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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.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Natalie August 8, 2012, 8:46 pm

    AMAZING!!! Wow, that is so cool and those gals are uber lucky!!

  • TheNextMartha August 8, 2012, 8:47 pm

    TEARS. I love you. You know that.

    • Melisa August 9, 2012, 8:06 am

      I love you MORE.

  • Lady Estrogen August 8, 2012, 8:55 pm

    She went so far above and beyond.. and it was beeea-utiful! Muah!

  • Lisa Rae @ smacksy August 8, 2012, 8:58 pm

    I saw that table. It was divine. Brava.

  • Jenn @ Mommy Needs Coffee August 8, 2012, 8:59 pm

    Jen? She is amazing! I just felt honored to be able to sit AT THE NEXT the table. The vibe from there was felt over at our table, too. As a total craft challenged doofus, I am blown away by her skill. As a “not subtle Jen(n), I LOVE her outgoing nature. She is beautiful. Inside & out.

    Martha Stewart is great. The Next Martha is fan-freaking-tastic!!

  • kim/reluctant renovator August 8, 2012, 8:59 pm

    I saw when you tweeted this. Mad props all around! I will say this about the real Martha. Years ago I was watching a Martha show cooking video with my son and he asked my why the lady on TV was so angry.

    I’d pick Jen over Martha any day.

    (Also, quirky fact: I was high school friends with the prosecutor who ultimately sent her packing.)

  • Katie August 8, 2012, 9:05 pm

    I am SO excited you posted this! I was “in” on some of the stuff to beforehand, but since I wasn’t going to be there, I knew I wouldn’t see it if someone didn’t post/tweet/SOMETHING about it.

    Jen is one of the loveliest, most wonderful people I have ever met in my entire life.

    She is it. The real thing.

    Martha who?

  • Grandma W August 8, 2012, 9:05 pm

    She did an outstanding job. I bet everyone was jealous they didn’t have a table like yours.

    Grandma W

  • Ann August 8, 2012, 9:13 pm

    I love this–and both of you so much.

    This is extraordinary work Jen, and you Melisa are one extraordinary friend.

  • Yuliya August 8, 2012, 9:33 pm

    So beautiful!

  • Patty August 8, 2012, 9:40 pm

    Jen is amazingly talented and she did a wonderful job. That is the most beautifully decorated table I have ever seen.

  • Sherri August 8, 2012, 9:40 pm

    Jen is nothing short of amazing…I would sell my glue gun to sit at her awesomely-decorated table.

  • tracy@sellabitmum August 8, 2012, 9:43 pm

    Oh this is so beautiful. All of it.

  • Leigh Ann August 8, 2012, 9:51 pm

    I love it! So beautiful. And I love her attitude about doing it for her friends.

  • Wendy @ mama one to three August 8, 2012, 9:52 pm

    The next Martha? She’s the BEST Martha! That is spirit and humor and love — the real deal. What a good friend you are to give her this gift too. *Heart swelling*

  • Casey August 8, 2012, 9:54 pm

    So awesome! I love it. So much. I think Jen and her glue gun are going to have a lot of table invite requests next year!

  • By Word of Mouth Musings August 8, 2012, 9:55 pm

    I sat next to this beautiful display, by this gorgeous blogger and I have lovely pics to prove it
    Totally rocked it xxxx

  • tracey August 8, 2012, 10:22 pm

    It looks beautiful, Jen! How sweet of you!!

  • Suebob August 8, 2012, 11:02 pm

    Her table is gorgeous!

  • Flawless Mom August 9, 2012, 12:02 am

    That is just lovely. Lovely!!!! Everything about all of it. (Getting less sad about missing it, and starting to be able to read about it!)

  • Corine August 9, 2012, 7:14 am

    Jen is awesome.
    The real Martha is missing out, not taking time to chat. I mean how does one over look that incredible table??? Amazing! And so sweet to do that for friends šŸ™‚

  • Karen (@mom-mom-mom) August 9, 2012, 7:28 am

    Cheers to the power of girlfriends and glue guns!

  • Jackie August 9, 2012, 7:57 am

    Now that’s dedication…bringing the glue gun to BlogHer! There truly is nothing greater than a good friend who ‘gets’ it, (whatever it is!).

  • thedoseofreality August 9, 2012, 7:58 am

    This is one of the most beautiful posts I have ever read. Such an incredible display of friendship and love, plus that table, THAT TABLE!! I am in awe. Just between you and me, I think it is kind of lame that Martha Stewart didn’t attempt to acknowledge that amazingness. I guess hard time changes people! šŸ˜‰
    Seriously, though, I love this post. šŸ™‚

  • Lisa @ Oh Boy Oh Boy Oh Boy August 9, 2012, 8:42 am

    so sorry I missed this. All I can say is…I can’t wait to see what Jen can do in her hometown next year….. šŸ™‚

  • Colleen August 9, 2012, 9:20 am

    Totally awesome. And, um, the table’s not bad either. šŸ˜‰

  • MommaKiss August 9, 2012, 9:38 am

    This? This is incredibly stoopidly fabulous. That’s the best kinda compliment I promise!

    What a lovely host, Jen šŸ˜‰

  • Stacey August 9, 2012, 10:00 am

    Iā€™d spend time with The Next Martha over the Real Martha ANY DAY OF THE WEEK too!

  • mj August 9, 2012, 10:38 am

    So cool! I think I’m changing my username to The Next Jen!

  • Denise August 9, 2012, 11:09 am

    So glad you wrote about this. I was so impressed when Jen tweeted a photo. You could tell she worked really hard. She deserves some props.

  • Alexandra August 12, 2012, 1:29 pm

    It was an eye watering sight in real life: and a clear veiw, not just a glimpse, into what Jen is really like.

    She’d do anything for a friend.

    Beautiful, Jen.

    And a beautiful post, Melissa. Thanks for acknowledging The Next Martha, and appreciating all the effort and love she put into her table for her friends.

  • Krista August 13, 2012, 10:29 am

    Beautiful! I heard and saw from the back of the room about Jen’s table but never saw it up close. Great job, Jen!

    Thanks for capturing this, Melisa!