Thursday, July 30, 2009

Despite 2nd Quarter Loss, MSLO Looks to the Future

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSLO) reported second quarter results in an earnings conference call yesterday. While overall earnings for the quarter were down as compared to last year, the company is excited about the future with new partnerships in development and new products due to hit the store shelves in early in 2010.

Robin Marino, MSLO's President of merchandising, spoke about the new partnerships and prospects for the future:

"We continue to execute on our diversification strategy, focusing on new areas where we have strong brand equity and expertise, like weddings, cleaning products, food, and pets. Our weddings franchise is a great example of this. We started 15 years ago with our Martha Stewart Weddings magazine, which developed a passionate following and established us as the creative leader in this space.

The Martha Stewart collection of home products exclusively at Macy’s is the number one brand on Macy’s bridal registry. We further extended our weddings franchise with investments in wedding wire and

In May, we launched a line of co-branded social stationary products with Crane & Company, beginning with a beautiful assortment of wedding invitation suites.

And early this week, we announced an agreement to create branded destination weddings and crafts classes and camps at Sandals & Beaches Resorts throughout the Caribbean. We see a great amount of opportunity in the wedding space as we integrate all of these wonderful assets, and I look forward to keeping you posted on future calls.

The development of the Martha Stewart clean product line with Hain Celestial is complete. It encompasses 10 SKUs of all-natural cleaning products derived primarily from plants and minerals, including laundry detergent, liquid dish and hand soap, tub and tile cleaner, and more. We expect to have product on store shelves in early 2010. I am very excited about this entry into a completely new product category, a category where consumers have asked to find us. We look forward to updating you on our progress.

As I said on our last call, food is another important opportunity. We have tremendous brand equity in the space and valuable learnings from our relationship with Costco. We see great prospects for Martha Stewart food line and you can expect to hear more from us about new manufacturing partners in the months ahead.

Our pets franchise continues to gain traction with the launch last quarter of our pets channel on As I always say, media leads and merchandising follows. We expect to have news on a new partnership in this category very soon. Stay tuned.

While the near-term environment is challenging, we feel very good about our merchandising strategy, our terrific partners, and our future prospects. New and expanded business opportunities, including plans for a new, large scale retail partnership, are well underway. We look forward to sharing more about them with you in the second half of the year as we position ourselves for 2010 and beyond. "

The question remains, who will be the next large scale retail partnership? We should know the answer to that question in the next few months as we say, 'goodbye' to Kmart.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Late July Garden

After a short rain shower yesterday afternoon, I took a walk outside to take a few photographs of what's blooming and growing in the garden. Take a look:

Beautiful lilies are beginning to bloom. There are many more to come!

The hydrangeas are blooming and the flowers are HUGE this year. I've already cut several for arrangements inside. What starts off as a small little bud ends up being a huge flower!

The black eyed susans are blooming like crazy! From last year to this year, they really spread throughout one garden. I love the "mass" look in the garden.

Growing heirloom tomatoes can be a challenge, but this year, my Brandywine tomato plants are producing big, beautiful fruit. I wish I understood why they 'split' toward the stem. Hmmm.. something to investigate!

Another big producer this year are the 'grape' tomato plants. Bite sized morsels of goodness that are actually a bit sweet. David loves them in his salad.

The large ferns are beginning to fade. The deep green is turning to a golden green and the edges are starting to brown. It's always the signal that the season is starting to change. The ferns spread like wildfire this year, covering the path.

There is a great feeling of accomplishment when you plant a tomato plant, nurture it, watch it bloom, and watch the fruit ripen. With each harvest, there's a true sense of pride!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Beautiful Photography

I had the distinct pleasure of attending a showing and sale of the beautiful photography from Sister Anne Tyler, RSM.

"Sister Anne" as she is known to the community, is a Sister of Mercy currently working at Saint Joseph Mercy Health System in Southeast Michigan. Her work as a photographer typically takes her to corporate events and gatherings, or photographing new residents and physicians. Yet, her ability to capture beautiful images outside of the hospital setting has made a great demand for her work.

Her keen eye for composition, and her artful eye for beauty in what some may think of as 'the ordinary,' made me fall in love with her photographs the first time I saw them and I'm not the only one.

Crowds gathered today to pour over the numerous photographs in a variety of sizes, some framed and some matted. Proceeds from today's sale benefited the hospitals geriatric program.

I was so inspired as I looked at her work. In the photos above, I found myself just staring at them, forgetting the stress of the day and searching out every detail in the photograph. The photographs of old doors drew me in as if I could turn the doorknob and walk into another time and place. That's when I know I love an artists work; when I lose myself and the work takes me to another place and time. Sr. Anne's work did just that. It was love at first sight.

I'm anxious to have her work be part of my home for years to come. What's on my 'to-do' list this weekend? Cutting mats and framing, of course!

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and Sandals Resorts to Launch Martha Stewart Weddings Program in the Caribbean

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. and Sandals Resorts International today announced a multi-year partnership that will bring customizable Martha Stewart Weddings to all brides and grooms celebrating a destination wedding at any of the Luxury Included Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts across the Caribbean beginning January 1, 2010. Guests will be able to book a Martha Stewart Wedding at any of the 12 Sandals Resorts or four Beaches Family Resorts starting in October 2009. In addition, the companies announced they will introduce Martha Stewart Crafts classes for adults at Sandals Resorts and craft camps for families at Beaches Resorts in 2010.

Martha Stewart, Founder of MSLO, said, "A wedding is one of the most special occasions in a person's life. For years, consumers have turned to our Martha Stewart Weddings magazine for inspiration and advice relating to every aspect of their day -- from the ceremony and reception decor to bridal bouquets and centerpieces to wedding cakes and favors. Now, we are delighted to be offering our unique ideas and beautiful designs to a wide range of consumers who wish to celebrate their special day at a Sandals or Beaches resort."

According to new research from Martha Stewart Weddings and The Futures Company (formerly Yankelovich), destination weddings are on the upswing with 31% of brides ages 21-30 planning to have a destination wedding; previous studies indicated that destination weddings represented 10% to 20% of all weddings.

"For 15 years, Martha Stewart Weddings has been creating and showcasing weddings that brides dream of," said Robin Marino, MSLO's President and CEO of Merchandising. "This partnership with Sandals Resorts is a natural next step and an enormous opportunity for us to further extend MSLO's growing weddings franchise."

MSLO and Sandals Resorts: A Perfect Match

"At Sandals Resorts, we have always been ahead of the curve with innovative offerings and partnerships that excite and inspire our guests. As pioneers of the WeddingMoons program, and the Caribbean's leader in Destination Weddings for nearly three decades, this partnership is a natural fit for our company," said Gordon "Butch" Stewart, Chairman and Founder of Sandals Resorts International. "With Martha Stewart Weddings magazine, Martha, along with Weddings Editorial Director Darcy Miller, has set the gold standard for dream weddings! Together, our partnership is the perfect match -- for Sandals Resorts, for MSLO and for couples planning the most important day of their lives."

Martha Stewart Weddings at Sandals Resorts -- available in five themes -- will leverage MSLO's expertise in wedding planning and Sandals Resorts' reputation as the leader in the luxury all-inclusive resort arena. A la carte items or "extras" -- such as personalized cake toppers, welcome gifts and candy buffets -- will also be available for couples to make their weddings unforgettable.

Growing MSLO's Weddings Franchise

MSLO's weddings franchise began in 1994 with the launch of Martha Stewart Weddings magazine, the best-selling weddings magazine on newsstand. Since then, the company has significantly grown its presence in the category. The Martha Stewart Collection of home products exclusively at Macy's is the No. 1 brand on Macy's bridal registry ( Earlier this year, MSLO introduced a full line of co-branded social stationery products with Crane & Co, launching with an assortment of 24 personalized wedding invitation suites.

On the digital front, the company has established a stand-alone website, (, with wedding planning tools powered by WeddingWire, a localized wedding platform in which MSLO made a strategic investment in 2008. Also in 2008, MSLO took an equity stake in, an online invitation and planning company.

In November 2009, Martha Stewart Weddings magazine will publish its very first destination weddings special issue magazine.

Coming 2010: Martha Stewart Crafts at Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts
In addition to Martha Stewart Weddings at Sandals Resorts, MSLO and SRI will introduce a variety of craft programs and camps in 2010. Guests will be taught crafting skills and techniques by trained experts using Martha Stewart Crafts products ( MSLO's crafts products are manufactured by EK Success, which distributes the products to mass market and specialty craft retailers nationwide.

Commenting on the crafts camps, Ms. Marino added: "As with Weddings, MSLO has incredible brand equity in Martha Stewart Crafts and we have built a robust business with a beautiful, innovative line of products. Our Crafts classes and camps at both Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts will allow us to bring our expertise and popular products to vacationing couples or families who are always looking for fun and interesting activities that they can do together."

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Personalized Wedding

There are 'boxed' weddings, boring weddings, short weddings, long weddings.
There are beautiful weddings, simple weddings, elaborate weddings, minimalist weddings.

Personalizing your wedding day makes it so memorable. Here is a video example of how one couple personalized their wedding.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Raspberry Jelly

I couldn't resist the urge to put my over the top crop of raspberries to good use. The freezer was quickly filling with container after container of juicy, tart, berries of goodness and I knew I would have to use some of them soon, if for nothing else, space reasons!

I love homemade jelly. I'm not much of a jam person.. having grown up on smooth and glossy jellies. Up to today, I have never made my own jelly so I was excited to give it a try.

Cooking down the berries and extracting the juice was the first step. I placed 7 cups of fresh berries in a heavy pan and added a scant 1/2 cup of water. I slowly cooked the berries down, breaking the berries down with a potato masher.

As the berries continued to cook, whole berries turned to a most beautiful red raspberry puree.
Once the berries were cooked down, I strained the liquid to leave a tart juice.

Placing 4 cups of the strained juice into another pan, the juice was cooked again until it reached a rolling boil. Fruit pectin and 5 cups of sugar were added and brought back to a rolling boil. The mixture boiled for 1 minute.

In the meantime, I had filled an enamelware canning pot half full of water and placed on the stove to boil. This is for processing the jars once they are filled. The water level must reach at least 1" above the top of the filled jars.

Once the raspberry/sugar mixture boiled for 1 minute, it was removed from the stove and the jars were very quickly filled, using a wide mouth funnel. The jars were filled to approximately 1/2 inch from the top. the tops of the jars were wiped clean of any possible spillage and topped with the sanitized sealing lids and rings. Each jar was hand tightened and placed in the hot water bath. The jars were processed for 5 minutes then removed to cool on the counter.

The result is the most beautiful raspberry jelly! I used 1/2 pint jars. I like this style jar with their short but wide shape. (they are Ball jars)
Next step is to design a label for the lids and then they are ready to give as gifts and of course, keep a few for our own use!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Martha Stewart for GrandinRoad - Halloween Decorating Line

I believe this is the earliest I've ever discussed Halloween on this blog; but when a special invitation to see the Martha Stewart for GrandinRoad Halloween Decorating line arrived in the mail today, I couldn't resist sharing!

Based on many of the projects and images seen in Martha Stewart Living magazine and on the Martha Stewart (Living) television show, the brand new line of Halloween decorating items allow the 'not so do it yourself-er' to achieve the same great decorating look for the spookiest of all holidays. From 5' glittered skeletons to eerie wine labels and garlands, Martha and her design team will help everyone have the creepiest Halloween ever! Below are just a few of the great items that will be available in August.

GrandinRoad is a higher end mail order retailer based in Ohio providing outstanding home, garden and holiday items for the design smart consumer.

To see the full line from Martha Stewart for GrandinRoad, visit their website at

Monday, July 13, 2009

Martha Stewart Clean Set to Debut in October

In February of this year, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and Hain Celestial Group LLC announced a new line of Martha Stewart branded 'green' cleaning products were under development.

In collaboration with the Martha Stewart design team, Hain Celestial will develop the products for this line, which are planned to be primarily derived from plants and minerals to create a clean and natural home and workplace environment.

Martha shared during her weekly "Ask Martha" radio segment on Martha Stewart Living Radio (Sirius 112 / XM 157) that the new cleaning product line was set to debut in October of this year. It is anticipated that the "Martha Stewart Clean" products will be widely available in grocery and other retailers where cleaning supplies are sold.

Martha Gets Animated

Martha shared with her Twitter followers this evening a new project in the works for MSLO; a Martha animated series for kids between the ages of 5-11.

According to Martha, the series will be educational but, "lots and lots of fun."

The series involves animation techniques with the use of a red camera, made by Red Digital Cinema Co. Red digital provides one of the highest resolutions available in digital cinematography.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

DIY Patio Pond

In the summer, I enjoy stepping outside at the start of the day to enjoy my morning coffee on the patio.

While the birds provide a wonderful soundtrack to start the day, I've always enjoyed the sound of water falling on itself. The trickle of a small stream or the rush of a flowing river; the sound of water is so relaxing.

Just off the patio is an area that needed some work from a design perspective. The entire area is mulched (having been ugly white rock before we moved here) and is pretty much a blank canvas. I decided this would be a perfect place for a small 'above ground' pond.

I'm a firm believer in 'take what you got decorating.' Finding a way to repurpose things that I already have is not only a challenge but allows me to use my creativity to figure out how to make what I want, without a huge expense.

To create this pond, I went on a search in and around the house and yard. I found:

A clear plastic under the bed tote
A small recirculating pump (from an old outdoor fountain)
A few landscaping bricks
Larger, flat stones

I leveled out the space for the plastic tote and surrounded it with the landscape bricks to hide the plastic shell. Using the flat rocks, I started to build up the sides, and creating a waterfall of rocks at the back of the pond.

I installed the small recirculating pump and ran the tubing through the back and secured it in the stack of rocks to create a waterfall.

Once filled with water, I plugged the pump in to the outdoor outlet and voila! Instant pond!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Best BBQ Ribs For a Southern Inspired Celebration

Our Fourth of July celebration this year was inspired by a good old fashioned southern food. Most of my family is from the south so I grew up on very basic, very GOOD home style meals. I decided to take that food heritage and use it as my inspiration for a holiday cookout for a few friends.

Food always tastes better when served on favorite dishes, right? I decided to use our jadeite for this summer celebration. Taking what I've learned from Martha, each guest received a "lapkin" which was a vintage inspired checked dishtowel with a coordinating rickrack hem. Dishes, lapkins, glasses and utensils were stacked up on the oil cloth topped table. (I love the oil cloth!) Guests grabbed a plate, and sat wherever they wanted to enjoy their meal.

Now... on to preparing some of the best BBQ ribs I've ever tasted!

I decided to use the recipe from a recent Martha podcast, when her guest Ollie Gates, of the famed Gates BBQ in Kansas City, MO. demonstrated his technique for cooking ribs on the grill. It all started with a rub to season the meat and 'get the juices flowing' before grilling.

1C Sugar
1/2 C Sea Salt
2T Paprika
2T Red Pepper Powder
1T Ground Celery Seed
1T Ground Cumin

Mix the salt and the sugar together before adding other ingredients. Mix well to evenly distribute all the spices.

I stored the remainder of the rub in a glass jar for future use.

Next, trim your slab of ribs of any excess fat. I also pre-scored the meat between the ribs.

Sprinkle the rub generously over both sides of the rib slab. The salt and sugar almost instantly get some of the juices running in the meat. Allow the rub to sit on the meat for about 15-20 minutes. Get your grill ready to roll while the rub is working it's magic.

Get your grill to the hottest possible temperature. The Gates BBQ method is to start 'em hot and then allow to slow cook. While the ideal method of grill cooking would be over a hickory wood fire, we used our outdoor gas grill with equally as wonderful results (less some of the hickory flavor)
Place the slab of ribs over the hottest part of the grill and cook for about 15 minutes. The meat will be well caramelized from the sugar based rub.

Turn the ribs over and turn the heat WAY down on the grill or move the ribs to the other side to allow for indirect cooking. No need to turn the ribs again. Allow the slab to slow cook with indirect heat for 1 and 1/2 hours.
Once the ribs are slow cooked, using a mop brush, brush both sides of the ribs generously with your favorite BBQ sauce, or make your own using your favorite recipe.

Cut the slab of ribs into individual pieces and pile on a platter for your guests to enjoy! I served individual cups of BBQ sauce if guests wanted it. All three 5lb slabs of ribs were devoured!
This was the first time in all my cooking years that I've ever cooked ribs on the grill. It's a recipe I'll certainly use again and again.

Friday, July 3, 2009

July Blooms

A quick look at some of the blooms and happenings in the garden this month