Thursday, September 30, 2010

Halloween Clip-Art from October's Living

Don't forget to download and print this year's brilliant batch of Halloween clip-art, featured in the pages of the October 2010 issue of Martha Stewart Living. From creepy coasters to insidious invitations, you'll find a whole gamut of goods to print out this year to help you decorate and celebrate this most fearsome of festivities. Click here to download and print the 2010 Halloween clip-art templates, plus many more from Halloween issues past.
This magical vignette that depicts a flurry of butterflies escaping from the pages of a specimen book is simple to recreate by downloading the butterfly templates (which are already coloured) onto sturdy card stock. Simply cut them out, fold and glue them into place and dangle them from fishing twine.More from the specimen cabinet: These creepy specimen labels, with categories like "Jellyfish Skeletons" and "Petrified Firebird Eggs" can printed onto peel-and-stick paper and then adhered to jars of Halloween candy that resemble their descriptions. The template also includes several blank labels so that you can create your own.
Little insects decorate these coaster patterns. Print them onto paper and glue them onto cardboard coasters. These insect-themed Halloween invitations are free for the printing! Simply print them onto card stock and fill in the blanks.

I love this elaborate sea-life skeleton poster. You can download it for free, print it and use the editors' idea of framing it with plastic bones.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Martha's Halloween at Macy's

While the Martha Stewart Collection at Macy's may not offer as many Halloween goodies as her craft brand at Michael's, or her line at Grandin Road, there are still a few classic essentials to consider this fall. I've selected a few of the Halloween products from the Martha Stewart Collection below.

This is a Martha Stewart classic: a pumpkin-carving kit with all the essentials. It comes with nine carvers, six carving patterns and instruction booklets: $34.99.Halloween tea towels. Set of three for $14.99.

New this year from the Martha Stewart Collection, these classic Halloween cookie cutters render some festive treats! They are based on an old set of copper cookie cutters that was sold through Martha By Mail in the late 1990s, which sold for over $100. This set of seven stainless-steel cookie cutters retails for $12.99.
Also new this year is this set of six cookie and cupcake boxes, which are perfect for gifts: $12.99. There are three boxes with pumpkin designs and three with a Halloween-inspired striped pattern. Tied with a beautiful orange or black ribbon, and filled with homemade treats, they would make an exceptionally enticing gift. Although they are not categorized as Halloween products, these porcelain, pumpkin-shaped soup tureens can play double duty on Halloween Night (candy bowls) and Thanksgiving. Microwave, dishwasher and oven safe. The large tureen is $25.00 and the small one is $12.00.
Speaking of pumpkins and Thanksgiving, why not get a head-start by practicing your pie-making skills using this scalloped, ceramic pie plate, which has the ingredients and the Martha Stewart recipe printed right on the bottom: $19.99.

Monday, September 27, 2010

An Alternative to Blueprint

For those of us who mourn the loss of Blueprint magazine daily (and I know there are a few of you out there!), I thought I'd bring a potential alternative to your attention. On my other blog, I wrote about a new magazine I discovered called Anthology and I thought I'd post about it here, too, to give it a wider platform. Based out of San Francisco, the new start-up is emerging at a time when so many shelter magazines are folding. It offers subscriptions in the US, Canada and the UK, making it widely available and accessible. I admire the bravery and vision of the editors, who are bringing the best of modern, affordable style to the masses in a lovely print format. (The printed page is not extinct!)
I've subscribed to the magazine but have not yet received my first issue. From what I can gather, it delivers fresh, interior-design ideas from a perspective that is both eclectic and stylish, encouraging an artistic approach to the creation of one's interior spaces. Blueprint lovers will admire its layout, the use of Fling font and the sense of youth in its pages, but may miss the fashion and cooking elements, which are not part of the Anthology mission. In any case, it's worth a browse!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wee Little Shoes: A Collection

On a recent trip home, I discovered a marvelous and meaningful collection my mother had put together in her living room. In a small drawer in the coffee table, she had arranged a collection of my grandfather's (her father's) childhood shoes. Many of the examples are over 85 years old and were worn by my grandfather when he was a toddler. It is very special that they are so well-preserved. I admire the notion of keeping them close at hand in the living room for family and guests to appreciate, rather than sealing them off in some dark corner of the closet where they will never be seen. To keep their shape, my mother stuffed them with acid-free tissue paper. The cool, dark and dry drawer also helps preserve them. The shoes share the drawer with two old keys from the farm where my grandfather grew up in Ontario.
To give a sense of scale, I photographed this little shoe of my grandfather's in my mother's hand. All of the shoes shown below are of similar size. This pair was considered a dressy pair of shoes. They were handmade in white leather by a cobbler in Ashton, Ontario in the 1920s.These were the more sporty counterpart to the formal shoes above, also made of white leather.These shoes were my grandfather's 'school shoes' when he was seven years old. He walked 30 minutes to school every day on a dirt road and the wear is obvious.Another pair of leather shoes, these ones too were worn as an infant. My grandfather is shown wearing them, below, in a photograph taken with his mother (my great-grandmother) in 1921. In those days, infants of both genders wore 'baby gowns' (very Edwardian) and the sweater was knitted for him by his grandmother.

Halloween Invites With Pingg!

Dare to be dazzled by the new Martha Stewart Halloween e-cards and e-vites, featuring designs exclusive to Pingg. The e-card and e-vite aspect is free for hosts to use and they can also purchase a folded card version of their invitation for $2.50 each. pingg will address, stamp and mail the invitations directly to guests. This way hosts have the option to send some of their guests an electronic version and others a printed version. A unique RSVP code can be found on each mailed invitation so hosts can continue to collect RSVPs online. Below are some of the designs. To view the entire Martha Stewart collection, click here.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Margaret Roach's Peace Talk

"Did you ever want to just get up from your desk and walk away? And I don't mean to get a latte. I mean to get up and not come back?" Margaret Roach did just that a few years ago when she left publishing (specifically, her post as Editorial Director of Martha Stewart Living) so that she could return to her sanctuary in the Catskill Mountains to garden and grow and delight in creative pursuits - full-time.

The courage and conviction it took to abandon a lucrative and successful career to follow a quieter but more fulfilling path is nothing less than inspiring to me - and likely to countless others when they read her upcoming book "And I Shall Have Some Peace There" which will be released February 23rd, 2011.

This is why I urge you to not only read (daily) Margaret's fantastic blog ( but to also subscribe to her newsletter, where you'll get gardening tips delivered directly to your inbox. You can sign up for the newsletter here.
Also, be sure to watch a new video Margaret put together to discuss the book, a sort of electronic press kit, complete with a soundtrack! To watch the video, click here. (You'll need Quick Time to play it.)

October Living

You didn't think I could blog about the October issue of Martha Stewart Living without taking you on a guided tour of its pages, did you? Of course not. Now that I am home from my trip, I took some time to go through the issue carefully and (as always) lovingly. I think it's one of the best October issues we've seen to date. I attribute this to the balance of content and the beautiful way it is presented. We have articles on Halloween treats and tricks, of course, on pumpkin carving and creepy décor - all reasons enough to cherish the issue. But we also have some wonderful decorating features, harvest features, recipes and crafts that triumphantly give the fall season the respect it so deserves.

At the risk of sounding too effusive and ebullient, I really have to say that the magazine feels revitalized and fresh since editor Vanessa Holden took the helm. It is surely not easy to transform such a branded and well-recognized magazine, but she has done it in ways even I cannot fully identify. Perhaps it's just a combination of elements (font, layout, photography) that are working together to create this new feeling, but the personality of the magazine has definitely changed to feel more young, more connected (via web platforms) and more in tune with trends without pandering to them. I. Love. This. Magazine.

The first cover shown is the cover that subscribers will see in their mail boxes. The newsstand version of the October issue will have a different cover: four little Jack-O-Lanters smiling out at the passers-by!
I am so pleased by the design of the contents pages. (We first caught a glimpse of this seasonal, pictorial approach to the contents in the September issue. I love the design.)
In her column, Martha introduces us to her menagerie of barnyard animals. She has quite a troupe!
A very practical and informative article on how to incorporate darker and deeper colours into your décor is a favourite feature of mine in this issue.
Anyone who loves the chocolaty, rich taste of hazelnuts will appreciate learning how they are grown and harvested.
Take some anthropological specimens from a dusty museum drawer and magnify them for stunning Halloween display at home. This is another favourite article of mine this year!
Imagine your favourite candy bar and Halloween treats baked in the form of a cake! That's the inspiration behind a collection of incredibly rich and luscious cake recipes in this issue, including this one that is based on a Snickers bar.
Texas interior designer Kimberly Renner took two run-down duplexes and transformed them into triumphs of design.

Take a tour of some genuine haunted houses in New England's Pioneer Valley and learn about the extraordinary past lives of these historic houses.

Collectors of Martha's Halloween products will be very pleased to find two full catalogs inside the issue: one from Martha Stewart Crafts and one from Grandin Road. (The craft brochure features a 50%-off coupon!)

October Everyday Food

One of my favourite things about fall is the savory home cooking, filled with hearty and rustic ingredients. The October issue of Everyday Food delivers the best of comfort food, without sacrificing healthiness. From lighter lasagnas to roasted soups, the little digest brings us so many delightful recipes to try this season. Among my favourites: slow-cooked green chili and pork and cabbage-slaw burritos.

Make your lasagnas as light or as rich as you desire, with these scrumptious recipes.
Apples abound this time of year and a feature on apple desserts (pies, crumbles, cookies and cakes) delivers goodness by the bushel!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Premiere Day Post-Mortem

Since I am living in Canada, where the airwaves are sadly starved of any Martha Stewart programming, I am relying on a devoted Martha Stewart viewer south of the border to bring me (and you!) the Martha Stewart television details necessary to our existence. My friend Jim Eber, who has been a fan of Martha's basically from the beginning, is the new Martha Moments correspondent! {Everyone say, "Hi, Jim!"}

I asked Jim to review the debut episodes of The Martha Stewart Show, Whatever and Mad Hungry for us - nothing fancy, just a paraphrasing of some of the details - so that we do not fall behind. Below are some of the details Jim has brought to our attention, show by show. I will relay them in my own words:

The Martha Stewart Show: Most of the first part of the show was an introduction to the new Hallmark programs. The big news of the day: Marc Morrone will be added to the roster of new shows beginning in January with his own show, filmed at his pet store on Long Island. Lucinda made quesadillas with Martha and her big tip: Never be without bacon! John Baricelli and Sarah Carey from Everyday Food made chocolate ginger cookies and Marc Morrone discussed his new show. Martha also discussed a new segment on the show called "Date Night." Martha will accompany a gentleman of some sort for an evening out in their town, on their terms. Then, Martha will invite them on a night on the town on her terms. Should be fun!

Whatever With Alexis And Jennifer: This is basically their radio show on TV: cheeky, irreverent and opinionated. The set is on the same soundstage as Martha's show, they just unfold it to reveal its minimalist and clean design. The guests were Paula Abdul, who discussed her early career, her time on Idol and her new dance show on CBS. Comedian Brian Donovan was also on: he has been on more than 100 Internet dates, which you can read about here. Then, a make-up artist (Siobhan O'Connor) took the stage to promote her new book on how to achieve the best looks for any occasion: "No More Dirty Looks."

Mad Hungry with Lucinda Scala-Quinn: Of the two new shows, this one scored high marks with Jim, who considers it his new favourite. Lucinda is a natural on camera and she was joined in the kitchen with her son Calder in two segments to help out. They made sauted cabbage with onions, ginger and tomatoes. Lucinda also made pork chops with oven-sweet potato fries and cabbage. Dessert was ginger snaps and date sandwiches.

Everyday Food: Not a new episode as I had thought it might be. It was actually the first episode they ever filmed with all the old, familiar faces: Margo, Allie, Lucinda and John.

Next: Jim brings us the details on Martha's first interview special, which airs Sunday night. In "Martha Stewart Presents" she will interview four of America's best women fashion designers.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Premiere Monday!

Toronto is all abuzz right now with the Toronto International Film Festival. Most of the celebrities are staying at the Four Seasons, just up the street from where I work. So far I've seen Katie Holmes and Ben Affleck. Who will be next? All the fuss over celluloid and premieres got me thinking about the big news in Martha's TV world and Monday is the big day: three season premieres of Martha Stewart Living television programs on the Hallmark Channel! The Monday morning chunk of Martha programming kicks off with the season-six premiere of the Martha Stewart Show, followed by the debut episode Whatever With Alexis and Jennifer, followed by another debut - Mad Hungry with Lucinda Scala-Quinn - followed by a new episode of Everyday Food. Will your DVRs be set?

Here is what's on the Martha Stewart Show this week:

Monday: The season premiere! An introduction to our new TV shows, a bacon-jalapeno quesadilla recipe, and pet expert Marc Morrone.

Tuesday: An insider's tour of Mario Batali's Eataly, plus authentic Italian recipes from Lidia Bastianich.

Wednesday: Simple small plates from chef Dan Kluger, Martha's MTV "Date Night," and vodka cocktails.

Thursday: Justin Long makes fiery lobster linguini. Plus, a DIY necklace and handbag, and facial yoga.

Friday: Cooking with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kevin Sharkey's apartment renovation, and an Oreo cake.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Martha's New Kitchens at Home Depot

Martha Stewart kitchens and cabinets are set to debut at a Home Depot store near you! Below are examples of three of the new kitchens. I love the refined lines and simple elegance of the designs. All are based on kitchens that Martha Stewart has designed in some of her homes, including her home in Bedford, her former home at Turkey Hill and her former penthouse on Perry Street in New York City. To read more about the collection, click here.

Maidstone (based on one of the kitchens she designed at Bedford)

Perry Street (based on the kitchen she designed at her former penthouse in Soho)

Turkey Hill (a classic never dies)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Rosh Hashanah Recipes

Rosh Hashanah marks the Jewish celebration of the New Year on the Hebrew calendar. This year, it falls on September 8th. Jews around the world will be celebrating with their families and friends, and likely dining on delicious meals after the evening prayers. Traditional wines and challah, a scrumptious Jewish bread, are accompanied by kosher main courses, such as roasted chicken or the favourite brisket, which can be prepared in numerous ways. Honey plays a significant role in Rosh Hashanah meals, signifying hopes of a 'sweet' year ahead. Bread and fruit is often dipped into honey, and many Jews use honey in cooking as the sweetener of choice for cakes and traditional desserts this time of year. Martha Stewart Living has a lovely assortment of Rosh Hashanah recipes to share. Click here to see the selection. Below are some of my favourites. I hope you'll find them to be foods that can be prepared in secular and non-Jewish homes and enjoyed year-round.

Leshana tova tekatev v'etachetem! (May you have a wonderful year!)

Challah is probably one of the most delicious breads ever created: light, airy and moist, it is sure to be devoured.One of my favourite memories is celebrating Rosh Hashanah with my friend Keren and her family several years ago and taking part in the traditional meal. Among the dishes served was matzo-ball soup, a delightfully homey and comforting dish that warms the soul.Brisket is a cut of meat from the lower breast of a cow. Brisket is a favourite cut of beef that is cooked around the world in myriad ways, but in Jewish cooking, it is usually braised as a pot roast. It is lean, juicy and tender! This assortment of roasted vegetables seems to herald fall and its bountiful harvests. This platter could be made for Thanksgiving as wel.Several years ago I made kugel (shown above) for an office pot-luck and it was a big hit. It is a Jewish pudding or casserole made with egg noodles, sour cream and cottage cheese, often slightly sweet with the addition of cinnamon and sugar. It can be served warm or cold after it has been cooked and is ideal for a brunch menu. I dressed mine with a heavy sprinkle of pommegranate seeds for colour, flavour and interest. Tzimmes is a mix of carrots mixed with dried fruits, such as raisins or apricots, and often combined with other root vegetables such as sweet potatoes. It can be dressed in a honey sauce and served as a side with brisket or roast chicken.

Honey cake is one of my favourites. It is delectably sweet and moist, but not heavy or dense. Brown sugar, ginger and cinnamon add to the autumnal flavours. The cake shown above is dressed with honey-glazed apple slices that have been slowly marinated in orange juice and honey.