Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Decade of Augusts

When Martha Stewart Living became a monthly magazine in 2001, the publication began offering two new seasonal issues: a January issue and an August issue. Prior to 2001, MSL published ten times a year, sandwiching July and August into one summer issue and December and January into one holiday issue.

The monthly appearance of the magazine in mailboxes and on newsstands kept the magazine vital all year round and gave the editors a chance to broaden their focus by giving them two more issues in which to discuss seasonal lifestyle topics: new projects, new ideas and new Good Things.

As I've stated here before, the August issue ranks as my favourite among the three summer issues, though not my favourite of the entire year, which is usually reserved for one of the fall/winter issues. I read less during the summer so it takes a great issue to really grab my attention. Historically, that has been the August issue of Martha Stewart Living.

There is often an element of the sea in the August issue (pressed seaweed, found sea glass, sea shell crafts, a dockside picnic) and usually a focus on delicious summer desserts, like fruit-filled pies and no-bake treats. The bounty celebrated in the issue almost always gives me incentive to take stock of the overflowing produce at the market and compels me to enjoy all that 'High Summer' has to offer before she slips away.

Below is a roster of the ten August issues Martha Stewart Living has so far published. Each one is a treasure! Any particular favourites?

2001 and 2002
2003 and 2004
2005 and 2006
2007 and 2008
2009 and 2010

Everyday Food Digital Recipe Index

Subscribers of Everyday Food can now sign up to access a free digital recipe index, which features every single recipe published by the magazine between 2003 (when the magazine began) and 2009. If you are a subscriber, click here to access the online index or download it to your PC. In 2007, a printed Everyday Food index was sent out to subscribers who renewed their subscriptions. This new digital version is less expensive to produce and easier to navigate.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Much Ado About Blogging

There are three new MSLO blogs that launched today: Taste of the Test Kitchen , Living in the Family Room and At Home in the Garden. Below are their cute little headers. Taste of the Kitchen brings a behind-the-scenes look at some of the recipes featured in the magazines with personal tales about their creation. Living in the Family Room is a family-focused blog, featuring crafts, cooking ideas and activities for parents and kids. At Home in the Garden is a gardening blog, obviously, with the hosts examining everything from arranging flowers to planning a city garden. Each blog is run by a team of editors from Martha Stewart Living, bringing their expertise to the web in a fun and interactive way.

Speaking of bloggers, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia will be celebrating their roster of blogs (young and old) next Thursday night at an event at their headquarters in Manhattan. Each of the blogs will have its own station and guests will be able to meet them in person. The event is invitation-only and I sadly will not be attending, so I won't be able to bring you any first-hand photographs or details. However, anyone can follow the night's events on Twitter.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Martha's New Baking Show + Tornado

There have been several allusions of late about a new baking show being hosted by Martha Stewart this fall on the Hallmark channel, where all of her programming will now be televised. There are no real details yet, but Alexis and Martha have both mentioned the show in recent days. It also appears there will be a new book to accompany the show, according to the Sweet Dani B blog. The show is being taped at Cantitoe Corners, Martha's home in Bedford, New York.

Martha was, in fact, filming an episode of the show last weekend when the segment was interrupted by a tornado that whipped through her property, uprooting 120 mature trees (some of which caused extensive damage to her stone walls as they fell) and made quite a mess of her pergola, potted plants and greenhouse. The photo below illustrates just how close Martha was to losing the property's tenant's cottage, which is adjacent to the main house. You can read more about the devastation to her farm and leave Martha an encouraging message by visiting her blog.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Guy Wolff Pottery at Restoration Hardware

One of Martha's favourite potters is Guy Wolff. Based in Washington, Connecticut,Guy was discovered by Martha years ago on one of her many excursions through the state to seek out the best craftspeople and artisans. He has since become her favourite potter and her homes are filled with examples of his pieces, many of them custom-made for Martha. Wolff has been doing his art since 1971 and he is a big believer in architectural pottery, pots that stand the test of time, both in terms of their functionality and their style. Drawing inspiration from the 18th and 19th centuries, Wolff is as prolific as any of the great masters. Martha has had him on her show numerous times and always extolls the virtues of his work.

Now, any of us can enjoy the beauty of his work in our own homes, thanks to a recent wholesale partnership with Restoration Hardware, a home-furnishings store that launched in California over 30 years ago and that, today, has become a leader in the industry. You can view some of his pieces below or at the Restoration Hardware website.

Here is Martha trying her hand at pottery in Guy's Connecticut studio with Guy as her guide.
The line of Guy Wolff pottery at Restoration Hardware comes in both classic terra-cotta and in white clay, part of his Regency collection, which is exclusive to Restoration Hardware.
Graceful lines and soothing tones define the style of these "Long-Tom" pots in the Regency Collection. Long Toms are a traditional favourite for bulb planting and deep-rooting plants.
Molded handles embellish these elegant Peabody pots, named after a small Massachusetts town that was the center of pottery creation in America during the 18th Century.
One of Wolff's best-loved creations is his classic orchid pot. This particular one is based on the style of those found at the conservatory at Windsor Castle in England. The holes in the pot allow the orchid's roots to breathe, which is required for their survival and healthy growth.
These ceramic seed pans are so lovely, embossed with multiple stamps of Wolff's classic insignia. They are also perfect for succulents and cacti plantings inside the home.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Martha and Chiggy

I absolutely love these photographs of Martha with her first cat, Chiggy, who was adopted from a shelter. I love the intimacy they convey, the vulnerability and the softness of the light. It's my guess that the photographer was likely Andy Stewart or her father, both of whom were wonderful amateur photographers. Martha looks to be in her late teens.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

French-Door Room Divider

I love this idea from the September, 2003, issue of Martha Stewart Living. Sometimes open-concept floor plans need a little help to become cozy, private and intimate spaces. Rather than putting up walls, try folding screens and portable room dividers to bring sophistication and practicality to your room. They are light enough to maneuver and change seasonally, if desired, or they can be stowed away at a moment's notice if the occasion calls for it. This DIY version of a folding screen employs the use of three solid-core French doors (which are sturdy and can carry hardware nicely), a little paint and some fabric. A solid table with a floral arrangement anchors the vignette.

Double-acting hinges are used to secure the three French doors together. They enable the doors to fold in both directions, which is a luxurious bonus. Begin by priming and painting the doors. The ones shown here are new doors, but older, more rusticated doors would also be charming. Install two leveling glides on each end of the bottom of each door. This will let you move the screen easily and steady it on an uneven floor. It is recommended to have two people to undertake this project since the doors can be heavy and awkward when securing them together. In the screen pictured above, the editors chose an antique sconce to hang in the center, which adds character.

On the other side of the newly-formed screen, beautiful material is stretched between opposing curtain brackets on each door. These curtains bring the privacy factor, while still allowing the panes of glass to add interest on the facing side of the screen.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Everyday Food Spanish Edition

A reader in Mexico, Nashelly Rincon, sent me these scans of the Spanish edition of Everyday Food. She was also kind enough to send me an actual copy! I continue to be amazed by the ever-growing reach of Martha's brand into countries around the globe. I remember an interview Martha gave in the late 1990s saying it was her aim to be a global brand one day. She is quite close to achieving that dream.

This is the bright and beautiful cover. The headline reads "Summer Days" and boasts 60 recipes.
"Dinner 1-2-3" includes a delicious-looking chicken burger.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Vacation Memorykeeping Crafts

A recent examination of one of my storage boxes yielded a fun discovery. I found one of my travel journals from a road trip I took with my family across Canada in 1990. It is filled with remembrances and observations. Glancing through the pages triggered wonderful and specific memories of that summer-long vacation that really made me smile.

This got me thinking about today's generation of young people who may travel with a host of technological gadgets to 'pass the time' as they drive from one place to another, foregoing journaling and memory keeping in favour of watching the latest Disney DVD or downloading the newest hit. Meanwhile, picturesque scenery and moments of reflection or conversations with family get lost along the way.

Hopefully some young people use technology to document their travel memories; travel blogs are on the rise among young people, and almost no tween or teenager in modern, western culture is without some form of camera. Still, there was something so rewarding, so meaningful about actually writing down my memories in a book. Putting pen to paper somehow made the memories more tangible. The journal was a simple, hardback book of red leather with about 150 pages inside. Below are some of the pages from it.

I love looking at my round, bubbly penmanship from those days, some of it all jiggly from writing in the back seat of a moving car or sitting on a log on a beach at Pacific Rim in British Columbia, the sea winds nearly blowing me over.

Martha, too, has some wonderful, traditional ideas for preserving vacation memories. To view the entire collection of ideas, as well as the how-tos, please click here. I've selected some of my personal favourites below:

This family chose to archive samples of sand from every beach they have ever set foot on by filling small spice jars with the sand and then labeling them. The jars are on display on a long shelf in the family's living room.
Preserve your vacation memorabilia on the road with a handy organizer. All you need is a hole punch and a single binder clip, available at office-supply stores. The cover of the booklet, above, is a scan of a New York City, cut to the size of a postcard and then labeled with a printed sticker.

Display your beach-combing finds by filling a picture frame with seashells and showing off their nuances of color and shape.

One-of-a-kind wall art can be created inexpensively when you assemble a collage from travel paraphernalia. Scan tickets, postcards and other ephemera and then enlarge it. Print the images using a colour printer and then arrange them in an interesting way. I borrowed this idea but used a massive collection of postcards I inherited from my great aunt, which she had collected from her travels all around the world. In one frame I grouped a series of black-and-white postcards with the images facing out. In the other frame are the backs of those postcards, featuring amazing tales of adventure and some beautiful old stamps. I mounted them over my desk at home so I could gaze up at them anytime I want to escape.

Exhibit your vacation memorabilia as art by assembling it into a striking three-dimensional display using shadow boxes.

A paper-bound envelope book can store recipe cards for a young cook, photos, or even an enclosure of seeds for an avid gardener, and is a thoughtful alternative to a store-bought organizer.

You can keep vacation memories a little stronger a little longer with vacation memory jars. Filled with souvenirs collected on trips and pictures developed afterward, they are like little worlds that can be visited again and again. Kids can also add to them or rearrange them anytime they like. Bent wire can be used to lower and position objects in a thin-necked jar.

A travel scrapbook can incorporate anything picked up on the road -- even cafe napkins or business cards! I love the folded design of this one, reminiscent of travel brochures.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Blossom & Branch

Sarah Brysk Cohen, owner of the Blossom & Branch florist shop in Brooklyn, New York, teamed with lifestyle photographer Jennifer Davis to create a fantasy picnic of milk-glass vases, lush bouquets and lovely linens for the Design Sponge blog. I was so enamoured of these photographs that I asked if I could showcase them here. Sarah was delighted. She writes, "The idea of lounging around with prosecco and fruit and being surrounded by adorable floral arrangements seems the perfect remedy to the hectic pace of life here in the Big City." You can read the full post and see more photographs by clicking here.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Martha to Debut New Cake Machine on HSN

On Monday night, Martha Stewart will personally debut an exclusive line of new craft items on HSN, available for order only through the shopping network.

“Our Martha Stewart Crafts line is so innovative, that we have decided to partner with HSN to provide consumers with a new set of tools that will forever change the way they craft and create,” said Martha in a statement. “In addition, our new Martha Stewart Crafts Edition Cricut Cake machine will enable home cooks to transform the things they bake into works of art and wonder. I look forward to July 19 when we will present our unique products on HSN.”
I had never heard of a "cake machine" until this morning when I read Martha's press release, but it's actually very intriguing. Developed by the creative innovators at Provo Craft, the new machine, which is co-branded with Cricut Cake and Martha Stewart Crafts, is FDA approved to be food safe and comes with unique Martha Stewart-designed cartridges. It will be able to cut intricate designs into fondant, gum paste and cookie dough and other edible materials that can be fed into the machine. These pieces can then be adhered to cakes as beautiful decorations. Martha's version of the machine is shown above. You can view more of the HSN Martha Stewart craft products by clicking here.

Monday, July 12, 2010

August Preview

The August issue of Martha Stewart Living generally ranks as my favourite among the summer issues. There's just something about 'high summer' that lends itself so perfectly to editorial depictions: an abundance of summer produce, hot days and cool nights, vibrant colours and the ease of living that comes with summer holidays. The editors have done a superb job defining August in the magazine, through photographs and ideas for summer entertaining, crafts and cooking that will leave you inspired.

The cover is clean, clear and inviting.

An article on collecting bottles takes the reader through the entire spectrum of collectible varieties, from violets to greens to blues to clear to ambers and reds... Lovely photographs by Johnny Miller.
Inspired by the horizon, where sky meets sea, these dip-dyeing projects capture the relaxed beauty of summer's essential elements.
Visit a flower farm in South Cairo, New York, and discover how passion can become a fulfilling livelihood.
Using a Hipstamatic application, digital photographs of classic bicycle styles take on a sunny, Polaroid quality, adding to the vintage charm of the article.

Also in this issue:
  • Martha explores the virtues of a tropical garden
  • Kevin Sharkey tells us about his furniture makeovers
  • Lucinda Scala-Quinn delves into the mouth-watering gorgeousness of summer feasting
  • Craft editors examine the many facets of braiding
  • Great Finds include charming items for the home, the face and the summer hike

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Guest Blogger: David Jimenez "Living with Photos"

I've introduced you to David Jiminez before on this blog. (You can read his other Martha Moments contributions here.) The talented designer and stylist is vice president of visual merchandising for Hallmark and is a regular reader of this blog. David and I struck up a friendship after a bit of online banter and he has thankfully agreed to periodically contribute some design tips to Martha Moments. In this article, David reflects on his passion for collecting and displaying photography in his homes (he lives in Kansas City and has a summer place in Palm Springs) and offers some helpful tips for displaying your own collection. Read his article below and please visit his website for more inspiration.

Ever since I can remember, I've been passionate about photography. As a teenager, I would buy those inexpensive large calendars (the kind that are filled with black and white photos of European cities), tear them apart and use the prints as artwork on the walls of my small bedroom in the Bronx.

I would carefully thumbtack the photos, edge to edge, creating a perfect grid above my headboard then lounge for hours staring at the beautiful images, transported to the romantic destinations they depicted. Over the years, I’ve amassed a large collection of black and white photography and charcoal drawings. They have no pedigree to speak of, just a range of subjects I choose based on how they make me feel. As a result, it’s an eclectic mix that ranges from thrift store finds to original pieces signed by the artist. What unifies them is their monochromatic scale and my admiration for them.

Whether it’s a gallery of family photos or a mixed collage of subjects, I love the way a wall of framed photography adds warmth to a room and conveys a personal story. I also love how impacting just a single photograph can be when it's placed in the perfect spot, giving the design of the room context and character.

When I relocated from San Francisco to Kansas City, it took me a little while to adjust to my new surroundings. I was driven to set up the rooms quickly, surround myself with furnishings that were familiar and reconnect with my stuff.

Filling the rooms with photography was something I was anxious to do since it gave me the same pleasure that I had as a kid daydreaming about far away places in my room.

The feeling we all experience when we create the right space is one of peace and harmony – a happy place that we can’t wait to spend time in and share with those that mean the most to us.

A collection of black-and-white photographs mingle with charcoal prints behind a sofa in the carriage house. They create geometric depth while drawing the eye upward to the bank of small windows above.

A closer look at the same vignette reveals the beauty of the layers and the contrast in scale and texture.
In the home office, photographs snuggle warmly into the corner, filling nearly every inch of the wall. A photo of a pair of hands on the desk leans casually onto a framed mirror behind it.

Subtlety is the order of the day in this guest bathroom. A photograph of a woman standing on a rock by the sea fades quietly into the lightness of this all-white room. The feeling is clean, pure and airy. In David's bedroom, below, a bouquet of white roses is echoed in the striking photograph behind it.

Inspiration: Create the Perfect Gallery

Nearly every surface of my home is layered in some way. Sometimes, it's as simple as layering a mirror with a photograph to create a casual vibe and a look that is spontaneous and carefree. In making choices, I start by pulling together pieces that vary in shape, texture, and finish. Creating gallery statements with my art collections is a fundamental cornerstone of style that I rely on time and again. Whether they are family photos or collected pieces of artwork, nothing is more personal than a grouping of framed art collected on a gallery wall. Here's a closer look at how it's done on this wall of eclectic photography and some tips to consider when creating your own gallery.

Keep your palette simple. I usually stick to all black-and-white, gathered in a combination of like-minded frames.

  • Different frame sizes will create an asymmetrical composition that will look more interesting.

  • Keep the wall neat and aligned by laying out the frames on the floor first and assembling them there in a rectangle that duplicates the space on the wall.

  • Use a bench or a piece of furniture to anchor the scene. It gives the gallery a finish line.

  • Create added warmth and richness by accessorizing with pillows, throws, and candles. Heap a stack of books on any surface to add depth and create instant chic.

  • If you have wall space to the left or right of the piece of furniture, layer and lean photographs against the wall, instead of hanging them, to keep the arrangement looking casual and loose.