Saturday, December 31, 2011

~Wrapping Up a Year with Martha~

The countdown to midnight has begun.  For most of us this is a time of celebration, reflection and the beginning of a new chapter in our lives.  This rings true for me, especially since this is my last blog post on "It's a good thing...or is it?"  here at  I committed to an entire year of exploring Martha Stewart's wonderful contributions to American culture, particularly in the kitchen, garden, and craft departments.  The idea to start this blog sort of came to me on a whim.  I embarked on this adventure when I realized that the stay-at-home life that I chose to embrace was much more difficult than I had first anticipated. 

Was I entirely new to Martha Stewart's recipes and ideas?  No.  For years I have been pulling out pages of her magazine and storing them in a file folder for when the time was right.  Guess what?  It never was.  The ideas kept on coming, the advice, good things and craft projects kept on rolling in, month after month.   In the past I would say that I was just "too busy" to explore many of the projects.  My year, in retrospect, has taught me some very important and practical lessons. 

1)  The time is never right.  There is no better time than the present to begin or finish a project. 

2)  When perusing Martha's magazine or website, respond to what captures your enthusiasm by marking the page or saving it on your desktop favorites.  That way when you sit down later you can pick several projects for the week that you would like to explore.  Or, maybe Martha will end up putting a blank page in her Living magazine for you to write out what you would like to try for the month?

3)  Mis en place.  This is French for "everything in its place", a term used by those working in fine restaurant kitchens.  Basically, before you begin firing up your stove, measure out all of the necessary ingredients that are required for the recipe.  This saves so much time and avoids tons of potential errors, especially if you are cooking several dishes at once.  If you are cooking several dishes at once, then place the ingredients for each recipe, mis en place, in its own separate tray as is done in fine restaurant kitchens.

4)  Gusto!  Courage!  Be fierce!  Guts!  Gumption!  Get the idea?  I had NO idea how to sew, I had never made a souffle and I was entirely new to knitting.  Oh how the list of new things could go on but I think you get the picture.  ALL of the blogs that I posted, including the recipes, were projects that I had never before experienced.  Most worked, some didn't.  Am I heartbroken?  No.  I had FUN!  Yup it's all about 'tude.  Anyone can do this if you really want to. 

5)  Do what makes you happy.  Whatever that may be. 

6) Several times this year I heard from people that it must be hard for me to try and explore myself while taking care of my children.  What?  I hold fast to the belief "if mama's happy then everybody is happy."  Believe me, it's true!

7)  I can multi-task?!  This was a new one.  Often I had several projects going at once, probably a little more so than I could have liked.  But, it made for an interesting life.

8)   Enrichen your life without riches.  That's right.  The glossy pages of Martha's mag in no way resemble my humble abode here at Paradise Basin.  I'm ok with that because I understand that I can build upon what I do have.  The Living magazine is about your life.  It's about doing things for your family. 

9) Make do with what you have.  So many times I came across a recipe or a craft project that required material that I didn't have.  I learned to look past this and use what materials that I did have in order to achieve similar results. 

10)  The happier you become the angrier some people will be.  Need I say more? 

11)  Once dinner is served who cares if they liked it.  Dinner was served!  (wiping sweat from brow).

12) Never cook for people you don't like.  The food will never turn out right.

13)  Do cook for the ones you love as their happiness will inspire you to become a better cook.

14)  Martha always has the good stuff.  Really!  I've been cooking and baking for about fifteen years or so (although not as heavily as I have this year).   Once you familiarize yourself with her amazing website, show and books you will find her advice very helpful.

15)  Everyone needs a hero.  I have never met Martha, and I think that I never shall. That's not the point.  What mattered to me was that there was a woman out there that role-modeled for me, and showed me how to live well, and within my means.  It was through the crafts, cooking, baking and gardening that I was able to take our daily living to new heights. I felt like one of the richest women in the world.  The smile on my children's faces, the giggles and laughter that filled the kitchen, and the time spent with my husband over a good meal (a late night snack of leftovers) made us content. Our creative explorations in and out of the kitchen increased our love of life.   Not ten years from now, or at some point farther down the road. 

Bottoms Up!  Knock back your glass of bubbly and let us embrace 2012.   All of us can have the life of our dreams.  All you need is you, an oven, and a few good things.  So many strange life experiences occurred this year.  Could it be from finding a passion, learning to notice even the smallest blessings and funny moments?  Who knows.  But I will tell you that it will be quite a ride once you begin Living.  For those of you that are, I'm sure you know what I mean.

Okay, here it is.  So is it a good thing or is it?  Here is my conclusion: It is!

Signing off.  I am thankful for everyone that tuned in this year. I have enjoyed this adventure, but as with all good things, they come to an end so that we can begin something new.


This blog is dedicated to my three children, Jordan, Gabriel and Sarah.  Follow your hearts, dear ones and life will never lead you astray.  Run, don't walk towards the life that you know that you deserve. Live your life pure of heart and with an open mind.  Along the way don't forget to look back (only occasionally) so that you can appreciate where you are going.  I will always love you, and I will forever cherish our kitchen escapades, adventures, and time spent together in the garden.  I love you all.

To Ben.  I love you.  Thank you for being so patient with me.  For putting up with me asking you, does this look ok?  Does this totally suck?  Are you sure? And so forth.  Also, I will never forget how you have finally mastered the art of agreeing with everything that I say.  Hahaha.  I'm kidding.  I mean, thanks for listening to me ramble on about cooking, crafts, gardening, Martha, etc.  There is no way that you could have been that interested in what I was talking about, but you were there for me when I needed you most.  I love you.

Dad!  Where do I begin?  Let's see.  1)  You were an awesome editor.  I have a biology background, not English.  Thank you for skimming my blog, when you could, to make sure that I didn't make a complete fool of myself on the world wide web.  Well, I'm not too sure about the second part ;)  2)  Thanks for the moral support and encouragement.  It was like you were the gas station out in the middle of nowhere when the fuel gauge read empty.  I didn't run out of gas after all.  I love you, Dad.

To my mother.  I realized (even if it wasn't until the end of the year) that having you in my life is important.  As my daughter Sarah grows and our bond strengthens, I think about us.  Sometimes our relationship has been far from normal but I have learned to appreciate the good times. Having you back in my life is important.  One thing that I will always remember is how you taught me to stand up for my rights.  You go girl!

Yinzerella, aka Emily, thank you for your comments.  Often, your comments made me laugh or taught me something new.  Thank you for giving me feedback when all I heard was myself typing,lol.  I'm glad that we have "met".  Your blog at is fantastic.

To my followers.  Thanks for checking in now and again and for following my blog.  It is my most sincere hope that you have gained some insight into your own life as well.  I appreciate the nod of acceptance. 

To my friends.  Thank you to all my dear, sweet, cherished girlfriends.  I would like to especially thank Mary, Cheryl, Artemis and Ponni for being there for me this year.  Your words of wisdom, love and advice got me through it.  I love you, ladies.

Thank you Andrea, Kevin and Olivia for your help with the "Martha" bake sale.  We raised over $350 for Share Our Strength.  You rock!  Andrea, I'm so glad that we met.  I love having a chef, foodie friend.  We need to get together again soon for a good, home cooked meal.

To Martha Stewart.  On behalf of our family, I would like to thank you for listening to your "inner voice" when you decided to pursue your career.  You were right.  It scares me to think who would be in your place if you were still catering and not what you have since become. Also, thank you for never apologizing for democratizing good taste.  Your books, magazines, show, and website are all-inclusive.  You have made it easy for Moms (and Dads) to find wonderful, affordable, quality everything.  Yes, it IS a good thing, after all!

Hip Hip Hooray!

This is what it looks like when the typical, average American woman decides to evolve herself into one of the greatest jobs on earth...being a mom.

~That's a Wrap~

You can find me in 2012 on my blog where I will be blogging about all things home related from various sources.  In addition, I will be digging up some old recipes from the beginning of fine cooking in Europe to the present.  For example, I will start with a few recipes from ancient Rome from the only surviving Roman cookbook entitled The Apicius, attributed to Caelius Apicius (also entitled De re coquinaria, or, "On the Subject of Cooking").  This series of recipes will extend all the way up to the present, for example, Thomas Keller's recipes from The French Laundry cookbook.

P.S.  Thank you to my French viewer.  I don't know who you are but in some sort of funny way, you too kept me going.  I would love to hear from you someday.


eclecicarl said...

Congratulations on this excellent effort! Yes!

Your persistence, creativity, humor, and wonderful photos made this a very personal take on Martha's work. As I see it, it was actually a self actualization mission that benefited your entire family while sharing with the world.

As I understand, your next blog will trace fine American cooking to its ancient European cooking roots to the so-called "gourmet" food and wine present. You note that it will not be a one-year effort, but will be ongoing, if not as frequently posted, entitled, The Best Recipes of All Time: Tracing the Roots of the American Culinary Revolution," or something similar. This should be a fascinating past-to-present culinary exploration.

This next step in your learning-while-sharing blogs will be fascinating to a much larger audience than hitherto. That is my guess. Best of luck in doing so.



Anonymous said...

Morgan, darling! I can't believe that your year is over. I have been thoroughly impressed and inspired by your commitment to your project. I look forward to 2012 over on the green mama blog.