Sunday, May 19, 2013

Maybe It's TIme We Got Back to the Basics . . .*

     We've all heard of "Keeping up with the Joneses," the idiom that describes trying to keep up with the standard of living of other people. It's a pretty commonplace expression, but do you know where it comes from?
     The phrase was coined in none other than a comic strip. Comic artist Arthur R. Momand created the "Keeping Up With the Joneses" comic strip in 1913, and it went on to span 26 years in print and syndication in newspapers across the country. ( - from Brass)
Click to enlarge.  Image from Stuff By Cher
 Today, maybe the idiom should be changed to "Keeping up with Pinterest".  Last Christmas, I wrote this post about Pinterest-induced embarrassment and self-loathing.  Trish, at Love, Laughter and a Touch of Insanity, recently wrote this post about social media's "slippery slope towards [a] skewed perception of reality because we mostly see the shiny rather than the failures."   So true!  I normally don't post or Tweet or Facebook about the balls of dog hair under my furniture, or the crud around my faucets, or the sewing projects that come out crooked and puckered, or the number of nights we have frozen pizza for supper.  I'm quiet on these subjects partially because I assume no one wants to read about them, but more because I don't want you all to form a bad opinion of me.

When I started this blog in 2009, it was all about books.  Writing reviews and entering reading challenges brought self-imposed pressure to read more, know more, impress more. Writing posts became a chore and, honestly, I never impressed anyone with my knowledge of or opinions on books.  Over time, I discovered that the posts I really enjoyed writing, and reading on other blogs, were the ones about family, foibles and folly . . . the stories of life's silly, mundane or even embarrassing moments.  Slowly, this blog has moved away from books and towards reality.  Trish's post made me think I need to take it a step further.  So, if you have a moment, come on in and get to know the "real" life at Green Acres.

When Dave accepted the job here in 2011, the owner of the business offered to rent us a house he owned out in the country.  Anyone who's ever moved a distance that makes commuting impossible (we moved 500 miles) knows that finding a home with only a day or two to look, and an impending moving date, is a huge stress.  The offer of a decent rental home was a blessing.  Once we got here, we discovered that we love living where our nearest neighbor is a mile away and the only sounds you hear at night are the coyotes, so we dubbed the spot Green Acres and decided to stay.

If you've ever seen our namesake TV show, you know that, while it was Oliver's dream, it was not a show-place.  Neither is our version.  Our home was built in the 1960's (-ish) and hasn't been updated since.  The living room has aqua sculptured carpet, the kitchen has brown/gold flecked linoleum, the bathroom walls are covered in green tile.  All the windows were bare, so I reused curtains/drapes from our previous home in the living room, even though they don't quite fit.  Two years later, they haven't been changed, and the bedrooms still don't have curtains over the cheap mini-blinds that were here.  

Speaking of bedrooms, we only have two, with one small bathroom between them.  So, when the kids come home, they sleep on air mattresses and we ration shower time.  The Americana fake-quilt on our bed came from a 4th of July sale at Wal-Mart and there's an iron-shaped melted spot on the guest room rug from when I had my sewing area in there.  My sewing "room" is now in one corner of the un-finished basement - concrete walls, bare joists for a ceiling, a very, very worn carpet remnant on the floor, and a view of the treadmill and stacks of laundry.  

We recently purchased a "vacation home", but it's a used pop-up camper.  Our "good" car is a 2006 Mustang, but the car I drive daily is a 1999 Concorde.  Also:

  • There really is crud around my faucets most of the time.
  • You could assemble a Pekingese from the wads of dog hair under my bed.
  • I leave clothes in the dryer for days because I hate putting them away.
  • I let the dogs get on my couch.
  • We don't have a dishwasher so there are almost always dirty dishes on my counter.
  • There are bags of recycling stacked in the garage cause I never get around to taking them to the recycling pick-up.
  • And I let the trashcan overflow until Dave empties it cause I don't like doing it.
On the other hand:
  • The bed spread is pretty.  I like it!
  • The aqua carpet actually goes well with my furniture.
  • My clothes are never wrinkled because I can re-tumble them before dressing.
  • The dogs are loving companions.
  • Sewing - even crookedly - gives me joy.
  • The house is full of books - more joy.
  • Did I mention the peace and quiet?
  • The camper is big enough for two people and two dogs and takes no time to set up.
  • We have lots of space to garden.
  • At least the recycling isn't in a landfill.
  • And, no one ever died from a little crud around their faucets.
I have never been a fan of recreational shopping, the precursor to Pintrest browsing.  I'm perfectly content when I enter Target or Bed, Bath & Beyond, but a total failure when I exit because my home isn't filled with all those beautiful things and I can't afford to make it so. home IS filled with beautiful things.  Things collected through thirty years of marriage and raising a family.  Some of them are worn, and some of them don't match, but they have a story.  And the money saved by not replacing them with show-room furniture pays for trips to see our kids and grandkids, tickets to shows or K-State games, sewing supplies, books - oh, and college!

The key is in being content. Would I like my house to be spotless? Yes.  Would I like to drive a new car?  Certainly. Would I like to have a closet overflowing with stylish clothes? Of course.   Am I willing to change the ways I spend my time and money to get any of those things?  Evidently not.

So this is me - a less-than-June-Cleaver housekeeper, a crafter with little artistic talent, a bookworm who usually prefers a paperback romance to the classics, a Wal-Mart bargain shopper, a gardner without a green thumb . . . and content with all of it.  Well, most of the time. 

*Name that tune.


  1. Great post Tami...all I can say!

  2. Tami, I think this is how the life/home/situation of most of us is. The people who live their lives like on their Pinterest boards are in the minority. Very good post and a good idea to put things into perspective.

  3. Nice post, Tami - I suspect most of us have very similar successes and failures. You're right, people don't often post about the dog hair and dirty dishes - although sometimes it's funny to hear about it. I have to admit, I love Pinteret, but then I thought we were all just madly pinning ideas - it never occurred to me that people actually have this stuff and I should feel jealous. But then, I think I've reached a point in my life where I'm pretty content and don't care much what other people have.

  4. Love your post. I happened upon it after discovering the magazine Mary Janes Farm. Your post gave me a breath of fresh air. Sounds like you and I could be best friends. :)

  5. Love your thoughts Sis and I read Trish's post about how she had been criticized for all of her ideas on Pinterest and I felt so sad for her - She is really thrifty and she like me and you wants to have pretty things around us - - - but none of us want or desire to spend lots of money. I love Pinterest but I don't feel ANY envy whatsoever of anything I have seen on Pinterest - - - and here is why - - - I first of all don't want all that "stuff" I want pretty things - minimally though. I love love love to look at gardens and patios and homes with neat little nooks and crannies do cutely decorated and useful - but I know how much work the gardens and patio flowers are and I don't want to do that and I don't want to clean around many things . . again . . . minimalist here . . . AND SECONDLY, In defense of Pinterest - I use it like one of the other ladies said above - as a place to organize my thoughts - - - a place to dream and put ideas - - - cuz that is fun to me - if I have an event to get ready for - I like the feeling of having one place to accummulate ideas, and tasks, etc. I say no one should let themselves feel Pinning-envy or disappointment in themselves - Again Tami I think you have the perfect perspective - - - using Pinterest to share ideas and come up with fun ways to spend some time - but the most important "things" we have around us are the things that hold memories of our families, etc. Really glad you posted about this!

    1. Back to the Basics of Love - Waylon and Willie?

  6. Well said, Tami! Content is a wonderful state to be in.

  7. Wow, great post. It never entered my mind to envy or covet or be disappointed due to Pinterest! It does all boil down to being content with who we are and where we are at in life. My neighbor just paid $110 for curtains for one window in her livingroom! I would croak before I did that even if I could afford it! I got my new curtains on sale for $10 a pair and their absolutely as nice as her's. I love a bargain! Does it make her better than me? Nah. But if it makes her feel better... I'm with you Tami! And I bet I'd enjoy a visit to your house much better than I do going to hers!

  8. Great post. It made me smile the whole way through. I also have crud on taps and while not dog fur balls, mine are thread lint every where. I was thinking that I need to do a post of my sewing area. I will have to start workiing on it. Thanks for the nudge.

  9. Great post! When I passed the first Halloween with my kids here I was intimidated by my neighbors great spotless kitchens - until I knew them better and learned that many live on take-out and ready meals so as to not dirty the place. That cured me of envy in a hurry. My kitchen and house are banged up, but hold memories of my families life, and while I aim for not so messy as that I can't hear myself think I don't want it so ordered that I wouldn't want to create.