Hey guys! Thanks for stopping by for the transcript of Episode #160. If you’d rather listen to this episode than read 8,000 words (the big duplex news is in the first 22 minutes), you can click the player below or learn how to get our podcasts on your phone (for free) here.
[Intro music starts]
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 Young House Love Has a Podcast. Where we have deep and not so deep conversations about DIY, design, and life at home.
Sherry: We’re back from our winter break and we’ve got a doozy of an episode for you. There’s some big news that involves the duplex, our ongoing goals to simplify, and a fateful tale of switching furniture with a stranger.
[Intro music ends]
John: Happy New Year, everybody. Is it too late to say “Happy New Year” because it’s February?
Sherry: New year, who dis? Uh, I’ve got something to tell you about… who dis. [laughs]. That wasn’t as smooth as I thought. The who dis is that John is not, for the first time in three and a half years, sitting in a baby chair while podcasting. He has graduated to an adult-sized human chair.
John: Yeah. New year, new podcast setup. We’re trying something different this year. We’re in the office. I’m in a normal office chair. A few other normal things are that we have curtains draped over a plant, a blanket hanging over a lamp…
John: … you know, as one does.
Sherry: We’ll put a picture in the show notes. It is worth it. You might even wanna pause this podcast, go to the show notes right now and look at our new setup. We are professionals. And the plant that the curtains are over is my biggest fiddle-leaf fig. It looks like a ghost. [laughs] But we do it for sound quality. So I hope this sounds good.
John: Yeah. Hopefully it’s worth it, fig. Anyway, we’ve been gone for a few weeks. Lots has happened. There was the holidays. We had our big family trip to Costa Rica. We have the bathroom almost finished. Like, not quite. I would say it’s at, what, 90?…. 95%?
Sherry: Yeah, there’s priming & painting of a large-ish object, some hardware stuff to do.
John: A door to hang. We still don’t have a door on our bathroom.
Sherry: Oh yes, and we have to paint and frost that. So, yeah, we’re probably around 91% done.
John: But it’s functional.
Sherry: It is. It’s changing our lives.
John: So anyway we originally thought we’d spend this episode telling you all about that stuff, but then something happened four days ago that we want to get you in the loop on. So all that other stuff will have to wait for a future episode because today we have some big news about the duplex.
Sherry: It’s huge. It’s super surprising. You’re gonna be shocked. We were also very shocked.
John: The news is that as of four days ago, we have accepted an offer from someone to buy the duplex from us. So, we are selling the duplex.
Sherry: Everyone’s screaming. I can hear it. [laughs]
John: We assume people are probably surprised and I know there are probably dozens of questions popping into your head and we’ll try to answer those today as we tell the story of how this all happened. But let’s just say some of the short answers upfront. One, you didn’t miss anything, it wasn’t on the market. This was just a surprising thing that happened. Two, it will still be a vacation rental. So you’ll still be able to go and stay there and three, we are selling it furnished and with all of the amenities and extras we stocked it with – so it will largely stay the same and look the same, which is good news as well.
Sherry: Right. So long story short, if you guys are like, “No, because I wanted to rent it! Don’t sell it before I can rent it!” You can still rent it. It will look the same. It’s in the same place. It’s still designed by us. It’s just not going to have our names on the deed.
John: Yes. Because we’re actually selling it to some friends who we trust immensely to run a vacation rental. So it’ll be in very good hands and it will be more available to rent throughout the year, like more dates than we have been able to make available. So, all good things.
And I want to make sure we emphasize up front that this was not the plan. We bought this house in September of 2017 – around two and a half years ago. And we bought it and renovated it and furnished it with the assumption that we were going to own and operate it for years. Like, this was never a secret flip going on or anything.
Sherry: Have you ever watched HGTV and on like day 40 when they haven’t sold the house they’re all freaking out because flips are such a breakneck speed. I think two and a half years qualifies as not really a flip.
John: Yeah. I think it was the opposite of breakneck.
Sherry: And during the reno we made a lot of decisions that don’t make much sense for a flip. So if you’re looking at it from the outside and you’re like, “Wait, why did you guys splurge for no-rot Trex decking if you were just gonna sell it in two and a half years?” You put more money in upfront for the no-rot stuff, but it’s because after like 10 or 20 years, it’s still not rotten. Same with the upgraded cement board siding. You typically get your money back by holding things long-term when you make all of these long-term decisions that are more expensive up front. So we dumped a lot of money into it with the thought process that when we hold it, it’s gonna last. Like, we also did quartz countertops –
John: Yeah, I was gonna say that if you look at the post we did, and I’ll link in the show notes, about the budget for the duplex kitchens, we admitted in that post that we spent more on things like counters and appliances than we probably should have. Like we probably went over budget on those things. So had we approached this as something that we were going to turn around and sell in two and a half years, I’m sure we would’ve made different decisions. Like for instance I wouldn’t have rebought new patio furniture at the end of last season so we’d have lower maintenance patio furniture for this upcoming season. Like that was a plan we made for this coming summer.
Sherry: Right, we definitely planned to book it this summer. I even got a personalized duplex stamp with our names on it. It definitely was not something we were planning. And I would’ve saved thousands if I had just done butcher block instead of quartz in two kitchens.
John: Let’s not dwell on those things [laughs].
Sherry: Yeah. [laughs] We’re moving through this, guys. Just as you’re probably moving through it with us.
John: Well yeah, if our plan was to hold it for years, you’re probably wondering what changed. And I think it started with a conversation that we had with our realtor out in Cape Charles. We’re good friends with her. She has a house near us in Cape Charles, so we bump into her casually all the time. Like socially.
Sherry: Yeah, this wasn’t like a meeting in her office. [laughs]
John: It wasn’t a planned thing, but she said to us just in passing, “Hey, if you would ever be open to selling the duplex, I think I have someone who might be interested in buying it.” And Sherry and I kind of laughed it off. Like that’s a crazy idea. We’re not going to sell the duplex. We’ve only operated it for one year.
Sherry: Yeah. I was like “I will die with the duplex in my cold dead hands.”
Sherry: Like “No one will pry the duplex away from me.”
John: I don’t know if I was quite there, but we definitely weren’t thinking about selling it. So later we were relaying this story to our friends who have a house in Cape Charles and we hang out all the time. And we were like, “Hey, funny story. Our realtor said she might have someone who’s interested in buying the duplex.”
Sherry: And I was like, “We’re not selling the duplex.” And they were like, “Ha ha ha ha ha…. but if you sell the duplex, you better sell it to us.” And we were all like, “Ha ha ha ha ha.” And then we were like, “Wait what?! Really?!”
John: They just earnestly said to us “Seriously, if you actually were ever open to the idea, talk to us because we’d be interested in buying it.” So that’s what sort of planted the whole seed for this. Because it went from feeling like this crazy idea to this thing that, as we gave it more consideration, actually seemed like it could be a good thing for a number of reasons.
And I think the two things that were really compelling to us is that it really aligns with the whole minimizing & simplifying thing that we’ve been doing. I know we’ve talked about it SEVERAL times on the podcast, but it has gone for us from being more that just about simplifying our stuff and our belongings and our house, but also how can we simplify our schedules and our spending and our stress – you know, all the things that make life overwhelming and busy sometimes. So we’ve been focused on that and we realized that maybe this is a means to that end, because it’s not that the duplex is inherently stressful (because there’s a lot of it that we love, like, beyond the renovating and furnishing part) and the operation of the vacation rental, especially over the summer was so much fun.
Sherry: Yeah when we were right next door staying in the pink house over the summer it was awesome because we could pop in and fix whatever and we were like all hands on deck. We were having the summer of our lives. And I also relished the little hostess-y things – like I liked putting together the welcome kits for people. We already know I got a special duplex stamp for this upcoming season. I’m really into reading what people write in the guest books. Our guest are lovely. We love the people. It’s just sort of the administrative stuff…
John: Yeah, if you think about all the responsibilities of home ownership for your own home. You know, like your taxes, your utilities, your insurance, your maintenance. Right now we have that times four because we have our house in Richmond, we have our pink beach house out in Cape Charles, and then the duplex is actually two separate homes. So we have two separate duplex water bills, two separate duplex electric bills, two separate duplex trash bills, and two separate monthly rental taxes to file. So the idea that we could simplify that, you know, going from juggling four different houses and paying four water bills and all that stuff to two houses’ worth of that felt like it was in line with this goal of simplifying.
Sherry: Yeah I think anyone knows if you’re a landlord of a building or you have your own home, when something pops up and goes wrong it can be frustrating because you’re not expecting it. So if you’re like, “on the second week of my paycheck, suddenly it has to go towards fixing a plumbing issue”… that’s not the greatest feeling. And I think if you imagine having four places where that stuff could pop up – it’s a first world problem for sure, but it is something that’s in the back of your mind.
John: Yeah. It’s like a mental load. Or like mental clutter. And I think anyone has that with any place, whether it’s an apartment you rent or a house you own. And with a vacation rental, there’s extra stuff like scheduling the cleaner and responding in inquiries on Airbnb and calculating & filing your monthly rental taxes. So there’s stuff that’s above and beyond a normal household that can occupy a lot of your mental space.
Sherry: And some people are better with it than others. Like it’s definitely a personality type and I think you and I might be a little more worried sometimes [laughs].
Sherry: I think because we put so much love into a house, we get attached to the extra beauty and the extra function that we’ve added and we don’t want, like, a burst pipe to ruin the two years of work that we put into it.
John: And in addition to the whole simplifying thing, the other thing that made selling the duplex a compelling idea to further consider was that our off season fall rentals didn’t go quite as smoothly as we hoped. It was great when we were living in Cape Charles all summer and could manage the summer rentals firsthand, but because of school back here in Richmond, we were a five-hour round trip away for anyone who was renting in the fall. We had put some systems in place to make it easier to manage the rentals when we weren’t living in Cape Charles full-time, but they didn’t really pan out.
Sherry: Yeah. I always like to say this because it feels like some people know this and it escapes other people, but the pink house is one house away from the duplex. So we quite literally were in the same block as the duplex in the summer if something came up and someone was like, “Hey, the outdoor shower’s being weird.” We’d just stop by and fix it. It was very casual and it really eliminated a lot of the stress that we started to feel in the off season if, you know, something went wrong. An example was that our internet went out and we were in Richmond…
John: Yes, and it was right before some guests were supposed to arrive and the only thing that saved us from having to make that five-hour round trip drive to fix it ourselves was that our friends (and maybe this is foreshadowing – the ones we are selling it to) happened to be there and they could pop over and fix it for us.
Sherry: They saved the day and we were like, “Weird. The universe keeps having them be there when we’re not there and it keeps demonstrating how great they are at taking care of the duplex.”
John: That was not the only time it happened.
Sherry: [laughs] They’ve saved us multiple times.
John: Well, and I want to be clear that the hiccups we had were not like a problem caused by any guest or whatever. Our guests have all been wonderful. And thankfully none of the hiccups have affected their stay. It was just things we were dealing with between guests to make sure it was ready for people when they arrived.
And because the off season wasn’t going as smoothly as we expected, we weren’t able to make it available to rent as much as we had hoped to, which meant that the house wasn’t getting used as much as we would’ve liked. Like, it sat empty more.
Sherry: Right. Which was a stark contrast from in the summer when we were there all the time and the duplex was full of people. Which, you know, our dream for the duplex was to have people in it enjoying it.
John: Right. So, basically all that stuff combined with this goal of simplifying made the prospect of selling it sound like it could be a good thing for us. And the other thing that’s worth noting is you need to understand a bit more about our friends that are buying it. Their names are Ryan and Ahren and they live full-time in Richmond as well, but they’re about an hour closer round-trip because they’re on the other side of town, so they’re closer to Cape Charles. Their beach house is just a block away from our pink one, but we actually didn’t meet them in Cape Charles for the first time. We met them here in Richmond years ago.
Sherry: I think we met them in our second house.
John: It was actually in this house because we had moved into our current house and you had shared somewhere that the big round dining table that we had in our second house didn’t fit in our current dining room. Like, it was too big.
Sherry: Yeah but I think I shared that before we moved it. Because I can picture standing in the front dining room of the second house.
John: You are incorrect, ma’am.
Sherry: We moved that only to realize it didn’t fit after? Like, where was our measuring tape?
John: Well it literally fit, it was just cramped in there. So we realized we needed a rectangular table and Ahren, out of the blue, contacted us and said, “Hey, I have a table that fits what you need and I actually would really like your round table.” And so, we swapped tables. Like, she was just a stranger at that point and we invited her to our house –
John: … and she gave us her table, and she took ours.
Sherry: Wait, it’s important to note that her table was Crate & Barrel, so the whole time I was like, “This is amazing. What a good trade this is.”
John: Meanwhile, ours was purchased from a place in Richmond called The Dump.
Sherry: And you guys, they still have that table in their beautiful house. I shared a picture on InstaStories during her Christmas party. I’ll put it in the show notes because it’s amazing for you to see. That huge round table ended up exactly where it’s meant to be.
John: The other funny part about it is that we refinished that Crate & Barrel table and now it lives in the duplex. So she’s technically rebuying her own table.
Sherry: [laughs] It’s meant to be on so many levels. Okay, so take that story and you’re like, “Well, how did you become friends with a random person you switched tables with?” Well, we didn’t see her for like a year and a half. And then we bumped into her at some event and she was like, “I’m the person you switched tables with.” And then we didn’t see her again for another two years. And then when we were in Cape Charles during the summer about a year and a half ago, we met her again and she said, “I’m the switched tables girl. And I’m actually closing on a house in Cape Charles. I think it’s right near your pink house.”
John: Yeah it was a block behind our pink house. So from them having that house and also having kids that are similar ages to ours who all get along really well, we’ve become really close friends with them over the last year or so.
Sherry: Yeah, year and a half.
John: But I feel like, you know, being good friends with someone is not enough to say, “Well, here, buy a house from me.”
Sherry: Right [laughs] Sometimes it can complicate it.
Sherry: You don’t wanna mix business with friendship.
Sherry: I almost said pleasure. [laughs] That would’ve been weird…
John: [laughs] The other thing about Ryan and Ahren is that they’re really smart about the vacation rental thing. They actually mentored us as we were getting the duplex up and running. We took a lot of tips and advice from them. Because they, in addition to renting out their house in Cape Charles, also manage a rental with their parents out in Charlottesville, Virginia. And they’re actively looking for more properties to have as vacation rentals.
Sherry: Right. It’s their goal. They love doing it. They have multiples already. They’re really good at it and we felt like, oh my gosh how funny is it that literally the people who helped us write the welcome kit for the duplex (you have a welcome binder at your house – at least that’s common in Cape Charles) so they helped us write our binder. And now I’m like “It’s coming back around – just like the table in the duplex!”
Sherry: It all feels like it was meant to be and it was like all the arrows pointed in this direction, we just didn’t see it right away.
John: Well, we weren’t open to the idea of selling it at first, but as we became more open, it became more clear why it was a good idea. Because they’re not only so well-practiced in this, they also have the systems and the ability, because they do some of this with their parents. So there are eight hands on deck if something comes up or someone needs to be somewhere. So in addition to knowing that they were really good at doing this, we knew that meant they’d be able to rent it more often and there would be more opportunities for people to enjoy the house and it wouldn’t sit as empty as it has in the off season. So we were like, not only is it good for us to consider selling it, but these are the right people to sell it to.
John: Well, and I also wanna address something that people might be wondering, which is: “if they’re so good at managing rentals, why didn’t we just hire them to manage the rental and still own the duplex?!” I don’t think that was really a partnership that either of us were interested in entering together, like, from either end.
Sherry: Yeah. If they were doing all the work, why not get all the profit?
John: Yeah and from our side, we priced out and looked into hiring management help but it would cut into the profit margins and just extend the time that it would take us to earn back the money that we put into the duplex. And also, it wouldn’t achieve that whole goal of simplifying and releasing some of that mental clutter, because we would still be dealing with all of the utilities and bills and taxes and insurance. Like, it wouldn’t alleviate that part of it, which I think is the big goal for us in doing this. So that’s why we’re not doing it through a management company. I mean, rest assured, we considered LOTS of options.
Sherry: Oh my gosh, we had people on the ground who were my emergency contacts. And then we’d call them and they wouldn’t answer and then I’d call Ryan and Ahren and they’d be there. Like there were a lot of things we expected to go one way and then there was a curveball.
John: Well, and the other thing is that people are probably thinking about the money aspect of all this. Because if it doesn’t make sense financially, you’re not going to sell someone a house.
We were very lucky that quickly in the process, we came to an agreement on a price that they were happy with and that we were happy with it – you know, especially considering all that we put into it in terms of the time and the renovation cost and the furnishing cost. It was actually another sign from the universe, I guess, that the financial thing was not sticky at all.
Sherry: Yeah. I just expected, like, then we counter, then they counter, then our friendship is ruined.
Sherry: And it was like: “This price.” “Okay.” Shake hands. Offer letter. It really was so smooth.
John: We should knock on wood, because we haven’t closed yet. We still have all those typical hurdles to get through in terms of, like, inspection and stuff. But it has been smooth up to this point.
Sherry: Yeah. We just really wanted to keep you guys posted. It was literally like four days ago that we got the offer letter. But feel free to cross your fingers that this works because it really feels like the perfect thing for everyone. It’s good for you guys as renters. It’s good for us to get rid of half of our bills [laughs].
John: I also wanna say if you’ve heard all this and you’re like, “Blah blah blah. I don’t care, I just wanna know when I can book it. Like when it be on Airbnb?” Obviously we need to make the sale final before they can begin renting it, but rest assured that as soon as they are ready to start accepting renters, we will make sure you all know about it so that you can book it if you would like.
Sherry: Yeah, there’s closing which we’re hoping will happen in about 30 days and maybe in like 40 days it’ll be on Airbnb because it’ll take them 10 days to get it up or something…?
John: Yeah, who knows. We’ll find out. So, yeah. That’s the end of the story. I think we covered everything. I’m sure there are plenty of other questions that people are thinking about. We’ll do our best, maybe in a future episode, to get to them. But I just want to make sure that I end this by saying we’re really excited about this. There’s an amount of it that’s bittersweet, but we have such confidence in the decision. Which for me was not necessarily a fast thing to come to because I think if I take any lesson out of this – you know me, I’m very type A and I make plans and I don’t deviate from plans that easily [laughs] sometimes.
John: Or without resistance. And so, we had made a plan and we’d made financial decisions that were on course for a certain plan. And so, it was surprising to me that when I took a step back and I let go of what my preconceived notion of “the right plan” was or like “what I should do” – once I took a step back and was willing to reconsider the plan, I was able to see that there’s actually another plan out there that I hadn’t considered that’s actually great in so many ways. For our lives, for our finances, like all these things that we wouldn’t have seen had we not made ourselves open to deviating from the original plan.
Sherry: Yeah, I totally agree. It’s funny. That’s like John’s big lesson: “I shouldn’t be so rigid.” But I’m the more flexible one –
John: Oh, I’m still gonna be rigid.
Sherry: [laughs] I’m the floppy noodle in this relationship. [laughs] John just made a face that he didn’t find that attractive. [laughs]
John: That’s the least sexy way you’ve ever described yourself.
Sherry: [laughs] But what I took away from this, and I dunno, maybe it’s a different personality type thing. But the lesson for me wasn’t “Oh, I have to be more flexible.” Because I’m fine with the pivot. You guys know I’m the spontaneous, impulsive, harebrained one. Like I’m actively trying to get John on board with like selling everything and moving to Florida in a little beach cottage. I’m working on it, guys. [laughs]. It’s slow going. Due to John’s personality type.
John: [laughs] We all know that you are the kite and I am the strings.
Sherry: It’s true. But, you know for me, it was sitting with this notion that I don’t have to be good at everything and just kind of owning that. Like if our skill set was to fix up this house that needed love and was falling apart and to make it glorious. And it was the last one on our street and it was such a privilege and so much fun to do-
John: Glorious. Really patting yourself on the back there, are we?
Sherry: … I mean, you know I LOVE the duplex. My brain is just, like, just because you did those things and that’s your skill set doesn’t mean you also have to be really good at the managerial and the administrative stuff.
John: Yeah, I think there was freedom in acknowledging that we were excited to learn that part and experience that part, but there was some freedom in coming to the end of it and saying “maybe there are people better suited for it than us.”
Sherry: Well I also think it’s just easier for us to let go because it’s such a unique situation where we know who’s getting it. It’s like, when you sell your house, you’re handing your baby to some stranger. [laughs]
Sherry: And in this case, I’m handing my baby to someone I know who’s going to love and care for it and do a really good job and-
John: They may even raise our baby better than we would’ve!
Sherry: I mean, I think they will and they’ll have it booked more. The duplex will be full of life! And she also said I could go back and pet the tile whenever I want. Assuming there aren’t renters in there [laughs]. I think that helps too.
John: If you get a knock on the door while you’re renting and Sherry’s like, “I’ll just be a minute.”
Sherry: Just like leave me alone for two seconds in the bathroom. [laughs]. That sounded wrong. [laughs]
John: [laughs] That sounds like you’re coming over to do something else.
Sherry: I mean, maybe I’ll do both while I’m in there. [laughs].
John: [laughs] Okay. Um, we should wrap this up because this has been quite long. We’ll keep you guys posted on it, again, and once we have the rental information (after this is all finalized) we’ll share it so you guys can stay tuned for that. But I think we should move on to what everyone has really been waiting for… which is my first game of 2020.
[8-bit game music]
John: So, that music means I have a quiz for Sherry and I figured with such big news at the front of the podcast, we needed something easy, like a little light nugget.
Sherry: It’s like one M&M.
John: Right. Um, this is something I found from Estately. I’m not sure what they are, but that was the name on the graphic. And it’s about weird town names in the United States. They had a map of the United States and they labeled the weirdest town name in every state.
Sherry: Just please tell me this is not geography-based. Like capitals-based.
John: No, you don’t need to know anything.
Sherry: Okay. You guys know I’m like, really epically bad at that.
John: She is.
Sherry: [laughs] Confirmed by my husband.
John: I’m gonna give you two weird town names in the United States, one is real, one is fake and you have to tell me which is the real one and which is the one I made up. We’re gonna do several pairings some, um, head to head options for you, okay?
John: First one. Frankenstein, Missouri or Bogeyman, Michigan?
Sherry: I think Bogeyman, Michigan’s real because I feel like I’ve heard of it.
[Incorrect/buzzer sound effect]
Sherry: I was like “I’ll pick the weirder one because… weird but true!”
John: No. Frankenstein, Missouri. Also, there’s a Santa Claus, Indiana.
Sherry: Oh I like this quiz already.
John: I also should say that I did verify these on Google maps to make sure they didn’t, you know, just make these up.
John: Okay. Next. Boring, Oregon or Infected, Maine?
Sherry: Ooh. I think Boring’s real because I feel like I’ve heard about it. But Infected sounds so… rashy.
John: It does, and it’s also false. So you’re right.
[Correct/ding ding sound effect]
Sherry: Good. Yeah, it’s like if there was a Pus, Maryland.
John: [laughs] Right.
Sherry: What about Scab, Pennsylvania?
John: There are some names with scab in it- because I did check on those. Okay, this is a beauty. Ratfest, Nevada or Mosquitoville, Vermont?
Sherry: Oh, man. I wish Mosquitoville was real, so I’ll say Ratfest is not.
[Correct/ding ding sound effect]
John: Mosquitoville is real.
Sherry: Yay! ‘Because can’t you picture a spoof that’s like [singing] “Wasting the time away in Mosquitoville.” Is that even the line? Is it wasting the time away?
John: I have no idea. I also don’t think people would live in Ratfest, Nevada.
John: No offense, Nevada, I just sort of randomly assigned real states into my fake made-up names. Okay, next one. Boom Boom, Tennessee or Ding Dong, Texas?
Sherry: [laughs]. I really want them both to be real. I think Boom Boom is right and Ding Dong’s wrong. But Ding Dong is also right to me. Like, there should be a Ding Dong.
[Incorrect/buzzer sound effect]
John: Ding Dong, Texas is right.
Sherry: I’m glad. Congratulations, I’m so happy.
John: Yeah. [laughs] Congratulations to the residents of Ding Dong. Do they call themselves Ding Dongers?
Sherry: No, Ding Dongs!
John: Oh [laughs] of course.
Sherry: [laughs] Duh.
John: I feel like such a ding dong.
John: Okay. Uh, next one. This one paints a nice picture. Toad Suck, Arkansas or Fish Licker, California.
Sherry: Oh my gosh, they’re both so good. I love this quiz and want to make all these real places. Fish Licker? You know what that reminds me of? Everyone at home, do you remember the commercial that says [in Southern accent] “Who you calling pootie pucker you lint licker?”
John: Yeah. That’s an Orbitz Gum commercial. “Dirty mouth?”
Sherry: [in British accent] “Clean it up with Orbitz.”
John: Okay, Toad Suck, Arkansas or Fish Licker, California?
Sherry: Fish Licker’s fake.
[Correct/ding ding sound effect]
John: It is. Toad Suck is real.
John: Congratulations to the Toad Suckers.
Sherry: I hope there’s a Fudrucker’s in Toad Suckers.
John: [laughs] Okay, next. Whynot, North Carolina or Who Cares, Wyoming?
Sherry: Oh man, they’re both great. Um, my educated guess is-
John: Your educated guess?
Sherry: … well, Whynot is kind of a cute name, so the other one’s fake.
[Correct/ding ding sound effect]
John: Yes. Whynot is real.
John: Whynot, North Carolina.
Sherry: What’s the fake one?
John: Who Cares, Wyoming.
Sherry: Who Cares [laughs]. I mean, I would definitely laugh at a bumper sticker that said “Who Cares, Wyoming”
John: Okay. Pig Festival, Mississippi or Catfish Paradise, Arizona?
Sherry: Catfish Paradise is real.
[Correct/ding ding sound effect]
John: It is real. How did you know it so quickly?
Sherry: I don’t know, it sounded real. [laughs]
John: [laughs] Not Pig Festival?
John: Okay. Big Bottom, Washington or Patootie, Indiana?
Sherry: Um, both of them are amazing rap names.
Sherry: I think Big Bottom’s real.
[Correct/ding ding sound effect]
John: Big Bottom is real.
Sherry: That is fully branded in my head. Like, “Oh, I’m from Big Bottom.”
John: Okay. There’s m-
Sherry: I’m from Long Bottom. [laughs]
John: Flat Bottom?
Sherry: Flat bottom….[laughs]
John: We do have an area in Richmond called Shockoe Bottom that everyone just calls “The Bottom.”
Sherry: That’s true. We do say “we’re going to the Bottom”
John: Okay. Ready for the most graphic of the bunch?
John: Snot Hollow, Utah or Booger Hole, West Virginia.
Sherry: I mean, they both paint the exact same picture. It’s a crevice with something gooey in it.
John: So which crevice would you rather live in?
Sherry: I think Snot Hollow’s real.
[Incorrect/buzzer sound effect]
John: It’s Booger Hole.
Sherry: Oh my gosh.
John: Yeah. Booger Hole, West Virginia.
Sherry: Do you think someone did that for, like, tourism. Like, they were like, “People will take pictures in front of our sign and we’ll get more tourists if we name it Booger Hole.”
John: I don’t know.
Sherry: Is it spelled like “booger?”
John: … oh yeah, exactly like that.
Sherry: And “hole” is spelled right?
John: Oh yeah.
John: Okay, I saved the last one specifically for you. It is Possum Kingdom, South Carolina.
John: Or Possumneck, Mississippi?
Sherry: They both have an allure to me, like I want to visit both. But I think Possumneck is real.
[Correct/ding ding sound effect]
John: It is real. As is Possum Kingdom. They’re both real.
Sherry: [laughs] Two amazing places to celebrate the love of an amazing creature that EATS TICKS. You guys, possums are great, spread the word.
John: Right [laughs]. Maybe we’ll do a road trip through South Carolina and Mississippi. Hit all the Possum towns on our way. Um-
Sherry: It’s, um, possum-ible.
Sherry: Did you like that?
John: … no not really.
John: I’ll put a link to this graphic, actually I’ll just put the graphic in the show notes at younghouselove.com/podcast so you can see all of the 50 weirdest town names according to Estately.
Sherry: That was fun.
John: It’s gonna be hard to follow that game, but we do need to get into We’re Digging.
Sherry: We’re digging some juicy stuff. It’s been months, so we have lots of things to dig.
John: I know gifting season is, like, way over. Christmas was a long time ago, but I wanted to dig something today that we gave as a Christmas gift, because it went over quite well if I do say so myself.
Sherry: Pats self on back. Pat pat.
[Fresh funky beat that just makes you want to dance]
John: So for Christmas we gave my parents, I was going to say it’s a “subscription” but I’m not sure what the right word is for it.
Sherry: It’s a memory making tool.
John: Yes. It’s something called StoryWorth. And every week, the service emails you a question and it’s intended for an older person, like a grandparent or a great grandparent or something like that. And each week they email you a question about their life. Like “What was your childhood bedroom like?” Or “What’s the most important skill you learned from your mom?” Or “What were you like in your 30s?”
They’re prompts to get the person to reflect on their life. And you respond to that email with the answer. We gave it to my parents, but it was intended to give them a tool to ask my grandmother (aka: Granny) some questions about her life. So each week they get to ask her these prompted questions and they type up her answer into an email and the email goes into a database for the year. And at the end of the year, StoryWorth sends you a printed book of all of the stories that you’ve gotten. So like Sherry said it’s a memory making tool – a way to gather interesting insights and reflections from this person in your life and then at the end of it, get a concrete physical thing that you can hang onto for years and enjoy.
We just started the subscription at Christmas, so we’re only a couple weeks into it so I can’t speak to what the book looks like and that whole process, but I know so far that my parents have enjoyed having these prompts and these opportunities and reasons to do these reflections with my grandmother.
Sherry: Yeah. I think the concept is brilliant. Because if you said, “Hey, everybody put together “The Book of Granny” and it’s going to be 50 to 100 pages long based on 52 questions,” you’d be like, “Oh my gosh, that so much work.” But if once a week, just every seven days, you get a little conversation starter for her, and you type her answer into an email. It’s something that’s very manageable and it all accrues over time. So by the end of the year, you’re like, “Wow. I can’t believe I have a book full of little essays about the things we talked about.”
John: You can write your own questions or you can pick from their prompts, which we did because we thought they were really interesting. You know, there are big things like “How did you meet your spouse? How did you know your spouse was the one?” and little things that you just might not know like “How did you get to school as a child?” So, it’s something that you can send to a parent or an aunt or an uncle. Someone who has the ability to type their own answers. My granny can’t use a computer anymore and so, for us, it has also created this opportunity to have these conversations with her. So,I just think it’s a really cool idea and I’m excited for what we have at the end of the year. So I can give you an update once we have the book finished for anyone who’s interested. And I’ll put the link in the show notes at younghouselove.com/podcast if you’re interested in checking out StoryWorth.
Sherry: And what I’m digging this week is an Instagram account that brings me immeasurable joy. It’s called Influencers in the Wild. I feel like it has been getting viral for a while now. Like I’ve seen lots more people posting about it and I’ve been like, “I have to dig this on the podcast because everyone must know.” But it’s essentially an entire Instagram account and it has like half a million followers. So, it’s blowing up. But it’s a place where they document Instagrammers, you know, being influencers.
John: It’s like a camera behind the person taking the pretty Instagram shots, so you’re getting the behind the scenes view of how they’re creating this like perfect hair flip or leap into the sunset [laughs]
Sherry: Exactly. It’s like a girl in the surf posing seductively and then like a wave knocks her over.
Sherry: That’s a very basic description, but there are some really funny ones. My favorite one by far, and I’ll link it in the show notes, makes me cry-laugh every time I watch it. It’s a person filming through the window of a building – so like you see the back of them holding their phone, and in the window you can make out a person who’s doing some sort of interpretive dance. They’re, like, spinning and swaying and throwing their arms up and it almost looks like one of those inflatable things in a parking lot of a car –
John: Oh, like a used car dealership floppy armed wind man thing.
Sherry: Yes!! He’s flinging his leg out and flinging his arm out and it’s a joy to watch because they’re so into it. And then there’s someone across the street who’s like, “I just need to document this.”
John: [laughs] Right. Anything for the gram, right?
Sherry: And it’s all in good fun, like, I don’t feel like it’s a bad-natured, making-fun-of-people account. It literally in the description says “Celebrating content culture. We’re all guilty of doing it.”
John: Yes, I was gonna say, I’m sure there are some moments where we could’ve been on the receiving end of this. So it is like a self-aware thing of how weird this culture is. It reminds me that years ago we went to a blogger conference called Alt Summit, and they were doing a course about photography and we just happened to walk by and I witnessed a group of people delicately balancing books in a bush.
John: And then like putting flowers around it and stuff to get this perfect Instagram shot. And I was just like, “Here I am at a blogger conference, so of course I’m gonna see the most influencer thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Sherry: Right. Bush art.
John: Yes. Book in a bush.
[Outro music begins]
Sherry: Thanks for listening to Young House Love Has A Podcast.
John: And if you know someone who might’ve missed the news that we’re back from our winter break, please let them know there’s a new episode and I don’t know, maybe use this as a teachable moment that subscribing to our podcast is not only free, but it’s a great way to make sure they don’t miss new episodes in the future.
Sherry: And, I’m gonna try this again. New year, new dis is what you do while you listen.
John: Oh no.
Sherry: It’s 2020 and we’re hungry for some good stories. So we just love knowing what you do while you tune in.
John: And, you know, they don’t have to be good stories. They can be boring stories too. And in the show notes I’m going to put that map of the weird town names and a link to that StoryWorth service that we gifted my parents.
Sherry: And I’m going to drop in a photo of our old dining table that’s living it up in our friends’ house. It looks like it was meant to be there its whole life – and it’s a total blast from the past.
[Outro music ends]