Reality TV Time: Love It or List It

I just realized I forgot to tell you about my weekend. Don’t worry. This won’t take long.

It was incredibly lazy. We hardly raised our prone bodies off our respective couches. And when we did, it was usually to get some grazing materials (ie: food) and then resume our positions on our couches. I couldn’t even be bothered to give myself a pedicure, although I desperately need it.

Seriously, there were sloths that saw us and shook their heads over how lazy we were.


OK, maybe I’m exaggerating just slightly. We did have a small burst of cleaning activity on Saturday morning (ie: cleaned the grill. Blech). Exhausted after that unpleasant task, (which, to be fair, was primarily completed by boyfriend-of-the-century XFE), we laid mostly supine for the rest of the weekend.

There were a few extenuating factors that contributed to our loafing: My wanna-be-painter boyfriend put a second coat of paint all over our living room/dining room on Friday afternoon, which meant he could finally hook up all of the electronics, or, in this instance, his gaming equipment. So there you have Factor #1. He had to get reacquainted with Tiger Woods Halo Big Game Shooting or something after a two-month hiatus, and I had several magazines to read.

The weather was dismal. It was the first truly cold weekend and it was drizzly and overcast to boot. That would be Factor #2. You would think that this fact would be a good excuse/occasion for me to start pulling out my fall/winter clothes and put away my summer gear, but no. Instead, I slouched around in the same gray and decidedly over-worn house sweater all weekend.

But it really doesn’t matter what I was wearing because luckily for me, our new best friends David and Hilary on Love It or List It can’t see me through the television. And there we have Factor #3 – our new addiction to HGTV’s Love It or List It. We must have watched tens of hours of this show over the course of this past three-day weekend.

Love It or List It

The show, which takes place in Canada (as do all home improvement shows apparently, see Property Brothers, see Holmes on Homes), involves a homeowning couple, one of whom is fed up with their home and wants to move; the other loves the home and wants to stay.

I have no idea where they find these couples, but let me tell you, they are some demanding little tightwads.

The partner in the relationship who wants to move gives the designer Hilary a list of improvements to their existing house that would compel them to want to stay. That list usually includes things along the lines of “make my 1,200-square-foot shack into a 2,400-square-foot mansion.” Adding an extra bedroom or two and/or finishing a horrible old basement and/or completely gutting and updating the 1950s kitchen or bathroom are almost always on the list. The couple also gives Hilary a budget, which is usually around $40,000. That’s $40,000 to perform total miracles.

The partner who wants to stay gives realtor David a list of demands, I mean, must-haves that must be found in a new house in order to compel them to move. This list always involves things like, “must have a heated, in-ground pool, a money-tree orchard out back, and ‘character.’” Oh, and it must be in their current neighborhood of tiny, cramped old attached houses and duplexes, and it cannot cost more than $50,000 over the value of their current, tiny, cramped, old attached house or duplex.

Canadian homeowners
Yeah, we’re not impressed.

With these guidelines in hand, our Hilary and David go forth to do the impossible. Then the real fun starts.

Invariably, the owners get their noses bent out of joint when Hilary can’t complete their list of renovations on the budget they’ve given her. This is usually because she either discovers that they have 1930s plumbing, 1940s knob and tube electrical wiring, 1950s asbestos-ridden insulation, or, that local ordinances and regulations won’t let them build anywhere near a ravine or tree.

We saw one episode where Hilary could not replace a decrepit shed in the backyard because the yard backed up to a ravine and the Ravine Preservation Board said absolutely not.

In another episode, Hilary had big plans to extend the back of a house out using the footprint of an existing patio, but the Tree Preservation Bylaws said she couldn’t get closer than 12 meters to some crappy old tree. The tree was 8 meters from proposed extension line. My solution was to poison that tree, but Hilary didn’t seem to hear me yelling through the TV.

The reaction that Hilary gets when she tells the delusional homeowners that (a) your crappy house is indeed, truly crappy and probably should be condemned, and (b) that she has to fix the potential fire/mold/sewage hazard and therefore, cannot renovate their mud room is priceless.

These Canadians get their nose completely bent out of shape and get all kinds of snarky and entitled. “That mud room was very critical to keeping me in this death trap. If she cannot create my utopian vision then I don’t even know why we’re bothering to work with her. She’s obviously not a professional.”

We even saw one couple completely loose it because Hilary wanted to use gas to heat their bathroom floors instead of radiated hot water. We’re talking about HEATING FLOORS here. Not saving lives! Hilary, if you want to come over and install underfloor heating throughout my house, I promise not to question that wondrous idea or impose my own suggestions on how you should go about achieving said miracle.

In only one of the probably 20 episodes we saw over the weekend does the couple agree to kick in some more money to Hilary’s already stretched budget.

I don’t know. I’ve seen better rainbows.

David the realtor doesn’t get off lightly either. These couples treat him like he’s a complete idiot when he tries to show the properties in their current neighborhood in their pre-stated price range. Not surprisingly, those houses and just as crappy as their current house. In many cases, they’re slightly better than their current house, but it’s not good enough for these entitled helpmates.

They will walk into a kitchen that is leaps and bounds better than their current one and wrinkle their nose and say, “I loathe these quartz countertops. I’m really more of a sandstone person. We’d have to completely rip these out and we really want something that’s perfect from the get-go. We don’t want to put any more money into renovations.” AS IF they’d put so much money into their previous house.

To shut them up, David invariably shows them something way out of their budget, which of course, they then love and, despite setting a budget in the first place, they’re actually considering. But first, they get to oooh and aaaah over all of Hilary’s efforts during a big reveal. (Hilary, by the way, always does a FANTASTIC job. Really impressive to the viewing audience, but not alas, to our persnickety homeowners.)

Then there’s a huge build up while Hilary and David wait to hear whether our Angelina and Brad are going to love it or list it. I’d say about 75% of the time, the couple chooses to list the property and move to the one that was out of their supposed price range. XFE thinks it was slightly more evenly split, but I was just so annoyed with the ingrates, I honestly couldn’t tell you.

As you can image, XFE and I spent a lot of time yelling at the television because of this show over the weekend. So at least our lungs got a workout. Also, I tend to thump the couch in frustration over these idiots, so I guess my forearm got something of a workout.

sloth sleep

Two Things that Will Make Your Mouth Pucker: Thai Chicken & Property Brothers

My personal-chef-for-life XFE has abandoned me once again for a work trip. But unlike last time when he left me to starve (ie: feed myself like an adult), this time, he anticipated my inability to feed myself, and made this incredibly yummy Thai grilled chicken with hot-sour-salty-sweet sauce.

Seriously, if I were left to my own devices, I would have eaten this wondrous food every single meal.

It’s from a recipe in the May 2012 issue of Food & Wine, which was their travel issue. We make a lot of chicken on the grill, one of our favorites being beer can chicken, but sometimes, it gets a bit boring.

That’s why this recipe is so great. It’s a new spin on a staple. It uses cilantro, fish sauce, Thai chiles and tamarind concentrate, which, for some inexplicable reason, we happened to have on hand.

And, it’s pretty simple. Especially if you just sit at the kitchen counter, having a glass of wine and flipping through the latest issue of US magazine like I do. Then, it seems like the whole dish just magically puts itself together.

See? It’s just cooking itself.

In my defense, I was exhausted from looking at housing options with XFE all day. We looked at about 4 houses on Friday and another 6 or so on Monday. Let me tell you, there are some ugly houses out there. Selling for a hell of a lot of money.

XFE has, of course, been doing all the work in this endeavor. I come in on the eeewww-not eeewww part. My research has been quite extensive and is composed primarily of watching hours and hours of HGTV.

It’s been pretty frustrating, to be honest. My research, I mean. Primarily because on HGTV they show these total idiots who have ridiculously small budgets looking at incredibly affordable houses. Like, houses that cost less than Real Housewives of Orange County’s Gretchen’s makeup budget. (Gurl wears some spackle).

I can say these $200,000 houses are affordable because we live just outside of Washington DC, which is the capital of house-icide. Oh, you don’t know about house-icide? House-icide is the total bending over you get trying to find an affordable place to live in a market that has barely been knicked by the struggling economy and tanking housing market. Sorry to get graphic on you.

In the DC area, this ‘house’ would go for about $600,000. To be fair, it is on a beach, which is much nicer than a DC neighborhood.

Plus, to be fair, XFE and I are a couple of really picky bitches. We did find one house we liked enough for XFE to put an offer on, so fingers, toes, legs and everything else crossed.

But back to HGTV. One of my absolute new favorite shows is this show “Property Brothers.”

There’s, obviously, two brothers, one of whom is a real estate agent, the other is a contractor. They start the show with some brand-spanking new first-time homebuyers, much like ourselves. The real estate brother asks what they’re looking for in a house. They, of course, peel off this long list of absolute musts, including their budget, which is usually right around $19.95. Then, the two brothers take our hapless home buyers to a house that meets every single requirement the couple listed.

After a tour of the mansion, the real estate brother asks the couple what they think the house is selling for. The couple always names a price right around what their budget is. NAH. Wrong. It’s usually about six times the amount. Womp-womp-womp. That look on the couples’ faces is priceless. I’d actually pay $19.95 just for a video reel of that moment alone. It’s a mixture of “oh shit,” and “so….we’re not getting this place?”

Then the very nice realtor brother explains that they’re going to now lower their expectations a bit and look at some houses that are actually in their price range (ie: disgusting pit holes) and the very nice contractor brother promises to make these disgusting pit holes very nice and even put in some of the finishes and other aspects they liked in the Barbie Dream House. That’s about where I lose interest and change the channel.

I’m telling you, the first 5 minutes are awesome. Especially if you’re eating Thai chicken with hot-sour-salty-sweet sauce.