By the Book @ Rogers Memorial Library

The Tao of Martha, by Jen Lancaster

“On paper, Oprah trumps Martha in terms of fortune and fame and felony convictions.  But if the apocalypse my tinfoil-hat-wearing husband (bless his heart) predicts is indeed coming, I have to ask myself: Do I want to follow the lady who encourages me to make dream boards for a better tomorrow, or do I want to listen to the gal who can show me how to butcher my own game hen right now?

I’m Team Martha, no questions asked.”

Shortly after New Year’s Day 2012, Jen Lancaster made the decision to live the next year of her life according to the dictates and directions of Martha Stewart.  She hoped that this project would leave her with an organized home, a repertoire of delicious dishes, well-behaved pets, new crafting skills, and a little more happiness.  In The Tao of Marthashe shares her triumphs and disasters, as well as numerous stories of her life with a loving, sarcastic husband, and a menagerie of rescue cats and dogs.

Jen gathered together back issues of Martha Stewart Living magazine, numerous Martha Stewart cookbooks, the comprehensive tome Martha Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbookand recordings of  Martha’s past television appearances.  The first project undertaken by the new disciple was organizing her desk.  Consulting Good Things for Organizing, Jen set up a filing system and redecorated her desktop, so that she could actually access her pens and scratch paper.  Did this make her euphoric?  No…but she was fairly excited to find a lifetime supply of Post-it notes.

This book is about more than just organizing, party planning and coating pumpkins with glitter.  The people who inhabit Lancaster’s pages are funny and charming.  Jen pulls Fletch,  her long suffering husband,  into most of the projects.  Although he knows he’s being suckered by the Tom Sawyer ploy to help “whitewash the fence”, Fletch gamely dives in.  While trying to blow the innards out of raw eggs for the Easter egg centerpiece, he admits, “I used to have to hunt for hard-boiled eggs when I was a kid.  What was the point of that?  Was I supposed to be, ‘Yay! I found them! Egg-salad sandwiches for everyone!’  I was seven!  I wanted chocolate, not bioavailable protein.”   The book’s cast of characters also includes Mike, the rose guy; the girls: Tracey, Gina and Stacey; Julie the stalker; and the waiter who is allergic to avocados.

Jen’s relationship with Maisie, the ailing pit bull, is a running thread throughout the story.  Jen and Fletch love all of their pets — which include three dogs and numerous cats — but Maisie is the “child” who has been with them through poverty and into more affluent days, when they could purchase a house with a yard just for her.  The trials of Maisie sometimes interrupt the Martha Project, but Jen finds that Maisie has her own Tao: Be Awesome; Give Awesome; Get Awesome.

In undertaking her year of living like Martha, Jen hopes to find something that Martha has not yet conquered and perfected.  Without giving anything away, let’s just say that even Martha would be impressed by Jen’s project.  Written in an easy, conversational manner, this book is enhanced with black and white pictures of projects, people and pets.  If you are a crafter, an animal lover, or a fan of humorous memoirs such as Bossypants, put down the glitter and give The Tao of Martha a try.

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