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It’s No Skylands

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I got my new issue of Martha Stewart Living yesterday ( a substitute for Blueprint, which  sadly folded) and was fascinated by Martha’s column From My Home to Yours. Last month you might recall I was fascinated by her peony garden which is comprised of 770 plants. My peony garden has four. This month Martha talks about having houseguests. My next sentence might sound unrelated, but it’s not.  I love reading historical romances, especially Regencies.  In many of these books (and sometimes in newer ones, like Rosamund Pilchers, leading me to believe all England is like a book) the society people go to “house parties” which last at least a weekend if not a week, two, or even a month.  They go on picnics, which include full servant staffs with multi course meals served on china with silver. There is always ample room for everyone because apparently they all live in houses with 20 spare bedrooms. (And then of course there are sometimes shenanigans and misunderstandings and discretion about nighttime wanderings between rooms.) I always thought these parts of the story were most fascinating, but limited to the very wealthy at the turn of the century. Which brings us to Martha.  She tells us that she regularly as 6 to 10 guests per weekend at her Maine house, called Skylands.  She describes how she outfits each room and bath in a way that is way nicer than my own bedroom is. And the activities! So many activities for all her guests-tennis, boating, sitting around feeling rich with a cocktail, and who knows what else. Martha provides slippers for all her guests. And the food? She plans every menu but does not do her own shopping. For big house parties she has a cook.  I have to be honest and say it all really does sound sort of wonderful, but I just couldn’t get over Martha telling her readers about all this because how many of her readers will ever be able to do any of those things???? Perhaps I am a wee bit jealous.  Or maybe not. Because while I may not have four different houses in which to entertain, I do love my house. And springtime at our house means lots of time outside and feeling very grateful for the fields around us. And who cares that we have garden tools and toy littered about the driveway and yard?  Best of all, check out the view from our hammock:

It is in what we like to call “The Grotto.”  This is an area of our yard with tall trees. It has the sandbox in it and a giant picnic table that was here when we moved here and will likely never be moved.  Idyllic is the word that comes to mind when I think of

our little pond

with its big happy frog,

the big tree in our backyard that provides a beautiful timepiece to the seasons (I swear this year we’ll take a daily photo to show the colors changing),

and the grotto.


About Sarah

I'm a librarian living with my lovely family in a gorgeous spot of New Jersey, where we raise chickens and love the outdoors. I try to find enough time to indulge all my hobbies-cooking, photography, gardening, sewing, and I write about it all on my book blog & personal blog.

8 responses »

  1. Wait, you don’t have Martha-style house parties? Because I know we do at Maple Hoo.

    These pictures are all so lush and lovely! You know very well how much I love your yard — I mean, it made me want my own house with a yard! I’ve spent many a day jealously coveting your wonderful home, and I think you’ve done a nice job of showing here a taste of how it is in the beautiful Springtime!

  2. Thanks! I do love our house and feel incredibly lucky to live here. And when I lie down in the hammock and look up? Well, that’s just about the most peaceful thing in the world.

  3. I saw Martha’s issue talking about planting 15000-20000 daffodils PER year! Who can live like that? Not most of her readers. But I like your description of your peonies-4 is enough for me.

  4. Great post! I know excactly what you mean about the Martha Stewart stuff – however, I think it looks like a wonderful place you live! I especially like the picture with the big tree! And who knows – your home may just have more soul and love than the entertaining purpose-home of Martha Stewart. 🙂

  5. Thanks Astrid! I do believe our home is probably way warmer than Martha’s. We love our big tree so much-when we looked at this house to buy it it was one of the main things that stood out.

  6. your home may just have more soul and love than the entertaining purpose-home of Martha Stewart

    Amen to that, Astrid! That’s a great way to describe stately Sew Buttons Manor, too. Soul and Love. 😀

  7. Margaret Simpson

    Listen, we all know Martha Stewart is a an evil ever widening former model who grow up in a repressive household in Nutley, NJ under the iron hand of her domineering Polish father. She sold her soul to the devil to create her huge empire of domestic arts and impossible to replicate ideas unless you have several free days. Furthermore her ideas are not always original or hers alone. Her biggest sin as far as I am concerned is the idea that she puts forth that most everything is effortless and not the result of a staff of 100s plus an iron will and 4 hours of sleep a night, no kids underfoot or husband. In other words Martha lives in an alternative universe, its quite beautiful and there are many good suggestions that you might want to try but don’t waste a minute of your time feeling any envy for her lifestyle or her ridiculous over the top plantings at any of her fabulous homes. Remember that those house parties we read about in MS Living, or in novels, or on Masterpiece Theater are all supported by the hardworking “downstairs” crew. Lastly Martha is a convicted felon, but I do have to give her props for recreating herself after her stint in jail. She is indomitable thats for sure.

    Sarah you and Paul have created a lovely and loving home that is quite beautiful in so many ways. Your obvious joy in it and your life there is wonderful to see. I love the photo of the treetops in your “grotto”. Next Fall I will be over to help you “naturalize” with 6,000 daffodils that I saved from various Easter baskets that I wove myself out of native grasses that I had dryed and dyed with beet powder from beets I had grown from seeds in one of my 58 raised beds.

  8. I really have no envy for her,except maybe her purse. I wondered how much pleasure she really had in creating a menu for her houseguests, but having someone else shop for it and someone else cook it. Also, I bet her house parties are weird-she says she invited locals to get to know them better.


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