It was 1987 when Martha Stewart signed her first contract with Kmart. She had already published 5 books – with themes on hospitality, recipes and crafts – which I had read every one. We now have Pinterest, but 30 years ago all we had was Martha! I was a young wife and ripe to be enamored with all things “Martha Stewart.”
My two personal favorite “Martha Moments” involves Gilding (dipping in gold paint) Christmas ornaments and the making of her signature “Mile-High Lemon Meringue Pie.” It was with youthful homemaking abandon that I commenced on reproducing her creations.
Martha Stewart Craft Disaster
The gilding of sand dollars was my very first Martha inspired project. I had decided the sand dollar was the perfect Florida-themed gift to send to family in Canada. What I hadn’t anticipated was the degree of difficulty I would have purchasing the specific brand of paint Martha suggested to use. I know it seems archaic but there was no “instant order” Amazon option. I remember calling dozens of stores before locating 4oz of w.h. Kemp Lustrgild Enamel.
I was elated with anticipation. I set up my garage as a workspace. I earnestly followed all the steps, but in the end a combination of my lack of experience using oil-based paint and Martha’s lack of detailed directions made for a creative mishap. Suffice it to say I ended up with patchy, greasy undried shells and consequently my family received Key Lime cookies for Christmas gifts that year.
My second early encounter with “Martha” was a cooking experience using her lemon meringue pie recipe. She casually referenced the use of a certain breed of hen’s eggs, freshly laid, that would produce the most height in the meringue. I remember thinking how absurd that one would presume the average urbanite would have access to a freshly laid egg of an exotic hen.
Limited Budget, No Entourage
The meringue experience was the turning point in my affection for Martha. It was a revelation and a relief to acknowledge my limited budget and somewhat limited time was no match to her budget and entourage.
Life Between the Snapshots
She did inspire me nonetheless. It was from her that I learned the art of hospitality and how to create ambience. She is the master. I just needed to alleviate the self-inflicted pressure to perform to her standards. Her images of life at home with family were picture perfect which were lovely to look at but not real living. It’s the moments in between the snapshots that are “Living”.