Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!



Wishing you and yours a safe and Happy New Year!

Martha Stewart Living Magazine - A Decade of Inspiration

By now, you're probably tired of all the "year in review" and "decade in review" footage on the news, but I wanted to share a decade of Martha Stewart Living magazine with you in this little video.  You might recognize some of the music too!  Happy New Year!


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The D. Landreth Seed Catalog


The cover of the 2009-2011 Seed Catalog

When I looked in my mailbox today I was so happy to see the 2009-2011 Landreth Commemorative Seed catalog. This beautiful vintage inspired catalog is breath-taking in not only its content, but its design as well.

This year, Landreth celebrated its 225th anniversary. In the United States, only four other companies have celebrated such a milestone. To honor the anniversary, the special commemorative edition of the catalog was created using imagery from over 60 catalogs, wholesale price lists, Rural Registers and Alamanacs covering a period from 1839-1924. The catalog is filled with articles, testimonials, advertisements and artwork from the 60 year archive. It’s a catalog worthy of a place among your favorite coffee table books.

From humble beginnings in Philadelphia in 1784, David Landreth started the seed company and sold seeds to the City of Philadelphia and several nearby estates. As his reputation steadily grew, his customers included George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Joseph Bonaparte (Napoleon’s brother).

David Landreth introduced the Zinnia into the United States from Mexico in 1798. In 1811, Landreth introduced the first truly white potato. In 1820, he introduced the tomato, known then as The Love Apple, and later perfected the first variety of yellow tomato. In 1826, the Company introduced a new kind of spinach to the American gardener. The spinach eventually became known as Bloomsdale Spinach, one of the most popular vegetables ever grown and a favorite of gardeners even today.


A page from the archives

The Landreth family treasured America’s and the world’s agricultural and horticultural heritage. For more than 200 years, the Landreth Catalogues, Rural Registers and Almanacs introduced and chronicled the development of seeds, many of which are now heirlooms. Bloomsdale, the Landreth family home, had the best collection of trees in the United States-only Judge Field of Princeton and the Sargent family of Boston were in the same class.

Today, the D. Landreth Seed Company is the fifth oldest corporation in America. Among its many historical claims is the fact that the company sold seed to every American president from George Washington to Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Landreth story is the story of an American family business which was born near the time of America’s birth and grew with America over three centuries. It’s a story of strong minded men and woman of principle, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters who pursued a path of innovation and exploration with the pioneering spirit that will always be the essence of what makes this country great.

I had the distinct pleasure of meeting the current owners of the D. Landreth Seed Company during our visit to Sharon Springs, NY this last fall. I was so impressed with the knowledge, the passion and the commitment they have for their business and for their customers.

You can visit the D. Landreth Seed Company on line and learn more about this incredible American institution.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Martha Stewart Clean Now Available at Home Depot


Martha Stewart Clean, the new line of eco-friendly cleaning products are now available at The Home Depot.

While making a last minute stop at our local Home Depot store just before the holiday, I saw a large display of the complete line of Clean products for sale. The product line includes an all-purpose cleaner, glass/mirror cleaner, bathroom cleaner, laundry soap, fabric softner, toilet bowl cleaner, wood floor cleaner, dishwashing/hand soap, spot carpet cleaner, and dishwasher soap. 

I purchased my stock of Clean a month or so ago and I've had a chance to use all the products in the line.  I put them to the cleaning test as I prepared for the holidays with some mixed results.  I've rated the cleaning products based on my own experience: 
**** Four Stars:  My top picks from the cleaning line are the all-purpose cleaner, the glass/mirror cleaner, and the wood floor cleaner.  Each worked very well without any residue or obnoxious odors. 

*** Three Stars:  Toilet bowl cleaner, bathroom cleaner and carpet cleaner.  All performed well, handling the daily cleaning.  Because there are no chemicals in the cleaners, they did not work as 'fast' as I'm used to with other commercial products.  The carpet cleaner took two attempts to remove the spot stain. 

** Two Stars:  The dishwashing / hand soap and laundry soap both are given the two star rating.  While they work for daily use, the dishwashing/hand soap did not perform well with grease removal.  The laundry soap is excellent for your basic laundry needs but additional products will need to be used for stain removal. 

* One Star:  The lone disappointment in the entire line was the fabric softner.  With a front loading, He machine, the fabric softner is too thick to be used with the auto dispenser on my washer.  I will need to thin out the softner so it will automatically dispense into the machine at the rinse cycle.

The Clean line is 99% plant based, with no additional coloring or perfumes added.  I like knowing what I'm using to clean my house is chemical free, given I have 4 cats wandering around!  My grade for the Martha Stewart Clean product line:  B  

Thursday, December 24, 2009

and to all, a good night...



Christmas Eve, 2009

Dear Readers of House Blend,

As we settle in this Christmas Eve and await Santa's arrival, I wanted to take a few moments to express my sincere thanks to each of you who have made House Blend a regular blog stop in your internet travels.

2009 was an incredible year of growth for House Blend and 2010 will bring several new changes that I hope you will find enjoyable:


-- Video blogging

-- Great interviews are lined up throughout 2010 with interesting and creative people

-- More diverse content that will cover all aspects of daily living

-- A new blog design that will make House Blend more visually appealing

-- and much more!

Of course, you can always count on House Blend to share the lastest in MSLO news. 

Look for these exciting changes in early 2010. 

Thank you for a wonderful year.  I hope you'll stay with House Blend throughout 2010.  Living is always an adventure and I hope we can share it all together. 

Sunday, December 20, 2009

More Baking - Chocolate Espresso Sno-caps



My holiday baking madness continues with these easy and delicious Chocolate Espresso Sno-caps

I had no intention of making these until I opened my email today to find my "Cookie of the Day" email from Martha Stewart Living which featured these classic treats.  The espresso powder makes these cookies taste so rich and so full of chocolate flavor.  This particular recipe said it would yield 18 cookies, but I managed to get a full two dozen!  This recipe is worth printing and adding to your cookie recipe box!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Treats for Santa


I awoke at my usual early hour of the morning to find a fresh blanket of pristine snow.  Finally.  A thin blanket of white to make Christmas week picture perfect. 

After a cup of my seasonal favorite, Starbucks Christmas Blend (make that a few cups), I decided to take my Saturday morning and make cookies.  My friend Mike sent me an early present, a vintage cookie press so I knew I would have to try it out and make for the first time ever, Spritz cookies.  I also wanted to make a cookie that became a favorite last year, German Chocolate Cake Cookies. 



A throwback to the 50's with this fabulous "cooky" press!

It took me a few attempts to find just the right number of twists to make the perfect spritz cookie.  I have never used a cookie press before (or as the box says, "cooky" press) so I had to play for a while to get the perfect cookie.  I used Martha Stewart's Spritz cookie recipe and it was excellent. 


A classic Spritz

The German Chocolate Cake Cookies are to die for.  The recipe was found in the 2008 special issue of Paula Deen's Holiday Baking.  The are easy to make and oh so good!  The recipes for both cookies can be found below. 


German Chocolate goodness!

Spritz Cookie Recipe:

3 sticks of unsalted butter, creamed
1C sugar
2 egg yolks
1/4 t salt
3 3/4 C all purpose flour
1T vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Add the egg yolks, mix to combine.  Add vanilla and salt, mix to combine.  Slowly add the flour mixture, mixing until just combined. 

Fill the canister of the cookie press with dough.  Press the cookies out onto a CHILLED,  ungreased half sheet baking pan. 

Bake at 375 degrees for exactly 12 minutes. Do not let the cookies brown!  Remove from the baking pan and allow to cool on a wire rack.  Makes about 6 dozen cookies!

German Chocolate Cake Cookies:

1 stick unsalted butter (softened)
1/2C firmly packed brown sugar
1/4C sugar
1 large egg
1t vanilla
1 4oz bar of German's sweet chocolate, melted
1 1/4C all purpose flour
1/4C unsweetened cocoa powder
1t baking soda
1/4t salt
1 1/2C sweetened flaked coconut
1C chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 359 degrees.  Line half sheet baking pans will parchment or silpat baking liners.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugars at medium speed until fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla, beating until combined.  Add melted chocolate, beating until combined. 

In a medium bowl, combine clour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.  Gradually add to the butter mixture, beating util combined.  Stir in coconut and pecans.  Drop batter by heaping tablespoonfuls, 2 inches apart onto prepared baking sheets.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cookies are set in the center.  Let the pans cool for 2 minutes and remove cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.  Makes approx. 3 dozen cookies

Friday, December 18, 2009

MSLO 2009 Year in Review

2009 was a challenging year for any media and merchandising company. The downward spiral of the economy took a huge toll on many companies including Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.

While ad pages in Living, were beginning to rise in early 2008, it was evident from the ‘thin’ issues throughout 2009 that the economy continued to impact media buyers decisions where to use their advertising dollars. For any magazine, the lack of ad dollars can mean certain death. I am thankful that Living was not among the dead. Martha Stewart Living continues to inform and inspire readers month after month.

Despite the bleak economic forecast, MSLO moved forward with a number of new partnerships and initiatives. Let’s take a look at the year 2009:

Q1


 
MSLO and the Hain Celestial Group announced a collaborative effort to create a new line of Martha Stewart branded cleaning products. The products, which went into soft launch in November, are chemical and perfume free. Sold under the “Martha Stewart Clean” label, the products are currently available at Giant Eagle stores in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia as well as through Amazon.com. National rollout is scheduled for the first quarter of 2010.

Martha Stewart has always shared her passion and love of pets with readers and viewers. Recognizing that the vast majority of the MSLO customer demographic share the same passion; MSLO responded with the launch of a new pet micro-site within marthastewart.com. This new initiative includes helpful tips on pet care, an email newsletter, and even Martha’s dogs got into the act with their own blog, “The Daily Wag.” This is the first of a continued expansion into the world of pet keeping.



MSLO also announced the partnership with Crane and Company, one of the leading creators of fine stationary products. Martha Stewart Stationary made its debut with a full line of wedding invitations and wedding related stationary products. The line expanded again in September, with the addition of a full line of Martha Stewart holiday cards, available in boxed sets or personalized box sets.

Critics and viewers alike raved about "Whatever, Martha!" and the Fine Living series was renewed for a second season. The second season saw Martha herself make an appearance on the show and she was quite humorous!

Q2

In a stunning move, Wenda Harris Millard, one of the co-CEO’s of the company stepped down from her role. This move was huge news in the media as rumors had been circulating about tensions between Wenda and Martha. Throughout early 2009, numerous reports emerged of staff layoffs and changes at MSLO.

MSLO partnered with iAmplify to create “Martha University.” iAmplify is a leading provider of online video content in a number of specialized areas. Full length video segments from the vast content library at MSLO were made available for purchase. This partnership seemed to be short lived. No new content has been available since Halloween.

Q3

The Martha Stewart Show premiered for its fifth season with stable but not outstanding ratings. The show continues the same format of celebrity guests, with a season five focus on the handmade and the homemade.

The biggest announcement of the year came in September with MSLO and The Home Depot announcing their partnership for an exclusive new Martha Stewart Living brand. The Home Depot, the largest home improvement store, will begin carrying Martha Stewart Living outdoor furniture in January 2010, followed by home organization merchandise in February. MSLO and The Home Depot have acknowledged that additional expansion of the brand at all Home Depot stores can be expected throughout 2010.

This partnership is key to the continued growth of merchandise as the Kmart contract closes in a matter of weeks. The Home Depot partnership positions MSLO to have a huge distribution mechanism for the high quality products consumers have come to expect. The Home Depot contract will include both US and Canadian store distribution.

Q4

The Weddings franchise continued to expand with a new partnership with Sandals Resorts. “Sandals Weddings by Martha Stewart” will offer brides and grooms beautifully planned destination weddings inspired by the pages of Martha Stewart Weddings.

Martha Stewart Weddings also celebrated its 15th anniversary in September and published the first special issue from the franchise on destination weddings.

PetSmart and MSLO announced they will team together for exclusive distribution of a new line of pet care products developed by the Age Group, “Martha Stewart Pets.” The new line will include apparel, beddings, grooming supplies and more. This new line is the first step in claiming some of the 50 billion dollar pet care market. PetSmart will be the exclusive distributor of the line which is expected to be available the second quarter of 2010.



An expansion of the partnership with Hain Celestial was also announced to include a new line of Martha Stewart brand of food products. Fresh, organic, young turkeys were immediately available for the Thanksgiving holiday, with online and limited east coast availability.

In early 2010, consumers will find Martha Stewart branded baking mixes and dried pastas hitting store shelves. This food program comes after the first food initiative with Costco closed late last year.

The newest MSLO family member, Chef Emeril Lagasse began his own radio call in show, “Cooking with Emeril” on Martha Stewart Living Radio, Sirius channel 112/XM 157. Listeners have the opportunity to interact with Emeril while he shares his latest adventures and travels.

With the highly anticipated new brand “Martha Stewart Living” expected to make its debut at The Home Depot in January, the first expansion of the brand was announced early in December. A new line of low VOC paint will be distributed through The Home Depot, under the Martha Stewart Living brand. This new paint collection will carry 280 colors available in both interior and exterior paint finishes.

The Home Depot will also carry the entire 10 product offering of Martha Stewart Clean. This will be the first major national roll out of the natural cleaning product line in the US and Canada.

But Wait… There’s More…

Merchandising

The Martha Stewart Collection, available exclusively at Macy’s continued to perform well and was a bright spot in the department store sales figures.

Martha Stewart Crafts expanded with many new craft tools and items. Shopping at Michael’s for Martha Stewart Crafts became a whole new experience with the expanded line.

The online shopping experience became easier with a redesign of the ‘shop’ page on marthastewart.com. Now, visitors to the website can purchase Martha Stewart items without leaving the website. Order fulfillment is handled primarily by Amazon.

Publishing

Three books were published in 2009 – Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes, Martha Stewart’s Craft Encyclopedia and Martha Stewart’s Dinner at Home all rose to the best seller list within days of release. Also in the world of publishing, two wonderful special issues were produced, “Martha Stewart Halloween” and the annual “Holiday” issue. Sadly, the special issue “Outdoor Living” was not published this year.

Television

Outside of the daily program, there was other television news this year. Martha made her first appearance with Rachael Ray Show and Rachael made her first appearance on Martha’s show in November. What some were touting as “television history” quickly became a media hot topic following an ABC News Nightline exclusive with Martha which aired later in the month. During the interview, Martha pointed out the differences between the two, which fueled speculation that the rumored ‘feud’ between the two truly does exist. Both have denied any ill feelings.

The Best Moment / The Worst Moment

Quite easily, the best moment of the year came with the announcement of The Home Depot and MSLO partnering for the new Martha Stewart Living brand. Following the news of the Kmart contract ending with no hope of renewal, rumors were running amuck with speculation where Martha Stewart would go next. When Martha Stewart Crafts began to appear at Wal-Mart, many analysts thought they had the next merchandising move figured out. Many had hoped for a Target relationship and some had thought Kohl’s was a good place for the remake of the “Everyday” brand. None of the possible options became reality.

MSLO’s decision to keep ‘soft home’ at Macy’s and expand lines at other retailers makes perfect sense for now. This is worth watching, however.

In my opinion, the worst moment was actually several moments tied together: The appearance on Rachael Ray, Rachael’s appearance on Martha, and the Nightline interview.

In theory, the idea that the two mega-stars of the kitchen would come together for appearances on television was marketing genius. It was an opportunity for devoted Martha fans to accept Rachael and Rachael fans to accept Martha. ( often, there is disdain between the two fan bases). The cross-over in “fan-ship” could easily translate to dollars for both Martha and Rachael. However, it was an opportunity missed.

I give credit to Rachael for conducting an excellent interview. Martha was quite funny, personable, and seemingly relaxed. Rachael was controlled and led an excellent, informative interview. The appearance on the Martha show was not quite so favorable. Martha seemingly lacked interest in Rachael and at points in the segments appeared condescending and bordered on insulting. It wasn’t an appearance I enjoyed watching.

The kicker came with the Nightline interview, when host Cynthia McFadden brought up the show appearances and the rumored ‘feud.’ While Martha gave her honest opinion and provided an honest response, it wasn’t so much ‘what’ she said – as much as ‘how’ she responded that killed the opportunity for marketing gold. The non-verbal communication screamed of supremacy over, and dismissal of Rachael. Martha could have played that piece of the interview to her advantage and sadly, she failed. Instead of gaining some of the Rachael market, the wedge was driven further. A huge missed opportunity and it gets my vote as the worst moment(s) of 2009.

Predictions for 2010

Having studied and followed MSLO for many years, I have several predictions for MSLO in 2010:

• Rapid-fire announcements of continued product introductions at Home Depot to include Gardening supplies, lighting, and home improvement tools.

• A partnership with a major office supply store for home office organization tools

• Expansion of the affiliation with Wilton Industries/ EK Success for a Martha Stewart Baking line of pans, decorating tools, and packaging to be exclusively distributed through Michaels. A hint of this product line was seen during this years Christmas craft line.

• Expansion of the craft line to include fabric/sewing crafts (to coincide with the release of the new sewing crafts book due in early 2010).

• Ad pages will increase in the second quarter of 2010.

As this year comes to a close, we'll bid farewell to the Martha Stewart Everyday line with hopes of many 'good things' yet to come. 
 
My friend Andrew, at Martha Moments has posted his annual Martha Stewart Living magazine year in review.  What was your choice for best and worst issue this year?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Martha Stewart Living Announces New Editor for Living and Weddings

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc.announced Friday, the promotion of two of its editors to lead two of its top magazines. Vanessa Holden, previously Editor in Chief of Martha Stewart Weddings, is promoted to Editor in Chief of Martha Stewart Living. Katie Hatch, formerly Style Director of Martha Stewart Weddings, is named Editor in Chief of that magazine.

Both Ms. Holden and Ms. Hatch will report to Gael Towey, who has been named MSLO’s Editorial Director, working closely with the editors of all MSLO’s magazines and building their identity across the company’s media platforms, including new digital initiatives. She also will collaborate with MSLO’s sales and marketing teams to develop programs that tap MSLO’s editorial content and reflect its iconic style. Ms. Towey had been serving as Acting Editor-In-Chief of Living.

“Vanessa and Katie are extremely accomplished and creative editors. Both Living and Weddings will benefit from their visionary leadership and I’m looking forward to working with them as we continue to build on the success of our distinctive magazines and all that they represent to consumers,” said Ms. Towey.

A creative leader with a rich background in magazine and book publishing, Ms. Holden joined MSLO in August 2008 as Editor in Chief of Martha Stewart Weddings, an award-winning, quarterly bridal magazine that is the leading magazine in its category on newsstands and the cornerstone of MSLO’s growing Weddings franchise. Since joining the company, Ms. Holden has spearheaded the successful evolution of Weddings’ magazine. She has also collaborated closely with MSLO’s cross-platform teams to further build the magazine’s presence in the weddings space with innovative new offerings like pop-up events, the launch issue of Martha Stewart Destination Weddings and Dream Honeymoons and the recent online luxury weddings expo. The magazine is currently celebrating its fifteenth anniversary.

Prior to joining MSLO, Ms. Holden had her own consulting business. Before that, she served as Creative Director of Real Simple magazine and co-founded Donna Hay magazine, an award-winning food and lifestyle publication. Ms. Holden previously worked at Marie Claire (Australia) and Marie Claire Lifestyle (Australia) and served as an art director and designer for Vogue Entertaining and Travel and Vogue Living.

Katie Hatch launched her career at MSLO in 1999 as a freelancer before being promoted to Associate Style Editor at Weddings in 2000. Over the years, she has worked as a Senior Crafts Editor at Living and the Fashion Editor at Blueprint. In her recent role as Weddings’ Style Director, she worked closely with Ms. Holden on evolving the magazine’s style and content offerings. Prior to joining MSLO, Ms. Hatch practiced law.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Sandals Wedding by Martha Stewart Contest - There's Still Time to Enter!



In November, Martha Stewart and Darcy Miller, Editorial Director for Martha Stewart Weddings announced an exciting contest "Sandals Wedding by Martha Stewart Fantasy Nuptials."  

The grand prize winner, who will be announced on ‘The Martha Stewart Show’ on February 11, will be awarded a customized destination dream wedding created by Martha Stewart’s team at Sandals Emerald Bay, Great Exuma, Bahamas. The package also includes a 6 day/5 night Luxury Included® stay for the bride and groom at Sandals Emerald Bay; a 4 day/3 night Luxury Included® stay for 10 guests at Sandals Emerald Bay; plus, roundtrip airfare for the bride and groom, as well as all 10 guests. The wedding will be filmed and featured on ‘The Martha Stewart Show’ and in Martha Stewart Weddings magazine.

Couples who wish to enter the contest, which runs through January 20, 2010, can go to marthastewartweddings.com where they’ll be invited to submit a 90-second video explaining why they should win a customized Sandals Wedding by Martha Stewart™.

Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts recently paired up with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. to offer six new and exclusive wedding themes at any of the 18 Luxury Included® Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts across the Caribbean. Sandals Weddings by Martha Stewart™ feature coordinated color palettes, beautifully designed wedding décor, complementary bouquets, invitations, cakes and favors, along with à la carte items, creating a memorable experience to suit every couple’s unique preferences.

The Sandals Weddings by Martha Stewart™ program is now accepting reservations for all six exquisite wedding themes, which include Vision in White, Flutter of Romance, Seaside Serenade, Chic & Natural, Island Paradise and Beautiful Beginnings. In addition to the six themes, couples have the option to enhance their destination wedding with à la carte “finishing touches” for the ceremony and reception. To learn more about the Sandals Weddings by Martha Stewart™ visit sandals.com or call 1-877-SANDALS to speak with a wedding consultant or request a brochure.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Celebrating National Believe Day


Be Compassionate
Be Giving
Be Generous
Be Mindful
Be an Inspiration

For the second year, Macy’s has pledged their support for the Make a Wish Foundation through their popular “Believe” campaign. Macy’s has asked those who “Believe” to write a letter to Santa Claus, and drop it in the official RH Macy’s Mailbox at all Macy’s department stores. For each letter received, Macy’s will donate $1 to the Make A Wish Foundation, up to 1 million dollars. Imagine how many wishes could come true with a 1 million dollar donation.

I support this campaign not only for the good works and contribution to the Make a Wish Foundation, but I also respect and honor Macy’s for rekindling the holiday spirit; a season of giving. Macy’s is asking the American public to do something that perhaps many have forgotten – that is to “Believe.” What better way to bring back the true magic of the holiday season than to believe and share your wishes with Santa. I want to share with you, my letter to Santa this year:

Dear Santa,
As you read through the hundreds upon thousands of letters from good boys and girls this year, I hope this letter doesn’t take you by surprise. If you check your list (and perhaps check it twice), you’ll see that I’ve been pretty good this year. I don’t think I’m too old to believe in you.

It’s difficult for me to express my Christmas wishes in ‘list’ form. I’m not asking for something that can be placed in my stocking or under the tree. I just have these deep wishes in my heart.


I saw a family today, standing on the street corner in the frigid cold, holding a sign saying, “homeless. Please help my children.” Santa, I wish for understanding. I can’t understand how this could happen in the most powerful country in the world.


In my work, I see reports that cross my desk of patients that are unable to pay their medical bills because they don’t have insurance and they are unemployed. It breaks my heart to hear a patient say, “I had to make a choice of feeding my family or paying my hospital bill.” Santa, I wish for a solution so that no one ever has to struggle to make a choice between their medical bills and their family.


A little while ago, I put on my coat and stepped outside to feed two stray cats that have found their way to our home. I feed them twice a day for fear they would otherwise starve. I fashioned a shelter for them so they can stay warm and dry this winter. They are fearful of humans (and rightly so) but my wish Santa, is that one day, I’ll be able to hold them, and show them the love they and all cats and dogs deserve.


Santa, someone I love dearly has been going through treatment for cancer. She’s such a kind soul and truly a beautiful person. She told me this week that her doctors weren’t able to do anything more to treat the cancer. Nothing seemed to work to clear her of this dreadful disease. I admire her fight, and her determination to overcome the obstacle that has been put before her. Santa, I wish for wisdom, to know how to be the best possible support to her. Sometimes I’m not real great at knowing the right things to say.


Lastly Santa, I just have a wish for peace, for the people I love. My friends and my family are so important to me. While each person is very different, each person has an equal share of love in my heart. For them, I wish joy. I wish happiness. I wish fulfillment. I wish peace. I can only hope they know just how much I love them.


I’ll have cookies on the table for you. As usual, they’ll be the decorated sugar cookies… my favorites to make.


The magic and the spirit of the season live in my heart.

Merry Christmas, Santa


Kenn

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

National Believe Day



To acknowledge the spirit of generosity and goodwill, Macy's  has declared Dec. 11, 2009 National Believe Day. As part of Macy's nostalgic Believe campaign inspired by the New York Sun's famous Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus editorial from 1897, National Believe Day's purpose is to spread the season's message of joy and kindheartedness toward others.

To celebrate the occasion, National Believe Day activities on December 11 will include:

Believe Across America - In select cities across the country, Macy's will generate street-level excitement about National Believe Day with 19th Century newsboy street teams that will reward Believers-in-action with Macy's Believe Bonuses ($25 Macy's gift cards).

At all stores, customers can mail letters to Santa at Macy's. For each letter received, Macy's will donate $1 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation(R) up to $1 million.

Calling All Virginias - In honor of Virginia O'Hanlon and the famous New York Sun editorial that inspired Macy's Believe campaign, Macy's is inviting all Virginias to stop at the Believe Station at their local store on Dec. 11 for a special holiday gift. (Gift is a $10 Macy's gift card. Offer runs from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. while supplies last.)

Yes, Virginia Animated Special Premieres on CBS - Building on the story of young Virginia O'Hanlon's letter to the editor of the New York Sun, CBS will premiere a new original animated special called Yes, Virginia on National Believe Day, Dec. 11 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. Based on a true story, the special takes us on a charming journey about the existence of Santa Claus and the curiosity amongst believers. During the creation of Yes, Virginia, a special wish was fulfilled for 10-year-old Wish kid Taylor Hay - whose voice and likeness were captured for one of the characters.

The film stars the voices of Neil Patrick Harris, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Alfred Molina.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Martha Stewart Living Paint to Launch at The Home Depot


Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and The Home Depot announced today the upcoming launch of a new Paint line manufactured under the Martha Stewart Living brand.  This new paint line will be available at all US and Canadian Home Depot stores in March of 2010. 

The Martha Stewart Living Paint palette will consist of 280 handpicked colors created by Martha Stewart and the MSLO design team.  All colors will be available in interior and exterior paint, with four interior and two exterior sheens.  The interior paint palette will also be available in 8-ounce tint-able testers and 12 of "Martha's Picks" will be available pre-tinted. The Martha Stewart Living Paint program marks the 5th paint line for MSLO.  Past paint lines included the Fine Paints of Europe, Martha Stewart Everyday - Colors, Martha Stewart Signature with Sherwin-Williams, and most recently the Martha Stewart Color line available at Lowe's. 

In September, The Home Depot announced a partnership with MSLO that will weave the Martha Stewart Living brand throughout many of The Home Depot's existing Do-It-Yourself categories, including Outdoor Living, Home Organization and now Paint.  Both The Home Depot and MSLO are in the process of developing additional product offerings that will be available in 2010, with more announcements being expected in the first quarter of 2010. 




In related news, Martha Stewart Clean, now "Eco Options Certified" by The Home Depot will be sold at all US stores beginning in January 2010. 

Developed with and marketed by the Hain Celestial Group, Inc., Martha Stewart Clean will include 10 highly-effective, environmentally friendly cleaning products for laundry, kitchen, bath, and general cleaning needs for every room of the house.  Martha Stewart Clean will carry the Eco Options label, The Home Depot's certification for products that have less of an impact on the environment than traditional products in the same category. 

Martha Stewart Clean is currently available at Amazon.com and at Giant Eagle stores in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Further retail expansion is planned throughout 2010.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Yes, Virginia : A New Holiday Classic

On December 11, CBS will present "Yes, Virginia" a new holiday special.  Here is a glimpse of what is sure to be a holiday classic!


December Full Moon(s)



If you gaze upward tonight, you'll see the first of two full moon phases for the month of December. 

The first full moon, happening tonight, is known as the "Full Cold Moon" marking the month of December which typically ushers in the cold weather.  The second full moon, on December 31st, was named the "Full Long Night Moon." 

At the time of the second full moon, nights are at their longest and darkest. The term Long Night Moon is a doubly appropriate name because the midwinter night is indeed long and the moon is above the horizon a long time. The midwinter full moon takes a high trajectory across the sky because it is opposite to the low Sun. This is the second time the moon turns full in a calendar month, so it is also popularly known as a "Blue Moon." Full moons occur on average each 29.53 days (the length of the synodic month), or 12.3683 times per year; so months containing two full moons occur on average every 2.72 years, or every 2 years plus 8 or 9 months.

A full moon on New Year's Eve?  Yikes!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Holiday Favorites



Growing up in the 60's, I clearly recall the first time I watched Rudolph, or Charlie Brown, or the Grinch.  I would sit as close to the television as I possibly could and be totally absorbed in the annual holiday tales.  Fast forward to my 50th year on this planet and I still enjoy watching the classics just as much as I did when I was a wee lad.  As a matter of fact, I doubt I've ever missed a year of their network broadcast. 

While I own my holiday favorites on DVD, there's something that just says, 'Christmas' watching them on network TV.  My routine is still pretty much the same year after year.. I'll curl up on the couch or in my easy chair, snuggle under a nice warm throw, and enjoy the show.  Silently I still cheer when Rudolph saves Christmas, and I get a tear in my eye to hear Linus share the true meaning of Christmas. 

My musical theater days come to mind when I watch "White Christmas"  with Bing, Danny, Rosemary, and Vera.  I can picture myself in grand dance form, twirling about to "The Best Things, Happen While You're Dancing."  Or, dressed in a velvet Santa outfit for the final number, "White Christmas."  Musical movies of the 1950's were the BEST.  You know you want to sing it... go ahead... "sisters... sisters.. there were never such devoted sisters..." 

I stumbled upon a blog that makes finding your favorite holiday special or movie easy; "It's a Wonderful Movie."  This site has a calendar of all the air times for the various holiday specials and movies for this year.  It's a great resource for a holiday special sap like me!

What's your favorite holiday special or movie (or both!)?  Grab a cup of hot chocolate and share your favorites!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Very Merry Beekman Holiday


If you're looking for unique gift ideas this year, look no further than the Beekman 1802 Mercantile.  With an expanded line of merchandise, Beekman 1802 is a 'go-to' destination for all of your cyber-shopping needs. 

The Beekman 1802 Mercantile is just one portion of the lifestyle and media company, Beekman 1802 , owned and operated by Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Dr. Brent Ridge. Devoted to the artisanal and the hand-made, Beekman 1802 inspires visitors of the site to celebrate each season through heirloom gardening, wonderful craft ideas, decorating ideas and excellent recipes to cook and enjoy. 
The Mercantile reflects the Beekman commitment to supporting local artisans and living in a more environmentally responsible way.  To learn more about Beekman 1802, visit their website

The cornerstone of the Mercantile is a full line of goat milk soap,  made from the milk of the [now famous] goats that call Beekman farm home. Each bar of soap is hand-made using the highest percentage of goat milk possible.



The Year in the Country goat milk soap collection offers one bar of the specialty soaps produced each month, inspired by the scents of each season.  The Year in the Country soap collection comes in a beautiful wooden box perfect for gift giving.  (to see Brent make goat milk soap with Martha Stewart, click here)

Do you like giving the gift of fine foods for the holiday?  The Beekman 1802 Mercantile has two delicious choices for the gourmet food lover on your holiday list.

 

The Beekman Generous Fruitcake is a new product this year. Each cake is hand-wrapped in brandy-soaked cheesecloth. As the cake is consumed, keep the remainder wrapped and continue to brush the cloth with your own brandy. The flavors will continue to develop. Baked at the Black Cat Bakery in Sharon Springs, New York (one of our favorite places in Sharon Springs), each fruitcake is a hefty 1.5 pounds of natural deliciousness!

Ingredients: dried figs, dates, dried apricots, golden raisins, dark raisins, dried cherries, dried pineapple, pecans, butter, white sugar, brown sugar, eggs, salt, white flour, and Lairds Applejack, brandy.



The cheese lover on your list will love what we believe to be the best tasting cheese on the market.  Beekman 1802 Blaak is the first artisanal cheese produced from the goats at Beekman Farm. Blaak is an Italian-style semi-hard cheese made from a 60:40 mix of unpasteurized goat and cow milk giving the cheese a mild but distinctive flavor. In keeping with traditional cheesemaking practices, this rare cheese is aged for 4 months in our caves and is coated with ash at each turning to promote the ripening of the wheel. The resulting edible black rind gives the cheese its name and makes it a true conversation piece on your table.




Give a gift that will be enjoyed for many holidays to come.  The Beekman 1802 Christmas Sampler Throw is a beautiful 100% cotton throw measuring 60x48 inches features beautiful huck embroidery designs that are perfect for the holiday.  Each throw is hand-made and hand- tasseled. 




An item that is on MY own wish list this year is a beautiful historic weave silk scarf.  Each scarf features a tight weave of the signature Beekman Stripe pattern and is finished with a vintage honeycomb stitch. They were woven especially for Beekman 1802 on historic looms by the award-winning Thistle Hill Weavers in neighboring Cherry Valley. All I can say about these scarves:  I want, I want, I want!




A beautiful holiday card says so much.  The Beekman 1802 limited edition 2009 holiday card is the perfect card to share your well wishes.  The Beekman 1802 Holiday Card design, "Star", was inspired by a lone pine tree that stands near the Beekman barn. The design, from an antique plate, runs off the edge of the card as if the reader is looking up to find the "star" atop the tree.  Each card is hand printed on Cranes fine paper (the exact paper that William Beekman sold in his mercantile)  Cards come in a wrapped set of 10, with envelopes, and each measures  3.5 x 5 inches. 

These are just a few of our favorite things at Beekman 1802 Mercantile.  Stop by the store and see the full line of merchandise available this year.  You're sure to find the perfect gift!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Decorating Begins

As always, the Friday after Thanksgiving is the day set aside to start (and with any luck finish) the holiday decorating inside the house. 

As mentioned in an prior post, I was going for a red/teal color scheme this year. With a touch of retro, I wanted to keep it simple and elegant. I think I'm headed in the right direction!


This year, we opted for a table top tree.  This 4 1/2 foot tree is so realistic looking and is charming in the corner of the family room.  With a mish-mash of teal, blue-teal, red, silver and white ornaments, it's just perfect.  I wish I could make a photograph of a decorated tree look good! 


In our kitchen eating area, we have a mantel shelf on the wall that tends to be the focal point of room decor as the seasons and holidays change.  Here, an antique pitcher is kept company with holiday plates from Martha Stewart Everyday (several years ago).  The garland is embellished with teal/silver/red ornaments.  I'm still debating if I need to add lights. 


I love my kitchen decorated for the holiday.  I prefer to use everyday kitchen items as part of the decoration.  On the antique Hoosier cabinet,  I filled a great serving bowl with stems of pine boughs and tossed in some color coordinated ornaments.  Festive, but simple.


The first year of the Martha Stewart Collection Holiday decorations included these big Kugels.  Here, the kugel hangs to the right of the Hoosier cabinet and is 'dressed' with a teal ribbon. 


I remember a very early Martha Stewart Living show when Martha made curtains from 'tea towels.'  I decided to use the concept with some great candy stripe towels I purchased from Macys (Martha Stewart Collection) last year.  A few simple cafe curtain rings and voila! - a festive holiday curtain.


We have an extensive collection of Jadeite which looks great with the teal/red colors.  Here, I used a clear domed cake stand to display snowmen (with red/teal hats!) on the table.  The dome keeps the cats away and keeps the artificial snow from blowing off the cake stand!

I still have a little bit of 'tweaking' to do before I can call the project complete.  I think we're well on our way for a holly jolly season!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving Hotline Starts Today!



Still planning Thursdays menu?  Baffled by what to do with giblets?  Groaning over making gravy? Never fear!  The Martha Stewart Living Radio Thanksgiving Hotline begins today, Monday, 11/23 and runs through Wednesday 11/25. 

A host of expert chefs will be available to help you with all of your Thanksgiving questions.  Check the full schedule here.  Martha will be taking listeners calls today, from 4-5 pm. Just call 866.675.6675 and ask Martha!

Martha Stewart Living Radio is available on Sirius 112/XM 157.  Click here for a 30 day free trial!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Coffee for the Season


Coffee.  I love coffee.  I love a GOOD cup of coffee.  During the holidays one coffee that is a 'must have' for me is the Starbucks Christmas Blend. 

Since I'm not a cream and sugar kinda guy (my coffee has to be straight up.. no additional flavors!), the taste of the coffee is important to me. Starbucks Christmas Blend has a taste that is perfect for the holidays. 

Christmas Blend is sweet and spicy, with a flavor derived from bright, sparkling Latin American coffees and smooth, full-bodied Asia/Pacific beans. But it’s the Aged Sumatran beans, carefully held for 3 to 5 years before roasting, that give it that delicious signature spicy taste.

As I write this blog entry, I'm enjoying my very first cup of Christmas Blend this season.  Let the celebrations begin!

Starbucks Christmas Blend is available at any Starbucks location. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of this holiday favorite, Starbucks Christmas Blend is available in a special 25oz size, perfect for when the whole family comes to visit. (it's a great value at under $20) And like other good things, it also comes in small packages – in this case, 8oz and 16oz.

Now, who needs a warm up? 

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Martha Stewart on Nightline


The ABC News series, "Nightline" will feature a full interview with Martha Stewart on Thursday evening, following your late night news.  (check local listings for specific air times)

There is already a great deal of media buzz about this interview.  Martha gives some straight talk on the company she founded, the legal troubles that impacted the company, and the rebuilding of the brand.  Sadly, what ABC News released as a 'promo' for the interview, included Martha's comments regarding Food Network personality Rachael Ray, referring to her as more of an entertainer than teacher.  As you can well imagine, media outlets are having a field day with that little sound bite!

After reading the story recap on abcnews.com, I have no doubt this will be an interesting interview to watch. 

What I find bothersome is the never ending attempt to change Martha.  Many people refer to Martha as a 'snob,' 'cold,' 'calculating,' and 'impersonal.'  Yeah?  So? 

What I've learned from following Martha for a number of years is to not expect her to be all warm and fuzzy.  She takes her role as a teacher of 'good things' seriously and is driven to be successful at what she does.  Could she win more hearts if she appeared to be a bit more personable?  Perhaps.  But what I appreciate about Martha is the fact that she just is who she is, like it or not.  If the public focused less on the personality and more on the content, I think they'd have a better appreciation for her work. 

What drew me in to Martha many years ago was her instructive style.  I recall on the old Living show,  the precise step by step, how to instruction that made me WANT to follow the steps and achieve the same results.  I was hooked. This was the kind of information I wanted and found valuable.  I wasn't looking for a 'best friend' to walk me through the steps; I wasn't looking to be entertained. I wanted a teacher to teach me.  I found that with Martha.  But... that's just me. 

So, set your DVR, or tune in to the interview.  I don't think we'll learn anything new or hear anything 'shocking;' but I will always find it interesting to see a 'day in the life of Martha Stewart.'   

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ask Martha Expands on Martha Stewart Living Radio


Martha Stewart's highly successful radio show "Ask Martha" currently broadcast once a week, will expand to two days a week beginning the week of November 30. 

"Ask Martha" is the radio call-in show where listeners can speak directly to Martha on a full range of topics and get their answers to their questions on cooking, entertaining, gardening, home keeping and new projects that are in the works for MSLO. 

"Ask Martha" will air live Monday's and Wednesdays from 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm ET and will replay nightly at 7:00 pm 

"I look forward to spending more time talking to our wonderful Sirius/XM radio audience.  They always have the most interesting questions," said Martha Stewart.

"Ask Martha" is heard exclusively on Martha Stewart Living Radio, Sirius 112 / XM157 as part of the 'best of SIRIUS' package.

Emeril Lagasse to Join Martha Stewart Living Radio with New Show


During the special broadcast today of "Entertaining with Martha and Emeril," the hosts announced that starting the week of November 30, Emeril will host his first live call-in radio show, "Cooking with Emeril."  The twice weekly show will air exclusively on Sirius/XM's Martha Stewart Living Radio. 

Emeril will host the radio show from wherever he is in the country, introducing his listeners to the people, places and food he experiences during his many travels.  Listeners will be able to call in and interact with Emeril, to share recipes, tips, and entertaining ideas. 

Cooking with Emeril will air live on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:00 am - 12:00 pm ET and will replay nightly at 7:00 pm. 

"This is going to be great - I can't wait to talk to people across the country and share the colorful places, chefs and food I experience in my daily life," said Lagasse.  "Food is the universal connector, and Martha Stewart Living Radio is the perfect arena to celebrate it and have fun." 

Listeners are invited to call or email their questions to Emeril when they are on the air to 866-675-6675 and radio@marthastewart.com

Monday, November 16, 2009

Holiday Inspirations

I’ve had numerous holiday themes throughout the years. Woodland (natural) themes, vintage themes, antique themes, Victorian themes, copper colored themes, red and white themes, and finally, blue and silver themes.

This year, my inspiration comes from a variety of sources.



Retro tablecloths from the 50s


Christmas cards from the 40s-50s


Festive red bells


Red/white candy striped packaging


People that take "retro" a bit far..



and two of the covers from the 2009 December issue of Martha Stewart Living.

This year, we’re going what I call “simple retro” for the holidays.

The color scheme for this year will be what you see here on the blog; teal and red (with some sparkle of silver). I love the color combination and it does scream mid century modern! My goal, however is to not to have the décor be garish or obnoxious. Rather, I’m shooting for a blend of ‘remember when’ and simple elegance with that retro flair.

In our home, holiday decorating takes place the day after Thanksgiving. David will likely be out shopping, I’ll have the movie “White Christmas” playing in the background whileI busy myself with putting up the tree, and putting up decorative touches around the house. My goal is always to have it done in a day, but it never seems to work that way!

I’ll keep you posted on progress after Thanksgiving. For now, I’m still working on my plan.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New Book Releases in 2010

Two new books from Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia are due to be released early next year:




Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts will be available March 30, 2010.  This next encyclopedia is an excellent follow up volume to the best selling Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Crafts, which was published in early 2009. 





No one can deny the success of the Everyday Food brand from MSLO.  The second EDF volume, Fresh Flavor Fast will be available on February 23, 2010.  This soft-back cookbook will feature 250 recipes that are arranged by meal time. 

Still to come from MSLO is the next grand volume on entertaining that Martha has been working on for the last several years.  No word as of yet when the masterpiece will be published, but rumor has it, it will be available for the holidays next year.