Wednesday, December 31, 2008
It would be very easy to create a recap post of the years top stories; but nearly every news station has had a recap sprinkled in their newscasts since mid December. I don't think we need to look back once again at the scandals, the losses, the election and the tragic news stories.
2008 truly brought this blog to life. While I started this small space in 2007, the blog has experienced tremendous growth during 2008. When I first started this space my friends and family would check in and see what was going on. As we wrap up the year, over 1,000 people visit each week and many are now regular visitors who stop in for their 'cup' of House Blend. I'm forever grateful for the opportunity to share this space with so many great people from all over the world.
The turning point for House Blend was the interview with Dr. Brent Ridge. The interview that appeared here in June of this year, generated the highest number of page views and single day visits. (You can still read the interview.. look for Dr. Brent in the topic section on the sidebar) It is still one of the most 'searched' pages. Thank you again, Dr. Brent for your generosity and your time to make the interview such a success!
We often hear about the 'power of the media' and 2008 brought that power to life for me. During the course of a call in segment on "Morning Living" (Martha Stewart Living Radio), Tracie Hotchner, host of Cat Chat received a call from a woman who was in need of help with two cats that belonged to her sister. Her sister had been hospitalized and she needed to find a foster home for the cats until her sister was well enough to take care of them. Tracie made the connection that maybe I could help her through the animal rescue I'm affiliated with. She made this connection not even knowing if the caller was close to me. All within 24 hours, the caller made her plea for help, Tracie made the connection to me with the caller, I made contact with the caller as well as the animal rescue, and help was on the way. Within two weeks, the cats were safely housed at the shelter as foster cats. They will return to their owner soon. I'm thankful for Tracie, who has been a wonderful friend and supporter of our rescue.
In October, my friend John and I spent the day together to see Martha at a book signing in Birmingham. It was a complete "Martha day" that began in the early hours of the morning as we stood outside in the cold to get our wristbands to secure our place in line. We met many wonderful people that day, who shared in our enjoyment of all things Martha. The highlight of course was getting a couple minutes with Martha as she chatted with us as she signed our copies of "Martha Stewart's Cooking School." Above all, it was great to spend time with John.. we just don't do that enough.
What will 2009 bring? Who knows... but one of my New Year's Intentions is to make sure I take sufficient time to experience the good things. Work/life balance is much more important to me than it used to be. It's time to find that balance.
To each of you I wish you the very best for the new year ahead. Don't forget to stop in and visit. The coffee is always fresh, and you're always welcome to sit at the kitchen table and talk about living. Happy New Year!
Monday, December 29, 2008
While visiting family in Florida, my friend Elaine found this small selection of Martha Stewart Crafts Valentine's Day items at an area Wal-Mart store. Blank cards, stickers, confetti, and ribbons seem to be part of the holiday fun for Valentine's Day.
I'll have to scope out local stores to see if anything is popping up here locally. If you recall last year, the crafts line had very little in the way of Valentine's Day merchandise. It looks like this year will be a bit more interesting!
Start purchasing your Valentine's Day items soon! Nothing says, "I love you" like a homemade card! Well.. maybe some bling and chocolate will do the trick.. but the homemade card is nice too!
Sunday, December 28, 2008
While most of us will remember 2008 as the year of the economic downturn, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia kicked the year up a notch and continued to position itself for long term growth.
January2008: “Everyday Baking,” the new PBS series premieres. “Everyday Baking” is the companion show to the very popular “Everyday Food,” MSLO’s fastest growing franchise. The show, starring John Barricelli features multiple baking segments centered on a central theme.
January 2008: Martha Stewart 'On Demand' became available to digital subscribers to Comcast and Cox Cable. A variety of segments from Martha Stewart Living television and the Martha Stewart Show are made available to viewers on a variety of topics. Video clips change each month.
February 2008: MSLO announced the expansion of its Weddings franchise with an investment in WeddingWire, the online wedding planning company. The acquisition of approximately 40 percent of the equity in WeddingWire and a commercial agreement related to software and content licensing and media sales helps MSLO position itself as the ultimate resource for brides to be who are planning their special day.
February 2008: MSLO announced in what was probably the biggest news of the year, the acquisition of the media and merchandising properties of famed chef, Food Network personality and restaurant owner Emeril Lagasse. The contract was signed in April 2008. The deal brings together one of the biggest brands in food-related content with MSLO's well-established expertise in the lifestyle arena. Under the terms of the deal, MSLO acquired the rights to the Emeril Lagasse franchise, including television programming, cookbooks, emerils.com website, and the licensed kitchen and food products.
April 2008: MSLO and 1-800 Flowers, the nation’s largest on line flower retailer announced their partnership and the new Martha Stewart for 1-800 Flowers collection. The 1-800 relationship replaces the long running marthastewartflowers.com which shuttered its operations in January . Martha Stewart for 1-800 Flowers collection opened with a wide array of floral arrangements and live plants all presented in beautiful vessels inspired by Martha’s own antique collection.
June 2008: For the first time since the magazines inception, Everyday Food featured Martha and Emeril on the cover and premiered his new column in the magazine. Emeril and Everyday Food was a perfect match for the newly acquired MSLO franchise.
June 2008: Martha Stewart Podcasts became available to iTunes users. Similar content to the 'On Demand' library, but with the ease of having them on your home computer.
June 2008: SVP Worldwide, owner of Singer®, Husqvarna®, Viking®, and Pfaff® sewing machine brands announced the new Martha Stewart Embroidery Line. Classic Embroidery Patterns, the first in a series of embroidery designs produced by MSLO and SVP Worldwide, provide designs for monogramming and frame, border, and corner artwork that allow for further enhancement and personalization of sewing and embroidery projects. These patterns include Scallop, Laurel, and Twist, three simple, graceful embellishments inspired by timeless embroidery patterns, as well as an elegant font--custom-designed to Martha's specifications--for creating clean, beautiful monograms.
July 2008: The Martha Stewart Crafts line expanded with Martha Stewart Create and Martha Stewart Celebrate collections available exclusively at Wal-Mart stores throughout the United States and Canada.
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.
The expansion of the craft line which debut in 2007 fulfilled a need in the mass market distribution channel. Immediately upon the announcement, analysts and consumers speculated whether or not Wal-Mart would become the new distributor of Martha Stewart Everyday once the contract with Kmart expires in January of 2010. While no new announcement has been made to date, one could easily be expected by third quarter of this year.
September 2008: Martha Stewart Television went in two different directions in the Fall of this year. First, Martha opened her Bedford Farm for the season opener of the syndicated “Martha Stewart Show.” Filmed entirely on the property of the gorgeous New York farm, the show featured a number of guest chefs and glimpses into her stables and gardens.
“Whatever, Martha” also made its debut on the Fine Living Network. The show concept was created by Martha Stewart and inspired by the cult classic “Mystery Science Theater.” “Whatever” radio show personalities, Alexis Stewart and Jennifer Koppelman-Hutt host the new show. The unscripted TV format provides a provocative platform for the radio duo to reveal their very colorful, witty and sometimes shocking opinions about Martha Stewart, Martha's performance, appearance and approach to projects in memorable segments selected from the Emmy-winning program "Martha Stewart Living", which premiered 15 years ago.
September 2008: MSLO’s portfolio of home decorating products expanded with the introduction of the Martha Stewart Good Bed line of luxury mattresses. Designed by Martha Stewart and the MSLO design team and manufactured by The Good Bed LLC, an entity formed by MSLO and Columbus, Ohio-based Schottenstein Stores Corporation, the line is comprised of twelve mattresses, each covered in woven or knit tickings of 100% cotton and starting at $1,000. The mattresses are available in twin, full, queen, king, and California king sizes, and in comfort levels of firm, medium-firm, and plush. Each includes proprietary dual-directional coil innerspring support, a supportive soy foam comfort edge that makes it more comfortable to get into and out of bed, and continental tailoring for easier placement of fitted sheets. Select mattresses feature tight, Euro, box, and pillow tops, as well as layers of soy and visco foam.
October 2008: MSLO announced an agreement to invest in, and enter a commercial agreement with, Pingg Corp. (www.pingg.com), an online event management site that offers stylish invitations and easy-to-use event planning tools. The move reflects MSLO's strategy to broaden its digital footprint.
December 2008: MSLO and NBC Universal, the syndication distributor for the Martha Stewart Show announced that the Emmy-Winning Syndicated Series Sold for 5th Season on Stations From NBC Local Media, Fox, Hearst, Scripps, LIN & More, Representing More Than 60% of U.S.
And you thought your year was busy?
In other MSLO news this year, in a move that shocked the business world, CEO Susan Lyne stepped down to pursue other opportunities. Susan is credited with taking control of MSLO during the massive company downturn following Martha’s personal legal problems and turning the company around to a profitable status. A number of restructuring moves at MSLO also made headlines in 2008 with the most recent announcement of CFO Howard Hochhauser stepping down.
Looking toward 2009
Speculation has been brewing about what could be next for MSLO. Additional licensing agreement announcements are expected in 2009. MSLO has hinted at an international expansion of the brand as well as domestic expansion (there are already international editions of Martha Stewart Living and Martha Stewart Weddings magazines). The buzz is a new garden line to be available at one of the big box home improvement stores and home improvement tools for the DIY’er at the same location. With the Martha Stewart Paint line available at Lowe’s, it would seem to be an obvious choice for further expansion of the brand in the home improvement arena.
I have a number of things I’d like to see this year:
- Martha Stewart Organizing Tools: Online or paper calendar, reminder, and daily organizing tools. (ala Franklin/Covey)
- An expansion of the food line to move beyond Costco. While Costco offers great value, it’s rather limited in consumer scope.
- Martha Stewart Baking: A line of cake and baking supplies. It makes sense since MSLO owns a portion of Wilton Industries.
- Martha Stewart Homekeeping: A line of cleaning supplies and laundry supplies available through mass market. While some items are currently available at Macy’s as part of the Martha Stewart Collection, I’d like to see a larger scale distribution of such products.
- Martha Stewart Pets: A line of all natural foods, supplies, and care items for pets.
Martha Stewart Garden: A full line of gardening items including tools, pots, planters, shoes (bring back garden clogs!), and work clothing.
- Martha Stewart Home Office: A line of tools available to keep organized and keep the home office running at optimal efficiency.
- An expansion of the craft/create line to include software tools to create your own cards, stationary, announcements, etc without having to use online services.
- Martha Stewart Digital: Digital availability of their publishing library by subscription. Make all current and past issues available through a digital medium.
- Martha Stewart Living – The Seasons: While the first run at DVD’s didn’t fare well for the company, I’d love to see all the seasons of Martha Stewart Living made available in a DVD collection. Don’t separate it out by ‘topic’ – rather, the entire season.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
Conditions continued to worsen throughout the day until about noon, when the storm was pulling off to the east, leaving behind a 9" coating of snow in most of our immediate area. As beautiful as it is, I hated driving in it! I'm glad to be home and now enjoy seeing it from the comforts of the great indoors! I did tiptoe outside to take one quick photo. We have to go out in a little bit to do some holiday party shopping. I may take my camera along to catch a few more snow moments.
David is clearing paths to the barn and clearing out the driveway while I give encouragement from the front door. :-) More snow is expected on Sunday and again on Christmas Eve. I do hope Rudolph has his nose at maximum wattage!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
In other Sirius news.. for those who love nostalgia for the holidays, check out channel 113 for "Bing Crosby Christmas Radio." Join special guest host Regis Philbin for this non-stop broadcast of more than twenty years of vintage Bing Crosby holiday radio specials, featuring a wide variety of Crosby’s beloved music — including his most popular recording ever, "White Christmas" — and special guests like Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland and Bob Hope among others. Bing Crosby Christmas Radio airs through Christmas Day, December 25.
And right in between these two channels, you'll always find Martha Stewart Living Radio on channel 112. (XM subscribers can also find MSLR on channel 157) Great holiday tips, recipes and inspiration is available 24 hours a day. Oh.. and let's not forget Alexis and Jennifer, the hosts of "Whatever."
Monday, December 15, 2008
That signals that the syndicated series, produced by Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, will be returning for a fifth season.
The daily strip has been cleared by NBC, Fox, Hearst, Scripps, and LIN stations, among others. Top-market renewals include WNBC New York, KNBC Los Angeles, WMAQ Chicago, WJBK Detroit, WTVT Tampa, WBAL Baltimore, and WISN Milwaukee.
The series averaged a .7 in the November sweep, down from the previous November, but showing year-to-growth in most of the top 30 markets and on par with previous-week performances.
"Martha and the team behind her show continue to produce an entertaining daily program that resonates with our viewers," says John Wallace, President, NBC Local Media, which oversees NBC's TV stations.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
It is DELICIOUS. You can find the recipe from Emeril here.
I also started some Marshmallow Snowflakes. The marshmallow mixture was easy to make and it's amazing what some hot sugar water and corn syrup can turn into after about 10 minutes on the Kitchen-Aid!This pan (a standard rimmed baking sheet) will be cut into snowflakes tomorrow. The recipe to make these easy treats can be found on marthastewart.com
So much more to do... but so pleased with the achievements so far! Happy Sunday, everyone!
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Wanting ham for the holidays? Look no further than your local Costco for Kirkland Signature/Martha Stewart Ham. First introduced last year to rave reviews, this ham can’t be beat. These bone-in hams are slow cured and then lightly smoked over applewood chips. Each artisanal ham comes with simple reheating, glazing, and carving instructions. If you traditionally serve ham at holiday time, this ham is the perfect choice.
When the wrapping paper and scotch tape frenzy leave you with little time for a simple supper, try these great Martha Stewart alternatives:
Beef Chili with Beans ……This beef chili brings together black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, and hearty chunks of beef. Tomatoes, smoky ancho chilies, and a touch of lager round out the chili’s deep flavors and give it plenty of personality. Make it a southwest supper that is quick, easy, and tastes like you had it simmering for hours.
Chicken Slab Pie ……All-natural chicken, carrots, leeks, mushrooms, peas, and pearl onions
simmered in a creamy sauce—are brought together in these rustic, double-crust pies. This chicken slab pie takes the traditional pot pie and kicks it up a few notches.
Turkey Soup …… Brimming with hearty chunks of turkey, tender noodles, mushrooms, carrots, and onions, this turkey soup is delicious served piping hot on its own or with some crusty bread.
After dinner, who doesn’t love a good dessert? Try Martha’s Apple Raspberry Slab Pie …… A rich, buttery crust encases a filling of apples, raspberries, and a hint of spice to create this apple-raspberry slab pie. Serve it warm or at room temperature with your favorite ice cream.
Planning a holiday party? Martha makes it easy with these quick appetizers:
Olive Bruschetta …… This olive bruschetta blends the tangy, slightly salty flavors of olives with the sweetness of roasted red peppers and cipollini onions. It makes a wonderful alternative to traditional pasta
Pork Meatballs …… These tender pork meatballs feature floral lemongrass and spicy habanero chiles. Serve them on bibb lettuce leaves with a chili-lime dipping sauce or on a mini baguette with shredded carrots, sliced cucumbers and pickles, nd cilantro sprigs to create a Vietnamese-style sandwich.
Mushroom Dip …… Classic flavor of rich, savory bacon mingles with earthy mushrooms in this creamy dip. When entertaining, serve a bowl of Mushroom Dip with an array of fresh vegetables.
Whether your entertaining, hosting the holiday, or just looking for something quick to prepare during a busy week, Kirkland/Martha Stewart products make meal time taste just like you made it yourself… and all you had to do is heat it up!
For more information on these and other Kirkland/Martha Stewart food products, visit the shop page at marthastewart.com.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Friday, December 5, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Stephen Doyle, Creative Director and Brian Chojnowski, Designer secured their place in the Annual publication for their design work in the packaging for the Martha Stewart Collection, available at Macy's. Stephen Doyle, married to MSLO Chief Creative Officer, Gael Towey, is also credited with the design of the Martha Stewart circle logo which has unified the Martha Stewart brand across multiple media platforms.
According to the designers, "The idea was simple: Why not turn the stacked cardboard boxes holding Martha Stewart Collection kitchenware into wallpaper? Creating artwork from the actual product drawings allowed us to forego expensive, elaborate product photography and print the boxes while the products were being manufactured."
Congratulations to Doyle Partners for the recognition of their outstanding design talent.
"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old. "Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. "Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.' "Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?"
Your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.