Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Energy for Orphans

What can you get for $9,000? New kitchen cabinets, some expensive furniture, perhaps a few weeks in Europe?

For Michelle Anderson, founder of Energy 4 Orphans, and Sophie Herbert, Martha’s niece and a partner in Energy 4 Orphans, $9000 means a new children’s home for orphans in Chamrajanagar, Karnataka, South India for 35 girls, the organization’s current project.

“That will change these girls’ futures and the futures of their kids,” Michelle told me in a phone interview.

The current girls house at Deenabandhu is home to 14 girls (ages 4 to 13) and two house mothers. Though it is well cared-for, a new campus is essential in order for the organization to care for more girls.

After I saw Sophie on the Martha Stewart Show last week, and heard there was a Canadian connection to her fundraising efforts, I decided to learn more about Energy 4 Orphans and got in touch with Michelle.

Michelle, who lives in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, founded Energy 4 Orphans in 2006 and raises funds to help break the poverty cycle by giving orphans, particularly young girls, the opportunities to learn and develop in circumstances that foster self-empowerment.

A new orphanage for 35 girls in Karnataka, the current project being undertaken by E4O, can mean new opportunities for the girls and their future families. Often times in many poverty-stricken regions, orphans are forced into a cruel life on the streets, where they usually succumb to the conditions of abject poverty: lack of education, prostitution, violence and despair.

Many of the girls are serious students of Bharata Natyam dance.

Growing up, Michelle volunteered all over the world. It was in Africa, however, where she says she learned the most about giving back. Not just by witnessing first-hand how much need there is in Africa, but also realizing how simple giving back really is.

“What a lot of people don’t realize is that it’s so easy. It takes very little effort and very little money to help so many people,” she says.

Michelle, a lifelong activist, became disillusioned by the large, international aid organizations, which she says have policies that keep donors at a distance, and further fail to accurately report how the money raised is being spent.

She decided to start her own fundraising initiative and made sure that integration was a fundamental part of the process.

“I want to give people a firsthand perspective of what it feels like to help these communities. I want them to see for themselves and also to get the pleasure of helping someone. It’s sort of the principle of karmic yoga,” she says: the process of giving and healing so that one receives and heals in turn.

She began by using her own experiences as a yoga instructor to help raise funds to buy new beds for an orphanage in Nepal.

This was made possible primarily through a program that Anderson and her yoga teachers developed called Yoga in the Parks, a series of outdoor, by-donation community classes that raised $1,000 for the program in its inaugural year. In 2007, that amount doubled.

Also in 2007, Michelle was introduced to Sophie in India by a mutual friend and she became involved in the E4O project. Sophie built the organization’s website and currently heads up the New York City branch of E4O, raising money and awareness there through classes and fundraising events.
Beginning in October, a series of Monday evening community yoga classes led by Sophie and Maggie Converse in New York will accept donations of $10 for the Deenabandhu Trust Orphanage in Karnataka, South India.

Sophie Herbert in India last year.

Sophie will also be donating 25% of the sales of her photographs from an upcoming exhibit in Manhattan and has asked fellow yoga instructor David Hollander to donate 20% of the proceeds of his Bhakti Flow workshops at Exhale Spa, beginning in October.

Expanding fundraisers has been the key to fulfilling the Energy 4 Orphans mandate. Michelle explained that this past summer was a successful one for her:

“On Canada Day (July 1) we had a day of massage on the causeway here. People could come and get massages and were asked to donate what they could. We also started a silent auction with 75 items that were up for bid, with all proceeds going to Energy 4 Orphans. We have a massage therapist here, too, who volunteered to use the proceeds of one day of work for the program, so it’s been really, really great to see so many people getting involved.”

Sophie and Michelle spent some time sharing yoga at Deenabandhu in 2008. Many of the youngsters were quite adept!

Ulitimately, Michelle would like to see Energy 4 Orphans expand into cities across the globe and possibly linking with a larger organization, but she keeps an open mind about it all and takes it as it comes. Ideally, she says, working in Africa to help AIDS orphans would be the greatest challenge and reward.

“There are villages and villages in Africa made up of just children whose parents all died of AIDS. If we could expand yoga programs there and raise money for those villages, it would be amazing.”

As long as she is able to inspire people to make a difference and take hands-on approaches to solving these problems, she is pleased.

“I have a student, TJ, who is going to India in November to help start the construction of the new girls’ home. That’s what I like to see: people actually taking it upon themselves to make that kind of difference.”

If you are a yoga instructor who would like to devote time to raising money for the cause and start a new branch of Energy 4 Orphans in your town, please get involved. Anyone is welcome to donate time or money to the project, so please get in touch by visiting the links below:





Sign up for David Hollander's Bhakti Flow workshops at Exhale Spa in NYC:

Sunday, October 5th 2:45-4:45pm

Sunday, November 2nd 2:45-4:45pm

Sunday, December 7th 2:45-4:45pm


Friday, September 26, 2008

Martha Stewart Living continues to expand its international publications with the debut of Martha Stewart Weddings Philippines. Launched by Sumit Media, that country's largest media publishing company, the magazine will take the best of the American edition and custom tailor it with ideas and inspiration developed especially for the Filipina bride.

The premiere issue of Martha Stewart Weddings Philippines, published in English, features the best bridal ideas–from choosing a color scheme and theme for the wedding to selecting the wedding cake and bridal bouquet. This issue also helps brides look their best with a gallery of exquisite gowns and a feature on bridal hairstyles, as well as tips for the perfect wedding reception.

The debut issue is on newsstands now in the Philippines and sells for 295 pesos, approximately $6.30 US. The next issue is out in February. (Collectors' note: There is a copy up for grabs on eBay!)

Martha Stewart also recently announced the Polish edition of Martha Stewart Living magazine, which launched this summer, and reports that a German edition may also be in the works. The Polish edition is the second non-English publication launched by MSLO. The Japanese edition called simply Martha, which debuted in 2001, no longer publishes.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I can’t let September pass without wishing Alexis Stewart a Happyish Birthday. She turns 43 on the 27th.

I know many readers of this blog (and many Martha Stewart fans in general) have a hard time with Martha’s only daughter. But I actually think Alexis has been one of Martha’s greatest teachers, just as Martha has been for Alexis. They are opposites in so many ways, very similar in others, and the friction that exists between them is something only the universe, with its warped sense of humour, could ever dream up. Yin and Yang should be so lucky. As an article in New York magazine asked, “How did Martha Stewart end up with Howard Stern’s baby?”

An auburn-haired Martha holds little Alexis after a bath. (1965)

In the long, complicated history of mother/daughter relationships, theirs is typical of most: a love/hate balancing act that can often teeter on the verge of being vindictive and enraging. Past wrongs that nag the subconscious, recurring misunderstandings, longed-for affection from both sides - sometimes granted and sometimes withheld.

The difference in the Alexis & Martha saga is the enormity of the shadow cast by Martha’s achievements, an accumulation of influence so great that it affects popular culture, the American marketplace, commerce, journalism, the arts and beyond. Any person (even those with the strongest sense of individuality and strength) coming into the world under that kind of maternal umbrella would have a hard time finding individual ground, much less the drive to compete with it all. Talk about daunting.

And yet, Martha cannot and should not be blamed for her accolades and self-made successes. Similarly, Alexis cannot and should not be blamed for being born into her circumstances. She didn’t ask to be born. She didn’t ask for her mother’s fame and fortune. It was there, and Martha has been generous with it, even though it must have been hard for Alexis at times to find her own voice in the midst of such ambition.

The cake on the left doesn't look much like the pound cake Martha baked for Alexis one year, with no icing, decorated only with a single pillar candle.

I know Alexis feels that not many people like her. That may be true. Many people, it seems, do not. But the first time I saw Alexis on Larry King Live in 2004 defending her mom after the guilty verdict was delivered I felt something of a connection to her: her deadpan delivery, her unfiltered opinions, her sarcasm, her wit, and far more masked than anything else - her love.

I’m really not a fan of sex with women, but that night I kind of wanted her.

More than this, though, it is Alexis’s humanity that I think most endears her to me. Cut through all the studied attitude, the haughty, superior condescension and the icy-cold demeanor and you have a woman who loves puppies and yoga, who enjoys baking, who is a talented decorator, a loyal (but demanding) friend and someone who wants very much to be a mom. She combats persistent sadness with excellent form and doesn’t ever give up.

I have little doubt that if Alexis and I were closer in age (and residence, and circumstance) that she and I would be friends, if given the chance. I get Alexis. I was a lonesome child, too, awkward and ill at ease much of the time. I used to put ear plugs in my ears at childhood slumber parties and tell the other kids not to breathe so I could sleep. I used to leave my own birthday parties just to be alone and I've never been a phone person. I like minimalism and simplicity in the home, leaning toward the modern but classic lines that she, too, loves. In short, I've lived an Alexis-like existence in some respects and it's therefore very hard for me not to be sympathetic and admiring of her.

So, I hope you have a Happyish Birthday, Alexis. I’m in your corner. I wish you continued success. I haven't seen the new show yet, but I'm looking forward to the day I do.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Year of the Potato. That sounds rather dramatic, doesn't it? Well, in fact, it is. I learned only today that the United Nations has named 2008 the Year of the Potato in an effort to highlight the potato's benefits in reducing global poverty. I wanted to do a feature here on this blog because I think one of the main lessons I've learned from Martha has been the notion of agricultural sustainability and the promotion of a cooperative way of developing healthy crops, on a local level, to help feed a community, whether it is on a private farm or as part of a larger community.

I was encouraged and surprised to learn just how effective potatoes could potentially be in bringing struggling communities into stronger social positions. It is the potato's ability to grow just about everywhere that makes it a prime candidate for global crop initiatives.

Potatoes are among the most bountiful, healthful and easy-to-grow crops on the planet. From South America to the northern plains of Europe, and in many parts of Africa, the potato flourishes. They are easy to grow in small plots of land in urban centers, where most of the world’s poorest populations dwell, making them an essential crop for people who need to feed their families or to sell at market for income. In both instances, when implemented properly, the poverty cycle could weaken by encouraging agricultural sustainability, improving nutrition and developing cooperative community planning.

The UN would also like to help empower women (historically the primary source of agricultural labour in the world’s poorest nations) to take on leadership roles in marketing the potato. To learn much more about the UN initiative, please visit http://www.potato2008.org/.


-By 2020, global demand for potato crops will have increased by 200%.
-Potatoes are the fourth largest crop grown in the world
-Potatoes were first discovered 8000 years ago in Peru and were first grown as a crop by the Incas.
-In the 1500s, the potato was brought from South America to Europe by Spanish explorers, which led to the wide proliferation of the potato in crops around the world.
-China, India and Russia are the three largest producers of potatoes in the global market, followed by the United States and Canada.
-Potatoes are high in carbohydrates (energy) and rich in vitamin C, and can be easily stored for long periods of time.


The following is information about how to store potatoes from the Potato Growers of Alberta:
Store potatoes in a cool well-ventilated area away from light in cardboard boxes or burlap sacks. When storing new and small potatoes, keep them in a refrigerator at 4 to 6°C (40 to 43°F). Under these conditions, you can store them for 2 weeks or longer. If potatoes are over exposed to light they will develop a green tinge, this should be trimmed off the potato as it should not be eaten.

If potatoes are dropped more then 6 inches, they will bruise and turn into spoiled potatoes. Cool, dark storage is best since normal house temperatures can cause potatoes to deteriorate quickly. Potatoes breathe and perspire (lose water) so take them out of the plastic bag they come in and put them in a bin when storing. Before storing spuds, look them over and use any bruised ones first. Since dampness can cause decay, it is best not to wash spuds before storing. Avoid storing potatoes with onions or garlic since potatoes will pick up gases from the onion and garlic and the potato will deteriorate faster.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I’ve always been a fall guy. The crispness in the air, the layered fashions, the rustic colours of the leaves and the season’s deep, harvest flavours all enliven me in a way no other season does. But fall’s true jewels are the brave and hardy flowers that seem to defy the coming of frost with their brave blossoms. Asters and chrysanthemums are my two fall favourites and I’ve wasted little time filling my balcony (and even my bedroom) with potted mums. Below is a summary of chrysanthemum information I hope you’ll find useful and interesting. Most of it was garnered from the National Chrysanthemum Society of America, a site you ought to visit if you’re as much a mum enthusiast as I am: http://www.mums.org/

These ones are on my balcony at the moment. I love the warm rust colour. So very fall!

The chrysanthemum was first cultivated in China as a flowering herb and is described in writings as early as the 15th Century B.C. In fact, some of the earliest Chinese pottery depicted the chrysanthemum. As an herb in ancient China, it was believed to have the power of life. Legend has it that the boiled roots were used as a headache and flu remedy; young sprouts and petals were eaten in salads; and leaves were brewed for a festive drink. The ancient Chinese name for chrysanthemum is "Chu." The Chinese city of Chu-Hsien (which means Chrysanthemum City) was so named to honor the flower.

Around the 8th century A.D., the chrysanthemum appeared in Japan. So taken were the Japanese with this flower that they adopted a single flowered chrysanthemum as the crest and official seal of the Emperor. The chrysanthemum in the crest is a 16-floret variety called "Ichimonjiginu." Family seals for prominent Japanese families also contain some type of chrysanthemum called a Kikumon – "Kiku" means chrysanthemum and "Mon" means crest. In Japan, the Imperial Order of the Chrysanthemum is the highest Order of Chivalry. Japan also has a National Chrysanthemum Day, which is called the Festival of Happiness.

Recently at the New York Botanical Gardens, the largest kiku exposition in North America was held, with stunning examples of Japanese mums, trained to grow in unusual forms, including dramatic, cascading mums that all grow from a single stem, like these ones below.

Japanese examples of chrysanthemums at the New York City Botanical Gardens last year.

Since the chrysanthemum was first introduced into North America during colonial times, its popularity has grown such that mums now reign as undisputed "Queen of the Fall Flowers."
Chrysanthemums come in a wide variety of colors, including white, off-white, yellow, gold, bronze, red, burgundy, pink, lavender and purple. Mum plants can grow to be 2-3 feet high, depending on the cultivar and growing conditions. Chrysanthemums also come in many flower forms; that is, chrysanthemums are often grouped by the shape and arrangement of their petals. The most popular flower form is the "decorative," which is so packed with long, broad petals that you can hardly see its center.

These ones are in my bedroom. I love it when the morning sun hits them through the window.

Growing chrysanthemums in the garden requires getting a few things right; they're fussier to grow than many other plants.

In the North, it all begins with buying cultivars that are hardy mums in your area. Potted chrysanthemum flowers are sold by the millions at nurseries in fall, because they've become a staple for outdoor fall decorating. The chrysanthemum is the third highest-selling potted flower in North America, after geraniums and poinsettia, coming in at $68.9 million in sales in 2004. These are not necessarily cultivars meant to be grown locally. Most of the ones you see in nurseries and grocery stores this time of year are shipped in from greenhouses. Also, because these chrysanthemum flowers are bought specifically for autumnal displays, many people often fail to plant them early enough to allow the chrysanthemums to become established in the garden: they should be planted at least 6 weeks before a killing frost, and even that may not be soon enough.

Many people, however, do have great success planting potted mums in the ground, as shown in the two photos below of my mom's front garden. My parents have a little row of mums in their front garden that comes up year after year. My mother adds to it each year with another potted mum.

Still, it's wiser to buy mail-order mums (single-stemmed rooted cuttings) from a catalog and plant them in spring, rather than planting potted mums you've purchased in fall. In a good catalog, you have all the relevant information in front of you. Also, spring planting gives the plants longer to become established.

While chrysanthemum flowers hold up against light frosts, be mindful that hard frosts will damage the blooms.

So, add some fall flavour to the front steps, the balcony, or even indoors, and enjoy some cool-weather colour with chrysanthemums.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

New York’s Daily News recently asked Martha what her biggest real estate regret has been. She wasted no time in answering: the Duke Semans mansion at 1009 Fifth Avenue, which sold for $40-million to Russian real-estate czar Tamir Sapir in January, 2006. Martha told the Daily News that she was ready to bid on the seven-story, 20,000 square foot house but decided to postpone it in lieu of a much-needed vacation. When she got back, however, the house had already been sold. She says she deeply regrets that now:

“That was going to be my place in New York. It had stairs, and I love stairs. The dogs could run up and down them. I could entertain before events at the museum. I could have musicians playing. I almost cry every time I go by.”

Martha has a Fifth-Avenue pied-a-terre not far away from the Semans mansion for city entertaining, but it is a mere fraction of the size, with a single bedroom and a narrow, galley kitchen. (You can read more about her apartment through the “Martha’s Homes” link at the side.)

Built in 1901, the facade of the Semans house faces Fifth Avenue and runs down the side of East 82nd Street. It includes two outdoor terraces and offers amazing rooftop views of Fifth Avenue & Central Park. It is located directly across from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and features 11 marble fireplaces, three elevators and a sweeping brass-and-wrought-iron staircase. One of the bathrooms is said to be finished entirely in black marble. With its 12-foot high ceilings, gold-leaf trimmed fixtures and intricate plaster friezes, the property is a living piece of architectural history.

Martha might take a little sigh of relief, though. The house needed a further $10-million in renovations to convert the mansion to a single residence again, which had been previously divided into three apartments.

Andrew’s note: Some things aren’t meant to be. Personally, I don’t think this place is really a ‘Martha house.’ It’s too ostentatious, too palatial to be one of Martha’s. I don’t see her personality when I look at it. Martha’s more about rusticated elegance than black marble and gold.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Even with Halloween still more than a month away, the busy elves on Martha Stewart's design team have come up with the Holiday goodies we'll soon see on the shelves at Michael's. Delightful food packaging kits (which I love and find so helpful!) as well as party favor ideas, festive window clings and snowflake kits, puppet kits for an inventive, childlike twist and a frosty village scene for table display will all be available in stores and online beginning in November. Below are some samples. Thanks to Kenn for supplying the imagery.
This set of iced cookie boxes contains six boxes, patterned tissue paper, ribbon and festive seals for $12.99. I love the ornate edging.

For a bigger batch of cookies, you can get these large gingerbread cookie boxes or tall gingerbread cookie boxes on the right. Each set includes six boxes, decorative tissue and labels for $9.99.

Gingerbread house favor boxes and Santa treat boxes stand ready to be plucked by guests at a holiday party. They can also be used as gift boxes for under the tree, decorative ornaments or stocking stuffers: $7.99 and $9.99.

Beautiful glittered snowflakes or a snowy deer-family scene will enliven any window. The snowflake kit is $14.99 and includes four snowflake designs, glitter in four colours and glitter glue. The deer-family window cling is $9.99.

Decorate your mantel or holiday table with this snowy village scene, which is easy to craft: $17.99

Individual puppet kits ($4.99) or the entire set ($14.99) can make inventive party favors or keep the kids entertained at your holiday get-togethers.

The more you blog about a specific topic, the more you realize just how "on top of things" you have to be, and how closely you have to listen for news. For a very brief moment on last Tuesday's episode of "Martha" she mentioned that the editors of the magazine were working on a new book about cupcakes. It was less than two seconds of audio, but I caught it. And here are the details now:

By: Martha Stewart Living Editors
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Clarkson Potter (Jun 2 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307460444
ISBN-13: 978-0307460448

I also noticed in Martha's column (From My Home to Yours) in the October issue of Martha Stewart Living that her new book on entertaining, which will feature numerous photos taken at Skylands and Cantitoe Corners, will be released next year.

And, as previously reported on Martha Moments, keep an eye out for this one next spring:

By: Martha Stewart Living Editors
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Potter Craft (Mar 31 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307450570
ISBN-13: 978-0307450579

Both of the books described above are available for pre-order at Amazon. Of course, we'll be treated much sooner to Martha Stewart's Cooking School - her latest cookbook - on October 21. Don't forget!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Subscribers to the Fine Living Network can tune in at 9 pm to catch the premier episode of "Whatever, Martha" starring Alexis Stewart (Martha's daughter) and Jennifer Koppelman Hutt, the cohosts of the popular Sirius Satellite radio show, Whatever.

For a half hour each week, the two hosts will critique — in “candid and often acerbic” language, according to the channel — old clips from Martha's 1990s cooking and craft show, Martha Stewart Living.

Martha Stewart, who is the creator of the show as well as the executive producer, says that it was old reruns of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (a sarcastic commentary show about b-rated horror movies) that first gave her the idea for the show. “I take what I do very seriously, and I think there is a lesson to be learned in every segment. But contrary to popular opinion, I do have a sense of humor,” Martha said in an interview.

To appease some of Martha's fans, some of whom are less than thrilled about the premise of the show, the old segments of Martha Stewart Living that Alexis and Jennifer will be mocking will be available in their entirety (sans commentary) online for fans to watch.

“I think that 20-somethings and 30-somethings will watch this show and laugh along but still come away learning something,” Martha Stewart said.

“My die-hard fans might get upset,” she said. “If they do, then they just shouldn’t watch it.”

No details yet, but Martha is expected to make a few in-person appearances on the new show. The show will not be aired on Canadian Fine Living Network, therefore I won't be able to watch it. But hopefully the shows will be available online at some point!
Sunsan Lyne, former President and CEO of Martha Stewart Living will now be running Gilt Groupe, a web-based luxury merchandise company that offers steep discounts on high-end items to members of its online community.

The company was founded late last year by Alexis Maybank, a former eBay executive, and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, a former exec with Bulgari and Louis Vuitton, with backing from venture capital shingle Matrix Partners and Alley Corp.

Lyne, who left MSLO in June after four years at the helm, succeeds Maybank as Gilt Groupe CEO. There had been much speculation that Lyne was the frontrunning contender to take the top job at the cable network Oprah Winfrey is preparing to launch next year with Discovery Communications. However, Lyne said she was "enormously impressed" by the growth potential of the Gilt.com service and took on the top position at the year-old company.

Monday, September 15, 2008

On Saturday, October 25, 2008, Martha Stewart Living's Masterclass series returns. Hosted in Manhattan at Martha's TV studio in Chelsea, editors at Martha Stewart Living will conduct open workshops to ticket holders, working closely with visitors to create crafts, bake holiday treats and share ideas on holiday entertaining.

Tickets are $35 each and space is limited, so get the tickets soon! Doors open at 10 a.m. and the first workshop begins at 11:00 a.m. Attend one workshop, or spend the day and attend all three!

Each student will receive a special gift bag with class notes, tips and ideas to try at home. I'm not sure whether the event will be recorded for the TV show, but note that it is on a weekend and is not scheduled as a taping.
While there are certainly no guarantees, I wouldn't be surprised if Martha made a surprise guest appearance!

Session I: Holiday Crafts
Instructor: Marcie McGoldrick, Holiday & Crafts Editor and Laura Normandin, Holiday & Crafts Editor
A sneak peek at Martha Stewart Living's latest holiday crafts. Tips on pumpkin carving, Thanksgiving table settings and instructions on making a holiday wreath.
Saturday, October 25, 2008 at 11:00 AM

Session II : Holiday Baking
Instructor: Jennifer Aaronson, Food Editor
How to bake perfect holiday cookies, share strategies for making holiday baking easier and offer unforgettable gift-giving solutions.
Saturday, October 25, 2008 at 12:30 PM

Session III: Holiday Entertaining
Instructor: Sarah Carey, Deputy Food Editor
How to prepare a salt-roasted turkey and share great new recipes for Thanksgiving leftovers that are sure to impress friends and family this holiday season.
Saturday, October 25, 2008 at 2:00 PM


221 West 26th Street
New York, NY
Phone: (866) 494-6259
Order tickets online: www.marthastewart.com/masterclass
E-Mail for more info: events@marthastewart.com
Well, I just finished watching the highly-anticipated season premier of Martha, which was filmed on location at Martha's Bedford farm, Cantitoe Corners in Katonah.

The episode made me realize just how much I miss the old format and I savoured every second of the show, which I recorded for posterity. The show began with Martha standing outside her house, showing us the group of three chow-chow dogs - Paw-Paw's grandsons - from which she would have to select one puppy. (By the end of the show she had made that choice, although no further details were given.)

Following the introduction, there was a tour of the farm, including the second-floor gym in one of the buildings on the property where Martha works out every morning. Martha also gave us our first look at the new walled garden, or "boxwood room," she is building outside the Summer house, which is surrounded by enormous boxwood hedges. Also in this first segment, there were gorgeous panoramic shots of the farm from the sky and sweeping views of the paddocks, fields, stables and gardens. It's a gorgeous property! This was definitely my favourite part of the show!

Following this there were three cooking segments (Chris Schlesinger, Joey Campanaro, Scott Peacock and Rick Field) and a segment in the vegetable garden with her friend Memrie Lewis and three audience members who picked some of the ripening vegetables with Martha.

While the food looked delicious (especially Joey Campanaro's cheeseburgers!) and the garden looked luxuriant, I still wanted to get back to the tour of the farm! I was rewarded in the last segment with a tour of the stables. Martha took viewers inside and demonstrated how her four Friesen horses are meticulously cared for.
In a small office in the stables there is a state-of-the art computer system containing all of the medical and care information about the horses, maps of all the trails on the property, weather forecasts and more. Martha summed up the philosophy of the farm nicely by saying that the stables represent exactly the kind of place she is building in Katonah: a place rooted in traditional spirit with all the ease and facility of technological advancement.

The show closed with a brief shot of the guests enjoying their lunch outdoors at a long table set on a grassy laneway.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed the show, I did get to thinking that a more personal look at the farm would have been nice. Instead of the three chefs and the pickle expert, who could have been on the show at any other time of year, segments featuring some of the farm staff would have been fun: cooking segments with Martha's personal chef, Pierre, and her housekeeper Lily, for example, or interviews and how-to segments with the gardening crew.

The audience was almost incidental and I didn't really see the need to have them there at all. They were rarely shown. I think a more focused look at a 'day-in-the-life' on the farm would have been enjoyable.

Inside the houses was clearly off limits, but I would love to have seen the greenhouse, the carriage roads, Martha's collection of stagecoaches and decorative garden beds and landscaping on the property.

I'm hoping there will be more taped segments thorughout the year. Today's show definitely whetted my appetite to see more of Cantitoe Corners.

Tomorrow, tune in to Martha for an exclusive look at "Whatever, Martha" with Alexis Stewart and Jennifer Koppelman Hutt, who will be guests on the live show.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Be sure to take a peek at the October issue of Country Living magazine, on newsstands now. It is the 30th anniversary issue and inside is a one-page profile of Martha, whose Turkey Hill kitchen graced the cover of the first issue of the magazine back in 1978, when Martha was still working as a Connecticut caterer. The profile features a brief interview with Martha, a discussion about how the 'country look' has changed and a look back at her successes over the decades since her Country Living debut.

Country Living magazine is a Hearst publication that began as a seasonal supplement to Good Housekeeping. There is also a British version of the magazine, which can be found in North America on newsstands that sell international publications. The UK version is much larger in scale, but the US version is just as lovely. The October issue features several beautiful country homes, a big, bubbling brew of Halloween ideas, beautiful harvest table settings and lots of declious looking recipes. To quote Martha, "It's always been a fabulous magazine."

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I found this interesting interview with Martha on YouTube and thought I'd post it here to share. She is speaking with Canadian-born editor and journalist Tyler Brûlé, who founded Wallpaper magazine and, more recently, Monocle magazine, both of which I love.

Following a lengthy speech at the Digital, Life, Design conference in Munich, Germany, last January about the benefits and pitfalls of a digital home, Martha spoke with Brûlé about her magazines, her original mission statement for her company, some of Omnimedia's digital pursuits, the death of craft in America, the US election and the years she spent "in a crack." Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

This compilation of advice on designing a happy bedroom, gleaned from too many design magazines over the years, will hopefully be insightful to some of you. Let the bedroom be the sanctuary it was meant to be. I've itemized the subjects under headings for easier reading.


It is the focal point of the room and its look sets the mood of the space – for better or for worse. First, consider its orientation and placement in the room. Doubles, Queen-size and King-size beds should be centered on a wall and framed by two matching sides, whether they are tables or chests of drawers, shelves or armoires. Matching lamps can be placed on either side, too, for a classic, timeless look. Never shove a large bed against a wall or into a corner; the room’s layout will look lopsided with such a weighty piece of furniture off to one side. The bed should be the room’s anchor. A single twin bed in a child’s room or guest room can be placed more casually against a wall and can often double as a daybed for seating. A pair of twin beds should be placed symmetrically in the room, linked between them by a table with lighting.


An unmade or unkempt bed will forever ruin a bedroom’s charms. If the bed is not made, the entire room looks messy. Take a few minutes each morning to make your bed. It’s a transformative act that can actually redefine the room. Spend your money on good pillows and a good duvet. Few things in the annals of home decor are sadder than a bed with limp pillows and a lumpy bedspread. Invest in higher quality linens and you’ll feel better about the room, both in and out of bed. For the bedspread, avoid large, bold patterns: they don’t belong on the largest object in the quietest room in the home. Choose simple, fine sheets in restful neutral tones that can match nearly any cover. Choosing natural fibers like cotton, linen or silk will generally mean a more comfortable sleep. A high thread count is desirable, but any honest bedding salesman will tell you that after 400 it becomes irrelevant.


These dressing items can make or break the look of the room. Bed skirts often make a bed look more substantial and can add a formal, decorative element to the entire room. Keep the skirts simple and tailored for modern décor. Ruffled, pleated or scalloped bed skirts work better in traditional rooms. A general rule for cushions is this: more than seven on a queen-size bed is too many but fewer than four is too few. Large coloured cushions go at the back. You can change the Euro shams on these by season for a fresh look. In front of these, prop up two standard pillows in cases that match the sheets. For added luxury drop two more standard pillows in decorative cases and finally place a smaller, decorative pillow in front of these as a finishing touch. Throws should be folded lengthwise and placed neatly at the end of the bed. They are ostensibly there for impromptu napping on top of the covers but can add an elegant trim and contrasting texture to the bed when not in use. My bed is dressed with two Euro-style pillows, four standard pillows and one, smaller, decorative pillow in a contrasting fabric. It has a simple bed skirt and a folded woolen throw in a matching neutral at the end of the bed. Cozy!

Martha's Seal Harbor four-poster bed from the Skylands collection with Bernhardt.


This is an aspect of the room that, when done properly, offsets the other furnishings. Many people forego the headboard and bed frame all together, which is fine as long as other measures are taken to give the bed foundational form: large artwork on the wall over the bed and a trunk at the foot of the bed, for example. Those that do opt for headboards and bed frames often overdo it. One should choose a bed frame and headboard that are sturdy but not ostentatious. If you prefer wooden furniture, choose simple lines and sturdy proportions in a high-quality wood. Maple or oak are most desirable. Stay away from sloped headboards and footboards as they eat up valuable space. Metallic bed frames can be more elaborate and will add a delicate lightness to the room, perhaps even a touch of shimmer, depending on the level of luster.


Lighting acts as the room’s jewelry, adding sparkle, glimmer and even a touch of whimsy, if desired. The lighting on the nightstands should be proportionate to the bed and the room itself. If the bed is large and commanding, slender lamps with tiny shades will look inappropriate on its flanks. Instead, choose lamps with large proportions that can hold their own against such weighty furniture. The lamps should be high enough to read by and placed close enough to reach the switches from the bed. Secondary lamps can be placed throughout the room: a floor lamp next to a reading chair or small, decorative lamps on dressers.


I personally feel that most electronics have no place in the bedroom. Televisions and computers in the bedroom are particular pet peeves of mine. I realize it is a personal choice, but I feel that a bedroom ought to be that one sanctuary in the home where one can be at peace, undistracted by screens and monitors. Music in the bedroom, however, is desirable and I frequently fall asleep with my headphones on, listening to my favourite songs. A radio or small stereo system in the bedroom, discreetly hidden in a cabinet, can be instrumental in setting the mood for sleep… or other nocturnal adventures!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Margot at the Fine Living Network kindly sent me these two preview clips of the upcoming Whatever, Martha show starring Alexis Stewart and Jennifer Koppelman-Hutt. Have a peek and see what you think. It debuts next Tuesday on FLN at 9 pm EST so be sure to tune in!

Also, don't forget that one week from today the premier episode of this year's The Martha Stewart Show airs with an inside look at the workings of Martha's farm in Bedford!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Staffers at Martha Stewart Living wanted to do something special for Martha before the new television season kicked off, so they commissioned a custom poem in her honour.

Kre8tiveworkz.com is an established South Florida based company that designs, creates and distributes exquisite personalized poetry gifts under the branded and innovative writing style Reality Rhyming. Link: http://www.kre8tiveworkz.com

The innovative concept uses each letter of a person's name as an acronym to unfold a unique and distinctive poetic story. This results in an individualized expression of rhyme that captures specific sentimental moments that cannot be replicated.
Martha's finished piece is 27" x 32" and is showcased on handmade paper called "leaf impressions blue" in a frame from Todd's platinum collection called "Giotto" which is "white green" in color. The matte is suede and is called "cactus." Piece was entirely custom made in archival, museum quality and conservation standards with non-glare UV glass. The frame imported from Italy.

Each poem is printed on handmade paper and placed in museum-quality archival frames designed in Italy. Reality Rhyming founder and president of Kre8tiveworkz, Todd Edwards, says he was thrilled when staff at MSLO contacted him to do a poem for Martha:

"It's always a privilege and an honor to create a piece for anyone, but when I design something for someone who I admire and respect as much as I do her, I'm extremely flattered. I hope that she enjoys her expression- for a lifetime," Edward said in a press release.

Here is Todd's finished poem:

Mentor to the masses, this gifted homemaker creates a better “Living”
Attending to humankind and making a steadfast commitment to giving
Radiant with her smile, this entrepreneur shows us that cooking is fun
Taking on any domestic task, demonstrating how it’s perfectly done
Holiday favorites, Valentine’s Day, decadent desserts made her way
Advocate for a healthier life, “Entertaining” the world without strife

Showcasing her Bedford vegetable garden, yielding delicious crops
Tasty Sungold tomatoes, everyone’s favorites, they’re tops
Eating them right off the vine, a bit of olive oil, splash of white wine
Whatever delicious recipes are prepared from her impressive menus
Alternative gourmet ideas, nothing but successful party breakthroughs
Realizing the connection, body + soul, celebrating health, living whole
Talent and passion, a heart that’s true, thanks so much for all you do

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Vermont writer Philip Galanes has penned a new novel whose main character and plot line may sound strikingly similar to most of us: a blond design mogul is sentenced to a year in prison and emerges with a renewed energy to rebuild her life and reclaim her position at the top of the heap. Galanes' new book, Emma's Table, is, in fact, loosely based on the trials and tribulations of Martha Stewart. The author admits as much.

In 2004, during an impromptu channel surfing session, he came upon Martha making her statement to the press after she had been sentenced to prison. Galanes was so struck and mezmerized by Martha's grace and strength that he simply could not shake her from his mind.

"I thought, 'Wow, that was really gutsy,'" Galanes told the Brattleboro Reformer. "In that moment, I really identified with her. ... You need to say what you need to say to yourself in order to keep going. The important thing is to keep going.

"I never took any kind of interest in Martha Stewart in my life. I didn't know anything about her. I didn't research her when writing this book. I was much more interested in trying to imagine a private life for her.

"I was very concerned that Martha Stewart would think this is a hatchet job. In fact, I got a really nice voicemail from her that she'd heard about it and wished me good luck. I wish I had been around to take the call," said Galanes.

Below is a description of the book:
From the moment Emma Sutton walks into the esteemed FitzCoopers auction house, the one-time media darling knows exactly what she wants: an exquisite antique dining table. What she doesn't realize is what she's getting: the chance to set things right.

Fresh from a year-long stretch in prison and the public bloodletting that accompanied her fall, Emma needs a clean slate. She finds her life just as she left it, filled with glittering business successes and bruising personal defeats—rolling television cameras and chauffeured limousines, followed by awkward Sunday dinners at home. She knows, deep down, that she needs a change, though she can't imagine where it might come from or where it will lead.

Enter Benjamin Blackman, a terminally charming social worker who moonlights for Emma on the weekends, and Gracie Santiago, an overweight little girl from Queens, one of Benjamin's most heartbreaking wards. Together with an eclectic supporting cast—including Emma's prodigal ex-husband, a bossy yoga teacher, and a tiny Japanese diplomat—the unlikely trio is whisked into a fleet-footed story of unforeseen circumstance and delicious opportunity, as their solitary searching for better paths leads them all, however improbably, straight to Park Avenue and the dynamic woman at the novel's center.