Embracing your inner Martha Stewart

Home Stager with Claudia Jacobs Designs LLC, Goshen, NY

By Claudia Jacobs

For the Times Herald-Record

Published: 2:00 AM - 12/26/10


There once was a wooden sign in my home that read, "I'm not Martha Stewart, get over it!" Such pressure for perfection! With impeccable attention to detail, whether it was gardening, cooking, baking, crafting or decorating, Martha made many women feel inadequate. Everything was homemade! Who had time for this without a full staff?

But I digress.


"The Martha Stewart Show" airs on the Hallmark Channel. And earlier this month, there we were, a group of four women making the early-morning trek to the city to stand on line in the cold to see a live taping of Martha's show. Before we even got into the studio, I noticed promotions for all things Martha. There's her line for Macy's, but I didn't realize she had products in Home Depot and Michael's, too. Then there is her show, her magazine, her new iPad application and lots of other stuff. Martha, Martha, Martha!


Newfound admiration


This was exciting! I didn't know what to expect when I was invited to tag along with some friends. What I didn't expect was a newfound admiration and respect for Martha Stewart.


Although I am creative, artistic and quite capable of making beautiful things, I'm just not into crafts, nor do I have the time to be crafty. Gardening is not a hobby of mine, but I really enjoy the beauty of my efforts whenever I do some gardening. Martha's garden probably doesn't have weeds, freaky bugs or the agony of thistle takeover as mine does.

So lucky me — the episode was on decorating. Her studio set was quite beautiful and lavishly adorned for Christmas.


There actually were three sets: a kitchen set anyone would dream of, a craft area and a greenhouse. The handmade stockings were hung by the fireplace with care by her crew. One segment showed us how to make those stockings. (She lost me with the sewing machine.)


Martha is thrifty


There was a segment on how to turn a cookie sheet into a serving tray. Seeing Martha in action live was interesting. The guest designer was carefully making her tray with a chevron pattern she designed, while Martha seemed to be whipping right through it. The designer used a Plexiglas insert over the fabric Martha suggested using glass instead. I'm siding with Martha on that one. I can almost see myself making this.


Another designer demonstrated how to frame photographs using wallpaper as a matte. The frames came from IKEA, and it was stated how reasonably priced they are. The frames were lightly sanded then painted with Martha's inexpensive sample pots of paint from Home Depot. Martha Stewart is thrifty? This impressed me.


One of Martha's favorites


My favorite segment took place in the greenhouse. The area was decorated with gorgeous, lush carnation garland and balls made by guest event planner Bronson Van Wyck. Carnations have a bad rap because they are inexpensive and accessible. They just so happen to be one of Martha's favorite flowers. Thrifty Martha strikes again.


The carnation arrangement looked very easy to make. This was the one item I could actually see myself making.


Bronson took a bunch of carnations and placed them next to the vase they would sit in so he knew where to cut the stems. Martha opted to rubber-band her flowers. She just couldn't seem to cut them to the right length for them to properly fit in the vase. While she repeatedly fiddled with the shears, Bronson worked on his arrangement, gathering and turning stem by stem until, voilà "¦ the arrangement was complete. Martha was still trimming her stems until she finally removed the rubber band.


Martha is not so perfect after all. You've just got to love the fact that behind all that perfection is a real woman who looked lovely on her beautiful set. It takes a whole crew to put perfection together, and it may not be something we can always achieve, but we can embrace our inner Martha and let it come out when we can.


How to arrange carnations


1. Fill a clean container about ¾ full with lukewarm water and add a drop of bleach.


2. Clean carnation stems of all leaves. Start by holding five stems of carnations in one hand so that blooms are in a tight ball shape. Continue adding stems one at a time on the perimeter of the carnation ball until you have a good amount to fill the vase.


3. Hold the bouquet of carnations against the container to determine how much stem to cut off. Cut the stems so they are touching the bottom of the container and the base of the flower head is just skimming the top of the container, with no green showing.


4. Once cut, place the carnation stems into the container. Add more carnation stems, if needed.


5. To extend the life of the flowers, change the water in the container, trim the bottom of the stems, and add another drop of bleach every three days. Carnations can last for more than two weeks if cared for properly.


 Carnation tips:


• To make hanging carnation balls: Soak round oasis in water. Trim carnation stems to 2 inches. Insert each stem into wet oasis till it is filled with flowers. Hang using fishing wire.


• Use two shades of the same color to create a lush depth to your arrangement.


Staging Tip

If your house is for sale and decorated for the holidays, remember to de-holiday as soon as possible. This is especially important in small homes and condominiums.


Readers share their New Year's Eve traditions


From Debbie DelNegro, Wallkill:


This tradition may be of Scandinavian origin.

We are always home on New Year's Eve. At the stroke of midnight, my kids and I each have a pot filled with water, which we simultaneously throw out the front door. It must be the front door of your home, not sure why, but that's the "rule." This is supposed to remove any "bad stuff" from the previous year and start the new year fresh! I find it usually helps me out for at least six months!


What should be noted is that if it is really cold and you expect company on New Year's Day, make sure you throw it really far so that there are no New Year's Day slip-n-falls! I'm just a little superstitious! My traditions are usually a little off the wall, but traditions ... they are!


From Janine Ferrantelli, Highland Mills:


Besides the traditional big crowded parties, or even small family gatherings, both of which I do enjoy, one thing we have done a few times was to be in New England on the island of Martha's Vineyard. With good friends we would pack up a camper, drive to a beach, prepare food and drink, then await the fireworks display over the harbor. The teenagers prefer the big parties, but for adults, whether you're a couple or sharing the New Year with great friends, it makes for good memories.


To all my readers: Happy New Year from my corner to yours!


Claudia is a decorator, professional stager and owner of Claudia Jacobs Designs. Visit www.claudiajacobsdesigns.com or call 294-8993. Send questions and photos to info@claudiajacobsdesigns.com. Join my Facebook page: Claudia Jacobs Designs!

Martha Stewart


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Joyce Marsh
Joyce Marsh Real Estate LLC - Daytona Beach, FL
Joyce Marsh Real Estate LLC - Luxury Real Estate

I am also a fan of Martha Stewart.  I know she can get carried away at times, but I do enjoy her magazine, and try many of the recipies and projects.  Her new paint line at Home Depot is really great too.

Dec 27, 2010 03:11 AM #1
Andrea Swiedler
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties - New Milford, CT
Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT

Martha is the perfect example of someone who rose from the ashes. She picked herself up and just moved on. She is an inspiration to be sure, in many ways!

Happy New Year!

Dec 27, 2010 03:51 AM #2
Claudia Jacobs
Claudia Jacobs Designs LLC, Goshen, NY - Goshen, NY
Decorating, Staging

Absolutely agree with you both. Martha is many things, inspirational & resilient to say the least! Happy new year!

Dec 27, 2010 03:54 AM #3
Margaret Ann Innis
Decorate To Sell - Merrimack Valley Real Estate Staging - Andover, MA
Real Estate Staging - MA & NH

Where would laundry rooms be without Martha Stewart?  They would be just be a plain old washer dryer setup.  Lucky you!  She has a beautiful studio!

Feb 06, 2011 12:40 PM #4
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