9.13.2017

A Look Inside the Revamped October Issue

I received the October issue of Martha Stewart Living last Friday and I've been enjoying it ever since. As noted in a previous blog, the magazine has been redesigned with subtle changes to help improve its flow and visual appeal. Below I've highlighted some of the changes you will notice in the issue - all of which I'm very happy with, as a reader!
Let's start with the cover: I love it! Martha appears for the first time in a very long time. It's been almost two years since she's been on the cover and the last time she appeared it was in the form of a painted portrait for the December, 2015, issue. This is the first October cover she's graced since 1995 and I'm hopeful that her appearance signals the return of more Martha content in the issues to come. I notice, too, that the cover is not plastered with headlines, as some of the recent issues have been. A magazine cover that is crowded with competing headlines can look desperate: "Buy me! Look at me!" Letting the image speak for itself with a few artfully-worded teasers should be enough to lure a reader.
The Contents page feels bright and engaging. The highlights of the features well are all isolated on the first page in an easy-to-read fashion. The use of bold photography and large numerical font keeps it looking graphic.
Martha in Roy Lichtenstein pastiche for Halloween looks ravishing! Each of the front-of-book sections now has a large white block at the top of their respective title pages. A full-page photograph is arresting and engaging.
The same design techniques are used for the Good Things section as well, keeping the magazine flowing through a sense of visual consistency using repeated design cues.
First of all, I love this large, exaggerated pegboard idea! As you page through the magazine, I love that the introductory page to each section is clearly formatted using the same design template.
One of the new fonts developed for MSL is shown at the top of this page: "THE CREATIVE PROCESS." It is clean and linear. Lots of white space on the editorial pages makes for an easy read.
A bit of a different look for the Ask Martha section with its bold, capital Q. In previous issues the Ask Martha section felt a bit buried in the Good Living section. Oftentimes I would barely notice it. Now it stands on its own and is much more visible.
The Everyday Food section feels more elevated and noticeable in its new layout.
The back of the magazine is introduced, as it always has been, with a splash page that gives the reader pause as she ventures into the features section. Here, a lovely thought for the autumn season from poet Stanley Horowitz.
Big, beautiful photographs introduce the first feature about New Jersey apple growers and their annual harvest party. The photographs, by Mikkel Vang, are warm and sumptuous.
Halloween decorating is a MUST for Martha's October issue. Six full pages are devoted to the subject in this issue. The crafts do have a bit of a "seen it before" feel but the layout and design is so reminiscent of some of the really glorious past issues. Again, the photography (by Ted Cavanaugh) is appropriately moody and atmospheric.
Page to page, the content flows beautifully.
Breads - all kinds of breads! Another innovative and delicious-looking feature from the food department. Carrot-Asiago bread? Yes, please! With a side of Pumpkin-Orange on the side!
The editors are getting so much better at including at least one garden story per issue. This one, in California, is so simply serene.
And, of course, a decorating feature. This one is all about the creative use of tiles in areas of the home where you may not expect to find them: the living room, the bedroom and on tabletops.

Overall, the design changes bring a lightness to the magazine: a new sense of flow for a streamlined reading experience. By contrast, the photographs appear to be more intricate and lush, thoughtfully styled and composed, much like they were in past issues when Ayesha Patel was running the style department. They seem to have taken their cues from those really beautiful editorials and implemented them.

Let me know what you think of the issue once you receive it by leaving a comment!

9.11.2017

A Seat at the Table

Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell don't really want you to call their new book a "cookbook." As they have both noted, no one really needs another cookbook. Any recipe in any variation can be found in countless online and previously-published sources.

But what their latest book brings to the table - aside from 115 delicious recipes - is a celebration of community. A Seat at the Table, the fourth 'recipe book' by the Beekman Boys, demonstrates how a community can nourish your soul as much as the meals you share with them can nourish your body.
The book, which was published last week, shares recipes that embody the traditional story of stone soup, in which everyone in the community brings their small piece to the pot to create a sum much greater than its parts.

When Brent and Josh first moved to Sharon Springs full-time, during the economic crisis of 2008, they were not sure they would make it there. Both jobless, both unsure of what their next move should be and both in love with the land and the people they had come to know in Sharon Springs, New York, they found comfort, support and inspiration in a community of artisans and makers who welcomed them with open arms.
A Seat at the Table is a celebration of this community, a thank-you feast to the people who helped build their dreams.

Fittingly, the recipes were developed with the help of a good neighbour, Rose Marie Trapani, who is arguably the best home cook in Sharon Springs, according to Brent and Josh - and basically everyone in town! (Apparently, a dinner invite from Rose Marie and her husband Joe is the most coveted ticket one can get in Sharon Springs!)

Rich with Sicilian flare, the recipes have an earthy, rustic goodness, brought to life through the 130 moody photographs by Christian Watson. (Follow him on Instagram @1924us)
I blog about Brent and Josh frequently. Having the privilege to call them friends of mine makes me all the more excited and enthusiastic for their latest ventures. Even though I don't see them very often, I know what it's like to be welcomed into their home, and the homes of some of their neighbours. I've been lucky enough to have had a seat at their table. I've had the luxury of slowly walking through their beautiful fields and gardens and the fascinating experience of exploring the storied streets of Sharon Springs. I know what it's like to be recognized by the shop owners and the inn keepers. I do not live in Sharon Springs but somehow it lives within me.

These two are the real deal. And so is this book.

You can purchase autographed copies at Beekman1802.com or standard copies at Amazon.com.

IN OTHER BEEKMAN 1802 NEWS!

Expanding on the success of Beekman 1802 bath and body line, 'the boys' have just released a new line of all-natural cleaning products made from plant-based ingredients and goat’s milk, a line they've been working on for several years. Formulated and bottled in the U.S., Beekman 1802 Happy Place products are designed to provide safer and more natural options to cleaning. You can purchase the products at Beekman1802.com or through Evine. (Doesn't this photos just make you smile?)


9.07.2017

Martha's Apparel Line on QVC - Tonight!

Martha Stewart will be on QVC tonight at 10pm EST to debut her very first fashion line! The apparel line will be made up of affordable basics for women: embellished jeans, blouses, t-shirts, jackets, shawls, sweaters and scarves. Martha had a hand in designing each piece of clothing, using her own wardrobe staples as inspiration for the line. From selecting the colours to choosing the embellishments, Martha was at the forefront of the design process, ensuring comfort and wearability were key components. Martha will co-design four collections for QVC a year with bonus seasonal lines, including holiday and beach lines. Prices for the fall collection range in price from $35 to $65.



It won't stop at apparel, however, as you can see from this Facebook Live video that aired yesterday! Martha will also be promoting her favourite skin care brand, Mario Badescu, by grouping together the most effective beauty products for each age group, from teenagers to over-50. Each set of carefully selected Mario Badescu products will come in its own special Martha Stewart box, categorized by age group.

Martha will also be offering pre-packaged food through QVC, including her own line of frozen pie crusts, bread sticks and pastries.

Finally - and perhaps most exciting for many of us here - is a full gardening collection with many of the designs we are so familiar with. From cutters to leaf blowers to pressure washers to hoses to saws to shovels, the gardening line looks very extensive and attractive, all in Martha's signature neutrals: light green, beige, grey and a dusky yellow.

The full line will debut on September 25th on QVC at 6pm.


9.06.2017

Living Gets a Fall Makeover

Martha Stewart Living has undergone a mini-makeover and the October issue of the magazine will debut a series of small changes. According to Women's Wear Daily, the magazine has updated its fonts and played around with the use of white space on page layouts. There will also be a tear-away Everyday Food page in the magazine. The design makeover was conducted by New York design firm The Tiny Bank.
Martha appears on the cover of the 2017 October issue: the first time she's been on an October cover since 1995! (Martha last appeared on the cover of the December 2015 issue, in a portrait by artist Will Cotton.)

Editor-in-Chief Elizabeth Graves says the design changes will help to further push the magazine in the direction they've been steering it: "pretty, feminine and modern."

"It's Martha Stewart, so there's a lot of pressure to be inspiring and beautiful and new," Graves told WWD. "There's so many great magazines out there, and we want to be the type of brand that breaks through the noise and gives readers an experience. No small task in that alone. It will continue to evolve, as magazines always do, but I think it's a nice fresh start for us."

8.29.2017

Martha Stewart's Slow Cooker, Out Today!

Like Martha, I was never an aficionado of the slow cooker. There are a few reasons: I don't have a big family to cook for and the large quantities can sometimes seem daunting; I often find the flavours in slow-cooker recipes to be bland and/or soggy; I don't have space in my kitchen to store a slow cooker; I quite like getting up close and personal with the food I eat and I like to watch it cook - a bit hard to do for eight hours while you're at work. But this book might change all that for me. (Except the storage part... I would need to clear a cupboard to accommodate a slow cooker!) The book offers so many innovative and interesting recipes that it's hard not to want to experiment with a slow-cooker.

What most intrigues me about the book is its versatility and the really creative recipes it contains: Vietnamese pork ribs, duck confit, duck tacos, cinnamon buns, creme brulee, sticky toffee pudding, cheesecake! As Martha has said, this book 'raises the bar' on slow-cooker recipes and expands the device's capabilities and versatility by introducing new techniques and new recipes that other slow-cooker books simply don't deliver. It is Martha Stewart's Slow Cooker.

I am fully aware - just as Martha is - that there are thousands and thousands of people who swear by slow-cooker meals and count on them every single week to meet their family's needs: moms and dads with bigger kitchens and pantries than mine; moms with mouths to feed; busy professionals who like to make a week's worth of meals in one eight-hour slow-cooking extravaganza!

Indeed, Martha sold 27,000 copies of the book in under 20 minutes during her appearance on QVC two weeks ago and it is now also a bestseller on Amazon. According to Consumer Reports, 80% of all American households own a slow cooker; there is definitely a market for this book!

The book itself is gorgeous, similar in size and style to Martha's previous book, A New Way to Bake. There are 110 recipes, each with its own full-page colour photograph to illustrate the end result.

I'm not sure I want to invest in a slow cooker just yet, but for those of you have one - or are interested in getting one - then I think this book will really help to expand your repertoire of recipes and techniques.

Here is a Facebook Live video of Martha preparing four of the recipes from the book. In the video she says we should keep our eyes peeled for a Martha Stewart-designed slow cooker in the future: "one that will look good in the kitchen!"


Below are three of the top-rated slow cookers on the market today. I am by no means a slow cooker expert, but I selected them based on the number of excellent reviews they received from purchasers on various online shopping venues, including Amazon.com and QVC.com.
This Kitchenaid model received hundreds of five-star reviews from customers on Amazon and QVC. It's your basic, 6-quart model that can pretty much do anything you need a slow cooker to do. Click here to read about it.
The Ninja Cooking System was the top pick on Bestreviews.com. The website also reviews four other models. With one pot and four cooking options (stove top, slow cook, oven and steam) it allows you to do everything, from braise to bake. Click here to read about this top-rated model.

Worried about your food congealing or getting stuck together in the slow cooker? The addition of a stir tower makes this Kitchenaid model extra useful. It's also a very nice design, in my opinion. Click here to read about it.

Want to learn more about slow cookers? Click here for a brief history of the Crock Pot and its slow-cooker brethren!

8.21.2017

Watch Martha Promote "Slow Cooker" on QVC

As most of you know, Martha's 89th book, "Slow Cooker" will be released on August 29th. QVC viewers got a sneak preview of some of the recipes in the book earlier this month when Martha appeared with host David Venable. During her 15 minute appearance, Martha sold 20,000 copies of the book! (It is now sold out on QVC until September.)
Watching Martha's presentation, I was pleasantly surprised by how delicious some of the recipes looked - from tried-and-true slow cooker classics, such as chili and stew, to really innovative recipes like breakfast hash, salmon and lasagna. Incredibly enough, the book also contains an entire section on slow-cooker desserts, such as cinnamon buns, cheesecake and apple French toast. Click here to watch Martha's presentation with David. Martha Stewart's Slow Cooker features 110 recipes for the home cook and comes out on August 29th. It can be preordered at Amazon.com.

8.17.2017

The Witching Hour by Martha Stewart Crafts

The Witching Hour will soon be upon us! It is just over two months away! Martha Stewart Crafts has already begun to cast its spell with a series of new Halloween craft items coming to Michael's and select craft stores soon. Below is a preview of some of the new items (featuring a new Martha Stewart logo, as well) that were spotted at brutusmonroe.com. Click the link to find out more.
Give your guests a spooky welcome with this Halloween garland from the Martha Stewart Crafts Witching Hour collection. Each black, white & orange garland features nine, 4.25-inch chipboard die-cuts that feature witches, bats, spiders and mini LED lights.
  • Halloween garland measures 110 inches in total length
  • Uses CR2032 batteries
  • Batteries included
Looking for an alternative to carving? These gemstone stickers from the Martha Stewart Crafts Witching Hour collection are comprised of faceted, black gemstones that pop against orange pumpkins. Each stone also features an AB finish that gives each shape a lustrous shine. Each shape measures 5.5 inches in width. The Lenticular stickers, shown upper left, are little cameos of creepiness! Use them to embellish stationery, such as invitations to a Halloween party.
Who doesn't love washi tape? Add a spooky trim to your paper crafts this fall with this Halloween washi tape in assorted styles from the Martha Stewart Crafts Witching Hour collection. Each set includes 8 rolls of decorative Halloween washi tape in different styles and patterns that will make all of your fall crafts pop.