Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A House (Blend) Call With Dr. Brent Ridge

For those that watch the Martha Stewart Show, listen to Martha Stewart Living Radio, or read Martha Stewart Living, Dr. Brent Ridge is no stranger. As Vice President of Healthy Living at MSLO, Dr. Brent (as he’s known) shares with viewers, listeners and readers his practical and useful advice for balancing a good life with good health.

Dr. Brent not only ‘talks the talk,’ he ‘walks the walk’ of healthy living. He and Josh Kilmer-Purcell own a beautiful farm in upstate New York. With heirloom organic gardens, gorgeous meadows, and a beautiful 1802 homestead, the Beekman farm is home to Dr. Brent and Josh on weekends. It’s also home to their many goats that produce the milk for their Beekman 1802 soap. “Beekman 1802,” their mail order business is thriving nicely as the public learns the benefits of their wonderful products.

Dr. Brent graciously agreed to share with me a little more insight into his world of corporate life and farm life at Beekman.

Dr. Brent, Many of us came to know you during the development and opening of the Martha Stewart Center for Living. How did your affiliation and subsequent employment with Martha begin?

I first met Martha about five years ago and soon learned that we share the same approach to health: Plan ahead, be prepared, arm yourself with as much information as you can, and try to make the healthiest decisions.

We began planning out the Martha Stewart Center for Living at Mount Sinai, which Martha dedicated to her mother. During that process, we realized what a powerful statement we were making AND that there was a possibility for us to do so much more. So many millions of people read Martha’s magazines, watch her on TV, listen to the channel on Sirius, and look to the company as an authentic source of good, practical information. By including more information about how to live a healthier life, even if we get a fraction of our customers and friends to make a few healthier choices, then we will have accomplished a lot.




Dr. Brent celebrates with Martha and others at the opening of the Martha Stewart Center for Living

As Vice President of Healthy Living at MSLO what are you responsible for?

I work with all of the talented staff at the company to figure out the best way to present health and wellness topics to our various audiences. Our most recent projects have been the launch of a new website, www.wholeliving.com, and a daily radio show of the same name on Martha Stewart Living Radio on Sirius 112.

Martha and I are also working on a book full of practical tips and useful advice for people who find themselves in the role of caregiver. Almost all of us are or will be caregivers during our lifetime. How do you organize the home to make it safer or so that it saves you time? How do you manage to prepare quick, yet nutritious meals? And how do you take time out for yourself in the midst of doing all of this other work?

We’re drawing upon my experience as a physician and Martha’s expertise in homekeeping.

As a boy growing up in rural North Carolina, did you always want to become a Doctor?

I remember as young as the age of 3 playing with my plastic doctor’s kit with my great grandfather as the patient. He was either very tired and looking for an excuse to lay around on the sofa or had the patience of a saint.

My mother was also a nurse, so that obviously influenced me as well.

By nature I am a very caring person (some might say a worry-wart), and I do love science. I love knowing how something works. The body is the most incredible machine ever imagined.


In April of this year we ‘met’ several of your beautiful goats on a segment on the Martha Stewart Show. It was then that we learned about Beekman Estate and Farm. What inspired you to buy the property?

I grew up in a fairly rural part of North Carolina, and though I have lived in New York City for almost a decade, there was still a part of me that had roots in that lifestyle. I had been looking in parts of upstate NY for some farmland for several years, and happened upon the historic Beekman farm, and I knew immediately that this was where I was supposed to be. This place called out to me, and I really do feel that it owns me as much as I own it.

When did you buy the property?

We’ve owned the property for just over a year.

Did you need to complete any extensive renovations prior to living at Beekman?

Thankfully, no. The prior owners, Patricia and Eric Selch, discovered the Beekman as it was literally falling in on itself. The house was built in 1802 and had been completely abandoned twice during the subsequent 2 centuries. Eric led an extensive, historically accurate renovation of the house that employed all local craftsmen and took over 3 years to complete. Right now on www.beekman1802.com we are focusing a lot of the blogs and the photos on the vegetable and flower gardens, but come winter, we’ll be exploring more of the house itself.
Speaking of the vegetable and flower gardens, the heirloom organic garden sounds amazing. What prompted you to take on this gardening challenge?

Admittedly, we were overly ambitious. Everyone told us so. 50 raised beds is enough to feed a small township! Personally, we wanted to have the satisfaction of growing our own food and truly appreciating it. We feel that being connected to where your food comes from is important and that it’s something that American culture has moved too far away from. It’s also much cheaper. Our grocery bill during the summer is about $30 per week, and that includes the necessary paper products.

We were also fortunate that our neighbors are the owners of D. Landreth Seed company, the oldest heritage seed company in the country. The company’s owner, Barb Melera, is a constant source of information and inspiration…and seeds.

We blame our ambition on the Landreth catalog.


On your website homepage, it states, “Too many of us are out of rhythm with the world around us which is why we founded Beekman 1802.” How does Beekman help you get back into synch?

The idea behind our company, Beekman 1802, is to enjoy the fruits of every season as they come. When William Beekman and his family were living in their dream home 200 years ago, they did not contend with some of the modern distractions…and conveniences… of contemporary American culture. I had to wonder if that was not an overall happier life. Certainly I think that there was more gratitude then for the things that you had. I also think there was a greater appreciation for craftsmanship. That’s why all of the products you see on our site are handmade by us or other local craftsmen. Any product we carry will be authentic, simple, beautiful, and practical and we hope that people who visit on the web or buy our products appreciate this.

What do you hope to inspire within the visitors of your Beekman site?

We don’t set ourselves up as cooking or gardening experts. We are just normal people trying to learn how to do things in a new (yet old) way. We hope that we can inspire other people to do the same or, at the least, to share in the joy of each of our discoveries. We really do learn something new every day.

We hear a lot about Healthy Living and Whole Living. We know that’s a relatively new core content area of MSLO and it seems as though Beekman is a more personal extension of that living philosophy. How would you best describe “whole living” and the philosophy of whole living?

I think the definition of whole living is best left to each individual, which is why wholeliving.com covers such a wide variety of topics, from healthy recipes and sustainable living to fitness, beauty and even inspirational horoscopes.

For me personally, I think that people too often separate out their “health” as yet another obligation. In that sense it gets relegated to the back burner. I try to incorporate a healthy lifestyle into the things I love doing already. I love gardening, cooking, working around the house, and even crafting around the holidays, and I can almost always find a way to incorporate well-being into the projects I am working on. Sometimes it’s as simple as choosing a better ingredient for a recipe or working a new muscle group out in the garden. I try to be conscious and aware of what I am doing and the choices I am making at all times rather than making “mindless” decisions.

As you’re well aware, I’m a goat milk soap convert. I love the product. What made you start a soap business?

We are ultimately trying to make the farm biodynamic, meaning that all the products we use on the farm originate from the farm. Because we were raising goats, we wanted to find as many uses for the goat milk as possible. We took lessons from Deb MacGillicuddy (who later became our partner in the business) and started making soap primarily for our own use and to give as gifts to people who came to visit us on the farm.
At Christmas, when I was thinking of what type of homemade gifts I would give to people around the office, I decided to give soap and a delicious goat milk cajeta. Martha, of course, got some of both. I had also given some soap to my friend Eva Scrivo. She is the host of Beauty Talk on Sirius 112 and has a commanding understanding of what is good for the skin. She loved the fact that the soap was chemical and fragrance free and after she tried it thought it was the best soap she had ever tried. This corroborated with what some of our guests had said, particularly those who have very sensitive or dry skin.

It was Eva who suggested we start selling the soap, and you can find it in her salon on 50 Bond Street in NYC. Up to that point, our website was really about learning and sharing. We weren’t selling anything at all.

Did the April Martha Show appearance help the Beekman store business?

It certainly made many people aware of the farm, and we have many people who come to the site and register who just come to read what is going on or look at the pictures. They don’t buy anything at all, and we love that. For us, it is all about the learning and sharing.

The appearance on the show, however, did lead to lots of inquiries from other magazines and retail outlets interested in featuring or carrying the soap.


On your own blog, “To and From” (which I love) you recently told your readers about a new store front in Sharon Springs, NY. Are you planning to expand beyond the mail order business? Are you looking for other retail partnerships?

Thanks for reading the blog! A historic building in the middle of the village will be the new factory for the soap. It’s a huge space, and the front of the building, formerly a department store built in 1910 will be divided so that Deb can create her own retail experience. Deb makes wonderful olive oil soaps.

What do you envision the Beekman 1802 product line to look like in, let’s say 3 years?

We will continue to add products to the soap line including a soap for each month of the year whose scent is derived from what is in bloom or in use on the farm that month. We are also developing additional skin care products like lotions and milk baths. We are developing a line for baby as well that will include soaps and hand-woven organic swaddling cloths.

By the first of next year, the farm will be a certified dairy, and we will have food products like artisanal goat milk cheeses, cheesecakes, and the delicious cajeta (goat milk caramel).

It is very important to us that any product we carry be handmade and somehow derived from the farm or from the period in which the farm originated (1802-1804)

We are always exploring the work of local craftsmen to see what they are doing and whether their handiwork is appropriate for Beekman 1802.

When you look at Beekman as a whole (home, farm, business, land, etc) what do you love most about it?

Honestly, I love learning. It’s so fascinating to learn how to do things on the farm and to talk to local farmers and craftsmen. Everybody I meet is like a true American treasure.

How often do you get to spend time at Beekman?

We are at the farm every weekend.

Do you and Josh entertain often at Beekman?

We have weekend guests at least once a month, and usually twice month. However, we have set a hard and fast rule that guest frequency can be no greater than every other week. We need those weekends in between to catch up and to plan for the next guests so that the experience is always wonderful for everyone.

Is it hard adjusting to the peace and quiet of the farm vs NYC life during the week? Do you feel equally comfortable in both places?

I do feel comfortable at both places, but that may have something to do with where I work. There is a profound appreciation for “do it yourself” and the artisanal at MSLO. If I worked for another media company, people might think my choices for weekend recreation were more abnormal. There’s really no disconnect at all. I love being able to interact with our audience at the company, and I equally love talking to people who know me only from the work on the farm.

What’s a typical day on the farm now that we’re into the peak of the gardening season?

This is a very busy time for us. We are always up by 6:00, and unless we have a social engagement of some sort, we are outside working in the vegetable or flower gardens until at least 6 or 7. We usually take a lunch break during the hottest part of the day, around 2:00, and we try to eat things fresh from the garden. In the evenings we will either have someone over for dinner or accept an invitation elsewhere. We also enjoy going down to the American Hotel for a drink and a visit with locals and guests. It’s so nice to have a true local watering hole.

Do you still spend time making some of the soap?

Of course! Though we can’t keep up with demand entirely on our own. This is why Deb is an invaluable partner.

What do you hope to ultimately achieve with Beekman?

I think our main goal will always be to raise awareness about seasonal living—appreciating what every season brings.

Do you ever plan to open Beekman for tours?

We welcome people to stop by on the weekends if they see us working out in the yard, though we expect them to pitch in! We were asked to be a part of a tour of historic homes in August, and we will see how that goes. I’m still trying to decide whether it is gracious to have people remove their shoes or not. I scrub the floors on my hands and knees, so it may be worth the social faux pas to keep the floors a little cleaner.

Give us a glimpse into your corporate day. What’s your typical day like at MSLO?

This can really vary. I am on radio 4 times per week, so there is a lot of planning for that. When the TV show is in production, there’s always planning for health segments even if I’m not actually in the segment, and, of course, there’s the writing of the columns for Body + Soul and Living.

People might think these are the exciting parts of the job, but I really do like the business side...figuring out how we can do things that have the most impact on our customer’s lives. As in any company, this requires a lot of meetings. Thankfully, there are so many talented business people at MSLO that I learn something new every day at work, too.


You take a lot of time out of your day(s) to keep in touch with your readers and listeners. Your blog, your column in Martha Stewart Living, “Sandwich Day” on Wednesdays with Sandy Gluck, Ask Dr. Brent, Tuesdays on Sirius, and I recently noticed the new community space “Ask Dr. Brent” on marthastewart.com. How important is that contact for you?

It is VERY important. I read every email, complaint or suggestion that comes in, and I incorporate that information in what I put out in the future.

Our readers, viewers, and listeners are the reason this company exists, that’s why you see so many of MSLO’s “experts”, taking the time out of their work schedules to connect with the audience. Even Martha is on Sirius all the time answering questions.


What does Dr. Brent dream about? What is your hope and dream for the future?

I truly hope that I never get bored or that I lose my curiosity. That would be more of a nightmare than a dream.
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To learn more about Beekman and what Dr. Brent and Josh are doing on the farm, visit: www.beekman1802.com For more information and inspiration on whole living, visit the new whole living website at www.wholeliving.com and listen to the whole living radio program on Martha Stewart Living Radio, Sirius Channel 112 at 10:00 a.m. eastern. Photos courtesy of: Anders Krusberg/The Martha Stewart Show, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia; Dr. Brent Ridge & Josh Kilmer-Purcell, Beekman1802.com Special thanks to: Dr. Brent and Josh for their kindness and support; Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Corporate Communications Department for their assitance in making this interview possible; My dear friends for your love.



Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia has officially unveiled their newest website wholeliving.com.


As the online home of MSLO’s body+soul magazine, the new site features more than 1,000 content items including easy, healthy recipes, interactive photo galleries, ideas for stylish eco-d├ęcor, green cleaning tips, life-coach advice, exercise videos, natural stress-busters and more. Much of the content would be a great complement to the ideas you present on your site.

The website is a natural extension of MSLO’s growing presence in the healthy living category; body+soul is the fastest growing magazine in the sector.

Readers of House Blend are encouraged to visit http://www.wholeliving.com/ for ideas on how to live a healthier and greener life. Here are a few examples of the great information you'll find:

No-Cook Meals – Try one of these seven cool, healthy dinners without turning on the stove.
http://www.wholeliving.com/photogallery/no-cook-recipes

Healthy & Delicious Snacks – a photo gallery of guiltless midday snacks
http://wholeliving.com/photogallery/healthy-snack-recipes

A Beginner’s Guide to Organic Gardening
http://wholeliving.com/article/beginners-guide-to-organic-gardening?lnc=996e0c8668ec9110VgnVCM1000003d370a0aRCRD&rsc=taxonomylist_green-living_green-101

Green Cleaning Tips – Nontoxic cleaners that deliver considerable power at minimal cost
http://wholeliving.com/photogallery/green-cleaning-super-stars

Sirius Radio listeners, make sure you tune into Whole Living, the new green living show, on Martha Stewart Living Radio on SIRIUS Radio channel 112. The live daily call-in show, which airs Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., offers expert tips, trends and advice for living healthfully and responsibly. Live healthy. Live responsibly. Live well. "Whole Living" refreshes your body and your mind with expert advice and fresh ideas about eating well, going green, staying fit, and much more. Join host Emily Hoffman as she discovers with you, the best ways to make yourself, your home, and your planet healthy and beautiful, inside and out.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A Two Day Getaway

We are taking a break from the everyday to head to Saugatuck, Michigan. Saugatuck is located on the west side of Michigan, with beautiful beaches that boarder stunning Lake Michigan.

Known for it's diversity, Saugatuck is a place of great food, shopping, local artisans, art galleries, gardens, theater, and of course, beaches.

I'm looking forward to the time away. We're taking this time to celebrate David's birthday, our 11 year anniversary (they said it wouldn't last!) and enjoy a pace that operates on 'our' time... not the hustle and bustle of the world.

We'll be back on Wednesday, with lots of photos, a journal of our adventures and more!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

...and the Livin' Is Easy...

Okay.. so what else does one do on a lazy, hazy summer afternoon, but nap? This is what I found as I walked through the family room this late afternoon. What a life, eh?

Finding Blogs and Sharing Blogs

Today, I had some time to explore blogs. I think what inspired me to do so was a visit from a woman named Bridgette. She visited this blog this morning and it was the first time in a long, long time that I clicked a name, followed a link and started to explore the world, seeing what 'else' was out there!
The first stop was Bridgette's blog, titled, "Stylehouse." From cooking and entertaining to decorating and gardening, Stylehouse was a fabulous way to begin my blog journey. This blog immediately scored big points... with Oliver, the cat. You can just tell from his pictures, he's a great cat!

From Bridgette's blog, I looked at her favorite blog places and started cruising around.

"Cupcakes Take the Cake" is one blog that almost made me dizzy with everything cupcakes! From sprinkle sources, to inspirational photographs, Cupcakes Take the Cake is an outstanding resource for those who bake and/or love cupcakes. You may remember the authors of this blog when they appeared on the Martha Stewart Show during cupcake week.


"Gestures" was another stop. A very nice place to visit as well. Beautifully designed, Gestures shares everyday living and inspires at the same time. I did notice that the author of this blog also loves Martha merchandise.. he scores 10 additional bonus points!

The last stop on my blog experience this afternoon was "Barefoot in the Orchard." A delightful visit, full of style, personal writings, and a welcome feeling.

When time permits in your busy lives, take a moment to visit these wonderful places. I think you'll enjoy them!

Sneak Peek! Cooking School Book Tour

My friend John recently received word of the tentative book tour schedule for the release of Martha Stewart's Cooking School which is due to hit Bookstores in October.

The six city tour includes: Los Angeles, Detroit, Tampa, New Orleans, Seattle and Cleveland. I'm thrilled! If indeed this book tour holds true I'll have two opportunities to attend, both in Detroit and in Cleveland! I will keep my ears and eyes open for any local announcement!

It Makes A Difference

In the last year we have made a conscious effort to be 'greener' in our daily living. We actively participate in recycling, we compost, we grow some of our own vegetables, we've converted all of our lights - indoors and out to the compact fluorescent lighting, we use canvas bags when shopping, and we've eliminated unnecessary use of our cars. We've raised the 'acceptable' room temperature in our home during the summer, and decreased the temperature in the winter. We maintain a strict maintenance schedule on our furnace and air conditioning to make sure it operates efficiently and we harvest rain water to eliminate unnecessary use of water to maintain the gardens. Once a week we vacuum the coils behind the fridge. We only use eco-friendly cleaners and even the cats get into it with natural, eco-friendly cat litter.

I think sometimes it's hard to realize what impact 'green living' has on the environment. It's not something you can readily 'see' or 'realize.' You just know you're doing the right thing.

We converted all of our light bulbs (with the exception of the dining room) to CFL lighting one year ago and we started the strict maintenance program on all the major appliances in our home. To 'see' the impact of the change, I kept a spreadsheet of our electric bills from a year prior and this year. The difference was amazing. Over the course of a year, we've saved 43% in electric costs! That is a significant savings!!

If a 43% savings can be realized, it motivates you to want to do more. What do you do to promote a greener way of life? Share your hints and tips!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Mamma Mia!

Are you looking for a 'feel good' movie? Take in "Mamma Mia," the movie based on the highly successful stage show told through the music of ABBA. Hearing the ABBA hits once again (although not the original artists) brought back such great memories. The movie will make you laugh, tap your foot, and maybe even shake your booty in your seat. Critics have raked Meryl Streep over the coals for her role in the movie; but I thought she was amazing. Be a Dancing Queen.. and check it out. I loved the movie.

Friday, July 25, 2008

You Can Just Tell...

As we quickly near the end of July, you can already begin to see the signs of the season changing. It's not a temperature thing... it's a 'lighting' thing.

While working in the garden this late afternoon there was a change in the late day sun. It's hard to explain. It was a bit more 'orange' than bright. The light was casting new and different shadows as it dipped behind a tree. It just reminded me of the end of Summer.

While we still have August yet to go, the days are actually beginning to shorten a bit. The sun rises a little later in the morning and rests a little earlier in the evening. A steady decrease of 1 minute per day of sunlight (approximately... according to our local weather person).

The gardens are beginning to show slight signs of exhaustion. The large ostrich ferns have set their spores on the underside of their leaves. The tips have browned. The dahlia plants have pushed forth their buds, ready to burst open with late season color. The grass strains under the hot sun to maintain it's lush green beauty. The end of a season will soon be upon us.

Believe me, I'm not rushing anything... I think I've just become more 'tuned in' to what nature is doing out there. I find I pay more attention to the little things, the subtle changes.

Until I have to face the first blazin' orange leaf that falls from the tree, I'll just sit back and enjoy the beauty of the season. Changes and all.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

What IS That Thing in the Garden??

This afternoon, I was spending time in the garden, doing what I do nearly every day... watering. I had finished with my daily chore and caught sight of something out of the corner of my eye. At first, I thought it was a bumble bee dancing among the blooms. I saw it again and noticed that it was too big to be a bumble bee (unless it was a bee on steroids). As it flew about, it reminded me of a hummingbird. Could this be a baby hummingbird? I watched it for some time and realized that it didn't really look like any type of hummingbird I had ever seen in the garden before.

I grabbed my camera in hopes of getting close enough to snap a picture of it. From bloom to bloom it would go, burying itself inside and then moving to the next bloom. Finally.. it hovered for a moment and I was able to snap a picture.

I dashed inside to upload the picture and see this little creature up close. This wasn't a hummingbird. It wasn't a bee. It wasn't a butterfly. I was baffled.

Being a naturally curious person, I had to find out just what this little 'thing' was! I did a google search on butterflies, only to come up empty handed. I then did a google search on hummingbirds and came across something that looked very similar. I read with great interest about the Hummingbird Clearwing Moth:

The Hummingbird Moth, unlike most moths, is seen on clear, sunny days. It's easily confused with hummingbirds because of its coloration and how it moves.

Hummingbird Moths grow up to two inches long. They have an olive-green body with red bands across their abdomen. Tufts of hairs from the end of the abdomen look a lot like feathers. The wings of this moth are mostly clear, sometimes with some red near the body.
Hummingbird Moths live in fields, gardens, and forest edges.

Adult Hummingbird Moths feed on nectar from many different flowers, just like hummingbirds. Some of their favorites include: Japanese Honeysuckle, Red Clover, Highbush Blueberry, thistles, wild roses, and blackberries. My little visitor seemed to have been rather taken with the petunias!

Hummingbird Moths use a long, thin, needle-like mouthpart called a proboscis to eat. The proboscis stays coiled up like a garden hose until it is time to use it. When the moth approaches a flower, it uncoils its proboscis and dips it deep into the flower where the nectar is.
Predators of Hummingbird Moths include birds, mantids, spiders, and bats.
The Hummingbird Moth was an interesting and welcome visitor to my garden. I can only wonder if it will be back.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dr. Brent Makes a House (Blend) Call


Several of you have recently emailed asking when the Dr. Brent interview would be posted. I'm pleased to inform you, that after an unanticipated but brief delay, the interview will be posted next week, the week of July 28th.

Thank You for Being a Friend...

Estelle Getty, best known for her role as Sophia on the Golden Girls, passed away this morning at her home in California. She was 84.

Getty, known for her sassy, sarcastic comments in her octogenarian character role, had battled advanced dementia for a number of years.

From 1985 - 1992, Getty and her co-stars on the hit television series made Saturday television something to look forward to. After the shows end in '92, it lived on in syndication and now is available by season on DVD.

I remember many Saturday nights tuning in and laughing hysterically. It was one of my favorite television shows. Getty's character reminded me of my own grandmother who was equally as feisty. (and also passed of dementia)

Her role as Sophia is one that many will remember fondly.

As the theme song of the Golden Girls goes: 'thank you for being a friend.'

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Favorite Summer Dessert

One of my favorite desserts during the warmer months is a lemon pound cake. This delicious cake is easy to make and has incredible flavor. With 1/3C of lemon zest, you know there HAS to be great flavor!

The recipe is from "The Barefoot Contessa - Parties!" by Ina Garten. It makes two loaves.

Ingredients:
1/2 pound of unsalted butter at room temp.
2 1/2 C granulated sugar
4 xtra large eggs at room temp.
1/3 C grated lemon zest
3 C all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 C freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 C buttermilk at room temp.
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two standard loaf pans.

Cream the butter and 2 cups of granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time, and the lemon zest.

Sift together the dry ingredients. Combine 1/4 C of lemon juice, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the buttermilk and dry ingredients alternately - beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.

Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Combine 1/2 C granulated sugar with 1/2 C lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves.

When the cakes are done, let them cool for 10 minutes then invert them onto a rack set over a tray, and spoon the lemon syrup over the cakes. Allow the cakes to cool completely.

For the glaze, combine 2 C confectioner's sugar and 3 1/2 T of lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. pour over the top of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

What's Martha Up To?


If you've been watching Martha's "Summer Session" this week, you might have noticed the 'teaser' commercials for the upcoming fourth season. "The start of something BIG" is the theme of the teaser commercials. What could Martha be up to now?


In the last quarterly conference call it was mentioned that the fourth season will see a return to what Martha does best - more 'how-to.' Could the something big be a return to a more familiar format?


We'll have to tune in on September 15 and see!



Friday, July 18, 2008

Why So Serious?

Opening TODAY!
Should I wear a towel safety pinned around my neck to work today?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Body and Soul Goes Digital

Body and Soul magazine (a Martha Stewart Publication) goes GREEN with a new offering of a digital subscription.
Readers can subscribe to digital issues that will be made available at each publication date. At the cost of $12.00 for 10 issues, readers can read the entire magazine on line. I checked out the demonstration issue to find it easy to use and easy to read with the option to enlarge the magazine to a comfortable viewing size. What's nice, is it's the actual hard copy magazine in a digital format instead of page upon page of boring text. Readers can skip through pages using the slide at the bottom of the screen or go page by page. The one drawback I saw, is the inability to download the magazine to your computer for future reference. There was no indication of how long a magazine would be available to view. For me, downloading would be essential, since I often reference my magazines again and again.

A digital subscription is an excellent idea. Could other Martha Stewart Living publications follow?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ugly Little Creatures

I made a huge mistake the other day. I was chit-chatting with a woman at work about our gardens. She was complaining about the number of Japanese Beetles that had invaded her gardens. "Knock on wood," I said, "I've not seen one yet this year.." Big mistake. I think our conversation was being recorded by the BIA (Beetle Intelligence Agency) because they have invaded, big time!

These annoying little bugs can leave your plants looking like your grandmothers favorite doily. While one small beetle doesn't do much damage on it's own, the mass numbers can destroy a plant in no time. There are literally hundreds of plants that they enjoy; but tend to favor roses most of all. They are attracted to the scent and the heat of the plant since most roses are in full sun.

As the Japanese Beetle feeds, it emits a pheromone that attracts others to enjoy the feast.

There are no easy methods to ending the Beetle madness. I do not use chemicals in my gardens, outside of some insecticidal soap. A good spray of the soap kills the visible beetles but has no residual effect.

I recall reading one of Martha's "Remembering" column years ago when she wrote about one of her childhood duties; to pick off the beetles and kill them. I don't have that kind of time, but I have shaken a few blooms over a bucket of soapy water and collected quite a few dead beetles. Perhaps I need to rent a child for a few more weeks to help keep the beetles at bay. (just kidding)

They'll all be gone by the beginning of August, having bred like rabbits (they are NOT modest when it comes to sex... they really should get a room) and eaten themselves into a stupor. It's a never ending circle of life. I for one have learned my lesson. I'll never brag about being 'beetle-less' again.

Monday, July 14, 2008


There are times when you want to take technology and chuck it out the window! This weekend, my desktop computer which has always performed marvelously decided that it was going to throw me a curve ball and stop working. The hard drive and the mother board reached it's breaking point and completely stopped functioning.
Having been through a technology failure in the past, I've learned that maintaining and external hard drive (or in my case, three of them) is not only a good idea; but it's a must have. Despite the failure, most of my documents, photos, images, music, and podcasts are saved and will be available again once the desktop is up and running. Unfortunately, what I did lose were hundreds and hundreds of emails and a few documents/projects that were a work in progress. A new lesson learned: even if it's not a completed project, save it to the external hard drive!
A huge frustration when it comes to a techno-failure is calling your computer manufacturer for assistance. You are connected with someone named "Jay," who is in India, and does not speak English very well. He's trying to walk you through a number of steps which include removing the cover of the PC and fiddling with the connections. Still no success. After nearly three hours or so on the telephone the computer still doesn't work. Thankfully, the PC was under warranty and a replacement will be on its way today.
Perhaps it's time I move from a PC to a Mac.
This week marks the start of Martha Stewart's "Summer Session" on the Martha Stewart Show.

For the next two weeks, viewers will find all new shows with inspiring ideas, great recipes, and fun crafts.

Check out the television page on marthastewart.com for details.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Thinking of the Koppelman Family

I just found out that Jennifer Koppelman Hutt, and MSLO Chairman Charles Koppelman lost their loved one, Bunny on the 8th after a long fight with cancer.

My deepest sympathy goes to the family.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Retail Strategist Predicts Martha/Wal-Mart Partnership To Be Hugely Successful

"It's going to be hugely successful," predicts Candace Corlett at WSL Strategic Retail. She tells John Wordock, Stewart should really inspire female shoppers at the mega-retailer. "It will move Martha into a whole new economic status."

Hear Ms. Corletts comments at: http://www.marketwatch.com/tvradio/player.asp?guid=%7B9AA7B486-A688-468A-B2FD-5B150AC8DB2C%7D

Ms. Corletts comments, they're a good thing!

Summer Entertaining Special

The line up for "Martha Stewarts Summer Entertaining" special on the Fine Living Network has been posted. It looks to be a great show!







The new special will air on Saturdays at 1:00 p.m. eastern time beginning July 19 on the Fine Living Network.

Martha Stewart Create & Celebrate: It's Official

Here is the official press release from MSLO on the expansion of the crafts line at Wal-Mart:


Two New Assortments of Products, Martha Stewart Create(TM) and Martha Stewart Celebrate(TM), Debut in Wal-Mart Stores in the U.S. and Canada

NEW YORK, July 9 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. (NYSE: MSO) today announced its Martha Stewart Crafts line is expanding into Wal-Mart stores in the U.S. and Canada. Two new assortments -- Martha Stewart Create and Martha Stewart Celebrate -- are debuting in the majority of Wal-Mart stores across the U.S. and Canada this month.

Martha Stewart Create features crafting essentials and memory-keeping products such as paper, cutting mats, tools, pens, markers, glitter, and ribbons. The assortment also contains craft and activity kits including jewelry-making kits, pipe-cleaner-animal kits, memory-keeping kits, party decor kits, and card-making kits.

Martha Stewart Celebrate showcases ready-made, paper-based weddings essentials such as stationery, guest books, embellishments, favor boxes, cake toppers, and customizable centerpieces, as well as flower baskets and ring pillows.

For more than 25 years, Martha Stewart has been inspiring consumers with unique how-to ideas for special occasions and crafts, arenas in which Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSLO) has national brand recognition and expertise. Created by MSLO's design teams, led by Martha Stewart, the new assortments feature high-quality, easy-to-use products that are designed especially for the mass retail shopper. MSLO teamed with EK Success, one of the country's leading scrapbooking and creative consumer products companies to manufacture, market and sell the products.

Martha Stewart, Founder of MSLO, stated, "Sharing ideas and inspiration about crafting and celebrations are an integral part of our company and all that we offer. With Martha Stewart Create at Wal-Mart, consumers will experience the satisfaction that comes from making things by hand. With Martha Stewart Celebrate, we will be able to provide beautiful, creative solutions for party-giving from intimate gatherings to large celebrations such as weddings. Anything that makes the job of the host and hostess easier is of the utmost importance to us."

Martha Stewart Crafts launched in 2007 at arts and crafts stores in the U.S. and Canada. That same year, MSLO further extended its footprint in the $30 billion U.S. crafts market with an investment in Wilton Industries, which owns EK Success.

"We continue to grow our crafting and celebrations-related businesses so that our consumers have easy, convenient access to our beautiful, high-quality products that make occasions more memorable," stated Robin Marino, President of Merchandising and Co-Chief Executive Officer at MSLO.

"In a short amount of time, this brand has become an integral part of our corporation's portfolio of brands," said Kevin Fick, President, EK Success. "We are excited that this expansion into Wal-Mart fulfills the need in the marketplace to bring a national brand to this important and growing category while reaching so many new consumers."

Monday, July 7, 2008

Martha Stewart Create & Martha Stewart Celebrate

Questions have been whirling regarding the recent discovery of Martha Stewart craft items at Wal-Mart. Are these exclusive? Will Michaels carry the same items? Well.. when in doubt ask the one woman that should know... Ask Martha.

This afternoon Martha took calls from listeners on her "Ask Martha" radio show on Martha Stewart Living Radio (Sirius Channel 112) and I decided to call in and ask about the products that have been spotted.

Martha shared that this was their next big announcement. MSLO and Wal-Mart have teamed up with the introduction of "Martha Stewart Create" and "Martha Stewart Celebrate" product lines. The official announcement from the company is forthcoming.

"Martha Stewart Create" is a line of crafting tools, accessories, scrapbooking items, and other craft materials. There is also a line of kids craft kits that fall under the create label.

This line, geared towards the crafter and the crafter wanna-be's feature many of the same tools found at Michaels, though the handle colors are green (that lovely Martha green color!) With a full range of products, crafters will be able to stock up for any crafting need.

"Martha Stewart Celebrate" is a line of items to celebrate holidays and life events. Wal-Mart stores are beginning to stock a complete array of wedding items, from invites, decorations and cake topper frames to guest books, wedding planner binders and crepe paper flowers.

Martha shared that the Celebrate line will also include all the common holidays with the first holiday line arriving this fall for Halloween. The line will continue to grow with items geared toward other life events such as anniversaries and baby christenings.

Martha mentioned that she recently finished shooting the television commercials for the new lines which will begin airing later this summer.

Some of the "Marthateers" have gone under cover with camera phones to bring you photos of this exciting new product line as it arrives on store shelves. Enjoy!


To view a larger screen show, click on the video box above and then click the button that says "watch."

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Raspberries Mean Summer

You know it's summer when the raspberries start ripening, providing what seems to be an endless bounty of summer sweetness.

I have been picking berries every day since Wednesday. It's almost started to be a battle with the birds that stop by - they like the berries too!

We'll easily have enough berries for raspberry jam, tarts, or just to enjoy with yogurt or by themselves!

Thurston Howell Would Have Loved This

We decided to take an impromptu trip to the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club, where my sister and her husband were docked for the day (and night) as part of their month long sailing journey to upper Michigan.

It was a glorious day. The temperatures were just right, a nice breeze coming in off the lake, and the skies were so clear. It was a perfect day.

We enjoyed lunch on one of the outdoor decks overlooking the Olympic size swimming pool and the docks themselves. In the distance, looking out over Lake St. Clair, you could see large freighters slowly moving to reach their Detroit or Windsor destination.

The inside of the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club was something to behold. Elegance surrounded you as you entered the timeless nautical building. Picture taking on the inside of the club was forbidden, but I did find a couple pictures of their beautiful dining rooms. It's just a small example of the wonderful atmosphere the club provides guests and members.

The main dining room is breathtaking, with huge chandeliers and arched windows that overlook the lake. The room is nothing less than 'grand' and is often times used for wedding dinners, receptions (also using the ballroom right next door) and other special events.





The next dining room is the Binnacle Room. The dark wood of the room lends itself to more of a Men's club rather than a dining room. Crisp white linens grace the tables with comfortable arm chairs for seating. It's a beautiful space and perfect for an intimate dinner for two or more.

GPYC is known in the area for their incredible menus and delicious food. Winner of numerous local awards, the yacht club is a dining favorite among it's members.

The Detroit area rich and famous all keep their watercraft docked in Grosse Pointe. From local news anchors and politicians to the auto giant Ford family, the variety of boats, sailboats and yachts are stunning. The largest 'resident' on a semi-private dock is the renowned Ford family yacht, "Unity." This huge yacht is four levels and spans 120 feet. Because of it's size, the Unity is docked at the farthest end of the club. It's a gorgeous yacht. I was half tempted to introduce myself and see if I could have had a tour. The entire time we were there, the yacht was docked - with plenty of activity on board. The yacht staff were busily preparing the Unity for it's next voyage. You could see them actively cleaning through the large expansive windows.

In the above picture, parts of the yacht are not visible because of the draw bridge that lifts up and down to allow boats through into the inner dock area. It was stunning to see this incredible yacht even from afar.
It was a relaxing day of people watching and great conversation. We lounged on my sisters boat and watched numerous boats go by and of course the people were fun to watch too. While some would have expected it to be 'stuffy' and 'snobby,' it wasn't at all. The people were all very friendly. It was a great way to spend the daytime hours on the fourth of July!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A July Morning

I love these little clay Martha Stewart Everyday pots

Come, walk with me. When the gardens were originally created, the idea was to create a space where people have to walk around the yard. The grassy areas actually act as paths from one garden to another.

I'm not sure what kind of shrub this is. It blooms with a zillion tiny yellow blossoms each year. It's struggling to survive. It's been here forever.

The Yucca plants are beginning to bloom

My Chinese Wisteria plant is lush and full, but it didn't bloom this year. I have no idea why.

The morning glories are starting to climb their bamboo stakes. I'm hoping for a lush full tee-pee of beautiful blue morning glories.

This purple flower (I have no idea what it is) comes up every year and spreads like crazy. It could be a weed for all I know!

The ferns continue to pop up everywhere. Here, they are popping up in the path

I love placing pots of flowers in the garden. This pot just reminds me of a wedding.

My Endless Summer Hydrangea is actually developing some new buds! I'm thrilled! I thought for sure they would have died after the long winter months.

This stuff is crazy! I can't find the plant tag to tell you what it is, but it started off as one small little plant and has spread like crazy through one garden. Actually, I've stopped planting in this garden and just let it take over. It's very flowing and will continue to bloom for the remainder of the summer.

The raspberries are ripening. I feel a tart coming on!

Another view of the side garden. We're going for the natural woodsy type feeling.

Another view of the same garden. There are a few little spots of color, but for the most part it's about textures and shades of green.

Ferns, ferns, everywhere!

Zinnia's, Delphiniums, and Daisies, oh my!