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Roller Skating with Eleanor

I recently took part in a record-breaking attempt to be the longest line of roller skaters, and I dragged my family along. I wanted to skate with Eleanor! August is too young still, and so is Eleanor really. Details, details.

Eleanor, in Roller Skates

She already has a pair of adjustable Fisher-Price skates with wheels that lock, so when the guy at the skate rental counter recommended them, I balked. The real deal, I demanded! We were given the cutest pair of ancient skates — toddler size 8. E hated them (“too slippery!”). So we swapped them out for the plastic Fisher-Price skates that she knew and loved, locked the wheels, and took one (long) lap around the rink as E held on to the wall. We both loved it.

p.s. I think the world record attempt was successful too, but I haven’t heard any official word on that yet.

Meeting Martha

I met Martha Stewart last week.

Let’s back up for a minute, because that is something I’ve been wanting to say for a long time. Meeting Martha was on my Lovely Life List. I admire her business acumen, her signature look and brand, and I’m grateful to her for being a pioneer and paving the way for what I and many of my blogging peers are able to do today.

Martha was in Chicago to appear at a Home Depot event. I received a casual email from her PR team, asking if I was interested in meeting with Martha and doing a quick interview. I resisted the urge to pepper my reply with OMGs and excessive exclamation marks (!!!), and instead said “yes, thank you.”

Nicole Balch and Martha Stewart

There were five of us there to interview Martha, but her plane was delayed and that threw her schedule off. Instead of one-on-one time, we went in as a group for twenty minutes. She greeted us with a smile and a grand sweep of her arms as she surveyed the surroundings. “Welcome… to the Home Depot break room.” Martha answered questions about her favorite designers (Kevin Sharkey for home, Vince for fashion) and recounted her biggest entertaining emergency (“It’s hard to have a true emergency when you’re prepared”), and then I was able to ask my question.

I was already familiar with the upcoming American Made Awards honoring creative entrepreneurs, and I wanted to know if Martha ever imagined having a brand with such reach and scope that she could do something like this. Here’s our very brief interview.

Nicole: I have this funny job of being a professional blogger, and I feel like a lot of the opportunities that exist for me today are the result of what people like you have done in leading the way. I loved this quote from Pilar [Guzmán] in her editor’s letter this month.

“We believe we are at a defining cultural moment, when so many people are making a go of their creative passions and, in doing so, fueling a new American economy.”

I know you have the American Made event coming up in New York, but looking back, way back to when you were catering, did you ever imagine that you would have a brand that would touch on so many of these things?”

Martha: I don’t know if I imagined it, but I certainly hoped it. Because I really feel very strongly that there are so many talented people in this country, and we’ve always made a point of introducing them to our audience. Our magazines have always been filled with people who were great growers, great artisans, great party-givers – whatever they do, we like to tell people about them. And this event is really bringing to the fore the importance and the need for Americans to start promoting “American made” again. It makes me very sad to go to North Carolina and not see a cotton mill anywhere. A weaving mill, a sheet factory — they’re all gone. And they shouldn’t be gone. We should still be making sheets and bedding in America. We grew all the cotton, and now we’re outsourcing it.

I just did a big piece on Toyota for American Made. Now Toyota, you think “oh, it’s a Japanese car,” but they have one of the largest car factories in America making half a million cars a year in Kentucky. I went and visited the factory, and we made a whole car. They make thousands of cars every single day, and it’s start to finish. So we showed the whole process and these are going to be a series of short videos that will be on their website and our website. We have the ability to do that. To show people a lot of the processes that go into various products, and it changes their business. It changes a lot of people’s businesses when you really show them to your big audience. And we’ve had a very big audience for a long time.

Thank you, Martha (and team) for taking time out of your schedule to meet with an admiring blogger.

Coming Attractions

I’ve been bouncing around from project to project lately, not getting much farther than the initial “I want to do it” phase. I can make all kinds of excuses (two of them are upstairs sleeping right now), but that’s neither fun to write about (boohoo, I’m so busy) nor read. The remedy? A new list. Here’s what you can expect to see me working on in the near future.


Make Some Kitchen Curtains

Bathroom (Main Floor)

  • paint the exterior of the pedestal bathtub

  • paint the trim

  • paint the walls

  • replace the tub enclosure (hanging shower rod)

  • new shower curtain, towels, accessories

Dining Room

Living Room


  • organize the studio side (a big job)

  • repaint the playroom side

  • paint a mural on the far wall


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