Wednesday, November 14, 2007

This and That

I been sick. Just the wiped out, slightly feverish kind of sick, nothing to visit the doctor over. It's a drag, though, when there's so much to be done around here.

On Friday, before I got sick, Amy and I took the kids to the playground. We talked about this and that, about Thanksgiving plans and whether or not I should take up scrapbooking (Amy, a scrapbooking enthusiast, thinks I should). We talked about the December Martha Stewart Living, which Amy, a subscriber, had a copy of. As Heather of Pneuma pointed out in a recent comment, it's a sort of disappointing cover. I am tired of seeing people on the cover of their own magazines. Tired of seeing Oprah, tired of seeing Rachel Ray (well, I'm tired of seeing Rachel Ray period--talk about not my cup of tea), tired of seeing Paula Deen (though I love her and her million pounds of butter in every dish). Now it's true, we haven't seen Martha on a cover in ever-so-long, but on the Christmas issue? It's just not working for me.

The December issue of MSL is now on the stands, but I have resisted buying it. I'm doing some Christmas prep, but once you get the December Martha Stewart Living, you're in it. You've accepted that Christmas is coming and that you will make all sorts of plans that you will regret later (from deciding to knit everyone socks this year to agreeing to bake five dozen cookies for your kid's school Christmas party). You've accepted the hours of your life you will hand over to wrapping presents, including the time it will take to track down the scissors and tape, which never, ever land back in the handy-dandy "wrapping center" you bought at Organized Living three years ago. You've accepted the miles you will travel to buy your loved ones Christmas presents, knowing your gifts can never compete with the electronic gizmos that rain down on them from distant relatives. You've accepted exhaustion, bitterness, and the inevitable three-to-five pound weight gain.

I am not ready for that yet. So you will have to wait until after Thanksgiving for my December MSL review.

I did purchase one last November magazine this week. I had to choose (not being made of money) between Better Homes and Gardens and Country Living, though, honestly, it wasn't really a contest. Here's what I have to say to the BH&G editors: Too much content! Chill out! I simply cannot process BH&G anymore. As with Real Simple, after I'm done reading (which can take days, if not weeks), I feel overwhelmed. Where to start? Turn my backyard into a fish pond? Remodel my kitchen? Buy all new furniture?

If they only published one issue a year, that would be great. But each issue is like one year's worth of material. You read BH&G two months in a row, and you start to wonder, 'Do they really expect me to completely revise my life twelve times a year?' Because every month it's a whole new set of furniture, seedlings, patio styles. A whole new set of expectations as to how I should be living my life. Enough already! BH&G is a magazine I will buy in March (when I want to get psyched about gardening) and in December (when I buy every magazine published).

So Country Living it was. CL is fast becoming one of my favorite mags. It's like the poor man's Martha Stewart Living. Reading CL, you never feel like you should have a second home (or two), you don't even feel like you ought to live in the country (a plus for all us suburban dwellers). The content is fairly simple: some crafting, but not too much (like MSL, the November CL has a how-to article on candle-making, but this one seems actually do-able, and it's very cute--making candles in flea market tea cups), a few good recipes, a few pages of antiques, a couple of decorating tips. The lay-outs are attractive and enticing, but do not produce anxiety--as in, I love that look, but lack the two million dollars it would take to achieve it.

Does the November Country Living pass the holiday test? How could it not? Throw in some antiques, some turkey recipes, open up with a very nice spread on decorating your Thanksgiving table with do-able decorations, mention a flea market or two, and everyone's feeling that Thanksgiving love.

The only thing that gives me pause about CL is its ads. They carry an enormous number of drug ads (the kinds that run for three pages because of all the warnings) and lots of just generally cheesy ads that don't run in MSL or BG&H (but that you might see in, I don't know, Depressed Grandmothers' Monthly), and there are pages and pages of them up front. It's like one page of an article, three pages of cheesy ads, another page of article, another three pages of cheese. It's a little distracting--just as you're getting a flea market buzz or a cool new way to craft with felt buzz, there's that ad for a medication to take care of a certain problematic feminine dryness or what have you.

Back to the playground. As Amy and I stood by the swingset, we concurred that as far as we're concerned, Martha Stewart's true gift is as an educator. The parts of MSL that I dig the most are when she gets down to brass tacks: Listen up, gals, and I'll tell you how to get that grout cleaned once and for all. Amy testified that because of MS, she knows how to fold a fitted sheet, no small accomplishment, we can all agree. I personally can be found avoiding housekeeping by reading MS's Homekeeping Handbook, which could not be handier. You just know you're getting the straight domestic scoop from Martha. Her recipes don't always work, everyone's sick of hearing about whatever house she's bought and decorated now, but, baby, if you've got a mildew problem, Martha's your girl.

So that was our afternoon, trying to keep the boys from killing each other (actually, trying to keep my boys from killing each other; Amy's boy was just fine and not the least bit homicidal) and trying to keep little Riley from falling off the swing, although she wanted so badly to swing on the big kids' swing, and she's only two, bless her heart. So she swang and she fell, swang and fell, but she kept getting back up, and she didn't cry once.

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