Monday, March 22, 2010

HGTV's New "Home Rules" Show: I'm Not a Fan

I really wanted to like the new series "Home Rules," HGTV's hour-long show with Life Coach Fran Harris. I thought it would be a little organizing, a little time management, a little money management, a little goal-setting, and a little therapy. That wasn't the case.

Overall, "Home Rules" is a glorified interior design show. I know one of the sponsors is Sherman Williams. I get it. They have to paint, and they have to have close-ups of paint cans while they're painting. But the rest of the show misses the mark as well.

The premise of the show is that a Life Coach is sent to help a family that has financial and relational problems. The show's answer is to tempt them to improve their lives by offering to drastically renovate their house for free. The renovations start while the family attends meetings, completes exercises, and establishes rules.

Okay, pause. Do you see where the first problem is? The family hasn't even gone through one week of attempting to change their lives, and they're already in the middle of what I can only guess is a $50,000 renovation. What are the producers going to do if the family doesn't commit to change, stop working and leave their house worse off than it was?

In the episode I watched, a family needed a new refrigerator, insulation in one room, and to finish a bathroom and a laundry room. (Also, the kids didn't like the styles of their rooms, but I'm not considering that a dire need.) Why couldn't the show just fix the broken things? Instead, they rewarded people who made poor financial decisions and lived beyond their means for at least ten years with a whole-house renovation that most levelheaded, frugal people could only dream of.

To reign in the spoiled oldest daughter, they made her take out an old toilet. Good television, yes. But couldn't they just teach her to do laundry? Or cook pasta? Or even clean a toilet? Couldn't they make her do something she could do to help her mother and that would be a good skill for her future as well? I'm a handy person, but I'll tell you, I never have taken out a toilet and never plan to take out a toilet. The idea was too extreme.

Also, there were several camera "asides" where Harris was shocked and almost teasing her clients. Really, Fran Harris? You've never seen this before? I realize these quick asides were probably just for entertainment value, but it's kind of insulting to all professionals who make a living helping people find order in their lives. Believe me, we're not all that judgmental.

Maybe I have an inaccurate perception of what Life Coaches do. I remember watching a TV show called "Starting Over," where a group of women going through life transitions lived in a house together and participated in coach-lead exercises, goal-setting, and therapy. Granted, it was still a cheesy "crazy house" reality show, but it had some great ideas on how to help people overcome common roadblocks. I've also seen similar shows about financial management and time management that used a "tough love" approach to help people and share practical advice that all of us can use.

It may be the producers, editors, or just the nature of the TV format, but "Home Rules" breezes through these people's transitions without pinpointing what was really wrong with their value system. They treat the family's obsession with over-spending on expensive stuff them a lot of expensive stuff. Sorry, "Home Rules," you lost me.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Hazardous Waste Recycling Event

Delaware County is hosting a Household Hazardous Waste recycling event on Saturday, March 27, 2010, at the Marple Transfer Station in Broomall, PA. See for details.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Big Shredding Event

Save the Date!

The National Association of Professional Organizers Greater Philadelphia Chapter (NAPO-GPC) will host a big Get Organized shredding event on Saturday, March 13, at Ikea in Conshohocken.

And it's free!

Click here for more information.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Winter Preparedness

Sometimes being organized just makes your life easier, and sometimes it goes as far as saving your life. During this winter of unexpectedly harsh storms, FEMA’s website lists a lot of great information to help you prepare for electricity failure, pipe bursts, and more at. Although it’s rare for Philadelphia area residents to be without heat and electricity for more than a few days, a few days can feel like a long time if you’re not prepared. Here are some useful tips you may not have considered.

Keep your cell phone charged. If you use a cell phone as your main phone, remember to plug it in and keep it charged. If you lose electricity, you don’t want to lose the ability to contact people as well.

Have a list of important phone numbers handy. Many people don’t memorize phone numbers anymore; instead they rely on their cell phone’s contact storage. If your cell phone loses power, you’ll want to have a list of phone numbers for family, friends, your insurance company, the water company, the electric company, etc. that you can call on another phone.

Keep at least a half-tank of gas in your car. If you need to leave your house for a warmer house or a shelter, or to check on a relative, it may be difficult to stop for gas. Road conditions may make it hard to pull over, and many gas stations may not be open.

Have "mad money" in the house. Along the same lines as it being difficult to stop for gas, it may be difficult to stop at a bank or even at an ATM during a storm. You may need to pay people to help you dig out.

Stock up on the real essentials. Many people run out to buy milk and bread before the storm. Remember to concentrate on the items you could not live without during a few days stuck inside. These include medicines, water, and supplies for pets and babies. Find more at