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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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!
In this month’s episode, Rob and J. are on lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic of course–so we recorded this by a socially distant Zoom meeting. Thus we have two signature cocktails: a classic Mary Pickford for Rob, inspired by the Throwback feature and made with homemade grenadine, and J. created a “Social Distance” cocktail, a modified Greyhound. It’s the color issue packed with lots of practical, hands-on tips for fixing up the home you’re now trapped in. We stretch to find anything to hate once past the pink cover (which gets a pass since it’s technically Easter), we love the I Did It! feature since it doesn’t involve building a box, and side with the husband (of course) in a couple’s makeover article. Grab your magazine and follow along–it makes for great listening while you’re sheltering in place! End credits: Tim Lawton. Music by Bensound.com. Signature cocktails: the Mary Pickford and the Greyhound (with extra ingredients).
In our March 2020 episode, we discuss the latest trends in home design. Or the latest popular things that are about to be overexposed. At least the houseplants are paper this time. Another plus: lots of green and nary a pink! Rob invents a Dark & Boochy cocktail inspired by the “give up alcohol” article (as if), and Chef Tim gets sour with the Lemon Tiramisu from the recipe section.
Also: caning, ferns, a Queer Eye-adjacent article, and a kitchen that makes J. proclaim “this is my favorite thing ever in this magazine!” Listen up, trendoids: things are about to get boochy.
Whatever that means. Music: Bensound.com. End credits: Tim Lawton. Recipe tasting: lemon tiramisu. Signature cocktail: Dark and Bootchie (rum and kombucha).
On this month’s episode of Could Be Better, we indulge in some speech therapy practice as J. heads towards recovery from a brain hemorrhage. Can you say “editor’s letter” without blending the sounds together? We warm up with a ginger-liqueur cider but say “tag for hate” on another outdoor entertaining suggestion. We’re in for the chocolate spice cake skewers, though. There’s a lot of food in the February issue but we do have paint can lids in mint green. A less polarizing pastel? We decide. Also: indoor gardening, another white room, and a retro 1950s room straight out of the ’70s. Get your magazine, follow along and practice your speech therapy! Signature cocktail: ginger-pear cider warmer. Music by Bensound.com. Credits by Tim Lawton.
In this episode, we field a few pressing (not really) questions from readers (not really, the editors did that) instead of the usual “New Year, New Me” features. This month we have lots of dark paint colors instead of the usual white, including a purple/blue that Rob tags for love and J. tags for hate. Yet paint can lids are in scarce supply. We range from tips on cleaning (when should I clean?) to tips on landscaping (native plants all the way) but end with a throwback feature that is too retro red for us. Signature cocktail: a Sacred Sipping Chocolate Martini. End credits: Tim Lawton. Music by Bensound.com. What’s your problem?