Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Looking Toward Spring

With March right around the corner, I can't help but begin thinking about Spring. Actually, I've been thinking about Spring since the first seed catalog arrived in the mail! It's been a very long and snowy winter.

It soon will be time to put on the garden clogs, the garden gloves, begin cleaning up and preparing for the first burst of spring color. I cant' wait.

Kmart is giving shoppers a great glimpse of spring inspiration with a 40 page 'catalog' of Martha Stewart Everyday Garden items. The catalog, glossy and beautiful is available for free at your local Kmart store and gives shoppers one of the most complete looks at the line.

Inside, you'll find pages of patio furniture and many of the accessories you'll need to make your outdoor living space comfortable and inviting.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Looking Through Stuff

I was looking through my 'Martha-bilia' collection and ran across these fun items.

The letter is one I received after sending in my thoughts on the various Martha ventures of the time. It was a rather long letter that was of course complimentary! It's hard to read in the scan, but they made a comment about my email address.. 'goodthing'

Looking through the things I've collected always brings a smile to my face. One day, I'll open that Martha Stewart Museum.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The origin of mass produced Jadeite (or some spell it Jadite; either is correct) can be traced back to 1930 with the McKee Glass Company. McKee's introduction of jade kichenware and dinnerware marks the first large-scale attempt to introduce jadeite.

Following McKee's introduction of colored kitchenware and dinnerware (most famous of the jade colored dinnerware, the 'Laurel' pattern) the Jeannette Glass Company began producing a similar line in 1932. Much like McKee's line, the Jeannette glass line included canisters, shakers, storage dishes and mixing bowls. Jeannette produced no dinnerware pieces and continued to produce kitchenware pieces through the 40's and 50's.

The vast majority of jadeite dinnerware was made from 1945-1975 by Anchor Hocking under their Fire-king division. Today, Fire-king jadeite is the most collected of the three manufacturers. While McKee and Jeannette pieces are more rare and bring in a higher dollar value, the Fire-king color of jadeite is what most have come to know and love.

In the mid 1940's, Fire-king introduced several dinnerware lines including Alice, Jane Ray (the most popular and available), and Restaurant Ware. Jane Ray and Restaurant Ware were complete lines; one being introduced for retail consumption and the other for commercial uses. Both were very successful and stayed in production for over 20 years.

In the late 40's and 50's, many kitchen and household items were made in jadeite by the Fire-king division including vases, refrigerator dishes, pitchers, mixing bowls and 'batter bowls.'

The current popularity of jadeite kitchenware and dinnerware, at least partially must be attributed to Martha Stewart's interest in the glassware. For more than a decade she has featured jadeite in her cookbooks and decorating books. Her magazines have similarly focused on jadeite in the collecting columns. Her nationally syndicated television show at one time featured an entire kitchen stocked full of jadeite. Because of Martha's influence to the collector, jadeite has often been referred to as "Martha Stewart's Green Glass." Martha herself adopted the name "Martha's green glass" when she commissioned several glass companies including Fenton, Mosser and L.E. Smith to create a group of jadeite colored accessory items which included cake stands, salt and pepper shakers, egg cups, dessert cups, etc. to be sold through Martha by Mail.
In 2008 the collector craze for jadeite has slowed somewhat; but jadeite pieces still fetch a high dollar at glassware shows and antique stores. eBay regularly lists over 1,000 items for sale at any given time with higher world market prices.

My own jadeite collection began in 1997 with one small mixing bowl and has grown to well over 2,000 pieces including those produced by Martha Stewart. While initially wanting every jadeite piece in sight, I've scaled back on the collection to focus on specific patterns or lines. With a complete service for 24 in the Jane Ray line (which includes dinner plates, salad plates, side plates, saucers, cups, bowls, berry bowls, and all the accessory items) I have turned my attention to the Restaurant Ware line - which is heavier, and plain. It's a lot harder to come by, (I think primarily because Alexis Stewart has thousands of pieces) but most that is found is in pristine to excellent condition.

My home collection includes pieces from the McKee and Jeannette companies as well, with a collection of jadeite canisters that were gifts to David's Mother for her wedding. This canister set is extremely rare and very costly when purchased retail. I feel so fortunate to have them in my collection.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Bunny Funny

The First Sign of Spring

With the sun shining brightly all day today, I decided to take a walk outside and take in the fresh air. Much to my surprise, when I moved some of the leaves that covered one of the cutting gardens I discovered the first sign of spring... daffodils beginning to emerge for the season!

Each year, this particular cutting garden bursts forth with some of the first color of spring with about 200 daffodils and close to 100 tulips. It's a wonderful wave of color as the days grow a bit longer and the breezes become a bit warmer.

This has been a long winter.. this little bit of green gives me hope that warmer temperatures aren't too far away!

A Cake for a "Sirius" Celebration

Since I decided to take the day off today (and it was a fabulous day to do so!) I thought I would make a small birthday cake to celebrate Sirius' birthday. It's a chocolate cake with some simple decoration.. he's not quite old enough to read (ha ha ha) so I didn't write on the cake. It's the one thing about cake decorating I HATE... when you have to write something on the cake!
A simple chocolate cake with a buttercream icing.. you'll be able to see in the photo that Sirius tried to take a little 'paw' taste of the frosting!

People think we're a little crazy for celebrating our cats birthday.. but who doesn't like to have a celebration?!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

As Easter quickly approaches, Martha Stewart Living is conducting an Easter Workshop to help prepare and enjoy the holiday.

Beginning February 25th, participants will receive projects, recipes and have the opportunity to get advice directly from MSLO experts. Participants will also be able to share their creations in a special community forum on

To participate, log into and update your account profile preferences to include the 2008 Easter Workshop.

Happy Birthday Sirius!

Today we celebrate the one year birthday for Sirius! (the cat, not the radio!) It's hard to believe that a year has gone by since this little bundle of energy was born!

Nicknamed "Little Man," Sirius is a joy to have as part of the family. His first year was a bit of a challenge with his 'energy level.' His brother and sisters (Martha, Riko, Cinnamon) have had a rough year adjusting to his kitten behavior! From the get go he was an active child!

I can't help but thank Tracie Hotchner from Cat Chat Radio for all her help in guiding me through his wee-kitten years. I knew nothing about taking care of newborn kittens and Tracie helped me through those important few weeks.

Happy Birthday Little Man! Your Dad's love you!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

MSLO To Buy Media Properties

NEW YORK, Feb. 19 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. (NYSE: MSO) today announced it has reached an agreement with Chef Emeril Lagasse to acquire the assets related to the business of Emeril Lagasse, other than the restaurant and foundation-related assets, in a transaction that pairs one of the biggest brands in food-related content with the established leader in "how to" lifestyle information and content.

Under the terms of the transaction, MSLO is acquiring the rights to the Emeril Lagasse franchise, including:

-- Television Programming: The Essence of Emeril and syndication episodes of Emeril Live on The Food Network, and food correspondent segments on ABC's Good Morning America;

-- Cookbooks: library of twelve cookbooks, including Emeril's Delmonico and Emeril's There's a Chef in My World;

-- Internet: Web site;

-- Licensed Kitchen Products: Emeril-branded cookware by All-Clad, cutlery by Wusthof, and tableware by Wedgwood; and electrical appliances by T-fal;

-- Food Products: includes Bam! B-Q sauce, spices, marinades, coffee and more.

Lagasse's eleven restaurants and corporate office, which is called Emeril's Homebase, will be unaffected by this transaction and will continue to operate in New Orleans with full staff. The company will continue to expand into new locations.

"Emeril brings talent, energy and legions of fans to the Martha Stewart family, along with a powerful brand and an attractive, profitable business franchise," said Susan Lyne, President and Chief Executive Officer of MSLO. "Emeril's high-quality food-related content and product lines complement our own, and offer multi-platform expansion opportunities. He brings to the MSLO fold a well-managed company with highly attractive EBITDA and cash flow levels that will contribute immediately to our performance. This acquisition is a significant one strategically as we expand and diversify our business by applying our expertise in managing multi-platform lifestyle brands."

Lyne continued, "Everyone at MSLO is looking forward to welcoming Emeril on board. We are committed to giving him the freedom to continue doing what he does best: entertaining and inspiring food lovers everywhere."

Chef Emeril Lagasse is a national TV personality with broad consumer appeal. He joined the Food Network in 1993 and has hosted over 1600 shows. His programs The Essence of Emeril and Emeril Live reach more than 85 million homes daily. The Essence of Emeril has been nominated for numerous Emmy Awards, and will be internationally syndicated later this year. Emeril Live, a highly rated program for over 10 years, won a Cable Ace Award for "Best Informational Series" and is now in syndication. In addition to his television programming, Emeril has a successful line of cookbooks with nearly 4 million copies sold as well as branded kitchen products and food with such industry leaders as All-Clad and Sara Lee.

The purchase price is $50 million, $45 in cash and $5 million in stock, at closing, and could reach up to $70 million if certain performance targets are realized in 2011 and 2012. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter. In 2007, the business to be acquired generated approximately $14 million in 2007 cash-basis revenue. MSLO expects the assets to generate adjusted EBITDA of approximately $8 million in the first full year of operation, based on the Emeril business' non-GAAP financial results.

Martha Stewart, Founder of MSLO, said, "I first met Emeril more than 20 years ago, before he had opened his first restaurant. I have been an admirer ever since. His remarkable talents in the kitchen and his high-energy exuberance delight and inform. He made television cooking programs mainstream, opening the category to new audiences and proving that cooking is something everyone can enjoy. I'm delighted that he is joining the MSLO family and look forward to the contributions he will bring to both the company and consumers alike."

Chef Emeril Lagasse said, "We have been able to create a successful and diverse business under the Emeril brand, and with this new venture we can take it to the next level. By affiliating with a larger company with means, infrastructure and reach, we know we can maximize its great potential. Martha Stewart has brought incredible vision to the lifestyle business. Her company is a place where creativity is valued and consumers are always top-of-mind. I look forward to joining with Martha and her talented management team to grow the Emeril brand."

Monday, February 18, 2008

Martha Stewart Lifestyle?

I was listening to "Living Today" on the Martha Stewart Living Radio channel on my drive home this afternoon and I heard something that started me thinking.

The (new) host, Mario, kept referring to a "Martha Stewart Lifestyle" in his discussion with Marion Roach. He referred to those that 'live the Martha Stewart lifestyle...' It made me wonder; what IS a Martha Stewart lifestyle?

Martha has been an incredible teacher and communicator when it comes to enhancing our way of living. For those that enjoy cooking, Martha provides direction. For those that love gardening, Martha has provided so much inspiration. For those that are into collecting, Martha teaches us about a variety of collectibles. For those that craft, Martha gives us a plethera of ideas to make our own. Each one of these areas is an element of living. But is it a lifestyle?

What do you think? Do you live the Martha Stewart Lifestyle?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Simple Dessert

With last minute guests for dinner this evening I had to come up with something quick for dessert. I decided on Rasberry Brownie Meringues. I had the brownies already made so this was a great way to use them up!

For the meringues bases:
2 large egg whites
3/4 C granulated sugar (I used superfine)
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the heat proof bowl of an electric mixer set over a pan of simmering water, combine egg whites, sugar and salt. Whisk constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the egg mixture is warm to the touch, about 2 minutes. Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment; beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, 2-4 minutes. Beat in vanilla.

Spoon meringue mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain round (or star) 1/2 inch tip. Create a base of meringue by going in a circle, working from the outside, in. Continue to pipe the meringue around the outer edge creating a meringue cup.

Transfer baking sheet to oven and bake 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 175 degrees and bake appx. 1 1/2 hours or until the meringue is dry and crisp, but still white. Transfer sheet to a wire rack and let the meringues cool completely before carefully easing them off the parchment. Meringues can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one day.

Cut an appropriate portion of a brownie and place in the center of the meringue base. Top with rasberries or other favorite fruit. Top with whipped cream and garnish with additional berries.

My Favorite 'Big Idea'

When Martha recently held the 'Big Idea' contest and asked viewers and readers to submit their vote, I had to vote for the Martha Stewart Store.

I can only imagine such a place! It would be a dream come true to have the entire merchandise and publication library available in one location! Each of the MSLO core content areas would be represented.

I imagine the store being two levels. The lower level would be retail. Aisles of linens, kitchen, garden, crafts, home organization, homekeeping... each shelf beautifully stocked with merchandise. The back of the store would contain a coffee bar, right next to the Martha Stewart Media Collection. There, you could have a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy a scone or other treat as you shop.

The upper level would be classrooms. Crafting, gardening, cooking - the possibilities are endless! Customers could sign up for classes for their areas of interest(s). I would easily guess that the classes would be numerous and FULL!

The store would be staffed with "Martha Experts" who are as enthusiastic about MSLO as we all are! Dressed in khaki pants, white cotton shirts, and taupe and teal aprons, each staff member would be completely knowledgeable on all the merchandise and class offerrings. You know I would want to be one of those staffers!

For fun, I designed a store front.. I'd love to see this come true!

Friday, February 15, 2008

New Items Available at Macy's!

While making a quick lunchtime stop into Macy's I happened across these new items on the shelves.

Martha provided us with all the dishes, cookware and gadgets we needed to stock our kitchen now she gives us a stylish way to clean up with new dishsoap (in a very nice bottle with pour topper.. a signature "good thing" from Martha), hand soap, all purpose cleaner and hand lotion.

At first glance, there were three scents available: Honeysuckle/Melon, Grapefruit/Lemon, and unscented. Could lavendar be far behind?

On I noticed a couple other new items..

A set of stainless steel prep bowls. These coordinate well with the stainless steel mixing bowls from the collection. I love prep bowls. They truly do make cooking much easier when you can portion out your ingredients! This stainless steel prep bowl set is the third type of prep bowl available in the collection.

Another new item that caught my eye:

These fluted glasses are just beautiful! They come in two sizes and in sets of four.
They are quite elegant looking.
A good many of the items found in the Macy's collection are 'remakes' from the old Martha by Mail days. I have to go through my collection of the old catalogs and see what could be coming next. Did you have any personal favorites from the MBM catalogs? What would you like to see included in the new collection?
Shopping for Martha Stewart Collection merchandise... it's a VERY good thing!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Truffles - The process

To answer the various questions regarding the truffles.. here's some of the detail...

The recipe I used can be found on

The coating is made from various different chocolates.. dark, semi, milk.. I also made some of the truffles just rolled in cocoa powder, but those weren't my favorites!

The coating really isn't dipping at all.. it's more like 'spooning' it on and it's time consuming! It took a while to find the right consistency for the coating. I thinned the melted chocolate with heavy cream until it was about the consistency of a thickening pudding... not quite all the way thick.. but coated the back of a spoon with a heavy coating. It was actually pretty thin for chocolate.

I poured the melted/thinned chocolate into a plastic squeeze bottle (similar to a ketchup squeeze bottle from your favorite diner!). All of the truffle 'balls' were placed on a small grid wire rack and placed over a sheet pan. Using the squeeze bottle I would slowly squeeze out the chocolate in a circular motion using steady pressure which allowed an even flow over the truffle. I had to do each truffle twice.. and it was truly hit or miss. MANY of the truffles came out uneven (those are the ones we are keeping for ourselves!). I didn't have room in my freezer to harden the truffle coating, and the weather was cooperating.. so they went into my car overnight. Believe me.. there are some very rough places on some of the truffles! They are far from perfect!

For those that have the alternate chocolate drizzle... I placed a small amount of melted chocolate that had been thinned in a zip-loc bag. With just a pin prick of a hole (I used a straight pin) I would squeeze the 'drizzle' of chocolate very quickly over the coated truffle. Doing this while the coating was still wet allowed the drizzle to 'meld' into the coating and not appear to be raised.

No fancy equipment.. but a good deal of trial and error. I went through a TON of chocolate with entire batches thrown out when it wasn't tempered correctly. It killed me to know that once it was improperly melted it was pretty much useless!

So that's it.. The most time consuming part is finding the right workable consistency for the different types of chocolate. Also.. making sure you do an even circular distribution of the chocolate coating results in a pretty even covering. One hint: You have to keep re-heating the chocolate in the squeeze bottle.. once it starts to solidify even a slight bit.. you have to reheat or it won't coat well. (That's why I have so many extras!)

Valentine's Day Gifts

This year, I tried my hand at making truffles. While all the same delicious blend of chocolate and cream on the inside they were dipped in a variety of chocolates and sugars to give a bit of variety.

These little goodies went to all my employees is individual boxes. Take a look:

Each gift was boxed in a beautiful teal blue box (a Martha color of course!) and wrapped in a large double satin ribbon.

When they opened their box, there was a label that said, "I love having you on my team"

On the inside, they found six varieties of dipped truffles. My proudest creation is the small drizzled truffles! Unfortunately, I didn't have the proper size candy cups.. but it's the thought that counts!

The truffles were loved by all! I wasn't sure I was going to make the Valentine's Day deadline with a totally packed schedule and being away last weekend. I would have moved heaven and earth to make sure that my employees knew just how much I love them. I can't do what I do and I wouldn't be as successful as I am without them.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

I want to send warm Valentine's Day wishes to all of you that make it a point to stop in and visit my small space known as "House Blend."

I enjoy reading your comments and knowing that in some small way I can be an inspiration to some of you. Most of all, I love that we share this thing called "Martha" and all the madness involved with it! It's a good madness indeed!

I look forward to sharing so much more this year. Always feel free to stop by and share your thoughts. The coffee is always on.

Sending love and chocolate -


A Rose is a Rose... Not!

I love roses. There is nothing like an early summer morning stroll through the garden, taking in the scent of these lovely blooms. (cup of coffee in hand, of course!)

I've been fortunate in my efforts to grow roses. They usually start out very strong with the first blooms being nothing short of amazing. As the season moves on the heat and humidity take their toll and 'black spot' sets in. This little fungus leaves black splotches on the leaves and they eventually turn yellow and drop off. Unfortunatley the black spot ran rampant last year and stripped nearly all the roses of their leaves by late August. It's a constant battle with any gardener who enjoys roses. I won't give up though!

One of my favorite roses in the garden is a 'one bloom' shrub rose. This rose has been dubbed the 'Granny Carson' rose since it has been in the family for over a hundred years! My Great, Great Grandmother had the rose on their property in Georgia and the plant has been divided and handed down generation after generation. Just this last year 'runners' from this rose bush were extracated and given to my niece and nephew to continue on the legacy. The fragrance of this rose is incredible. Here's a photo of the Granny Carson rose:

Another favorite is the "Chicago Peace" rose. This yellow, salmon, and pink rose blooms multiple times in a year but is always the first to get black spot.

The above photo was an award winner at a local photography competition. (a proud moment for me, since I have no formal training in photography... just a good eye!)

A rose is a rose? I can't say that's so.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Martha Stewart Collection at Macy's has expanded just in time for our thoughts to turn to Summer.

A collection of beach towels and beach totes are currently available on line at and will be in stores in time for those late Winter vacations or classic life events like Spring break.

The beach towels come in classic Martha colors and average in the price range of $40.00. The beach totes come in two styles; A woven wicker like tote and a striped canvas tote. Each tote variety sells for $60.00. The collection also sports a huge 'towel for two'- large enough to share on the beach!