Gardens, but today is Juneteenth and we want to take time to honor crafting as an art form and an instrument for social justice. We’re showing some Love for quilting and Anti-Slavery Quilts.

Example of an Abolition Era quilt

There are many theories about secret codes and meanings sown into quilts to guide slaves along the Underground Railroad. Since much of the history of quilting relies on oral history and storytelling, it is difficult to verify if these “quilt codes” really existed.

“Drunkards Path” panel believed to be code for slaves to “zig zag as you go to avoid being tracked.”

We do know that as Abolitionism grew it required funds to support the movement. Many Abolitionists were women and many women engaged in the craft of quilting.  Selling Anti-slavery Quilts was one way Abolitionists raised funds for social justice.

In the Northeast, Anti-slavery Quilts were often sold at Anti-Slavery Fairs. These events were organized to promote ending slavery to the larger community and raise funds for the movement.

Anti-Slavery Fair Poster

It was at one such Massachusetts fair in 1836 that organizers sold an Anti-Slavery Quilt, the earliest known fundraising quilt. The 8-pointed star crib quilt, sometimes attributed to author and activist Lydia Maria Child included a poem by Quaker poet Elizabeth Margaret Chandler in its center block that included a reminder to think of the slave mother, whose child “was torn from her.”

Hundreds of years later, there is still much Anti-Racist work left to do to achieve meaningful racial justice and equality. Perhaps some of that work can be accomplished through creativity, artistry, and yes, even crafts.

Episodes

The June 2020 Episode

This month is LGBTQ+ Pride Month, and it’s “How To Decorate Your Patio” time again! Despite the pandemic and protest marches, we are still here doing what we do: obsessing over a home shelter/food/crafting magazine as if it were the end-all, be-all of American experience. But we know we are not saving the world, and that this is all just design. If it makes you happy–and you are privileged enough to have a home to decorate, more power to you. Unlike the magazine, we are not changing our format, though we lament the replacement of the Throwback with the new Stylemaker back page. We taped this on what came to be known as Blackout Tuesday, and oh! the irony! of a paint can lid section devoted to WHITE paint! More white walls are only slightly offset by a rainbow-hued napkin and painted rock tableau. We puzzle over the plans for a kitchen makeover with both a peninsula and an island, and ponder the implications of building a big black box in your front yard. Happy Pride Month, everyone! Signature cocktails: strawberry mint lemon-orangeade cooler, and a “Lilac’s Lament,” a lilac-infused vodka drink with nectarines. Music by Bensound.com. End credits by Ramon.

J’s signature cocktail, inspired by the strawberry mint lemonade recipe.
Rob’s signature cocktail, a lilac-infused vodka with nectarines and lemons.
Tag For Love

Tag For Love: This Mock Cover

Happy birthday cohost Rob!

Apparently it’s a “thing” in the magazine industry to create mock covers in honor of someone’s birthday…so says veteran graphic designer (and friend of the show, and personal friend) Joe Caserto. He created this unofficial mock May cover for Rob’s big 5-0 b-day and it’s amazeballs!

How do YOU handle your candle? And I can’t wait to read the article on page 69. Surely it’s about raising your own roosters in your backyard.

Tag for Hate

Tag For Hate: These Four Walls

Not that we’re big Friends fans…but this seems appropriate.

How are you doing in your sheltering-in-place safer-at-home self-imposed quarantine? Have you been crafting up a storm? Learning how to bake for the first time (apparently, since supermarkets are low on sugar and flour, at least here in the Northeast)? Craving a room redo?

Or how about gardening? That’s what I’ve been doing, when possible – though the mostly cool temperatures haven’t made it much fun. (Snow is forecasted for the big cities on the East Coast, and yes it’s Mother’s Day weekend.)

I went to a local Lowes last weekend and was SHOCKED at the number of people there. What social distancing? And the line in the garden center…whew. I thought I’d still be there. Though I would love to say that I’m tackling a whole bunch of home reorganizing or decorating projects, home schooling all week for the rest of the school year, plus a full-time remote job, have made those impossible. I’m starting to feel like Rachel. Send help.

–cohost J. Dewey

Tag For Love

Tag for Love: Time Spent At Home

OK, this is a controversial issue–and I’d call it a “tag for ambivalence” but Rob resisted my attempt to use that new tag (even though I let him invent a new “Teach Me!” tag)–see our May 2020 episode for more about that–but some people were made for quarantine. My friend Tom, as pretend-anti-social as they come, says he was born for this. One plus: you have plenty of time for contemplating how you could improve your home, no matter how “finished” or not you normally find it.

Of course, this is not the time to embark on a major reno–unless you’re my neighbor Lori and her family who were cleaning out their entire house on Saturday in advance of adding another story to their house. Go Lori. But if you’re itching for a change without major construction, here’s a link to some lower-key home decor projects.

21 easy home projects to tackle while you’re hunkered down

Personally I’m eyeing our hall closet, with its winter gear and board games, for a cleaning and reorganization. And the food pantry, since we found a tub of six-month old salsa in there which should have been refrigerated (see the May episode for an explanation on how that happened).

Episodes

The May 2020 Episode

In our May 2020 episode, we are still under a “Safer At Home” mandate in our home state of New York and so we recorded this episode via Zoom video conference once again. We each make our own signature cocktail: J. does a classic vodka gimlet, partially inspired by the lemon curd tart on the cover of the May 2020 issue of Better Homes and Gardens, while Rob pulls a recipe for ginger punch from the mag’s new Stylemaker column. May means Mother’s Day so we cover a few ideas for a special Sunday for ya mom, and Rob invents a new tag to discuss certain magazine features. Of course, depending on where you are in the country, you may have to stay socially distant from your mother. Especially if, like Rob’s mom, she mispronounces the word “peony” because you may be tired of correcting her. We notice a few changes at work in the magazine, including transitions from our usual tableaux and paint can lids, and need to mourn the loss of other features. But we’ll get over it. There are more important concerns in the world right now, right? Like “why does my husband want a door from our shower to the balcony?” (PS we have a theory about that one.) Music by Bensound.com. End credits by Tim Lawton. Stay healthy, dear listeners!

J’s classic vodka gimlet with lots of lime. Glass by Shag (Josh Agle).