Saturday, January 30, 2010

March Living: Special Gardening Issue

The March issue of Martha Stewart Living is about to appear in mailboxes, and will be on the newsstands on February 15. 

This issue, the 11th special gardening issue, celebrates how we enjoy  life with all of our senses:  taste, touch, smell, sight, and hearing. 
Here's what will stimulate your senses inside this issue: 

Sight:   Martha transforms her back porch into a shady retreat with container plants from around the world in her monthly column, "From My Home to Yours."  Editorial Director of Decorating Kevin Sharkey shares his exptertise on selecting the perfect colors and finishes for the home in "Painting Pointers." 

Taste:  Join Martha and some of the most renowned tomato experts in the country - including Amy Goldman, author of "The Heirloom Tomato" and Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern - as they taste, judge, and celebrate America's favorite garden treat. 

Sound:  Among the soothing sounds in a garden, water's fluid notes work a complex kind of magic.  A fountain can provide a gentle splash, a babbling brook, or the rush of a waterfall.  This how-to story shows how to create all three effects. 

Scent:  Be transported to another place and time by the aroma of flowers.  From sweet peas to scented geraniums, annuals are the perfect vehicles for adding fragrance to your garden.  Bring the flowers up to nose level in hanging baskets and window boxes, or cover the ground with their delicious scent. 

Touch:  Explore the garden from a different perspective.  See a new side of plants and the qualities that invite our touch - from the feathery fronds of fountain grass, to silky rose petals, and spiny cactus. 

This issue is sure to awaken your senses and stimulate your gardening genes!

A Look Back At March Issues

The March issue of Martha Stewart Living has always been a personal favorite.  As a gardener, the arrival of this issue inspires me to begin thinking about my own design plans for the numerous pots, planters, and garden beds around my own home. Let's take a look back at all the March issues: 

  The second issue of Martha Stewart Living, published in 1991 was devoted to spring.  That first full year, Martha Stewart Living was a quarterly publication.  From 1992 - 1995 the magazine was published as a February/March issue. 

The first March issue designated as the "Gardening Issue" came in 1996 (upper right), when the magazine increased its frequency and March became a regular monthly publication. 

In 2002, Martha Stewart Living celebrated its 100th issue in March. 

The 2005 March issue gave readers some exciting Martha news.  Martha was away when this issue was published, but would be back (as she promised) in the April issue. The March 2003 cover was actually shot in the gardens of Margaret Roach, then, editorial director and garden editor of the magazine.  Those same pots still line the steps at Margarets home in upstate New York.  

The covers for the March issue have always been among the favorites of readers. When the magazine arrives in February each year, most of us are OVER winter and ready for the beauty in the garden!

Which March cover was your favorite? 

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Saying I Love You

Don't settle for a store bought card to express your thoughts of love this Valentine's Day.

Fall in love all over again

The guys at Beekman 1802 now have the most unique and beautiful Heirloom note cards available for purchase. 

The hand-sewn cards are the creation of quilter Betty Pillsbury.  Betty uses vintage fabrics and antique lace to create the everlasting note of your love.  When ordering, create your own special message in 140 characters or less, and your message will be hand printed on the inside.  Each beautiful card will be mailed directly to the one you love from Beekman using their own W. Beekman postage stamp.

Sending and receiving one of these cards will make you fall in love all over again.

Order at   

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Martha Stewart Show Moves to the Hallmark Channel in September.

Original Episodes of “The Martha Stewart Show” Move Exclusively to Hallmark Channel as Anchor of Network’s Daytime Lineup Beginning September 2010.  Hallmark Channel and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Form Strategic Alliance to Create Lifestyle Programming

Hallmark Channel today announced a multi-year strategic partnership with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. to exclusively televise original episodes of the Emmy™ Award-winning, popular daytime home and lifestyle series “The Martha Stewart Show” on Hallmark Channel beginning September 2010. Hallmark Channel is a cable television network owned and operated by Crown Media Holdings, Inc.
Announcement of the partnership was made today by Bill Abbott, President and CEO, Hallmark Channels, and Charles A. Koppelman, Executive Chairman of MSLO.

As part of the agreement, MSLO will also develop a range of new and original series and prime time specials that will complement Hallmark Channel’s current schedule of popular original movies, movies from the acclaimed “Hallmark Hall of Fame” library collection, specials and classic television series. In 2010 the network will produce 24 original movies.

Beginning in the fall, Mondays through Fridays, “The Martha Stewart Show” will be presented 10-11 a.m. (ET/PT), kicking off a two-and-half-hour block of original Martha Stewart programming. The flagship how-to series will continue to be filmed in New York City with a live studio audience, informing and inspiring viewers on subjects from cooking and entertaining to crafting and gardening. Encore performances of the daily show will also be presented on the network.

Following “The Martha Stewart Show” from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. (ET/PT) each weekday, Hallmark Channel will present exclusive original programming currently in development at MSLO that will feature a portfolio of creative content for which the Martha Stewart brand is known and which will showcase experts and personalities from within MSLO. Additionally, MSLO will develop numerous holiday and interview specials for prime time on the network.

“This is a match made in TV heaven. We couldn’t be more excited about welcoming Martha Stewart to the Hallmark Channel family. She is the undisputed leader in cooking, home décor, design and gardening, and ‘The Martha Stewart Show’ is the kind of high-quality programming that celebrates life, exemplifying Hallmark Channel and the Hallmark brand,” said Mr. Abbott. “We believe the creative programming, branding and advertising opportunities this partnership presents are limitless. As these properties join our already strong lineup which includes a full slate of original movies, our viewers, distributors and advertisers will continue to see in Hallmark Channel a destination like no other.”

Mr. Koppelman stated: “We're very excited about this partnership, which brings together two powerful and trusted brands in the lifestyle arena. The new relationship builds our broadcast strategy, greatly extends our media platform and reach, and we anticipate will have a positive impact on our business. This also will benefit our merchandising and advertising partners, while offering viewers multiple opportunities to watch and learn from Martha and MSLO experts on a single channel at consistent time periods around the country.” Mr. Koppelman added: “As we make this move to Hallmark Channel, we also want to thank NBC Universal Domestic Television and their affiliates for their support over the past five years. We’re proud of all that we have accomplished together.”

MSLO Founder Martha Stewart added: “It has long been a dream of mine to bring our unique evergreen content to television in an expansive way. I’m delighted that we have found the perfect home for the kind of programming that consumers look to us for, a home that is devoted to excellence, family life and celebrations – what we call Living. Our core values and content areas--entertaining, weddings, crafting, cooking, gardening, holidays, pets and humor--are a perfect fit with Hallmark Channel. I’m thrilled with the opportunity to further develop MSLO’s deep pool of talent and provide audiences with exciting new programming that educates, informs, entertains and inspires.”

“The Martha Stewart Show” is in its fifth season and is currently distributed by NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution.

In addition to “The Martha Stewart Show,” MSLO offers a growing roster of television series and specials presented elsewhere including the popular “Everyday Food” and the critically-acclaimed “Whatever, Martha!” Upcoming programming includes the weekly series “The Emeril Lagasse Show,” featuring celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse. Other current programming includes “Essence of Emeril,” “Emeril Live” and “Emeril Green.”

Monday, January 25, 2010

Learning to Relax

I'm not real good at relaxing.  My mind is always in gear with thoughts of work, things to do at home, new projects, and the list goes on and on.  I often have trouble falling asleep at night because I can't seem to turn off the thought process long enough to allow myself to relax.  When I do fall asleep, I wake up several times during the night and several thoughts will run through my head at a rapid fire rate making the return to sleep equally as difficult.  I rarely feel totally rested in the morning and by mid-day, I'm pretty much toast. 

The Whole Body Action Plan addressed stress and relaxation with some great tips on learning to meditate.  I've been trying to engage in some of these techniques throughout my day, when I truly need a pause to clear my head and calm myself.

If taking up meditation seems daunting, however, start with devoting just 15 minutes a day to this beginner-friendly technique. Once you've made it a habit, deepen your practice with the additional techniques below.

Meditation for Beginners

1.Sit in a chair and allow your body to settle.

2.Slowly scan your body from toe to head, noticing where you feel tight.

3.Bring your attention to your breathing, inhaling and exhaling through the nose but never forcing your breath. Keep your mouth softly closed, your jaw relaxed.

4.Become more and more sensitive to your breath, in tune with where your body moves (and doesn't move) on the inhale and exhale.

5.Allow your awareness of your breath to bring ease to your entire body. Imagine your body moving toward the earth, fully supported.

6.Continue observing your breath moving in and out of your body.

7.At the end of the 15 minutes, breathe deeply three times, allowing the inhale to move down to your toes and the exhale to move up and out of the tops of your shoulders. Pause and then open your eyes.

Meditation with Nature

1.Find a park, forest, beach, nature preserve, or reservoir.

2.If possible, remove your shoes. Walk around for a few minutes until you come to a place where you feel like pausing.

3.Stand still for a moment and take in the natural elements around you. Take 10 deep breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.

4.Notice how your body feels. What feels tight, tired, achy? What parts feel loose and easy? Take five more breaths, directing the breath to the tight places and relieving the tension as you exhale.

5.Begin walking again, for as long as you'd like. Allow yourself to be completely absorbed by nature.

6.When you are done, notice how you feel, such as whether your breath is easier, your body feels more relaxed, and your heart is more connected to what's around you.

Body Scan

1.Sit in a chair with your back straight, your feet under your knees and your palms resting on your thighs.

2.Take a deep breath and let your attention be absorbed by the sensations in your feet. Feel, for instance, each foot's temperature, or the texture of your socks.

3.After a few breaths, move your attention to your calves. For several more breaths, sense your calves in the same way.

4.Gradually move your attention through each body part. After the calves, focus on your thighs, then your bottom, abdomen, lower back, chest, upper back, shoulders, arms, hands, neck, face, and head.

5.After scanning each body part, let your awareness cover your entire body at once.

I found these techniques to be very helpful.  For more information on the Whole Body Action Plan, check out for complete information.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Chef Emeril Lagasse Breaks Bread With New Original Series

'The Emeril Lagasse Show,' Featuring Celebrity Guests, Music, and Good Food, to Debut in March 2010 on ION Television

 ION Television today announced its first original non-scripted series, "TheEmeril Lagasse Show," a new weekly, entertainment television show featuring celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse. The original, primetime series will be recorded before a live studio audience and will capture Emeril's passion for people, entertainment, music, food and celebration. The hour long program will air on Sundays at 8pm beginning March 28th.

"TheEmeril Lagasse Show" will feature one of America's most popular chefs as he has never been seen before. Each week, Emeril will welcome celebrity guests, musicians and entertainers to break news and break bread as Emeril shares his world, his friends and his passions with the studio audience and viewers at home. A house band will be on set, playing live music and interacting with Emeril, guests and audience. The show also will include entertaining and surprising field pieces that will be shot in and around New York City where the show will be taped. TV veteran Karen Katz and After Five Productions, which executive produced Lagasse's long-running Food Network series, "Emeril Live," will be executive producer of "TheEmeril Lagasse Show".

"TheEmeril Lagasse Show" will be produced with innovative marketing opportunities that will appeal to advertisers from a broad range of categories. The show will be supported through traditional marketing and social media including Facebook where consumers can become a fan at

"We are excited to bring Emeril's 'Positively Entertaining' persona and larger-than-life superstar-chef status to ION Television. His brand will be a dynamic addition to our general entertainment network and a treat for our audience," said Brandon Burgess, Chairman and CEO, ION Media Networks.

"Emeril is a terrific talent whose passion for food coupled with his natural showmanship will attract a broad range of viewers. We're thrilled to be working with ION Television, a network that shares our commitment to fresh ideas, quality and innovation. This new show is an important step in further extending the Emeril Lagasse brand," said Charles A. Koppelman, Executive Chairman of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc.which acquired the assets related to Mr. Lagasse's media and merchandising business in 2008.

"I'm excited to be live on ION Television nationwide, bringing the high energy, interaction and every day celebrations to audiences across the country. I look forward to sharing my passion for interesting people, fascinating places, good music and, of course, great food," said Emeril Lagasse.

"Emeril's culinary prowess is matched by his great personal charm and appeal. I'm delighted that his new program will showcase all that he has to offer," stated MSLO Founder Martha Stewart.

A popular chef and successful restaurateur, Emeril has a strong track record as a national TV personality, has hosted over 1,500 shows on the Food Network, and is the food correspondent for ABC's "Good Morning America." His show "Essence of Emeril" can be seen on Food Network, and "Emeril Live" appears on both Fine Living and Food Network. His recent appearance on "Super Chef Battle: An Iron Chef America Event" was Food Network's highest-rated, most-watched night in Food Network history with 7.6 million viewers. He is the host of "Emeril Green," an original series exploring fresh and seasonal ingredients on Discovery's Planet Green.

In addition to his television presence, Emeril has a new, live, call-in radio program, "Cooking with Emeril," which airs twice weekly on Martha Stewart Living Radio on SIRIUS XM. He also has a new column in MSLO's Everyday Food magazine where the chef and his six-year-old son, E.J., provide delicious family-friendly recipes. Emeril is the author of 14 bestselling books, including the recent Emeril 20-40-60: Fresh Food Fast (HarperStudio).

Emeril Lagasse has been active in the food world since his teenage years in Fall River, Massachusetts, where he worked at a Portuguese bakery and mastered the art of bread and pastry baking. Upon graduating from high school, he turned down a full scholarship to the New England Conservatory of Music to pursue a career as a professional chef. He earned a degree from Johnson and Wales University, which later awarded him an honorary Doctorate, and traveled to France where he polished his skills and learned the art of classic French cuisine. Returning to the United States, Lagasse practiced his art in fine restaurants in New York, Boston and Philadelphia, before heading south to the Big Easy. In New Orleans, he established his start at the legendary Commander's Palace restaurant, where he was executive chef for seven and a half years. Lagasse is now the chef-proprietor of 13 restaurants across the country. The recognition and awards he has garnered has made him known to food-loving Americans everywhere.

Since its recent formation and launch, ION Television concluded 2009 with record year-over-year growth in households, Adults 25-54 and Adults 18-49, posting 49%, 65%, and 74% growth in those demographics, respectively. ION Television has become one of the fastest growing U.S. television networks, taking the Q4 2009 top spot among fully distributed broadcast and cable networks. And with a strong 2009 year-end performance, ION Television entered the list of the top 15 entertainment networks in the U.S. cable universe for the first time.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Lucinda Scala Quinn: Work, Life, and Spurtles

If Martha Stewart was interviewing you for a job in her company and asked, “Do you have any management experience?” how would you respond? After thinking for a moment, Lucinda Scala Quinn responded to that question with honesty: “if you consider raising a family of five in New York City on a freelance budget…then yes, I have management experience..” That was a response that helped land Lucinda Scala Quinn a position with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, overseeing food for television.

Fast forward a little over ten years and Lucinda’s role with the company has definitely changed. As the Executive Editorial Director for Food at MSLO, she now oversees the entire food operation for the company. But wait; that’s not all. Lucinda hosts her own radio show, “Eat Drink” on Martha Stewart Living Radio (Sirius 112/XM 157), Co-hosts the PBS series “Everyday Food,” has regular appearances on NBC’s Today Show, contributes to both Martha Stewart Living magazine and Everyday Food magazine, AND this last fall, released her third cookbook, “Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys.” In addition, she keeps followers up to date through Twitter, Facebook, and regularly updates her blog, “Mad Hungry.”

To say Lucinda is passionate about food is an understatement. She began cooking professionally in her teen years and has worked in a variety of food related jobs including cooking teacher, caterer, chef, and food writer before landing her position with MSLO.

I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with Lucinda when her extensive book tour brought her to Michigan last fall. I knew just one minute into her presentation that I wanted to do a feature interview with her for House Blend. Lucinda graciously accepted the invite to do just that.

When did you develop your passion for food?

I grew up in a big Italian family, which means food, love and fun were all intertwined from my earliest memories.

What inspires you as a cook?

Films, books, folklore, museums, markets, gardens. Everyday sights, scents, sounds and conversations.

What makes for a good food story in Martha Stewart Living or Everyday Food?

Where inspiration, aspiration and ‘how-to’ collide in a potentially visually arresting, clearly organized idea. Sophisticated simplicity means a story on rice is as compelling as a holiday feast.

Lucinda on the set of Everyday Food
Photo courtesy of Martha Stewart Living

How are recipes developed for MSLO?

Recipes start with a clearly defined umbrella concept and idea for a story narrative whether large or small. The food editor draws on personal experience, research, reading, travel and interviews to construct a balanced list of recipe ideas that attempt to hit several notes in a story so there is something for every reader to find a point of entry on. Cooking and tasting happen in the test kitchen until a collection of delicious and representative dishes/recipes are complete and ready to be photographed along with a creative team.

Work/life balance, it is said, is essential for success. How do you balance your duties as an editorial director, a television co-host, an author, and a wife/mother?

My family is my priority on a daily basis. With that as a driving presumption, most days all the aspects of my work life dovetail beautifully together with home life. But, this also means there is an occasional overturn in that flow where family prevails. I rise early and enjoy m y home’s early morning in all its craziness; husband, kids, dogs, breakfast, lunch prep, personal chores, etc. and go to work like anyone else (and, I have cultivated a very collaborative group of sons and husband in terms of household/kitchen labor sharing!) Once at the office, unless there is a special event, I prioritize within the day, just tackling one thing after another with enthusiasm and lots of incredible colleagues to work with too. By 6:30PM, I go home for dinner where cooking and gathering with my family and friends around the dinner table is one of my favorite activities and something that also informs my work life. But, if there is a soccer game, play, doctor appointment, family or friend emergency, I will make time to be there; confident in the knowledge that many of these extracurricular activities not only bring personal satisfaction, but also contribute back to my professional performance.

Lucinda and two of her sons during an appearance on the Martha Stewart Show.  Calder (left) toured with Lucinda on her Mad Hungry book tour.  Photo courtesy of Martha Stewart Living

You had a very long book tour for the release of “Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys.” What was your favorite part of doing the book tour?

My favorite part was seeing so many American cities, eating regional food, visiting legendary regional independent bookstores and meeting so many interesting people. Plus, my son, a recent college graduate, toured with me which made the work so much more fun.

And your least favorite part?

4:30AM wake up calls and being camera ready with hair and make-up for TV (not my strong point!)

What would you say are the three absolutely essential tools a person needs in their kitchen?

A 12-inch well seasoned cast iron pan, an all purpose sharp knife (any size or shape as long as it works for you) and a “spurtle” (laughs). But seriously, it’s made of wood and is a cross between a wooden spoon and a spatula. It was originally designed for stirring oatmeal but it’s perfect for stirring, flipping or even stir frying. Three utilities in one!

Lucinda adheres to an over-arching philosophy about food that has stuck with me since meeting her at the book signing: “Cook for the people you love and teach them to cook for themselves. They’ll pass it on.” That, is a true love for cooking and for family.

Lucinda can be seen regularly on the new season of Everyday Food on PBS (check local listings), and every Thursday at 4PM on her radio show, “Eat Drink” on Martha Stewart Living Radio, Sirius 112/XM 157. “Mad Hungry” is available at Barnes and Noble or Amazon, or check with your local bookstore.

Now.. I need to speak with her about one of those great Mad Hungry t-shirts!

Sunday, January 17, 2010


There is a wonderful article in the February issue of Martha Stewart Living featuring Darcy Miller at a recent gallery showing of her work that she calls, "scrapboxing." 

This out of the box (no pun intended) approach to scrapbooking makes memory keeping more of a decorative element in the home. 

Treasured keepsakes are placed into display boxes and can be arranged on a picture ledge, or hung as a grouping in a childs room.  The possibilities are truly endless.

Darcy suggests that each frame features one idea, often combining a few elements: a Fourth of July snapshot along with a small flag; a maternity-ward photo and a baby’s cap; or a paint set paired with the little artist’s masterpiece. Grouped on shelves, the boxes formed a mixed-media
collage, heralding special occasions and everyday ones, too.

This new twist on mixing shadow boxes with scrapbooking really caught my eye and I was inspired to try one of my own. 

Our visits to Sharon Springs and to Beekman have left us with lasting impressions and wonderful memories.  In this scrapbox, photographs, notes, and other Beekman related items are together in one place.  The photographs were reprinted in sepia tones to better mix with the other items.  I even included a guest bar of lavender soap from the American Hotel. Now, when I look at this box, all those memories come rushing back.  I mean really.. who could forget goat kisses?

Suits and Muck Boots: Putting the Fabulous into Farming

This last week, those Beekman Boys, Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge headed to Los Angeles for the Television Critics Association Press Tour to introduce the new docu-series, “The Fabulous Beekman Boys.”

The Fabulous Beekman Boys is a funny and irreverent peek into Brent and Josh’s world as they shuck their New York City suits and trade them in for muck boots in order to create the organic lifestyle brand, ‘Beekman 1802.’

The series, slated to premiere on June 16 (9:00 p.m. eastern) on Discovery Channel’s Plant Green, provides an interesting and oft times amusing look into Josh and Brent’s unique relationship, their desire to create a business and transform their lives. “Watching it unfold in real time is hilarious and entertaining,” said Laura Michalchyshyn, Planet Green’s Health and Fit TV President and General Manager. “Brent is the quintessential type A personality with a ‘my way or the highway’ attitude while Josh is a laid back, genteel kind of guy who spends weekends on the farm but is still commuting to work in the city during the week.”

I’ve had to sit on my hands and not talk about the series since our visit to the farm last fall during the Harvest Festival (timing is everything…). David and I witnessed first-hand the series filming at the farm and at the Harvest Festival as we sold our supporting line of “Beekman Basics” to festival attendees next to Brent and Josh, who were giving samples of Beekman BLAAK.  We had the  pleasure of meeting the great production team from World of Wonder Productions who actually, were some of our best customers!

top:  shirts, hats, and eco-totes are still available!
bottom:  Josh and Brent serve up samples of Beekman BLAAK

Plant Green released a synopsis for a few of the upcoming episodes:

When Pigs Fly - Episode 101

With Josh still living in the city to earn a paycheck and Brent living full time at the farm to launch their organic lifestyle brand, the couple tries to make the most of their weekends together on the farm. Brent and Josh welcome two new residents to their growing family as they bring home a pair of baby pigs who seem more than a bit reluctant to join the Beekman menagerie. Later, Josh asks Brent to come into the city for the first reading of his new book, but Brent says he's too busy with the business and Josh is left disappointed. Personal feelings are quickly put aside after Polka Spot, the llama, appears to have become ill after her feeding. Brent's calm doctor skills take over, while Josh sets off in a panic, only to later discover that the llama was simply sunning herself. Josh heads back to the city for the week and has a successful first reading of his book as he recounts the first time he met Brent's former boss, Martha Stewart. When Josh returns to the farm looking forward to a relaxing weekend, Brent has other plans in mind and immediately sets off to do work. Josh can't handle the fact that Brent has turned their weekend getaway into a business and Brent reminds Josh that they have committed to a year of sacrifice to get their company up and running. But Josh threatens that he'd rather not have a business at all if it means having to sacrifice their relationship in the process.

Beekmanpalooza - Episode 102

In order to bring attention and business to Sharon Springs, as well as to the burgeoning Beekman brand, Brent plans a Harvest Weekend. The 3-day event includes a garden party on the Beekman property, a harvest festival in the village and a feast at the American Hotel. Brent stresses out Josh and Farmer John, wanting to make sure everything will go off as perfectly planned and Josh laments that Brent has no idea how to throw a good party. The garden party goes off without a hitch, but the question of whether people will actually show up to the festival still looms. Josh exchanges his farming attire for an outfit more appropriate for debuting their new Beekman cheese at the harvest festival, while Brent frets about the poor attendance. Eventually, the crowds turn out and the festival is a success. At the harvest feast, Josh is dismayed when Brent announces he didn't get them reservations to the gourmet dinner, because he wanted to sell out all the tickets. Brent and Josh resort to eating a less-than farm fresh meal, but still find that the weekend was, in its own way, pretty perfect.

Unhappy Birthday - Episode 103

Josh heads home to the Beekman from NYC looking forward to his 40th birthday weekend on the farm. But because Brent has agreed to host the first-ever wedding at the Beekman, Josh's birthday is put on the back burner. Josh has a hard time accepting that the weekend won't be all about him and he freezes Brent out, but his anger is overshadowed by sympathy when the ominous weather threatens to ruin the bride's special day. Brent and Josh pitch in to help with the ceremony, and Josh confesses that his disappointment lies less in the fact that he didn't get a birthday party, and more in that another couple is getting married at the Beekman before themselves. In the end, the wedding goes off without a hitch and Brent gets back into Josh's good graces with a birthday present that truly takes Josh by surprise.

“We believe that a farm can be much larger than its fences. If someone told us that we’d trade in New York City for eighty goats, two pigs, a dozen chickens and a narcissistic llama, we would have told them they were crazy,” said Brent and Josh. “It turns out that we are.”

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Martha Stewart Outdoor Living Furniture Collections

We are beginning to get our first look at the new Martha Stewart Living (brand) outdoor seating and dining collections available exclusively to The Home Depot.  The outdoor living collections mark the first of several different product lines to be available at The Home Depot throughout 2010 and beyond. 

Ten versatile collections are making their debut this season.  Most collections include outdoor seating sets and outdoor dining.  Coordinating market umbrellas, storage trunks, side tables and other pieces are available to complete the funiture arrangement, turning any outdoor "space" into an outdoor room. 

Stop by The Home Depot website for pricing and more information.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Getting to Know Josh Kilmer-Purcell

Josh Kilmer-Purcell is a living lesson in juggling multi-careers. He’s a best-selling author, an advertising executive, a goat and heirloom vegetable farmer, and one of the stars of the upcoming Discovery Network’s Planet Green reality series, “The Fabulous Beekman Boys.”

Josh and his partner Dr. Brent Ridge, co-founded Beekman 1802, a media and Lifestyle Company inspired by their 200 year old farm in Sharon Springs, New York. With a firm commitment to environmental sustainability, Beekman 1802 is devoted to the artisanal, the hand-made and the belief that each season gives cause for celebration. As novice farmers, Josh and Brent share their ‘experiment in seasonal living’ through their website

Josh graciously accepted my invitation to share some of his time with readers of House Blend. I hope you enjoy getting to know Josh as much as I have.

You were born in upstate New York and grew up in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. What was it like growing up in the rural, upper Midwest?

I’ve always appreciated having my formative years in the Midwest. It taught me to embrace a “Live and let live – unless a neighbor needs help” value system, which I think is the smartest way to go through life with your fellow man.

Young Josh

Describe “Josh the youngster” from Wisconsin.

I had, perhaps not surprisingly, an overactive imagination. Almost all of my free time was spent creating something – painting, writing, and carving. I created worlds of my own wherever I could – from building elaborate train sets to “filming” television pilots in my backyard with my neighbors.

Striking a pose at a young age

What is your most memorable childhood moment?

All family vacations. We didn’t have much money, but my parents made sure my brother and I saw as much of the world as we could – even if it was just a historical barn down the road.

From Wisconsin, you went…. Where?

My family moved to Massachusetts when I entered high school.

What were the teen years like for you?

Not my favorite time. Creativity wasn’t much valued in the high school I attended, so I had a fairly small circle of friends.

You spent your college years at Michigan State University and first majored in Hotel/restaurant management and yet graduated with your degree in English Literature. What prompted the change in major?

Accounting classes. Couldn’t figure out why I needed more math to become the world’s greatest host.

During your college years, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I had no idea. Really, none. I was quite anxious about it. While I did love the Midwest value system I grew up in, it also instilled a lot of pressure to be practical. Which I’m not, instinctively. I was raised to “follow your dreams – as long as they come with a 401k.”

We’re going to fast forward a few years. Most things I’ve read about you begin with a statement about your former life as a drag queen performer. Do you ever tire of the reference to that period of your life?

It was a very important part of my life. And while it’s sometimes odd for me to have that be people’s first impression of me, I think it’s odder for them. While it was an important time of my life, it also seems incongruous to many people who meet me now. But being Aqua (my drag persona) was probably the most colorful, brave, reckless thing I ever tried, and I cherish those days – even though they nearly killed me. Now, at forty years old, it’s a great private joy of mine to look back on it all.

I Am Not Myself These Days - A Memoir

In 2006 your memoir was published. When I read “I Am Not Myself These Days” I ran the gambit of emotion. One moment I was laughing hysterically, the next I was crying my eyes out. From time to time I would just put the book down and reflect on my own life. By sharing the story of your life with (as) Aqua, what do you hope / want your readers will take away from this book?

Perhaps its cliché, but I would hope for people to read the book and realize how similar we all are. Which I think I accomplished, given the many letters I’ve received from such a varied audience or readers. The original title was “This Is My Normal” because I hoped for people to realize that the choices each of us makes in life feels normal to us. All in all, I think the world would be a better place if we just outlawed the word “normal.” Too often it’s used as a weapon.

Several years ago, you produced public service announcements for the Human Rights Campaign with Judy Shepard, Matthew Shepard’s mother. How did the experience of meeting and working with Mrs. Shepard impact you?

That was a strange experience for me. I knew before filming the commercials that they would be most effective if she cried while telling her story. At the same time, I certainly didn’t want to be the person to make this woman – this mom – shed any more tears than the millions she already had. During a short chat before filming, it became obvious that she knew her story would resonate better the more emotion she put into it. So without prompting, she dredged up the most horrible emotions a mother can feel for our filming. She did it for her Matthew and all the other Matthews out there. It proved to me that there is no force stronger on this planet than a mother’s love for her child.

Are you active with the Human Rights Campaign or any other GLBT organization?

Not currently. I’m often asked to write about key LGBT issues for various publications and I wouldn’t want my affiliation with a particular group to compromise any journalistic integrity.

From your perspective, what is the key to acceptance and equality for those that are GLBT?

As far as I’m concerned, anyone who can’t accept me has the problem, not me. I have no time for them.

Candy Everybody Wants - Book #2

Your second book, “Candy Everybody Wants” has been described by Armistead Maupin as “a balls‐out joyride through 1980’s pop culture that enlightens as much as it exhilarates..” How much of Josh Kilmer‐Purcell is found in Jayson Blocher (the main character of the book)?

I say that “Candy” is the coming of age memoir I wish I’d lived. I was very much like the flamboyant and willful Jayson, except that I wasn’t as brave.

What inspired you to write “Candy Everybody Wants?”

Writing “I Am Not Myself These Days” was an emotional challenge. While it portrayed an exciting time in my life, it also required me to dig back to some really tough emotions. I wrote “Candy” to clear my own palate.

Is there a particular place where you do most of your writing?

Not really. I just need a chair, my computer, and several hours of no interruptions.

Brent and Josh on the back steps of their home, Beekman Mansion

I’m paging through the P.S. portion of “Candy Everybody Wants” and reading the unedited email interview with your partner, then identified simply as “B.” We now know of course that "B" is Brent. Was it a conscious decision to keep his identity concealed or did you just think it was nobody’s business?

I referred to Brent as “B” for many years when I wrote about him. He had his own career and goals, and I didn’t think it was fair to drag him into my career when I had nothing to do with his. Now that a good portion of our lives is co-mingled, there’s no need to put up that particular firewall anymore.

In the email interview, Brent was asked to describe you using just five adjectives. He used Sentimental, Compassionate, Analytical, Impatient, High-strung, and he also gave bonus adjectives of Creative Obsessive. That was in 2007. Do you believe those adjectives are still valid descriptors today?

Aww. I’d forgotten he’d said such (mostly) nice things about me. I actually think that may be the best description of me I’ve ever read.

How did you and Brent meet?

Brent and I met online in 2000. It took more than a year to really become inseparable. I don’t believe in fairy tale love stories. I believe in true bonds of friendship, generosity, and selflessness. I am lucky to have such an amazing partner in all senses.

Josh displays a large soccer-ball mushroom he and David discovered during our walk around the property in September.  This mushroom became lunch.

Let’s talk about Beekman. When the idea of creating an integrated media and lifestyle company based on a mansion/farm in upstate New York was first being developed, what did you envision?

I’m not sure we had a full vision. As you can see on our website, our sort of “tagline” is: “A shared experiment in seasonal living.” That’s what we were on our first day, and that’s what we still are now. A shared experiment. People can join in and help us (and themselves) succeed and fail in real time. : )

How active are you in the operation of Beekman 1802? Do you have a particular area or responsibility?

Brent does the lion’s share of work on Beekman 1802 right now. I still work fulltime in advertising in addition to my writing. The brand is both of us, but the manifestation of it is all his.

Are you still hands-on with producing the line of soaps?

I help on the weekends when Brent needs me to. I also do the graphics and much of the photography.

Beekman Mansion in the winter.

Since you still split your time between the city and country, where are you most comfortable; on the Upper East Side or at Beekman?


Is it difficult to transition between the two places?

Hey, I’ve transitioned into a drag queen and back. City mouse to country house is a piece of cake.

Do you ever just want to run away from home?

Yes, but I can’t figure out which home to run from.

What do you do to find that work/life balance?

I whine about not finding it. Ask Brent. He’ll tell you that I’m busier complaining about being busy than I actually am being busy.

When you get stressed, what calms you?

That’s easy. Gardening. There is nothing I like better than planning, planting, weeding, and harvesting our garden. That’s my sanctuary, and what I’m most proud of. Feeding oneself is a major accomplishment in this day and age.

Josh prepares fresh radishes with butter and sea salt for a snack during our visit to the farm in May.

It was recently announced that a reality series based on your life with Brent at Beekman, “The Fabulous Beekman Boys” will begin airing in late spring 2010 on Planet Green. What was it like to have cameras and film crews ever-present during the filming?

At first it was pretty surreal. But we’ve grown used to it. We actually missed the film crew when they went home for Christmas. Having spent several holidays together with them by now, it felt odd to not have them share Christmas morning.

Will the ‘world premiere’ of the series take place at Beekman?

Well, I suppose that’s up to Discovery/Planet Green, but we certainly will have some sort of premier at the Beekman. I’d like to have it up in the hayloft and invite the whole village. They’re really the “stars” of the show. Without their help and advice, Beekman 1802 never would’ve gotten off the ground.

Dressed as William Beekman, Josh greeted those in attendance at the 2009 Harvest Festival in Sharon Springs.  Nice ruffles.

In 2009, Beekman 1802 hosted “The World’s Largest, Oldest Garden Party” which came to a close with the Harvest Festival in Sharon Springs. Did the success of the event meet your expectations?

Yes! We heard from many people in the village that they had a lovely day, and that it had been a long time since Main Street had felt so “alive.” We had a blast.

Will we see another garden party and Harvest Festival in 2010?

Certainly. Brent has even bigger things cooking for this year. I was worried about whether he could pull last year off, and now I’m convinced he can’t accomplish all he has planned this year. Then again, Brent rarely fails. I never get to use my “I told you so’s.”

You have a number of ‘regulars’ on the Beekman website who follow your journey in seasonal living. What do you see as the ‘draw’ to Beekman?

As I mentioned, we’re a “shared experiment in seasonal living.” Many lifestyle brands and gurus teach, preach, and lecture. We share. And we love when people share back.

Will you ever open Beekman mansion to public tours? Do people just stop by hoping to get a glimpse inside?

We’ve talked about opening up the mansion for the occasional tour. But people would probably be disappointed. We’re not a museum. We’re a home. Which means occasionally there are socks on the floor and cluttered countertops. People do drop by to see the goats in the field and we like meeting new people so that’s not a problem. I suppose if the traffic became too great we’d have to curtail that a little. We have a lot of chores to do!

You’ve been working on a book about the farm. Can you give us an inside scoop?

Yes, my third book, “The Bucolic Plague” will launch in June of 2010 from HarperCollins. It details the first two years of us owning the Beekman, and how we birthed the company. It’s really a “pre-quel” to the television series (though there was no series when I started writing it.)

What can we expect in this book?

I think people will be very surprised at the drama and challenges Brent, myself, and our relationship faced soon after we purchased the Beekman. Although we share a lot of what we do and think on our website, we don’t really speak much about our relationship. I hope people will find my reflections honest and helpful - and not exhibitionist.

What is most important to you in life?

Brent. Family. Neighbors. Earth. God.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I’ve gone from drag queen to ad guy to goat farmer. Your guess is as good as mine.

Where do you see Beekman 1802 in 5 years?

Hopefully we’ll have a huge community of like-minded people that stretches across the world. We’ll all be sharing our experiences about healthy, sustainable, fun and stylish living with each other. I’ve guess I’ve always wanted a commune. This might be the version I get.
You can stay up to date with all the happenings in and around Beekman Farm at

Monday, January 11, 2010

Congratulations and Well Wishes

This Thursday is all about blogging on the Martha Stewart Show and I'm very happy that two bloggers I follow closely will be guests on the show. 

Blogger Jeff Blumenkrantz has been spending the year cooking fabulously through Martha's Cooking School book.  His blog, Jeff and Martha, chronicles his cooking adventures complete with a realistic grading system for the work accomplished.  If you've not stopped by his blog, please do!  His realistic journey through the book is a true pleasure to read.  Jeff will be able to pick up hints and tips directly from Martha as he cooks with her side by side on Thursday.

Friend and fellow blogger Andrew Ritchie will also be a guest on Thursday.  Andrew's blog, Martha Moments keeps readers posted on current MSLO events and happenings and you'll also find several of Andrew's own essays on a variety of lifestyle topics.  Andrew will learn clever things to do with yarn when he crafts with Martha on Thursday. 

I'm happy that both of them will have the opportunity to meet Martha.  I remember the first time I met Martha, I was beside myself.. I was overwhelmed with exitement and I'm sure these two deserving gentlemen are feeling much the same.  

Congratulations to both Jeff and Andrew! We'll be watching!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

February Living

Much to my surprise, the February issue of Martha Stewart Living arrived in my mailbox yesterday.  The cover which features a beautiful bittersweet-chocolate tart embellished with meringue hearts is one of heavenly desserts that can be found inside in the article "Gifts From the Heart." 

With Valentine's Day fast approaching, this issue has several different gift ideas for the one you love as well as a creative card idea using corrugated cardboard as a stamping tool. 

Martha invites us to a hearty breakfast in her column "From My Home to Yours."  In the article, you'll find recipes for hearty waffles, healthy granola, a delicious frittata and much more. 

Several articles were of particular interest to me.  I recently stocked up on baking yeast and the article "Fresh From the Oven" is the perfect inspiration to use one simple recipe to bake four types of bread.  It's been a long time since I've baked bread, so I'm anxious to try this recipe with it's variations. 

I love cake stands and have many of them displayed on a shelf in the kitchen.  The collector of these footed beauties will appreciate the article, "They Take the Cake." which looks at the cakestand in a whole new light. 

Kevin Sharkey continues his monthly look at his apartment make-over in column "Home Design."  This month, Kevin takes us into his closet where all of his clothing and accessories are neatly stored and organized for easy access.  With a closet this size, getting dressed for the day would be a breeze!

I believe one of the most creative people at Martha Stewart Living is Darcy Miller, Editorial Director for Weddings.  The ideas and creativity never seem to end and the article "Family: History in the Making."  This article takes us inside to a special gallery showing of her creative work in celebrating life's meaningful moments and turning them into charming keepsakes.  Darcy calls these keepsakes "scrapboxes."  Scrapboxes make a scrapbook page come alive in a beatiful display.

The February issue a good read with a hot cup of tea or a frothy cup of hot chocolate.  February and chocolate just seem to go together...

Note:  Wondering when you'll find Martha Stewart Living on the newsstand?  Check out the sidebar to the right for newsstand dates for the remainder of the year!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Thank You Cards

Now that all the presents have been opened and we've wrapped up another holiday season, it's time to sit down and make out your thank you cards. 

There are many different styles of thank you cards available, most with a simple 'thank you' on the outside of the card and a blank inside for personal notes. I decided to take simple thank you cards and embellish them a bit using the Martha Stewart Crafts Foil Transfer Kit available at Michaels.

The kit comes with everything you need to create beautiful cards, labels, or tags for future presents.

Inside the kit, you'll find 4 pages of adhesive design transfers, 6 sheets of foil, and a craft stick to help with the transfer process. 

I chose thank you cards from a Martha Stewart Occasions set.  This particular card comes from the eyelet card collection. 

Step 1:  Carefully remove the adhesive transfers from the protective backing.  Be very careful to not touch the transfers! 

Step 2:  Place the transfer on the card, taking care to center the image.  A helpful hint:  You may want to cut out the transfer from the larger sheet.  I found that some of the other transfers were coming off on the front of my card with the slightest pressure. 

With the transfer in place, rub with the craft stick across the image to transfer the adhesive to the card.  It doesn't take a lot of pressure to do this, so be careful to not leave indentations on your card from rubbing to hard!

Step 3:  Slowly lift the transfer covering from the card.  Your image will now be in place on your card. 

Step 4:  Next, select the foil color you wish to use.  There is a glossy (shiny) side and a matte side to the thin foil sheets.  Place the foil matte side down on your transfer image.  Be careful.. you'll want to make sure the foil is smooth.  Lightly rub the foil with the craft stick to secure the foil to the adhesive transfer. 

Step 5:  Slowly lift the foil sheet to expose your new foil image.  Using a soft brush (such as a camel hair paint brush), lightly brush over the area to remove any loose foil. 

Easy as that, you have taken a store bought card and kicked it up a notch with a bit of embellishment!

The foil transfer kit comes with a variety of designs, including birds, flourishes, leaves, flowers, and many others you will find  useful. 

By the way... most thank you cards should be sent within 30 days of receiving a gift!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Cocktail of the Month: The Capricorn

Here's a delicious way to enjoy Champagne - in a flute crowned with citrus-laced sugar. For the main ingredient, use an affordable bubbly. Dry and floral, La Caravelle Rosé is a new addition to the line crafted by the former owners of the legendary New York restaurant. Serve this drink to ring in the New Year with a sweet and sparkling toast or anytime you want to have a special celebration!

La Caravelle Rosé Champagne

Makes 1

2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons finely grated kumquat zest, plus 1 kumquat slice
Rosé Champagne, chilled

Combine sugar and zest. Wet rim of a Champagne glass; coat rim in sugar mixture. Drop kumquat slice in glass, and fill with Champagne.