5.11.2022

Remembering: Martha Stewart Living

 Hello, friends! I'm back from the ether. Recent events in the world of Martha Stewart have prompted me to revisit the blog and post some updates. Stay tuned for upcoming posts about my experience at Martha Stewart's Great American Tag Sale at her farm in Bedford, New York, as well as the remembrances of my friends Bernie Wong and Dennis Landon. I'm looking forward to working on those posts and sharing photographs from the event - which was such a dream come true!

Also, I could not let the cessation of my favourite magazine go undocumented here. As I'm sure many of you have heard, Martha Stewart Living magazine has ceased publication. Several weeks ago it was announced that Dotdash Meredith, which owned Martha Stewart Living magazine, had decided to stop its publication, both online and in print. Many readers were initially shocked by the news, since there didn't appear to be any sort of lead-up or forewarning from the publishers. The May, 2022, issue which is on newsstands now is the last issue we will see. Most of the magazine's staff was laid off and it's still slightly unclear how or when the magazine's content will find a new digital voice. 

The first issue of Martha Stewart Living, left, was published in November of 1990. The final issue of the magazine was published last month: May, 2022.

During a brief conversation with Kevin Sharkey, EVP of Design for Martha Stewart Living, at the tag sale a few weeks ago, he assured me that the magazine wasn't "finished" but rather in a state of flux as they search for new ways to deliver lifestyle ideas, recipes and design inspiration to its former readers. In the initial press release about the folding of the magazine's print edition, Martha urged readers to pay close attention to Martha.com and a new platform emerging there called Martha Now. Be sure to visit the link and sign up for exclusive offers and content!

I know many of us will miss the monthly delivery of the magazine to our mailboxes, or perusing it at the checkout stand or newsstand. I certainly always enjoyed receiving Martha Stewart Living and taking time to carefully leaf through its pages. You all know how much of a dedicated "Martha student" I've been over the years, so it does feel odd to know I'll never again receive a new issue of my favourite magazine. It had been a part of my life for 25 years. Thankfully, I have over 200 of the best issues the magazine has ever published and I frequently go back and read them, cover to cover, always finding something I missed the last time. They are treasures I'll never part with. 

To read about my favourite issues of Martha Stewart Living, be sure to browse through a monthly column I wrote several years ago called Looking Back to Move Forward, highlighting what I feel are the magazine's best issues, month by month. 

Also, click here, for a brief history of Martha's magazines, including Martha Stewart Living, and click here for a celebration of the magazine's 25th anniversary with posts about the 25 Best Things about MSL.

During one of the lockdowns, I endeavored to organize all my back-issues of Martha Stewart Living. The first step was getting them all out of storage to see what I had. I love this photo of this 'pile' of wonderful issues. I've organized them by month in sturdy magazine holders from IKEA. I prefer to read them by season.

1.02.2022

The Best of Martha Moments

Hello Everyone! Some of you have noticed that I haven't posted in awhile. I have decided to retire the Martha Moments blog for the foreseeable future. It has been online for fifteen years and I think this year I'd like to simply redirect my focus to other areas of interest. That said, I will continue to curate content on Instagram @martha_moments and continue my post as the chief administrator/founder of the Martha Moments Facebook Group. I suggest you follow one or both of those accounts. 

Below is a gathering of links to some of the best serials and posts on the Martha Moments blog that have appeared over the years. I always intended this blog to be an archive of Martha's achievements, viewed through the lens of an avid and curious reader/viewer. I think I've accomplished that. What you'll find in this post is a summary of some of my favourite content (and yours!) that you can return to and easily access. 

Thank you ALL for making Martha Moments so enjoyable to produce over the years. This project has enriched my life in innumerable ways. I have met some extraordinary people through this venture and have had some illuminating experiences that I will treasure for the rest of my life. Thank you, too, to Martha and the people at Martha Stewart Living for embracing me and accepting this blog for what it is: a love letter. 

THE BEST OF MARTHA MOMENTS: CLICK ON THE LINKS BELOW

Click here: THE STUDENTS

I'll start the list with you guys! I've always enjoyed highlighting the people who have learned from Martha: the students, readers and viewers who have gleaned so much from her instruction over the decades. So many of you are so talented and have showcased your prowess so generously with me. Here you'll find a compilation of posts featuring some of your best work - inspired by Martha!

Click here: MARTHA'S BOOKS

This is a comprehensive list of all of Martha's books, listed in descending order from the most recently published. I know many of you reference it to help build or edit your library. 

Click here: MARTHA'S MAGAZINES

Here is a list of all of Martha's magazines, with descriptions of their mandates. They include Martha Stewart Living, Martha Stewart Weddings, Everyday Food and Blueprint, among others. You'll find their publication dates as well as mention of all of the editors-in-chief who helped run them over the years. 

Click here: MARTHA'S SPECIAL ISSUE MAGAZINES

Magazine collectors seeking some of Martha's special issues will find this link helpful. These were magazines that were sold at the newsstand only and were not part of the regular subscription. They are collectible today!

Click here: MARTHA'S INTERNATIONAL PUBLICATIONS

This is a list of Martha's publication ventures outside of the United States: international editions of Martha Stewart Living, Martha Stewart Weddings and Everyday Food.

Click here: MAGAZINE REVIEWS

Many of you enjoyed my monthly and yearly reviews of Martha's publications. Here they are!

Click here: MARTHA'S NEWSLETTERS

Precluding her foray into the world of magazine publishing was The Martha Stewart Newsletter. This is a history of that publication.  

Click here: MARTHA TV

A collection of posts devoted to Martha's television ventures. 

Click here: MARTHA MERCHANDISE

From her "Everyday" collection at Kmart to Martha by Mail to Macy's and beyond... This is a compilation of posts that highlight the creative genius behind Martha's product lines, from paint, to gardening tools, from craft supplies to closet organization systems, from furniture to lighting...

Click here: REMEMBERING: MARTHA STEWART PAINT

A popular post about the history of Martha's paint lines. 

Click here: REMEMBERING: MARTHA STEWART EVERYDAY GARDEN FURNITURE

A summary of Martha's popular "Everyday" garden furniture lines at Kmart. 

Click here: REMEMBERING: THE BUNSHAFT HOUSE

For a brief period in the 1990s, Martha's owned the only residence ever designed by renowned architect Gordon Bunshaft. This is a history of the house. 

Click here: REMEMBERING: MARTHA STEWART KIDS

A history of the Kids magazine with all of the covers shown.

Click here: REMEMBERING: ENTERTAINING

A look back at Martha's groundbreaking first book, Entertaining. 

Click here: REMEMBERING: MARTHA BY MAIL

A history of the Martha by Mail catalog.

Click here: MARTHA BY MAIL

Her best merchandising venture to date! This is a compilation of posts devoted to Martha by Mail. Collectors will find these interesting to read. All of the Martha by Mail catalog covers are shown here as well many of the most sought-after products.

Click here: TURKEY HILL

All about Martha's beloved former home in Connecticut.

Click here: CANTITOE CORNERS

All about Martha's farm in Katonah, New York.

Click here: SKYLANDS

All about Martha's historic home in Maine.

Click here: LILY POND LANE

All about Martha's former summer home in the Hamptons.

Click here: MARTHA'S APARTMENT

All about Martha's former Fifth Avenue pied-a-terre in Manhattan.

Click here: LOOKING BACK TO MOVE FORWARD

This was a monthly serial I wrote in 2012 after then editor-in-chief Pilar Guzman wrote about looking back at past issues to help guide the direction of the magazine. I decided to do the same and selected my favourite issues of Martha Stewart Living for each month of the year. I had a lot of fun writing it.

Click here: 25 BEST THINGS ABOUT MARTHA STEWART LIVING

For the 25th anniversary of Martha Stewart Living magazine (2015) I decided to do a daily countdown of the best 25 things about the magazine throughout the month of December, beginning on the first of the month and ending on Christmas Day. It was very popular and I had fun writing it. (I know Martha enjoyed it too!)

Click here: DOMESTIC INSIGHT

This was a fun little series I did about the history of some of those common things around the house we all take for granted: lazy susans, salad spinners, corn-on-the-cobb skewers...

Click here: AN INTERVIEW WITH MARCIE McGOLDRICK

Former craft editor Marcie McGoldrick spoke to me about her time working at Martha Stewart Living and her beautiful work as a ceramicist. 

Click here: AN INTERVIEW WITH ERIC BEARE

The painter responsible for the beautiful mural that graced the foyer at Turkey Hill spoke to me in 2013 about his experience working with Martha and his craft. 

Click here: AN INTERVIEW WITH LLOYD ALLEN

The author of "Being Martha" spoke to me about writing this book, being Martha's friend and neighbour in Westport, Connecticut, and visiting her at Alderson. 

Click here: MEETING LUCINDA SCALA QUINN

In 2013 I met Lucinda Scala Quinn, former editorial director of food for Martha Stewart Living, and now a bestselling cookbook author and television host in her own right!

Click here: VISITING MARGARET ROACH

In 2005 I drove down to Copake Falls, New York, to tour the garden of Margaret Roach, who was then the editor-in-chief of Martha Stewart Living. I had loved her book "A Way to Garden" and seeing her garden in person, with Margaret as the guide, was a dream come true.

Click here: THE GOOD THINGS EVENT

In 2006, only a few months after I had started the blog, I got tickets to see the Martha Stewart Show and attend a special event at the Manhattan piers the following day: a celebration of all the Good Things the magazine stood for. I met some fabulous people and met Martha for the first time!

Click here: THE BLOG SHOW

In 2010 my dream came true! I was a guest on The Martha Stewart Show! Read all about it...

Click here: THE TASTEMAKERS EVENT

In 2010 I was invited to the Omnimedia offices to partake in an evening of celebration as the company honoured all of its favourite vendors. I got to hang out with Martha for a bit, meet some of the editors and see some of the offices. What an interesting night!

Click here: MARTHA AT THE TORONTO FOOD SHOW

In 2013, I attended the Toronto Food Show. Martha was in attendance and I watched her demonstration, which was followed by a book signing. Martha caught up with me afterwards to share a bag of chips!

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I imagine I'll add to this list of links as I think of them... For now, please enjoy what I've posted so far and explore the blog anew! 

Love,

Andrew

8.03.2021

Happy Birthday, Martha!

 Martha celebrates her 80th birthday today! She has already posted several photos of her celebrations at Skylands,  her home on Mount Desert Island in Maine - including a luscious looking, meringue-covered cake, decorated with rudbeckia flowers, sunflowers and ferns. (If you're not following Martha on Instagram @marthastewart48, you really need to be!)

I often take the opportunity on Martha's birthday to reflect on how she's influenced my life. The effect she's had on my approach to living has been profound. She taught me how to cook, how to bake, how to care for a home - all things no one else would really deign to teach me. They were subjects sloughed off as 'unimportant' or a 'waste of time.' How silly those admonishments were. I feel I can accomplish any task now with aplomb. The confidence Martha unlocked in me has been, I think, her greatest gift. It was there all along, but her guidance and instruction made it shine a little brighter. 

So, happy birthday to this legend, this amazing public figure who has accomplished so much in her lifetime and has shared it all with us along the way. Thank you, Martha! And cheers to you!

7.05.2021

Remembering: Lily Pond Lane

It was reported recently that Martha has sold her iconic home on Lily Pond Lane in East Hampton, New York. I know that many of Martha's readers and viewers consider that home to be a beautiful reflection of her design aesthetic. Second only to Turkey Hill, perhaps, it is the home Martha's fans considered to be most familiar in terms of its style vernacular - particularly throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. It goes without saying, then, that we will miss seeing it in the pages of Martha's books and magazines going forward. The home was reportedly sold to former Huffington Post publisher Kenneth Lerer. 

I thought it would be fun to do a post about the house and the role it played in Martha's work. From a line of paints to a complete furniture collection based on the home's atmosphere and aesthetic, Lily Pond was enormously influential in the creation of many of Martha's products. It was an oft-used site for her magazine photoshoots, both indoors and outdoors, and was also frequently used as a set for her television show: season five of Martha Stewart Living features an extensive number of episodes filmed at this address, particularly cooking and gardening segments. Below is a brief history of the house, how it came into Martha's possession, how it influenced her business and a brief synopsis of some of its iconic style signatures. I hope you enjoy it!

Built in 1873, the house once belonged to one of East Hampton's most memorable preachers, Reverand Talmage. It stands on the site that used to be called "Divinity Hill" for the many ministers from New York and Brooklyn who stayed at its boarding houses. Some still call Lily Pond the DeWitt Talmage House, named after the longtime summer resident who commissioned extensive renovations to the home in 1893.

Martha first fell in love with the Hamptons in the early '60s when she would vacation there with her husband. One of her favourite streets in the area, even then, was Lily Pond Lane, known for its stately width and the rows of majestic beech trees that line the street, as well as towering London plane trees and elms. In one of her "Remembering" columns, Martha describes her initial attraction to the street she would one day call home:

"I was attracted to its quiet, serene appearance, and though most of the houses were tucked behind privet barriers, some of the gardens were fully exposed. The most wonderful one was on the pond itself. It was breathtaking. I stood and gazed at the profuse and colourful flowers, making mental notes of the types that were blooming so perfectly - dahlias, salvias, asters, daisies and roses."

Thirty years later, Martha would have her own home on this lovely street. It was apparently Martha's daughter, Alexis, who encouraged Martha to purchase the old house in 1990, shortly after her divorce from Andy Stewart. It was a place to start a new garden, make new friends and create something that was entirely hers.

Martha completed an extensive renovation of the shingle-style summer home, which had been badly neglected. Replacing the cracking plaster ceilings with beadboard and removing the outdated heating system in favour of a more eco-friendly modulating gas boiler were among the necessary changes. Martha also completely renovated the kitchen, installing new marble counters, mahogany cabinetry and a beautiful floor of handmade cement tiles from Mexico that had been dyed a deep teal. She enclosed a screened-in porch to create an expansive breakfast area with wall-to-wall windows. Outdoors, Martha planted  sumptuous gardens of climbing roses around her front porch and big patches of purple hydrangeas. There are over 1,800 tulip bulbs planted on this relatively small lot (just one acre) as well as hostas, Japanese maples and other shade-loving plants. The interior features large, open rooms with hardwood floors and big, bright windows. The six bedrooms played host to numerous guests during the summer months, when Martha entertained there frequently.
As with Turkey Hill, Martha used Lily Pond Lane as a design laboratory, a place where she could derive style inspiration and then turn that into product. Many of Martha's products at Kmart (the Martha Stewart Everyday line) were influenced by the style of Lily Pond Lane, with its summery-beachy cottage feel. There were paint colour palettes in each of Martha's paint lines that were inspired by the colours found at Lily Pond Lane, particularly soothing greens and blues, soft pinks and shades of yellow. A later collection in the early 2000s introduced deeper colours: mauves, olives, ambers and browns. 
When Martha leased Westport Digital Studios in the mid-1990s, Studio A was modelled after her East Hampton Kitchen. 

In the summer of 2001, Martha partnered with Bernhardt Furniture to create two lines of furniture, both based on two of her homes: Skylands and Lily Pond Lane. The Lily Pond Lane collection borrowed heavily from the design aesthetic of the furniture Martha used to decorate the home. In the opening of the Lily Pond furniture catalog, the collection is described this way: "The Lily Pond Collection embodies the beauty of a sun-filled cottage by the beach with airy interiors and a cool, seaside palette that welcome casual, carefree living."
The Tides Turn faux-bamboo bed was part of the Lily Pond Lane collection, based on some antique bamboo bedroom furniture Martha used at the house. 

STYLE SIGNATURES

Each one of Martha's homes has a distinct and distinguished personality, usually composed of elements drawn from the area where the home is situated but sometimes inspired by a certain way of life. (At Bedford, for instance, Martha employs visual cues reminiscent of Shaker villages). At Lily Pond the decoration scheme was very much about the garden, about the sea and about summer. 
The colour green (and all its various hues and shades) was very influential in the design philosophy that guided the interior decoration of the home. Reminiscent of sea foam and the underside of hosta leaves, the teal/turquoise shades used on the trim of the exterior of the house as well as several areas of the home's interior evoke a calm and cool atmosphere. Martha once painted the ceilings of several rooms in the house a vibrant combination of these saturated hues. 
The handmade Mexican tiles in the kitchen and breakfast room were dyed a deep teal colour, almost matching Martha's vast collection of teal-toned McCoy pottery, which resided at this house for decades. 
It will be interesting to see where Martha will integrate her collection of McCoy into other spaces.
Even exterior spaces, such as the porch, were treated with refreshing hits of teal.
Martha once kept all of her books about gardening and art at Lily Pond Lane. 
Taxidermy also figured very heavily in the decorating scheme, particularly fish and aquatic birds. Martha once said these Victorian specimens, which she has collected for decades, make a loud and peculiar statement. This antique mounted tarpon is a specimen from the late nineteenth century. Taxidermy suits the home's Victorian pedigree.

Many of us, too, will remember how enchanted we were by the prolific climbing roses that grew along the openings of the main front porch. Martha transplanted them to her home in Bedford several years ago. In their hay-day, however, the roses were among the most widely-admired features of the home's exterior.

To replace the roses, Martha planted clematis vines, barely visible here but beginning to make themselves known. She also painted the trim of the house a light shade of taupe, foregoing the familiar teal.

As years passed and Martha's lifestyle changed, she found herself spending less and less time at Lily Pond Lane - only a weekend or two each year. As she herself would say, "When you're through changing, you're through." I'm sure Martha is extremely grateful for the 30 years she played caretaker to this beautiful, historic home. 

If you're interested in reading more about Lily Pond Lane, click here. I also suggest buying the book "How to Decorate" by Martha Stewart Living, which was published in 1996. There are numerous photographs of Lily Pond Lane in its pages with very specific details about its decoration. 

6.30.2021

Making Martha's Best Summer Pies

I'm a sucker for a good summer pie - pies that are laden with cooked in-season fruits, or pies that derive their personalities from vintage-diner days of yore. During the last lockdown in Ontario, I endeavored to make more pies and I was inevitably drawn to some of Martha's recipes.

First of all, I find her recipe for pate-brisee to be the best one I've encountered, mainly because it is an all-butter crust. Shortening is great for flakiness, but it is lacking in the flavour department. I also like how all-butter crusts turn a beautiful golden-brown colour, rather than the pallid beige of a crust made with shortening. Her recipe is quick to make, too, using a food processor - basically, just a few seconds. I've included her recipe below.

All of the pies I made, shown below, were made using one of Martha's recipes. I've provided a link for each one. They each appealed to me for different reasons, but I hope you find one of them alluring enough to make yourself this summer! Enjoy!
Banana cream pie is one of my favourites. Even as a kid, I would seek it out at restaurants and diners. They became increasingly difficult to find over the years as apple pie emerged as THE pie shown on almost every dessert menu. Thankfully, having this recipe in my repertoire means never having to search for one again! The filling is luscious and creamy, studded with slices of fresh banana, then topped with sweetened whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Click here for the recipe or find it in "Martha Stewart's New Pies and Tarts".
Rum raisin is my favourite ice-cream flavour, so rum-raisin pie was an obvious choice for me. The custard filling is very subtly-flavoured with vanilla and rum and sits atop a layer of golden raisins along the bottom of the pie crust, which when cooked become plump and juicy. Topping each slice with whipped cream is essential. Click here for the recipe, or find it in "Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook."
This decadent tart is also inspired by an ice-cream flavour: the ever-popular Rocky Road. I made this one for Father's Day, since Rocky Road is my dad's favourite ice-cream flavour. This one uses a simple graham-cracker crust and is filled with a chocolatey ganache studded with roasted salted almonds, mini marshmallows and chunks of dark chocolate. The recipe for the crust calls for five tablespoons of melted butter. I didn't find this to be quite enough. I would increase the amount to one stick (half a cup) next time, since I found the crust came out quite crumbly. But... this is one of the most delicious desserts I think I've ever made. My father loved it, as did my entire family. I was asked for the recipe several times. Click here for the recipe or find it in the August 2004 issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine.
It was the plethora of fresh apricots at the market this month that inspired me to make this pie. When I saw Martha's recipe for apricot pie with a coconut-crumble topping, it wasn't long before I settled on it. The flavour is excellent and apricot and coconut is such a summery combination. It's best served slightly warm with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. Click here for the recipe, or find it in the June 2011 issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine.

Next on my list is a coconut-cream pie... or maybe a cherry pie, or maybe a peach pie...

Martha's Pâte Brisée (All-butter Pie Crust)

(Makes enough for one double-crust 9-inch pie or two single crust pies)

INGREDIENTS:

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 sticks (one cup) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes

¼ cup to ½ cup ice-cold water

 

INSTRUCTIONS:

Step One: Ensure all your ingredients are cold before using, including the dry ingredients. In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and salt; pulse to combine. Add the butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some larger pieces remaining, about ten seconds. (To mix by hand, combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, then cut in the butter with a pastry blender or use your fingers).

Step Two: With the machine running, add the ice water through the feed tube in a slow, steady stream, just until the dough begins to hold together without being wet or sticky. (If doing by hand, mix with a fork as you pour the water). Do not process for more than 30 seconds. Test by squeezing a small amount together; if it is still too crumbly or sandy, add more water, one tablespoon at a time, until it begins to come together. It should still be somewhat loose but hold together when squeezed.

Step Three: Turn out the dough onto a clean work surface. Divide in half and place each half on a piece of plastic wrap. Shape the dough into flattened disks. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least one hour or overnight. The dough can be kept frozen for up to one month. Thaw in the fridge overnight before using. Allow the dough to rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes before beginning to roll it.

 

PREPARING AND BLIND BAKING A PIE SHELL:

Step One: On a lightly-floured surface, roll out dough to a 13-inch round, ¼ inch thick. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim dough, leaving a one-inch overhang. Tuck overhang under, flush with rim, crimping edges. Pierce bottom of pie shell with a fork to allow steam to escape while baking. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

Step Two: Preheat oven to 425. Line shell with a large round of parchment and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until edges are slightly golden, 15 to 18 minutes. Remove pie from oven and remove parchment and pie weights. Reduce oven temperature to 375 and return pie shell to bake for an additional 20 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack before filling. 

6.17.2021

Martha.com is Live!

So many of us on the consumer end of the Martha Stewart spectrum have been wishing for a one-stop shop where all of Martha's products can be viewed, accessed and purchased. That wish has now been granted! In the wee hours of the morning, Martha.com launched - a new online portal to all of Martha's partnerships and product lines. No more skipping from one site to another to another to another in order to shop for Martha's wares. Martha calls it her "shop of shops."

The site is categorized by your shopping needs (entertaining, decorating, cooking, outdoor living, organizing, wellbeing and Good Things) with separate sub-shops linking to each of Martha's manufacturing and distribution partners, from Macy's to Marley Spoon. You can shop Martha's line of CBD products here, her wine selections, her furniture line with Wayfair and her products with Amazon. 

The site is still new and is still very much in development. Martha hinted that there will be new features to the site added weekly, including her full library of books, how-to videos and some of her favourite resources for the home, from gardening to antiquing. Be sure to keep watch!