The Real Martha’s Got Nothing On The Next Martha.

If you follow my friend Jen on Twitter (@TheNextMartha), you already know that she is crafty and creative and crazy (in a good way). She is full of ideas and her mad skills in, well, EVERYTHING related to home projects just blow my mind. She happens to adore Martha Stewart, hence her Twitter handle and the name of her blog, The Martha Project.


You can imagine that when Jen found out that the Friday lunch keynote speaker at last week’s BlogHer conference would be none other than the Real Martha Stewart, her wheels started turning. Big time.

She told me in confidence that she was going to set a beautiful table, Martha-style. I couldn’t wait to see what she was going to do, because I have already seen (online and in person: we live in the same town, lucky me!) what she’s capable of.

For nearly two weeks straight, Jen was working her butt off. She sent me one preview picture of a small table element but didn’t want to show me everything because she wanted EVERYONE to be surprised. I spoke to her one evening and she said to me, “Dude, I have gone NUTS.”

The funny thing is, I GET HER. I do the same thing when I’m working on a big project.

She expressed some minor fears about getting everything done and wondering how it would all turn out, and I said to her, “Think of it this way: everything you’ve done up until this point has been practice.”

She said, “You know, you’re RIGHT.”

And on she went.

In another conversation, I told her how cool I thought it would be if Martha Stewart noticed her table and said something to her. She–in typical Jen fashion–said, “You know, that would be cool but I’m not doing this to meet her. I just want my friends to feel like I’m entertaining them and providing them with a great lunch–a lunch that I didn’t actually prepare.” And she meant it. She even sent out beautiful email invitations.

You guys, she worked SO HARD on this. SO HARD.

She had to figure out what needed to be premade before going to New York, and what had to be created in her hotel room (so it wouldn’t get damaged on the plane). She brought her glue gun to New York.


I told her that I would meet her in the ballroom early, to give her assistance if needed.

When I arrived, she was already in the thick of setting up. Suddenly I was all emotional. I went over to her and noticed that she was emotional too. We spent a lot of time saying, “STOP IT. NO CRYING.” Her work was AMAZING. I tweeted “Today is @TheNextMartha’s Olympics” and I meant it.

As she continued working, people were coming up to her–both people she knew and people she didn’t know–all wide-eyed, chins on the ground. They said lovely things about how talented she is, and what a beautiful thing she had created. To see my friend get props from so many people, when her intention was truly just to provide a lovely little oasis in the middle of that huge ballroom for ten friends, gah, it made me cry. I was so proud of her. I could see her modestly basking in the attention (don’t be fooled by us crafty people when we act like it was “nothing”: we really do like when you verbalize your appreciation of our creations), and I just loved watching her. When people told her over and over again that they hoped the real Martha would take notice, Jen repeated that all she really wanted to do was make a nice table for her friends who had expressed to her that they wanted to sit with her at lunch. Deep down I wished with all my might (and I bet I wasn’t the only one, either) that the real Martha would, somehow, notice Jen’s efforts and say something, or get word to her. SOMETHING.

After taking a quick break to try out Martha’s chair,

Jen, pre-warming Martha's seat

Jen finished up the table among “oohs” and “aahs”. It was spectacular. And it was the only decorated table in the room. (She had been worried there would be others)

You can't see it here, but the flowers on her shirt match the flowers she made for the cupcake boxes.

Dreamy, right??

Cupcakes. She thought of everything.

In the end–and even after lots of people tweeted to the real Martha Stewart that the Next Martha would be there and how great would it be if she could say hi–Jen didn’t get any props from the real Martha. It’s nothing to get upset about: it just wasn’t meant to be.

Besides, even though I’m sure Jen would have gladly had a short conversation about tissue paper flowers, ribbon napkin rings, and handcrafted boxes with the real Martha Stewart, it seemed to me that being surrounded by friends who love her and truly appreciate her huge heart meant just as much to her, and probably more.

I’d spend time with The Next Martha over the Real Martha ANY DAY OF THE WEEK.

xoxo Jen! Mwah!

Martha Stewart Keynote: It's a Good Thing.