Martha, Martha, MARTHA!

To see me and Martha, click here

Did you get the Brady Bunch reference in the title of this post? Ok, I've been meaning to post about the whole Martha Stewart experience, but since the kids have been on Christmas vacation, I've felt like I have an electric egg beater in my ear. Sort of hard to concentrate. 

So! Here we go! It all started last May...was it May? I'm too lazy to look at my email inbox to confirm that, so let's just call it May. A lovely, hot, humid day in May. In Houston, Texas. Even if it was February, it was probably still hot and humid. In Houston, Texas. This reminds me of how my sister starts the story of how she met one of her first boyfriends. "It was a Thursday, no, a Friday, and Elaine called me from her job at the french bakery..." This is now the running joke in my family for a rambling, too much info preface to what should be a brief story. 

Ok, ok, it was May. And I got an email from a woman that said basically, "Hi, I'm a producer for The Martha Stewart Show, and I saw your stuff for sale online and would you like to possibly come be on the show?" That's paraphrasing. And also a huge prank, I first thought. Probably my sister, I thought. So I googled the name of the producer, and there was she was, all over the MS website. I also realized that my sister probably didn't have the ability to fake the email address. So that's when I started jumping up and down and freaking out. 

The email said to call her, so I did. You know when you're a teenager and you have a crush on a boy and you call him and you dial all but the last number and hang up like 4 times before you actually let it ring? It was like that. I was so nervous. Plus, I'm not a phone person. Anyway, I called, and she was so nice and so easy to talk to. She asked me to send her some samples of my toys. I said yes, I'd love to. Just needed to make them first. Didn't have anything on hand to send. 

Weeks pass. I know, I know! I'm such a loser! How did I let all that time pass? Ok, look, it was May. My husband graduated medical school at the very end of May. We knew we were packing up the family (me, him, our 2 kids) and moving all the way from Houston to Rochester, Minnesota. And we had to be there in June for him to start residency. My whole craft nook, all my paints and wood and weird supplies, had to go in boxes. The whole house had to go in boxes. Everything.  Moving. Cross country. With 2 kids. And a cat. No professional movers. Just us. To a house we'd never seen in person. Just saw it online and made an offer. Crazy, huh? Oh and speaking of crazy...ALL of the inlaws were in town for the graduation. Total mayhem. And then our car died. Ok, ok, I'll never finish this story at this rate...

Fast forward a few days. We got to Rochester. Jon immediately started residency. That left me to make the home. I'm the homemaker. Unload all those boxes. That's my job. Ready, go. Ugh. Why am I so tired? Why am I getting winded going up the steps? Why do I feel like I'm going to barf? Uh oh! Pregnancy test. Positive. Surprise! Do not unload boxes. Do not set up craft nook. Spend the next 3 months with head hanging over toilet while kids complain that they are bored and have no friends yet and can't we go and do something? 

Then I got another email from the producer. "Am I going to be lucky enough to get those samples from you?" I swear, she is the nicest, most patient person EVER.  I finally got them done and sent them off to New York. Plus she wanted a short video of me. I forgot what the exact instructions were, but I gathered that they just wanted to see me, hear me, see how I looked on camera. Making the video was awful. Nobody was home and I set the camera up on a tripod. I was hoping to come across like Jackie Kennedy doing her White House tour, but my transatlantic finishing school accent failed me. I ended up more like Minnie Pearl on Heehaw. 

So some amount of time passed, I can't remember, and the producer and I kept emailing. She asked for pictures and instructions of how to make my stuff and this and that, I just kept sending whatever she asked for. Finally, I got an email that said "We're booking you!" Yee haw!

I showed up at the studio about 2 hours early. I stayed at a friend's apartment in Brooklyn and was nervous about traffic, so I left, uh, plenty of time for the commute. Yeah, giant nerd. But the receptionist was so nice. She called down one of the assistants, also totally nice, who took me across the street to drop off my stuff. 

My stuff. Did I skip that part? I had to make many many many swaps. You know, all those visual aids that show the intermediate steps in your craft process? Yes, TONS of swaps. Like I had to buy a bigger suitcase. And going through airport security with that stuff was hilarious. "Uh, ma'am, what's in your bag?" I replied that it was squirrels and elephants. "I told you it was squirrels and elephants!" the security guard said to the other security guard. She laughed and swiveled around the X-ray monitor so I could see how funny they looked all lined up in the suitcase. Oh, this was at the Rochester airport, by the way. There was no joking around at the New York airport. 

Anyway, back to dropping off my stuff at the MS offices. The assistant said we could drop off my suitcases in the craft room where we'd be working, and then I could go grab a coffee around the corner at Starbucks and come back at the time at whatever time we'd agreed on. So she took me into the craft room. OH. MY. GAWD. That craft room. The Martha Stewart actual real craft room. Fifteen days before Christmas. I swear I heard a chorus of little craft angels sing when the assistant pushed open the doors. I hope heaven is like that room. Glitter. Branches hanging from ceiling. Tiny glass bowls. Little birds. Long work benches covered with brown paper and built in rulers and shelves underneath. Sewing machines and sergers. And everything so so so organized. Imagine Michaels without the crap and with ten times all the good stuff. And everything in properly labelled plastic tubs. Rows and rows of shelves 12 feet high, full of good stuff. I could have LIVED in there. And various crafter elves kept breezing through, all of them SO nice and shaking my hand and smiling. Heaven. 

I went to Starbucks to pass the time, and then I went back to the craft room. Finally I got to meet the actual producer! So totally nice. I can't say that enough times. And I met the head honcho craft lady. And the stylist. And the assistant was there with us. And another guy, who was working on a project at another work bench. I started taking out all of the swaps out of my suitcase and laying them out. That was scary. I had no idea how they'd react. It was sort of like watching your collection go down the Project Runway runway in front of Heidi Klum and Michael Kors. But these people, I swear, they were awesome. So encouraging. So complimentary. So completely down to earth and relaxed. Head honcho craft lady thanked me for being so organized! 

There was a tv up on the wall that was playing the MS show. I said, "Is that live right now?" and they said yes. Ugh, wave of panic. I kept telling them how nervous I was, and they were so reassuring. So calm. It was all so normal to them! I swear, it felt like hanging out with friends. So we went over and over the process, figuring out what to say, what to show, what Martha would do, would Martha drill holes, would she cut cardboard, what supplies should be out, which animal would Martha make and which would I make. At one point the producer asked the guy at the end of the table to grab her a bottle of polyurethane so we could have it out as a prop to show what I paint on the animals. He said, "Do you want matte, satin, or gloss?" In unison, all four crafty ladies glanced at the animals and then replied, "Satin." How hilarious is that? I felt so in my element. These women knew from one glance that it was satin. They are that good. 

I went back to the apartment in Brooklyn that night and tried to sleep. I was dying of nervousness. I felt like I was going in front of a firing squad the next day. 

The next morning I arrived at the studio nerdily early again. Off to Starbucks to wait for the actual time I was supposed to be there. Then back to the studio reception room. The assistant came down to show me to my dressing room. My dressing room. Oh my god. From that point on, it was like I was on a conveyer belt. The whole process was a well-oiled machine. And everyone, I mean EVERYONE, was so amazingly sweet. Thank god. Because I was so nervous I wanted to hide in the test kitchen or something. 

They took me to the actual studio for the very first time. The actual looks-like-Martha's-kitchen studio. It is HUGE! It all looks very cozy on tv, but it's cavernous. And the lighting is so warm and sparkly. It's gorgeous in there. Cavernous and warm all in one. I swear, those stylists are geniuses. It was still hours before we were on, so we had a rehearsal, which only made me feel less prepared. Like where do I look? What was I supposed to say? The sound lady put a microphone on me. I counted and talked and they filmed me on camera to test it out. Meanwhile, the producer kept saying, "You HAVE to say this" and "DON'T forget to say that". So I had a running list of about 10 things that I absolutely couldn't forget to say. And my process for making the pull toys is so freaking complicated anyway. I was so scared. And also I was afraid of what Martha would say, because, afterall, it's her show and she'll say whatever whenever she wants. I asked the producer if Martha would keep the pace going and move us on from step to step. "Oh no," the producer said, "that's your job. You're the driver. You're responsible for the pace." Oh. My. God. She assured me that she'd be on the floor up front with cue cards that say "HURRY" or "MOVE ON" or "SHOW FINISH" which means shut up it's over. Oh man. Dying. 

We left the studio, and I was more nervous than ever. Blueberries and granola and yogurt in my dressing room. Nice! But I couldn't eat. The wardrobe guy picked my pink shirt for me to wear (I'd been told to bring a couple of outfits) and they pressed it for me. I changed into it. I got sent to hair and makeup. Back to dressing room. The tv in the dressing room was on, and Martha was actually on air with Paula Abdul. Oh my god. This is it. They are down there in the studio, live, shooting this right now. And in a few minutes, it'll be me. Hee hee hee hoo. Hee hee hee hoo. Those are the breathing exercises I learned when I gave birth to my son 9 years ago. I tried them out. Hee hee hee hooo time to go. The firing squad. 

I stopped off at makeup one more time for a quick powder. The stage manager, producer, and assistant stood next to me at the entrance to the sound stage.  We stood there whispering and giggling and they reassured me again that I'd be fine. Then WHOOSH the doors opened and an assistant blew through with the tray of cookies that Paula and Martha had just made. The stage manager said "Let's go!" I followed him out. The audience was there in the chairs that had been empty earlier. They all looked so nice and happy to be there. And there at a table in front of the cameras was Martha. The real deal. The domestic doyenne. I walked behind her, and the sound lady followed me while asking me to count to ten into my microphone again. The tension was insane. I walked over to my spot at the craft table and waited. A lady in the front row of the audience smiled at me and that helped so much. And then Martha walked over. 

We were officially on a commercial break, so I leaned over to Martha (it's SO loud in there with the audience all yelling and clapping and music playing, like a pep rally!) and I said, "It's so nice to meet you, thank you for having me on your show!" She smiled and nodded, and then we were on. 

What I actually said is a blur to me now. I know that the dust made Martha cough, and that was awful. Somehow the producers minimized the whole incident, but in reality, it was way worse than it looked on tv. They cut to commercial and all rushed her with bottles of Evian while she tried to recover. Visions of kamakaze bombers rushed through my head. Mayday! Mayday! 

Halfway done. Everyone breathing again. Finished up. In retrospect, it flew by. Martha didn't ask me anything that threw me off terribly. Of course, she didn't ask me the scripted questions that the producer rehearsed with me, but that's okay. She was actually really nice. And when it was all over, she asked if she could have 2 of the pull toys. Of course! Oh my gosh! It's like being in the high school bathroom, and the homecoming queen comes in and says, "I like your hair." Seriously. Take any toys you want! What a high! I didn't come down for a week! And then she was gone. 

There. Thank you for reading all that. I'm not one for sticking to a plot. I like to throw in lots of extraneous details and exposition. It's the teenage girl in me. Eeee!


  1. i enjoyed that! what a wonderful experience for you; so exciting. i like your real version; sharing your feelings of nervousness, feeling like a nerd, excited, scared - all of it.

  2. Thanks for taking to time to share such an awesome experience.

  3. Hey thanks for reading it all. I didn't intend for it to be so long!

  4. Thanks for including all of those extraneous comments! Loved living vicariously through your experience!

  5. That sounds so cool, exciting, funny and terrifying all at the same time!

  6. wow, that was incredible. my husband is a stay at home dad who loves woodworking and is a closet martha freak. he saw your segment and called me at work (i'm a resident too) and then spent the next several weeks searching for the clip online to show me. wonderful beautiful toys! and such an endearing description of what must have been a terrifying thrilling day.

  7. Very awesome reading about your experience. I was on the show a couple years ago and I think it will always remain one of the best experiences of my life! I love your technique for the pull toys and made two myself. (a squirrel and a flying elephant - animals with wings is kind of my thing) Something I wish I had done following my Martha appearance was set up a flickr pool for posting pictures of everyone's creations. I'm sure there are a bunch of fabulous pull toys out there now because of you! Your work is BEAUTIFUL!

  8. thakn you for writing about this! i think i broke out in a sweat just now, imagining myself in your shoes. how THRILLING! i loved your descriptions. awesome. i would also like to know about 'the aftermath' of being onthe show, like when family sees it, how your business is arrfected..please more more more....also, i thik if i saw that craft room i would have asked to paly for a while instead of going to starbucks, or just look in the candy it seems.

  9. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your story ... you have a gift with words for sure :D Sounds like tonnes of fun, and I'm off to watch the clip!

  10. Congrats on the Martha question...
    How long does it usually take to make one of your pull toys?

  11. Hi Homespun! It takes about a week unless I'm pregnant. Then it takes about 3 months.

  12. :o) Love this!

    I've been reading through your blog. You are hilarious, and your projects are so much fun! I'm off to look for your Martha segment!

  13. Great story! I was lucky enough to sit in her audience two years ago (front row--woot! woot!). VERY interesting to hear what it's like on stage.

    Well-oiled machine is a great descriptor for the whole production...everything is so perfectly timed and lighted and colorful that it feels like a dream. I especially felt guilty for yawning once during MARTHA's show--the horror!


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