Instagram Envy

Listen to this blog with music here.

I was late to Instagram and I still don’t post all that often. I use it mostly to watch what other people do. Building and remodeling and designing, planting and pruning and cooking.

I’m a little bit envious until I remember that my personal interest in the domestic arts has been on the wane for years. I don’t plan to begin any of these projects but still, I’m fascinated. A little voice says, I might like to have a wall like that.  Another voice says, too much work, but hey here’s one on Instagram and isn’t it fine? And that chicken pot pie.  Those hydrangeas. That charming old house for sale, cheap. Some of this and some of that which I get to see without doing any of it.

I’m presently following entertainers I like and deep thinkers and silly people and all kinds of home-related posts. Here are some I check often. Nigella Lawson. This Old House. All things San Francisco. All things New England. All Southern cooks, and weather everywhere.

But my current Instagram obsession is Elizabeth’s Humble House. She’s a talented photographer and designer and it shows in all her posts, no matter how brief, which are accompanied by photos taken inside a cottage she and her husband are restoring.

Look at that wood stove.  





The floor she painted by hand.

Now I have to go over there and see if she’s posted anything new today.

Photos: Elizabeth Maxson

Music: Nat King Cole Trio “Penthouse Serenade”




Food Network Changes

I’m not so fond of Food Network’s new direction.  The other day I sat down to watch a cake decorating show, but this one turned into a show about engineering. Could the bakers/designers duplicate (in cake) a favorite car?   On the next show, they built a replica of a DJ’s sound board.    

I like the cooking process so much that I’ll watch enthralled while someone makes a sandwich, but I don’t want to watch cooks building structures out of food.

Food Network used to be a comforting, homey background that could be left on in a room while I did other things.  When a recipe caught my eye, I’d  stop and watch.   Then a couple of DVRs came into my life and now I tape all the shows I really want to see and I notice I’m taping fewer from Food Network. 

Some of their changes are interesting, but the new shows that involve odd/bizarre  foods or non-foods lose me immediately.

The last time I sat down with a cup of coffee to visit with Food Network in real time, there were competitions going on for most of the day. I’m not an Iron Chef fan.  I’m also not a fan of any of the shows where cooks work against the clock, get critiqued and then eliminated.  The shows where  Food Network chooses their own “new stars?”  I’d rather be left out of those decisions.  Cooking as a sport doesn’t grab me.

I like shows where the dishes are named and then prepared and then tasted and the host is personable.  Favorites are Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa) and Paula Deen (when she cooks – not when she hosts parties) Nigella Lawson (all of her shows so far) and a few others where the love of food and the cooking of food are stressed.   Emeril is now cut back, Bobby Flay spends more time with food “challenges” and where’s Mario?  Food preparation is giving way to food-as-adventure and competitions and chefs serving as travel hosts.  

Dear Food Network, here’s what I like best:  Cooking.  

Ó Anita Garner 2009

TV Shows That Feel Like Home

Ever take a walk at dusk and look into lighted windows?   From the outside looking in, things seem warm and cozy. That’s the feeling I look for in a favorite TV show.  Not a particular house, but that feeling.  My favorite shows all have that in common.  

Favorite shows from the past took place (present-tense on many of these because they’re available on dvd anytime we want to re-watch) within a set that became as familiar as my house. Those of us who watched The Waltons every week feel we know every nook and cranny of that two-story farmhouse  – and the outbuildings as well.

Little House had not only the iconic cabin, but an entire town built from the minutiae in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books and the imagination of Michael Landon and his co-creators.

A favorite Britcom, As Time Goes By, features a flat in London that feels like a place where I can stop by for tea and gossip. 

Food Network shows take us into some of our favorite kitchens.  True, many are sets built to simulate a home environment, but some actually take place in the homes of the cooks – Nigella Lawson in one of her London kitchens, Paula Deen in her home in Savannah, and Jamie Oliver from his country farm.

On Friends, the apartment is crucial to the show.   Ditto Sex And The City. Which fan of Frasier hasn’t memorized the placement of each and every furnishing and accessory?

But home isn’t only a place.  It’s also a feeling.  Mash  took place in wartime Korea in unfamiliar settings, yet because of the characters’ need to rely on each other, somehow it felt like an odd out-of-time-and-space home every week.

More than one show that generates warmth and a home-style feel took place in a bar.  Cheers comes to mind, but  there have been many others.

I’m looking for some new favorites, shows that feel like home because the characters seem to belong there – or belong to each other.  Any suggestions?

Ó Anita Garner 2008