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As some of you guys have already discovered, we had the great pleasure of having our house photographed for the latest issue of HGTV Magazine. That day was such a blur that we weren’t even sure that we had any behind the scenes photos to share, but when we looked back in iPhoto, it turns out we remembered to snap a few photos. The HGTV Magazine crew (which included a photographer, his assistant, a stylist, and an editor from the mag) spent two days in our house.
And of course there were moments when the room had to be almost entirely cleared to get the perfect angle. Sherry and I are quite comfortable with the chaos that comes along with a whole-house photo session (nothing can compare to the three straight weeks of book shoots).
Rachael, the photo stylist, was awesome with flower arrangements, pillow fluffing, and Clara. You can see some of those styling props hard at work in this picture of our kitchen, which we think is just about the prettiest shot of it ever taken.
Perhaps the only bummer about the feature was that some of our favorite shots didn’t make the cut.
Fortunately, we got to enjoy the fresh flowers, even if the photos didn’t make the final cut. Oh, and they also cut a shot of the two of us prepping food in the kitchen (when we took this Instagram picture). Oh, and you can’t tell from our picture above, but this little table was deemed too short for their shot so they borrowed some scrap wood from the basement to give it a lift.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle for them was shooting the outside of our house, since late March in Richmond wasn’t looking as spring-y this year as it usually does. So now you know why the pictures of our outside are pretty small or just limited to close-ups of us on the porch. The chairs are actually a nice dining height (with the cushion that comes with them at the base) but we learned that our table is a smidge higher than is standard (no idea why, but we got it at an outlet so maybe that’s why it was so marked down). They don’t seem to have a link to the full article online, so maybe flipping through it at Barnes & Noble is the easiest way to check it out? In your “About Us” tab, when you click on the HGTV mag shown under press, it shows the whole thing! There was comments chatter on Apartment Therapy that you two should have your own HGTV show! I was so excited when I saw the pictures in the magazines, you had a beautiful house, and I can’t wait to see the developments in the new one.
There are a few motorcycles parked by the door, a mom is putting gas in her van, and a teenage boy in a 1985 Mustang pulls out his cell phone to take a picture of all of the MINIs. I walk to the back and grab a bottle of water and a little bag of pretzels to hold me over until lunch. There are a lot of things that I love about my MINI club (shameless plug for but the thing I love the most is connection. The Emeritus Chief Motorer Jim McDowell, once called us “The Happies,” a term that’s rather fitting.
Even if we aren’t consciously asking ourselves these questions, our little brains are always categorizing. For some people, family and work are big enough sandboxes in which to find identity and self-worth. In search of connections, pride, self-worth, identity… people stumble into other sandboxes. People who take part in an Intimacy Group live longer, they find social support, they have a stronger sense of self-security, identity, and expression. Have a small box somewhere with old t-shirts from groups you’ve been associated with in one sense or another? Are you finding it hard to imagine that a group of happy MINI owners could ever be involved in a shootout at a restaurant?
You can call it a pissing contest or a turf war but it all comes down to defending against a threat on pride, self-worth, and self identity. Suddenly, no matter how much we have in common, it’s us (the in-group) versus them (the out-group).
There are differences among us – Coupe, Roadster, Countryman, Gen 1, GP, black, red, yellow. We have pride, self identity, and worth because we’re in a sandbox that’s just a happy sandbox.
Posted in Buzz Tagged Car Club Culture, MINI, MINI Cooper, Social Identity Psychology, Texas Biker Shootout, Twin Peaks Restaurant.

Well, our last house (we’d probably bat someone away with a stick if they tried to snap pictures of our new place just yet). They were lots of fun and very gracious guests… even as our dining room became a makeshift office for 48 hours. They even developed a secret handshake to help her feel at ease with all of the strangers around.
You may have caught this Instagram shot of our kitchen doused with pretty food and accessories. Here’s one of our over-their-shoulder shots of the hallway styled up with some pretty flowers by Rachael.
Which of course means that Sherry was in some state of flower-induced euphoria the whole time. Also note how our usual desk and mirror got the boot so that our chalkboard could take its spot (see the picture above).
She ultimately swapped this outfit out for something less breezy (which is why she’s in a different shirt in the other shots) but lo and behold, the original test photo with the pre-clipped shirt ended up in the magazine on the first page of the spread. Although they did a great job of cheering things up by moving our red adirondack chairs (swiped from the patio) to bring in some semblance of color.
It really was locked deep in our brains until our alarm system was in and we were ready to tell the world at large, so I think only our parents, siblings, best friends, and the realtor knew before that. I used to have IKEA wicker chairs in our living room ($30 arm chair, wooot!) and we’d use them when we had guests for dinner.
We can put bigger cushions on the chairs to help, but we were hoping to somehow adjust the base of the table to get it to be standard height. The commenters suggested you as an alternative to uninspiring, non-real reality decorating shows. We have actually been asked by a few networks but we’re honestly just not TV show people. I don’t usually gravitate toward music from the 1950s, but today I’m making up my own lyrics to a Beach Boys song because the rally master made the CD and the songs go great with the roads. Thirty MINIs or so are winding our way through Chester County, Pennsylvania’s horse country. The radio in my cup holder squawks and the navigator in the lead car says, “Oncoming bikers.” That’s not unusual.
MINI doors pop open and people step out of their cars, some stretching, some darting inside for the bathroom. One of them smiles, makes eye contact with one of the MINI people and asks, “You all know each other?” His friend says “I love Fiats.
Everyone is busy talking about that time we saw a guy with a small front end loader hauling a sofa down the street. The only reason we know each other at all is because we bought a car that has the same logo on it. I like observing the process of human connection, the building of the bridge between one member and another as they discover what makes the other tick and what they have in common. We maintain a place where people can get together, in a world full of mortgages, broken appliances, work challenges, and the inevitable decay of life, and just be happy while doing something silly.
On the surface, we’re playing in a sandbox full of little cars while wearing MINI t-shirts, drinking coffee, and talking about getting rid of chrome.
Somewhere, deep down in the human psyche, is our fundamental need to know where we stand in a pack. These groups often come with an aesthetic and you can take pride in wearing the logo and identifying membership flair. At the end of the day, the grandparents were among the 170+ people arrested and the newbie was dead. Some people feel that more strongly than others, much in the same way some people feel that the R53 is the only MINI worth having.
Those differences have existed since the day the first MINI rolled off the assembly line and a Mini owner bemoaned the fate of his culture. At its core, the MINI is driven by self-expression, by customization, by the display of unique identity. Above all else we can take pride in the fact that we all bought a MINI and stepped into this sandbox.
Although I fear this photo gives away the whole secret (it was just pressing their thumbs together). In our opinion, it wasn’t too over-styled (it still looked like our kitchen) but it was fluffed enough to make it look interesting on the page and to give us some new ideas about what we might want to tweak ourselves (more on that later).

Oh and you’ll notice that we had to take down the basket light in the kitchen because it was casting weird shadows during the fireplace shot, so down it came. The funny thing is that we thought this might be a 2-3 page spread and it ended up being 10 pages long! They had a box shipped directly from the flower market in New York City and, thanks to our cooler, the sunroom became a makeshift florist shop for the two days they spent with us. It was especially fun to finally tell the HGTV crew though, because we were able to explain how meaningful it was to us to see our house captured in such a major way before we said goodbye. They were so low that we’d have to pile them with couch cushions to get our elbows high enough to eat. Is it bad, though, that I take a secret pleasure in the fact that your art in the green matting in the office is SLIGHTLY off-kilter? It dawns on me that I hope we reach the end of the first leg soon because we started our day at Starbucks and, well, now I have to pee. The air fills first with the familiar sound of MINI doors closing and then with the harmonic whir of cooling fans, as familiar as the tune to American Pie. They’re so cool.” I cringe a little on the inside, even though I have nothing against a Fiat.
It just looks cool to me and it’s awesome that we can all be so different but connect because we like a good road on a nice day. Because that’s really what it is – enriching our lives by learning from and connecting with others. We gain pride from being in that pack and we gain self-esteem by being in a pack that is strong.
More than 1,000 weapons were stashed at the scene by people on both sides who didn’t want to be caught handling them.
So it stands to reason that if it feels good to sit in this sandbox, we need to enhance the status of this sandbox!
With no intimate connection, the in-group will eventually discriminate against the out-group in an effort to enhance their sense of pride and worth. You can’t really see them in the final magazine shot, since they used a picture of the living room with us in it, but Sherry may or may not have bought some of the pillows directly from Rachel when they were done (they were $20 from HomeGoods) to fill out her already robust pillow collection. I planted lots of good greenage shrubs in my garden and buy a mixed TJs bouquet then split it up to make two or three vases along with my homegrown greens. It’s remarkable that she hasn’t had trouble with that CVT transmission with around 300,000 miles on it. He posts DIY videos and he’s always happy to answer a question for someone who’s stuck with a mod. He has a bandana on his head, he’s sporting some road dirt, and he’s one of those men who’s been blessed with the ability to grow a beard.
We exaggerate our similarities and exaggerate their differences and kerblamo – you have the perfect recipe for a shoot out at the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas.
A parking lot full of Town and Country vans is just the grocery store but a row of MINIs is a car show, every one of them different than the last. But most of the time, if we encounter another group of like-minded motorists, they’re on motorcycles.
He pays for his stuff and I swipe my debit card while he sorts his change back into his wallet. I do my hunting and gathering at the grocery store, Ashton Carter and the local constabulary have my security on lock-down, and BBC America somehow still entertains me without Jeremy Clarkson.
There are other types of groups – larger groups where people are loosely connected to each other by label alone (Christian, Farmer, Milk Maid).
He was a bit of a peacemaker and was hoping that some tension with a rival club could be resolved.
I actually think they come in some cool colors and they’re kinda cute and they’re marketing is pretty great. So how do I sort out my social identity in the world, where does my pride come from, and where does my self-esteem get its foundation if we’ve evolved past all that? We’re hanging out here in the MINI sandbox, waiting in the parking lot of the convenience store for the rally master to yell “Saddle UP!” so we can all head off to lunch. It’s a gift to share common ground with the VWs, the Subarus, the bikers, the Porsches, the Miatas, and even the Fiats.

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