When I was living in my first post-college house, back in the late '90s, I bought, and fell in love with, her 1997 book Good Things. Filled with advice that somehow both practical and aspirational, it promised a life that was organized and blessedly efficient - but also pretty and fun. I still can't use a drill, and I'm useless in a garden. But that doesn't mean I don't want to be Martha.
On her website, she just shared a slideshow of forty favorite "good things." The list is full of good tips - including a few I've done before. And some that just make so sense I can't believe I didn't think of them myself.
This suggestion - to make vinaigrette in nearly-empty mustard jars - is so logical, I can barely stand it. Why haven't I done that? I roll through mustard at an alarming rate around here. And I make salad dressing all the time. Why not combine the two?
Mise-en-place? Oui. Seriously, if you're having people over for dinner, or if you are, say, responsible for dinner during a weekend away, taking 30 minutes before the weekend/party starts to prep makes an absolute world of difference. When you don't have to think about measurements, or focus on not cutting off your fingers while you chop, it's much easier to enjoy yourself, and your guests.
Teensy muffin tins are so useful. I, admittedly, do very little baking. (That's what Alicia, Missy and Erin are for!) But muffin tins are actually good for more than muffins. Case in point: I made the little frittatas pictured for a wedding shower for my friend Alison (in 2002!). They were simple - I couldn't cook at all back then, but I was able to make them and they were good. Just chop some herbs and vegetables, place them in the tins. Beat a couple eggs, season with salt and pepper, and use a ladle to fill the tins 3/4 of the way. Bake, pop out, and you're done.
They were adorable - perfect shower food - and gave me a ton of confidence.
This ribbon bulletin board was probably the first Martha project I ever attempted, way back in the nineties. I covered a bulletin board with navy linen then attached grosgrain ribbon with round silver tacks. It didn't involve anything more than a stapler, some tacks and some scissors - but it looked much, much nicer than a standard issue, brown cork board.
I think it was destroyed in one of my early-to-mid-twenties moves. But when I moved into the house where I am now, I covered two boards with green leaf-printed fabric and attached them to the inside of a kitchen cabinet. Still better looking than a regular cork board (and hidden)!
Martha...she's a genius.
[Photo credit: marthastewart.com]