Days 4-5 of Martha’s Month

Monday, April 4th

Clean out gutters

Step 1: Try to remember what shape my gutters are even in

Step 2: Briefly consider getting on top of my front porch roof and using a broom or something.

Step 3: Realize that that sound outside is intense wind.

Step 4: Ask around for gutter cleaner reference.

Clean out gutters: check!

Weight training

Listen, I do Pilates on Wednesdays. WEDNESDAYS, Martha.

Tuesday, April 5th

Bring fresh eggs into the office

I actually know this is a thing that Martha does every year, thanks to being a Martha Stewart Living subscriber since I was embarrassingly young. No one needs to spend their 20s making cakes. Live it up, 25-year-olds, you can worry about your place later.

I do not have chickens from which to yank eggs, so I brought the next best thing: my mouse-killing skills. I have now killed three mice with traps, and a rodent-free office is something that puts a mere egg-giver to shame.


In an effort to save money this month, I have opted to do Pocket Yoga.

Guys! Pocket Yoga is an app that’s totally good, even if the voice does say things like “Exheeyale” and even if it does end up going super fast. Also, I miss the idea that my yoga instructor maybe cares about me a little bit, even though that’s probably a fantasy. Although, last time I went to an actual yoga class, my favorite yoga instructor gave me a smooth stone that I still keep in my jacket pocket and mess with when I need calming.

Anyway, Pocket Yoga is worth your $3. I enjoy it very much, and it’s much more advanced than I assumed it would be.

Things I did today that maybe Martha didn’t:

  1. Activated water kefir grains
  2. Refilled my castille soap
  3. Covered seedlings because of very low temperatures



Days 1-3 of Martha’s Month

Friday, April 1st

Cardio and core

I’m on a perpetual mission to walk everywhere, so I turned Martha’s cardio into “make extra walking efforts today.”

So here I am walking:


And here I am planking:



Cardio: check. Core: check. April Fool’s Day: this entire thing is a foolish endeavor, so check.

Saturday, April 2nd

Remove burlap from boxwood hedges

It rained so much on Saturday! And I have something resembling a boxwood hedge at the front of my house—I don’t burlap it because a) it does just fine over the winter and b) I’m a regular person. Right now, the bees are loving its tiny flowers.

But anyway, I thought “OK, well it could use a trim, so I shall cut it instead, using these…oh I must have returned the hedge clippers I borrowed or maybe they broke, who can remember?”

So instead, I just…took a picture of my hedge. Check.


Aerate, fertilize, and repair lawns

My lawn(s) is/are a 30 square-foot patch of clover and moss. It probably needs “repairing” more than just “me spreading some clover seed on it because clover attracts bees and requires less mowing.” But it was raining, and aerating would have been a bad idea. My aeration plan was to stick my new pitchfork in the balder patches and then throw some more seed, but maybe next weekend.

Sunday, April 3rd

Add a layer of compost to flower beds

I sort of already did this in that I added a layer of compost to my vegetable containers for soil prep purposes. I should probably do it to the flower beds too, but they kind of don’t exist yet and the ground is all wet.

Man, it sure is easy to not do Martha things!

Horseback ride

Now THIS I can do. Sort of. I don’t have horses (see above about being a regular person), but I do have a dude who likes to go on long drives with me in his car, which probably has “horsepower” involved in it in some way. We got in, headed eastwards, ended up in Colonial Williamsburg, as one does, got some cookies at Raleigh Tavern Bakery, and pointed out that Williamsburg has a lot of horses and people riding upon them. Also we had to dodge horse manure several times on our walk down Duke of Gloucester.



We also tried really hard to find the defunct mini-city within Elko Tract and the new site of the Presidents Park Heads but came up largely unsuccessful. If Martha had had those on her calendar, life might be more interesting.


Martha and Susan’s BFF Month!

You know how Martha’s got that wildly intimidating calendar at the beginning of each issue?

Sometimes it enrages us and sometimes it delights us, but this month, it’s going to DICTATE ALL OF MY ACTIONS.

Well, as best I can anyway. I was cruising the calendar, making my scoffs and expostulations heard throughout my neighborhood. And then I was like “What if I just did all this stuff, or get as close to it as I can.”


Would I feel like I was living like Martha? Would I know how frustrating it is to have to worry about your cold frames, your cold creams, and your cold sauces all the time? Or would it feel like a life of put-together near-tyranny?


Today, April 1st, simply says “APRIL FOOL’S DAY” and then “Cardio and core.” I figure I’ll get all my steps in, do some planks, and report back tomorrow, when I have to get a lot more creative with “Remove burlap from boxwood hedges.”


Happy Easter, you may as well speckle some eggs

Our mother has always been into Easter. Easter and Valentine’s Day. Don’t ask us why—mostly because we can’t answer due to the fact that she bakes things a lot for these holidays and our mouths are full.


Usually, this requires zero effort from us, which is exactly how we like it. But then I saw Martha’s March cover and thought—probably between bites of my mother’s Valentine’s Day heart cookies—”Oh, look at those nice speckled eggs, I bet they are wicked hard to make.” And when I saw how STUPIDLY SIMPLE these eggs were, I felt sort of self-shamed into doing them.

Plus, dude, when you have a small child, any holiday is a lot more exciting than it was before that small child existed.


So we speckled these dang eggs. And you can too, in like four seconds. Here is what you need:

  • Some cups (bowls would work too, and disposable is probably what you want)
  • Some food coloring (liquid, not gel)
  • Some hard-boiled eggs (dyed, undyed, brown, white, a combo of all, whatever)
  • Some dried stuff from your pantry, particularly dried beans, and dried lentils or split peas
  • Some newspaper, but this isn’t particularly very messy
  • Children who are semi-interested

Throw some of the dried things in cups.


Add food coloring (15 drops seemed to do it for us). Stir around to coat dried things.

Position egg on top of those now-less-dry-things and move cup really fast in a swirling motion until the egg is covered in speckles.

Remove carefully, although a few smudges won’t matter. Then frigging admire your amazing Easter eggs!



They are so pretty, and I am going to do this every single year.

Here are some kids not even screwing it up! Great job, kids!


It was way easier than traditional dyeing, and if, say, your overly Easter-excited mother steals your thunder and dyes eggs with your child the day before, this’ll be something you can do that is slightly different. Something you can do TO the dyed eggs even. With bitterness and resentment. JUST KIDDING MOM SORT OF.

Then have an egg hunt and eat them for lunch. Or, that’s what we did, anyway.

Happy Easter!




Pie Now, Pie Forever

We’ve got a nice backlog of holiday projects to share with you. Some turned out. Some didn’t. Some are SFW. Some aren’t. The holidays are weird.



For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to make this Mini Cranberry Meringue Pie recipe. Or, at least since 2006, when the recipe was originally published. Finally, I got my act together in 2014 and turned out these adorable packets of delight for Thanksgiving dessert.


Ceramic pie weights came in very handy.

The process was actually fairly simple, for someone who is not super new to baking, anyway. The crust was nice (although I rolled out my last roll-out of it too thin, and those were a little overdone when they baked), the cranberry part was easy enough, and the broiler browned up the meringue with no problem. I did screw up the meringue by over-whipping it at first—distracted, no doubt, by whatever episode of Serial I was listening to. But it was easy enough to make more. The teeny tiny results were gorgeous and tart and my life’s pride.

Delicious cranberry filling!

Delicious cranberry filling!

A few days prior to Thanksgiving, my brother frantically emailed to make sure there would also be pumpkin pie. I said, “If you insist…”

Two pie dough recipes, having an awkward frenemy moment in the fridge.

Two pie dough recipes, having an awkward frenemy moment in the fridge.

His response was: “Insist.”

Well HAPPY THANKSGIVING, siblings. I made your dang pies. So many! For a pumpkin pie, I referred to Cook’s Illustrated, my secret, actual love, as they are foolproof and impossible to make fun of. I highly recommend subscribing to their website–it’s pricey but a frigging trove of useful cooking shiz. The pumpkin pie was fairly standard, except it involved candied yams in addition to pumpkin, and it all had to be cooked on the stovetop first. Oh, and of course the crust involved vodka–my favorite pie crust recipe ever.

What a beautiful pic of a perfect pie!

What a beautiful pic of a perfect pie!

JK the other side looked like  a mud puddle.

JK the other side looked like a mud puddle.

It ended up being fine, because the teeny tininess of the mini-pies needed some supplementation. And a big orangey-brown slice of pumpkin next to the maaaaybe overly cute cranberry pielet looked pretty rad.

Christmas came and went, with an enormous baking fail followed by a questionable baking success (more on that later). I received from my sister-in-law:


Rose Levy Beranbaum is I think contractually unable to publish a recipe that won’t work perfectly. And her contract is with her creator, maybe. I dunno, either way, she is reassuring and great and sometimes comments on Amazon reviews of her own books, giving tips and stuff. I have been using The Bread Bible and The Cake Bible for years. It’s accurate to say that they are the only Bibles I care about. UNTIL NOW.

Oh, Rose!

Oh, Rose!

A couple of weeks later, my friend Lauren mentioned that she could probably handle an apple pie for her birthday, so I turned to that, the newest of my Rose Levy Berenbaum tomes. And the All-American Apple Pie was born from the very womb of my oven.

Ugh, sorry, that is disgusting. I baked this pie, is what I’m trying to say.

Oh, Rose! : Part II

Oh, Rose! : Part II

It took me a lot longer than the average “cut up apples, mix with sugar, stick in pie shell” variety, but the results were an A+. I want to use cream cheese and sherry vinegar in all my crusts! Even sandwich crusts! Sorry, kid! That taste that’s screwing up your mouth right now is called “sour.”

So 2015 is the year of pies, I think. I’ve been on an ice cream kick for the past few years, but maybe it’s time to move along. After I finish making Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream recipes for every single person I know.

Applesauce is back in my life

I’ll cop to the second item on Susan’s list of excuses reasons for our silence: “New Baby.” That’s right. James and I made a cute little human, and thus, applesauce has returned to my life.


Cute Little Human/Excuse to Not Post in Over a Year

Even after years of not eating the stuff, I still can’t tolerate store-bought applesauce, because our mom always made it from scratch (and still does). Georgia would probably not know the difference (not YET anyway), but I enjoy hanging with her in the kitchen, she in her high chair banging wooden spoons on the tray and terrorizing the cats, and me in my apron, making ridiculous faces at her while coring four pounds of Galas.

Bonus benefits: it makes the house smell wonderful, and gives James hope that, after all these years, I am finally into cooking.

I have now made 5 or 6 batches of applesauce, all with different types of apples. Here is what I’ve learned:

  • Jonagold apples produce the sweetest applesauce in the land.
  • Pink Ladies aren’t bad either.
  • Peeling apples sucks, so don’t do it (more on that later).
  • Gala apples make boring applesauce.
  • A food mill is something you should invest in.
  • Adding sugar to this naturally sweet goodness is just overkill.

Essentially, after some experimentation, I’ve taken Martha’s Classic Applesauce and combined it with my mother’s recipe to produce something we’ll call “My Mother’s Applesauce with a Hint of Lemon.”

You’ll Need:

  • 3 pounds of apples (Jonagold, Pink Lady, McIntosh, Braeburn are good. No green ones, please, unless you’re into that kind of thing.)
  • A giant pot like a dutch oven
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Lemon
  • Cinnamon
  • Food mill or wire sieve

You’ll Do:

  • Core and chop apples into one inch chunks, LEAVING THE SKINS ON.
  • Throw chunks into dutch oven with water over medium heat. Make sure no seeds make it into the pot.
  • Squeeze in some lemon. Watch out for those seeds, too.
  • Simmer uncovered. When water boils, lower heat and let cook down, uncovered, until apples are soft and falling apart (about 45 minutes).
  • Stir occasionally. Play with baby.
  • Once apples are soft and falling apart, turn off heat and whip out the food mill. Place that thing over a bowl using the finest setting, and spoon in the apple chunks. This is how you remove the skins from the apples. 
  • This part is a little tedious, but you’ll get the hang of it. The payoff is the most beautiful, crimson colored applesauce that tastes and looks way better AND you don’t have to peel the apples.
  • Add cinnamon to taste.

These photos are of a batch made with Galas, and it didn’t turn out as perfectly pink and sweet as I wanted it to. Don’t use Galas!


IMG_1056IMG_1053IMG_1058 IMG_1060

It’s all happening!

OK OK, it’s been an unacceptable amount of time since we’ve posted. But hear me out! 2013-2014 were crazy years for both of us, including some but not all of the following:

– Divorce
– New baby
– Commercial space travel
– A mild but annoying case of the hiccups
– New job
– Collapse of a personal enterprise
Orange is the New Black
– An intense freelance project
– A regrettable lapse in subscription to Martha Stewart Living (for ONE of us, anyway)
– A regrettable lapse in interest in cooking, crafting, being cheerful, mocking a well-known celebrity, or anything at all, except watching our kids grow and drinking a lot of wine after they go to bed

But now, life has settled down. and we’re ready to get really mediocre about being domestic again, beginning with the certifiably insane October 2014 issue of everyone’s favorite magazine.

Halloween, as everyone’s supposed to know, is Martha’s favorite holiday. Each year, she attempts to motivate the rest of us to do ourselves up in fantastical costumes. Or, if we have things to do that take up our precious costume-making time, we can just use whatever we have around us. We won’t look nearly as cool, but you don’t get Martha points for showing up costume-less.

My son, Archie, will be a little builder, and I, Susan, will be Woman Who Travels With This Little Builder, Furtively Taking Candy Out Of His Bag. I like costumes that involve throwing things together from already existing objects in your house. Full disclosure: I did buy Archie a tool belt about a month ago with the intent to use it for this costume, but it’s become one of his favorite toys. That’s exciting, as it is not a truck. Anyway, it now counts as one of the things I have thrown together with the rest of his outfit to turn him into a bonafide miniature construction worker. Joke’s on him when I give him a list of things I need done around the house.

The October issue isn’t all about fake spiders and spray-painting pumpkins in lacy patterns. Gosh, no. It also involves Kevin Sharkey as a masked phantom and a big feature on homemade applesauce, which is one of my favorite things. (I scoff at the idea that Martha thinks she can top my mother, though.)

It also just barely includes some recipes! Such as this one for Spanish Rice with Ground Beef and Eggs!



Eggs on top of dinner

I’ve got a real thing for eggs on top of dinner. I don’t know what it is. The idea should be so gross, but it’s incredibly delicious, especially when the yolk runs into everything else. Guys! I don’t know!? Humans have weird tastes!

Of course, I substituted brown rice for white and veggie crumbles for the beef, but the results were great, easy, and lasted me through several days of meals.

If you do plan to eat this meal as leftovers, just only do the egg step for the amount you’re going to eat tonight, save the rest of the rice mixture in the fridge. Then, heat up the rice by itself, or throw it into the oven with an egg on top. Bing, bang, boom!

To substitute brown rice, parboil the rice for 12 minutes beforehand. Then, use as directed! Much better for you and tastier too, if you ask me. Which you did, by virtue of reading this far.

We’re back, Martha! I mean, I guess you’ve always been back, but here I am, back also!

Birds of a…

[Editor’s Note: I drafted this three weeks ago but forgot to publish, because FALL IS CRAZY AND NO ONE CAN ENJOY IT PROPERLY.]

In November, Kevin Sharkey recommended stuffing some stray feathers and nuts into a bell jar to decorate for Thanksgiving, like so…

Feather Centerpiece

Cut to my dining room sideboard, which sported a VERY SIMILAR feather ‘n glass thing long before Sharkey’s piece.

My Feather Centerpiece

Bell jar. Wine carafe. Whatever. The thing is too heavy for me to lift, so it gets feathers (apologies to Mike and Ritsuko. It’s still a great gift!)

Point is, Sharkey and I – in addition to using the same skin care products – are basically related.

Gluten is bad; Brownies are good.

Last night, Someone Who Will Remain Nameless (whose name rhymes with Romenick) hollered, “Gluten is the Devil!” as I reached for a mini biscuit at a fancy event that rhymes with Mystery Makers, to which I replied, “I just made gluten free brownies this weekend, so back off bub and pass the cheese balls!”   And those brownies were damn good. Possibly because they contain loads of sugar and cornstarch, but not ONE IOTA of gluten. No sir.

Romenick meant well. He really did. I forgive him. Make these today and get in on this gluten hate-fest.

Gluten-Free Fudgy Pecan Brownies


  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for pan
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch (spooned and leveled)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup chopped toasted pecans


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter an 8-inch square baking pan and line with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides. Whisk together cornstarch, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt. In a large microwave-safe bowl, microwave butter and chocolate in 30-second increments, stirring each time, until melted and smooth, about 2 minutes. Stir in sugar and vanilla. Stir in eggs, one at a time, until combined. Add cornstarch mixture and stir vigorously until mixture is smooth and begins to pull away from side of bowl, about 2 minutes. Stir in pecans.
  2. Pour batter into pan and smooth top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 35 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Using paper overhang, lift cake out of pan and cut into 16 squares.