The art women have contributed over the ages has often been the “minor” arts. The beauty women have given humankind comes in the form of daily art, home art, crafts as most people would call it. We are artisans of the fine and practical arts of homemaking. While many people disparage Martha Stewart, I truly believe that Martha Stewart paid spectacular tribute to her mother and woman across cultures by elevating the everyday things they did in the name of “keeping a home”. Some think Martha goes far below the rational or useful and in an age of microwave popcorn and salad in a bag; her particular attention to mandolin settings (that is if you can even identify a mandolin) used to cut homemade French fries challenges the time is money ethos of modernity. And those aren’t regular Idaho spuds. Nope. They are waxy, thins skinned, juicy, organic grown, Yukon gold potatoes just perfect for deep frying. And she deep fries them in some uber appliance that makes the Fry Daddy his prison bitch, a fryer we all covet. Martha forced us to think about quality, substance, sustenance and the true value of our time and efforts. Martha has chutzpah; she gave us permission to thumb our noses at the general public if we have mad skills in the home. She let “professional women” still revel in their domestic prowess. She is laughing all the way to the vault because she has made a bajizillion dollars teaching us the proper dimension of table linens and how they should be stored. And you know what? I listened. I love a well-kept home. And while I love a great bargain along with everyone else, my idea of a terrific find is the hand-cut, hand-pieced double wedding ring quilt I found at Webb’s antiques for $140. While I could have bought a “handmade” quilt through the Linens & Things catalog for half the price, there is no heart in a store bought bed in a bad.
And that is the soul of a home: the heart in each act.
My grandmother, Dorothy Hall, and my own mother, Patsy, lead by example. My sisters and I are all “homemakers”. We each have a “specialty”. My sister Chrissy is a fantastic gardener. Time is her biggest foe. My sister Debbie is a domestic maven, having raised and homeschooled six kids; she has always applied her imagination and ingenuity to making her home so lovely.
We all cook. Mainly because we all love to eat and feed our families. We all love the store bought bag of Milanos or the box of foil wrapped Ring Dings, but I am sure, that like myself, my sisters have at least four different cookbooks dedicated to COOKIES. I admittedly have seven. I feel no shame either. Cookies are the Elmer’s glue of a happy home.
Today, I start my latest project. It is a creative vision stuck in a nook in my mind for over eight months. The seed was a piece of fabric, a captivating icicle blue metallic dusted fabric….that I did NOT buy. Every quilter worth her props has more fabric that she will ever wash or cut. I lost street cred when I did not buy a fat quarter of that fabric. Thus, it has nagged and needled me ever since. And from that came the vision that will be my new bedroom in my new house. And I am slowly accumulating my accoutrements and furnishings. I bought plates on the clearance table at West Elm for $4 each. They will hang on the wall. I also have my eyes on metallic placemats at Crate & Barrel that will make fabuloso throw pillows for the bed. I am the domestic equivalent of a deer hunter in a stand, waiting patiently for my target to step into my cross hairs and go on sale.
My fabric has been washed and now heads to the dryer. It will get ironed and pieces will get cut today. It is raining, so a perfect day to sew and watch the BBC Series of Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy and Miss Bennett are my faithful sewing companions.