Martha Mondays: Cold Remedies

November 8, 2010

Today’s project was chosen by Sarah at Mum in Bloom. Of the long list of home remedies on the site to choose from for today’s project (we could each choose our own), I chose the cure for cold feet. I work at home and we don’t usually wear shoes in the house. In the long hours I spend sitting at my computer almost motionless, except for my typing fingers, my feet often get cold during the winter months. Sometimes I’ll put slippers on or a pair of sneakers (or turn on a little heater that sits under my desk), but this remedy sounded so relaxing and wonderful that I had to try it.  I also have been having feet that are just plain sore lately, so I was hoping this would help. In the warm months I exercise by swimming, kayaking or walking outside, but once the weather turns, I walk at the mall every morning. The transition to the hard floors of the mall is always hard on my feet, which is why I think they’ve been achy lately.

I have to admit that although the ingredients sounded pleasant, I didn’t really want to smear oatmeal all over my feet. It just sounded messy. And it was. I’m not sure exactly how you could ever do this without a mess. You mix this up, stick your feet in it and then wrap warm washcloths around your feet. The warm washcloths are nice for about 3 seconds until they get cold. Then you’ve got to somehow get your feet out of the oatmeal and into a tub (leaving oatmeal in your tub) or another basin to wash them off. Ick. Yes, it smelled nice and it was warm (if a bit gross to smear oatmeal on your feet), but I don’t think I would ever do this again!

And no, those aren’t my feet! I wasn’t about to post a photo of my own feet for this project! I’ll be interested to hear about the other projects people tried this week.


The Martha Diet

July 13, 2009

As I announced this morning on Martha Stewart Radio Morning Living Live (Sirius XM), I’ve lost 13 pounds on what I’m calling The Martha Diet (and if you heard me on the radio, would you email them and say you enjoyed it? Here’s the link– in the middle of the page over to the right, it says “send email). I’ve tried lots of diets in my life and this is really the easiest weight loss I’ve ever experienced. There’s no gimmick, no crazy restrictions and I’m not even counting calories. I’m not paying anyone (nor is anyone paying me!) and I’m not buying bad food or going to support groups. I’m making delicious, wonderful food and I’m also making and eating desserts. How is this possible?

If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I committed to giving my life a Martha Stewart makeover. I entered into a one year commitment wherein I would do at least one Martha project or Martha-ish project per day – cooking, crafting, decorating, organizing, etc.

The weight loss started without me even really noticing. A few pounds just fell off because I was cooking and eating Martha food. I finally noticed what was up and thought about it. I’m giving my life a Martha makeover, but what about my body? Maybe I should include that in my plan. Martha takes very good care of herself – she makes it a priority to eat well, exercise, and stay healthy. It’s a priority for her and maybe it should be for me too, I thought.

Now if you are a Martha follower, you know that each January she promotes a Body and Soul diet. Frankly, I never quite understood it. I didn’t feel as though I could really find the program anywhere in one concise place (she talked about in Body and Soul Magazine, on her show, and on her site, but it never felt cohesive to me). This is not the Body and Soul diet. In fact, it’s not really a diet at all. I’ve changed how I buy, make, eat and think about food because of Martha.

Here are some of the basic tenets of what I’ve been doing:

– I always ask myself “Would Martha eat this?” if the answer is no, then I don’t either. That means no soda, junk food, prepared foods, etc.

– I shop like Martha. I buy fresh ingredients and usually they are for Martha recipes I plan to make.

– I still make dessert! But I think about it like Martha does. Desserts are for sharing. I love to make them and taste them, but Martha does not make a pan of brownies and let it sit on her kitchen counter all week so she can slowly eat her way though it. She makes things, enjoys them, and shares them. So I give away the desserts I make, after I have had a piece to enjoy.

– Throughout the day, I try to think about food like Martha does. She loves fruits and vegetables, fish, chicken, whole grains and other healthy things, prepared in ways that are beautiful, elegant and delicious. I find that because I am cooking wonderful food, I no longer crave junky things. I feel fulfilled and satisfied because the food I am eating fills my emotional and physical needs.

– I eat a real breakfast. For years, I had Cheerios for breakfast. Now I eat eggs, fruit or yogurt for breakfast and I feel full longer. One day on her show, Martha showed the audience and viewers a tray containing her breakfast. That really inspired me.

– I eat a fruit and a vegetable with lunch. I also used to eat a lot of leftovers for lunch, but because the foods I make for dinner are so healthy, my leftovers are good for me. On the show, Martha has often exclaimed while cooking that she would be saving a piece or a serving of whatever it was to have for her lunch that day. So now I eat salads, fish, fruit, cheese, and a small amount of carbs for lunch.

– I drink a lot of water throughout the day. If I snack, I do so on fruits, nuts or cheese. I find that they satisfy every craving I have – sweet, salty, or filling.

I feel wonderful and healthy. And of course I am exercising. I’ve been walking 3 miles a day for years, but I’m trying to mix it up with swimming, kayaking, badminton, and other fun things so that I sneak in more exercise while I am having fun.

I’ll keep everyone posted about my progress and share more insights and secrets as I go along! This feels like a big life change for me and I want to share it with you as I move forward.

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Following Martha’s Recommendations

June 27, 2009

kindleThis past season, Martha did a segment on what she carries with her when she travels. I always love seeing segments about Martha’s real life. One of Martha’s fave travel items is a Kindle. We’re taking a trip this summer and Martha convinced me to give Kindle a try.

I’ve had my Kindle several weeks now. First of all, I was surprised by how thin and small it really is.  It charges easily. It’s cute.

But how does it work? The first book I read on it was a travel guide.  Not so great. I think Kindle is nice for just plain reading, but with a book where I wanted to make a lot of bookmarks and notes, I found it tediously slow and not easy to use. My toggle button is not very loose and it’s a bit difficult to use.

I will take it with us on our trip because instead of having to pack 5 books to read, I can just bring the Kindle, which is definitely convenient. I was hoping I could load all my travel guides on it and just pull it out of my purse when I need to know where something is, but it’s just not convenient enough for that, not to mention most travel books are not yet available on Kindle.

And by the way, this little baby cost me $359. A lot for me, maybe not so much for Martha. I appreciated Martha’s recommendation, but I’m not wild about this yet. I’ll report back after the trip.

Some Reflection

March 13, 2009

I do a lot of reflection as I am watching Martha, reading her magazines and books and trying out her recipes and projects and I thought I would share of some my recent thoughts with you.

Good Things: What I like about Martha is that she is always looking for the best of things. She likes ideas and things that are high quality, innovative, thought out, and reliable. Her entire concept is based on “good things” and I find that she has taught me to be more discerning and give more thought to things that I do and choose.

Elegance: So much of what Martha does and owns is elegant, whether it is has simple elegance or over the top elegance.  Both are worth pursuing I think. We just remodeled our bathroom and the idea of keeping things elegant in a clean and pure way was quite directive for me. For me, elegance also means finding the natural order of things.

Constant Learning: Martha talks often about she loves to learn about new things. I find that exploring new ideas gives a spark to life, so I appreciate this about her. I, too, am naturally curious and am always happy to learn a new fact or discover a new way to do something. Sometimes I have to remind myself to be open to learning. I am often hesitant to do her crafts since I am not naturally talented in that way, but I do find I learn something each time. She has also helped me be open to new foods and ingredients.

Tenacity: On a recent show, Martha’s guest showed her how to fold parchment paper into a little box to cook fish in. Martha really had a hard time getting it and he reached over and wanted to finish it for her and she said something like no! I want to learn how to do this. I love how she is strong-willed and will not give up and I am trying to take that sensibility to heart in my own life.

Friendliness: As I watch Martha on tv, I am sometimes struck by how human she is in her interactions. She might misspeak, say “umm”, lose track of the train of the conversation, or stumble a bit. I despise public speaking, but do it sometimes as part of my job, so I admire how Martha approaches every person and situation with a friendly attitude and how that seems to see her through even if she is human and is not absolutely perfect in all she says and does. (I believe Martha is a perfectionist, as am I, so I think it must really bug her when she is less than perfect. I feel the same way, but am encouraged by watching her.)

Appreciation: If you watch Martha on tv, you will see she is always exclaiming about something is BEAUTIFUL or PERFECT. She can get so excited about a carrot or some bread dough. I think it’s easy to lose sight of these small perfections, and Martha has helped me open my eyes to them. When I am cooking, I try to appreciate the colors and shapes of the vegetables, the scent of the soup or the shape of a cookie. There’s something very zen about approaching things this way and I find it to be very centering.

I’m Pro on Probiotics

January 14, 2009

Martha has a great article in January Living (page 124) about the importance of probiotics. I take one every day and dose the family with them on occasion.

acidophilusI started taking probiotics after a bout of diverticulosis several years ago.  I’ve tried some of the special yogurts you can buy, but am happiest with the bottle I buy at the health food store. It’s really important to buy live acidophilus from the refrigerated section, not the freeze dried kind.

Not to be too graphic, but I have found that probiotics eliminate yeast infection problems as well as regulate digestion.

I think there are some people who don’t need them, but there are those of us who benefit from them greatly.

Dental Health

What did you think of the segment on Martha’s show about dental health? We have Oral-B toothbrushes similar to that (I think they are last year’s model) and it has made a big difference with some dental issues people in this house have had.

The Martha Plan

January 13, 2009

If you’ve watched the Martha Stewart Show this month, you know she’s promoting her Body & Soul Challenge. Living magazine also has a section in it with the 10 important components Martha includes in her daily life.

I have some thoughts about this. First of all, I’ve tried over and over again to sign up for the Body & Soul Challenge emails, but I have not gotten a single one. I get all my other Martha emails with no problem and there is no filter that is catching them. So that’s annoying.

My second gripe with the challenge is that it seems very scattershot. There doesn’t seem to be a cohesive plan somewhere. Each day there is a short little thing on the site about that day’s focus, but none of this comes off to me as a “challenge”. I guess I was expecting a checklist or something more interactive. I don’t feel like there is an overall plan to follow or daily challenges to meet. Martha makes reference to the challenge on the show, but again, that’s not very cohesive either. I’m feeling a bit frustrated with it all.

That being said, I did very much like the piece in the magazine (pp. 17-20 in January Living). This was something that fit with my life. In fact, just about every single point in it is something that is important to me as well (although that gross looking green juice for #6 is not something I’m interested in!). I too walk for exercise and lift weights. I drink lots of water, work on skin and hair care, make time to relax and keep a very organized calendar. I don’t have a home gym like Martha does, however.

Since I can’t seem to get any real inspiration or guidance from Martha’s Body & Soul challenge, I’m kind of fashioning my own. I’m stepping up the amount of exercise and trying really hard to cut back on calories. We’re eating more fish and veggies. I’m also trying to eat protein in the mornings. I find that if I have a hard boiled egg with breakfast, I don’t get hungry for hours, whereas if I just have cereal, I’m starving by 10 am.

I would love to know if any of you have been able to get the emails for the challenge and if so, what you think of them.

Soba Soup with Spinach

January 7, 2009

Like the rest of the world, I’m working on being healthier in the new year, so when Martha made the Soba Soup with Spinach (also in Jan Every Day Food) on Monday, I was excited to try it. I’ve had soba noodles before and they’re good. This soup looked easy.

soba-soupIt was just as easy to make as it appeared on tv. I chopped ginger, scallions, garlic and mushrooms and cooked them with oil and salt. Once the mushrooms were soft, I added broth and water. Then I added noodles and cooked till done and then the spinach, soy sauce and lime at the end. Very, very simple and very, very tasty. I really liked this soup a lot. It takes very hearty even though there is no meat in it. It was very filling.I will definitely make this again. I served it for dinner with some strawberries, some seared tuna and a few slices of bread. It was more filling than expected though, so the bread was unnecessary.

I had some for lunch today. The broth had turned a darker color overnight, but it was just as good if not better today. This one’s a winner.

I have to put a comment in here about the other part of Monday’s show. It was great that Martha demo’ed that new exercise machine, but who can afford that? Then she had the facial expert on and kept touting how she was going to share three of her own facial recipes. Well, in my book, telling me to drink acai juice and chlorophyll do not count as facial recipes! Only the second recipe was for an actual facial and I have NO idea where you are supposed to buy dried clay to put in it! The whole segment was a huge disappointment to me.

Plimoth Plantation

November 7, 2008

In the November issue of Living, there’s a piece about Plimoth Plantation, fitting in, of course, with the Thanksgiving theme of the issue. I don’t know if Martha herself has ever been there, but can’t you just picture her mulling around, picking up tips on how to thatch a roof or suggesting to an enacter that she add some thyme to her stew? (As a side note, didn’t you love the show about Mexico yesterday? I really enjoyed it, although I couldn’t help thinking it was a nice way for Martha to write off her vacation!)

We vacationed on Cape Cod the summer of ’07 and made a stop at Plimoth Plantation (Plymouth is where the Cape connects to the mainland). Whoo-hoo – something in this issue I have actual experience with other than cooking a turkey!

Large cow carrying a ship in the visitor's center. Why? Don't ask me.

PP welcomes you - MOO

So here’s my personal scoop on PP. Honestly, Williamsburg is much, much better. Obv (as my teenager would say), it’s not the same time period, but if you want living history, Williamsburg is just so much better.It feels more real and it’s much, much bigger. The enacters are much more into it and are doing really complicated trade work.

PP has a huge visitor’s center with films and dining halls. Check out this photo of the cow carrying the Mayflower. what’s the deal with that? This is what greets you. I didn’t get it at all. The actual village did not thrill us to death. The Wampanoag area was pretty sparse – not much there to see and not too many “residents” to talk with. Another thing to keep in mind – there is a very, very long walk in to the visitor’s center, then the Wampanoag village, and then the settler’s village. And it is seriously hot there in the summer. Bring water and wear sneakers.

The actual village itself is built on a hill. The houses are small (again – obv)

View of PP from above - doesn't the water look gorgeous?

PP on a Hill

which makes it hard to squeeze in with other visitors. We didn’t find the “residents” to be nearly as in character as those at Williamsburg and there weren’t as many crafts and trades to observe in action.

Thatched roof for real

Thatched roof for real

You do get to see real thatched roofs and what kinds of gardens were grown. There is some livestock around as well.

I think it’s worth a stop to understand what the settler’s village actually felt like and how they really lived. Dirt floors and open fireplaces are not a lot of fun. And it’s damn cold in the winter.

We’ve made a point in our travels to take our kids to places that will give

Chicken anyone? My son almost got one

Chicken anyone? My son almost got one

them a real perspective on history. The Jefferson Memorial might be grand, but walking through Thomas Jefferson’s house and the room where he wrote and where he died has a lot more meaning. Even though PP is only a reenactment (and not even on the actual location), it was still an important way to understand the beginning of this country.

Let me say this though – the gift shop was pretty darn good (Mr. MarthaandMe just about had a heart attack over all I bought – always a sign of good shopping). Overall – a good thing? Yup – two thumbs up!

A Balanced Life?

November 4, 2008

One of the things I admire about Martha is she seems to live a life that is balanced. She has a ginormous career, yet she has time to cook and decorate and do things that give her pleasure. So I was interested when I read “Simple Steps to Better Your Balance” in the November issue’s Healthy Living section.  We all know Martha’s into yoga (I’m not), but this is a new take on finding balance in your own body.

The article suggests you test yourself to see if your body is balanced. It says to stand one leg, with the other bent at a 45 degree angle, and your arms folded on your chest for 45 seconds. I felt a bit silly trying this, but it wasn’t hard at all. The key for me was to find a focal point (even saying that makes me remember Lamaze class). Once I had something to look at it, it became a lot easier to hold still. Once you’ve mastered that, the article suggests bending sideways and hopping. Touching the raised leg to the ground is another variation. I didn’t find any of that hard. Who knew I was so very balanced?

The next challenge is walking heel to toe in a straight line. There’s nothing like practicing for a sobriety test. This was easy too. No problems. If you can accomplish all of these tasks, the piece suggests doing them with your eyes closed. Whoa! Much harder! Nearly impossible actually.

The rest of the article was about organizing your home to prevent falls – which all felt a little geriatric to me. What’s the age demographic for this mag? It’s got to be in the 30s or 40s. I totally didn’t get why this was in the mag. Maybe Martha is worrying about her own aging! If she’s worried, maybe she should read my book, which actually deals with some of these concerns!

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