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The Property Brothers Make Change Seem Easy (with Hard Work)

July 12, 2019
Jonathan Scott, the twin who is the “construction” brother on “Property Brothers. Sakura Pigma Professional Brush Pen FB sketch in a 5.25 x 8.25 inch Hahnemühle Travel Book.

I’m probably the only person on the planet who sees “Property Brothers” as a show about change, adaptation, and living in the present moment. (As I write this I’m also including “Property Brothers: Buying and Selling,” as I watched them all simultaneously; and I have since started watching the new, “Property Brothers: Forever Home.”)

While recovering from two cataract surgeries earlier this year I viewed my way through every available episode of “Property Brothers” at HGTV on demand. Then I went to Amazon Prime and bought the seasons that weren’t available on HGTV and kept watching.

Drew Scott, the “realtor” brother. This is in another Hahnemühle Travel Book, 5.25 x 8.25 inches, again with the Sakura Pigma Professional Brush Pen FB. Throughout the series the brothers vary on whether they have beards, or in this case, stubble, as fun to sketch as beards. Just one more reason to watch.

And watching.

And started to sketch. The episodes took my mind off what was happening with my vision and the adjustments I was going to have to make to how I live my life. The episodes took my mind off the fact that I wasn’t allowed to exercise. 

More importantly the Brothers are just so “sensible” that their show is calming.

They make renovations seem not only doable, but desirable. (If I am ever diagnosed with a terminal illness I want Jonathan Scott to deliver the news. Just watch a couple episodes and see how gently he delivers the news of hidden asbestos needing abatement or the discovery of  knob and tube wiring. The episodes where they have to dig up foundations to put in more footings are some of my favorites.)

But their shows were calming in another way too—as if a better, more organized house, with the features I long for (like a working kitchen, long story) are possible.

Look, it’s no secret that for decades I’ve wanted to move. At first a nostalgia for the girls kept me from actively looking. Next a central location that made it ideal to pick up the folks, both when they lived at home and I was driving them to doctor’s appointments; and later when they needed to live in care and I went to play bingo with Phyllis and chat with CR during the week.

I have to admit that I do live in a great place for travel to any part of the Twin Cities.

Everyone who has read this blog knows that I live adjacent to the best section of the massive Twin Cities Parkway system of bike paths: the smoothest paths, the prettiest scenery (Mississippi Gorge), the most interesting wildlife (nesting pairs of Bald Eagles, foxes, coyotes, opossums, flocks of Turkeys, flocks of Canada Geese…)

It’s hard to move away from all that.

But Dick and I finally synced our timelines and agreed to start looking for a new home last fall. At least we agreed to the concept of looking. That meant I started online real estate browsing at that time.

Recently we actually went to an open house. So change is happening. We plan to start looking in earnest after Labor Day.

And I still watch reruns of “Property Brothers” (PB) shows along with their new episodes, because they are calming. They give me insights into what I should be looking at and for. For instance just last month I turned to look back at a house from its garage and I noticed the chimney was missing parts of bricks and whole bricks, and the mortar didn’t seem to be all there. The agent claimed it was a non-issue fixable by a mason in a couple hours. But I’d seen the same thing on PB and knew the chimney was in danger of coming down in a stiff wind. (Besides, I used my profiling skills and knew the agent was just making things up.)

It was difficult watching the early episodes of PB because they had an annoying narrator whose voice I didn’t care for. The earlier designs of the renovations also don’t appeal to me as much as this current fervor for white kitchens and quartz countertops. (I’m definitely craving clean and crisp, and uncluttered after battling back years of clutter which was exacerbated when we had to close the folks’ house and Dick had rooms full of paperwork to sort.)

At this point I would guess that I’ve seen all the episodes. Most I have watched a couple times. I’ve made sketches of design ideas, and sofa placement. I’ve also got a section of one of these Hahnemühle Travel Books in which I was sketching, where I’ve listed my “must haves” or “really, really wants,” like a beverage fridge, drawer microwave! Oh, my, that would be heaven. As a short person I can’t imagine a microwave in a stove top hood where you have to reach up.

I know about different types of tile for back splashes. I am familiar with various flooring treatments. 

I also know that I want to be cooking more again, so I look carefully at all kitchen arrangements to imagine how I will do all the cooking tasks I need to do. I’ve even told Dick that I’ll get out the marble slab and make some more whole wheat croissants—if I have the counter space.

I grew up in a family where every two years or so (only rarely longer) we would relocate. My mother would find a house and set about decorating and organizing contractors for renovation. She has a wonderful sense of interior design and a refined sense of style. She has melded the pieces she’s collected over my parents’ life together into a unified and welcoming home at each move.

A page spread from my green-lined journal that I kept post-surgeries. I had one eye down, and one more surgery to go. Most of the time I worked without glasses, sometimes I wore my old glasses to correct my remaining eye for close vision as much as was possible. My work became a lot looser.  Also, only a month into my almost daily (and sometimes multiple episodes a day) viewing I’d already developed a maternal attitude to the Scott boys; worrying about how their clients treat them. (The young man pictured on this spread was a good client, open to the possibilities.)

I’ve never had to do that. Dick and I always knew that the next owner of this house would tear it down either because the University wanted to build something or some developer did. We never took down the 40s wall paper in the dining room which serves as part of my study, we never blew out a wall to make a screened porch, and we threw in the towel on making the kitchen workable.

But after a couple months of watching all of PB I marched out of the house and bought a gas-convection oven to start exploring what types of equipment I want to grow old with. It felt really great. It meant moving forward, from the surgeries, from the clutter, from the weird cooling and heating systems…back to things I’ve been passionate about in adulthood—like baking and cooking.

The PB shows are also about goals, expectations, budgets, and reality. I love that. You make a wish list of possibilities and then you work out what matters most within your budget, make a plan, go forward. 

We need mental and physical action to move forward in life. Thanks to the Property Brothers I’ve been moving towards the possibilities. It’s just one more way to exercise creativity.

    • Kare Furman
    • July 12, 2019
    Reply

    Go Roz! I view the PBs similarly. We have begun our a ‘a la PB’ home remodel and I highly recommended it. Yes, it’s crazy, disruptive, exhausting (packing anyone?) The changes and upgrades are as much mental & physical as they are environmental. Like you, we love our location/neighborhood and cost wise a remodel is less expensive than a newer home with the upgrades we wanted. Point being – consciously designing our home in our 60’s is massively creative, generative and a collaborative opportunity. Hidden desires pop up, new perspectives, likes and wants. Rearranging the physical space rearranges the mind/spirit spaces. Letting go of unused items gives surprising freedom. Moving forward is an awesome place to be creative and live from. May you & Dick enjoy this new adventure and find it fun and satisfying.

    1. Reply

      Good to know that renovations are survivable by those not on TV as well! For reasons mentioned in the post there is no point in renovating our current home, so we are looking for something to fix up. The bad news is the area I want to live in doesn’t have the architectural style (one story) that I want, and we seem to have missed the market as since fall houses I saw for sale and purchased are not resurfacing at 2x the cost all renovated. So it goes. The big thing for us is that we have begun the search! Fingers crossed.

  1. Reply

    Roz, you were the person who introduced me to the book “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.” I tried to advance to sourdough and came to a new admiration for anyone who makes that bread well. As always, your posts make me think about so much more than creating artwork. Good luck on your house hunt.

    1. Reply

      Thanks Maery for the house hunt wishes! And I’m glad that you tried using the Artisan Bread…Don’t give up on Sourdough!!!! I can’t reach the books right now but there are some must reads that I’ve got in the back room. I went to another post of mine and found the references: Michel Suas’ Advanced Bread and Pastry: A Professional Approach. The Peter Reinhart books on bread baking

      Check those out. And think about how humidity in the kitchen as well as temperature.

      When I first moved in with Dick he was already doing the “whole foods” thing and he said he’d teach me to make bread. Well, that lasted about 15 minutes. He just wasn’t good at turning out anything but hard lumps. So I shooed him out of the kitchen and never looked back. Talk to your yeast. It helps. They love it.

    • Carol
    • July 12, 2019
    Reply

    OH! I’m hoping you return to baking whole wheat croissants …AND share the recipe!!! this is actually an amazing and inspiring post!

    1. Reply

      I’m hoping I can find the same flour I used to use. I’ll have to dig out the recipe and see where I start experimenting again. It must be 35 years since I’ve done it. We got wheatberries and Dick ground flour for it at least once. But most of the time I bought a certain type of whole wheat flour at the Co-op, and that co-op is closed.

      Don’t wait for me, get a good book on French Baking and adapt the recipe. Then send ME notes!!!!

      1. Reply

        Having food sensitivities, I was looking for what I hoped was “clean” flour. I was buying from Sunrise Flour Mill. They are in North Branch but you can order and then pick up at Mill City farmers market. Thanks for your baking book recommendations! And I will try talking to my yeast next time.

        1. Reply

          Thanks for the heads up about Sunrise I will keep them in mind!

    • Melanie
    • July 13, 2019
    Reply

    You can do it! I make sourdough crackers with a pasta machine to roll them out thin. The baker I used to work for used only King Arthur flour.

  2. Reply

    Roz, you never fail to surprise me. I enjoy the PB too, but you’ve put a new spin on watching them! I’ve lived in the same home for 47 years, after a childhood of moving constantly. We’re always remodeling, always in a state of trying to improve on our simple ranch home. My mother was much like yours, with a great sense of design and always turned every place into a wonderful and cozy home. I struggle with that and wish I’d inherited that quality. I hope you and Dick enjoy your search for a new home. Thanks for sharing, I just love reading whatever you have to say.

    1. Reply

      I’m so glad you also enjoy PB!!!!! Well yesterday we saw a house with some built in shelving and I said to Dick—”Well, my dinosaurs could go right there.” Happily he leaves all this up to me and doesn’t care about living in a house full of portraits of people he’s never met. My mother would be horrified. (So let’s not tell her shall we?)

      Thanks for reading!

    • Jo
    • July 13, 2019
    Reply

    I’m on the other side of the curve. My husband recently passed away and I am now alone in our huge house that we had remodeled extensively over 39 years. Now I have to face this new challenge of finding a down sized home and a new life. It seems like a formidable task. Wish me well. Roz, I have read your blog for a long time – it is great.

    1. Reply

      Jo we’re trying to downsize at the same time as move, so I understand that impetus. We keep hitting the issue of the studio space I need and the home work space he needs and BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS. We both have lots of books. Sigh.

      I do wish you well. I can tell you that when it looks impossible something can come in and shift you just a little to make it possible. Yesterday, just through sheer chance we met a realtor and we both believe she’s someone who can help us in our search. If we hadn’t gone where we went or gone a different day… I think there is always some way to make the formidable doable.

      Watch a couple episodes of the Property Brothers and get a feel for it. Make a wish list and a needs (must have for your health) type list. Keep your mind open to the universe sending someone to help you, but at the same time, start chipping away at those items that seem formidable.

        • Jo Knoch
        • July 22, 2019
        Reply

        Thank you for your response. I am chipping away. I too have lots of BOOKS. I am very fortunate, with three very supportive sons and their families. I am saying my gratitude”s and going forward. Thanks again. Jo

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