Chapter 110: COVID Chronicles

By Karen

Day 127

Mad About Good Bones & Artichoke Hearts Aren’t Forever

The only home fixer-upper program I watch is Good Bones on HGTV. Season 5 is underway right now. It stars the mother-daughter team of Karen Laine and Mina Starsiak Hawk. They live in Indianapolis and have a construction company called Two Chicks and a Hammer. They’re not flippers in the sense that they buy homes on the cheap, make cosmetic improvements (like what was done to the house next door to me recently), and then sell for maximum profit.

Instead, they seek out the most rotten, run-down ruins and reconstruct them, reclaiming as much from the original house as is safely possible. Then they install stylish yet practical finishes and go to great lengths to stage them to attract buyers.

Mina is also a real estate agent, and Karen was an attorney before she took up construction. They’re so fun together. Mina is the sensible bean-counter and Karen is whimsically New Age. I adore Karen, and while writing this, I discovered her birthday is the day before mine, so we’re both Libras.

This season, Karen has pulled back from the back-breaking renovations and instead focuses on turning trash she salvages from the houses into treasures through various DIY projects. She puts the results back in the houses as part of their history. I’ve seen her transform pianos, mantels, vent covers, light fixtures, doorknobs, panes of glass, even wallpaper into lovely new things.

Another family member who appears regularly is Mina’s half-brother Tad, who leads the demotion crew. That job is often disgusting thanks to what previous occupants left behind — especially in fridges and toilets.

The demo guys are like Tasmanian Devils and often have to reduce the houses to their studs, then clean up the unbelievable mess they make.

The homes are usually modest, with two or three bedrooms, so they’re affordable for normal people. Karen and Mina are also shown buying their materials from local businesses to showcase Indianapolis in a way that makes it look like a very nice place to live.

What surprises me is how many derelict homes there seem to be there. But these women have been at this since 2007 and they’re reviving entire sections of town. Now you often see one of their previous projects beside the one they’re working on.

There’s also a bonus offshoot called Good Bones: Down to the Studs where the crew discusses past projects with funny behind-the-scenes scoop on the how those went.

Since the show started, Mina has gotten married and had a baby named Jack. She’s a rough-and-ready type and seemed to stay involved in the heavy stuff almost right up to her delivery. Now she’s pregnant again and due in September.

Since both women are taking new directions, I hope this isn’t their last season. At the very least, Karen should host her own crafts show.

Here’s some great video, narrated by Mina, that lays out the show’s amazing evolution better than I could…

FOOD TIP: If you remember, several weeks ago I threw a few artichoke hearts into some leftover pasta salad I was jazzing up. The nearly full jar has been in the fridge ever since. Well, today I wanted them, but they were covered with green mold and had to get tossed. Lesson learned: Artichoke hearts ≠ pickles and olives. I had no idea.

BONUS: Comedian Sarah Cooper on How to Immigration…

8 Responses to Chapter 110: COVID Chronicles

  1. Bonnie C. says:

    Condolences on your artichoke hearts, Karen. I’m assuming they were plain in brine & not marinated, because the marinated ones do last pretty much forever. I had an extra-large of marinated ones from Costco once that were in the fridge for an eternity & the last chokes were as good as the first. Jarred or canned chokes in just brine won’t last any longer than any other veg, unfortunately.

    And thanks for the video link – she’s a hoot!

  2. catsworking says:

    Bonnie, I don’t buy them often, so I’m sure I just assumed these were pickled (because that’s what I must have bought before), not brined. I’ve never had them go green like that. I was shocked, SHOCKED, I tell you, when I opened that jar.

    The other day I also had a chunk of tomato in a sealed plastic container in the fridge that had been there just a couple of days. I took it out to use on a sandwich and it was growing a white beard.

    My long-ago Tennessee-born husband and his kids used to put food in the the fridge bare. Like I’d find half a tomato just lying on the rack, all shriveled up. Or an uncovered bowl of leftover green beans in congealed grease. I’d get on them about smells, being unsanitary, etc., and they’d say, “That’s how we ALWAYS put things away in our house and nobody ever got poisoned,” like I was some weirdo.

    I swear the humidity here in the summer seeps into everything. I’ve got central A/C and fans running wherever we are, but the cats are even lying around with their tongues out these days.

  3. Anita says:

    Karen, thanks for the info on Good Bones. I last live in Indy before I moved west in 1979 and there are some gorgeous neighborhoods around there. You inspired me to look at homes in Carmel (where my then boyfriend lived) and holy cow I nearly fainted. Especially compared to California prices. Mansions for $650k. I could never get my husband to move there since he’s a native Californian and my sister is only a few hours away so no bueno to both.

    And you are reminded me how I cannot deal with the humidity. We have super dry heat here which feels like a blast furnace but it’s not humid in the summer. We will get the monsoonal stuff coming up from Mexico in late Aug/Sept sometimes and that’s no fun. But otherwise humidity is around 5%. No wonder I have dry eyes now.

    We did watch The Good Liar last night. That was an interesting film. We both liked it. I loved Helen Mirren as QE II and might need to watch that again. She is just so natural being herself and her age, which is fabulous too.

    I’ve been busy here getting ready for my social distanced outdoor dinner tomorrow night with two friends. Good Lord, the work to do that is insane. It’s going to be the last time I think about this until there is a vaccine.

    I decided to have a ban on anything Trump today until later this afternoon when I am finished doing things around here. It’s been so peaceful. I might try it for the whole weekend. Figured if he died someone would text me.

    What do you think of Maddow’s interview last night with Mary Trump? You are probably going to write about that today. Looking forward to your thoughts.

  4. Bonnie C. says:

    That’s odd about the tomato, Karen. Normally a cut tomato lasts a lot longer than that in my fridge, but then I keep my fridge pretty cold. Maybe drop yours down a degree or two?

  5. catsworking says:

    Bonnie, I think my fridge is set to 38. Too warm? I’ll take it down to maybe 36 and see how that does. The freezer keeps everything solid.

    The other thing is that Food Lion often sells produce on the verge of rot, so that tomato could have been on the edge when I got it.

  6. catsworking says:

    Anita, I was just about to respond to you when the phone rang. It was my sister. We haven’t spoken in weeks and were on the phone for nearly three hours. During that, she said I paid her the nicest compliment I’ve ever said (it wasn’t). But there goes my rep as the family bitch.

    I take a break from Trump on weekends by not having the TV on in the morning. I can read an article in the paper (which is always day-old news I already know), but that’s it. My fondest wish would be to check back in and find out he’s so dead, he’s gone stiff while I was wishing he were dead.

    I wouldn’t even know where to begin planning a socially distanced anything. I haven’t even bought gas since March, and I still have over half a tank left!

    The houses on Good Bones usually sell between $200-$300K. Richmond is very cheap compared to New England, but Indiana seems way cheaper. I’ve watched it with my mother the real estate agent, and she says, “No WAY they’re doing all that for that price.” She sees everything through the lens of what she knows — 42 years ago.

    The one thing that would keep me out of Indiana is that it’s landlocked. I’ve always lived within a drive of the Atlantic Ocean. I haven’t seen it in almost four years now, but the thought that it’s only a drive away if I really, really need to dip my toes keeps me going.

  7. Anita says:

    Karen, I grew up in Northern Indiana near Lake Michigan and my dear mother who was a single Mom took us to the beach every summer when her kids were screaming like crazy. God how I miss her and what she did for us.

    After living in both Seattle and SF I do know what you are saying. We are now 2 hours from the coast but I was in SF for 30 years where water is everywhere and Seattle for 6 prior to that living on the water. I had dreams when we moved up here of being on the water. We don’t see much of that now except for our pool or going to Tahoe.

    Indianapolis especially has the worst weather of any place in the U.S. They get hit from all sides. The north, south, west, wherever. Any storm system is moving right through there.

    In the “thank you God” news today I invited my neighbor who sold the house over to see our remodeled kitchen. She took my offer and we had the most wonderful time.

    I softly asked her who she sold the house to and told her she didn’t have to answer but we would find out soon anyway. She had 8 offers in one weekend! It was a long story but she sold it to a single guy at one of the tech firms near us. I might have a marching parade with a basket of champagne for him when he moves in.

    He wanted to know how many pools was around him because he works from home. We are one of them, but are super quiet. We have two LOUD friends and only allow them here once a year.

    Am I doing a happy dance right now?? Yes I am!! Now all I have to do is wake up to a text tomorrow that Trump either has Covid or is dead and my life will be complete.

  8. catsworking says:

    Anita, wow! You really lucked out! I had a single guy living next door to me (in the flipped house) for 24 years and never really appreciated him until the last year, when we finally became a little friendly. He installed a new doorknob on my front door after he bailed me out with WD-40 a couple of times when I came home and my lock wouldn’t work and I couldn’t get into the house (once when I had Roc with me in his carrier). We had only a nodding relationship, but I went to him in desperation and he rose to the occasion like a knight. I still miss him.

    Yes, give that guy a hearty welcome. He may become a nice backup for you.

    I didn’t realize Indiana was on a Great Lake. My geography is terrible. There is a lot of snow on Good Bones, but they don’t complain about the weather.

    One thing I will say in Richmond’s favor is that, being in the middle of the state, we seem to be protected from a lot of the worst weather. We have mountain to the west and often don’t get the snow they do. And about 2 1/2 hours from the coast, we often don’t get the brunt of hurricanes it does.

    It’s nice that you got to be friendly with that neighbor before she moves. The good karma should spill over to the new occupant.

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