Martha Stewart recently sat down with Bravo’s Andy Cohen for an on-stage chat at New York’s 92nd Street Y. We sent Nancy Lazarus to glean lifestyle lessons from the indefatigable 71-year-old, whose latest book, Living the Good Long Life (Clarkson Potter), is “a practical guide to caring for yourself and others.”
Martha Stewart has been called a lifestyle mogul, domestic guru, and design maven. Whether making a stylish court appearance to testify in the contentious Macy’s-versus-JCPenney case or dishing about her recent foray into online dating, she creates intrigue wherever she goes.
She didn’t disappoint her devotees attending New York’s 92Y event last week. Andy Cohen, Bravo’s development and talent EVP, interviewed Stewart on assorted topics and fielded several audience queries. Below are selected “mottos” that Martha lives and works by. Since she’s so organized, we’ve outlined them as a numbered list (print, laminate, and save!). While the principles are straightforward, adopting them for one’s everyday life might be another matter entirely.
1. “Use your homes as your laboratories.” She brought back hanging nasturtiums from the Himalayas to reproduce in her greenhouse. Her favorite residence is Skylands, a 1925 Mission-style granite house in Maine.
2. For decorating, “edit and put together a home that reflects your own style.” Conversely, she warned not to “over-reach and copy others’ designs, or you may miss the point.”
3. When entertaining, “plan ahead and stay in your comfort zone.” Make place cards and menu cards with unique typefaces for guests to take home. Ask about food intolerances and serve familiar recipes. Her favorite is borscht made with beets from her garden.
4. Be conscious of the environment. For example, she uses white birch logs when making a fire, since they burn cleanly.
5. Embrace social media, which means updating Facebook pages, Instagram photos, Pinterest pins, and tweets. Not that anyone’s counting, but she has 2.8 million Twitter followers to Cohen’s 1.1 million.
6. Have multiple electronic devices, and be adept at using them. How does she define multiple? She has two Blackberries, one iPhone, two iPads, and a Sony tablet.
7. Women of all ages should lean in. “That’s always been my natural bent,” she noted, adding that she was raised to be “diligent, determined, and orderly.”
8. Ongoing learning and curiosity should be your cornerstones, and each day brings fresh opportunities. She just learned to apply theatrical makeup when posing for her magazine’s special Halloween issue.
9. Having a series of mentors is beneficial, and they don’t need to be the typical model. Guests on her TV show often serve in that role. After observing and practicing chef Nobu’s sushi-making skills, she eventually earned a coveted Nobu sushi jacket.
10. Take a new route between work and home every day to discover new neighborhood shops. Though you may need to explain the rationale to your frustrated driver.
11. On vacation, go somewhere you’ve never been, or try new sports. She only began horseback riding twelve years ago.
12. Have numerous household pets, since they’ll “make you happy and extend your life.” She named many of her dogs after famous classical composers.
13. Maintain an organized routine. In her case, that means a daily session with a personal trainer and checking that her blog and her dogs’ blog (The Daily Wag) are posted each day. She only spends five hours a night sleeping, and doesn’t watch Real Housewives, since “those people already live around me in the suburbs.”
Overall, Stewart advised, “It’s never too early to start thinking about a long, healthy life.” After all, “living to one’s advantage never goes out of style.”