Now for today's confession is - Martha Stewart is living my life.
Once I got to college, I self-taught myself to crochet. Who in their right mind has time to crochet in college? Then, as a young married woman, I bought Woman's Day, Better Homes and Gardens, and Good Housekeeping in search of crafty ideas. Remember, that was before the internet where ideas abound! My repertoire included fabric wreaths, painted Christmas ornaments, baby quilts, salt dough ornaments and bread baskets, curtains, pillows, afghans, terrariums..you name it! I even sewed my first child's layette. For five years in my 30's, I took folk art lessons and started a small company that did home shows. My painting partner and I described ourselves as"the Tupperware parties of folk art." I did that for three years and when my partner was still painting one Christmas morning to make a delivery that day, we decided enough was enough. After that, I sold art to homes, offices and designers from the largest commercial art gallery at that time in Atlanta. About 10 years ago I started scrapbooking and it is still my passion.
At the same time I pursued different crafts, I was also learning about decorating, color schemes, styles, floor treatments, painting techniques, you name it. The difference between curtains and drapes. The one color that every room should have at least one thing in it of that color despite what other colors are primarily used? How to hang a picture, at what level. Groupings of odd numbers. How to display collections. Wainscoting, beadboard, judges panels. Barristers cases. Andirons. Roman shades. But let me assure you my house is no showcase. Things such as money and being thrifty make sure of that! My decorating style is, shall we say, eclectic? Some people might better describe it as yardsale/thriftstore chic. No danger of my home being in a decorating magazine, but despite that I still love to decorate.
And then there was cooking.....now I am not a great cook. My daughter is a fabulous cook, by the way. But me, not so much. But I can dream, can't I? When I took first year Home Economics in high school, I talked my team into making a baked fish dish, complete with capers, for an assignment when everyone else was making things like grilled cheese sandwiches. And it turned out delicious, even if I do say so myself. It was a dish that I think Martha would have chosen. The teacher was quite impressed and my group got an A, despite the fact that the aroma of baking fish permeated the Home Ec classroom and drifted down the hall into other rooms. The fish smell lingered in that wing of the school for several days.I read cookbooks for fun. And I was watching cooking shows before there was the Food Channel. Julia Child was wonderful to watch. Natalie Dupree. Justin Wilson. Heck, even the Galloping Gourmet!
Ok, so I have established my love to craft, decorate, and semi-cook. Now we get to the Martha part of the argument.....
I became aware of Martha (forgive me, but I call her by her first name because I feel I know her so well. We are like long, lost sisters, kindred spirits, you know....) when I was in my 30's, I think, and before she was MARTHA STEWART, the brand. If memory serves me well, I either saw her for the first time on The Today Show or Late Night with David Letterman. There may have been a review in the paper of one of her first cookbooks or decorating books. Oh, wait, that would be "lifestyle" books, I stand corrected. Slowly but surely Martha insinuated herself into our society and culture and before we knew it, viola, she was the consummate authority on entertaining, cooking, decorating, and, yes, even crafts.
Martha started with a catering company. From what I understand, she was driven to succeed. Weekends and holidays are a catering company's prime times but rob you of family time. I think she had a partner and they parted ways, just as she and her husband did likewise. Martha began to write books. She syndicated a TV show that featured her home in Connecticut. She developed her magazine, Martha Stewart's Living. Then she had her own company that went public on the NY Stock Exchange. Her company and her legend grew and grew and grew. She needs very little sleep, like Thomas Edison. She is a marketing genius. I have heard, as we all have, of her notorious demands for excellence and perfection from her employees. She takes a lot of criticism for that. But if YOUR name went on every product, every TV show, every radio show, every book, every label, every magazine, any and everything that her company makes, wouldn't YOU? Never mind that little incidence of insider trading and going to prison to lying to the Feds. Martha spent her time and paid her dues, hit the ground running when she got out and hasn't missed a beat. She has made her fortune on four little words: "It's a good thing!"
Here's the thing about Martha - you either love her or hate her. On any given day, I love her. However, I realize that Martha probably does very little crafting and cooking and decorating on her own anymore. God knows she is rich beyond anyone's imagination. And what appears on her TV shows and in her magazines (now plural publications), Martha hasn't personally created. Her multitudes of staff come up with the ideas and create and cook and develop recipes and decorate. And some of those crafts recently just aren't cutting the grade for me anymore. I get emails from Martha almost daily showing me a "new" craft to try and there are things that I was making in grammar school that she tells me that I should use in my home. For instance, recently THIS is what Martha sent me in an email complete with instructions and this lovely description:
Transform your rock collection into painted companions.
Rock collection? Rock collection? How many people do you know that have a rock collection and want to do this? I am so certain that Martha has a collection of these sitting in her lovely bathrooms at her multi-million dollar home in the Hamptons.
DIY Piggy Bank
Save in style with this bank made from household items.
See what I mean about love her or hate her? I mean, the woman is getting wealthy by the day telling women across the nation that they should spend their time making this! Really, is this where Martha keeps her spare change?
Let's face it...Martha and her staff are slipping!
Just for fun, let's look at one more:
So that love, hate thing I was speaking of? When I see projects like those above or see on Martha's calendar that is published each month in her Living magazine that she is going to prune her apple trees, I think, "Sure, you are Martha. Pay no attention to the gardening crew with the ladders and pruning saws behind the curtain." I'm just not feeling the love, you know what I mean?
But hey, I still think that given the right circumstances and conditions, maybe, just maybe I could have been Martha Stewart. With the right drive, the right financial circumstances, some great networking, it would be me living the high life and being the lifestyle guru of an entire nation! And I promise you all, that if I were the nations foremost expert in crafting, I would never, ever suggest that you make Rock Frogs or Reindogs. And I forgive Martha for the fact that she is obviously running out of ideas. Me, I have lots and lots of ideas to share!
Now, if you will excuse me, I have to go work on those handmade, crocheted, painted, glittered, and sponged Halloween skull decorations that will take me weeks to make, even though Martha tells me that I should whip them out in a matter of minutes. After all - It's a good thing!
P.S. Dear Martha: I still love you, despite that calendar thing. Can I come hang out with you for a day? Love, Pam