Martha Stewart has been a part of American life since I can remember. She has been the quintessential businesswoman, seemingly good at everything she put her hand to; she has also been the poster child for the shady side of business, with her four-month prison term for insider trading. However, through it all, she has always been with us, in all of her endeavors, telling us very precisely, just how to do exactly everything! And so it is with her 2017 book, The Martha Manual.
The subtitle proclaims, “How to do (ALMOST) everything.” In this household guide, Martha instructs us on everything from knitting and the perfect form for yoga to fixing four types of faucets and composting. The book is divided into a dozen main sections. Each section has a short title, like “Launder”, “Fix and Maintain”, “Celebrate”, or “Enjoy”. Each topic within a section usually contains a precise two-page explanation of a common household or garden task.
She includes a number of projects, like setting up a household command center. Each project includes the needed supplies, and pictures to show the more complicated steps, like in the sewing and knitting sections. Another project teaches you how to properly cook and carve your Thanksgiving turkey. Templates in the back of the book can be used duplicate patterns for card-making, sewing and embroidery.
Many of the sections include easy-to-read charts. In “How to grow a vegetable garden” she includes a chart showing 16 common garden fruits and vegetables, their preferred temperature range, when to harvest, and tips on planting, managing, and harvesting your garden. Other charts help you determine the amount of fabric and the steps to re-upholster a chair, stop unwanted pet behavior, or choose a live Christmas tree.
Several sections contain “Martha Musts”, which are tips on ideas or products to make life easier. These include things like hand-drying clothing or using a revolving turntable to frost a round cake.
The book is filled with pictures of lovely rooms, beautiful gardens and yards, and tempting food. Drawings show things such as hand placement for knitting or the proper dimensions for a croquet court or how to tie the knot for a tire swing.
One section, Enjoy, seemed slightly out of place or mistitled. It included packing for a picnic, hanging a hammock, yoga, and other pleasurable lawn activities. I felt a little like I was being told what or how to enjoy.
So, if you are one of the people who like seeing how to do things around your home, or you enjoy being told how to do (ALMOST) everything, then The Martha Manual may be the book for you. Just mind that you don’t neglect the back of that Christmas tree in your living room window!
Review by Leann S.