Archive for June, 2012

Martha Stewart, The Prelude

June 18th, 2012 | Rachel

While I was living in New York, I twice had the privilege of sitting in the studio audience for the taping of The Martha Stewart Show.  The inaugural visit was thanks to my friend Harmony, who was one of the few people I knew who actually took advantage of the many cool (and free!) talk shows filmed in the city.  Although I did sit on the front row for a filming of the Colbert Report and got to give Stephen Colbert a high five (twice!), I regret never witnessing a filming of The Daily Show or Saturday Night Live.

The special guest that first visit to The Martha Stewart Show was, disappointingly, Rachael Ray.  There was a time in my life when I watched more than a few episodes of 30 Minute Meals, but after Rachael Ray ran out of ideas and started recycling her old recipes with added cheese, cut-up hot dogs and/or cans of chili, I lost interest.  Rachael Ray’s appearance on The Martha Stewart Show felt a little forced and not once did she look up and acknowledge the audience cheering for her (the announcer, after her segment: “Alright everyone, give it up for Rachael Ray! …there she goes!  …Rachael R–and she’s gone” as she made a beeline for the door).

Martha Stewart, on the other hand, was very gracious both times I attended.  She welcomed everyone herself and then stayed afterward to answer questions from the audience.  At one point, the producers pulled her away to film some blurbs, and she turned back to the audience and said, “I would prefer to stay out here and keep talking to you all about your gardening questions, but my producers need me to record some [whatever the official word was].  Thank you for coming.”

Maybe it was just a well-executed act, but it felt sincere to me.

That’s Harmony on the lower right corner, with me beside her

As a result of that first visit, I was added to the email list, and a few months later I received an email looking for audience members for a future episode.  As a part of the ticket request, you have to write about the person you would like to take with you.  This is how I ended up going with Harmony the first time (thank you Harmony!).  For my special guest, I wrote about another lawyer-turned-baker friend of mine.  It was accepted, and Melissa and I got on the list.

For my second experience at The Martha Stewart Show, I was determined to sit as closer or closer than I did when I was with Harmony.  The key is to wear solid bright colors, which they love for the cameras, and to arrive early.

I agonized over how early to arrive.  The email said to arrive by 12:30pm for the 2pm show.  I didn’t want to take any chances, so I arrived at 9am.  Even then I was worried I was going to be beat by hoards of Martha Stewart devotees.  When I arrived outside the studio, I had to triple-check that I was in the right location because there wasn’t a soul in sight. In fact, I awkwardly waited outside the studio by myself for over two hours before the next person showed up.

The awkwardness paid off, and Melissa and I were the first ones in the door!

First ticket of the day!

We were seated front and center, five feet from Martha Stewart.

Martha Stewart answering audience questions after the filming of her show

The special guest that day was Tori Spelling, who was very cute despite her six-inch heels and looking extremely nervous when the cameras weren’t rolling.  As one of our audience gifts, we received Tori Spelling’s ridiculous children’s book about a little girl who was so rich she couldn’t get along with any of her not-rich classmates and was ultimately saved by an also-rich little boy.

At the end of the show, as expected, the time came for Martha to answer some audience questions.  My hand was in the air as soon as she had the microphone in her hand.  Martha (!!!) asked for my question.  Since the episode that day was all about apples, I asked her why the caramel on my caramel apples always sank to the bottom and how could I get it to coat evenly.  Martha (!!!) said it all depended on my caramel recipe and asked which one I was using.  I shamefully admitted that I had only made caramel apples with store-bought caramel candies.  Martha clucked her tongue and shook her finger.  “You can’t cheat,” she said, and recommended trying the recipe in her food magazine that month.

So, now you all know.  I’ve been called out by Martha Stewart herself for cutting corners on my caramel apples.

I have been trying to determine exactly when my appreciation for Martha Stewart began.  The customer service person at Martha Stewart Living says my oldest order dates back to 2007, but I have a faint memory of moving a box of MSL magazines out of my last college apartment, which would have been at least 2004 or 2005.  I’ve kept every issue, so as soon as I track down that first box, this mystery can be solved.

My appreciation for Martha Stewart extends much broader than just her as a person.  I respect and admire her for creating the modern domestic entertaining market.  I am in awe of the empire she has built on her very consistent philosophy that homemaking is beautiful and worthwhile.  While researching Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc., I came across this statement:

We are leaders, not followers. We are teachers, not preachers. We innovate and invent, we don’t copy or repeat. We strive to surprise, delight and inspire.

I’ll save my full Ode To Martha for another entry, so I’ll conclude by saying I find a lot of inspiration for my own entrepreneurial pursuits in those of Martha Stewart.  Before she became the Ultimate Domestic Goddess, she was a model, a real estate agent, a stock broker, and caterer.  It makes me feel pretty good about already being on my second career.  It also makes me very excited about the possibilities to come.

An Update For The Sake Of Updates

June 13th, 2012 | Rachel

I hate the idea of going more than two weeks without posting, but the truth of the matter is my June and July are looking to be a little lackluster… and rightfully so, because I am taking the California bar exam July 24-26 and should be using the next month and a half to study.  As many of you already know, I have already taken and passed the New York bar exam, so this experience isn’t as daunting as it was the first time around.  Preparing for this exam involves learning a lot of information about 17 specific areas of law, and it is not very exciting… so that is all I am going to say about that.

Much easier with a cappuccino

In other news, I’m officially a Californian resident with a Californian license plate and driver’s license!  Having the West Virginia plate (a remnant from when it belonged to my dad) made for an easy conversation starter (“Did you really drive that van all the way from West Virgina??”), but I’m pretty sure the other drivers on the road assumed I was a bumpkin who couldn’t drive.

Officially a California girl

Also newsworthy is Steve’s new apartment in Las Vegas.  He bought it as an investment, but we get to have a sweet party pad for the rest of the year.

We started off one particularly great night at Spiegelworld‘s Absinthe, which was highly entertaining and almost as mesmerizing as the past Spiegelword shows I saw when the tent came to South Street Seaport in New York City.  Absinthe has the human feats of Cirque du Soleil mixed with the sensuality of burlesque, all on an circular stage surrounded a pretty intimate audience (the Las Vegas tent is bigger than the tent used in New York and Miami).  Leading the show are two very funny but very lewd hosts, so if you are easily offended this show is not for you.

Waiting in line to pick up our tickets for Absinthe

Even in Las Vegas people would rather be in France.

Upon the recommendation of our concierge, we went to the Tuesday industry night at Chateau Nightclub (Paris), which is on the roof of the casino under the Eiffel Tower.  Brilliantly fun night.

A nightclub with cotton candy?  Yes, please.

I am looking forward to many more fun nights in that city this year.

While I am on the subject of the pseudo-French, I tried out some macarons at Kelly’s French Bakery here in Santa Cruz.  Working at the Three Green Ducks took my bakery snobbery to almost impossible heights, and, so far, most bakeries in this area have been nothing short of disappointing.  [I’ll save my rant about Gayle’s Bakery in Capitola for another day.]  Kelly’s “French” Bakery is no exception, and in addition to bad service and bagels (why??), my first experience there involved a terrible cherry pie that was made too many days prior and was served straight out of the refrigerator (cold and gelatinous… awful).  Although Kelly’s has managed to make macarons that look right (which I admit is a difficult task), the taste and texture was abysmal, and it hurts my heart to think of all the people whose only experience with French macarons are from Kelly’s (and judging from the gushing reviews it gets, there are many).

Coffee break at Kelly’s French Bakery [sic] in Santa Cruz

The three good things I can say about this bakery are 1. the location is lovely, with a huge court yard and in close proximity to a number of wineries and other shops; 2. I love the font of the sign; and 3. the sandwiches, while overpriced and not very French, are pretty good.

I don’t want to end this post on a cranky, negative note, so check out the gorgeous flowers on Steve’s cactus in the backyard.  Gardening is one of my study breaks, and now that the afternoons are a consistent 72 degrees, the backyard is one of my favorite places to be.

Cactus flower

Well, back to studying.