Monday, June 28, 2010

"Martha" Wins Emmy!

I want to take a moment to congratulate all the staff who work so hard on producing The Martha Stewart Show for their Emmy win last night for Outstanding Service Show. I believe this is Emmy #12 or #13 for Martha's Television department and that shiny table in the green room may need to be altered to accommodate the ever-growing array of awards. Special cheers for Lenore Welby, Aaron Caramanis, Lan Cheung, the adorable make-up lady (who's name I sadly cannot remember at the moment!), the lovely receptionist, Director Joey and Audience Joey, all of whom were so kind and wonderful to me the day I appeared on the show, and who are so devoted to what they do on set every day. Thank you to Martha, too, for allowing me to be even a small part of this past year's award-winning season. You were lovely. What a pleasure it was!!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Sexy-Rexy Rose

When I saw a friend's photographs of a public rose garden recently, I zeroed in on one particular variety that immediately caught my eye. Its lush and luxuriant appearance is what attracted me. I asked Gordon what they were called and he announced the name proudly: Sexy Rexy! (They are also sold in nurseries as Heckenzauber or Macrexy roses.) He also told me they are intoxicatingly fragrant, which further sold me on their virtues. If I had a rose garden, these would be growing in profusion. Below is some information about this amazing rose.

This is Gordon's photograph of the Sexy-Rexy, which he took at the Thornden Park Rose Garden in Syracuse, New York.

Sexy Rexy is a floribunda rose producing showy, heavy heads of camellia-like, rounded, fully double, rose-pink flowers with abundant glossy, dark green leaves. It is categorized as a perennial shrub and grows to about 3 feet in height. They are hardy between zones 5 and 9 and bloom from mid-spring to mid-fall, allowing for a long period of enjoyment. Like most roses, the petals are edible and have a mild, delicately bittersweet flavour, and they prefer full sun. The soil can be sandy or clay loam with pH levels ranging between 4.5 to 8.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Projects of a Different Stripe

There's something about the crisp, clean look of stripes that brings an air of freshness and calm to a space, and often a touch of nautical adventure. Playing with the colours, widths and lengths of stripes can change a space even further. Below are examples of projects that use stripes to enhance spaces, indoors and out.

STRIPED SHELVES: It's stripes on stripes: Paint shelves with chalkboard paint in a color different from the wall for a linear look. These shelves have chalk-drawn lines along the edges. Displaying white items emphasizes the graphic effect. Learn how to make chalkboard paint.

STRIPED PENDANT LAMPS: A pair of white-and-blue pendant lamps brighten this eclectic kitchen -- with its 19th-century farmhouse table and retro-style chairs -- in more ways than one. Wrapping cotton cord around aluminum shades gives them a softer look, while the silvery interiors maintain their industrial edge. Lamp how-to, click here.

STRIPED ROPE BASKETS: Like magic, humble cotton cord meant for Venetian blinds becomes a basket with natural appeal and chic style. All you need is a little time and some glue. Wind the cord (Venetian blind cord, by Librett Durables, around a plastic flowerpot, gluing as you go and changing cord colors to make stripes. Use the baskets for bread, fruit, or potted plants, or create a set of desk accessories.

STRIPED TAGS: Plain tags from an office-supply store become bright and cheerful with the addition of stripes. Just wrap the tags with lengths of washi tape, a kind of Japanese masking tape (often sold in packs with several colors). The speedy, goof-proof process makes this a great project to do with kids.

STRIPED DESK ACCESSORIES: Buy decorative accessories or even office supplies in two colors, and -- voila! -- instant stripes. Here, we alternated storage boxes and envelopes for a graphic look.
STRIPED PILLOWS: Nautical stripes in faded blue combine with neutrals and naturals for a room that's modern and inviting. The daybed's large pillows began as throw rugs that cost $3 each (really!) and were stitched into shape with a carpet needle.

RIBBON-STRIPED SHEER CURTAINS: Inexpensive and ubiquitous, store-bought sheers will save you precious time and money by serving as the canvas for your creative additions. Turn organza ribbon into soft stripes on cotton-voile sheers.

STRIPED TABLE: Set the table for a whole season of festive cookouts by giving it a new summer coat. The wooden slats of a classic picnic table provide a ready-made outline for stripes. Table how-to, click here.

PAINTED STRIPE FLOOR: Painting a floor can give form to a room where everything is function, offset the formality of a living room, and restore life to a tired stairway. It is a bit of trompe l'oeil underfoot -- a visual pun that plays to an entire room. Floor how-to, click here.

Martha Filming in Turkey and Thailand

Martha has been quite the gal on the go this summer with a schedule packed with travel plans! Just back from a two-week trip to Malaysia with her niece Sophie and her best friend Memrie, she had just enought time to spend a weekend in Montreal before heading to Turkey with her good friend and colleague Kevin Sharkey. Also accompanying Martha is a small film crew that will be producing several episodes of the new season of The Martha Stewart Show, set to air this fall on the Hallmark Channel. I love taped segments of the program, particularly those that feature Martha's travels or her homes. I'm sure the episodes filmed in Turkey will be filled with great information about the food, the architecture, the famous landmarks and the culture.

Martha has also been hired by Thailand's tourism department to film a series of cooking shows in Thailand this September. The aim by the Thai government is to use Martha's allure to help boost the country's travel industry, especially for female tourists.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Martha's Pet Products

For someone who does not have a pet, I'm ridiculously excited about the new Martha Stewart Pets line at Pet Smart. I grew up with pets (cats, dogs, fish, lizards...) so I understand very well the desire to pamper and love them every minute they are with us. Martha's products seem to be designed to do just that. They are set at a slightly higher price point and have the pet's health and happiness in mind. Below are some of the highlights from the line. To see the whole collection, click here. (You all know I'm a sucker for packaging, and these designs do not disappoint!)
These are indoor, quilted waste pads, perfect for small dogs in apartments. They can be trained to go on the mat to do their business on those occasions when taking them outdoors is not an option.

Continuing on the "waste" theme, these boxes of eight waste-bag rolls in bright shades make clean-up easy on those long walks with Fido down sunny streets and pretty parks.

Are these dog-food scoops not so adorable? They have the measurement on the handle.

The ultimate in pooch grooming, this carry-all bag has it all: brushes, shampoos, clippers, everything you need to keep your companion tidy, healthy and happy. Love the colour scheme!

I really like the functionality of this feeding station with removable stainless-steel bowls for easy cleaning. The bowls also have lids to keep things tidy. It's all dishwasher safe, too!

Martha's customer will, of course, occasionally bake her own doggie treats. These dog-bone cookie cutters make the creation stylish and fully appropriate.
Crocheted squeaky toys? Of course! It's Martha.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Martha Stewart Living: U.K. Version This Fall

Martha Stewart Living magazine will launch a U.K. edition of the publication beginning this September, according to It is expected that the magazine will publish monthly and will have different content than the U.S. version of the magazine. The licensing partner is Pizzazz Media Ltd. which will also issue the U.K. version of Martha Stewart Living in Australia and New Zealand.

As the magazine approaches its 20th anniversary, the company is ramping up its international distribution of its flagship and supporting magazines. In July and October, respectively, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia will release Everyday Food and Martha Stewart Weddings in Dubai written in Arabic. These will also be issued in Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Syria. Martha Stewart Living will be released in Indonesia this August, adding to the existing international versions of the magazine in Poland, Korea and Thailand. (International editions of Martha Stewart Living had previously been issued in Japan, Israel and the Philippines. The U.S. version of the magazine is currently distributed in dozens of nations around the globe.)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Review: Josh's Bucolic Plague

Is it possible to become delerious with ruralistic pursuits of ideal farm life? Can overwork, stress and a driving desire to sustain a centuries-old mansion in a recession be cured by homemade cheese, handmade soap and a bevy of loving goats? Can the fragrance of Martha Stewart's peonies intoxicate a person and cause him to lose all good judgment, sensibility and bladder control? The answers to these questions lie in the pages of Josh Kilmer Purcell's hilarious and surprisingly honest memoir called "The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentlemen Farmers."

Josh is someone I consider to be a friend, even though I've only met him once at his glorious farm/mansion in Sharon Springs, New York: the Beekman, as it's known locally. His partner, Dr. Brent Ridge, is also someone I call a friend, though to this day we have not met in person. Our paths crossed in 2008 after I saw Brent on The Martha Stewart Show making soap with Martha using milk from the goats on his farm. At the time, Brent was the senior vice president of healthy living at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and wrote a monthly column for the magazine. Always eager to blog, I wasted no time investigating their Beekman 1802 brand of handmade soaps and housewares and ordered a batch for myself - several batches in fact. The pair were so thankful for the free publicity (which I'm told brought much-needed traffic and sales to the Beekman) that they embraced me with open arms. We're friends to this day and I can't wait to return to Sharon Springs for another visit. (Hopefully celebrity and fame haven't gone to their heads too much, now that they have a hit reality show on Planet Green: The Fabulous Beekman Boys.) But back to the book...

My copy arrived a couple weeks ago, courtesy of Josh, and it coincided with the arrival of their "After the Garden" soap at the Anthropologie store where I work. I wasted little time using the beautiful soap wrapping as a bookmark, gluing it onto cardstock for firmness. I brought the book with me on my trip to Ottawa and I devoured it over the course of two days.

My first impression was how honest the book was, charting the good, the bad and the ugly sides of this dreamy pursuit of country living, which in reality is nothing like it is portrayed in the magazines. Josh examines the stresses and strains of starting a new business, maintaining a healthy relationship and building a dream as a couple, all the while attempting to enjoy the journey, the beautiful setting and the new community. His writing style is conversational and witty, making it easy to fall in love with the story being told.

Fans of Martha will not be disappointed either. She looms large in their lives (both idealistically and realistically) and Josh pens several very funny anecdotes about his encounters with Martha over the years, including a Fourth of July dinner at Lily Pond Lane and her famous Peony Party at Bedford - probably the most memorable Martha Moment the book contains!

What the reader is left with is a sense of admiration for these fabulous Beekman boys: for trying so hard to make a dream come true, for not slitting their wrists or killing each other in the face of desperate times and for letting an historic town, battered by a propeller of insufferable economies over the decades, capture their hearts and harness their determination to make their mark. You can order the book here.

Happy Father's Day

I'm not sure how many dads read my blog, but in case there are a few, I want to wish them a very Happy Father's Day! Dads, I feel, can get a bit neglected over the course of the year, so it's nice to have a day to remember the important role they can play in our lives. Still, Father's Day ranks quite low on the card-buying survey; according to international sales figures of greeting cards, Father's Day ranks fifth among occassions consumers buy cards for. By contrast, Mother's Day ranks first, beating out Christmas and Valentine's Day! So, if you're a dad, celebrate in style today. If you've got a dad you adore, tell him how much he means to you. I know he'll appreciate it.

This is a photograph I took of my dad in 1990 during a trip to Prince Edward Island, in Canada. He was teaching me how to use a camera (manual, of course, since digital didn't exist yet) and we found this amazing abandoned house by the sea to use as our subject. He posed in this one for me. For a 14 year-old photographer, I think this one turned out quite nice. Happy Father's Day, Dad!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Creative Coaster Craft

Here's a simple, cost-effective and creative craft to make for dad this weekend, or for your next party. Maps can lend an air of adventure to your d├ęcor and even the smallest hint of their intricate designs can have impact. These small coasters were featured in the August 2009 issue of Martha Stewart Living and I revisited them recently on the website. Below are the instructions.

Don't stash away or discard maps from your favorite vacation spots. Use them to make these handy coasters and you'll be reminded of that special destination every time you reach for one. Create a set for yourself and another for your travel companions as an artful memento of your trip. Tip: Choose maps from one location, or make a set mixed with local and overseas destinations.

Step 1: Place map on a cutting mat, printed side down, then place cork coaster on top. Step 2: Cut out circles from map by tracing coaster with craft knife.

Step 3: Use brush to apply glue sealant to one side of coaster, covering completely. Adhere back of map circle to coaster, smoothing to remove bubbles.

Step 4: Brush top and sides of coaster with a thin layer of glue sealant, and let dry. Repeat to make a set.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Letter From Beekman Farm

On this very exciting day, we both want to say thank you to everyone for being so enthusiastic, encouraging, and supportive during the previous full year of filming The Fabulous Beekman Boys. Yep. A full year. Unlike most reality shows that rush their productions through in a month or so, The Fabulous Beekman Boys took a full year to film 10 episodes. Everyone involved felt it was very important to capture and share all of the seasons of farm life – something that you all know we've been trying to do at the Beekman since our first day.

Why on earth would we let cameras film a whole year of us making mistakes, making arguments, making nice, making lists & making our bed and then having to lie in it? Because we re-discovered a lot of things that a lot of the rest of the country has forgotten about. We learned first hand how difficult it is to make a living as small farmers in America. We experienced the make-or-break importance of one's neighbors, and also what it means to be a good neighbor. We learned that village Main Streets can only stay vibrant if people get up from their couches and TV sets and stroll along them. (
After tonight's premiere, of course.)

We hope that
The Fabulous Beekman Boys will share some of those same lessons with people who have no idea where their food comes from or who their next door neighbor is. We hope it may even inspire people and couples at a transition point in their lives. And if it means people will laugh at us as they're learning from our story, well, that's even better. Because we'll let you in on a big secret:

We're not all that fabulous.

But we mean well, and we work hard.

And that's the most important lesson the Beekman has taught us.

xoxo Josh and Brent

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Summer, Everyday

Summer spirit continues to find its way into my mailbox and, subsequently, into my kitchen. The summer (July/August) issue of Everyday Food arrived yesterday with more fun ideas and creative, simple recipes than I know what to do with. And, once again, the design of this happy little digest continues to evolve and improve with each passing issue, it seems. Below are some highlights.

The cover is a red-white-and-blue ode to summer dining. (Look at those s'mores!)
A centerfold design at the back of the magazine is a creative way to showcase the best in burgers.

At the beginning of the magazine, there are 50 ways to celebrate summer, including tasting tomatoes off the vine, eating corn off the cobb (dressed with salt, pepper and lime), throwing a pool party and eating leftover pie for breakfast.

This feature (Eat Out at Home) has a gorgeous recipe for stuffed tomatoes that uses fresh goat cheese and marjoram. I really can't wait to try this one.
Unusual and delicious-looking pizzas are the focus of a feature about making this healthy and simple Italian main course at home, in favour of the take-out menu.

Monday, June 14, 2010

July Living

I am not American, neither is the new editor-in-chief of Martha Stewart Living, Vanessa Holden, who hails from Australia, where they too have Queen Elizabeth on their currency. But the appreciation of the United States and all its red-white-and-blue patriotism is perfectly and beautifully expressed in this year's July issue of the magazine. Perhaps it's Vanessa's fresh eyes, as an ex-Aussie living in New York, that gives this issue such a spirited sense of wonder for all things American. Perhaps it's my proximity to the U.S. as a Canadian that allows me to so easily enjoy its content, having been blessed by important friendships with Americans, not to mention dozens of trips south of the border for vacations, business trips and holidays. Whatever the case may be, the issue is a classic, brimming with patriotic pride, festive summer ideas for crafts and decorating, mouth-watering recipes and lovely celebrations of each state.

The cover is a jubilant and colourful tribute to Americana.
A previous post on this blog about the unique summer splash pages in Martha Stewart Living did not include this one, which is now one of my favourites.

The Great Finds section of the magazine is filled with red-white-and-blue treasures from across the country.

The garden of Wayne Guymon in Pennsylvania is a lush, informal garden that spans decades of design and planting over nine acres of verdant land.
American maps on vibrantly-printed textiles is the focus of my favourite features in this issue. The styles and colours are varried and enchanting.
The peach orchard of David Mas Masumoto in Central Valley, California, is an inspiring place, one that begets tantalizing recipes you'll want to try.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Father's Day Clip-Art

In the June issue of Martha Stewart Living there is a lovely enticement to download these vintage-inspired labels for Father's Day gifts. Print them on peel-and-stick paper (available at most office-supplies stores) and adhere them to your dad's favourite jar of pickles, jam, nuts or barbecue sauce. You could also print these on standard paper or card stock and use the designs in scrapbooks or handmade cards. Download the templates here.

Seasonal Inspiration

Hello everyone! I'm back from a brief vacation to my hometown to visit family and friends. While there, I soaked up as much summer fun as I could, with the promise of great memories and inspiring visuals to last me through the working weeks ahead. (I have another week later this season to embark on another chapter of fun in the sun.) Below are some of the snaps I took during my respite: scenes from the family cottage, family heirlooms and the downtown market. All of them shout summer!

This summer tablecloth has been in the family for three generations. The summery flowers and fruits were embroidered by my great Aunt Ortie in the 1940s and I learned on this trip home that it will be mine to inherit. It measures five by five and as you can see by its condition, it's been very well cared for. I may, in fact, hang it as textile art.The Byward Market in downtown Ottawa is always overflowing with greenery. Stalls and stands along the district's roadsides are brimming with colour: houseplants, garden plants, vegetables and all manner of produce. Crafts, handmade clothing and jewelry, homemade desserts and preserves are also on offer all season long. It's a wonderful place to spend an afternoon!
I noticed this little fellow on a leaf at my parents' cottage. The peonies in my mother's garden are bursting open with a riot of pink intensity and incredible fragrance.

The screen door of the porch at my parents' cottage has a whimsical motif in each of its corners.

Wildflowers abound at the cottage. This one had a beautiful, hot-orange that I couldn't resist. It was growing all by its lonesome at the water's edge.A more prolific array of wild flowers grows along one of the embankments next to the cottage.

Wild strawberries also grow on the property, though they are hidden under the tall grasses. They are not particularly sweet and have a somewhat sour taste to them.

I always like to take walks through the forests that surround the cottage, marveling at the quietude and all the lush greenery that grows so freely and naturally anywhere it can. I was enchanted by this fern growing on top of a large boulder that was covered in moss.

The lake at the cottage was so warm and beautiful. I loved how the sun danced across its little ripples and waves.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Martha's New Shows at Hallmark

The fall lineup at Hallmark was announced today, including the spate of new Martha Stewart programming.

Following new episodes of "The Martha Stewart Show," to air weekdays at 10 a.m., will be an as-yet-untitled hour-long talk show with Stewart's daughter, Alexis Stewart, and pal Jennifer Koppelman Hutt, hosts of Sirius XM's "Whatever."

The show will be filmed before a studio audience and tackle the day's headlines, as well as fashion, beauty and more.

"I see it being like 'The View,'" said Laura Sillars, senior vice president of lifestyle programming at Hallmark. "They're going to have fun with it, be witty and humorous, but still give information. We're looking forward to that one because I think it'll bring in a younger viewership."

Mad Hungry With Lucinda will debut at noon, with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia executive food editor Lucinda Scala Quinn. Quinn is an author of several popular cookbooks, including "Mad Hungry: Feeding Men & Boys," which is the inspiration for the series.

"I feel good about being with Hallmark because I'm all about the family meal and Hallmark is all about family programming," said Quinn. "This is really just a sort of how-to uprising for bringing back the family meal in an affordable, accessible, fun way - in real time, with a real-life action plan to feed the people you love."

Following a half-hour of "Mad Hungry," Hallmark will air an episode of Stewart's "Everyday Food" (from seasons one through four) from 12:30 to 1 p.m. From 1 to 4, the network will air select episodes from MSLO's library, including titles like "From Martha's Kitchen" and "From Martha's Home." Martha will also tape original Halloween and Christmas specials, as well as conduct two prime-time interviews for the network this fall.

"Daytime television is still a viable way that women learn better ways to do things in their lives," said Sillars. "It's still a very important part of our culture and the way we watch television."