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  • Archive for September, 2009

    Hooray for you!

    Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

    Modern Day Martha has been up and running for just over a month, and in that time we’ve been visited over 1200 times by 280 different people (or “absolute unique visitors”, as our analytics program tells us. You lovely little snowflakes, you!).

    That’s pretty dang amazing.

    It’s so amazing that we feel like celebrating.

    So we’re having a giveaway.

    Leave us a comment telling us who you are, where you’re from, and what you like about what we’re doing and/or what you’d like to see more of.

    Want extra chances to win?

    Post a link to our blog on your blog! (Then post a link to your blog in the comments here, so we know. Please post it in a separate comment than your original comment.)

    Tweet (twitter?) about us! (Again, post a link in a separate comment.)

    Post a link to us on Facebook! (You’ve got it, post a link in a separate comment.)

    If you do all of those, you’ll have 4 chances to win.

    And what could you win, you ask?

    A handcrafted boho chic photo album (thanks to Maryanne):



    a pair of hand embellished dish cloths (thanks to Jessica):



    delicious (and gorgeous ) home baked sugar cookies (thanks to Valerie)

    (Note: the cookies you receive may be completely different than those shown, it totally depends on Valerie’s mood what she creates. Also, you will not receive this many cookies. Sorry, but your waistline will thank us.) :



    Brandy’s very most favorite book (thanks to, wait for it…… Brandy):


    We will pick random winners for each of the 4 prizes.

    You can only win once. Family members of contributors are eligible to win, but contributors are not. Sadly.

    So leave a comment now! We will leave the comments open until Midnight MONDAY OCT. 5, and will announce the winners on TUESDAY OCT. 6.

    Note: If you post a comment and it doesn’t show up, it probably got caught in our spam filter. Just give it a couple of hours and check back to see if we’ve found  and freed it to play with all the other little comments.  Thanks!



    Sunday, September 27th, 2009

    3 years ago my mother-in-law (who I adore) had a potted plant delivered to me on Mother’s Day. It was a lovely gesture, and a lovely plant. I had no idea what kind of plant it was (still don’t), but it sprouted pretty pink flowers.

    I figured it would be dead within weeks.

    I don’t have a very good history of keeping plants alive, you see. My instinct seems to always be wrong, and I overwater or underwater or give too much sun or too little. So I figured this little guy had no chance.

    I was wrong.

    Despite long periods of no watering, cold weather, inconsistent sun, being knocked over, this little plant held on. Sometimes it looked pretty sad, but it held on nonetheless.

    Back in May when we began our balcony garden, I started giving it more consistent care. This is what it looked like then.


    Still in the pot it was delivered in, it was living, but not thriving so much.  A month or so later I thought that maybe if I transferred it to a larger pot, it might do better. Breaking just about every rule about repotting plants, I moved it to its new home.

    It didn’t grow.

    For months it didn’t grow, and I was afraid I’d seriously damaged it, messing with its roots as I had.

    But then…..

    This picture was taken tonight.


    Bigger, happier! Not just living, thriving!

    And if you take a closer look at the right side of the pot:


    Two little shoots! I don’t know how this happened, maybe someone with more plant knowledge than I do can shed light? (I know you’re out there.)

    But not just two little shoots….


    MUSHROOMS??? How did a veritable fairy garden start growing in this pot? (Sorry for the blurriness of the picture, the lighting was not being friendly, and I know about as much about photography as I do about plants.)

    There’s an obvious metaphor here for my life- but how do you experience regrowth?

    The Year of Magical Thinking

    Saturday, September 26th, 2009

    Later after I married and had a child, I learned to find equal meaning in the repeated rituals of domestic life.  Setting the table.  Lighting the candles.  Building the fire.  Cooking.  All those souffles, all that creme caramel, all those daubes and albondigas and gumbos.  Clean sheets, stacks of clean towels, hurricane lamps for storms, enough water and food to see us through whatever geological event came our way.  These fragments I have shared against my ruins were the words that came to mind then.  These fragments mattered to me.  I believed in them.

    What rituals of domestic life do you find meaning in?

    It’s the little things

    Saturday, September 26th, 2009

    It’s time for a nitty gritty post- a how do you do the things you need to to keep the house moving kind of post.

    I’ve realized that if I do a couple of small things on a daily basis, I can keep a handle on the world (or at least my house).

    1. Make my bed.

    I decided back when Z was just a tiny baby that my bed being made was going to be my signal to myself that everything was ok. Even if the rest of my house was an insane mess, and all I had managed to accomplish was to make my bed, I would have done that, and it was ok.  For a friend of mine, her “ok space” is her kitchen sink- as long as the dishes are done she can feel ok about the world.

    2. Fill the dishwasher directly after dinner.

    The food hasn’t had a chance to cement itself to the plates, and then it’s not hanging over my head for the rest of the evening.

    2a. Start the dishwasher before bed.

    Waking up to clean dishes is so much nicer than fishing around in a washer full of dirty dishes to find the plastic valve for a sippy cup while your eyes are still bleary.

    3. Tidy up the house before bed.

    Everyone else is in bed, so it’s not going to get messed up again, and it’s SO much less depressing to wake up to a clean house than a dirty one.

    4. Fully process one load of laundry a day.

    I fall behind on this one, but when I do keep up it makes life so much easier. By fully process I mean wash, dry and put away. Doing all of the steps right after the other gets it done, and doing only one load a day is so much less intimidating(and tiring and boring) than attempting to wash all of the clothes in the entire house.  I have it scheduled out which load gets done which day, Monday: white clothes, Tuesday: black clothes, Weds: kids clothes, Thursday: Sheets, Friday: White clothes (again, there’s a lot of them), Sat: Towels , Sunday: other clothes.

    What little things do you do to keep things flowing in your house? And do you have an “ok space”? What is it?

    Key words

    Friday, September 25th, 2009





    These are the themes that keep popping up in the books I’m reading, the shows we’re watching. I’m trying to take the lessons to heart.

    What are your key words this week/month/year?

    Taking a gratitude walk

    Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

    “I’m just sooooo sad” has been a constant refrain in our house for the last week or so. No matter what is happening, my 3 year old feels the need to express:

    “I’m just sooo sad I don’t get to watch another show.”

    “I’m just sooo sad I have to eat my beans.”

    “I’m just sooo sad I can’t have a pirate ship.”

    “I’m just sooo sad Daddy has to go to work.”

    “I’m just sooo sad my cousins can’t come today.”

    I’m just sooo sad I have some ice cream.”

    Yes, that last one is real. That’s the point we’ve gotten to around here, everything is a cause for being “sooo sad”, even when it’s no cause at all.

    So yesterday I decided to take charge of the situation. I explained that we’re here on Earth to have joy and happiness, and that there were some ways that we could do that.

    #1 Get out in nature.

    #2 Be grateful.

    #3 Serve other people.

    I decided that we’d tackle #1 and 2 concurrently, and we suited up and went for a walk. Z was to look for anything she was grateful for, and take a picture of it.

    So here, for your edification, are the things for which 3 year old Z is grateful. (There would doubtless have been more, but the camera ran out of juice.)


    Our car, “Cool Car”.


    A dumpster. I have no idea why, but really, why not? (I think really this shows her gratitude for being able to take pictures.)


    Her lion Mimi, who helps her to be brave.


    The sun.

    On the way home Z told me that finding things that she was grateful for did make her more happy. So you’ve got a 3 year old’s word for it, and why would she lie? Head out on a gratitude walk and tell us  how it goes!

    (I’ll post on our service attempts another time. But just so you know, the 3 pronged attack does seem to be working.)

    Psalm 25:1

    Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

    To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul; my God, I put my trust in you…

    I lift up my soul to my God by praying the offices.  Four times a day I pause and praise and petition.  How do you lift up your soul?

    Is the circus coming to town?

    Monday, September 21st, 2009

    Lest you begin to think that everything is always sunshine and roses here in the Martha households, let me tell you about today’s  afternoon in my house.

    My one year old, who is teething, woke up from her nap screaming. This isn’t all that unusual; what is unusual is that she continued to scream.


    Forty five minutes is a long time, people. She stopped for a little bit (half a minute or so) a couple of times, one time long enough for me to give her some medicine. Then she started right back up again, so I tried to get her to suck on a Pedialyte frozen pop, because that was the only appropriate cold thing I had on hand. She refused, and screamed some more.

    During this time, my ever inquisitive 3 year old came out from her rest time to see what was going on. She spotted the frozen pop and told me she wanted a popsicle. I informed her, over the ear-splitting screaming, that #1 we didn’t have any popsicles, and #2 she had refused lunch. She proceeded to ask for a lollipop, to which she got answer #2 again.

    A moment or so later, she started to scream.

    Now, she really dislikes it when her little sister screams, and so I thought maybe she was screaming because of that. But when she started kicking her legs (she was laying on the floor), I knew we were dealing with something else.

    Over all the screaming, I extracted the information that she was throwing a fit because : “you’re not listening to me and giving me what I want.”

    So I picked her up over my shoulder, schlepped her into my room, banging my head against the door frame in a failed attempt to keep her feet from hitting the fan (not any kind of euphemism- there’s a standing fan next to the door) , dumped her on my bed and closed the door on the way out.

    She screamed.

    The 1 year old screamed.

    I wanted to scream. (Both from the madness gripping my house and my hurting forehead. Door jambs are HARD!)

    Eventually everything calmed down, as all explosions must, I suppose. I count it an accomplishment that I didn’t run away from home and join the circus and I didn’t sell (or just plain give) my kids to said circus either. We ended up going for a walk and everyone is generally in good spirits now.

    So my question,  (if you’re still with me), is how do you nurture when you really just want to head for the hills? I’m talking theoretically, not what you would do in the particular circumstance I laid out above. Whether it’s with kids or with friends or family or significant others- how do you care for/ teach/ help the growth process in people that are making you slightly insane?

    Do you just take a time out and step back into the situation after a break? Are you one of those people blessed with inexhaustible patience? Do you pray for guidance? Read every book you can on the subject? Meditate? Just try make sure everyone comes out alive? Search the want ads for an available circus?

    Love is a Verb

    Sunday, September 20th, 2009

    Almost every time I come home from a trip to see my Mama, my kitty sitter has cleaned my kitchen.  At first, I was uncomfortable by this act of kindness.  Instead of seeing it as a compassionate expression of love, I felt judged, like my housekeeping skills had been considered and found lacking.   Over the months and years this has been going on, though, I’ve come to feel the deep care shown by the elbow grease expended on my stove top.

    I’m in a new relationship.  It’s the beginning, and I’m in the twitterpated, heady stage, and I’m head over heels “in love” :)   I spent the majority of my hours this weekend with Joey, and I realized that our “in love” has the potential to develop into real “love”.  He changed the oil in my car yesterday when I was at work.  Last night I sat on his living room floor and folded his clean clothes.  He and I showed our love to each other through action.  When he says “I love you” now, it has some weight to it…

    How do you show someone you love them?

    May I recommend

    Saturday, September 19th, 2009

    a book? I’m only partway through it, but it’s fascinating so far.


    You can get it here for $6.  (Woo hoo, bargain books!) It’s all about why we feel the need for speed (historically and sociologically speaking), and the movement to take back control over our own time. It may have just given me the inspiration I needed to tackle more hands on cooking – what will it inspire you to do?

    I’ll post a more comprehensive review once I’ve finished it, but for now, if it sounds interesting to you, go take a look!