Hey guys! Thanks for stopping by for the transcript of Episode 45. If you’d rather listen to this episode than read 8,000 words, you can click the player below or learn how to get them on your phone (for free) here.
[ad music begins]
Sherry: Hey, guys! This week’s episode is brought to you by Thomas Avenue Ceramics, an online tile store that’s built on 70 years of industry knowledge but designed for the 21st century. You can browse their tile options at thomasavenueceramics.com/YHL, where you can get 20% off your next order using the code YHL20.
[ad music ends, intro theme music begins]
John: I’m John.
Sherry: And I’m Sherry.
John: We like home stuff.
Sherry: We like talking.
John: And we like the occasional game show sound effect. So welcome to kokokara Has A Podcast, where we have deep and not-so-deep conversations about DIY, design, and life at home.
Sherry: Today, we’re sharing how our spring break trip triggered a big shift in our outlook on a lot of the things that we have in our house. We also talk about how to get chummier with your neighbors, and we finally find John’s voice twin.
[intro theme music ends]
John: And we’re back!
Sherry: We’re back! Hope everyone had a good spring break. If you didn’t have a spring break, I hope you had a good week in general.
John: I hope you had a good week off from listening to us.
Sherry: Right! Exactly. Your vacation from John and Sherry is over, sorry to say. We’re back in your ear.
John: So I guess the obvious thing that’s new with us is we just got back from a week away at spring break because our kids were off from school, and we actually did something this year.
Sherry: Yep. We got our act together.
John: Last year, we totally dropped the ball.
Sherry: We did. We went on a pretty mediocre day trip with them and said, like, “We tried.”
John: Yeah, we went in, we’re like, “Eh, we’ll just do some fun stuff around town, like a staycation.” And I think we ended up basically working most of the week, and then, Thursday or Friday, saying, “Geez, we should do something!” So then we drove them to Virginia Beach and spent a night. It was fun, but it was not spring breaky enough.
Sherry: It was not A-game vacationing.
John: No. It wasn’t warm, so this year, coming into this spring break, back in December or January, we said, “Let’s plan something. Let’s make sure it’s warm.” So we hunted down a place in Florida. Our criteria was just that we wanted something that was walkable to the beach and that had a pool we could use in case we didn’t want to be at the beach all the time. That’s all we wanted to do. We were not trying to do Disney, Universal Studios, like crazy crowd, like all that kind of stuff. We wanted simple.
Sherry: Yeah, it was not a scene. We were not looking for a scene. We were looking for the opposite of a scene, whatever that is.
John: Yes. That’s a definition of John and Sherry is “the opposite of a scene.”
Sherry: [laughs] We’re not really scene people. I mean, we’ll definitely go to all the festivals and all the fun events, but I think we were looking to unwind for spring break. We were like, “Let’s do the opposite of all the crowds.” And we road tripped there. It was a two-day event, so we stayed over in a hotel, which is really fun for the kids. I know that sounds crazy, but they love a hotel. And then, we didn’t mind the drive since we broke it up. And I had too many Egg McMuffins, would be my only complaint. [laughs] I was Egg-McMuffined out by the end of the road trip.
John: The place we ended up renting was in Cape Canaveral on Florida’s Space Coast. We didn’t actually end up going to the Kennedy Space Center, which, I guess, is one of the big attractions because we didn’t think it was age-appropriate for our kids. So we just stuck, again, to the beach and swimming. Our place was two blocks from the water, so we were able to walk with the kids. And it was an awesome beach. That beach there in Cape Canaveral, or even the nearby Cocoa Beach, which we spent some time at as well, was really nice because it was super gradual into the water. So you could go out a long ways, and it wasn’t very deep. And the waves, while we were there at least, were not very rough, so the kids loved playing in the them. Our daughter came back saying she wants to grow up to be a surfer.
Sherry: [laughs] Right! That’s all she wants. She no longer wants to be a marine biologist. Surfer all the way! But I think that the funny thing about it, which was not lost on us, is that we went to a place called CC like Cape Charles. It was a sleepy little town, and it had a beach that didn’t have crazy waves, and was very chill for kids, which is, essentially, why bought the beach house. But since that doesn’t have a toilet or walls, we went and drove to Florida for essentially the same thing.
John: I’ll put a link to the place we stayed at in the show notes. It was another Airbnb, and it was a trio of cottages, as I call them, although it was one building that shared a pool. And we were lucky enough that the two other couples that were staying there didn’t use the pool when we needed it, so it was like a private pool for most of the time that we used it.
Sherry: Yeah. I mean, it was really great. There were all these rafts and balls. One of the things I really liked about it, again, because every time we go and stay somewhere we’re doing research for our beach house, is that they provided a lot of things that were super helpful. We had never used one of those rolling carts to get to the beach, and they had balls and rafts for kids to play with at the pool. They even had board games for the kids to play in the house.
John: I was a two-time Scrabble Junior Champion!
Sherry: [laughs] That’s right!
John: Basically, we did not drop the ball this year.
Sherry: We didn’t.
John: And, you know, when we got home, I was thinking, we have this weird thing where we get home from vacation and immediately unpack and put everything away.
Sherry: And we know that’s weird. We know everybody else sits down. We’ve heard it from all of our friends and family. We run around, and we unpack everything, and then, when we sit down, we know we can sit down for a while.
Sherry: Like, we are unpacked. All the kids’ things that they’re going to ask us where they are are back where they belong.
John: There aren’t suitcases all over the place.
John: The laundry’s going.
Sherry: Yeah. Everything’s ready for us to pick where we left off.
John: And then, you, like a weirdo —
Sherry: So guys. Yep, so something happened on the vacation. [laughs] I read a book that I already had previously read, so I can’t quite explain why this time reading it made such a huge difference in my life. And I know that sounds like an overstatement, but it really has changed the way I think about a lot of things. It’s called Simplicity Parenting. It’s this thought that object fatigue, being overwhelmed by your surroundings, and too many choices are a real thing, especially for kids. And I think I probably read it when our daughter was little, and I was like, “Okay let’s make sure we don’t get too many blocks or too many things everywhere.” You know, we don’t want to overwhelm her baby mind.
John: [sarcastically] Right. Fast-forward to now, and we have 10,000 stuffed animals.
Sherry: Right! Right! And I think that’s what it was. It was when you’re on vacation, you don’t have all the stuff, right? We packed Play-Doh. We packed beads, and we packed kinetic sand. And it was funny to me that in bringing 3 toys, instead of the 25 or whatever they have access to at home, they played deeper and longer with those 3 toys than they do when they have 25.
And, so, when I’m reading this book, and it’s saying that, and I’m witnessing that on vacation, it was this perfect storm. It makes sense to me why he’s saying fewer toys mean deeper play, more imagination, and more creativity and less expecting all your toys to do all this stuff for you, make you excited, and new things all the time. I mean, our kids were at the beach playing with sticks, water, sand, seaweed, very basic things, for hours. It was like back to basics in the best way. And I think if we all think about our vacations, a lot of times we are running away from stuff, and this feeling of your space being overwhelming, or too many things to do, or too many things to maintain or clean.
John: Basically, what Sherry’s trying to say is that as soon as she got home, and I was putting away the luggage and stuff, she was sorting through toys and getting rid of things the kids hadn’t touched in weeks.
Sherry: And years! I mean there were puzzles our kids used when they were babies, and they’re both way older than these puzzles. I don’t know why I kept them out. They said in the book that when there’s a toy in the middle of a pile, it’s not being used, honored, or even noticed. And that’s true. When you have too many things it just shifts the focus. It’s like in my closet, I like to have a few things I love because I call it my closet GPA. If I have a bunch of stuff in there I never wear, and it’s annoying, it brings my whole GPA down. It just clogs up the works. And so I did the same thing with their toys, their clothes, the food in our fridge. I mean, I really — it’s what my best friend calls “burning it down” when [John laughs] she goes through everything, just bags and bags, and her car is full of donations.
John: Yeah, we didn’t actually burn anything, not to my knowledge.
Sherry: Nothing was actually burned.
John: And the thing that was impressive to me about the process, watching you guys, because I really kind of was on the outside watching this happen, is you actually had our daughter involved in it, which I think the book had said you don’t necessarily need to get them involved because you might have sort of that mourning, and them getting upset.
Sherry: Yeah, they might have the attachment of like, “I don’t want that to go even though I, legit, have not touched it for two years.”
John: Yeah. But she was into it.
Sherry: But she was really into it. She likes to organize and decorate. These are two words she uses a lot.
John: [sarcastically] I wonder who she learned that from.
Sherry: [laughs] Well, I’ll say, sometimes her organizing is like hiding things, which is not really how I organize. But she likes the concept, and I was just saying, “Listen, I’m not sure you play with very much in your closet anymore. I haven’t seen you in there in a while. What would like? Would you like a bean bag in there, and we’ll make a reading corner?” And then, she, all on her own, said, “No. I want a little table and chairs so I can have a café for my dolls. I want to bring the play food in there, and I can cook for them and play restaurant in there.” She even got an apron. The whole thing was her idea.
John: And, basically, took my podcasting table —
Sherry: [laughs] She stole John’s podcasting table.
John: I had to go clear off a tea party so we could come down here and set up.
Sherry: [laughs] So once a week, we’re not going to borrow the tea party table. We’re going to get a folding table, right?
John: Yeah, I think that we’ll get a new podcasting table, but I did not have it for today.
Sherry: But I just love that I gave her the choice of like, “What would you use?” And she thought for a second. It wasn’t immediate. Then we implemented what she thought she’d use and, literally, when I was tucking her in that night, there was no talk of all the stuff we got rid of. She was in bed saying, “I can’t wait to wake up in the morning and play in the closet!”
John: Yeah, she was like, “I can’t wait to play in my new room.” And we’re like, “We didn’t change anything.” [laughs]
Sherry: It was kind of amazing. I did not plant that, like I wasn’t walking around saying, “If we organize, you’ll have a new space.” This was all sort of a mental leap she got to because she saw that getting rid of things she didn’t use freed up space for other things.
Sherry: Another example is that she had drawers full of just random things in her room. And I said, “Hey, if we organize the things in this drawer and pare down what you don’t play with, we could probably get your dolls and your doll clothes in here so they’re not in the bonus room anymore.” And she was like, “What?! More things in my room?” I guess that was like real estate that she was really excited to play with versus it being real estate that was filled with stuff she didn’t care about.
John: Well, she was seeing it as a way to raise her room’s GPA, like you were saying. All the toys she wasn’t using were no longer bringing down the average. She would only have things in her room that she really liked.
Sherry: Exactly. I don’t know. It went amazingly well. I don’t think it would have worked with our three-year-old because he just doesn’t want you to take anything.
Sherry: The book does have suggestions on how to do it and make it positive, so it’s not like your kids come home, and they’re crying and raging because their stuff’s gone. So I couldn’t recommend it highly enough. It’s called Simplicity Parenting, and I’ll put the link to it in the show notes.
John: Ah, before this turns to much into a parenting podcast —
Sherry: [laughs] John and Sherry, parent extraordinaires!
John: [sarcastically] Asterisk, disclaimer. Not.
Sherry: Not. Still learning. Still reading books for the second time.
John: [laughs] Right. Exactly. It takes us two or three reads. [Sherry laughs] By the fourth, we will get it. But I think, instead, we’ve got some updates.
[update news music]
John: So first update, which a lot of you guys have been tweeting and messaging us about is S-Town, that podcast we recommended, that we hadn’t listened to yet, but we were excited to listen to. [laughs]
Sherry: Yes. It was the makers of Serial, which we really liked, and I thought it was intriguing.
John: Yes, we binged it on our way to Florida and back. The thing that was interesting is so many people, before we had heard it, kept telling us that I sound like the guy from S-Town.
Sherry: Yeah. I was tuning in like, “Does it sound like John? Because I listen to John all the time, I should clearly be able to pick up on this.”
John: So I thought we would play a little snippet so that you guys can see if you think I sound like this guy.
Sherry: Okay, here we go.
S-Town Voice: [strong Southern accent] Let me tell you something I saw one time.
John: Okay. [laughs] I’m totaling kidding. That is the character John, one of the central figures of the Series, but that’s not the person people think I sound like. At least I don’t think so. [laughs]
Sherry: I don’t think so. You have the same name but not the same voice.
John: No. He has a very strong Alabama accent. I think the person everyone thinks I sound like is the host, Brian.
Sherry: Right. One girl was like, “I had the flu, and I was coming in and out of consciousness. And I was like, ‘Why is John from kokokara talking about this mystery?’ And they were like, ‘Oh, no. It’s this host, Brian, who sounds just like John.’”
John: Yeah, and we heard it so many times. [Sherry laughs] I would say, I don’t think I sound like this guy in the same way that you sound like Mila Kunis.
Sherry: You think I do sound like her?
John: I see that similarity more than I see this similarity.
Sherry: See, everyone listening tells me that, so I believe it because enough people have heard it. But when I hear her, I’ll close my eyes if she’s on an interview. To me, she sounds nothing like me. But that’s also true when you hear yourself on voicemail.
Sherry: You don’t think you sound like that.
John: Right. Okay, so let me play this clip. This is Brian Reed, the host of S-Town. And then —
Sherry: John will say the same sentence, and we can compare.
John: I’ll do my best S-Town impression.
Brian: Like so many things having to do with John, it took me a long time to understand the meaning of this story.
John: Like so many things having to do with John, it took me a long time to understand the meaning of this story. [Sherry laughs] How was it?
Sherry: That was a little bit Foghorn Leghorn. [Sherry cracks up]
John: That’s my Alabama John B. Mclemore coming in.
Sherry: Because you said, [deep voice] “Havin’ to do with John.” [laughs]
John: Having to do with John. I’m confusing the voices, guys.
Sherry: So I guess you guys hear it.
John: I would say he probably sounds more similar to me than anyone else I can think of.
Sherry: Right. I just think he’s so serious [laughs], and you’re not delivering lines like that.
John: I would say, yeah, the topic and the cadence of our podcasting is a little bit different.
John: But also, listen to S-Town. We liked it.
Sherry: Yeah, we liked it. We didn’t love it as much as Serial. It had beautiful storytelling in it, though. It was not a fast-action thriller.
John: [sarcastically] Shoot ‘em up podcast, like most of us broadcast. [Sherry laughs] There weren’t a lot of car chases. [Sherry laughs] But we have some other more serious updates, or, I guess, more helpful updates than that.
Sherry: [laughs] Yeah, nothing about our podcast is serious.
Sherry: So Episode 43, we talked about an Escape Room. This is actually important for me to say.
John: Oh, yeah. This is a helpful disclaimer.
Sherry: We didn’t mention that that weekend was the last weekend for that room. So when we were sharing things like, “You hold this against the wall, you use semaphore, you slide these things, and a door opens.”
John: We were not giving away secrets.
Sherry: Right. Those weren’t spoilers, and a few hardcore Escape Room fans were like, “Dude, you just ruined that Escape Room.” And I was like, “Oh, we should have said it was turning into a pirate-themed room.”
Sherry: So nothing we were saying would ever be useful again because all the clues were changed. The room was changed. The art was changed. Everything was changed.
John: Yeah, the place cycles through different rooms and stuff so they can keep their customers coming back and doing new things. And actually, in fact, we are going back to do another one in two weeks.
My last update is that back in Episode 37, I was bemoaning the fact that whenever you have to get a test can of paint, you use a drop or two, and then you have this whole can of paint that you have nothing to do with. I got a very helpful suggestion from a listener named Cory Bishop on Twitter, who said, “Your local high school drama or art department might like the extra paint.” So as soon as I got that tweet, I immediately looked up the email address for a high school that’s nearby, shot the drama teacher an email, and said, “Hey, I’ve got this paint. Would you like it?” She wrote me back within the day and said, “Yep, just drop it off at the office.” Have I dropped it off yet? No. [laughs]
Sherry: No. We’re getting it together. Well, now I’m having that hoarding tendency, where I’m like, “Will I use this at the beach house for something?”
Sherry: If I’m going to use it, I don’t want to give it away. But I think all it needs is about 10 minutes of my attention to look at everything and say, “No, I will never use this crazy neon green or blue,” because we have all these different colors. We did book projects with them. Some of them are from 2012.
John: I don’t know if we still have those around, but Sherry immediately got very possessive of her paint cans.
Sherry: [laughs] Well, I was like, “Don’t clear it all out before I look at it because I might use some to paint a vanity, for example.” For anyone else out there wondering what to do with paint, I think it’s an awesome idea to pay it forward to a local school, especially if they could use it for drama, plays, painting sets, art, any of that stuff.
John: Yeah, exactly. So I will get on that as soon Sherry gets on it.
Sherry: I’m in an organizing mood, you know! I love to pare down.
John: Seriously. Why did you stop?
Sherry: Okay. And, now, flipping the script, I have a game for you.
[old school quiz music]
Okay, so this week’s quiz was inspired by an article that a bunch of readers actually sent to me after we were talking about staging your house to sell and how it’s so ironic that once you stage your house, it finally looks amazing, just in time to hand it over to someone else.
Sherry: Like, you don’t enjoy it looking that way. You do all the work, and then you leave, and someone else gets to enjoy it. So this is actually an article by Joshua Becker, who is a pretty famous minimalist blogger and author.
John: Oh, yeah.
Sherry: It’s called “How to Stage Your Home for Living.”
John: Oh, a twist!
Sherry: See the twist?
John: I see what he did there.
Sherry: It’s like, don’t do it for others; do it for yourself and reap the benefits, my friend.
Sherry: So the way that this quiz works is I’m going to read five things that I say are from the article. Four are going to be from the article, and one of them is advice I just threw there to confuse you. You have to guess which one is the not real tip from the article, and, if so, you win!
John: Okay. And what do I win? Some leftover paint!
Sherry: [laughs] Yeah! No. You get to drive it to the drama department later after I go through it!
John: Right. You win a trip to the local high school!
Sherry: [laughs] So these are the five tips. One’s a bogie. The rest are real. Number one, when you want to stage your home for living, you might want to remove a third of your possessions.
Sherry: Number two, find a home for everything.
John: That seems a little contrary to the first one if you’re getting rid of things. [Sherry laughs] You don’t want to find a home for everything.
Sherry: Number three, personalize your decorations.
John: It seems a little opposite to typical staging advice. So maybe.
Sherry: But this is for living, you know.
John: I know. That’s why I’m saying maybe.
Sherry: Number four is: consider curb appeal.
John: [sarcastically] Well, okay.
Sherry: [sarcastically] Capitan Obvious reporting for duty. Number five is to group items by usage.
John: So I’m narrowing it down to the curb appeal and the personalized ones because I think the other ones make sense. To find a home for everything, that’s a way to make your house work better when you’re actually living in it. To get rid of things, we have just talked about several times, is a way to make your house work better. Grouping items by usage, the last one, makes sense as well. So I’m going to go out there and say the personalized is the faker.
Sherry: You are wrong.
John: I knew it as soon as I said it. So wait, what is the fake one? The curb appeal one?
John: [huff] Oh.
Sherry: So the fake one was “group items by usage.”
Sherry: But I think it’s really good advice.
John: That’s a real tip.
Sherry: Yes. It’s something that I was noticing the other day. I’ll give an example. We have a drawer in our kitchen that has all the Ziploc bags and the reusable storage containers for food. It also has paper bags for lunches. In it, is a Sharpie. And if you are going through our kitchen, you’d be like, “Why is this Sharpie here? Shouldn’t be in the junk drawer with all the other pens and markers?”
John: I know the answer.
Sherry: [laughs] The Sharpie is there because it helps us label lunches and bags and things that we use within that drawer. Like a Ziploc, we might write on it, “this is cashew butter” because peanut butter is not allowed at school. It must be labeled.
John: Yes. And our son’s snacks at preschool have to be labeled with his name so he can find them.
Sherry: Right. So we do use the Sharpie a lot. I think it sounds silly. What does it save you, four steps every day to not walk to the marker drawer and get the marker? But by having it there, it just feels so contained and so helpful to be grouping things by usage.
John: It makes me feel like I’m in control of my life.
Sherry: [laughs] Exactly! Look at you being on top of things with your Sharpie in the drawer! But anyway, I thought it was interesting that 33% was a number I had never heard before. It seems really steep.
John: Oh, the getting rid of 33%?
Sherry: Yeah. Removing a third of your possessions. Doesn’t that seem really steep?
John: Well, you had just told me from that Simplicity Parenting book that it was like you should half your possessions and then half them again.
John: Right? That’s 25%.
Sherry: That’s true.
John: I do like his idea of thinking about how you would “stage your house” for actually living there.
Sherry: Yeah. I think it just goes back to being thoughtful and —
John: Not having unnecessary stuff.
Sherry: Yeah. So I’ll put a link to this in the show notes. I think it adds a lot of really interesting points, and the just the general concept is something I think is interesting, especially in this get-rid-of-all-your-stuff-part-2 episode that we seem to be doing, it’s applicable.
John: Yeah. I feel like this whole episode is shaping up to be a sequel to 33.
Sherry: It is. It really is. Again, trying to do more and have less.
John: Although, now we’ve got a listener question to answer. And this one comes to us via email.
Sherry: Yes. It’s from someone named Sarah Connelly, and she writes:
“Before moving into your current home, you guys talked about loving that particular neighborhood, and you were so grateful to see a home go on the market there. And most recently on your podcast, you mentioned your fun night out dressing up with your neighbors. How did you and John become so chummy with your neighbors in such a short amount of time? I’d love to find a neighborhood with a similar atmosphere. Sorry for the odd question, but it seems like even after seven years, the majority of my current neighbors are cool with just keeping to themselves, and I want to break free from that mentality when we decide to move. Thank guys!”
That’s a good question, right?
John: Yeah. [sarcastically] I would say the secret is our winning personalities. [Sherry laughs]
No, it actually is a really good question. I’m trying to think if the social atmosphere was something we really were conscious of before we moved in.
Sherry: I think our neighborhood is social. We didn’t know that coming in, but that was lucky. I also think that we have forged bonds with people because of our interests or sort of our efforts.
Sherry: So it didn’t just fall into our laps completely. It was a little column A, a little bit of column B.
John: Right. I mean, I would say the things that drew us to the neighborhood that ended up being some of the factors that maybe have made us more social here than maybe in our past neighborhoods is that we were drawn to this neighborhood because there were lots of young families with kids. So there are lots of people that are in a similar life stage to us, I guess, than maybe some of other neighborhoods, which were a bigger mix of young folks, empty nesters, and everything in between, which has its advantages as well, having a big diversity of ages. But I think we did know that coming to a neighborhood like where we are now, there’d be lots of kids our kids’ ages, so they would have friends. I guess that has subconsciously given us parents that are sort of our ages and that we connect with as well.
Sherry: Yeah. We just inherently have a lot in common with these people. But I also think it’s things that we have taken an interest in, like all the guys you run with.
John: Yeah. When we got here, I think we quickly were keyed into the fact that our street was very social, and there were already some tight friendships in some of the houses. And, so, I think you and I, knowing that we wanted to be in this house for a long time, like we call this our “Forever House.” I think we knew we needed to get off on the right foot [laughs ] and also —
Sherry: We needed to try. [laughs]
John: [laughs] Yes. Well, we needed to make sure we didn’t just stay in our bubble. We needed to accept invitations for things, and try to get ourselves, like insert ourselves, into those existing friendships and social groups.
Sherry: Right. But not in a pushy way. [laughs] You sound like you were like walking in their doors. [laughs]
John: Like, “Hey, guys! Oh, it looks like you’re having a party. May I come in?”
Sherry: What we mean is to accept invitations when given, even if we had a young child, and we were busy, and if we had a babysitter, maybe we wanted a date night to ourselves, we realized that we were paying into this relationship with all of our neighbors. So instead of a date night by ourselves, we’d get the sitter, we’d go to someone’s house, meet all the neighbors, and come home so happy we did that. Even little things, like using some of the neighborhood kids for pet sitting or housesitting duties, just helpful things where families are exchanging texts, coming into your home, or you’re going over there. It bonds you, I think.
John: Yeah. And with that running group you mentioned, as soon as we moved in, or shortly after, some of the guys in the neighborhood said, “Hey, we’re training for this half marathon in the fall. Do you have any interest in doing it?” I had not planned to run the half marathon. I had done it before, but was like, “Okay, sure.” I’m typically a solo runner. I enjoy listening to music. [Sherry laughs] So I kind of had to get out of my comfort zone to say, “Okay. I’m going to run with a group.” That was a quick way to sort of invest myself in some of the neighbors and become friendly. And now I run weekly with some of the people in the neighborhood.
Sherry: And he comes home with all the gossip! [laughs] You think the ladies are gossipy in a neighborhood? It’s the dudes in our neighborhood. [laughs] They’re like, “Blah, blah, blah is selling their house. Oh did you hear blah, blah, blah is moving?”
John: We are not any more gossipy than anyone else. [Sherry laughs] Don’t give my running group a bad name.
Sherry: Well, he gets all the info, I guess, is the better way to say it because the rest of us don’t meet weekly. The guys meet more than the ladies or the couples do.
John: There is a woman in our running group, okay?
Sherry: That’s true. That’s true.
John: It is not this chauvinistic running group. I was going to say, in a previous episode awhile back, we talked about having a neighborhood Facebook Group that we really liked for coordinating things, including some of these social events. A lot of people chimed in after that episode and said, “Oh, yeah, we have something similar,” or “We had to use Nextdoor,” or whatever all these other things to connect with their neighbors. I realized one thing we didn’t point out that gets to Sarah’s question a bit. Our Facebook Group is just our street and one street over. We live in a larger neighborhood, but this is a very focused amount of people. I don’t say that because we have fun being exclusive, or whatever, but I think being a small group makes us all a bit more comfortable because I know everyone on that board.
Sherry: We’re comfortable enough to say, “We’re going on vacation. We’d like someone to fish sit,” or whatever we’re looking for. [laughs]
John: Right. Or you’re comfortable enough putting out an invitation to a party, or whatever, and know you’re not going to have three hundred attendees.
Sherry: Exactly. One of our friends loves Halloween. She does the coolest, most insane Halloween parties, full decorations. There’s a theme involved. I think those are fun because she puts it on the Facebook Group. We all get amped and excited.
John: Well, it’s also small enough that you feel comfortable being a little bit goofy and stuff. You know how we have deer in our neighborhood all the time? If I ever see a deer meme [Sherry laughs], I am immediately posting it to the group.
Sherry: [laughs] John is the contributor of deer memes to the group.
John: [sarcastically] Yes. I play a very vital role in this. [Sherry laughs]
But those are things that you wouldn’t necessarily do on a more public forum or a larger Facebook Group, so I think it is helpful to just start something that maybe is a bit smaller.
Sherry: And I think, also, any themey thing, like the Thrift Store Date Night we did, was really fun because, you know, it’s like an ice breaker bonding.
Sherry: Like a gimmicky-type thing.
John: That’s what I thought you were going to say. When you do something that has a theme, it’s nice because it has a built-in ice breaker to it.
Sherry: Right. Like the Halloween costume party, you get there, and you know for 10 minutes we’re all going to talk about our weird costume.
John: Right. Well, yeah, I think it’s whenever you’re organizing an event that is something more than just, “Hey, let’s all hang out.”
Sherry: Right. Like you could do a book club. You could do a mom’s club. I even think some random thing we learned in our last neighborhood that is surprisingly social is hosting a yard sale.
John: Oh, yeah.
Sherry: You suddenly meet all of your neighbors. I mean, we had one right before we moved away, and we said, “What a shame. We met so many fun people, and we were moving.” You know? That’s a really good way.
John: It was on our way out of that neighborhood when we met more neighbors than the entire four years that we lived there.
Sherry: Yeah. So I would say doing any of those things. Even having your kids host a lemonade stand on the corner to raise quarters, or do whatever they’re doing, it helps get out there. People see who bought the new house. They know that you’ve moved in. You know, a lot of times, I think people don’t know if you’re in yet or not. They’re not sure if they should knock on your door, if they’re bothering you, if you’re unpacking. So I think by doing things like a yard sale, or kids playing in the yard, setting up the Slip ‘N Slide, something to signal life in the house, will help people —
John: [sarcastically] Just dance around your yard like a weirdo.
But I feel like Sarah also asks if she’s going to be moving, how she should know if this neighborhood is going to have that social element she’s looking for. Right? I don’t think we answered that very well since we said, “We lucked into it.”
John: But I was going to say to Sarah that some things that she could probably do as maybe signals of that is to see if there’s anything around the neighborhood like a community center, a pool, or a playground, you know, something that already acts as a central gathering space for people who live in the neighborhood. And if not, if there’s something nearby that would do that as well. Also, see if the community or the neighborhood has a website, a newsletter, or some sort of even physical bulletin board somewhere that gives you some signal that there’s a way for the neighbors to connect and communicate. Just ask someone who lives there, like, “Is there a Facebook Group? What’s the social life like?”
Sherry: I’m shy, so what I would do, I think, is just drive around and see what it looks like. And then, if there were no signs of life or something, I might — if I’m thinking of offering on a house, I’ve heard two people do this, and I though it was so smart every time. They knock on the person’s door across from or next door to the house, and they just say, “Hey, I’m considering this house. I think I’m going to put an offer in. How do you like living here?” And the people who did that discovered that across the street there were kids the same age. Every time I hear the story, it’s like kismet. They realized it’s the perfect neighborhood for them, and then, they have this confidence to put the offer in. We’ve never done it, but it seems really smart.
John: And I would love to hear if anyone else out there has good suggestions because, again, Sherry and I kind of lucked into it and have been fortunate to have kind of a strong bond with our neighbors. If you guys have any other stories or tips for Sarah or for anyone else that’s looking to either hunt down a neighborhood that has a strong social element, or how to create one within their existing neighborhood, we’d love to hear them.
Sherry: And if any of you guys have a question for us, leave us a voicemail at 1-800… nope. [laughs] Just give us a call and leave us a voicemail at 571-4-YHL-HAP.
John: And before we wrap up with “We’re Digging,” let’s take a quick break.
Sherry: This week’s episode is brought to you by Thomas Avenue Ceramics, an online tile shop where you can find great customer service and beautiful tile options that are delivered right to your door.
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[ad music ends]
John: And now a little “We’re Digging” music, which I’ve missed oh, so very much.
[fresh, funky beat that just makes you want to dance]
Sherry: I have a sneeze that’s about to come out.
John: Do you want to wait?
Sherry: No, now that I said that, I spooked it. [John laughs] It’s gone!
John: Scared it right back in!
Sherry: [laughs] Right back up!
John: [laughs and makes sucking noises]
Sherry: Sucked it up! [laughs] Like a nose vacuum.
John: Well, for my “We’re Digging” this week, I’m going to stick with the beach theme because I saw several things while we were in Florida that I dug.
Sherry: Hardcore. One, John could not stop staring at it.
John: [sarcastically] Yeah, I was a creeper on the beach, that’s for sure.
Sherry: [laughs] That sounds so bad!
John: It does sound very bad. So, yeah. I saw this thing on, maybe the Buzz Digger. [laughs]
Sherry: [laughs] Back to Buzz Digger.
John: I saw it somewhere on the internet, and then I saw it in real life. It’s this thing called an inflatable lounger, I looked up the name of it later. I’m going to be terrible at describing it, so forgive me.
Sherry: It sounds like, from the words “inflatable lounger,” you’re picturing like a La-Z-Boy, but it’s a blowup La-Z-Boy. That’s not what it is.
John: No. It’s like a giant pair of lips.
Sherry: Ah, [thinking] okay. To me, it’s like a bloated straw folded in half.
John: Oh, yeah! That’s kind of fun.
John: These are awesome. [Sherry laughs] I think everyone is probably like, “What the heck is going on with John and Sherry?” And then, they’re going to see a picture of it and be like, “Wow! They were really good.”
Sherry: That does really look like a bloated straw folded in half!
John: But it’s this, I think, nylon fabric that’s like a big tube or a windsock. You basically kind of swoosh it through the air to fill it with air, and then, you close the end. You roll it a little bit to puff it up so it’s kind of firm. And then, it becomes this lounger, this thing you can kind of like sit in, almost like a hammock that lays on the ground.
Sherry: Yeah, we watched a girl hang out in it. She floated in the water in it and got back to land in it. It’s just kind of this chill, relaxing zone.
John: Yeah, this family had two of them, and they were all hanging out on them right at the water’s edge. It looked awesome. That’s when I was the creeper, and I was just watching them.
Sherry: Yeah, well, we were like, “The husband and wife could sit on one.”
John: The adults were sitting on it like a loveseat.
John: And the girl was chilling, sort of lounging in the middle of it like a hammock.
Sherry: Well, yeah. People were walking by and, I think, they thought it was empty. And then, when they got close, they realized there was a person in that thing.
John: Right. “Oh, there’s an eight-year-old in there!”
Sherry: Yeah. It was really fun.
John: One of their brands, I could see the tag on one of theirs, was a Fatboy one. So Fatboy sells one, but there are also a lot of other different random brands that do them as well. I’ll put a couple of links to them in the show notes because I think the Fatboy one is a bit more expensive, but I think it’s better reviewed.
Sherry: Yeah. You don’t want to buy one that pops right away.
John: That was peoples’ complaints, that some of the cheaper ones had trouble holding air.
Sherry: Oh, and yeah. You do not want it to be like the worst air mattress of the bunch, where you fall asleep, and you wake up on the ground.
John: Exactly, exactly. So I want one of these things because the reason why I was kind of scoping stuff out is I’m thinking about when we kind of stock our beach house for guests and ourselves. What might be cool things to have? So I wanted this thing. Also, something our host at this Florida place had was a beach cart, you know, kind of those —
Sherry: Like big, plastic wheels so it’s all-terrain.
John: Yeah. Kind of the thing that you might go grocery shopping with in the city.
Sherry: Right. [laughs] Yeah. We know that from New York. It’s like what you put your laundry in and pull your cart.
John: Your laundry cart, but this has big wheels so it can go on sand.
Sherry: Well, when you are walking a few blocks —
John: Yeah, the two blocks we had.
Sherry: — like we were, it is so great because — I’ll ask the audience. Who can carry two bags, four towels, and two folding chairs?
John: And a cooler?
Sherry: And a cooler? Yeah. Not many people. This cart, very easily. You looped the chairs over the side. You put the cooler in, the towels on top of that, and the beach bag on top. It was so easy for one person to pull it with one hand. The other person was in charge of our two-year-old, now three-year-old. You know, he’d want to be climbing something. He’d want to be carried.
John: Yeah. It made it so much less painful to get to the beach because we actually didn’t carry anything besides a child occasionally.
And the last thing I’m going to dig, I realize this is getting to be a long section, but it’s this thing that we didn’t see witnessed, but I saw online that is called a quicksand blanket. It’s this big blanket that’s made out of this special material so sand goes through it.
Sherry: But it feels like cloth, right? Because at first, I pictured it being like the mesh of a screen door and thought “that’s not comfortable.”
John: [sarcastically] Right. That sounds awesome.
Sherry: But the sand would go through that.
John: I would love to see this in person to see if it lives up to it. It has great reviews online, so I think that might be something we get because it would be so nice to have a patch that you don’t have to worry about getting sandy, especially, if you’re eating on the beach.
Sherry: Yeah. And our kids don’t understand the concept of “walk around the towel.”
Sherry: They run right through the towel every time.
John: Exactly. We’re like “do you want to sit down so you can have a clean spot to eat?” “Oh, yes, but let me walk all over it first in my sandy shoes.” [Sherry laughs] Like, “Oh, but no, it’s messy Mom!” Well, how do you think it got that way? [sarcastically]
Sherry: [laughs] Says not-zen Dad at the beach. [laughs]
John: Right. Seriously. [laughs] I was not the chill dad. I was like, “Everything in the cart!”
Sherry: [laughs] And what I’m digging this week is a podcast because I listen to podcasts too, and I feel like John’s always digging them. So I’ll just veer off into digging weird things like bras. [laughs]
John: And we spent 22 hours in the car over the last week.
Sherry: Yeah. So we’ve been listening to a lot of stuff. I listened to a podcast called How I Built This, which was recommended a bunch of times by you guys, people saying I would like it, predominately when the episode about Kendra Scott came on. So Kendra Scott, for those who don’t know, she does these amazing, big, colorful earrings that I am obsessed with. I’ll put links to them in the show notes. I feel like everyone needs —
John: If you’ve ever seen a picture of Sherry, she’s wearing them.
Sherry: I’m wearing them! Everyone needs Kendra Scott earrings in their life. So if you don’t know what I mean, go to the show notes. I’ll have some links. You can see the colors they come in, then different shapes they come in. The How I Built This, it’s audio. It’s not pictures. But they interview different businesses to see how their business was built.
John: How I built this.
Sherry: Exactly! It was so interesting because she started out as a hat designer.
Sherry: I know! Unexpected, right?
John: [sarcastically] You don’t have nearly enough Kendra Scott hats.
Sherry: And it was amazing! Her story was she got the inspiration because she was in a hospital and a lot of people around her getting treatment were losing their hair. They were saying, “We wish there was a soft comfortable hat, so it didn’t hurt or chafe on a head that was bald, but fashionable.” So she launched a hat company, and it failed. And then, knowing production and being interested in a business, she tried again with earrings. And they blew up. They’re in Nordstrom, and they’re worth — at the end, they do valuations of the company, and they said that the company’s valued at some — it was in the billions. It was a really, really high number.
John: But each episode is a different company or a different founder.
Sherry: They profile a different person — right. They’ve done the people who started Instagram or how Crate and Barrel came to be, which I haven’t listened to yet. But that sounds awesome. There are so many more I want to listen to.
John: Ooh, there’s one on the Power Rangers.
Sherry: Ooh! I wonder what that’s about.
John: Um, the Power Rangers.
Sherry: [laughs] I know.
John: I just told you. [Sherry laughs]
[theme music playing]
John: Thanks for listening to S-Town. I mean, kokokara Has A Podcast. Even though we’re not one of those action-packed, car-chase podcasts, we’d still love your support on iTunes. Just head over there to leave us a rating or review, and we’ll be forever grateful.
Sherry: And we love to hear what you do while you listen. Like Diane Furry, who listened while cleaning up after guests in her small Texas casita that she rents out on Airbnb.
John: And check out kokokara.info/podcast for all the bonus links, photos, and info from this episode, like some photos of the cottage we stayed at in Florida and that bloated straw thing you can lounge in at the beach.
Sherry: I promise it’ll make more sense when you see it. And that Simplicity Parenting book I’m obsessed with! Even if you don’t have kids, it’ll make you want to pare down your clothes, your fridge, everything.
[theme music ends]
John: And now for the “We’re Digging” music, which I’ve missed so very much.
Sherry: Ah, come back to us “We’re Digging” music! We need a little groove session. [John laughs] I don’t know if I want to say “groove session” like I’m my mother.