Shelf Life

Shelf Life: 'The Tao of Martha'

2013-06-30T00:00:00Z 2013-07-03T18:48:09Z Shelf Life: 'The Tao of Martha'Jane Ammeson Times Correspondent
June 30, 2013 12:00 am  • 

With the fervent hope that her life would be better or at least more organized, Lake Forest resident Jen Lancaster decided to channel her personal hero and the ultimate domestic diva Martha Stewart for 12 months. It all began with a disastrous year – lost jobs, financial crisis, bad business decisions and health problems. She could turn to Oprah for inspiration, mused Lancaster, who believes the world is divided into types of women those belonging to either Team Oprah or Team Martha and while both women are great, the former is too much into self-actualization and emotion while the later is like the drill sergeant many of us never had but certainly need.

“Whenever something goes awry in my house, we seem to evoke her name,” writes Lancaster who chronicle her time doing all things Martha in The Tao of Martha: My Year of LIVING; Or, Why I'm Never Getting All That Glitter Off of the Dog (New American Library 2013; $25.95).

For her that means answering such questions as “I wonder if Martha Stewart’s guests are greeted at the door with her sweating, crying and shouting, ‘Here’s a recipe; get to work or we’re never eating Thanksgiving dinner’?” and” I wonder if Martha Stewart spends $400 and entire summer fertilizing a garden, only to end up with two anemic tomatoes and an unholy army of slugs?”

The answer is, of course, that Martha doesn’t but Jen Lancaster does. But all that can change, right? All she has to do is learn what Martha would do to take her house, her husband and her pets to a higher plane of living.

“You can’t all of a sudden go to sleep one night and wake up Martha Stewart” said Lancaster, the author of such New York Times best sellers Black is the New Bitter and Pretty in Plaid. “It’s bit by bit by bit. There’s so much of her universe that I didn’t explore. I concentrated on the things that were going to be important to me — on being able to entertain, being able to keep my house clean, being able to make nice dinners, keeping my pets in line.”

Though much goes wrong but Lancaster is serious about her quest and while she never achieves true Martha-dom, she does achieve a measure of success, thanks to Martha.

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