Making It Like Martha, Excerpt From the Newsletter (Plague, Day 38, April 10, 2020)

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Making It Like Martha: Cooking, Sewing, Gardening Through the Pandemic, Apt. 11D, April 10, 2020

Hi all!

Some time in the early 90s, I discovered Martha Stewart. I was captivated by her pastel pictures of chicken eggs, collection of jadeite dishes, and perfectionist cooking shows. I bought her paints and sheets from Kmart. I started my own collection of jadeite dishes, which I still have in a box in the basement. 

Martha taught me how to cover a dining room chair and the correct way to roast asparagus. When I got married, a heavily post-it noted edition of Martha Stewart’s Weddings was responsible for everything from my bouquet to my headpiece. 

By the time we got to the Oughts, Martha and I had parted ways. I was too busy with young children and jobs to think seriously about a béchamel sauce. While Steve and I still maintained a backyard garden and probably spent more time making homemade bone broth and pickled jalapeños than most people, we had also started outsourcing jobs, like the yard work and housecleaning. We went to restaurants more often. Like other professionals, we grew more distant from the means of production. 

In recent years, DIY home chores became so unfashionable that Martha Stewart became more well known for her strange celebrity partnership with Snoop Dogg, than her awesome home in Maine. I was fairly apologetic when explaining to others that I still held opinions about cooking delicata squash and organizing recipes. 

As we approach Week Three or Four of social distancing, I’m leaning into my Martha background. We’re expanding our backyard garden with a new raised bed. Steve and Jonah are sprouting seeds under a florescent light in the family room.

“Make more! More!,” I demanded. I am channelling my anxiety into food production. There will be some euthanasia of tomato seedlings in a few weeks, because our garden is finite, but I just want to make sure that every square foot of backyard dirt is used. 

Without much happy news to write about schools at the moment, I’m writing more leisurely about other topics and ramping up my weekend hobby of book selling. While all that is going on, dinner is bubbling away in a dutch ovenfilling the home with the smells of beef, red wine, and thyme. 

I don’t have a sewing machine, so I chose to buy face masks from the crafty website – Etsy

Yesterday, I pulled out my stash of picture frames and old prints in the basement. I’m slowly dusting off the ones that still work, reprinting some old snapshots, and upgrading other frames

I’m also taking charge of my own health. Three or four different apps are monitoring my exercise and food consumption. I rarely remove my fitness tracker. I bought some new sneakers yesterday.

These apps all tell me that I really need to stop eating the “fun cheese” and crackers at 5:00 and should keep the wine for weekends. But one needs a reward, after a full day of home making during a pandemic. So, smoked gouda happy hour will be happening at my house tonight at 5:00. Feel free to join our zoom cocktail party!  

(More links below for cooking, gardening, and fitness.)

Be well! Laura