Monday, May 31, 2010

Martha's American Food

On Martha's blog the other day, she subtly made reference to a new cookbook that is in the works. She showed a photograph of one the kitchen staff at Omnimedia working on new recipes for the book. With my interest piqued, I naturally sought out more information. I found this on Amazon:

  • Martha Stewart's American Food
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Clarkson Potter (Oct 2 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307405087

  • No cover yet, and the release date seems too far away for my liking, but it's worthy to note that it's in the works. Obviously, at this early stage, the title and stats for the book may change. I am most intrigued by Martha's new Entertaining book, which will feature photographs and menus from Bedford, Skylands and Lily Pond Lane with an in-depth look at how Martha entertains today. I've heard very little about it of late and there is no word on its release date yet. Stay tuned!

    Saturday, May 29, 2010

    New Grocery Line from Martha Stewart

    Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Hain Celestial Group, Hain Pure Protein and Niman Ranch have teamed up to expand the new line of all-natural Martha Stewart grocery products, bringing a broader selection of items to a broader range of retailers around the U.S.

    This new program will include sustainably raised, antibiotic-free meats produced by Niman Ranch and Hain Pure Protein, as well as a line of all-natural baking mixes with The Hain Celestial Group, Inc., adding to the existing line of cleaning products: Martha Stewart Clean environmentally safe, home cleaning solutions with Hain Celestial. The product lines are expected to be distributed in supermarkets, mass-market retailers and warehouse clubs nationwide. (Martha Stewart Clean - a line of environmentally safe home cleaning solutions - is already available in a broad range of national and regional grocery stores across the country, including Publix, A&P, Giant Eagle, Shop Rite, Fairway and more. The products are also available at The Home Depot.)
    Niman Ranch, the largest network of U.S. family farmers and ranchers, and an industry leader in humane and sustainable livestock practices, will provide the meats to create easy-to-prepare meal solutions. All Martha Stewart products are made from meats that are antibiotic-free, 100 percent vegetarian-fed and contain no added growth hormones, as well as being gluten-free.

    The selection of products includes ham steak, bratwurst, spicy chorizo, applewood-smoked bacon, fresh marinated pork chops and roasts, smoked pork shanks, braised beef short ribs, hot dogs, and a variety of chicken and pork sausages, as well as holiday hams and turkeys. Hain Pure Protein, a leading supplier of natural, vegetarian-fed, antibiotic-free poultry products, will supply the turkey, which it produces under the Plainville Farms brand.

    Martha Stewart's new line of cake, cookie and brownie mixes provides exceptional depth of flavor from pure, all-natural ingredients, including the highest-quality chocolate and vanilla beans. The products are competitively priced, filling the gap between conventional mixes at $1.99 and super-premium mixes at $8.99. The product line includes mixes for chocolate cake, vanilla cake, fudge brownies, sugar cookies and chocolate chip cookies. Additional recipes for variations and frosting are provided on every package. Expect to see these new items soon! (Also watch for Martha's new line of pet products at Pet Stores this June!)

    Friday, May 28, 2010

    The Dining Room Office

    When I was growing up, I would frequently find my mother and father working at the dining room table: sorting bills, doing their taxes, writing letters, checks and invitations, filing, wrapping and occasionally drawing. Because of this model, I have always felt that dining rooms are the perfect spaces in which to confront household paperwork. Let's face it: most of us don't use our dining rooms on a daily basis and to relegate such prime real estate to only the occasional dalliance seems like a waste of beautiful space.

    Thankfully, the editors of Martha Stewart Living magazine think along the same lines. In the April, 2008, issue of the magazine, they came up with this ingenious solution for an infrequently-used dining room.

    They converted one of the built-in hutches into office storage, allowing the other to store dinnerware, silverware and glassware. Also hidden under the cushions on the window seat are lift-up lids that reveal a carefully planned filing system.
    Inside the hutch, silverware caddies were painted to match the interior colour. They help organize pens, scissors, stationery, hole punches and glue sticks. They can be carried to the table when needed. Labeled boxes store computer discs as well as photo and plain printer paper. A pull-out shelf made with drawer-glide hardware ensures hassle-free access to the laptop and printer. Cords are kept out of sight by a concealed surge protector situated behind the computer. The drawers of the hutch also hold office supplies, such as staplers, rulers, a box of stamps, tags, ribbons, paper clips, a p-touch, additional envelopes and notepads.

    Tuesday, May 25, 2010

    Beekman Blasts Off

    A couple years ago I blogged about a glorious new venture that was begun by the former vice president of healthy living at Martha Stewart Living, Dr. Brent Ridge, with his partner, award-winning author Josh Kilmer-Purcell. I had no idea then that these two intrepid young men would eventually become friends of mine.

    The new venture I'm speaking of was born on a farm - a mansion and a farm, to be exact - in the sleepy but storied town of Sharon Springs, New York. Theirs was not your average agricultural scenario, however: cows and pigs, hundreds of acres of corn fields, massive amounts of equipment and tools. Brent and Josh had something a little more quaint (and much more creative) in mind after purchasing the 1802 estate.

    The couple had goats and used the luscious milk to create luxurious, handmade, organic soaps, employing local artisans to help beautify their craft. They launched a website ( to sell their ruralite dream while still maintaining busy, active lives as executives in Manhattan to help fund their burgeoning business.

    Two years later, the Beekman brand has sored to incredible and unexpected new heights, as has their line of Beekman merchandise: textiles, decorative accessories, vegetable seeds, stationery, cheese, cider and, of course, an expanded line of gorgeous, all-natural soap. With features in Vanity Fair, the New York Times and stints on the Martha Stewart Show, the 'Fabulous Beekman Boys' (as they will soon be known to the world) garnered the attention of some noteworthy investors, including the luxury retail brand Anthropologie (where I work!) and Planet Green, a sub-station of the Discovery Channel.

    Several variations of their soaps are now sold across the United States, Canada and Britain in Anthropologie stores, including their latest, the "After the Garden" soap, shown below. Featuring unique labels and packaging, I can tell you that they are more lovely than one might anticipate, having been a customer and promoter of theirs since the beginning. If you don't live near an Anthropologie, you can order online, or perhaps make the trek to Sharon Springs yourself to visit their quaint new shop, Beekman 1802 Merchantile, which opened last weekend on the main drag. (My mother was actually their first customer!)

    Even more exciting is their new television show, "The Fabulous Beekman Boys" which charts the daily existence of two Manhattanites trying (at times struggling) to lead the lives of farmers. The new show will begin airing at the end of June but you can view previews for the show here. Friends, family and colleagues of the Beekman Boys are all currently descending on Sharon Springs to attend the screening of the first episode. (Although I was invited, schedules did not permit my attendance, sad as that may be.) In any case, I can't wait to see the show!

    Last December I had occasion to visit the Beekman farm and meet Josh after a few years of happy correspondence on a trip to Sharon Springs I took with my mother. We got to meet the goats too! (Brent was busy in Manhattan at a Martha Stewart event.) Both my mom and I came away thinking what a tremendously warm and generous soul Josh was and we quietly marvelled at all they had accomplished, with plans to continue building on that dream. They are inspiring people and inspiring creators, people I urge everyone to support - not just because they are friends, but because they are good, good people. (Be sure to catch their appearance on the Martha Stewart Show on Wednesday, May 26th!!)

    Introducing, Whole Living

    Last month it was announced that Body + Soul (a Martha Stewart magazine) would be transforming its masthead to "Whole Living." The June issue showcases the big reveal with a double cover, which is shown below. From now on, Body + Soul will be called Whole Living, with all the same content we've come to expect from this informative and inspiring publication.

    I really like the new Whole Living title. Its integration with the website unifies the brand. I also like the incoporation of the word 'living' into the new title, something which ties the magazine a little closer to the company that acquired it in 2005.
    Back by popular demand is the "10 Thoughts on Whole Living" column, which was a staple feature in the first several issues of Body + Soul after MSL took over the publication. The inspiring thoughts on living a balanced, healthy, mindful existence are excellent and simple ways to lead a happier, healthier and more productive life.
    This particular issue features a glorious article on an edible garden with amazing photographs by Marion Brenner.

    The mix of edibles, vegetables and decorative specimens in this garden is so intriguing.

    An excellent article on grouping fruits and vegetables by taste and palate is a surefire way to get you inspired to use more of them in your cooking. Inventive and exciting recipes with interesting pairings of produce are simple but delicious.

    Monday, May 24, 2010

    Martha by Mail Tissue Paper

    One benefit of my periodic purges of closets and storage spaces in my home is the occasional discovery I make: a card from a long-lost friend, a childhood drawing, unused stationery. Yesterday, the discovery yielded a Martha Moment, so I thought I'd share. What I found was several sheets of the Martha by Mail tissue paper that was used by her 'busy bees' to wrap the items purchased through the catalog or online. When MBM closed down in 2004, a friend of mine in Las Vegas purchased hundreds of dollars worth of Martha's merchandise before it was too late. An added bonus was the stack of Martha by Mail gift tissue he was left with. Generous at heart, and recognizing my interest in Martha ephemera, he sent me numerous sheets of the stuff, pressed neatly between firm cardboard and packaged in a padded envelope. The sheets are quite thick for tissue paper, tinted a light cream tone and decorated with the Martha by Mail bee logo. I've already secured one sheet into my scrapbook and I may use the rest as page liners for another project I'm working on. Reduce, reuse, reimagine! I think that's my new motto.


    Check your stationery store for a polyester-film folder with a sheet of alkaline-buffered paper as the backing.

    Slip the unfolded tissue in the folder. Avoid using staples or paper clips as these may cause permanent markings on the paper, including holes, creases and tears.

    Keep the folders in file holders and boxes constructed of high-quality, acid-free, alkaline-buffered materials.

    Choose a cool and dry location such as a closet in an air-conditioned room as a storage place for the boxes.

    Thursday, May 20, 2010

    "Living" in Thailand

    I was recently able to secure a copy of Martha Stewart Living Thailand, the newest international publication to be released abroad by MSLO. It arrived this week and I thought I'd share with you some of the pages contained between its covers.
    The issue I purchased is number 5, the March 2010 issue. The image on the cover is actually from a story on ice cream desserts from an earlier issue of the American version of the magazine, although it has never appeared on a cover before. The Thai magazine holds the same dimensions as the American version, the same glossy cover style and the same masthead. Naturally, the addition of Thai font reveals its origins.

    Meet the editor-in-chief of Martha Stewart Living Thailand: Intukarn Gajaseni-Sirisant. (I wish I knew what she was touting in her letter!) The Thailand offices of the magazine host a staff of 31, all of whom are listed in the credits at the front of the magazine. There is a chairman, a vice president, a managing editor and various editorial staff members. The core executives of MSLO, including Martha, Gael Towey, Robin Marino, Eric Pike and Vanessa Holden are also listed. There is also a list at the bottom of this page of the international versions of Martha Stewart Living that are currently available: Poland and Korea.
    The Thai language looks so beautiful in written form, quite a contrast from the hard lines and angular shapes of the written English word. There is a feature at the front of the magazine about Martha's recent travels to Bankok, a region now sadly devastated by deadly protests against the government. That's Martha with Kevin Sharkey in the photograph above.

    There are numerous candid photographs of their trip to Thailand.

    Throughout the magazine there are editorial features that focus on homekeeping, cooking, crafting, decorating and gardening, all of which have been seen in past issues of the U.S. version of Martha Stewart Living. It is not, however, a direct copy of any one issue; stories from various issues and various years are blended together to create a unique issue. The article shown above is about organizing drawers and closets. There is also a feature on Martha's craft room at Bedford, decorating with colour, a story on honey, sea-shell crafts and dyeing fabrics.

    The issue is thick with pages, very few of which are advertisements. This is one advertisement for special Good Things Workshops held by the magazine staff in Thailand for new subscribers. I'd love to attend one of these...with my English/Thai dictionary in hand!

    Wednesday, May 19, 2010

    The New Lifestyle E-Mags

    I was thinking the other day about the new digital magazine by Martha Stewart that was announced last month. It will be released this fall and will be called "Boundless Beauty." I'm deeply intrigued by the concept and can't wait to see the first issue. I was surprised to learn, too, that digital magazines (or e-mags as they're now called) are springing up all over the web. Below are some examples of new lifestyle e-mags. We may expect a similar concept from Boundless Beauty, but with that unmistakable Martha touch.

    Sweet Paul is one of the newest lifestyle e-mags to emerge. With a focus on cooking, crafting and decorating it is easy to navigate and beautifully photographed.

    Lonny is one of the most popular e-mags online, with high-profile contributors and noted advertisers. Its focus is on hip, funky decorating for the young and young-at-heart. (Their latest issue contains an article on green cleaners, including a profile of the Martha Stewart Clean products.) What do you think about e-mags? Would you read them or will you always prefer the printed page? Some magazines are offering both printed versions and digital versions, such as one of my favourites, Interiors.

    Here's one unimagined idea I whipped up for the cover of Boundless Beauty. (Not the actual cover, please note!) I'm very anxious to see how the magazine will look.

    Other digital magazines:

    Antler (fashion forward!)

    By Fryd (Scandanavian design)

    Tuesday, May 18, 2010

    The Vintage Gardener

    In Toronto's historical Distillery District (several blocks of 19th Century distillery buildings that have been converted into retail and studio space in the city's south-east side) there is a quiet space devoted to gardening, with a very definite nod to Grandmother.

    Called 'Vintage Gardener' the store is a tribute to Victorian elegance, selling all manner of decorative plants, culinary herbs, flowers (fresh and dried), urns and mountains of beautiful flower pots. The space is gorgeously merchandised using antique cabinetry, tables and benches all organically layered, giving the visitor so much to look at. Its old brick walls, tall windows and high ceilings give the impression of a grand potting shed somewhere in rural England. Stepping into 'Vintage Gardener' is like stepping into another time.

    The store's proprietor, Elaine Martin, is devoted to sourcing material that is not easy to find locally and avoids the gift-show circuit and cookie-cutter gardening ideals. She does, however, emphasize community involvement by hosting seasonal workshops and luncheons devoted to a particular theme: the culinary herb festival is coming up this weekend at the store, and in August there is a festival devoted to lavender. Smaller workshops, such as wreath-making, window-box planting and creating unique hanging baskets are ongoing. The next time you're in downtown Toronto, be sure to seek out this little gem.

    Upon entering the space, one is greeted by a spectacular tableau of garden materials.

    Vintage garden ornaments and urns are interspersed with newer ones, dried flowers are mixed with fresh.

    Towards the back of the store is a display of terracotta flower pots, mounded high by a utility sink.

    Next to Vintage Gardener is a spectacular café called Balzac's Coffee Roastery - a supreme space with supreme coffee and baking.

    Sunday, May 16, 2010

    Red Spruce Rugs

    I first read about Red Spruce Rugs several months ago in a magazine and have been meaning to blog about them here, since I feel the craft and design behind these handmade, hooked rugs is extraordinary. Based in Nova Scotia, Canada, Red Spruce Rugs have harnessed traditional hooked-rug methods (long-entrenched in Nova Scotia's history) and employ them using modern design, creating unique and visionary patterns on their creations. The company's founder, Michael Christie, is responsible for most of the designs, including the colours, the dyeing techniques, as well as the interior design consultation for commissioned works. His website,, is a marvelous trove of thoughts about rugs and rug-making, the creative process and the love of design. (Did you know, by the way, that people who hook rugs actually like being called hookers?) I've selected some of my favourite designs from Red Spruce Rugs and I urge you to visit the website to view more examples and learn more aobut the long tradition of hooking rugs.
    The scallop motif is universal in nature, having appeared historically in geographies as disparate as Nova Scotia and Japan. The calming pattern and warm pinks are reminiscent of sunrises and sunsets.
    The stark silhouette of birds against a sunset-tinted sky is striking.
    For this rug, the inspiration was an unlikely source: the colour dots used by optometrists to test for colour blindness!

    The inspiration behind this rug was the pattern on a 19th Century brass-cast door knob. Stylized floral motifs and geometric patterns add depth and interest.

    This design is reminiscent of old Scandanavian or Dutch motifs, while also employing an Eastern influence with its mandala pattern.

    Friday, May 14, 2010

    She Shall Have Some Peace There

    We have just under a year to wait for Margaret Roach's new garden book, called "And I Shall Have Some Peace There." In February, 2011, the wait will be over and we can all curl up with our copies, perhaps with a snow storm raging outdoors, dreaming of the spring to come.

    Margaret's books are always a generous mix of wisdom, philosophy and practicality (in no particular order) and they are among my favourite books to return to for inspiration and rediscovery. Her new book promises to be just as inspiring. She calls it a "drop-out memoir" - the tale of a corporate leader in media and publishing trading in her treks to Manhattan for treks to the frog pond. The catalyst for Margaret's dropping out (and the main subject of the book) is the stuff that verdant dreams are made of: her incredible Catskill acreage, beautifully tended to and landscaped, lush and alive and peaceful. Once you've seen it in person you will understand why working and living there full-time is so alluring.

    Below is one potential cover for the book. Below that is Margaret's inspiration for the title of the book, a poem by William Yeats she studied in college.

    I WILL ARISE AND GO NOW, and go to Innisfree,
    And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
    Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,
    And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

    And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
    Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
    There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
    And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

    I will arise and go now, for always night and day
    I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
    While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
    I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

    Thursday, May 13, 2010

    Kitchen Space-Saving Ideas

    More often than not, finding storage in busy workspaces at home is a challenge. This is certainly true of the busiest room in the house: the kitchen. We use the room on an almost constant basis - to store food, dinnerware, glassware and flatware, to store, prepare and cook food, to keep cleaning supplies, to dine in, to entertain in. The smaller the kitchen, the more challenging its organization becomes. These ideas below, from the editors of Martha Stewart Living, are ones that I have employed in my own kitchen (where appropriate) or ones that I have frequently suggested to friends who are struggling with kitchen storage. The ideas are delightfully simple - both in concept and execution. I hope you find them useful!
    Here, you essentially create a two-tier storage system. Using a cake stand to corral and elevate frequently-used ingrdients, like spices and oils, keeps them within easy reach and frees up the counter space below the elevated tray to tuck in small canisters of other ingredients.

    Two interlocking pieces of wood form an "X" within a wooden cubby, creating cubbies for wine storage.

    Installing pegboard in the kitchen is a great way to hang baskets for extra storage. Using S-hooks to secure the baskets to the boards makes changing their positions a cinch. Baskets designed to hold fishermen's tackel or to secure to bicycle handlebars come ready-made with loops in the back.

    A vintage bathroom towel bar finds a new use in the kitchen. Hanging pots and pans from S-hooks keep them within reach but still elevated from valuable surface area.

    Storing cutting boards, baking sheets and sturdy platters upright on kitchen shelves frees space and saves you from having to lift a heavy stack simply to retrieve one item. Here, the editors used tension curtain rods, vertically, to create slots into which the boards can slide. Buy rods to fit the space and position pairs of them at intervals. Twist to tighten them.
    Rather than stuff old rags and rubber gloves into a plastic bucket under the sink, hang them from hooks fastened to the inside of the cupboard doors. It keeps them handy and dry.

    To eliminate the search for the right lid amid an unwieldly stack each time you use your pots and pans, store them neatly. Place a wooden peg rack inside a cupboard and line up the lids vertically between the pegs, from smallest to largest.

    Gather the small pantry items you generally store on a cupboard shelf into a shallow baking pan then treat it like a drawer, carefully sliding it into view when you need to access an ingredient. This isolates numerous pieces into one spot, freeing up the shelf space around it.

    Bamboo steamers, used often in Asian cooking, lend themselves perfectly to the storage of onions and garlic. The air holes in the lid keep the produce cool and in a well-ventilated space while still keeping out the light - ideal storage for these frequently-used vegetables.

    Storing glassware can consume a lot of valuable shelf space. Create a double-decker storage solution by using a small tray to double the surface area upon which to store the glasses.

    Wednesday, May 12, 2010

    Martha Gets Emmy Nods!

    The Martha Stewart Show has been nominated for an Emmy in the Outstanding Lifestyle Program category. Its host, Martha Stewart, was also nominated for Outstanding Lifestyle Program Host. Having been both an audience member and a guest on the program over the years, I can tell you, first hand, how hard the people on this program work. The Chelsea Studio is a hive of activity every morning in New York City, with producers, directors, sound and lighting engineers, crafters, make-up artists and kitchen staff all buzzing about preparing for the day's show. What's more, they are all so friendly, generous and excited about what they do.

    I snapped this photo of the Emmy Awards that have been won by Martha Stewart Living Television over the years. They are all on display in the green room at the studio. Hopefully two more will be added to the collection...although, a longer table may be needed!

    My personal congratulations go to "my" producer, "my girl" Lenore Welby who has been working with Martha Stewart Television since the mid-1990s. She was so gracious, helpful and fun when I was working with her on the segment for the show and I hope to see her again some day.

    Martha, naturally, is deserving of this award. She is the consummate professional and is instrumental in preparing every single segment of the show, imparting nearly 20 years of expertise as a television host to her staff. She doesn't just show up and stride onto the set. She knows where every prop is located, the name of everyone on set, the kinds of plants that are in the greenhouse, the way everything should be labeled and stored and how everything should be operating. As co-executive producer of the show (with Mark Burnett), the host, and the show's namesake, she is the cornerstone of the show's success. Martha was warm and charming when I met her on the show, talkative and genuinely interested in hearing about me: the mark of an excellent host. She made me feel at ease and it was an honour to meet someone I so deeply respect and admire.

    I wish everyone at the show tremendous success. You deserve these awards!

    Monday, May 10, 2010

    Easy, Breezy June

    "Moons and Junes and ferris wheels, the dizzy-dancing way you feel..." Joni Mitchell penned those lines over 40 years ago but her reference to the excitement of summer's initial forays into fun still ring true today. The June issue of Martha Stewart Living was swiftly scooped up and pored over the moment I walked into the door this evening. This June, more than in June issues past, the focus is on entertaining and summer cooking. I was a little surprised to see so few articles on gardening, summer crafts or summer decorating ideas. What it means, though, is much more room for the things we truly focus on in June: easy outdoor dining, simple strategies for summer get-togethers and plenty of recipes for drinks, desserts and other lovely indulgences. Below are some highlights from the issue.

    The cover is an homage to summer's casual flare: burgers, refreshing drinks and a riot of blue gingham.

    On the splash page towards the back of the magazine, the editors labeled bottles of white wine and rosé with letters from the masthead: an enticing invitation to sip from these splendid entertaining ideas.A collecting article about the humble household juicer - glimpsed through the ages - will have you making a list of styles you will be searching for on your next trip to the flea market.Summer entertaining is the primary focus of this issue. One article presents us with ideas on simple summer strategies for get-togethers with friends and family: buffets, picnics and casual dinners.A farm-to-table story is a great way to get excited about using the season's produce!An article on tarts is especially captivating. The "plates" used in the images are actually comprised of stitches, beautifully sewn and embroidered by Miyuki Sakai.