Martha Stewart is an icon; a maven. She's the high school mean girl you want to be like and fiercely loathe.
You love her Halloween craft ideas (radishes and olives as an eyeball salad?!), and you loathe the inferiority complex she has slathered on you as you look around your own home.
Her brand is built upon our latent domestic diva desires; the illusion of perfection.
This year, I am resolving to flip Martha the bird.
It started when she said this in a recent interview:
Everything about this oozed the self-important pompousness her brand represents. In an instant, she exposed light through the crack of what I always had suspected: Martha Stewart is selling a lie, and we should all flip her the (proverbial) bird.
She lacks any insight into a real, practical, obligation-filled life. Her elitist attitude toward domestic pursuits is without compassion or balance.
What would salvage Martha in my eyes? Just for once, I wish that she would set a cake aflame on national television. I wish she would have a Pinterest #nailedit fail. I want her to confess how she ate a family-sized bag of Doritos instead of cleaning her house yesterday.
And then I want her to own it. Laugh. Teach us how to fail with grace and try again. That is what being a domestic diva in 2014 looks like.
I loved Martha most this year, when this hysterically funny piece about her disgusting food tweets came out.
Did she playfully laugh at herself? No. She tweeted this:
Martha has overstayed her welcome as the queen domestic diva because she has failed to show us something we all want to see: ourselves. That’s who “these bloggers” are, Martha. They are the people who understand our lives. Our struggles to entertain fifteen family members around a six-person table. Our hopes for a pristine bathroom in a house full of bad aim. Our dreams of folding a fitted sheet instead of rolling it into a ball and cursing.
So, I'm breaking up with Martha and also flipping her the bird.
In 2014, I resolve to:
1) Remember that "shortcut" is not a dirty word. "Good things" come in reality packages!
2) Only pick projects that make my heart sing
3) Organize the things that really make me crazy
4) Make my Command Centre binder even more central to our busy lives
5) Quit worrying about milestones, and just enjoy the (sometimes bumpy) ride
Let's not throw the baby out with the bath water; let's love Martha for the amazing inspiration she can bring into life’s cooking, cleaning, organizing, and entertaining. It isn't her fault that our inferiority complex forces us to make wreaths we don't like or fold sheets in ways that make no sense at all.
But, she is a woman of a generation that has passed. Let us thank her for her service, take inspiration in her library of domestic wisdom, and then make it real. Make it ours.
And, if she resolves to show us some reality in 2014, we could be persuaded to come back for more of a “good thing.”
“Pop guns! And bicycles! Rollerskates! Drums! Checkerboards! Tricycles! Popcorn! And Plumbs!”
- Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Christmas morning is utter chaos.
When you're a kid, chaos is brilliant. It's like watching a great action movie starring YOU.
As a mom, chaos is thine enemy. And this year, slay it you will.
Make Christmas morning easy by putting out the following supplies with your milk and cookies on Christmas Eve:
1) Three big, black, garbage bags
Be ready to catch the non-recyclable wrapping that will fly around the living room. Have everyone pitch in as they unwrap. The most tidy child gets to eat the Santa cookie crumbs.
2) Three clear recycling bags
Thankfully, most gift-wrap is recyclable. Keep stuffing your blue-bin bags as you go. This prevents your floor from looking like the streets after the Santa Claus Parade when the crowds shuffle off.
3) Your "thank you" chart
Don’t be caught off guard when Great Aunt Ida calls to ask how Child #4 liked their present. The chaos of Christmas morning won’t prevent you from being polite if you keep track of who got what. This means you can continue to operate on brain-autopilot until the coffee is served.
4) A "New Life" basket
Let’s call it the “new life” basket, instead of the “re-gifting” bag. We all know it can happen; don’t feel badly. There is someone out there who will love the miniature thatched Peruvian hut more than you do, so don’t deny them that joy. Put the items that need “new life” into a separate bag for your gifting cupboard.
5) Gift wrap box
The re-usable Christmas bags, bows, and wrapping goes directly into my Christmas wrapping box for next year. I’ve survived this entire season having only purchased a roll of tape. Re-using saves you time, money, and frustration!
6) One present basket per family member
Transporting the Christmas “loot” to everyone’s respective spaces shouldn’t be your project for the day. Everyone can load and unload their basket of presents. See below for an important rule.
So, you’ve had a delicious breakfast. Now what?
To reduce clutter, give yourself a one-in, one-out rule when you are putting away your loot. If you got a new sweater, out goes an old one. For three new board games, three used ones need to be set aside.
For this, have a…
7) Donation box
Set it aside, and fill it as you go.
With a little bit of preparation, Christmas morning can be calm, relaxing, and can even help you clear out clutter. Merry Christmas to all of you. Enjoy your families, your friends, and all of life’s joy this holiday.
“Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer. Cheer to all Whos far and near. Christmas Day is in our grasp, so long as we have hands to clasp. Christmas Day will always be just as long as we have we. Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart, and hand in hand.”
- Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas
With life comes stuff. And with stuff comes the need to organize that stuff. The big problem is the little stuff - the stuff that piles at the top and bottom of every staircase in your house - like the books, toys, belts, pens, and glasses case kinda stuff that takes an army to cart up/down the stairs.
It's the stuff you find yourself falling over, and saying words like "crap" (only worse).
And, if your house is as busy as mine is, that stuff just won’t stay where I put it. Imagine that.
Keep calm — There’s a basket for that!
The “Crap Basket.”
This basket lives at the top and bottom of each staircase in our home. It prevents us from having to pile crap (for lack of a better word) at the top and bottom of the stairs that's waiting to be carried up/down in several small trips.
It reduces clutter.
It’s a time saver.
Some families with older/several children have taken the next step with personalized crap baskets so kids can easily identify what needs to be put away at the end of the day. You need to do what works for your family, and the relentless flow of crap that travels between floors. Check out my Pinterest board for inspiration.
Here are the Rules of Order for buying your own crap baskets
Take your stair spaces and landings into consideration. Think about the kind of crap that tends to gather there. Choose your basket size accordingly.
This is fairly self explanatory.
If you chose something that’s flimsy, beautiful, and purely decorative, it’s likely to end up needing a crap basket of its own.
Do you have kids who could have their own basket? Are you someone who likes to pile crap at the top AND bottom of each staircase? In our house, we have one large basket at the top and bottom of each flight of stairs: 4 baskets in total. It’s a system that works well for us.
If you hate the way it looks, you won’t use it. Plain and simple. There are many gorgeous and functional options for clutter management. Choose something you aren't ashamed to leave out when you have guests over.
You can find these sorts of crap baskets at places like Bed Bath and Beyond, Solutions, Ikea, Pottery Barn, Neat Freak and The Container Store.
So add crap basket to your personal shopping list.. Think of it as a little quasi-present to yourself and your family before the next cleanup begins.