1.16.2021

The January/February Issue

 Well, 2021 got off to a rocky start, did it not? With everything going on in US politics and the ongoing saga that is COVID-19, it can be challenging to find the optimism needed to face a new year with passion and verve. Taking a balanced approach - complete with lots of deep breaths - is really the only way to proceed. I was so heartened to read Elizabeth Graves' letter at the front of the January/February issue of Martha Stewart Living that espoused a similar mode d'emploi. "My only resolve this year is to embrace balance," she writes. "Working too hard? Ease up. Feeling a little doughy? Put on the sneaks. Really want that mouth-watering sweet? Simply enjoy it." I think we can all agree that firm resolutions have no chance of taking root in a cultural and global situation such as ours. Just make the most of each day.

So, the first issue of the year for Martha Stewart Living straddles the best of everything we need to get us through these opening scenes of 2021: the healthy, the inspiring, the delicious, and the indulgent. The simplicity and the love. It's all here. 


The Good Things section is filled with lots of DIY ideas for Valentine's Day, including these cute-as-pie 'pom-pom' cards. There's a recipe for the easiest chocolate truffles on earth and a fun Valentine's Day breakfast idea for kids: frozen strawberry-milk ice cubes in heart shapes. There's a movie-night popcorn and cocktail scenario that I'm definitely going to try, and a really cute craft project for kids: a cardboard animal house, complete with 'wallpaper' and furniture. 


The front of the magazine features all the wellness advice we could ask for, including a look at Martha's personal tips for leading a healthy life. There's an excellent article on how to get a good night's sleep, even during times of stress and uncertainty. And no January issue would be complete without a hands-on guide to cleaning and organizing: here it's all about the kitchen, which the editors rightly point out has been working overtime during the holidays. Time to give it a good bath - appliances and all! The article takes you through the finer points of achieving sparkling results. 

The well of the magazine opens with a gorgeous shot of Martha's farm in winter with a timely quote by poet Maya Angelou: "The horizon leans forward, offering you space to place new steps of change." 
I am definitely going to be making this vegetarian bucatini bolognese this winter. It's part of a larger feature on vegetarian dinners the whole family can enjoy. 
While it's not entirely my style, I'm a bit obsessed with this bedroom in the magazine's decorating feature, profiling a beautiful home in upstate New York that positively glows in winter-white brightness. The home feels fresh, clean and airy and looks perfectly designed, with family and functionality in mind. 
Slab cakes may not sound terribly intriguing, but the recipes in this feature, I assure you, will have you reaching for the oven dial. I've bookmarked this one (orange and poppy seed) to try before spring. 
It's always nice to see a bit of green in a winter issue. The garden feature here has a wider aim, too. Black Sanctuary Gardens in northern California was a project started by landscape designer Leslie Bennett. Its aim is to provide a green space for Black women to retreat and connect with nature and their loved ones. 
The Valentine's Day feature is a great collection of crafts that use flowers (pressed, dried, sugared, and otherwise) to incorporate into your loved-one's day. The ideas are simple enough to inspire confidence but aspirational enough to inspire imagination. 
The closing page (Martha's "Remembering" moment) features one of my favourite photos of the magazine's founder. Taken by Todd Eberle on the coast of Maine on the first day of the new millennium, it depicts Martha in quiet reflection as she watches the first sunrise of the 2000s. I love it for its candid warmth. It was originally published in a special issue magazine called "Entertaining 2000", which was produced to celebrate the new millennium that year. 

Be sure to pick up a copy of the magazine at the newsstand, if you're not already subscribed. Or find it online. 

JANUARY/FEBRUARY ISSUE HIGHLIGHTS:

Favourite Good Thing: Animal House

Favourite Recipe: Vegetarian Bucatini Bolognese

Favourite Find: OldTimeCandy.com 

Favourite Feature: "Say It with Flowers" by Petra Guglielmetti, Ryan Liebe, and Naomi Demanana

1.08.2021

Martha's New Kids Furniture with GuideCraft

Martha Stewart Living has partnered with GuideCraft to create a small collection of children's furniture, which debuted earlier this week. The collection is called "Living and Learning" and boasts a roster of durable, flexible furniture designed and sized to meet the needs of children as they grow and learn. Desks, stools, benches, shelves, and a very nice craft table, come in two shades - white or grey - to suit any decor. Here is the product-line description:

"The Martha Stewart Living and Learning Kids’ Collection by Guidecraft creates a bridge between living and learning spaces, pioneering the concept of a child’s home office space. Flexible, organized, and open, the collection is defined by quality materials and uniquely designed storage solutions and workspaces that inspire children to create, collect, and curate."

The furniture is made from a combination of FSC-certified birch and engineered wood, featuring rounded edges and an easy-to-clean finish. Below is a small preview. Click here to see more of the collection.
Encourage children to express their creativity while using this Kids’ Art Table and Stool Set – White, durably constructed from a combination of easy-to-clean birch and engineered wood. Large, flat workspace provides roomy area for creative collaborations with multiple children. Set includes portable paint cup holder, 6 fabric bins, 18″ starter roll of paper and two stools. For ages 4 and up. Assembly required. Table measures 44.5″L x 30.5″W x 24″H, Seat height 14.25″.
The Kids’ Desk with Hutch and Chair – White is designed for physical and academic growth, providing your child with a personal, intentional place to work, learn and create for years. Details like the large flat workspace, storage shelf, and convenient cord cutout keep learning materials organized and accessible in home-based learning environments. The upper shelf and corkboard on the hutch serve as the perfect place for children to curate meaningful treasures and photos, creating a special, personalized area. The ergonomically designed chair allows children to access the desk at just the right height for reading, writing, computer work and crafts. For ages 5 and up. Assembly required. Measures 44″L x 24″W x 41″H , seat height 15.5″, desktop height 26″.
Constructed from a durable combination of easy-to-clean birch and engineered wood, the playful yet practical Kids’ Dollhouse Bookcase – White grows with your child. The sloped roof, removable staircase and integrated door and window cutouts make this unit the ideal mix of pretend play and convenient storage. Easily incorporate dolls up to 16″ tall (not included) into playtime on the wide, open shelves. Three textured, fabric bins and wide shelves provide storage for dramatic play materials, books and special treasures. For ages 3 and up. Assembly required. Measures 51.7″L x 14″W x 57.8″H.
Children can surround themselves with their toys, books and meaningful collections using the various shelves and storage options in the Kids’ Storage System – Gray. Durably constructed from a combination of easy-to-clean birch and engineered wood, this versatile unit features a comfortable, cushioned nook area that provides a quiet place where children can read and reflect. Includes 4 textured, fabric storage bins. For ages 5 and up. Assembly required. Measures 50.8″L x 15.7″W x 56.6″H, Seat height 21.5″.

1.05.2021

Celebrating "Very Good Things"

Martha's 98th book was published today! Very Good Things is the third in a series of how-to textbooks published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: The Martha Manual and Organizing being the other two. Very Good Things is a compendium of 500 Good Things from Martha's magazines, and is the second book by Martha devoted to the subject; the first book, Good Things, was published in 1997. A Good Thing, as defined in the Martha lexicon of terminology, is a simple solutions to an everyday problem or an easy way to elevate the ordinary into something a little more special using materials and devices that are easily found or repurposed. Divided by categories, including decorating, homekeeping, organizing, cooking, entertaining and celebrating, the book is filled with "simple life hacks" to streamline routines, beautify interiors, simplify cooking and make entertaining and celebrating holidays a little more special.

Martha's definition of a Good Thing is perfectly described in her introduction to the book:

"The idea must be straightforward but yield a surprising result. For example, decanting liquid dish soap from unattractive plastic dispensers into decorative glass bottles fitted with excellent pourers that look beautiful and perform well on every sink top. Or, conversely, it could be an unexpected means to achieve a desired end, such as employing ice cubes to smooth iron-free sheets. It should call for easy-to-find materials, often used in novel ways - like enlisting a garden lattice as an organizer. And sometimes it’s about repurposing what you already have, such as mismatched bowls that double as jewelry holders. It should absolutely be useful and relevant- and, of course, always beautiful." 
To help promote the book, Martha Stewart has created a new Instagram account devoted entirely to Good Things. You can follow @marthastewartgoodthings for daily tips, tricks and ideas. You can also visit marthastewartgoodthings.com to subscribe to a Good Things digital newsletter and have Good Things sent to your inbox. There is also currently a contest on at the website to win a copy of the book, signed by Martha! Be sure to check it out! 

12.29.2020

Martha Stewart Living: 2020 Year in Review

Is it possible that 2020 produced something almost flawlessly beautiful? Could 2020 have been one of the best years in Martha Stewart Living's history as a magazine? I would submit to you that it was. Hear me out. 

The reasons for its success this year are the same reasons it was always able to achieve success in its most celebrated years: consistency, reliability and positivity. You don't need me to tell you that the world faced one of its most-challenging chapters this year. The global pandemic took hundreds of thousands of lives and effectively shut down world economies. It halted all international travel and prevented us from seeing our extended family and friends for months at a time as we entered extended periods of complete lockdown. It was one of the most difficult periods in time I can recall. And it is still ongoing. 

All of the covers this year were extremely beautiful. I've heard from other readers, too, who have mentioned how impressed they've been with the covers this year. 

Through it all, readers of Martha Stewart Living magazine were given monthly doses of reassurance and inspiration, and ideas for creation during a rare moment when there was actually time to spare. The editors worked largely from their homes this year. Indeed, six issues of the magazine were put together from the home offices and dining room tables of the MSL crew. And yet, they were still able to find the outward perspective needed to inspire and delight their readers. For this, I say a heartfelt thank you! I, personally, read each issue of the magazine from cover to cover - as I always do - and this year I found the content to be more 'alive' than ever. What I mean by that is that through its succinct presentation of ideas and inspiration I found a vitality that was more meaningful to me. 

An example would be the quotes featured each month on the splash page introducing the well of the magazine:


I found myself looking forward to these inspirational quotes each month, and each one informed me in some way, either emotionally or intellectually. I researched the people quoted and often wrote down the quote in my journal for posterity. That was a first for me in all my years of reading this magazine. 

Another example of this vitality was the connection the editors made with its readers, not only acknowledging the pandemic (as any editor would) but also providing reassurance through its messaging. There was direct guidance, for instance, in suggesting to readers that they use the ideas for entertaining during a time when it was safe to gather again. There were fewer photos of groups of people gathered around a table or sharing a dessert - and if there were, there was a notable caption indicating that the depiction of the gathering was photographed last year. (In the world of magazine publishing, content is often produced a year in advance). This level of responsibility in guiding its readers, reassuring its readers, is what helped make the 2020 roster of issues some of the most poignant in its history.

This was also, of course, the magazine's 30th year in print - an astonishing feat, considering the volatility of the publishing industry. Many magazines have come and gone in that three-decade period, but Martha has held a place of prominence throughout. Factors contributing to its longevity include the connection to its readers that I mentioned above, as well as the reliability of its content. Each month, readers are given what they expect but with new twists and inspiring alterations to keep the content from ever feeling staid or predictable. There is also the consistency of its beauty: through photography and design, the magazine has maintained unparalleled heights of gorgeousness. I still find myself swept away by a beautiful photograph printed on its pages, or a stunning layout; I still notice the careful styling and the attention to all the details in the recipes and texts. It is still such a beautiful magazine. 

Rather than let the pandemic cancel a festive mood, the editors rose to the occasion and provided readers with fond memories of the magazine's incredible history. To celebrate the anniversary, the editors delivered monthly content that reflected its best moments, primarily through the return of Martha's "Remembering" column on the last page, which was a fun bit of nostalgia. Rather than an essay written by Martha, however, the 2020 "Remembering" column was a distillation of a moment in time: a photograph of Martha with a brief remembrance from her lifetime. Each one was a little dash of insight into the world of the magazine's founder.
The anniversary content culminated in the December issue. As I've written before, the December issue of Martha Stewart Living is to its readers what the September issue of Vogue is to its devotees. It is the one we all look forward to with excitement each year. It made sense, therefore, that the editors used the December issue as the hull for its 'best-of' content. Martha's column in this issue was a retrospective on the beginnings of the magazine - a fun read with old photographs from the offices at Time Inc. and a page full of Martha's favourite covers over the years. (Her favourite covers continued in her "Remembering" column on the last page. I was pleased that, as a reader, I concurred with many of her choices).

Throughout the issue, too, at the bottom of each page, there were quotes from people who have either worked with Martha or have been inspired by her over the years. Quotes from celebrities like Snoop Dogg, Jennifer Garner, Blake Lively and Ralph Lauren mingle with remembrances and kind words from world-famous chefs and authors. In each quote there is an effusive note of gratitude and respect for Martha and everything she has created. (I'm also included in the quotes, by the way, which was such an incredible honour for me).

While I certainly would have loved a standalone special issue publication, as was done with the 25th anniversary issue, I feel the December issue is a wonderful repository of celebration and reflection on its 30th. The editors did a superb job of combining remembrance with new content, even presenting classic Martha recipes in a new feature with beautiful styling. 

A new column also debuted this year, in the October issue: Potluck. The column is part of the Everyday Food section of the magazine and features a new foodie or chef each month, inviting them to share cooking lessons from their own lives. I've enjoyed it so far, and have learned quite a bit from it already. I had no idea what suqaar was until I read the inaugural column about Hawa Hassan and Julia Turshen and their new book In Bibi's Kitchen. I also loved the wine advice in the December issue, via Brooklyn sommelier Andre Hueston Mack. 

This year, I will not choose a favourite issue or a least favourite issue. It just doesn't seem appropriate. I'm glad I was able to enjoy each issue of Martha Stewart Living in its 30th year of publication. Each one helped me keep my emotional balance, even just through the simple consistency of its delivery to my mailbox. Like a warm hug from a friend, each issue gave me something to look forward to. There was always something I could use from its pages to improve my life: something new to learn, a new photograph to obsess over, a new cake recipe to try. 

As I wait for the January/February 2021 issue to arrive, I look back at my stack of 2020 issues and feel only gratitude for the year that was. 

And that's saying something.

12.21.2020

Readers Reflect On Martha's Influence

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Martha Stewart Living magazine, I asked the members of the Martha Moments Facebook Group to submit their thoughts on how (and why) Martha's work has influenced and improved their lives. I got some wonderful responses, all of which are posted below. Thank you to everyone who took the time to write in with your thoughts! 

-Andrew

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I was first introduced to Martha Stewart through the American Express commercials showing her using old credit cards to create a mosaic at the bottom of a pool. It caught my attention and I thought, “What a woman!” Shortly after, I became engaged and was on my own to plan my wedding. I remember buying Martha Stewart Weddings and jumped in to plan what, all these long years later, is still described as one of the most beautiful AND fun weddings of all time by friends and family. I started reading Living and watching her on TV. In 1999, I had my first baby and again was guided by Martha to make everyday family life as special as possible. This included home cooked meals and special touches and soon every holiday became an event. I had two more children and they, too, grew up with Martha as a surrogate grandma who provided everyday inspiration to us. She helped make our lives more beautiful and more memorable. I had the pleasure to talk to her on the phone once during her radio show and she gave me expert rose keeping advice. I also attended a taping of one of her shows in 2004 and was chosen to ask a question from the audience. I am an avid gardener and chicken keeper because of Martha, and I continue to collect Martha Stewart Everyday and Martha By Mail products as well as Yellow Ware, Jadeite and Depression Glass. My gratitude for Martha Stewart, as a teacher and role model, is deep and abiding. I will carry her lessons with me for the rest of my days and those lessons will live on long after. I picture a future grandchild of mine teaching her own child how to make Alexis’s Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookie and making plans for the next great thing.

-Michelle Zabell, Vancouver, Washington

Martha has been one of the influential people who helped shape the person I’ve become today. She is creative, real and has always been a trusted brand in my household. The earliest memory of Martha is of growing up with my grandmother who raised me. She only subscribed to two magazines, one of which was Martha Stewart Living. I remember going through each page carefully and marking pages which drew my interest. I was around the age of twelve and was raised by a very crafty, creative and expressive family, so you can imagine the gears going around in my mind while diving into each page of Martha Stewart Living. My favorite thing was collecting the recipe cards, or just marking a page because the scene was so perfectly set. Then her show! I’d get home from school every evening and the first thing I would do was sit right in front of the TV which was already tuned to the Martha Stewart Show (My grandmother would watch this then Oprah). As soon as I could drive, it was off to Kmart for anything and everything Martha. My first ever purchase was a bedding set which I still have to this very day and a few Christmas ornaments. One thing I always tell my friends is that Martha would never put her name on anything she personally hasn’t approved, when it comes to her products. 

 When I turned 21, I booked my first trip alone to NYC to see the Martha Stewart Show. I was in one of America’s largest cities, alone, with the dream of seeing a show live in person that I had watched since I was younger. It was an amazing experience and it was because of her! She helped me branch out and live my life. When she stepped out on stage while I was sitting in the audience, I cried ... I CRIED!! Martha just has always been who I’ve looked up to and someone I have trusted. I may not know her personally but have always known she wouldn’t ever steer me wrong. She’s a strong leader and really has helped instill values. I have also met wonderful people and made so many friends thanks to her. She’s a hero for me and so many others.

-Justin Giannunzio

I was in High School working at a bookstore when Martha released Entertaining. I studied that book from cover to cover.  Until then, my interests were primarily in architecture and the decorative arts.  After soaking in page after page of Martha's breathtaking photographs of food, lavish entertaining, the people, the environments I was changed. I began looking at design magazines differently, thinking about how people lived in their homes, how they entertained, what dinnerware would work in their dining rooms etc.  This guided how I saw my homes and ultimately my career. Martha's influence on my company was instrumental. We approached everything we designed as if it were for a single home from furniture, dinnerware, textiles, lighting and we showcased it together how someone would live with it not in departments, this was ground-breaking. I am grateful for all Martha has taught me over the years and look to forward learning more.  Cheers to 30 years of inspiration!

-William Silveira

Growing up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, I learned at an early age, to make do with what you had. That meant growing your own food, canning food items to use all year long, always making things from scratch, and celebrating events with friends and family either at our house or someone else's. When I moved from the rural life to the city after becoming a nurse, I often felt out of place with all those skills I had developed and my idea of what I thought, was a fun time. It was in 1992, when I bought my house at the age of 27, that I was introduced to the Martha way of life. I was going to be painting the interior of my newly purchased home & a co-worker gave me a copy of Martha's magazine, Living. It was an issue focused on painting one’s home. That issue was just the beginning!! To me, it seemed that Martha made it "ok" to do all those things I grew up learning & enjoying. I quickly subscribed to the magazine, I began recording on my VCR any time Martha was on TV in an interview, or hosting her own show, etc. If Martha was on, i was recording it! And when Martha's products at Kmart came to be, I was like a kid let loose inside a candy store! I would spend hours walking the Martha isles. The displays, the large photos of products in use, often with Martha, was, well, comforting and fun at the same time. Over time, my skills became fine tuned, just like Martha's. I accumulate treasures to display as well as use in my daily life. I host parties that people hope to get invited to. I host canning events that I refer to as extravaganzas, where people can not only come to learn the fine art of preserving but take home jars upon jars of goodness to enjoy all year! I still live in that same house where I was when I found Martha. There is not one square inch of my small corner city lot that has not been influenced by Martha, inside or out. Its nothing glamorous or huge, but it definitely shows the influence Martha has had on me and my way of life, and I'm not embarrassed to admit it.

-Dennis Landon, Wisconsin

This past Thanksgiving, Dennis used the Martha by Mail pumpkin cake mold to bake his bread. The results are extraordinary!

I became intrigued by Martha when I discovered her line of products at Kmart when I was outfitting my first apartment. From there, I became a magazine subscriber and watched her television program whenever I could catch it on broadcast television. I am proud to have a collection of almost all her books — 90!  Like then, I am still fascinated with the idea of celebrating everyday living.  I have learned so many valuable lessons in entertaining, home design and cooking from Martha over the years. I consider the Martha the original influencer — the ultimate glossary of good things. Cheers to 30 years of very good things!

-Trellis Smith

Martha has been an inspiration to me for several decades.  She is the one trusted source for ideas on how to make our lives better, more enjoyable and infinitely beautiful.  Whenever I set a table, cook a meal, decorate a cookie, bake a cake or shop for collectibles, Martha's touch is always there.  That a teacher can imbue the tenets of fine living for millions of us year after year, is a testament to her far-reaching influence.  No one in our lifetime or for generations to come will come close to what Martha has created.

-David Pantoja  (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)  @goodthingsbydavid 

David is an avid collector of the Martha by Mail brand, as well as the many collectibles featured in Martha Stewart Living over the years. 

I've been a fan of Living for many years. However, when I purchased my first home in 2004, I found myself turning to her for everything from interior paint to potted plants. What I enjoy most are Martha’s tips for entertaining. I love throwing cocktail parties. I find them a little easier to put together than sit down dinners. Cheers to 30 years of Martha Stewart Living!

-James Richmond, California

James's famous charcuterie spread is inspired by Martha.

Honestly, I could not have made it through my adulthood without Martha’s tips, tricks, recipes and decorating advice. Her style is impeccable and not hard to emulate- it’s a good thing! Martha Stewart Living is a bible on how to live - living your best life long before Oprah arrived on the scene. I own every single book and my magazine collection dates back to 1992. I made every single recipe in the Easter 1996 magazine and somehow the issue was lost. I frantically ordered a couple back issues with death warnings written on them in the event they got “tossed” again. I’m still using those recipes. I own so many of her products from Martha By Mail, as well as K-Mart domestics and Christmas items. 

-Marie Cosgrove

I remember seeing an article in the local newspaper about Martha Stewart’s growing popularity - especially with flower arrangements for festive occasions. Then one day I wandered into my favorite bookstore and came upon the first issue of Living, and that was it - I was hooked. To me, Martha’s way of doing things was so unique and just totally ... right. Truthfully, I had no idea how to properly clean some things, fold a fitted sheet, and on and on. And the collecting!  Drabware, yellow ware, jadeite. She taught me that it was totally okay to love these things. 

-Becky Seebach

It was 1977, and I was beginning anew. A divorce that allowed my three little children and I a fresh and safe start, was aided by Martha and her love of making home and life beautiful. That was rare in those times of liberated career women mindsets. I was grateful for her TV show, books and magazines that allowed me to research and discover my true self interests, develop hidden talents and encourage 3 little ones to do the same. As a family, we worked through a difficult time via her expressions of encouraging creativity.

-Maryjo

Martha is all about living your own life to its fullest, celebrating each day, and always being ready and willing to learn. Also, if you're going to do something, don't half-ass it; always do your best whatever the task is. I raised my daughter on these principles, which Martha taught me.

-Judith A. Saldana-Schick

Making everyone feel warm & welcome in my home has always been at the base of what I am about. I learned this in part from my Grandmother Maggie and it was enhanced to a new level by Martha Stewart. Over the last several decades it has been mentioned more than once “ Paul…..thats so Martha!” Or “Martha would be so proud?” I take total satisfaction in that. Martha embodies not only making your surroundings pleasing to all senses but makes you strive to be your best possible self and as of late with a dry wit and wicked sense of humor. I love watching how Martha has evolved since she was first introduced to us in the 1980’s to the Martha we see today, a little more relaxed and less focused on perfection without losing sight of what is best. I thank Martha for becoming the measure for what it is to be your very own Good Thing. 

-Paul Collins

When people ask me, “Who was your favorite teacher?” I immediately say, “Martha Stewart!” She’s taught us all many ‘Good Things’ through her magazine, books, and various platforms of media. I’m so grateful for her, and the talented team at MSLO for all the years of consistent, inspirational content. If you didn’t learn something new every day, you weren’t paying attention.

-Brian Utz, Texas

I picked up my first copy of Martha Stewart Living when I was a young, international college student living in the US for the first time. The magazine, her voice and the beautiful images became my inspiration for the American Dream. I have been a loyal reader now for 20 years. From the very first project making a clove-studded orange to decorate my dorm room to now cooking her more elaborate recipes - Her can do spirit has permeated through all aspect of my life as I navigate adulthood. 

-Julie Tan

Martha Stewart has been a part of my life since far before I was born. My mother and her father bonded over her magazines, books, and shows and by the time I was born, we had found Martha’s exquisite influence into our home, holidays, and ways of doing everyday things. I can remember when I was about six years old, I had begun to take an interest in holidays, crafts, and cooking. Any time I was looking for inspiration or needed a recipe, I knew the best place to do so would be in my mom’s treasured Martha Stewart Living magazines, and once I was able to use the TV on my own, I would record her shows (especially the holiday ones!). Throughout my upbringing, Martha has been a big part of how my mom and I bond, we re-watch her shows together daily and will walk around the house and garden talking about how we can apply what we just saw in Martha’s new show or latest magazine. I am now 18 years old, and just finished my first semester of undergrad. Every chapter of my life thus far has needed a bit of Martha, from my childhood holidays, to the planning of my Sweet Sixteen, all the way to the designing of my freshman year residence (the exterior painted Bedford Gray, of course!), Martha has found a place, and she will forevermore.

-Sophie Zabell

Martha inspired me with the gardening issue of 1992. I was only 26 years old. The story of preserving tomatoes got me thinking more about my garden tomatoes. I mean my tomatoes were favored among my neighbor friends, but Martha took me to a new level. For example, now I grow heirloom, plum, and cherry tomatoes. Each variety has its particular purpose in cooking my dishes Tarts, sauces, or juices bring to my table different taste and textures. Later on, my greenhouse was constructed and now I grow tomatoes during the winter months, being in Arkansas our winters are mild. Just from the 1992 issue, my interest to details and a lifestyle of being surrounded by "good things" has expanded into flowers, evergreens, cooking, and an eye for color. MSL, please stay focused on your goals, new products, and new ideas for many years to come. Just think, it started for me growing one tomato plant in my garden. Now, I'm hooked on Living.

-Todd Hall, avid gardener

I started following Martha when I was a young woman just setting up housekeeping. She taught me there was a better way to do things, that you could also do everyday things with style. Her Weddings book was huge for me, it gave me so many ideas for my own wedding. My wedding cake was modeled after one of hers, and so was my bouquet! I had numerous friends ask to borrow the book, so I started asking them to write a note in it before they returned it. It is still one of my most treasured possessions!

-Lisa Foust

I first started watching Martha on television when I was in high school. I loved watching her take a holiday, or even an everyday chore or meal, and not only make it extra special, but somehow also give me confidence to tackle it myself! As a young gay man, I was struggling with my own identity. Confidence didn’t always come easily, so I treasured the confidence Martha gave me. As I went away to college, and began life on my own, I started to realize how much I enjoy cooking and entertaining. It was great putting into practice many of the lessons I had learned, while at the same time developing my own style. Being young and starting out, thrift shop and tag sale finds could be transformed into charming settings to make lasting memories. If Martha could turn tag sale treasures into elegant events, so could I! As I’ve grown older, I treasure some of those early finds, and continue to build collections of new and old. It has grown into a passion of mine, and I still apply lessons Martha taught, like making sure my collections are useful, as well as beautiful. I love how Martha has expanded over the years with new shows and publications, but I continue to regularly watch those original episodes of Martha that first inspired me. Between new and old, I’m still finding tools and inspiration to incorporate into my everyday to keep life interesting and beautiful.

-Tim Obert, Salem, Massachusetts 

Tim made Martha's classic shortbread recipe this year for the first time. He was thrilled with the results.

The time I first saw Martha on the Oprah Show and the audience was going wild over her. I started to buy her products and tried to se her every chance I could on TV. I was not a shopper of Kmart but became one fast, I found her products from Kmart were of good quality, different and long lasting. I purchased her linens, towels, dishes, cookware, patio and garden and Christmas items. I was so happy when she put her products in Macy’s Department store (my favorite store.) I bought her books also went to one book signing and go to meet her which I have written a page and half about that experience for my grandkids so they can read it one day. I think she is an amazing person, honest and up front, an excellent teacher and a person that loves life and all it has to offer. She appreciates what life has given her and takes good care of it. I love that she enjoys her life and travels and shares her travels with her family including nieces and nephews. I think she should go down in history as one of the most giving and caring people - a good Humanitarian.

-Sharon Thompson

I first encountered Martha late one night on TV after returning from practice rooms while majoring in music at university. It was close to the holidays and Martha was preparing for Christmas on her television show. Being far from home and family, her show became a source of comfort and inspiration to me. Next thing I knew I was buying her magazines and soon after I became a subscriber (uninterrupted since 1996). Years later I have made many close friends and connections because of my interest in Martha, meeting up with others who appreciate her as much as I do. So, for me she has been a beacon of good living in our crazy world.

-Bernie Wong, Wisconsin

One of Bernie's excellent Christmas trees with an assortment of Martha Stewart Everyday ornaments.

I don't even know where to begin to express what Martha has brought to my life, starting with the Entertaining book. Besides learning the obvious things, like sewing, baking, decorating, gardening, even rewiring a lamp, I've also developed an appreciation for craftsmanship, elegance and quality. Martha's shows, magazines and books were something my mom and I could appreciate together, and even though my mom is gone, I still think of her when I try something new that has been inspired by Martha. We would always ask ourselves, "What would Martha do?" or "Wouldn't Martha love this?" Thank you, Martha Stewart Living, for the 30 years of inspiration, learning and joy that you have brought to my life.

-Christine Magnuson, Gresham, Oregon

When Martha first published Martha Stewart Living as a quarterly in 1990, I was working as an assistant art director at Cooking Light magazine in Birmingham, Alabama. Both magazines were published under the Time Inc. umbrella. Because of this, we all got free issues of MSL. I remember all the creative people at Cooking Light being completely inspired by MSL and I couldn't wait for each issue. So, the pages of both magazines were a cross-pollination of how magazines, in the headiest days of publishing, should be done. The emphasis was on making all of our photography beautiful and richly creative. Years later, when I moved to Atlanta and was working as a public health designer at CDC, I finally made my holiday tree book come to life. Still a big Marthaphile, I went to a book signing Martha held at the Georgia Aquarium. I gave her a mockup of the book I wanted to publish. All I really got from that was a photo of her looking at my book with the "Oh!" expression on her face. But when the book became a self-published reality, I was proud to know that the cross-pollination of beauty in a publication still lived in my personal creative endeavors. My book, "The Decorated Tree" is still the purest expression of my particular creative talents - inspired fully by the Martha Stewart aesthetic, which has become so lauded. It was Martha's intent from the beginning to elevate the domestic side of living into an artform. Our lives have become much richer because of that singular vision. My book is sold at Blurb. I also designed the tree on the cover (an heirloom Alpine feather tree) and it is hand crafted by Dennis Bauer and sold right next to Martha's feather trees at Home Traditions.

-Darryl Moland, Atlanta

Here is Darryl presenting his book The Decorated Tree to Martha on February 10th, 2009

12.05.2020

Remembering: The Anniversary Issues

With the arrival of the 30th anniversary issue of Martha Stewart Living, I was prompted to look back at some of the past anniversary issues the magazine has published. Each one is a treasure in its own right, a perfect little capsule of time and reflection in the magazine's history. With each edition, they editors made sure to give readers a little dose of something special. And in true Martha form, the attention to detail in each issue was tantamount to excellence. Below is a look back at each of the anniversary issues. I hope you enjoy it!

So far, there has been an anniversary edition of Martha Stewart Living to celebrate the magazine's tenth, fifteenth, twentieth, twenty-fifth and thirtieth birthdays. The tenth and the fifteenth were January issues that kicked off the anniversary year in question. The others were all December issues that concluded the anniversary year. I imagine that since the December issue is more popular with readers, the editors decided, instead, to cap off the anniversary with a festive bang. Each one is a delight to read, filled with remembrances and highlights from past issues. Martha, of course, is featured on the cover of each.

The tenth anniversary issue was published in January, 2001. The editors took the opportunity to deconstruct, even analyze, some of the hallmarks of the Martha Stewart Living ethos. There is a beautiful look at some of the popular visual glossaries that had been published. These glossaries were the brainchild of then Creative Director Gael Towey and were a true signature of the magazine's visual underpinnings: different examples of one thing (sunflowers, citrus fruits, spices, silverware) photographed in one artful picture. The editors also compile a list of the best "Good Things" and devote a good 25 pages to the column. In the features section, the magazine's love affair with colour is examined with past editorial photographs. Then, a 'Decade of Decadence' looks back at some of the best confections the magazine created in its first ten years on newsstands. Martha concludes the issue with a "Remembering" column reflecting on how and why she started the magazine. 

January 2006 was the fifteenth anniversary issue. To open, Martha reflects on how she created the first issue of the magazine and shares anecdotes, such as shooting the cover on the balcony off her bedroom at Turkey Hill on a hot summer day in the squinting sun. The editors share the most popular Good Things from the magazine to that point: not necessary the best Good Things, as presented in the tenth anniversary issue, but the most popular. These include the dishwashing-soap bottle, strawberry pincushions and homemade glycerin soaps. In the features section, the editors examine the virtues of crystal glassware, the traditional 15th anniversary gift. (This was a suggestion I had made to Margaret Roach in a letter to the editor the year prior, anticipating the 15th anniversary issue. Whether or not she had already considered that idea, I cannot say. But I like to assume my suggestion at least got the wheels turning). There is also a beautiful feature showcasing a cake for each month of the year.

The 20th anniversary issue (December, 2010) is over-the-top! Maybe even too much so - and I can't believe I'm actually saying that! It is almost too saturated with its sparkle and splash. It is still a delightful issue, however. Martha's column is about a holiday brunch she hosted for the magazine's top brass, including familiar names like Eric Pike, Kevin Sharkey, Hannah Milman and Gael Towey. (This feature was later used in the "Martha's Entertaining" book). Once again, there is a roster of classic Good Things from issues-past. Vanessa Holden, the editor in chief at the time, had three different covers commissioned by the art department to celebrate (each cover is presented in the issue), which I thought was a pretty fabulous touch. This was also the year the magazine launched its first ever digital special issue: all new content produced for the iPad in an issue called "Boundless Beauty" which I thankfully have saved to disc!

For the 25th anniversary issue (December, 2015), the editors commissioned a cover painted by artist Will Cotton, who specializes in painting confectionery landscapes. It is the only cover of Martha's magazine, to date, that is not a photograph. One of the best things about this issue was the inclusion of a detachable cookie advent calendar: a cookie a day! The recipe for each of the cookies was included in the magazine. It was so much fun to reveal a new cookie each day of the month! In the well of the magazine the style editors were asked to come up with their best version of a Christmas tree: my favourites include those by Kevin Sharkey, Marcie McGoldrick and Eric Pike. As with the 15th anniversary issue and its look at crystal glassware, the editors took the traditional 25th anniversary gift, in this case silver, and played with it in creative, festive ways through crafts, table settings and decorations. 

That same year, the editors put together a standalone special 25th anniversary issue. Martha selects her favourite covers over the years, a selection of the best Good Things and compiles her best (and most essential) "101s" at the front of the magazine. At the back of the magazine, some of her favourite editorials from the magazine are reprinted in full, each representing one of the core-content areas of the magazine's focus. This was only available on newsstands and was not part of a subscription. It's a very nice issue to have!

And, of course, the most recent issue of all: the December 2020 issue, which is the current issue on newsstands and the 30th anniversary edition of the magazine. For this issue, the editors reached out to some of Martha's friends, colleagues and admirers to submit their reflections and thoughts about what Martha has meant to them over the years. These quotes were peppered through the magazine at the bottoms of the pages. (I'm on page 70!) There is a collection of the most popular holiday recipes Martha has published over the years and a look back at 30 years of the magazine's editorial landscape as well as a fun look at Martha's holiday party last year. 

Each of these issues is a collectors' item that I will hold on to and cherish. If you don't have them and would like to add them to your collection, look for them on eBay or Etsy where they frequently turn up.