Sunday, November 14, 2010

Martha's Second Annual Holiday Craft Sale

If you happen to be in New York City on December 4th, be sure to pay a visit to the Starrett Lehigh building and experience a craft sale like no other! Held at the Omnimedia offices, the Second Annual Martha Stewart Living Holiday Craft Sale will feature the handmade crafts of a number of Martha Stewart's talented employees, including craft gurus Hannah Milman and Marcie McGoldrick, as well as wares from some of the company's favourite vendors, like the Purl Bee and Foxy & Winston. (Martha will also likely make an appearance, as she did last year!)

Martha Stewart Living editors Jodi Levine and Page Marchese-Norman pose with some of their handmade holiday goods at last year's event. (Bryan Gardner photo)

The event takes place on Saturday, December 4th, between Noon and 6 pm at 601 West 26th Street in Manhattan on the 9th floor of the Starrett-Lehigh building. Keep in mind that most of the vendors will accept only cash or check. A portion of the funds raised at the event will go to the Susan G. Komen foundation for breast cancer research.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Love These Glasses!

In the December issue of Martha Stewart Living there are two removable pamphlets - advertisements for some of Martha's Christmas wares at Michael's and Macy's. (For archivists of all-things Martha, little clip-out brochures and catalogues like these are treasures.) Among my favourites is this set of glasses from the Martha Stewart Collection at Macy's. The four-piece recipe glass set (Bloody Mary, Mojito, Tom Collins and Pink Gin Fizz) retails for $16.99. An accompanying serving tray for hors d'oeuvres goes for $24.00. I love the colours, narrow shapes and vintage designs.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Living for i-Pad is Launched!

Today marks a very historic day for Martha Stewart Living magazine: the launch of their first digital issue! It is now available for download (i-Pad only) and contains exclusive content not found anywhere else. The magazine features astonishing animation (peonies blossoming before your eyes, bubbles floating by) beautiful photography, more than 23 new recipes for delicious dinners and desserts, 20 slide shows with step-by-step instructions, five exclusive behind-the-scenes videos and four panoramas, including one of Martha's farm in Bedford.

The digital issue also contains:

- A slide show of Martha's early years: her modeling portfolio and her first home, cooking, and gardening projects. Plus, listen to an interview with a fellow creative guru.

- Take a panoramic 180-degree tour of Martha's peony garden and watch a video of how she makes her spectacular arrangements.

- Experience the untouched Alaskan landscape with its glaciers, mountains, and rugged shoreline; ride along with a salmon fisherman on the pristine Copper River; and learn new recipes to make wild Pacific salmon at home.

- Go glam: Get a holiday makeover with our festive product picks. Toggle between before and after shots to see the stunning transformations.

- Be jeweled! Learn how to make fantastic plastic jewelry using not much more than polymer clay, your oven, and a few basic molds.

Click here to learn more about the digital magazine as well as watch a behind-the-scenes video about how the issue was put together. Click here to download the magazine to your i-Pad for just $3.99!

Get inspired for your next celebration—with bubbles! Fizzy drinks and floating decorations plus sweet and savory treats add up to an effervescent atmosphere.

After touring Martha's peony garden, view an incredible glossary of these lush flowers and learn about how to grow each variety.
Find out what happens when two decorating editors go head-to-head, then vote for your favorite room and get live voting results.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

December Issue Has Arrived!

The wait is over! My copy of the December issue of Martha Stewart Living arrived in my mailbox today and, oh, it is a beauty. The magazine is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2011 and the December issue kicks off the festivities by harkening the holiday season in style. The issue has three covers and is packed with ideas for holiday entertaining, decorating (indoors and out), baking and cooking (of course) and offers plenty of crafts, plus tips for a homemade Hanukkah. I urge you to pick up a copy when you see it on the stands! Have a look at the three different covers, below.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Martha in Canada to Visit Polar Bears

Martha was in Churchill, Manitoba, over the weekend to film a segment for her television show about polar bears. Manitoba, one of Canada's prairie provinces, is home to a large percentage of Canada's polar bear population, a species that is facing increasing endangerment due to climate change.

Churchill is located on the shores of Hudson Bay, approximately 1000 kilometers north of Winnipeg, and Martha took the "Tundra Buggy" to cross the desolate, frozen landscape in search of these elusive and beautiful bears. While in Churchill Martha visited Gypsy's Restaurant and Bakery and sampled some of the desserts there, including the homemade apple pie, ├ęclairs and fritters. She also took a helicopter tour of the town and witnessed a polar bear rescue, which her crew filmed for the show. Watch for the episode featuring these polar bears soon!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

New at The Beekman

Our friends at Beekman farm (Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell) are forever developing new offerings, usually incorporating local Sharon Springs crafters and artisans into their fun and innovative ideas for home and beauty products. Among the new items on offer this holiday season is a line of scented candles, a new line of seasonal soaps and bath milk and new goats-milk soaps. One of the things I find most enticing about their brand is the way they celebrate the scents and essences of the four seasons at the Beekman through the use of delicate fragrances. The emphasis on natural ingredients, usually sourced locally, is another reason to fall in love. Lastly, the clever packaging and label design, something Brent clearly learned from his work at Martha Stewart Living, presents the experience together beautifully.

The Beekman Milk Shake Goat Milk Bath Soak is a combination of seasonal essential oils and dehydrated goat milk from the goats at the farm. The Shake comes in four scents inspired by the four seasons at the Beekman and is designed to help create a luxurious bath experience, leaving skin soft and gently fragranced.

The back porch at the Beekman is a sprawling space to reflect and take in all the beauty of the seasons as they slowly roll by. Brent and Josh created four scents for their "Back Porch Collection" of soaps (one for each season) and packaged them in a sturdy cedar box with a lid. The soaps are also sold separately. Since the bars are quite large, it is recommended that you slice them into threes for longer-lasting use. (The Autumn and Winter soaps are also currently available at Anthropologie stores.)
My favourite new Beekman product this year is the scented bud-vase candle. Made of pure beeswax, the four candles are lightly scented to reflect the four seasons. Each one comes in a lidded cedar box and glass container for the wax. Once the wax is gone, the container can be used as a bud vase: reuse, recycle, reimagine!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Holiday, Everyday

I just received the holiday issue of Everyday Food and it's another great way to get you thinking about your holiday plans. It's filled with holiday snacks and hors d'oeuvres, cookies, candies and cakes plus a full holiday menu that is simple but classic. A feature on bacon has my mouth watering just looking at the recipes and the photographs, and a full roster of easy, plan-ahead meals to help you and your family during this busy time will prove highly beneficial. On newsstands soon!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Scrapbooking: The Basic Tools

I just counted, and I have four scrapbooks, one of which has been an ongoing project since my last year of high-school nearly 15 years ago. This book is the largest of the four and has 'my interests and inspirations' as its theme. It has 100 enormous pages and I take my time composing the layout and content of each page, making sure it is exactly how I want it to look before I set glue to paper.

A portion of my large scrapbook, above, from the "Egos and Icons" section I designed in the book.

The most important (and time-consuming) aspect of scrapbooking is locating, altering and finally attaching the imagery to the pages of the book. This process can be quickly and easily sped along with the right tools on hand, always within arms' reach, always kept organized.

I loved the gallery of basic scrapbooking tools on and thought I'd share them, since they are exactly the sorts of materials I have on hand to create my scrapbooks. Oddly missing, however, is mention of a few good pairs of scissors and a set of X-acto knives for cutting, something I find essential for paper crafts.

Keep a pencil on hand to make marks, a white (or other light-colored) gel pen to label dark pages, a bone folder to neatly score and fold pages or inserts, and a ruler to take measurements and neatly position scraps.

Transform these stationery-store tags into tiny frames for photographs (color-photocopy the pictures, cut to size, and glue to surface). You can also use the tags as write-on labels. Fasten to pages with brads or grommets.

Use a utility knife to cut out the centers of labels while keeping the decorative borders intact; you can use them as frames for small photos. Airmail envelopes can be used to create evocative mini albums for travel scrapbooks.

Press rubber stamps into colorful or metallic inks and use them to add words, numerals, or artistic details to album pages.
Rub-on letters and numbers (shown in back) come in a range of fonts and sizes. Easy to apply (rub them with the accompanying stick, and the characters will transfer to the paper underneath), the letters and numbers can be used to print names, dates, and more onto pages. Store-bought scraps come in all forms. Maps and printed papers can be used as backgrounds or to create pockets. Old-looking scraps (the seed label shown here) are available from scrapbook stores. Flea markets can yield old postcards if your own keepsake box doesn't. Available at scrapbook stores, vintage papers can be used as backgrounds for smaller scraps and to make pockets. (One of my favourite things is this packet of vintage stamps from Anthropologie.)

I do not have the sorts of scrapbooks that require these materials, but grommets can be used to secure tags, pockets, and other sturdy scraps to pages permanently. Brads come in traditional brass, in bright colors, and even in whimsical shapes. They can be used the same way as grommets but are removable. Jump rings are little metal loops that can be used to suspend items from brads.
Acid-free double-sided photo tape is safe to use on photos. Photo corners provide another way to mount pictures without damaging them, and they give a scrapbook a vintage feel.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Martha's New Cookie App for i-Pad

November 1 marks the launch of Martha Stewart's new cookie application for i-Pad. Featuring more than 50 recipes from her vast library of cookie recipes (shortbreads, chocolate-chips, meringues, etc.) the application will feature a 'runway' interface that the user can scroll through with the touch of a finger, allowing her to select the cookie she would like to bake. Once selected, the user can access the recipe, the shopping list of ingredients, video tutorials, built in timers and a glossary of cooking tools. The application was designed by Callaway Digital Arts for Martha Stewart and Mac and will cost $8 to download.

Happy Halloween!

I want to wish everyone a frightfully good night tonight! Happy Halloween! For a bit of nostalgia, read about the history of vintage Halloween postcards, which are among the most highly collectible. As a collector of postcards myself, I've searched high and low for gems like this one below at antique shops and flea markets but have had no luck at all. Click here to see more examples and read about their history. Enjoy your All Hallows Eve!

Friday, October 29, 2010

New Holiday Issue!

Look what I got today! It's the new Holiday cookie issue, which is making its way to newsstands across North America even as I type this. The 116-page supplement (not available as a subscription: newsstands only) is devoted to baking and presenting the world's best cookies with a real emphasis on the recipient. Whether the receiver is intolerant of gluten, prefers her cookies crumbly over chewy, or lives in Japan, there is a cookie here for everyone, and myriad ideas and suggestions for packaging and shipping these baked good to friends in other cities or, indeed, other countries. The content is divided into eight sections: For Traditionalists; For Trendsetters; For Those Far Away; For Those Near and Dear; For The Little Ones; For Grown-Ups; For The Health-Conscious; For Hedonists. There are all the classics (chocolate chip, shortbread, etc.) and plenty of new selections (Smokey-Bacon Ginger Cookies, Rose-Water Cream Sandwiches) with varying levels of challenge for the baker. Collectors, be sure to pick up your copy soon. They sell out FAST!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Winnie's Craft Room

My good friend and colleague, Winnie Yeung, is an avid crafter. She works with me at Anthropologie in Toronto and we are constantly bouncing creative ideas off one other - work-related and otherwise. I was very inspired by Winnie's craft room at her home in Leslieville, a quaint Toronto neighbourhood famous for its vintage shopping, out-of-the-way but fabulous restaurants and cozy old homes. The room is where she creates adorable outfits for collectors of the world-famous Blythe dolls, a kooky doll created in 1972 that quickly became extinct - and which is now enjoying a mad resurgence in popularity. Winnie designs and creates special outfits for these dolls that are one-of-a-kind and completely unique. Her Etsy site is quiet at the moment but Winnie assures me she is still keeping busy with requests for new outfits from her regular customers. I thought it would be nice to share photos of her craft room with you. Perhaps you have a small spare room in your house you could devote to your hobby. If so, Winnie's attention to detail, organization and layout will hopefully inspire you to create your own charming space.

The room is bright and cozy, located on the second floor of her house.
On the right side of the room is Winnie's desk, which she uses to draw and paint, cut & paste, sew and stitch her creations. Winnie says she loves the view of her small garden from the window, which is always interesting, year-round.
Winnie wanted me to include this photo of the craft studio while it is in use. It's quite a change from the neat and tidy photo above: artistic ambition at its finest!
On the wall over her desk, Winnie created a fabric-covered bulletin board for inspiration photos and a place to hang some of the adorable doll clothes she makes.
"I love my fabric," Winnie says. "I drool over fabric with gorgeous colours and prints and I can't help but collect it. I have it organized somewhat by colour: neutrals, greens, etc." You will notice the self-healing cutting board by Martha Stewart Crafts, a line that Winnie loves. "A lot of my tools are Martha tools."
Winnie made this adorable pin cushion for her push-pins out of a mossy/grassy fabric. She says it often keeps her Mac mouse company when she's at work.
The left side of the room is fronted by a handy Ikea unit with cubbies for her supplies. All of them are organized in boxes, small drawers and Rubbermaid containers for easy access and storage.
To help organize her fabric, Winnie uses a vintage set of metal drawers.

Hooray For Merchandising!

In its third-quarter report, MSLO touted significant gains in its merchandising division: this segment of the company made $9.6 million this year, compared to $8.9 million the same quarter last year.

The gain is attributed to the following:

+Continued strength in the Martha Stewart Collection at Macy's, led by sales in the soft home category (textiles, bedding).

+ The successful launch of the lower price point Martha Stewart Essentials program.

+ Strong performance of the Martha Stewart Living line at The Home Depot, driven by sales of a new carpet program. The cabinets, countertops and hardware program launched in the quarter and a holiday d├ęcor assortment began rolling out in early October and have proven to be highly successful thus far.

+ Expanded distribution of Martha Stewart Crafts, including shipments of seasonal Halloween products into Jo-Ann Fabrics & Crafts, and Stewart's HSN products, which debuted in July.

+ A "robust debut" of Martha Stewart Pets at PetSmart; the line is expected to expand in Spring 2011.

+ Double-digit wholesale sales growth in Chef Emeril Lagasse's core partnerships.

These candy-cane gift boxes with labels and dividers from Martha Stewart Crafts at Michael's are just one example of a multitude of new holiday craft products launched by MSLO this year.

Charles Koppelman, executive chairman and principal executive officer, said, "For the past five years, we have been focused on diversifying and expanding our Merchandising business for long-term growth and we are seeing our efforts bear fruit in this quarter's results. We are applying the same aggressive mindset to our Broadcasting business with our slate of new programming on Hallmark Channel. Broadcasting has been challenging due largely to the remaining run-off results from syndication in the quarter. Our Internet business continues to perform very well and our Publishing business had a solid quarter."

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Brian's Crafty Halloween

A devoted reader of this blog kindly allowed me to use his photographs of some of the Martha Stewart Living Halloween projects he has embarked on recently, most of which were used at a Halloween party he gave at his home this weekend. Brian Utz is inspired by the ideas and projects in Martha Stewart Living magazine and never wastes an opportunity to try them himself at home. I have been privy to many of his projects and they are usually highly successful, as you will see below.
Glittered gourds and pumpkins sparkle up the night. (Martha Stewart glitter, of course!)
The Spider-Web cake is from a past Halloween issue of Martha Stewart Living. It looks so decadent!
The dry-ice pumpkin cauldron, also a project from a past issue of MSL, looks amazing.

Brian downloaded all of the Halloween templates from, including these butterflies from this year's October issue of MSL. They look amazing when they're printed in colour and hung to look as if they are magically fluttering out of an old specimen book.

Also from this year's October issue is this massive, six-foot tall dinosaur fossil.

He made meringue bones (a classic MSL recipe) for guests to gnaw on too! The dining room was set for a Halloween feast!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Small Pumpkins Dressed Up

Okay, we'll continue on a theme of sorts: dressing up your Halloween pumpkins instead of carving them up. I'm not sure why I am finding the mix of organic pumpkin flesh paired with fabric so intriguing this year, but I'm enjoying the decorative (and festive) possibilities - not to mention the classy understatement and the hasty simplicity these projects provide. A few days ago I shared with you the ingenious idea of dressing your pumpkins in fishnets (via Craftzine) and now I've compiled some little gems that have been dressed in nothing but thin stripes of ribbon, ric-rac and paint. The looks are subtle but charming and they work especially well on smaller pumpkins, which can be difficult to carve.

Eddie Ross dreamed up these gorgeous gourds and it's no surprise that Chanel was his inspiration. He painted the pumpkins white and dressed them in black ric-rac, attaching cardboard-cutout leaves to each of the larger pumpkins. Situated on a mantel with Spanish moss and surrounded by silver and Wedgwood, they are effortlessly elegant.
Good Housekeeping took the elementary but no-less-effective measure of simply painting stripes on these pumpkins. It is basic but still whimsical.
Another Good Housekeeping project: take your favourite strips of decorative ribbon and simply wrap a single strand around a small pumpkin. Gather an assortment of them together in a large vessel for a more impacting image and choose ribbon that coordinates nicely with the pumpkins' bright skin tone.

Ric-rac and ribbon combine for a variety of fun and festive stripes on these pumpkins.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pumpkin Burlesque

If even the idea of painstakingly carving an intricate pattern on your Halloween pumpkin this year tires you, perhaps retiring to the boudoir will provide just the answer you're looking for. When I saw these 'dressed-up' pumpkins on the Craftzine blog, I knew I had to share this ingenious idea. Slip one leg of a pair of fishnet pantyhose over a smallish pumpkin for a somewhat naughty interpretation of the Jack-O-Lantern. Once the pumpkin has filled the foot of the stocking, trim off the excess and decoratively tie the opening around the pumpkin's stem. The lacy black patterns create bold and textured designs over the orange skin of the gourds and tease the imagination. The effect is elegant, grown-up whimsy! Visit Craftzine for more Halloween DIY ideas and information.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Martha Wraps Radio City

Between November 5th and December 30th, guests visiting Radio City Music Hall in New York City will be dazzled by a winter wonderland, courtesy of Martha Stewart Living. Martha and her team of editors are decking the halls of this historic Manhattan landmark with all the festive trim and decorations you can imagine, all from the Martha Stewart Collection at Macy's. The highlights include a decorated, 20-foot Christmas tree, an oversize snowflake made of glittering ornaments, lighted ribbons and garlands on all of the staircases and balconies, and a forest of white trees decorated entirely in peppermint-themed, red-and-white ornaments. For more information about the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall, click here.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Costume Couture

I've promised myself that one year soon I will dress-up for Halloween. And I'm not talking about Devil's horns and a painted-on goatee; I mean really, really go all out. My dream is to do a drag version of Cruella De Vil, paying appropriate homage to Glenn Close and her starring turn as the classic Disney villainess in the live-action version of "101 Dalmations." Her costumes in the film were grotesquely flamboyant and I like to dream that my Cruella costume would provide the same shock of drama.

Grown-up Halloween costumes can be exquisite, as demonstrated over the years by Martha Stewart. Her Black Widow costume, her Ghostly Equestrienne and this year's eerie fortune teller are all wonderful examples. For the serious Halloween and costume devotees, they can also be investment pieces, as timeless as any wedding gown.

On Etsy, an online collective of artisans, there are dress-makers who are devoted to these heirloom-quality costumes. I've selected a few below for your viewing pleasure. All of the gowns are handmade in luxurious materials to fit your specifications, an attention to detail that is reflected in the price points - some reaching over $10,000!

All of the gowns shown above are by Glamtastik, who specialize in elegant burlesque . Click here to view their shop.

All manner of handmade Gothic gloves, chokers and cuffs at Tristiana. Click here to view her shop.
This extraordinary, handmade Roman head piece actually sold on Etsy for $14,000!
This $5,000 gown (also sold on Etsy) is reminiscent of one of Disney's wicked queens.
And if you're a label hound, why not splurge on vintage Alexander McQueen, like this Neo-Gothic gown from his 2008 collection.